Sending things to space on a weather balloon is a relatively easy thing to do. From pies and logos, to toy frogs and videogames, you name it, it’s seen the curvature of the planet and drifted into that thin blue line that protects us from the harsh conditions of deepest, darkest space.
The Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN), a bunch of people pretty keen on sending things into space, have perhaps trumped them all with the world’s first “space protest”. Launching their own inflatable exploration unit, a group of sneaky individuals attached a tweet of theirs to it that read: “@realDonaldTrump: LOOK AT THAT, YOU SON OF A BITCH.”
The balloon and its message managed to reach a height of 27.4 kilometers (around 90,000 feet) – which is very close to actually being in space – before the balloon popped and fell back to the surface. (Check out that curved horizon, flat-earthers!)
It was launched in solidarity with the upcoming March for Science, a protest against the US Commander-in-Chief that will take place in cities all over the world on April 22. It’s clearly a rebuke against the Trump administration’s historic levels of disdain for science and, we suspect, its profound levels of ignorance on climate change and environmentalism.
The world's first space protest. Autonomous Space Agency Network via YouTube
Space aficionados among you, however, will have spotted that this is the final line from a passage uttered by the late Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell. Shortly after he had safely returned to Earth from a visit to the Moon, he reflected on how seeing our pale blue dot from afar had given him something of an epiphany:
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.
“You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”
Scientific images like this, more than anything, make you appreciate the nearly unfathomable scale of the universe, and how we’re just extras in the grand symphony of the stars.
By shrinking us down to size and giving our egos a check, it makes us appreciate how lucky we are to be alive – and that we should embrace our brief time in the cosmos before we fade away, leaving the only home we’ve ever known in a good state for our descendants to inherit.
This, indeed, is what Mitchell felt, and it’s what the people behind the ASAN space protest felt. Science ultimately gives you humility and perspective – two things the President lacks more than anything else.