A Thousand Points Of Light For Mr Blog's Tepid Ride
I’d like to take a moment to thank Barry for giving me access to his repository of hilarity, and doubly so for having these on tap just as my body apparently got caught up with some sort of Spanish Influenza/Black Death hybrid.
SO YOU WANT TO BE AN ASTRONAUT – a primer
I have been interested in space exploration since July 8th, 1978. That day my uncle Buzz Yeager Jacobs took me to NASA to show me where he works. Uncle Buzz was an astronaut, and he took me behind the scenes of both the Johnson Space Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratories. I got to wear a spacesuit, I walked on their simulated moon environment, and I was even blasted into near-Earth orbit when I stowed away in the payload of a Gemini 6 rocket. I came back with only a few ill effects, but I was kept in quarantine for a week because of exposure to cosmic radiation due to poor shielding in the cargo compartment. To this day I still yell “Flame on!” in times of extreme stress.
Since then, I have taken an interest in space travel and have now taken it upon myself to write this primer for you, the aspiring astronaut-to-be.
PART ONE- So You Want To Be An Astronaut.
It’s not easy becoming a member of the elite space corps. Buzz Yeager Jacobs was an air force test pilot for 25 years and flunked out of flight school twice before he was accepted for astronaut training. They don’t take just anyone. Lindsay Lohan, for example, cannot be an astronaut, no matter how much we would all like to blast her into space.
Astronauts go through rigorous training, both physical and mental. They must be able to withstand the enormous physical trauma of space flight- the high gravitational forces on takeoff and reentry followed by no gravity and weightlessness. Mentally, the stress is even harder. Ever see the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he stacks a dozen cases of dynamite on top of each other and lights the fuse, blowing up poor Elmer Fudd who was tied to the top? Well, that is space flight in a nutshell, and every astronaut knows it.
But if you have “the right stuff” you can be an astronaut. What is “the right stuff?” I don’t know but they have it. And if you have it, this primer is for you.
PART TWO – Space
Space is a very big place, and there is relatively little in it. Let me give you an example: Space is even emptier than Paris Hilton’s head. “That’s hot.” (No, Paris. In fact, space is very very cold.)
Before space flight, scientists believed that space was very crowded with a substance called “ether.” They could not see it or measure it, but they believed it was there nonetheless. Those early scientists were pretty stupid. (Or pretty religious, if you replace the word “ether” with the word “God.”)
Today we know that space is a vacuum which spans a distance many trillions of light-years across. What is a light-year? It is defined as the distance a ray of light will travel in a year. In terms of miles, it is a quazillion-billion-doodad miles, a long way in anybody’s book.
PART THREE – Objects Found In Space
Despite the relative emptiness, there are things in space which can kill you.
1- There is no air in space. If you ever find yourself going there, remember to pack some oxygen or you’ll have a very short visit.
2- Asteroids. These are also called “comets” or “meteorites,” depending on how accurate the movie you are watching is. Asteroids are 70% ice, 10% rock, and 20% anger. They exist to smash into planets and kill dinosaurs. This is what happened on Earth. An angry asteroid smashed into the planet and sent a giant cloud of dust into the air, blocking all sunlight, killing most plants, choking most oceans, and forcing the large animals that depended on plants and oceans to die. (No, no, Mr. Gore, I am not talking about your “Inconvenient Truth.” This is factual.) If you ever played the old video game “Asteroids” on the Atari 2600 you know how dangerous these objects can be.
3- There are a great number of planets in space, but only a fraction of them are thought possible of sustaining human life. According to Abbott and Costello go to Mars, the planet Venus is populated by a race of beauty pageant contestants who have never seen a man. (And one giant dog.) Since this movie’s release in the early 1950’s NASA has made a Venusian colony a top priority.
4- The sun. Look into the dawn sky. The big yellow one’s the sun. But don’t look directly at it! (I should have warned you first. Sorry.) It is a very hot environment. Don’t go there.
PART FOUR – Aliens
The official government position is that there is no life in space. We know that is untrue. Look no further than Tom Cruise.
Tom Cruise is a Scientologist. Scientology is a science-fiction-based religion founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and its main tenets can be found in his science-fiction novels. And Tom Cruise is an actor. Since when has Hollywood been wrong about anything?
Scientology believes that Earth is an intergalactic prison and that problems on Earth are caused by evil aliens. Lost your job? Drink too much? It is the aliens fault. Scientologists also believe that one day the Evil Alien Dictator will return to destroy the Earth. That is why Tom Cruise has green-lighted Mission: Impossible 4- while there is still time.
You may run into these aliens as you travel through space. You may also run into Klingons, Vorlons, or Marvin the Martians, all of whom will have a better ship and cooler uniforms than you do.
PART FIVE – So You Still Want To Be An Astronaut
After reading this primer, many of you may still want to become astronauts. Good for you, junior space cadets!
Being an astronaut is one of the noblest callings of humanity. A man may be chosen Pope, a woman may experience the joy of motherhood, but only an astronaut can spend four hours on the launch pad only to have a couple of clouds and a seagull scrub the launch.
To you, Astronaut-To-Be, I say clear skies and happy trails! I salute you.