Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Tesla Roadster Is Launched To Mars, And A New Space Age Begins

Elon Musk is the world's greatest showman.  His Tesla Roadster and a dummy astronaut blasts off on a super-giant rocket called Falcon Heavy, headed for Mars orbit with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” blaring on the car radio.  The astronaut is dubbed “Starman”, after another Bowie song.  The words “Don’t Panic!” are on the dashboard.

Musk said that it took his team over three years to develop the space suit, because it not only had to be functional, it had to “look good”.  To Musk, the spectacle is as important as the accomplishment.  He understands that to be truly successful, you not only need to produce successful results, you need to excite peoples’ imaginations.

Two of the boosters landed softly, tail-end first precisely on ground pads, like something out of a 1950’s science-fiction movie.  The third is due to land on a drone barge in the Atlantic.  Musk’s next goal is to land an entire rocket in that manner, something I thought was counter to the laws of physics.  Apparently, I am wrong.  But the child in me, who watched all of those early science-fiction movies, is greatly excited.

I like to think of myself as a child of the space age.  My father worked as an engineer for NASA for 20 years at Cape Canaveral.  I got to see almost every launch, from Alan Shepard’s Mercury rocket as the first American in space to the Gemini launches to Apollo 13, all from my backyard.  My high school let out to let the students watch the Apollo 11 launch from across the Indian River.

I never got to see a space shuttle launch from the ground.  I was working in the Tampa Bay area when I witnessed the Challenger shuttle explode in midair in 1986.  My father was working at the Cape at the time, and collapsed when the shuttle exploded.  He died of an aortic aneurism two days later.

The space shuttle program was ended in 2011, but the “space coast” area had fallen into a drug-addled depression.  President Obama declared the primary mission of NASA to be “Muslim outreach”.  My brother, who worked as an engineer for a NASA subcontractor and tested the re-entry tiles on the shuttles, died of a drug-induced heart attack.

I am sure that as history unfolds, Elon Musk will get the credit for re-igniting America’s space program.  President Trump announced his support for NASA space exploration in his SOTU address, and should get co-credit.  We may be on the verge of a new millennium in space.  That is, assuming the radical leftist Dems aren’t soon back in control of the country.

But, I have a bone to pick with Musk.  He did not originate the concept of a roadster in space.  Ivan Reitman’s (pre-Ghostbuster) film “Heavy Metal” featured an astronaut in a 1959 Corvette launched from a space shuttle in the opening credits (see video below).

Also, do you know to what book the “Don’t Panic!” on Musk’s roadster dashboard refers?

Andrew Thomas
as published in America Thinker

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