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Dude, Where's My Space Program?

By Keith Cowing
November 20, 2008

Editor’s note: Actor Ashton Kutcher, well known for film classics such as “Dude, Where’s my Car?”, appeared on Bill Maher’s Real Time Program recently. At one point, he got into a rant about the pointless value of sending things to Mars. Another guest, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) chimed in, and in so doing, showed her own ignorance of facts regarding the current STS-126 mission and the ISS. To be certain, this is a comedy show – of sorts. But it did not seem like the millionaire actor or the badly informed member of Congress were kidding.

Not that everyone in America thinks this way – but when two people from dramatically different backgrounds seem to agree on a point such as this, you have to ask yourself how supporters of space exploration are going to overcome this resistance? Is space exploration of value to the electorate? Is it more important than other things? How do you make that clear? Clearly what has been done to date is not having much effect, polls not withstanding.

Go to this page and click on the 14 November video clip. Transcript of commentary starting at 3:58 into the segment:

Kutcher: Can we just stop sending stuff to Mars? We’re not going to do anything.

Maher: We just had another shuttle launch today.

Kutcher:I just don’t understand. If we really wanted to start cutting back – other than military – let’s just stop sending stuff to Mars.

Maher: the only ones who care about it are the scientists ho send it. They see that little baby stroller that gets up there – and it touches a rock – and they all high five.

Ros-Lehtinen: On this launch the big experiment was turning urine into water. Just a couple billion turning urine into water.

Kutcher: Can’t we turn urine into water here though? Why do we have to go to Mars to do it? Really, are we going to open a plant on Mars that’s gonna do this?

Other guest: Its the “spirit of adventure”.

Kutcher: STOP THAT.

Maher – Mars looks suspiciously like the drive from LA to Vegas.

Kutcher: We send things to Mars. But there are thousands of children that are sold into the sex slave trade every single day. But we send stuff to Mars instead of solving that problem. There’s Africa where people are dying of Malaria. There’s a quantifiable solution to the problem – and yet we send stuff to Mars – instead of getting bed nets for these people.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.