Monday, August 6, 2012

16734--And We Stuck Another Landing!

The planet Mars
No cheerleaders here yet.
 Or perhaps, we're stuck with another landing...
No, I'm not talking about the Olympics.  There's more than enough people doing that.  No, my curiosity is with...Curiosity.  The one we just dropped on Mars.  No cheerleaders.  No judges.  No medals.  No competition at all.

PIA14309 fig1.jpgIn the latest of our very gradual Martian invasion program, we've unleashed another probe onto the rusty, dusty surface of our planetary neighbor.  It's nuclear powered and carrying the most advanced load of equipment we've ever crammed into a remote controlled vehicle and if all goes well it won't get stuck in a ditch or vandalized by any of those punk Martian kids.  What I'm curious about, though, is what's the big rush in going to Mars?

Wait...what?  Drop or don't drop?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm all in favor of learning about the universe and getting to know our neighbors, but I just think we're getting ahead of ourselves in our effort to stay ahead of everyone else.  There isn't even any competition.  It can't be that we're rushing out there just to stay ahead of traffic.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who think we should've gone further faster by now.  The problem is that we haven't.  That's probably because we rushed to the moon.  You heard me.

I just feel that we got ourselves out of step with the racing and the rushing, spending mountains of money in a competition with no one to show off what we could do.  Instead, I believe we should've handled things the way you would build a city or stage a war.  You need to construct an infrastructure and supply lines.  Rather than hurrying to the moon, we should've gotten the whole space station thing perfected first.  Then, along with all the other things a few permanent orbital structures could be doing, we could've been concentrating on constructing vehichles in orbit to use for continued outreach.  Then, we could've gone to the moon.  On the moon, Mooninites and Amazon Moon Women permitting, we'd have gotten some of that sweet moonbase action going on.  Then...Mars and all that shiny Martian gold or whatever else is up there that they haven't told us about.  Are we at least sending up some plants that can grow in cold, cold weather so they can start making oxygen?

On top of all this, we should've learned from Major Tom and the panics undergone in our actual extraplanetary activities.  By that, I mean, when are we going to start having some back-up ships ready to help out when the manned missions go awry.  I'm not talking about the ones that fireball in seven seconds.  Those you need Superman for and if he's not watching at the right time, knew the job was dangerous when you took it and thanks for your fine service.  The other ones, though, where somebody's phoning home with "Houston, we have a problem...", we should be able to do more than tell them to get the duct tape out of the glove compartment and wish them good luck.  Even at the height of the space shuttle program, we didn't keep a rescue ship ready to go.  Most of you don't want to make a trip to the superstore without roadside assistance and full coverage insurance, so why do we send people into orbit without being able to get them home if a passing rock knocks off three of their ceramic heat-shielding tiles?  That one has always baffled me.

Anyone else?

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