When I was a kid, nobody called space “space”; we all called it “outer space”, because it was pretty far away. Sure, the moon landing had already happened (if it even happened at all) and Space 1999 came and went before we had a chance to figure out why that one lady’s eyebrows looked like Cocoa Puffs. Star Trek was heading into the Why The Hell Am I Watching This? phase it went through for a while, and Star Wars was just getting rolling on its way toward legitimizing space travel as a someday-viable tourist industry. But Pluto was still a planet, and it was a damn far away one, too.
Then came February 15, 2013.
That’s the day shit got too close for comfort.
While every astronomer on Earth — along with at least three of the people in the breakroom at my office — were watching for the 150-foot asteroid that was due to make a 17,000 miles-per-hour fly-by on the underside of the planet, a 55-foot meteor weighing 10,000 tons came hurtling out of the skies over Russia and cosmically sucker-punched us in plain view of several dashcams and ADP security systems (or whatever the Russian equivalent of ADP is…my keyboard doesn’t type Cyrillic characters). It hit the atmosphere, burst into pieces and rained down debris in an unforeseen galactic spectacle that made Michael Bay cry his hair out.
Ground control to Major Tom: What the bloody hell?
Isn’t there some Steven Speilbergian twelve year-old out there with an iPhone app and a mainline to some kindhearted space being who could have given us some sort of heads-up? “Yo, Russians: duck.” That’s not too much to ask, after Eliot was so good to E.T. and all. Barring extraterrestrial alert systems, you’d think a double-dose of near-Armaggedon (not Deep Impact…that one sucked) would have inspired us to get crankin’ on one of those mega-lasers that lets us blast space stuff into pieces before it has a chance to ruin our picnic.
We’re at least three-hundred forty-seven weeks behind on that little contraption, too.
And it’s not like there’ll be ready funding at this point, since, preceding all of this crash-and-smash, NASA threw out the story about their multi-billion dollar plans to sail a craft out into space (their words, not mine), unfurl a gigantic space bag (their invention, not mine) and snag an asteroid so they can spend almost a decade dragging it into the orbit of our own moon (their idea, not anyone elses…because, really, who else would claim this?). To whom did this sound plausible when it passed across their desk a NASA-approved sticky note?
“Moon doesn’t have a moon…but could.” Hellz yes!
Listen up, Despicable Me: Leave the NyQuil margaritas for sleepy-bye time and not for the moments that require vetoing of ridiculous, unnecessary and probably highly dangerous asteroid capturing missions, okay? There’s some serious space shit buzzing us left and right these days. No need to drag any of it closer than necessary, or spend ten years doing it. If you absolutely have to get your interstellar rocket jockey fix, save yourself 2.6 billion dollars and watch Space Camp again. It’ll cost you a buck at Redbox. Plus: it’s over in 90 minutes.
And all the space rocks stay where they belong.
Which is out there.
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