Thursday, August 09, 2007

3,2,1...lift off Endeavour

Yesterday was the day that space shuttle Endeavour launched. I had the noble intentions of witnessing it in person as Cape Canaveral isn’t too long a drive from where I live. But all such plans had to be sacrificed due to cruel work deadlines for Buck. So I camped out in front of the PC and turned on the live coverage feed on NASA’s website. It was pretty cool to watch the astronauts get suited up in the prep room, all with a wide grins on their faces. If it were me, I would’ve been shitting bricks at that point. I guess the grueling training and their (crazy) dream of floating in space keeps them strong. I take my position in the cheering section and gape at the countdown clock.

As I made myself comfortable in the office chair I wondered why I wasn’t on the couch instead. No this is not about the logistics of moving my couch. I am asking why doesn’t a single mainstream/popular channel give a live feed of the shuttle launch. Look at the popularity ratings of all the crappy reality shows. I am sure that a TV show on astronauts would do well. Not that it would be a crappy show but I think it would still be appealing for the masses.

Am I the only one who thinks that this is one of the most exciting events? Dare I say it is even more exciting than the World Cup or Superbowl. Sure, there are folks who follow shuttle launches closely but it is nothing compared to the hysteria a game or ever Harry Potter’s fate has managed to generate. Maybe my nerdiness prevents me from understanding the lack of enthusiasm for such events. So I am going to build a case for shuttle launch friendly channel(s). I predict that a reality show on astronauts will have a good demographic provided TV channels join in to create hype.

I mean we follow the dreams and aspirations of models (America’s next top hoochy mama) and Southwest air-hostesses (Airline). So why not astronauts and space shuttle launches?

What are the things that have a good following?
1) People who do crazy things (usually for money)
2) Sports
3) Magic, paranormals, psychics
4) Science fiction based shows
5) Celebrity related shows

(1) It is no secret that reality TV shows cast people who are crazy (for the drama and cat fights). If they are looking for kooky characters, I am sure there are plenty of those at NASA (remember the diaper wearing astronaut lady who, not surprisingly, got a lot of media coverage). Let’s face it, to be an astronaut you have to be a little crazy. Who in their right minds would volunteer to sit in a vehicle that is attached to a massive fuel tank that burns a million liters of fuel in less than ten minute? (Fear factor…phooey!)

(2) The shuttle travels at 17,180 mph for some part of its journey. Talk about zero to 60 in a fraction of a millisecond. NASCAR fans…hello?

(3) If David Blaine can dazzle the audiences using cheap tricks, space technology should be able to woo the audiences. Like Arthur C. Clark said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

(4) I can’t imagine this being a hard sell to audiences that love watching science fiction shows.

(5) This would be a great publicity stunt. Put one of the celebrities on a shuttle launch. There are quite a few adrenaline junkies in show biz and they can certainly afford to pay for the ride.

Wouldn’t the HP fans (who waited patiently for three years to figure out the fate of little Harry Potter) want to know what is to be of these valiant muggles who are about to float in space? Look no magic!

It isn’t a stretch to imagine a star wars and star trek fan camping out in front of Cape Canaveral for all of last week. I haven’t watched star wars and so I am not sure if it is accurate to deem the fans as folks who would appreciate space related technology.

From the popularity of action movies I would guess that there are a lot of folks who enjoy watching stuff blown up. When was the last time you watched a million liters of fuel burned up in 8.5 minutes?

The movie channels could pitch in with a day of space movies like Apollo 13. News channels that seem to have a dearth of news stories and spend air time covering local hot dog competitions and stories of women who want to go to jail to quit their compulsive smoking habits (Bah!) should be happy to do an in depth coverage on the shuttle launch. It is not a hot political issue that their sponsors might have objections to.

At least for one day we could ‘space out’ from the regular mind numbing programming. Interview the astronauts, do a short film on what kind of training these astronauts go through, what would they achieve from this mission, what kind of food they eat on the shuttle, how they shower (or not), what kind of difficulties and odds they have to surpass for a successful mission. It is a physically and mentally challenging ordeal and a once in a lifetime experience. Aren’t more people interested?

Wait…don’t answer that.

5 comments:

Nikhil Kulkarni said...

Btw here in India the national broadcaster Doordarshan does telecast the launch of every satellite launched by Indian Space Research Organization.

Though this is not for an entertainment value but just a leftover of jingoistic days of national pride.

Dunno if your idea of a reality show based on the launches could be replicated in India as well - showcasing the lives of the scientists who participate in development of these satellites.

Crystal blur said...

nikhil,
That is awesome! I didn't know that dear old DD did that. Wouldn't it be great if they made the show?! May be we should start a petition and send it to DD. :)

Drunken Master said...

About the 0-60 in a fraction of a millisecond - I was at Six Flags yesterday where experiencing the G-forces on some of the rides was unfrigginbelievable!

Only if people knew or understood what space shuttle launches meant and entailed would they watch.

And why restrict the line to NASCAR fans? What about bungee jumpers, sky divers or roller coaster-ers (me)?

Crystal blur said...

Drunken master,
Six-flags was a total waste of money for me because I was too much of a chicken to sit on the rides :)

Yup, all adrenaline junkies would be included in the demographic for astro-reality programs.

Drunken Master said...

Arre yaar, getting on the first one is the hardest part, after that you'll just want more.

As Rob Schneider says in Sandler movies, "you can do it!!!!"