Tuesday, January 17, 2006

$700 million for Pluto?

As a pilot, I always struggle with NASA and their endless ways to spend taxpayer money. The space community will become irked when I say this, but do we really need to spend $700 million to see what is on Pluto, described by some scientists s an “oddball icy dwarf.”

Man, just think of what good $700 million could do to fix our completely broken health care system in this country. How many textbooks could $700 million buy, or food for the hungry, or, or, or…you get my drift.

Our country is bleeding red ink right now, so effectively, they are slapping the $700 million on the old VISA card, expecting future generations to pay it off. And since the first shred of data from Pluto won’t even arrive back here on this planet until 2015, my grandkids (when I have them) will have already made several payments on Uncle Sam’s space bill when they find out, hey, it really IS just an oddball icy dwarf!

But this tidbit in the NASA press release is what I found amusing:
An Atlas V rocket was programmed to speed the piano-sized Pluto explorer “New Horizons” away from Earth at 36,000 mph, the fastest launch speed on record. The craft will reach Earth's moon in about nine hours and arrive in 13 months at Jupiter, where it will use the giant planet's gravity as a slingshot, shaving five years off the 3-billion-mile trip.
NINE HOURS to the moon? Hell, I can’t get to Fresno from Eugene flying coach in nine freakin’ hours! Maybe NASA has this press release all wrong. Maybe the big news is that we can now get to the MOON in NINE HOURS!!!