Monday, November 15, 2010

Seniors in space

From 1996:

Now here are two seemingly unrelated facts.

Fact One: 30% of Medicare expenditures are incurred by people in the last years of their lives.

Fact Two: NASA spends billions per year on astronaut safety.

Maybe you see where I am going....

Why not shoot the elderly into space? Stay with me. Because I'm not just thinking about the budget here. I'm talking about science. Just think how many more manned space operations NASA could undertake if they didn't have to worry about getting the astronauts back.

Now, I'm not saying we don't try to get them back. We just don't make such a big deal about it. That way we don't have to use the shuttle every time, which is very expensive. Put an old Mercury capsule on top of a Saturn rocket, fire it up, and see what happens. And if the "Houston, we've got a problem" call comes, Mission Control can simply reply, "Best of luck. We're rooting for you."
-- Al Franken, in "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot"

From the AP:

Two scientists are suggesting that colonization of the red planet could happen faster and more economically if astronauts behaved like the first settlers to come to North America — not expecting to go home....

"You would send a little bit older folks, around 60 or something like that," Schulze-Makuch said, bringing to mind the aging heroes who saved the day in the movie "Space Cowboys."

You can read the actual proposal here but be warned, it does not improve under close scrutiny.

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