How Republicans Will Ensure the USA Wins the Next Space Race

Image credit: NASA

Sixty years ago the Soviet Union shocked the USA by first putting a satellite into orbit and thereafter enabling Yuri Gagarin to become the first man in space.

The USA was desperate to catch up and then surpass its Cold War enemy and so NASA was created to take Uncle Sam into space. Kennedy announced the impossible stretch-goal of sending men to the moon and returning them safely to Earth before the end of the decade.

To accomplish US superiority in space, a new breed of hero would be required: men of uncommon grit, determination, and ambition.

The men who subsequently became NASA’s pioneers of human spaceflight were celebrated first in a book by Tom Wolfe and then in a movie; both were called The Right Stuff.

These men (and they were all men, because only the atheist baby-eating amoral Soviets would think of putting a woman into space) had what it took when it was needed. They were strong, they were highly educated, they had nerves of steel.

Today we need a very different breed of space-faring hero. The Soviet Union no longer exists; Russia is an economically enfeebled kleptocracy unable to aspire to the stars. China is today’s enemy, rich and obsessed with ensuring a Chinese face is next to the moon, first on Mars, and who knows where after that. It’s not surprising that the Chinese are busy grooming their own version of The Right Stuff.

Unfortunately for the Chinese space agency, they haven’t taken into account the fact that times have changed. Today the USA has a unique competitive advantage that suits it perfectly for the coming age of deep space exploration.

This article will explain why.

Most human activity in space has been in low Earth orbit, less than 450 kilometers above the surface of our blue planet. While extended periods of zero gravity have deleterious effects on the human body, astronauts and cosmonauts ensconced within the various orbiting space stations have all been shielded from solar radiation by the Earth’s magnetic field. Only the Apollo astronauts ventured beyond its protective embrace, and then for very short duration.

Deep space missions, however, can neither count on the Earth’s protective shield nor on getting there and back fast enough to hope that solar radiation won’t be a problem. On any extended mission, solar flares are guaranteed and the continual impact of other radiation will likewise become a serious problem. Adding shielding to a space craft will add mass, which will increase the need for fuel, which will increase mass, and so a vicious circle is created that makes a human-crewed deep space mission very problematic from an engineering perspective and in terms of overall cost.

Equally problematic is how to ensure the wellbeing of a crew over an extended period of time. The conditions aren’t favorable: months or even years spent crammed into a confined space interacting with the same small group of people without privacy or respite. Then there’s the question of food and water: enormous amounts of this will be required to sustain even a minimal crew.

Some have suggested using torpor as a way to minimize both boredom/frustration and consumption of food and water. While medically-induced comas are reasonably well understood, no one really knows the likely effects of sustained periods of such torpor. At the very least we expect serious impact on brain function: disorientation, loss of memory, poor task performance, persistent confusion, significant deterioration in the ability to reason and draw obvious conclusions from facts.

Fortunately there’s a solution that addresses all of these problems simultaneously, and the USA is happily well-supplied with precisely the type of volunteers it will need in the long arduous years ahead: Republican voters and Republican politicians.

Yes, these folk are the (far)Right Stuff of today. These are the heroic role models for our modern era.

Here’s why:

First let’s address the issue of solar radiation. Adding protective shielding to a space craft will increase its mass considerably, making space travel far more expensive than it need be. But Republicans are obese. They are carrying their own shielding with them. Wrapped in acres of protective blubber, they don’t need expensive artificial shielding. They’ve already gone organic and are providing their own. Although of course each Republican astronaut will weigh considerably more than the usual NASA model, the overall savings in total mass (humans plus space ship) are considerable.

Secondly, let’s consider the issue of long duration missions spent in cramped quarters, always in the company of a small group of others. Clearly this again is where Republicans have enormous advantages. Not only do many Republican politicians spend considerable time in airport toilet stalls interacting with nice young men, but they also spend the rest of their time howling and drooling with other people just like them. Therefore the physical constraints of space travel and the psychological dynamics are both just situation normal for your typical GoP member.

Lastly, the adverse mental impacts of extended periods of torpor will be entirely undetectable. Republicans aren’t using their brains except as ballast to stop their heads bobbling around uncontrollably; therefore there’s no possible adverse impact that can result from long periods of chemically-induced mental inactivity. In fact, tests conducted by the CIA (by accident, honestly…) have shown that there is no detectable difference between a Republican with a brain contained inside their cranium and a Republican who’s had much of their brain surgically removed, leaving only the brain stem and the tiny lobe responsible for repetitive behavior (chanting slogans and drooling).

So it is that the USA can gain an important competitive advantage in the years ahead. While the Chinese foolishly rely on training astronauts who are fit, intelligent, highly educated, adaptable, and personable, the USA can race ahead by the simple expedient of utilizing its greatest and most numerous asset: Republicans.

And should a mission go disastrously wrong and all those aboard the US space craft should perish, there’s yet another upside: no one with an IQ above 53 would miss them at all.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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