World marks 40th anniversary of NASA screwing it up for everybody else.
Posted by Karl Withakay on July 20, 2009
Today is the 40th anniversary of the day NASA set an unreasonably high benchmark for every other human effort by successfully landing two men on the moon and returning them back to the Earth 4 days later alive and well. Ever since then scientists, engineers, and other people in all walks of life have had to deal with an unreasonably high benchmark for human achievement, frequently having listen to others complain, “How come we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t have a VCR or microwave clock that won’t lose the time when the power goes out?”
One can only guess that Neil Armstrong must regret his involvement in the mission as he’s probably never been able to get out of a single household chore since the day he landed, likely having had to listen to his wife say “You mean to tell me you can land on the moon and come back, but you can’t go to the store and pick up some groceries or do a simple job like cleaning the gutters?” on more than one occasion.
NASA, to its credit, has attempted to rectify the situation on several occasions. However, one of the first major attempts to rectify the situation was an uncategorical failure. NASA seemed to have reduced everyone’s expectations by incorrectly grinding the main mirror for the Hubble Space Telescope, but then screwed it up by ingenuously fixing the telescope in space, setting the expectation that any failure, no matter how big, could now be turned into a stunning success.
NASA is now of victim of its own success and further pathetic attempts to rectify the situation, such as incorrectly mixing English and metric units on the Mars Climate Orbiter mission have failed to reduce expectations set by the “Apollo Standard”, and have actually subjected NASA itself to criticisms such as, “How come NASA can put a man on the moon, but they can’t figure out the metric system?”
One can only hope that the inevitable first mission to Mars will take a colossal wrong turn and end up on the strip in downtown Las Vegas instead of Mars.
Seriously, though, the Apollo program was (in my opinion) one of the top three achievements in the history of space exploration, which are, (in no particular order) Apollo, Voyager, and the Hubble.
If you want an actual Apollo related Deconstruction, I don’t stand a chance of doing it as well as Phil Plait has done over at the Bad Astronomy site.
(This blog post is partly inspired by a Jerry Seinfeld stand up routine.)