Nasa’s Artemis 1 rocket has blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre and is on its way to the moon.
I don’t understand the fuss. We’ve already been there. Nasa left a beach buggy there half a century ago. Elon Musk put a Tesla on Mars the other day. We’ve all moved on.
And it’s not like Artemis 1 is even landing on the moon. It’s going around and coming straight back, with nobody in it. Artemis 2 will at least have a crew on board. They’ll do a flyby and take some selfies. Artemis 3 will finally put people on the surface, 53 years after Neil Armstrong and whatshisface played golf up there.
Those unspeakable Russians sent a dog into space in 1957. Laika’s still out there somewhere. Whenever I see a distant light scooting across the night sky, I shout. “Gav gav!” That’s Russian for “woof woof”.
This latest malarkey makes no sense at all. For a start, the launch of Artemis 1 has been aborted six times. I’d call that a bad omen. The rocket looks like something from the cover of a Tintin album. It’s cobbled together from spare parts and leaks worse than an incontinent nonagenarian. Hydrogen makes great fuel but it’s very difficult to work with. A bit like my last boss.
I lived in Windhoek for 10 terrible years. I know what the surface of the moon would feel like. At least in Namibia, you can find a beer when you need one. The moon is a dry, dusty ball of rock with no chance of so much as a Jägermeister. You can’t even get laid on the moon because if you undid your zip, your willy would blow up like a balloon and you’d float off into space and your friends would take pictures of you orbiting the earth with a giant inflated willy. Nobody wants that.
The other thing that puzzles me is why it has taken this long to get back to the moon. Apollo 11 was guided by a computer with the processing power of a Nokia 3210. Back at mission control, the engineers were making calculations on an abacus when they ran out of fingers. Radio contact was along the lines of, “Slow down when you see a big bright thing, then go left for a bit.”
And yet, with all our brilliant new technology, nobody has been back since 1969. Actually, that’s not true. After Apollo 11, there were five more missions that put flybois on the moon. The last was in 1972.
You’d think that by 2007 at least, a Nasa engineer might have arrived at work with a new iPhone 1 and said, “This baby can put us back on the moon easy-peasy.” And within a week, there’d have been a bunch of estate agents and property developers up there. By now there should be entire suburbs separated according to who’s driving the latest Lunar Rover and wearing the most fashionable spacesuits.
The fact that there isn’t even one hotel does seem to play into the hands of the conspiracy theorists. The only explanation of why it’s suddenly so difficult to put people on the moon is that the original landings were faked. The other explanation, of course, is that Nasa simply started doing other stuff.
“Been there, done that,” the chief might have said whenever anyone mentioned the moon over Friday night drinks.
So why now? Elon Musk wants to start a breeding colony of genetically modified humans on Venus and Nasa is struggling to get us back to the boring old moon?
The Apollo missions brought back 382kg of rocks and sand. It was extensively analysed, but I don’t think anyone ever said, “Oh, man, we absolutely must get our hands on some more of those damn fine rocks.”
Nasa says moon rocks are worth $300 000 a gram. That’s based on the cost of fetching them, not on the Grade A hallucinations they produce. Then again, during my research I discovered that “moon rocks produce a slow burn with some immediate effects that really kick into high gear after 30 minutes”. Turns out you can make your own moon rocks by taking “a nugget of marijuana and dipping it in hash oil”. Probably best to leave it to the trained psychonauts.
Maybe we should give Nasa a break. They have, after all, promised that the Artemis programme will put a woman and a black person on the moon. And if they can’t find any volunteers, they’ll presumably start looking among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and disabled communities. As a last resort, they will pay people from the Rohingya or Uyghur tribes to go to the moon. And they’d better be grateful for the opportunity. Or else.
Fun fact. Artemis was Apollo’s twin sister. She was the goddess of nature, childbirth, wildlife, the moon, hunting, sudden death, animals, virginity, young women and archery. Think about that the next time you complain about having too much to do.