Monday, July 20, 2009
Today's space program needs nudity
I really thought by now we’d have at least the galactic equivalent of a 7/11 on the moon. We could go there for stale hot dog buns, overpriced milk and things like batteries and toothpaste.
Those would be all the things you might forget if you were packing for a moon vacation.
It may sound farfetched, but for the past 15 years or so I’ve talked to experts who assured me the future for moon vacations was on schedule for right about now. Back then I was told by 2010 a select few would be staying in inflatable lunar hotels, playing micro-gravity basketball with 40-foot hoops and sipping Tang & Tequilla Sunrises as the earth set on the Sea of Tranquility.
That’s why the 40th anniversary of the moon landing is triggering mixed emotions. It’s a landmark historical event, but seems like a nagging reminder of a wasted opportunity, sort of like 59-year-old Tom Watson whiffing on an 8-foot putt to, egads, win the British Open.
So it’s all very disappointing to an optimist who has been impatient for the future since way back in the past.
It all began for me in the mid ‘90s when I spied a tiny blurb in The Wall Street Journal that said there would be moon vacations by the year 2020 (and let me be the first to predict 2020 will be a good year for visionaries).
I knew the fuddy duddies at the WSJ were prone to erring on the sound side of prudence. At the time I was doing lots of stories for National Enquirer and instinctively erred on the side of gross recklessness. So I cut the projected number in half and launched a niche career as a half-baked futurist.
I did dozens stories for dozens of publications about what the future of moon vacations would look like. I found Japanese companies working on giant inflatable hotels. I found Swedish companies that were planning golf courses that would charge gray fees instead of green fees.
I found a man, Dennis Hope, who can justifiably claim he’s the king of the universe. In 1969, he seized on an obscure United Nations loophole that says “no country or nation can own outer space.” Because he’s an individual and neither country nor nation, Hope brilliantly laid claim to the moon and six planets and commenced to selling the real estate. He’s already sold more than 25,000 lunar acres at $27.15 a piece.
He’s going to be a whole chapter if I ever get around to my book about making millions by selling stuff that’s not yours.
And, of course, I found many people who were consumed with prospects of space sex. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but suffice it to say that bondage in the future will lose its deviant chic because experts say space sex will be impossible without straps, velcro and enough traction chains to get a cheap rent-a-car over the Rockies in a blizzard.
I found a private sector brimming with enthusiasm and Barnum-like initiatives that would re-ignite enthusiasm for a program that has somehow squeezed the euphoria out of what is man’s last, greatest adventure.
I believe the space program is at a standstill because we’ve turned the entire enterprise over to one of the most boring alliances ever conceived.
That would engineers restrained by accountants.
These are the people who for years have given us space experiments involving the mating habits of insects, frogs and worms when it seems all people really care about is the mating habits of astronauts.
Just imagine that pay-per-view.
In fact, the best human interest story involving the space program in recent years involved astro-naughty Capt. Lisa Nowak, kidnapping charges and a sordid love triangle. It was a fascinating peek behind the curtain at the lives of the star-chasing stoics.
And that all took place on earth.
We need some enterprising reality TV producer to develop a “Big Brother”-type show for outer space. And it should be R-rated.
We can’t ignore that adult entertainment was the driving force that keyed the development of the internet. A little space nudity -- lunar moons! -- could go a long way in humanizing the space program, a worthy endeavor that is ironically hitting bottom for its lack of cheekiness.