Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Conflicted, or NASA Is Hiring Astronauts And I Want To Be One

Long time readers of this blog know that on more than one occasion I have taken potshots at NASA. I've complained that manned spaceflight, while a noble pursuit, seems perilous and without point unless a clear direction is given. For example, if manned spaceflight involves building an orbital launch vehicle to send terraforming equipment to Mars...I'm all for it. Manned spaceflight as an economic stimulus mechanism for east Florida, on the other hand, I do not like.
I've laid out on this blog a time or two what I think should happen, going so far as to say we need to completely reboot NASA. I've suggested more robotic space missions and less manned missions would further what I see as the ultimate goal of space travel: preventing humanity's extinction by increasing the number of planets we inhabit from 1 to 2+.

All that being said, this morning I found out that NASA is taking applications for astronauts. And as I type this post, I have the application open on my second monitor. I cannot lie: this is the most appealing job application I've ever come across.

But here's the conflict: clearly I have issues with NASA. Clearly I have made those public. My name is on this blog, and honestly I stand by pretty much all the things I've said (things I do not stand by are summarily redacted). So I wonder if I would really stand a chance. I easily meet all the physical and academic qualifications for the position. Two degrees in engineering, 5 years experience designing/building both large electromechanical systems as well as small electronic devices. Significant experience with electrical design and circuit boards. Great health. From the applications: "Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind. That's what it takes to join NASA..." I got those covered!

But I have to wonder if they would only consider ardent NASA fanboys? If that is the case, let me please quote myself, from a post entitled "In Defense of NASA":
Listen, I am a big, big fan of NASA. Their mission statement, "To improve life here, to extend life to there, to find life beyond" is succinct and brilliant. When I was barely 6 years old I saw a shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral. We were several miles away, but even from there, you could see the glowing beast of a shuttle hurl into the sky, and watch the primary rockets fall away, until the shuttle was eventually lost from view. I grew up with a father who dreamed of going to space, and then vicariously dreamed that I might go to space. I watched Star Trek and Star Wars religiously. The crazy missions to the Hubble, Mars, and the construction of the ISS have all been highlights in my life. I was one of the people who let the SETI program borrow my computer at night to process radio wave information.
I don't need to go on really. I know how much NASA, and space exploration, means to me. And that is exactly why I am so critical of it! Watching your single favorite government organization fall into bureaucratic oblivion, pandering to the whims of whatever the current President says the agenda should be, overspending their budget year after year funding elephantine projects with no clear timeline or budget, not requiring their subs to perform at a certain level, and worst of all: creating unattainable, but PR-friendly goals and then spending enormous amounts of money on not achieving them...these are hard pills to swallow
All this being said, I think I will apply to be an astronaut. "Be the change you want to see in the world," goes the oft repeated quote. I guess if I want to fix NASA, the right way to do it would be from the inside, not from the comfort of my computer at my desk in Kansas. In that post, I also wrote:
My father likes to chide sports commentators with this line: "if these idiots knew so much, why aren't they coaches?" The same could possibly be aimed at me. If I have all the answers to NASA's problems, why don't I be put in charge of NASA? Wouldn't I like that?
I guess I should stop commentating and try coaching.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go for it, Son. They could use a man/genius like you.