A Brief Conversation With NASA's Mars Program
After a string of failures in 1999, NASA's Mars Program has released a
working slate of production for upcoming missions, with plans to send probes
to Mars in 2001 and 2003. NASA released a statement where it claims to have
learned from its past mistakes. We caught up with NASA's Mars Program to get
the scoop behind just what it has learned and how it plans on using that
Brunching Shuttlecocks: NASA's Mars Program, thank you for joining us.
NASA's Mars Program: Always a pleasure to talk to the public. That's what
we're here for, the public. We're not just NASA's Mars Program, we're YOUR
BS: Quite right. Your upcoming slate of missions seems very exciting.
NMP: Yup. We're bouncing a couple of golf carts off the surface of Mars to
look for water. Should be fun.
BS: What do hope to gain from these missions?
NMP: We hope to gain water. See, if you get water, you can sustain life.
No water, no life. Didn't you see Mission To Mars?
BS: OK. Let's talk about the Polar Lander and the Climate Orbiter.
NMP: Now you're getting nasty.
BS: Well, those two missions were, to put it mildly, failures.
NMP: Thank you for reminding me. I'd almost managed to block those
torturous events from my mind and banish the nightmares.
BS: I'm sorry, but for The Public, those failed missions are in the forefront of their minds.
NMP: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everyone remembers the disasters, nobody remembers
the successes. They made a movie out of Apollo 13, but there were a bunch of
perfectly successful launches before and after them. Is Hollywood banging
down the doors to make Apollo 8? Apollo 15? Of course not.
BS: Well, the failures tend to garner more attention.
NMP: Tell me about it. We're under a damn microscope. It's not fair, I
tell you. Everyone makes mistakes. Why don't they go around ridiculing New
BS: Anyway, what lessons have you learned from the two failed Mars missions that you can use in your upcoming launches?
NMP: Well for one thing, don't trust Limey. Damn Metric system. No Limeys
are gonna have anything to do with the upcoming launches if I can help it.
It's a complete British black-out. No tea. No Beatles or Stones music.
BS: That seems a bit harsh. The confusion between English and Metric measurements that caused the loss of the Climate Orbiter was a joint misunderstanding.
NMP: No, they sabotaged us, I'm sure of it. Still bitter about the whole
American Revolution thing.
BS: Yes, well, let's move on. What other lessons did you learn?
NMP: The idea of crashing our ships into Mars? Dumb. You crash something,
it breaks. This time we're gonna bounce.
NMP: Yeah, bunch of air bags that were recalled by Buick last year. Still
working with the faster, better, cheaper motto of our new missions. We had
originally thought to install a number of bed springs to the bottom of the
ships, but that didn't quite work out. So we went with the air bags.
BS: We're running out of time. Can you quickly tell us what you have planned for the distant future?
NMP: Eventually, of course, we're gonna have to send humans over there. If
the place looks inviting, we'll try to establish a base, colonize.
BS: And if it turns out to be a barren rock devoid of any possibility for life?
NMP: Then we'll probably send the Backstreet Boys.