The irony of this week’s opening of the movie Gravity starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and Ed Harris is just, well, “out of this world. ” Unintentionally timed by public relations wonks to match up with this week’s furlough of 97% of NASA employees is nothing short of amazing. As Hollywood’s magic PR campaign and star power launch the movie to earth orbiting heights, the real U.S. space program appears to be burning up upon re-entry.
Deemed “nonessential” by an all wise Washington mission control, NASA appears dead last on the list of essential government services (source: AP). Born 55 years ago this week, NASA grew into a mighty force in the sixties with the space race against the Soviet Union. I still remember watching on black and white TV when Neal Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon in 1969. Born the same year as NASA, I grew up with the U.S. space program. It was great! I watched all of the launches that were televised, saw the airing of John Glen orbiting the earth all the way up to the emergency splashdown of Apollo 13 with mission commander James Lovell and crew.
Recently, I blogged about the failure of NASA public relations in promoting the AMAZING value of the space program to society. Although it never exceeded 5% of the federal budget, NASA returned an estimated 33% or more return on investment for every tax dollar invested. Quick, name any other government program that does that? Non-essential, you say? 350,000 jobs have been spawned by the space program. USA Today reported at one point that nine of the Top 25 Scientific Breakthroughs came from space. Non-essential?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to see the movie Gravity very soon. I love you Sandra and George and Ed! But, while Sandra Bullock and George Clooney fire retro rockets, and our imaginations, with this critic-rated A+ movie (four years in the making), the real “right stuff” heroes of the space program pack their bags for home.
Wikipedia list of NASA Spinoff Technology we use everyday:
- 1 Health and medicine
- 2 Transportation
- 3 Public safety
- 4 Consumer, home, and recreation
- 5 Environmental and agricultural resources
- 6 Computer technology
- 7 Industrial productivity