There’s a certain irony as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we also recall the 40th anniversary of Skylab plunging to earth in the wilds of Western Australia. The latter was clearly an affirmation of the old adage, ‘what goes up must come down’, much to the joy of the many treasure hunters who managed to salvage bits and pieces of NASA’s redundant space station. That, of course, is another story – what is of interest this week is the enthusiasm being expressed by supporters of the local space industry.
It’s timely of course given the current moon landing nostalgia and the fact we now have a bona fide Australian Space Agency. Yet some of the optimism expressed, like establishing our own space tourism industry, is open to question – as is much of the futuristic space talk, both here and in the US.
Donald Trump is certainly gung ho about the US landing a group of humans on Mars although his tweet in June of this year is somewhat perplexing:
“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”
The moon a part of Mars? That’s sheer ‘covfefe’. Interpret that as you will but many would agree if there is, in fact, a manned mission to Mars, ‘Captain Trump’ should lead the expedition, provided there is no return journey.
Here in Australia, you would think we would have other priorities, firmly affixed to the ground, rather than shooting stuff off into space. Energy needs, dried up rivers, urban congestion, increasing homelessness etc. – surely top of the list before we start our own space tourism industry.
“Where the bloody hell are you?” Hurtling around the world in some souped-up spacecraft, 100km up at a mere 4000kph! Somehow I don’t think so, at least not in the next decade or so. Let’s leave that self-glorifying venturism to Richard Branson and Elon Musk and perhaps look to some more ‘grounded’ space agency enterprises.
Over the coming years, it’s predicted more and more space junk could end up falling to earth, with a good chance that some of it will drop into outback Australia. Guided camel back scavenging tours could be a huge money maker and the thrill of finding a piece of some burnt out Russian satellite could be akin to unearthing gold. It could easily become a huge tourist attraction and when no space junk had recently fallen, we could conveniently step in by scattering a few ‘replica’ items.
Closer to town, one of our capital cities could be the perfect environment to host the ‘Moon Conspiracy InterActive Experience.’ Housed in a giant television studio, patrons could dress as astronauts, hit golf balls around a simulated lunar environment and bounce off a special trampoline-like surface. Filmed in slow-mo and converted to fuzzy black and white, they would leave with a DVD of their encounter and a bag of edible chocolate coated moon rock.
Finally why all this talk of Mars, when the desert areas of this country are some of the most hostile environments known to man. A ‘Mars’ resort in the remotest part of the Great Sandy Desert would be a huge drawcard, especially considering it wouldn’t take seven months to get there. The area would have to be cleared of any visible wildlife and holidaymakers would stay in a row of authentic looking space domes. Simulated dust storms would keep all activity indoors and with no TV, no Wi-Fi and definitely no mobile phones, patrons would be forced to make their own entertainment although Scrabble and Monopoly would be provided.