Ask anyone who knows me really well, and they’ll tell you that I’m a huge space geek, and a really huge fan of human expansion off the Earth. Normally, though, spaceflight issues these days aren’t normally big on the mainstream media radar — save the occasional catastrophic Space Shuttle failure — and haven’t been since the last Apollo crew came home. In fact, the last space-related cartoon I did was about nine years ago. Still, once in a great while a cartoon-worthy space policy issue will bubble up into the MSM, such as the current partial privatization/funding brouhaha going on over the late Constellation/Orion program and the future of US manned spaceflight As We Know It™ with regard to President The One’s Vision For Space Exploration. So, while it’s a bit of a geeky issue, I thought this might be a good time to take the opportunity — while I’m still struggling for good immigration cartoon ideas — to knock out this piece that’s been rattling around in my head since I read about the current House version of the NASA appropriation:
So, the crew module that was supposed to be capable of ferrying astronauts to the Moon (the Moon? What’s that?) and to Mars-bound spacecraft has been reduced to an ISS lifeboat, and President The One is talking up that old chestnut, the Public-Private Partnership™, to take up the slack of building and launching cargo and man-rated vehicles to ISS. Needless to say, Elon Musk’s nipples are exploding with delight. Oh, and they’ve also directed NASA to get down to building a heavy-lift booster by the end of the decade. I’d just love to know how the hell they’re going to pull that off when their program is getting be as cash-starved as the xUSSR’s N1 heavy-lift lunar booster program was in the 1960s. Here’s a look at the outcome of one of their many test launches which, to the last, was made of FAIL:
The thing that really irks the hell out of me is that this is just the icing on the cake, after seeing pretty much every other important program — healthcare, housing, education, Social Security — having to go begging because of the stonking huge wads of cash being pissed away on two wars, neither of which is particularly beloved among the public, and the equally stonking amount of cash being blown on building a massive security state. We’ve got no problems throwing away money on Predator drones and bunker busters and upgrading the phone networks to allow easier tapping, but when it suddenly comes time to fund a national healthcare system, or keep Social Security out of trouble, or help humanity expand off the planet, it’s like they’re suddenly all tapped out. But, they’ve always got money to pay for their goddamn’ wars.
But, wait! There’s more! Now, after the Constellation Program’s gone, all that promise out the window, and we’re reduced to buying rides with the Russians and waiting around for half a dozen spaceflight-contract wannabes to get their ducks together, NASA’s added insult to injury by releasing a video game version. Yeah, that’s right, a goddamn’ video game. Mind you, being an artist as well as an old space geek, I certainly loves me some tasty CGI concept art as much as the next guy, but this kind of bugged me somehow, coming as it did so soon after the program meant to replace the Shuttle went from its first test launches to just the latest addition to NASA’s Awesome Concept Art Gallery. I mean, that’s just depressing (besides the fact that they haven’t even developed a Mac version, losers).
What’s really sad, though, is the fact that I still want to be an astronaut when I grow up.