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NASA Scientist To Star Trek: “You’re Not Helping”
by Jill Pantozzi | 11:46 am, April 16th, 2012
Although NASA has helped Star Trek through the years, whether stylistically or through astronauts making cameo appearances, not everyone involved with the agency thinks the universe of the franchise. In fact, there’s one former scientist who thinks Star Trek is NASA’s worst enemy.
The comments come from former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, director of space policy at George Washington University, partly in response to North Korea’s recent rocket crash.
“Anybody can make something go boom. Controlling it is hard,” he said.
But it’s not just the North Korean mishap the article cites. The Star Tribune writes:
In 1986, the fiery power of the space shuttle Challenger burned through an O-ring seal and seven astronauts died.
Other control problems have doomed spaceships. Aerodynamics — keeping the pointy end straight up — is key. If a rocket veers too much it just breaks apart, said Jonathan McDowell of Harvard University.
New countries launching rockets generally fail half the time, he said. John Glenn recalled how NASA’s first astronauts watched in horror as an Atlas rocket blew up in front of them. More recently, private U.S. company SpaceX failed on its first three Falcon 1 launch attempts before finally succeeding twice. Even the normally reliable Russians couldn’t get a rocket to Mars last fall because of a post-launch failure that ended up with the spaceship on board falling back to Earth.
So why is Pace placing the blame on Star Trek?
“In many ways, the worst enemy of NASA is Star Trek,” he said. “Captain Picard says ‘engage’ and the ship moves. And people think ‘How hard can this be?’”
Regular people, maybe. But are educated scientists, working on space missions or devices really under the assumption that it’s a simple job because of a sci-fi television show? Kind of a stretch if you ask me.
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