Houston, You Have A Problem
Dec 11 -
In 1969, mankind first set foot on the moon. It was a glorious time for America. Every child in the country
wanted to be an astronaut.
Little did they know that thirty-two years later, Johnson Space Center in Houston would need a Dr. Seuss exhibit
to boost their attendance.
The museum is excellent. The films are very exciting and well produced. The exhibits include moon rocks, the actual
Mercury nose cone, and the original Goddard experimental rocket, to name a few. This stuff was fascinating to me when
I was a kid. Hell, it's fascinating now. I still want to be an astronaut when I grow up.
But when's the last time you heard a kid say he wants to be an astronaut? Not Buzz Lightyear, but a real, honest to goodness
astronaut? Bet it's been a while.
Nobody knows these days when a shuttle is going up. Why? First, because NASA doesn't bother to tell anyone. They don't televise
them anymore. The only way you'd know is if you took the time to find out yourself. We couldn't even find out without
a huge effort on our part, and we drove straight by Cape Canaveral.
Second, because the missions that they usually send up are, to be honest, not very interesting or appealing to the public.
Cancer research in space? Sounds intriguing, but what does cancer have to do with space? Give us some details, or even
make something up that sounds cool.
People of Earth, we live on a planet where we've gone to the moon, and lost interest. Think about that for a moment. Really
Gone to the moon. The freaking MOON!
Then lost interest.
Think back to a couple of years ago when John Glenn went back into space. Millions of children around the country said
to their parents at the same time, "Who's John Glenn?"
Everyone's eyes opened for a brief moment, remembering that NASA was still around, and how they always dreamed they'd be
an astronaut. They watched as the shuttle took off with their hero, John Glenn, aboard. A hero from their time with the
chance to become a hero for our time as well.
Then they all changed the channel back to Everybody Loves Raymond.
The time came and went. John Glenn went up, John Glenn came down, and everyone went back to their normal lives. But for
that one brief spark, NASA was cool again.
This is what hurt so much about going to the Johnson Space Center. NASA should be the coolest thing on, and off the planet.
By itself. No gimmicks. Space travel is amazing stuff! But do you know what Johnson has in the lobby of the information
centre? A Morph Your Face Machine. A Dinosaur Sound Effects Booth. A Hands On Make Your Own Roller Coaster Exhibit. A
Dr. Seuss Find The Word That Rhymes Game. Oh, and some stuff about space way in the back.
NASA, you don't need this! What you do need: A new head of Public Relations.
Dear NASA: Time to start thinking outside the box.
John Glenn was the best thing to happen to you guys in years, and you let it slip through your fingers. People looked up
from whatever they were doing and said, "Oh yeah... NASA..." and that was your opportunity to smack them in the face.
You missed your chance, and now you need to wave your arms again to get noticed.
But hopefully, there's still time for you to draw a few conclusions about the importance of public appeal. Sometimes all
the world needs is to see something new to get them excited again, and you've been flying the same old rocket since
Here's a quick idea. Tweak the design a little. There's got to be something that you're able to improve upon
aerodynamically, or even aesthetically. I don't believe for a second that you nailed the optimum space shuttle design
twenty years ago. Taper a wing, add a fin, take a lesson from iMac that people really do like pretty things.
Hell, give it a damn paint job! A big red, white and blue God Bless America space shuttle. I mean, I know you guys can't
even afford nice chairs in the lab these days, but how much can a bucket of blue space paint cost?
Then have a big unveiling. I'd turn on the TV for that, and so would a lot of other people.
Dear NASA: The money you're saving on chairs can go to blue paint.
How about this? Send a 12 year old into space. I don't care if all he does is get coffee for the other astronauts. He
goes up, the world will watch. And if the world is interested, so is the budget committee. There's power in sensationalism.
For every six boring missions you send up, do a seventh that's just for the public eye.
And Mars? Put Mars on the shelf for a while. Try going back to the moon and set up a colony or something. I'll go.
Rainin' Harder'n a Rooster with an Itch
Stephen F. Austin SP|
Site 74. Well, we got here in the dark, in the pouring pouring rain. On the way in, they were out of those self-registration
envelopes. Then we saw a sign that read "Watch for Snakes". However, we did see a live armadillo. He helped us pick our site!
Sam Houston Jones S.P.
|Lunch: ||Pe-Te's Cajun BBQ|
Off Hwy 3, Pasedena
|K's Order:||Shrimp Creole, Ice Tea|
|A's Order:||Gumbo, Cajun Potatoes|
|Dinner: ||In the Car|
Stephen Austin SP