I feel bad for today’s astronauts. Space travel has become so common place, it’s passing news:
“Wow, thank you John for your report on Jenny Spigot– the new world record holder for pancake eating. In other news, the space shuttle Atlantis landed safely at Cape Canaveral.
John, before you go, did Jenny have to eat these pancakes with syrup or without?”
It’s awful. Surely, these astronauts dreamed of the experience of going into space, watched newsreel footage of the first Apollo landings, and the huge reception for the astronauts when they returned.
At that time, astronauts had a mythic, heroic quality that put them above even a president or the biggest movie star – the impression was, sure this man can run a country, and this woman is gorgeous, but this dude’s been floating above both of them and everyone else in the world for three fucking weeks.
In comparison, today’s astronauts just seem anticlimactic.
“OOOO Space. Didn’t we just send a clown there?”
Add in that any civilian (with a shitload, of money, of course) can now train for their own space travel with Virgin Galactic or through their own scheme with the Russian space program, and astronauts are no more celebrated than a second string professional athlete.
Kind of like professional journalists, who once held sway over the populace with their stories from far off places readers could barely pronounce – Kathman-who? –, and have now been unseated by a torrent of underground, freelance journalists who, in a quest, to provide the next greatest story make it a practice to report stories from hard to pronounce countries – Kazahkstan – I like!.
So I wonder, do astronauts feel hard done by these days: “Where are my crowds, red carpets and champagne? I just floated around the earth for chrissakes!”.
“Space – the final frontier” used to sound mystical and adventurous at the front of Star Trek.
Today it just sounds kind of quaint.