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Space Shuttle Launch Vs. Royal Wedding: The Embarrassing Contest for Humanity's Attention

No royal wedding, please, we're space fans.

by Janus Rose
Apr 29 2012, 12:00am

Okay, look, I get it — The marriage of a fake monarch, for one terrible reason or another, is something that people actually care about. But instead of perpetuating the illusion of old world holier-than-thou elitism, I was planning on tuning in to an actual human achievement today. And so was our good buddy Neil Tyson:

Unfortunately, the scheduled 3:47 p.m. EDT final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour has been scrubbed due to a problem with heaters for its auxiliary power units, and will patiently undergo a 48 hour delay on its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The event will be the bittersweet penultimate launch for NASA’s Space Shuttle program, which is perhaps a little more on the ‘bitter’ side for space fans still reeling over the United States’ many rollbacks in the field, including SETI, the Hubble space telescope, and of course the long-due retirement of the space shuttle. Especially bummed: the 750,000 people who flocked to Florida to watch the launch.

The mission, coded STS-134, will involve delivering and assembling some of the final components to the International Space Station, including the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which will allow the crew to perform experiments that aid in the understanding of dark matter, and a third Express Logistics Carrier (ELC-3), which will provide electrical and computing power for these experiments.

After the hold is over, you’ll be able to watch the bird go up live on Spacevidcast or NASA TV, and shed a tear as the Space Shuttle counts down its final days. That’s way more exciting than the tuxedo of some faux-monarchistic figurehead, right? Google results say the zeitgeist thinks otherwise: the 30-year-old space shuttle gets 12.5 million hits, but “William and Kate” registers 189 million blips of human interest. Oh.

Maybe this delay is a good thing because I swear, if the wedding and the shuttle launch were to go head-to-head, and Twitter wound up trending pedantic observations on a masturbatory display of the world’s social elite more than thoughts on an event representing humanity’s single greatest scientific achievement, I would’ve started to think that maybe this species deserves to go extinct.