By John Sammon
Feb 16, 2003

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Just what is it we hope to achieve from the millions spent on the space program, not to mention the lives?

We got that orbiting donunt (space station) up there, and the guys and gals are jumping around weightless, when they aren’t doing experiments like watching to see how human genes jiggle under a microscope without gravity, or studying each other to see who turns gray-colored first from being up in space too long.

The money spent on this project won’t be wasted on schools and roads (liberal school bureaucrats would pocket the dough anyway), not to mention a cataclysmic war that’s going to start probably next week.

If space travel is for pure exploration and knowledge, I suppose I can support it. But if it’s for exploitation of potential resources and militarization of the heavens (which I think it is), I’m against.

Has NASA ever made its ultimate goals clear?

Like the politically correct liberal movement, space exploration thrives on official, automatically accepted propaganda to rival the good press surrounding Disneyland. The propaganda includes:

1.      If it’s new and technological, it’s good.

2.      If it’s exploration, it’s always for noble purposes.

3.      It’s for national defense, so it’s good.

4.      We must explore outer space, because like climbing a mountain, it’s there.

5.      If we don’t do it, our earthly enemies will (related to #3).

6.      Our lives will be made better by it.

To criticize the space program is like criticizing God. You run the risk of being called a heretic, disloyal, a coward, or even worse. In essence, technology has become a sort of god.

I know the space program is responsible for innovations used here on earth, like ready-to-pop popcorn in tinfoil containers, and the microchip in your computer.

However, NASA has been trying to sell the idea that space travel is like taking a routine jet flight to a business convention, a commercially viable enterprise.

The first space shuttle disaster came about because NASA received warnings about O-rings they chose to ignore. The shuttle had been delayed several times and needed to get airborne to demonstrate its commercial potential (after all, the trains have to run on time).

NASA’s deliberate negligence in effect murdered those astronauts—–because of money and ego. You heard me right. Murdered! 

That’s why Christa McAuliffe, a civilian schoolteacher, was aboard, to prove a point, that anybody could do it, like taking a bus.

If space travel is an every day commercial enterprise like NASA is trying to prove, when there’s a fatal shuttle crash, why does a shocked nation go into mourning? If seven marines crashed in a helicopter in Louisiana, the flags would fly at half-staff on their base, but that’s all. You’d read about it in a tiny clip at the back of the newspaper.

There have been two shuttle crashes out of a hundred or so flights over the past 25 years. When you stack that figure against the hundreds of commercial airline flights made from cities the world over every day, with one or two major crashes a year, the airlines’ record is much better.

I’m not knocking the heroic people who risk their lives on shuttle flights. My beef is with the suits and ties who run NASA.

The benefits of exploration can be double-sided. I think anybody would admit that Columbus’ so-called discovery of the New World (Bahamas) was beneficial for Europe, but disastrous for the native islanders who were wiped out in a decade.

After the first shuttle crash, President Reagan lionized the dead astronauts and said they were, “pulling us into the future.” Bush recently made similar ennobling comments. But is part of that future the aiming of a military laser beam from outer space down on some earthly opponent we don’t like?

I’m not necessarily against looking for new worlds. But we can’t seem to manage the one we already have.

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