Sunday, 22 September 2013

Oh, c'mon America...

NASA is running out of plutonium.

You know: that seriously lethal stuff the U.S. military have been stuffing into Weapons of Mass Destruction by the ton since the 1950's...

But NASA can also use that stuff - in a way that benefits rather than degrades, the human race.

Nuclear missiles? Hey, way to go, if killing off countless peasants in testosterone fueled chest bumps with political rivals, is the greatest thing since God reportedly drowned nearly all of humanity, in a somewhat pointless holy flood a few thousand years back...

But I digress - the mind-melting silliness of the Noah tale is a distraction.

Ahem. NASA need plutonium. Now. For a peaceful use. For exploration. For learning about our universe. For humanity's future.

Deep space exploration with existing technology cannot go on without it. There currently really are no practical alternatives - solar power just doesn't work in deep space. Plutonium gives a lot of reliable power for just a small quantity of stuff, and for a long time.

The Curiosity Rover on Mars? Runs on plutonium.

The wonderful Cassini-Huygens mission at Saturn? Plutonium.

Voyagers 1 and 2 - now leaving the solar system to go Where No Man Has Gone Before?
36 years and still counting, thanks to plutonium.

There are numerous others.

And yet the U.S. politicians endlessly fart around with cutting NASA's annual budget.

<yokel> So much money wasted on that space stuff, when we could be making bigger bombs an' deadlier drones? Dagnabbit! </yokel>

Really?

NASA was established around 1959. That 54 years ago. NASA's entire budget since then, including all the money that took us to the moon in 1969, over 54 years, is about the same as what the U.S. military spends EVERY SINGLE YEAR on - what? Killing people. Having wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Building bigger and better Weapons of Mass Destruction (you know - those things Saddam Hussein had in massive piles buried all over Iraq. Oh - wait - no he didn't - U.S. intelligence got that kinda wrong - there weren't ANY. But they got to have a good war over them, and then got to kill the pathetic dictator himself for dessert! Pity it plunged what was left of Iraq society into an endless cycle of sectarian suicide bombings, massacres and beheadings that were, for better or worse, actually under some sort of control in Saddam's otherwise corrupt regime...)

Trillions of wasted dollars, thousands of dead U.S. soldiers, tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, and still counting. Tragedy heaped on tragedy.

But back to NASA...

Transferring a mere 1% of the U.S. military budget to NASA could bring NASA back to life. 1% removed from doing FUCKING NOTHING OF USE TO ANYONE, to give to learning, exploration, cultural purpose, inspiring people and giving humankind a path towards being able to one day migrating from Earth, if or when we need to. 

But...

... it ain't gonna happen. And NASA will run out of plutonium. And deep space exploration in our lifetime will end.

After all:

'Murricans like their guns more than larnin' anyways, and besides, Jazus is gunna 'peer in tha' clouds reel soon now, and take the people (tha saved ones that is) all to Heav'n... Hallelooyah! Gawd be praised!

Space travel - Christian fundie style.

Sigh.