X-37B; This Time We Didn’t Even Get Tang!

x37bThere’s an old joke about the American space program in the early days; “billions of dollars spent, and all we got was Tang.”

Of course, we must point out a few interesting facts about Tang. Tang being the fruit flavored powdered drink developed by General Mills in 1957 by William A. Mitchell, who would go on further to invent two culinary staples; Pop Rocks, and Cool Whip. As it turns out, Tang wasn’t developed for the space program, it only became popular when it was used by the space program in food testing years later.

Back to our story. Recently in the news, it was revealed that NASA has been setting records; not for dollars spent, or it’s long overdue admission that it faked the first moon landing in 1969, (Ah Zulu, why do you have to start that again?) but the revelation that one of its ships, the X-37B has spent record-breaking time in outer space; almost completely unbeknown to the majority of us mortals living down here on the “Rock.”

The story can be read here ;http://news.yahoo.com/secret-spaceplane-mystery-mission-094500663–politics.html

This story is significant for so many reasons. The first is the technology itself; an unmanned ship that can launch from earth, and land like the former space shuttles, not to mention the three time periods it has spent in space. The first flight was 225 days, followed by 469 days, and the present flight at 482 days and counting; far surpassing the average manned shuttle mission of 17 days; all this time conducting missions that aren’t revealed to the public.

This day has been coming for a long time; the eventual quiet “mission shift” from the excitement of space exploration, and possible discovery of other life in the universe using the early Apollo missions,  to the cold hard fact that the real money, and interest for this country is in telecommunications, and spy satellites. There was a time when astronauts were world heroes, and our country followed every step they made; from yelling out the “count down” of the rocket launch times, to the sense of pride and admiration for a smooth runway landing of the space shuttles, while never forgetting the heartbreak of those that “did not land.”

This “mission shift” I write about, would be the metaphorical example of “striking it rich” during the gold rush days; the people who has the most success were not the people digging the gold, but the companies lurking in the background who sold the “rushers” everything they needed, from digging tools to beer and whiskey. They just needed the prospectors to “keep the dream alive” on a perception basis; much like NASA fulfilling the idea of “the moon and beyond……blah, blah, blah.” This of course is if you consider NASA cloaked as the NSA, or U.S Air Force, flying over North Korea with spy cameras so sophisticated, they can get a close up view of Kim Jong-un prancing around his Pyongyang mansion in a Michael Jackson costume. Captain Kirk, “say it ain’t so!” (Ah, Zulu, you do know that Kirk is a fictional character right? Hey, I’m on a roll here; let me go!)

My father, the Fantastic Dad Delta, once told me he lived in the greatest “technological generation of mankind.” He said in his life, “I have gone from the horse and buggy, to the space shuttle.” His American psyche was tied to the NASA space programs, as were, and still are millions of Americans. Think about the American Dream; millions of people, lets call them immigrants, who left their homes, and familiar surroundings to venture to a new land, to seek out a better life, to boldly go where nobody around them had gone before, all the while surrounded by people who said they would never make it, become failures, and generally laughed at them. Sound familiar? You bet your ass it does!

Figuratively speaking, NASA is like going to the movies. We should expect more from the space program than to foot the bill, and still not be allowed to watch the film.

 

 

 

 

 

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