Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the Moon, was delightfully blunt about his view of politicians in the space age.
"From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty," Mitchell, who passed away last year at the age of 85 said regarding his experience in space. "You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.'"
Well, the folks at the Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN—yes, that's "NASA" backwards), a worldwide space community that promotes in DIY, local, and independent space missions, have made Mitchell's irreverent words a reality.
On Wednesday, ASAN posted what it calls "the first protest in space," directed at President Trump. Behold this beautiful example of suborbital dissent (and eventually, descent).
The ASAN team printed out a giant tweet from their Twitter account, tagging Trump's oft-used @realDonaldTrump's Twitter handle, that reads "LOOK AT THAT, YOU SON OF A BITCH" in the President's preferred capitalized typeface. The sign hitched a ride on a weather balloon to an altitude of 90,000 feet, which is not considered space-proper (that'd be above the Kármán line, at 330,000 feet) but is in the near-space sphere.
Why was Trump in particular singled out for this protest? It could have something to do with his dismissive attitude towards the planet we all live on. In his short time in office, the President has proposed slashing NASA's Earth science program, cultivated a culture of climate change denial in the White House, and expressed repeated hostility to federal agencies responsible for preserving environmental standards that ensure Americans have access to clean air, water, and public parkland.
In short, Trump may need a hefty dose of the Overview Effect, which is a shift in perspective reported by astronauts that leads to a greater awareness of the fragile beauty of Earth and its inhabitants. It's a last-ditch effort, but if anything can wake our President up to this reality, it just might be an airborne tweet.
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- freedom of speech
- freedom of expression
- political protest
- first amendment
- edgar mitchell
- apollo 14
- autonomous space agency network