If I don’t give a damn about the new Mars robot, does it make me a bad person?

So for the past week or more I’ve been instructed over and over to feign deep concern over the new Mars robot and NASA’s supposed “seven minutes of terror,” or whatever. Don’t hate me if I got that wrong.

I was all over this shit in the sixties – I was a geeky white boy, so of course I was. It was sometime around Skylab when I began to get the first inkling that there was a problem with the narrative. At what point would all these stunts stop being about sending highly trained military test pilots on extremely brief excursions into earth orbit? As I wrote much much later, on the occasion of NASA officially having no manned space program at all that didn’t involve Soyuz capsules…

When I think about what they squandered – what WE squandered by leaving it to “them” – I want to weep. Back in the sixties we were all gonna grow up living in the asteroid rings and wearing silver suits. Even then we should have known better. If NASA had been in charge of westward expansion they’d still be expensively experimenting with ways to get highly-trained professionals across the Mississippi. Briefly. And they’d now be reluctantly admitting that they no longer have the capability to build a Conestoga wagon. In my wilder flights (hah!) of antigov paranoia I wonder if it wasn’t planned that way – if NASA wasn’t the National Spaceflight Prevention Agency all along. After all, why should “they” want “us” in space? It might get a little difficult to keep track of the taxpayers.

And now it’s a very exciting (you are commanded to be excited) robot gonna colonoscope Marz. As if my children or their children will ever have the option of leaving the plantation to visit the place on their way to the Belter Habitats. Okay. I’m excited. About how fricking angry I get every time there’s a news cycle about this bullshit.

Rant concluded.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to If I don’t give a damn about the new Mars robot, does it make me a bad person?

  1. Ben says:

    If anything, I’m far understating the case to say that SpaceX has made more progress in the last ten years than NASA would have made in the next 100 years. Better yet, it appears that SpaceX will have some interesting competition over the next few years, so everyone will have to keep innovating or quickly become irrelevant.

    Going forward, It looks like NASA’s main function will be pure science probes that are launched via rocket systems owned by private companies. There simply is no quick profit motive for that type of pure science, so those probes are probably something best left to government and large universities. A prime example of that is the probe that you just dissed.

    The prime purpose of NASA’s present manned rocket program (the SLS system) seems to be more about sprinkling government dollars over certain Senate districts than about doing anything useful in space. It’s becoming ever more clear that design and production of rocket boosters is something best left to private enterprise.

  2. jabrwok says:

    Rockets, in and of themselves, are a dead end anyway. A hybrid system involving a long, electro-magnetic launch tube (~100mi) accelerating the rocket up to 10km up and at least half of escape velocity would be far preferable, at least until we get Orbital Rings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMbI6sk-62E).

    The Rocket Equation is a heartless wench.

  3. Mike says:

    Would you rather see stuff like this on the front page, or more rants about evil AR-15s by that idiot Hogg kid? Humankind is still very, very young and the young must first learn to walk before they can run.

  4. Kentucky says:

    In the background of all these missions seems to be lurking the ultimate goal of someday discovering “life” elsewhere in the universe.

    For the life of me, I have always wondered . . . “why”.

  5. Joel says:

    Estes all the way. Centuri kits sucked.

    Then when finances and opportunity (in the form of big dry lakes) allowed, I graduated to Public Missiles. 😉

  6. Andrew says:

    Ben, you are correct. NASA is supposed to be in the research business. Travelling to the Moon was research, n how to get man into space, how to do extended missions away from Earth, and then some research actually into the Moon itself.

    Followup missions to the Moon were supposed to be either military in nature or sponsored by private corporations.

    But then the lefties got ahold of everything.

    We had everything almost ready to go interplanetary with Shuttle derived heavy lifters, but Clinton won and NASA went to hell-er. During Bush II’s reign, they had to rebuild everything and were just about, with the Constellation system, go into a personal lifter and a medium and heavy lift system to replace the Shuttle (this is where both the Orion crew capsule and Boeing’s CST come from (Boeing’s being the loser in the NASA crew capsule competition).) But then Okobungo got elected and it was “Muslims in Space…” until around 2010 when NASA suddenly redid all the heavy lift programs that were already done previously but cancelled by Okobungo and…

    Screw it. Let Musk, Bigelow (inflatable space ships, no, really, inflatable, and they work…,) and Bezos do heavy lift.

    Just recently, senior NASA executives publicly stated their fears that we humans would destroy the solar system’s environments if we kept launching probes to everywhere, and it would be the end of the universe itself if any human’s grubby paws actually touched non-Earth soil.

    Screw it. Mahaps the senior executive of the US Space Program (that would be the Vice President) needs to wade through the halls of NASA and RIFF a bunch of senior execs (most put in place during the Muslim Outreach Program years. Put the Nerds back in charge. Let the geeks with bad sweaters, Hawaiian shirts and leather-elbow patched jackets take over again. Science for friggin science’s sake. Get out of outreach programs, get out of the ‘Climate Change, Man-Made, Cause of’ cluster-fruck. Research into better planes, better space programs, better new neato stuff from all the weird technology being created to do better planes and better space programs.

    And bring back the mighty Rocketdyne F-1 engine, in it’s more economical F-1b with all the CNC and printed/sintered parts that replace all the bazillion welds and bolted components (15% performance enhancement at 15% weight reduction and significant cost reductions, not to mention enhanced reuseability (like SpaceX’s Raptor engines.)

    Hell, I want either Nuclear propulsion (NERVA system, like we almost had in the 70’s) or the Orion system (the huge nuke-bomb powered space battleship/research ship system.) That’s the NASA I want. Please?

  7. Kentucky says:

    Let us not forget that Kennedy tweaked our fears of Russian dominance in space to “sell” the space program in 1961. Got us all behind the program to beat the dreaded Russkies in a toe-to-toe battle for our very survival.


    When all that kinda went away, the air sort of bled out of the whole plan, and the bureaucracy took over.

To the stake with the heretic!