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Posted By: BAGETT
Date: Saturday, 14 January 2006, 11:19 a.m.

I liked this part…

“I mean, surely we must have solved this little technical problem back in the sixties, because we obviously couldn’t have sent our boys to the moon without a suitable radiation shield. Right”?


In completely unrelated news, NASA issued a curious report in June of this year that read, in part, as follows:

NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration calls for a return to the Moon as preparation for even longer journeys to Mars and beyond. But there’s a potential showstopper: radiation. Space beyond low-Earth orbit is awash with intense radiation from the Sun and from deep galactic sources such as supernovas. Astronauts en route to the Moon and Mars are going to be exposed to this radiation, increasing their risk of getting cancer and other maladies. Finding a good shield is important. (

Now, a person with questionable cognitive skills, such as myself, might assume that finding a good radiation shield would have been important back in the Apollo days as well.

This is all a little confusing to me. On the one hand, we have a bold claim that new photographic evidence exists proving that man has indeed walked on the moon. But on the other hand, we have an acknowledgement straight from the horse’s mouth that even now, nearly forty years after the fact, and with technology having advanced by light-years during that forty years, we still haven’t figured out how to make manned space travel possible.

The only reasonable explanation that I can come up with is that space radiation must have only become a problem in recent years. In the ‘60s and early ‘70s, space was apparently relatively free of radiation, allowing unshielded Apollo rockets to cruise about without a care in the world, while crew members primarily busied themselves with trying to figure out how to capture all the stems and seeds that were floating around the capsule as a result of cleaning their stash of low-grade ‘60s marijuana. It was just a different solar system back in those days. As aging hippies like to say, if you remember the solar system of the sixties, you weren’t really flying around in it.

If it proves not to be the case that this space radiation “showstopper” is a new development, then I guess what probably happened is that we did indeed have the technology back in the ’60s to send men to the moon, but at some point during the intervening decades, that technology was simply lost. Maybe the information was stored on a single PC that suffered a major hard-drive crash, destroying all the precious data.

Oh wait … that can’t be right, come to think of it, because we didn’t even have PCs back in the day. But we had lots of other cool stuff, like rotary telephones, and transistor radios, and Brownie cameras, and ‘electric football’ games, and black-and-white televisions that received up to 13 channels without the use of a remote control device. So it’s easy to see how, with cutting-edge technology like that, we might have been a little more advanced in the ‘60s in the field of space travel than we are today.

What probably happened was that an overzealous night custodian simply threw the data away. The conversation around the NASA water cooler the next day probably went something like this: “Holy #####! Has anyone seen the file that I left on my desk last night?! That was the only copy of the secret formula that I devised for building a space radiation shield! Do you realize that it could be forty years or more before someone else can duplicate it? My ass is so fired if I can’t find that file!”

I’m sure the boys at NASA, with all their fancy book learnin’ and all, can explain why it is that we now need a space radiation shield when we did just fine without one in the ‘60s. I’ll be waiting patiently for that explanation.

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