Barry Smith: It’s time to go planet-hopping |

Barry Smith: It’s time to go planet-hopping

Barry Smith

As a child of divorced parents, I can see right through the president’s announcement that we, the United States, are going to build a base station on the moon and from there travel on to Mars.

Like this: “Mommy and Daddy don’t love each other any more, and your feelings of helplessness, despair and guilt will probably linger long into your adult years, but when you come to my house every other weekend you can stay up late and have all the ice cream you want!”

Neither of my parents ever came right out and said, “Please re-elect me,” but I could sense that that’s what they were thinking.

Here. Have some more random space thoughts:

* In order to bring the space program up to modern times, I hope some of the Man-on-Mars budget will find its way to the Fab Five, the make-over experts from “Queer Eye …” I think that being the first nation to put a man on Mars will be a wasted, probably even mocked, effort if someone ends up hopping around Mars in one of those outdated Neil Armstrong bubble-head getups from, sheesh, over 30 years ago. Time to clean out the NASA closet and invest in some hip space couture. Otherwise … Danger, Will Robinson!

* Speaking of Mr. Armstrong, I hope NASA now realizes the importance of getting a good speech writer for the astronaut who makes the very first footprint on Martian soil. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is grammatically questionably and, in the present-day PC world, potentially sexist. It is also one of the more famous sentences ever spoken. So, now we have a chance to try again as Astronaut Whosits floats down to the Martian surface while the whole world watches. [Please, please, PLEASE don’t thank Jesus for this victory.] I’m thinking something more like “Top 10 Reasons It Just Totally Kicks Ass To Be On Mars.”

* I’m having mixed emotions about the promise of a lunar base. On the positive side, it will certainly be an amazing accomplishment for human ingenuity. On the other hand ” the potential for the number of reality TV shows taking place on a moon colony is frightening. “The Real World ” Lunar Base R-17.” In space, no one can hear you scream.

* However, should a lunar base finally become the reality that sci-fi books and movies have been promising for years, then we can put our technological focus on the other great sci-fi promise: sexy robots to do our bidding.

* I can’t shake the idea that this plan was hatched after Bush watched an episode of “Salvage 1.” Remember that reeeeeal bad TV show from the late-’70s? It starred Andy Griffith as a junkman who builds a rocket ship in order to fly to the moon, bring back all the space junk left there by NASA and sell it. Hey, Sheriff Andy built a space ship out of old water heaters ” let’s build us one, too.

* The president said he will initially seek an additional $1 billion over the next five years to begin researching the lunar/Mars project. Hmmm … that should just about cover the design, research and creation of a clay model of Mars (not to scale) with a little red flag on the end of a toothpick poking out of the proposed landing site. There won’t, however, be quite enough left over to foot the bill for the press conference required to unveil it.

* Since it is likely that some member of the Bush family will still be ruling America by the proposed 2020 lunar mission date, I think it’s a safe bet that there’ll be some oil drilling going on up there. This will present an interesting challenge for those involved: How do you ruin an environment that is already a barren wasteland? It’ll be fun to watch, and will take everyone’s mind off the fact that we don’t get to have elections anymore.

Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at