1. Alpha: “Stay at home! It’s obscene and a complete waste of money when we still have so many worldly problems.”
2. Zappa: “Leave Earth! It’s absolutely necessary for the future survival of humanity.”
3. Dweezil: “I don’t really care either way, as long as they don’t spend too much and share their discoveries and space art.”
Let’s be realistic. No matter what I write, chances are that you and I won’t be changing our positions. I was pretty much locked into position 2 somewhere around the age of 10 when I decided that space was cool. I had a ‘big astronomy for kids’ type picture book that convinced me well before I had the ability to defend my position. As I got older, I remember one disagreement where someone took position 1 pretty much just to be Mary Mary Quiet Contrary; they scored a strike by knocking down my passion pins at Barney’s Bowlarama.
Schlock jocks get paid to be contrarians; even the conservative ones. I haven’t heard the ‘paid to rant’ folk talk about space travel for ages; probably because as a global society, we pretty much landed on position 3 ‘Dweezil’ after the Americans beat the Russians to Bing Gordon’s moon. This somewhat satisfies all humans and when politics is all about trying to maximise votes, it makes sense to me that this happened. So that pretty much explains why space exploration is just trickling away slowly and painfully like your Uncle with the prostate problem.
The end, right? “Why write more?” asks the bright space-shipwright preparing for her first flight fight rite of passage through the Wilbur Wright tight asteroid field bathed in white light.
Well, I’d like to be able to convince the Team Alphas to maybe reconsider their positions to at least a ‘Dweezil’ position, then we can start talking about Mars Attacks rusty iron tacks: spending. I am aware that attempting to persuade you in my own voice is as futile as resistance from the Borg, so how about if I crudely channel Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story movies? This is what he might say about space exploration:
“Buzz Lightyear to Star Command. I have an AWOL Space Ranger who doesn’t want to play with me anymore. I will attempt to communicate.”
“I’m Buzz Lightyear, Universe Protection Unit. My ship has crash-landed here by mistake. No matter what your thoughts are of the protective powers of your planet; one big rock smash is all it will take to wipe you Earth persons out. All of your Cowboys and Slinky Dog toys would be gone with no backup. This is unlikely in Andy’s lifetime; but a near certainty in the future. Remember that almost all of the species of Earth were extinct long before Mr & Mrs Potato Head were grown. It is certain that if you stay sitting around a campfire with Andy making delicious hot Schmoes, the future of your entire species is in jeopardy. That is your mission, space cadets! First, are you still using fossil fuels, or have you discovered crystallic fusion?”
Where does this leave us? After writing this article I love space and the Toy Stories even more; which is no surprise. I’m also rather pleased with myself that I didn’t put a single reference in this article to Star Wars or Star Trek; at least not in the final edit…
How about you, young Padawan? Do you accept that there are benefits to perhaps spending a little more to going to “Infinity and beyond,” then perhaps one day, even further than that and breaking the fourth wall of our Universe? If Rick Moranis can do it, then surely so can we!