Sunday, May 27, 2012

Houston We Have a Problem: Cultural Vandalism

by Drew Martin
In 1993, NASA conducted the first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope to fix its optics problem. I remember this like it was yesterday because I was living in a polluted city in northern Czech Republic. The beautifully orchestrated mission was televised while I was struggling with something much more down to earth: the Yugoslavian washing machine in my apartment had leaked all over the floor again, which required rolling up the linoleum surface of the hallway and letting a burlap base layer dry out underneath. My situation was a mess and the flawless spacewalk made me ask myself, "What am I doing here?" There have been about 500 people from nearly 40 nations on roughly 300 manned missions in space. The Apollo program, which brought man to the moon, employed 400,000 people. Despite the achievements and advancements of all the astronauts and scientists, there is a small group of conspiracists who negate we ever left Earth. Although I think science fiction feeds our curiosity and inspires our adventures, part of the naysayers arsenal is that Hollywood is pretty good at faking it as the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing in Californication, "Space may be the final frontier, but it's made in a Hollywood basement." A very well done and respectful, six-part series about the space program is Discovery's When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, which I recently watched on Netflix. I am not one to follow conspiracy theories and I am not into the myth busters genre but I watched a YouTube video yesterday called, The Truth Behind the Moon Landings, which debunks the conspiracists, who are typically old loners living in trailer parks. One of the sober people interviewed in this clip referred to the conspiracy theory as a form of cultural vandalism.