It was the day of the last shuttle launch and I was burned out, sitting in a local restaurant and having a cold beer and some not-so-good chicken wings. My buddy was there with us. As we were zoning out and chattering, the TV announced that the shuttle was about to launch. My buddy announced to the collection of bleach-blonde college girls nearby that it was launching..and nearly all of them turned their backs on him and ignored him in typical better-than-thou stuck-up-Florida-chick style. Later, the bartender lady announced that it was launching and asked if anyone wanted to see it. The reply was a resounding “NO” from the other patrons. The three of us watched it and I felt somewhat sad inside that this generation has become so accustomed to space launches that they simply do not care anymore.
Or maybe it is not because shuttle launches have become commonplace…maybe they simply do not care. The current generation and the one behind it…all they care about is themselves. Keeping up with the Kardashains, Paris Hilton’s sickening life of debauchery, American Idol(atry), and Housewives of <Insert City Here>…that is what these pathetic excuses for life…these ugly sacks of mostly water…care about nowadays. That, and trying to figure out how to abort the “parasitic life-form inside them” if they get pregnant.
Overall though, the space program has produced somereturns on investment. But the general feeling is that “not enough” has come out of it. Sure, there are experiments and stuff. But do we ever see the results? Or are they locked away in Warehouse 13, classified to a point where no one will ever benefit from them? We got “space age polymers”…but that was years ago. Low cost computers? Maybe…but in recent years, the shuttle still used the equivalent of the Commodore 128..and having known people who worked at NASA, their computing infrastructure is light years behind “Industry.” We got GPS. Comms sattelites. Weather and land satellite data. But what has the Shuttle Program done for us lately? Space junk? Uncontrollable (or uncontrolled) spending? The most bureaucratic organization ever conceived? Where are the followup projects?
I think that…Hubble has really produced some fascinating things…but NASA proper…what the hell have they done for us her in Central Florida besides keep the cities of Titusville, Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach alive? We have not gotten the long-promised private manned space industry. Our own energy and transportation infrastructure is in crisis…and yet we continue to spend dollars on the prospect of lengthy space travel. Out weather forecasting systems are still best-guess…perhaps…”we did something that will forever be in history…” but what good will “history” be when Islamic terrorists nuke our asses in broad daylight? We cannot even confirm that there are WMD somewhere. Hell, one single high altitude EMP blast could disable this entire continent back to the dark ages for 10-14 years…do the research on pulse induction if you don’t believe me. So yes, “we did something that will forever be in history”…but are we any better for it?
The topic of the benefits of the space program could be debated ad infinitum. But it has become quite clear that the general public is starting to care less and less about this stuff. There was a time when the entire office complexI worked in, with thousands of employees, would sprint outside to see the launch on launch days…hardly anyone moves anymore.
For me, I am losing interest in the space program for several reasons. First, the technology has not really leapt forward all that much. Our propulsion systems are still primitive – relying on the ignition of fuels to propel a dated design into the sky. We still make mistakes and we cannot even launch when there is a cloud in the sky that might produce lightning. It all seems so…primitive.