Euro-imperialist aggression against the Moon

Under the happy headline “Space Probe Slams Into Moon,” the shameless techno-boosters at note Sept. 4:

A European lunar orbiter was purposely slammed into the Moon today.

The high-tech spacecraft—Small Missions for Advanced Research and Technology—belongs to the European Space Agency (ESA), and is better known as SMART-1.

The controlled crash of the probe was staged to allow a ground-based network of astronomers to possibly examine material kicked up from the Moon by the impact, thereby squeezing additional science out of the mission.

Predicted effects from the high-speed crash ranged from a quick flash to a possible fireball if the spacecraft ricochets across the lunar surface due to leftover hydrazine fuel onboard SMART-1. Moments before impact, scientists did not know what to expect.

“Suddently we lost the signal of the spacecraft,” said Detlef Koschny, ESA SMART-1 scientist at a control center in Germany, who spoke to reporters via a teleconference arranged by the Planetary Society. “All we know is that the impact did occur.”

Koschny said that the impact occurred within seconds of the predicted time. The impact was indicated by the loss of communication from the craft, which was destroyed. Impact was at 1:42 a.m. ET.

“They went out with a bang,” said Bruce Betts of the Planetary Society.

The high-speed slam dunk was expected to create yet another crater on the Moon—perhaps some 16 feet to 33 feet (5-10 meters) across. Dust and other material ejected off the Moon were expected to possibly be visible to observers with big telescopes back here on Earth.

A flash from the impact was recorded by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope atop Mauna Kea, but no details were available at the time this update was published.

A similarly angst-free report from the European Space Agency (ESA) boasts that the probe made impact at the poetically-named Lake of Excellence.

The most depressing thing about this is that with all the horrors going on down here on Planet Earth, not a single peep of protest has been raised about this unprovoked attack on our own natural satellite, and the contamination for all eternity of the once-pristine orb with industrial debris. And if it weren’t bad enough that the Moon is being turned into a junk yard, such hubristic experiments (carried out in the name of “science,” as if it were something detatched from politics and economics) merely bring us closer to the colonization of space by corporate power for mineral exploitation, and by Earth’s militaries as a new theater for war.

And of course, the “Third World” just can’t wait to emulate the bad example of the Europeans and Americans. The Sept. 7 New Scientist notes that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to send a probe dubbed Chandrayan (Sanskrit for “moon vehicle”) to Luna in 2008.

We propose SMART-1 be posthumously dubbed, in honor of its makers and boosters, Deranged Uber-Menschen Bombardiers (DUMB-1)

See our last post on hubristic space geeks.

  1. ludites vs everything
    >unprovoked attack on our own natural satellite


    > carried out in the name of “science,” as if it were something detatched from politics and economics

    uh … a Stalin quote?

    1. There’s nothing funny about it, thank you
      Your predictable response says everything about what is wrong with this sad age. The baby of class analysis—indeed any political analysis except free-market utopianism—has been thrown out with the Stalinist bathwater. So we witness a planetary die-back of biodiversity, the extinction of indigeous cultures worldwide, destabilization of the global biosphere, nuclear proliferation, devastating oil spills from Alaska to Lebanon, the poor bearing the toxic brunt of industries that produce for the rich, ubiquitous government surveillance as the cybersphere colonizes more and more of our daily lives, the decline of literacy due to the same phenomenon—and still the techno-utopians sneer at the notion that science (like all human activity) has political context and implications. The mind boggles. And what an unthinking kneejerk response to invoke Stalin—who obviously vigorously embraced capitalism’s ethic of ruthless instrumentality for his own ends.

      You also don’t know how to spell “Luddites”.

        Of course science has to do with culture and politics. Remember ‘Jewish science’? Or perhaps ‘running dog imperialist lacky science’? No, industry, which is what you’re complaining about, has to do with politics, science is above your luddite ‘unthinking kneejerk response’. The undisputable fact is that science has made life much better for the human beings on the planet. Does the word ‘antibiotic’ ring a bell?

        Was there some state of nature you’d rather go back to; with infant mortality, plagues, lack of communication and transportation? If so, be specific. Bitterness is not an argument. I laugh in the face of your solidarity with the man in the moon.

        > You also don’t know how to spell “Luddites”.

        Well played. No other argument than talking down but the point to you.

        “The moon belongs to everyone,
        the best things in life are free.”

        1. Spelling counts
          If you are going to post on this web site, please pay a modicum of respect to spelling and punctuation. That was not a gratuitous gibe. Techno-booster geeks degrading the English language is part and parcel of what I am critiquing. Turn off the computer and read a book for a change. I would recommend Lewis Mumford, for starters.

          So “industry” is tainted by economic and political interests, but “science” is somehow pure? What an arbitrary Procrustean separation. In a word, bunk. If the debate over global warming, with the “skeptics” amply funded by oil companies and utilites, does not finally lay to rest the myth of “pure” science, we are in even bigger trouble than I thought.

          Nature exacts a cost for every “conquest” over it, and those costs are invariably borne by society’s weakest and poorest. Does the phrase “antibiotic-resistant super germs” ring a bell? Or the fact they they disproptionately affect the Third World? The way out of this dilemma lies precisely in the conquest of science, as well as the means of production, by popular power, as Kropotkin noted. What he could not have anticipated in the 19th century is that the leviathan must be not only conquered but radically scaled back.

          Yes, the Moon belongs to everyone. That is why the European Space Agency has no right to pollute it, and NASA has no right to colonize it, and Halliburton has no right to mine it.

          And I spit in the face of your arrogant contempt for millennia of humanistic tradition. The Moon has been a goddess (and, less often, a god), a calendric measure, an icon linked to agricultural and sexual cycles, a spark to creative madness, an inspiration to poets and lovers, a word root (“month,” in its calendric capacity; “lunatic” in its madness-inducing capacity)—and you think it is just peachy keen to reduce it to a trash heap.

          And those of us who actually care about the human future are so busy protesting war, genocide and the loss of our freedoms that nobody has even raised a peep about this atrocity.

          Yeah, I’m bitter. You guys are winning. But that doesn’t make you right. Unless, as Edward Abbey put it, you have the ideology of a cancer cell.

          1. Thinking rather than whining counts
            > Does the phrase “antibiotic-resistant super germs” ring a bell?

            Care to compare health over the entire history of humanity with after WWII? Care to compare knowledge of cell biology with me? Or for that matter your average College freshman? Do you actually do anything besides ‘write’ or should I say ‘blog’?

            > Or the fact they they disproptionately affect the Third World?

            ‘disproptionately’ is a new word to me. Perhaps I’m not ‘humanist’ enough? Bad things disproptionately affect poor people. This probably has to do with abuses of capitalism and ideology, you tell me, Mr Grammer.

            > And I spit in the face of your arrogant contempt for millennia of humanistic tradition.

            And I spit in the face of your luddite sneer which has nothing to do with humanist tradition. You type on a computer. You (probably) live in a very rich city and (probably) don’t have to do manual labor all day long and can spend your energy dropping big words like you’re speaking from on high. Now I don’t know. If you are a health professional full time, which I doupt, I can’t imagine how the rest of your pathetic rant developed.

            The sad thing is your site is good, usually literate and well informed. I check you weekly. Every now and then you veer off the rails.

            > Turn off the computer and read a book for a change. I would recommend Lewis Mumford, for starters.

            Too which I would reply: Get a real job and get laid every now and then, maybe you’d be happier.

            >That is why the European Space Agency has no right to pollute it, and NASA has no right to colonize it, and Halliburton has no right to mine it.

            Because you say so? How many are you? Oh wait, you know better. Submit it to a vote, asshole, and you’ll lose big. In fact, you won’t even be noticed except to be laughed at.

            > you have the ideology of a cancer cell.

            Your ideology, from what I can tell, is usually progressive. Now you’ve launched into personal attacks and I would guess, as usual, there’s a Stalinist trying to get out. Boring.

            1. I’m thinking AND whining
              I both “write” and “blog.” Why are you disrespecting writers (and bloggers)?

              You are, predictably, caricaturing my analysis. I am not, strictly speaking, even a “Luddite.” If I was, I wouldn’t be using a computer now, would I? I don’t think it is either possible or desirable to turn the clock back to the days before antibiotics. I am not calling for the phantasm of abolishing science, but of conquering it for the social good, and scaling back its excesses.

              My mis-spelling of “disproportionately” (mea culpa) has nothing to do with grammar. I hope your knowledge of cell biology is better than your understanding of the English language.

              I can assure you, I would be much less happy with a “real” (i.e. 9-to-5) job. Getting laid would certainly help, but I fail to see what it has to do with the matter at hand.

              I sincerely hope you are very, very wrong about the popularity of unprovoked assaults on the Moon. Other readers are free to weigh in.

              I despise Stalinism even more than I despise capitalism (of which, like fascism, it was ultimately a mere symptom). Or I would if it were still around, anyway.

              You started the personal attacks, not me.

  2. Weinberg’s Moon
    Hey…as author of the ESA SMART-1 lunar impact story…don’t shoot the messenger. Just reporting what’s going on here. Another hole in one, but the poor Moon is going to be on the receiving end of a volley of lunar probes – Japan, India, as well as China, as well as the U.S. — in the coming years.

    It’s a small world after all…But stay tuned to – I’ll have something new to write about regarding the trashing of the Moon…in the near future.


  3. Whitey on the Moon
    by Gil Scott-Heron

    A rat done bit my sister Nell.
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Her face and arms began to swell.
    (and Whitey’s on the moon)
    I can’t pay no doctor bill.
    (but Whitey’s on the moon)
    Ten years from now I’ll be payin’ still.
    (while Whitey’s on the moon)
    The man jus’ upped my rent las’ night.
    (’cause Whitey’s on the moon)
    No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
    (but Whitey’s on the moon)
    I wonder why he’s uppi’ me?
    (’cause Whitey’s on the moon?)
    I wuz already payin’ ‘im fifty a week.
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Taxes takin’ my whole damn check,
    Junkies makin’ me a nervous wreck,
    The price of food is goin’ up,
    An’ as if all that shit wuzn’t enough:
    A rat done bit my sister Nell.
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Her face an’ arm began to swell.
    (but Whitey’s on the moon)
    Was all that money I made las’ year
    (for Whitey on the moon?)
    How come there ain’t no money here?
    (Hmm! Whitey’s on the moon)
    Y’know I jus’ ’bout had my fill
    (of Whitey on the moon)
    I think I’ll sen’ these doctor bills,
    Airmail special
    (to Whitey on the moon)