lost in space

Goodbye Forever To America’s Dreams of Space Travel (and Everything Else)

The shuttle program is so old that Roger Moore was already old in the Star Wars/Space Shuttle crap 007 movie pictured here.America’s half-century of manned spaceflight came to a crashing end (actually a safe landing) today as the space shuttle Atlantis completed the final flight of the entire NASA program. In a nation that refuses to care for its sick and find work for its tens of millions of idle people, sending a 1970s low-orbit glider around the Earth every so often is obviously out of the question. As for replacements, there is no replacement for the shuttle. Human exploration and colonization of space will be left to some other country, or perhaps it won’t happen at all. And considering what we’ve done to this planet, there are worthwhile arguments for simply keeping our dumb, violent, diabetic race of slobs here on Earth until we die out from bird flu or anal leakage or whatever.

The first space shuttle didn’t actually fly to space, and was named the “Starship Enterprise” because of a canceled teevee show from the ’60s, about a devil-eared Jewish scientist and his randy midwestern pal, who liked to get it on with colored girls … green colored girls. The actual NASA shuttle program could never really compare with that cheesy NBC show, let alone with the exciting space opera movies of the actual time period when the shuttles began their tedious orbits.

It was Ronald Reagan who, after destroying America’s education system, decided to give a “high five” to teachers by sending an actual school teacher into orbit. And that shuttle exploded on takeoff. Later, after 9/11, another shuttle crashed over “Palestine, Texas.” Before the shuttle Endeavor’s final flight this year, a heavily armed lunatic in Arizona massacred a dozen people and somehow didn’t manage to kill the commander’s congresswoman wife, despite shooting her through the skull.

And now the Atlantis has landed in Florida and the teabagger Texan hero Rick Perry is whining that Obama won’t give billions in federal money to a new space program which Congress wouldn’t approve anyway, the end. [ABC News]

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About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne

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334 comments

  1. nounverb911

    "And the teabagger Texan hero Rick Perry is whining that Obama won’t give billions in federal money to a new space program which Congress wouldn’t approve anyway, the end"
    After Texas secedes they can pay for it themselves. (Chimpy McFlightsuit can go up first).

    1. Rotundo_

      Since the chimpster's generous spirit got us broke in the first place, we should do to chimpster what he did to frogs: Stick a grenate in his ass and pull the pin. (a lady finger firecracker just didn't seem proportional to the slob.

  2. Come here a minute

    That's some cliff hanger ending! Maybe in the sequel, there are 'key parties' on Mars or whatever.

  3. Fukui_sanYesOta

    Total cost of ISS, including launches, a monumental testament to what humanity can achieve if working together: $100Bn

    Blowing the everliving fuck out of barefoot brown kids in Iraq for no particular reason: $800Bn

    Any questions?

    1. OneDollarJuana

      Yeah, but except for Morton Thiokol, the space program didn't enrich corrupt war profiteering corporations. And the shuttle never carried pallets of cash that mysteriously disappeared (into pockets).

      1. horsedreamer_1

        & that, my friends, is why The A-Team is the best Iraq war movie (from an anti-war perspective).

      2. weejee

        The Morton Thiokol o-ringer and the subsequent explosion of the Challenger was more an issue of management and deadlines and essentially trivial budget items trumping science & engineering. The I-35W collapse in Minneapolis showed this general biz skool – gooberment paradigm is still alive and well. Polysci trumps the living shit out of physical science.

    2. Goonemeritus

      So are you suggesting that it would be more cost effective to blowup brown people from space?

        1. user-of-owls

          This is driving me crazy…do any of you fellow olds remember that notorious cartoon ad with a little girl being threatened by the evil empire but then protected by a cute little SDI bubble?? Arrgh!

          1. Doktor Zoom

            And Doonesbury's take on same: "Oops, one got through. Bye."

            (can't direct-link, but there's a Bulletin of Atomic Scientists article on Google books that reproduces it; first result for searching "doonesbury "peace shield" 1985")

          2. Doktor Zoom

            Looks like the ad itself has been DMCA'd off the web; text of the audio from this article:

            Danny Graham’s High Frontier organization made a television commercial that showed a child’s drawing of a house and a family, and the rainbow “Peace Shield” that would protect them. The audio accompanying the cartoon, spoken by a child, said: “I asked my daddy what this Star Wars stuff is all about. He said that right now we can’t protect ourselves from nuclear weapons, and that’s why the President wants to build a Peace Shield. It would stop missiles in outer space so they couldn’t hit our house. Then, nobody could win a war. And if nobody could win a war, there’s no reason to start one. My daddy’s smart.”

            And then there's this Time article about third-party pro-and anti-SDI ads.

          3. user-of-owls

            That's it! Aw, fuck…I cannot believe this thing could be disappeared down the memory hole! Fucking fuckity fucks…if they were willing to pull the world to the brink of fucking thermonuclear war over this thing, you might think they'd have they tiniest of cojones to at least be proud of what they did. Fucking cuntfucks. Just like they were back then.

    3. shrillharpy

      I read recently that $100Bn or so was the same amount spent solely on A/C for teh troops fightin' overseas for our freedumbs.

    4. riverside68

      It would appear to me that, given the norman private sector 50% profit rate on government programs, the Iraq program was 8 times as successful as the ISS program.

      How much oil do we know about on the moon, also

      Future likely profit opportunities of ISS = zero (Now we are going to be paying sweet government $$ to the Ruskies just to get it up.)
      Future likely profit opportunities of Iraq = priceless (We are so not done yet, and coming soon: war with Iran and/or Pakistan don't ya know)

    5. vulpes82

      I think "a monumental testament to what humanity can achieve if working together" is stretching it a bit for the ISS. If you compare what its plans were to what it has actually done, it's rather dispiriting. I mean, not that a space-born platform for scientific experiments is small potatoes or nothing, but it really isn't the apogee of human achievement.

      1. Fukui_sanYesOta

        It's a piece of mega-engineering, a truly vast project.

        Might end up being a useful staging point for manufacturing of extra-orbital manned spaceflight, which really would be quite something. Get the bits up there, put them together, and you'll have an extra-orbital spacecraft which doesn't need to reach LEO from the gravity well, with obvious benefits.

      2. GOPCrusher

        The biggest problem was that it went on for too long. And the fact that the next step wasn't in the pipeline, while the shuttle was being used. But that would have taken a Vision For The Future, and that died with the election of Ronnie Raygun.

      3. Negropolis

        Honestly, if it isn't, than what is? Maybe the internet? Regardless, it ranks up there pretty far even if it doesn't top it.

    1. dr_giraud

      The bean counters finally figured out that it would be cheaper to have an astronaut piss all over her- or himself for a week here on Earth than send them up into orbit to do it.

  4. OneDollarJuana

    Look, we went to the Moon, and guess what? We found dusty rocks, not oil. So what's the point?

          1. flamingpdog

            Green cheese by going to the moon: 100 billion dollars.

            Green cheese by leaving it in the back of my fridge for 2 months: $3.99.

            Give me the difference and I'll be a job creator.
            *flies off to Bimini with a black briefcase chained to his wrist*

      1. GunToting[Redacted]

        We recently finished 8 years of rule by a real-life Cave Johnson, so we can hope. Does this mean that Chimpy will die of moon-rock poisoning? (sits back to wait eagerly)

        1. bagofmice

          Cave Johnson here. As our data clearly shows, humans cannot be trusted. The solution? Robots!

          (Oddly true.)

    1. mormos

      and lethal fucking moondust that is sharper than glass and will shred everything it comes into contact with and give you cancer. Serious business!

      1. bagofmice

        Not exactly a lot of wind to take the edge off. You don't even get the air resistance to take the molten material from a highly energetic impact to distort the shard into a rounder, more aerodynamic shape whilst molten. Hell, without an atmosphere to interact with you don't even get proper surface tension.

    1. Swampgas_Man

      This is funny as a fart in a space suit, as we kids used to say back when space suits existed.

  5. CapeClod

    A program that had 40% of it's vehicles blow up or break apart on re-entry. Maybe we were a little hasty trying this novel idea of reusable space craft.

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      I think 40% might be on a par with Magellan, Columbus, and their contemporaries. And the Wright brothers and their contemporaries. What's bigger today is the audience.

    2. Sparky_McGruff

      That's nothing. I have a co-worker that's totalled 60% of his vehicles, and he still has a license.

  6. SorosBot

    Space: The Final Frontier. These are the voyages – ah, this shit's kind of expensive; let's just pull a Palin and stay home.

    1. Barb

      Let's just pull a Palin and stay home……….
      and watch her kids multiply like Tribbles.

        1. SorosBot

          If it's a boy, they're the ones who all begin with Tr; for a girl Bajoran would be a good name.

        1. horsedreamer_1

          Also: the trouble with Tribbles is I was too pathetic to ask for her number back in '91.

        1. SayItWithWookies

          Could be — do you live in a backwards nation stuffed to the brim with faith-based idiocy, in a state with a medeival and corrupt governor proudly slashing essential services to the old and poor?

    2. genxr

      I share a maritime border with space, so yes I know all about it.

      That's why I stay home on the Internets pulling my Palin.

  7. Goonemeritus

    I have got to agree with Rich this one time. Oh and while were at it can we bring back Battlestar Galactica?

  8. DaSandman

    A sad, anti climaxtic ending.

    A better one would have been to stuff the Republician congressional "leadership" into the old tin can, send it aloft and use it for nuclear target practice.

    And we should have stuffed it full too. A right wing hate screamer or two would have been excellent.

    How could you miss a target like Rushbo?

  9. nonbeliever7

    Wait, but what about Tang and Teflon and Santorum? Important things that were all invented due to The Right Stuff in space.

      1. Pres[EXTERMINATE!!]

        Without NASA, we wouldn't have had Bowie and Major Tom, and without Major Tom, we wouldn't have had Seu Jorge's Portuguese cover, ftw.

        Tomar suas pílulas de proteína e colocar o seu capacete
        Controle de terra para Major Tom
        Contagem regressiva de início, os motores de
        Controle de terra para Major Tom
        Controle de terra para Major Tom

        Verificação de ignição e do amor de Deus pode ser com você
        E os jornais querem saber quem você veste camisas
        Agora é hora de deixar a cápsula se você se atreve

        Você realmente fez a grade
        Dez, nove, oito, sete, seis, cinco, quatro, três, dois, mm, Lift-off
        "Este é Tom Maior para Ground Control
        Estou percorrendo a porta…."

      1. PristineODummy

        For HIS nightly pegging. Mrs. S is a good Catholic girl, and would never take it up the poop chute.

        Gonna ram it, ram it, ram it, ram it up yer poop chute

        Lyrics by courtesy of Frank Zappa

  10. inapewetrust

    the retired shuttles will be on display for visitors in florida, DC, LA and new york. this is very wasteful! couldn't we sell them for scrap?

  11. CapeClod

    Perhaps we could put a little money into a trans-dimensional, space traveling British phone box.

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      One of them teleportation devices would be pretty handy, although I don't much cotton to the idea of turning into Brundlefly or Jeff Goldblum.

    2. WhatTheHeck

      This traveling phone booth emerged back in Jesus' day and found that there were dinosaurs back then. But the Daleks exterminated them.

  12. Poindexter718

    Sucky that we don't have a manned spaceflight capability for the time being, but this whole program was a giant dead-end. Even the name was uninspired: "Space shuttle?" I mean why not just call it the "Low-Earth Orbit Short Bus" or the "Winged Hoveround"?

      1. Poindexter718

        Holy shit!
        As a wee lad, I actually saw Tricky Dick speak at Johnson Space Center the day this picture was taken. My big sister rushed the stage afterward and shook his hand (we subsequently had her scanned for any listening devices he may have implanted).

      2. GOPCrusher

        We partied in the desert outside of Edwards AFB to watch Columbia land.
        I woke up this AM to watch Atlantis land with tears in my eyes.
        We are quickly sliding toward third-world nation status.

  13. Nostrildamus

    The shuttle program was dumb, like sending a book through the US mail in a 50 pound steamer trunk. When people have to go, custom spacecraft are more efficient, but most space work s/b done by robots.

    Given this, expect the GOP to push a new ultra-heavy manned space program – vehicles shaped like Ronald Reagan's ass with saddles for the astronauts to sit in while they jangle their spurs.

  14. BornInATrailer

    First Prussian Blue no longer sings folksey/hatesy music and now no shuttle. What a day.

    1. horsedreamer_1

      They're kind of hot, too.

      Wonder when Hef will get them for the magazine &/or his harem.

        1. Negropolis

          I can't be the only one wondering if they have heavily pigmented boyfriends…or girlfriends. I'm sensing more to the story.

  15. Sue4466

    Wait, Texas governor Perry wants more money for the space program? But he's a Tea Party Patriot. They're in favor of private enterprise and small government. Why would he . . . Oh, Houston is in Texas . . . now I get it.

    1. elviouslyqueer

      See, THIS. I love how tea partiers bitch and moan about the huge fucking deficit until it comes down to cutting something in their neck of the woods. Then it becomes all "OBAMA HATES AMERICAN WORKERS AND TAKES AWAY THEIR JERBS." Fuckers, make up your fucking mind.

      1. horsedreamer_1

        Well, how do you expect the Texas Miracle ™ to continue apace if they lose all that sweet, sweet aerospace money?

        Johnson Space Center isn't a perpetual motion machine. Is it?

        (What's NASA hiding?)

        1. HistoriCat

          What's NASA hiding?

          -The car part which lets you get 200 mpg
          -The real pictures of the moon (considered indecent since the women allow two of their three breasts to be exposed)
          -Teleporters
          -Flying cars
          -Aliens (joint project with the military)

          1. Doktor Zoom

            Honestly, considering how badly people drive in two dimensions, do we want flying cars?

      2. weejee

        EQ it seems they are saying is something like "what's mine is mine, and what's your's is also mine," which makes sense in a douchenozzled teatard kinda way.

  16. OC_Surf_Serf

    Damn…I can think of a few people we still need to sent into permanently space….

  17. JustPixelz

    NASA's $18billion annual budget is about 1.8% of the total cost of the Iraq war.

    We could fund NASA for 20 years by collecting unpaid income taxes.

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      "…collecting unpaid income taxes."

      Not from the Job* creators, you don't!!!!
      _____________________
      *(Given that the zillionaire class is busily scarfing up the half of everything that they don't already own, leaving middle class Americans to suffer the trials of Job, I think we need to change how we pronounce "Job creator". I'm gonna be capitalizing the "J" from now on.

      1. JustPixelz

        I haven't seen them lately, but there were those ads on TV with happy people talking about how they only paid a fraction of their taxes thanks to the so-and-so tax service. They were always well-to-do. And happy. It made me crazy. They reap the rewards of living in America and are proud that they dodged responsibility to their fellow citizens. I think that attitude is considered heroic by the TP'ers.

        1. bagofmice

          Why are these "Real Americans" proud of adding to the national debt, destroying America from within!?! Are they some kind of fifth columnists? Why don't they want to support the troops? Do they really agree with the Bearded man and his Muslim wife that they want to drown our country in a bathtub?

          Inquiring minds want to know!

  18. SayItWithWookies

    All I know is that if a Republican had been elected president instead of Obama, we wouldn't be honoring the final shuttle landing. We'd be looking for the pieces.

  19. philpjfry

    I have always been an advocate for the space program. In my opinion it was money well spent and gave this country something to be proud of when there wasn't much to be proud of. I will miss the shuttle program and anxiously await whatever is going to replace it. Just make it quick Barry.

    1. GhostBuggy

      Yes. We stand at an important crossroads here. The future is in our hands (well, the government's hands) to go all out or stay the fuck on this dumb rock. Despite the complaints, some in these comments, the shuttle worked and did what it was essentially designed to do.

      Now we can leave that work that we've mastered to others and work on the next big thing: Mars, an asteroid or something else. Because let's not beat around the bush. the comparatively minute amount of money NASA consumes will NEVER go to the poor. It will NEVER go to health care. It's a dumb argument.

      But it could go to Mars, a place that might, or might not, hold evidence of other (past) life in our universe. A thousand robot crawlers cannot, in all likelihood, unearth this evidence. Imagine the implications of standing on the frozen waters of Mars or Europa, and seeing if somehow that water once fed someone other than an Earthling. I don't know if Obama can imagine it, and he doesn't give me a lot of hope as far as science funding goes, but I hope he or somebody else in power recognizes the potentially momentous transition we find ourselves in right now.

      Also, too.

      1. tejanojim

        GhostB – I'm a guy that believes the space program in general is the awesomest thing in the history of ever, and even five years ago I would have agreed with you.

        But if you look at where we're at, as a country and as a global technological civilization with overpopulation, resource depletion and waste accumulation, I just don't think it's going to happen. Any spare cash we have, from now until whenever, is going to be used to defend the oil umbilical that keeps this horrorshow nation running.

        If we do get to have another major national project, it had better be attacking climate change at both ends (adaption and mitigation). Save the Manhattan and the Great Barrier Reef for your grandkids, and you can talk to me about Mars. Deal?

        1. GhostBuggy

          You're not wrong. I agree that money's going to be tied up in our bullshit oil-based economy for the next two centuries. If Obama, the Great Liberal Socialist Spendocrat, can't find it in his heart to lay out a workable plan for funding science in general and NASA in particular, well, it's sort of bleak.

          But I still disagree on the "Earth now, Mars later" thinking. That's basically another way of saying "Mars never" (even if you specifically aren't saying that). For you it's climate change and the reefs; what will be for someone else once those are solved, if they ever are?

          While I agree climate change should actually be our top priority, it doesn't have to be our only priority. We can do more than one thing at a time. And that's leaving aside what a financially strong NASA can do to combat climate change (or other problems that people often point to as reason we shouldn't spend money on space programs). Like I sort of implied in my other post, it's fine that the shuttle is being retired. Let some other agency deal with low Earth orbit for now. And we don't need to go to Mars or an asteroid or the moon next year. But should we not start taking steps in that direction, however small?

          1. jus_wonderin

            Dude, you guys are debating tooooo reasonably. Where are the coarse invectives and irrational counterpoints?? Come on, the current political climate and discourse is much more entertaining. Get with the program. We, the people, want to hear some expletives and name calling!!!

          2. tejanojim

            Sorry, JW. Let me see…

            GhostBuggy is a typical tax and spend libunatic, who only wants to impose Creeping Space Sharia on the known universe. (hey, if there can be Jews In Space, there can be muslins, right?)

            Oh, and when I said "Save the Manhattan", everyone knows I meant the densely populated island, not the mixed drink. Right?

          3. tejanojim

            I can go with that. Continue to fund Nasa, with their priorities, in order:

            1. earth science (expand or at least preserve our climate monitoring satellites)
            2. something big, exciting and long term (Mars or asteroids, your pick)
            3. probing Uranus (for larfs)

            as long as we all agree that the top national priority is climate change, I'm ok with it.

          4. GhostBuggy

            Works for me. Boy, now we're getting somewhere. What issue should we solve next? Corporate control of the news? Ha ha, just kidding, that will never go away.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        Built up to world-class status, then out-done by the Japanese. Where have we seen this pattern before?

    1. anniegetyerfun

      Hey, hey. Children are a gift from God, so you can just take your birth control and shove it where the sun don't shine!

      What? Oh, that's where they put it? Huh.

    1. WhatTheHeck

      … and talking about “junk,” is that a rocket in your pocket, or are you just …

  20. whiterabid

    When the private sector starts trade with the planet Vulcan, then will we have a government space program again, to protect our trade with civilizations in other parts of the galaxy.

    1. genxr

      Sounds suspiciously like a consumer credit protection bureau. If I want a Klingon payday loan, that's none of the gubmint's bidness!

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        Chase, BofA, and Citi already offer loans on Klingon terms… they're way ahead of the curve. (Or maybe it's Ferengi terms — someone help me out here.)

        1. jus_wonderin

          To be clear, it was the Ferengi who sold packaged subprime loans to the Klingons who, in turn, calculated the derivatives and sold them back to us Earthers.

          The terrestrial banking sector was merely the galactic vending machine.

  21. Redhead

    I'm sure Perry just wanted Obama to approve the funding so he could laugh and point, Nelson-style, when the Repugnicants in Congress voted it down.

    Either that or he was hoping the leftover shuttles could be used instead of cars, to finally be large enough to carry a teatard, the teatard's spouse, and both their Hoverounds.

      1. genxr

        As we tragically learned in Texas, TruckNutz of that size cause severe overheating on reentry.

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Perry would take the Federal pork, then claim the jobs were created by Texas' bass-ackwards Republiclown policies.

  22. Monsieur_Grumpe

    America needs a new hobby. Blowing up3rd world countries and strapping astronauts to barely controlled explosives is getting old. How about wiping out the human race without fucking up the planet or a really good low calorie beer?

  23. BaldarTFlagass

    As a kid, I was all into the space program. I think that the drastic falling off of the public's interest in it after the first few moon landings, when the jingling of the shiny keys stopped being quite so interesting, was one of the first manifestations in this country of the whole bread and circuses/short attention span thing, which led directly to Survivor, American Idol, and Sarah Palin.

    1. anniegetyerfun

      I actually began loathing the space program when my dad started forcing us to get up early to watch the launches. One time we were on vacation in Florida, and he got us up at 4AM to watch the launch from our hotel, which was 20-odd miles away. Sure, you could see the light and stuff, but it was fucking 4 fucking AM.

  24. CrunchyKnee

    Barry will give tax breaks to some random "American" (multi-national) corporation to outsource space jobs to Chindiastan. It is the way forward, y'all. USA USA US…ah fuck it.

  25. TanzbodenKoenig

    What if we just tell the Teahidis that space is just chock full of new and varied alien minorities and for them to subjugate and disenfranchise? That ought to get their gander up…

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      One of the best reasons to hope we find signs of intelligent life out there, is the resulting epidemic of exploding heads in the right-wing religious wacko community. The Mormons will be antsy to send astronauts in white shirts (raising doubts among the aliens over whether they've discovered an intelligent species), but the rest of 'em will die of terminal cognitive dissonance.

    1. SorosBot

      Eh, screw the Prime Directive; any rule that tells a captain he should allow a crew member's child to be executed by a bunch of scantily-clad hedonists for accidentally trampling on some plants just because of the planet's wacky laws isn't a good rule, even if the kid was an annoying know-it-all git who you'd kind of like to see get killed.

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        I don't remember that episode, but it would have been nice to see that annoying Wesley Crusher get zapped.

        1. SorosBot

          Then you're lucky; it was Justice, a first season episode that was dire even by s1 standards; about the only saving grace was the skin on all the guest extras. Only the unintentional racism of The Naked Now prevents it from being the worst episode of that mostly horrid season.

          1. poncho_pilot

            i just watched the first couple of episodes the other night. first time since i was a child when they originally aired. i kept looking over at my wife and saying, "just remember, this show gets much better."

          1. LettucePrey

            That'll be $1,000, HistoriCat. Poncho_pilot can't watch, though, or he has to pay $100.

    2. LiveToServeYa

      It was replaced by the Prime Rate Directive. Or Prime Rib Directive. We have a lot at steak, after all.

  26. smashedinhat

    Now that they're closer to eliminating the meatlink entirely the only interest in space will be military. A sad end, until private enterprise can conquer near earth orbit and set up the ultimate gated community! Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!.

    1. poncho_pilot

      welcome to Richard Branson's Virgin Outer Space! servant entrance is in the rear.

  27. mavenmaven

    Hey, his randy midwestern pal was also Jewish. The outrageous misrepresentation in that program was that of all people, their doctor wasn't Jewish.
    Because they let NASA be run by all those military southerner types and not Jews, that's why it failed today. If they had Jews running it, there would be Chinese restaurants in space by now.

    1. horsedreamer_1

      In the future, we will all be fat fetishists, also.

      (Seriously. Check Nimoy's photography work.)

    2. PubOption

      That was a randy Canadian – Jewish pal, pretending to be from the Midwest. Unless Montreal has moved.

  28. James Michael Curley

    We need disposable shuttle craft and disposable astronoughts; like the current pack of tea party candidates.

    1. DashboardBuddha

      We could wrap them tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil and expose them to heat and vacuum. I don't know what we'll learn, but it would be fun.

  29. fartknocker

    No snark. I'm going to Ellington Field tomorrow in Houston with a friend who is a contractor with NASA (and about to be unemployed) to see the astronauts arrive. When I asked her about losing her job, she's not happy about it but told me she feels honored and privileged to serve the manned space program. We're hoping one of the astronaut's will sign the mission patch she received for working at NASA during this and other flights.

    And fuck R-shitstain Rick Perry.

    1. bagofmice

      Ah, if only there were a "Credit Default Swap" lapel pin. Let's see them be proud to wear THAT out to dinner.

  30. WhatTheHeck

    It is high time we discovered a planet we can rape and plunder. Oh wait. Been there. Done that.

  31. Doktor Zoom

    I, for one, have definitely missed Ken's unique viewpoint on the contemporary American scene. For a while there, for instance, I thought these goddamned antidepressants were working. I think I'll go drive at high speed into a bridge abutment now.

      1. weejee

        BTF, you wanna ride shotgun for a high speed crash into an abutment? I think changing dentists might be a better solution.

  32. PuckStopsHere

    I am amazed that as of a week ago Friday, I am no longer a citizen of a country that can put a man in space. (Sorry, girls. That's what we used to call it). This is the first time this is a true statement since Alan Sheppard's flight in May, 1961 when I was a little boy. It was when JFK was president. It was when we believed, as a people, that our country could do anything. I have borne witness to the slow, total erosion of our powers as a nation in my lifetime. In the last 30 years, really. Thanks, President Reagan!

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      I remember my old man taking me to Kubrick's "2001" at the old-timey fancy theater in DC when it first came out. I was all "Man it's gonna be so cool when I'm 42, Pan Am shuttles to the fucking moon!" Didn't understand the big fetus at the time, though. Anyway, so much for my youthful idealism.

    2. GOPCrusher

      I'm surprised they didn't bring the shuttle down on July 20th to commemorate America's greatest achievement.

      1. HistoriCat

        And just a couple years ago we had the hoopla from the 40th anniversary. Where were you for the landing?

        1. PuckStopsHere

          Family room watching Cronkite of course. In beautiful black and white. Which didn't matter since they only had a b&w camera on the moon. I was 12.

          1. Biel_ze_Bubba

            It was. My grandmother, who was about 80 at the time (she grew up with horses and buggies on the roads), was sitting there quietly, and suddenly asked, "Wait a minute … are they really on the moon?" We all assured her that this was the news (that's Walter Cronkite, after all), and yes, a man was standing on the moon at that very moment.

            She sat there for a moment, and said, "Well, I'll be damned!"

    3. Biel_ze_Bubba

      You won't have to fret for long: http://www.spacex.com/

      Heaving stuff into orbit is a profitable business, and businesses are itching to do it. Commercial launches won't have everyone waving the flag and singing the national anthem, but I think it's about time we got past that.

      NASA will continue to work on the hard stuff, like getting men to Mars. That's going to be one very cool mission… and we'll probably break out the flags again.

      1. bagofmice

        Men are too heavy. So much of the launch weight goes to Air, water, food, and sending poo into space. I want clouds of robots on a fat data pipe back to earth first. Not Spirit and Opportunity, but MarsProbeD1 – MarsProbeD256 on a single flight. Then V2 robots a year later, the the construction bots setting up elementary telemetry and com links, then the construction bots with 3d printers for structure assembly, then a fabrication plant to build life support structures, a few supply drops, and THEN a manned mission.

        It is waaaaay easier to move data from Earth to Mars (at the speed of light even) than these squishy whiny sacks of poo we call human bodies.

  33. MissTaken

    It is funny that when the Shuttle program was just beginning people would think you were a complete nutter if you said "you know, when this program is over we will be sending our hot-blooded American astronauts to space in Soviet Russia space vehicles"

        1. bagofmice

          In my office filled with C++ programmers, the news that Charles Simonyi had been shot into space was met with great elation.

  34. BaldarTFlagass

    "Shoot, man, we've been on the moon since the Fifties!"

    I think it's high time I watch Slacker again.

  35. orygoon

    I for one am happy to see that it landed without any more crashes. The probability of A crash was supposed to be one in ten thousand flights or so. Those calculations weren't worth all the blackboards they had been scratched on–or even a bushel of chalkdust.

  36. VinnyThePooh

    devil-eared Jewish scientist and his randy midwestern pal, who liked to get it on with colored girls … green colored girls
    Don't forget the commie Helmsman and the drunk in Engineering.

    I believe Kirk had a kinky sex act called the Kobayashi Maru. Something about intruding the Neutral Zone. *mystified expression*

    1. voodooeconomics

      he used that on Uhuru many times and she cried for the Kobayashi after his retirement.

    2. elviouslyqueer

      And let's not leave out the swashbuckling sodomizer Orientalist and the epically-short skirted Negress.

  37. Pres[EXTERMINATE!!]

    Well, warp drive should only be 53 years away by this point, if we follow the Star Trek calendar. And at that point the devil-eared Jewish scientists will pay us a visit.

    (That bit about Spock and Kirk surely is among the top 10 best Ken Layne lines ever.)

      1. GhostBuggy

        Not to mention World War III. Although, we're actually right on course for that one, by the looks of things.

    1. ThundercatHo

      Yeah, except that we have to have a global nukular war that almost destroys the human race first.

  38. DashboardBuddha

    Why did they land at night?! What have they got to hide? Teabaggers want to know!

        1. Negropolis

          I've always wondered why they want to build a wall, when they already have the beginnings of a bad-assed moat (i.e. the Grand Canyon)….

  39. ArmoredLibunatic

    Does this mean we'll be investing more in mass drivers/space guns? Because that would kick all kinds of ass.

    1. HistoriCat

      If by "mass drivers/space guns" you mean "tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%" then yes.

    2. SorosBot

      The NRA would like to remind you that the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to carry a concealed mass driver/space gun into an elementary school.

  40. LettucePrey

    Hey, when the last space shuttle gets back, wouldn't it be hilarious if we were all dressed as apes?

    (No, seriously, we need to all get our shit together and do that.)

    1. Doktor Zoom

      I hate every ape I see
      from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z
      You'll never make a monkey out of meeeee!

    2. ThundercatHo

      Best practical joke ever! I've got horses for whoever wants to be the gorilla cavalry.

  41. RodneyBadger

    It sucks that we will never explore outerspace again, but look on the bright side, at least we won't have to deal with the Necromorphs.

  42. voodooeconomics

    But, but i wanted a real Star Trek. why can't i have it.

    Next thing we know some bug eyed Chinese will be riding along The Happy Family Takeout Space Probe while we go back to growing corn.

      1. ThundercatHo

        2nd least sexy garment is fishing waders, except to my husband who thinks they are hawt. Freak.

    1. ttommyunger

      Pussy used to rule the World; now it seems money is the prime motivator. Not a good sign.

  43. voodooeconomics

    Plans for a meeting with an Alien creature have been postponed for lack of funds. Perhaps a mining company could sponsor a freighter to the Outer Worlds. Take the coal people with them.

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Are you kidding? They'll come back towing a forty-trillion-ton moonlet made of pure carbon, wanting to burn the whole fucking lot of it in Chinese power plants.

  44. ThundercatHo

    Star Trek, cheesy?! How dare you, sir. Sacrilege! Personally, I'd gladly paint myself green to have some sexy time with those two space/time trippin' hotties and don't even get me started on Capt. Picard. Whoo, is my air conditioning failing here or what?

  45. Rotundo_

    So our space program is down to "Space Tourism" from Richard Branson, which is just a quick skim up to microgravity and then back down for a few hundred grand. The good thing about this is that rich arrogant fucks who have no good reason to do so will pay up for this honor. Since the only value of it will be bragging rights, there won't be a lot of tears shed when they splatter all over the desert on re-entry. It will thin the wealthy herd down as well. Sorta like airplanes and balloons have…

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Works for me, so long as Branson does that Job creatin' thing with most of the money.

  46. gorenfeld

    Sad that a nation that once aspired to send Space Camp counselors into the solar system now has no bigger dream than droning imaginary hijackers forever.

  47. Guppy06

    Space exploration will never get funding from a country that has to "teach the debate" about a round earth.

      1. Guppy06

        I hear they're building a new Geocentric Fun Park in Kentucky. About 90 % of the funding will be coming from the state.

        1. Biel_ze_Bubba

          "The world also shall be stable, that it be not moved."
          Chronicles 16:30

          End of discussion.

  48. guangho

    "because of a canceled teevee show from the ’60s, about a devil-eared Jewish scientist and his randy midwestern pal, who liked to get it on with colored girls … green colored girls." Bibi?

  49. Beetagger

    Welcome back Ken. Your level of cynicism and despair is a beacon to all of us huddled, suicidal earthlings.

    Yours truly, a diabetic, unemployed middle aged white guy.

  50. LiveToServeYa

    Space. Meh. We'd just fuck it up, somehow. Admittedly, it'd take a fantastic effort to screw the cosmos so utterly. But then … "we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." So, I guess the Space Rape is in good hands with the capitalists. Someday, people will complain about space travel like they complain about air travel: lousy meals made of paste and how the baggage handlers at the Titan spaceport just love exposing your belongings to hard vacuum.

  51. vulpes82

    Oh, hi there, Ken! It's so great you're here: my existential despair had almost dissipated!

    On a more serious note, while it's sad to see the space shuttle program come to an end, even as a big old space nerd I'm really not as sad about it as a lot of people. The shuttle program has never really lived up to its potential, and some argue that it has actually itself kept back the space program.

    Oh, and lastly, we're all NERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRDS!

  52. elviouslyqueer

    Dear downfister, you are either a cowardly pedantic pussyfart or Allan West. Pick your poison, son.

  53. Steverino247

    No bucks. No Buck Rogers.

    Having lived long enough to see both ends of our manned space program, I'm very sad it's over. I was looking at pictures of Chinese engineering marvels the other day and thought, "Hey, we used to be able to do shit like that." China has finally overcome the earlier mistake of getting rid of the Mandarins who kept the country from falling apart. America is now in the process of repeating their error of getting rid of teachers, social workers, engineers and returning to praising invisible spooks and fearing science.

  54. ttommyunger

    I remember when "l984" was a futuristic novel. "2001, A Space Odyssey". All this neat space stuff was supposed to happen to expand our Human Horizons. Looks like we got all distracted by killing other Tribes and taking their stuff. …We are so fucked, and rightly so.

  55. BTWBFDIMHO

    What do you mean no more space travel? Not even from Marble Hill to Westchester County?

  56. snoopyfan2010

    I wonder how many of the people crying about the end of the shuttle program ever actully watched the launches or can name more than just one of the shuttles.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour. (You don't bait a nerd like that)

  57. Pres[EXTERMINATE!!]

    The next nation with a serious manned space program will not be the US. It will be among the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China – the fastest-growing economies in the world. OK, Russia already has one, and China's sent a couple of taikonauts up as well. Just watch what these countries do over the next 20 years while US Americans get diabetic on HFCS. But hey, at least we have a vibrant pr0n industry. Oh yeah, and none of these countries are actively dismantling their public education systems.

  58. lulzmonger

    This is truly dire news.

    Never before has mankind had more need to mount an Ark B Program so that we can finally start a colony on the newly-discovered planet Sol.

  59. Negropolis

    I liked that the American government sent people into space. I like that we could collectively take credit for such a feat. I rue the day when we'll have to see the toothy visage of eccentric British billionaire Richard Branson plastered with a shit-eating grin pushing a button in the wilds of New Mexico to send the likes of Paris Hilton and other "job creators" into space as if it's some common amusement park ride.

    Yeah, I'm more pissed than a blue tongued skink on a hot sidewalk. Wanna fight about it?

    1. Fukui_sanYesOta

      Hell, mate, I'm British and I'm pissed off that the USA doesn't have a manned space program. As a young scientifically-minded guy I was in awe of what the USA could achieve. When I was 15 and my school was doing some kind of half-arsed summer work experience program, I applied to NASA – got turned down for not being American.

      NASA is still doing amazing things. New Horizons is still lumbering towards Pluto, Opportunity is still gadding around on Mars years after the mission was supposed to end, and the James Webb Space Telescope should launch around 2017 (albeit on ESA's Ariane 5). It's simply that these things don't capture the public's imagination in the same way that manned spaceflight does.

      I'll be right alongside you vomiting when that beardy cunt Branson pretends to be a normal guy as his latest cash-cow takes worthless fuckballs out of the atmosphere.

      1. Negropolis

        Yeah, NASA does great things and will continue to do so, but the Shuttle was a great marquee for the agency. It may not have been the most practical project, but damn if it wasn't a pretty trophy.

        BTW, I can never quite put my finger on what bothers me about Branson, so much. I mean, I don't think he's evil, but he feels so phoney to me.

  60. Mike Licht

    1970s? No way. Atlantis is a brand-new 1985-model Space Shuttle. You know, vinyl top, stereo casette player, cruise control. One boss ride.

  61. Infrogmation

    So dies JFK's noble dream of keeping us out of unnecessary wars by bribing the Military-Industrial Complex with piles of contracts for expensive rockets, and LBJ's noble dream of keeping the fat cats obese and happy by letting them have both at the same time.

  62. CapeClod

    The vehicles themselves were OK, albeit just as expensive as sending them up the old way. The problem was the pressure to launch and a culture of complacency that set in (Foam always hits the shuttle. It can't cause any damage, it's foam.) It just didn't seem like the Planet Express model was the best one to work with.

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