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Tips for NASA: Houston, You Have a Problem

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Dear Mission Control,

Far be it from me to suggest that you've made traveling to outer space boring, but your penultimate shuttle voyage has inspired less interest than the Twitter contest to decide what the Kardashians will title their new novel (Fahrenheit 36D, Not Such Great Expectations, A Farewell To Plot?) I have to say... this trouble in sustaining interest in our relationship... it's not us, it's you.

I remember the thrill of the first shuttles blasting off, how teachers would wheel a TV into the classroom so we could all watch. The evening news was filled with stories of what you were doing, the implication being that each mission brought us closer to vacations on the Moon and personal jet packs for everyone! But then... nothing much seemed to happen, and the only time you caught our attention is when something went wrong (yeah, I went there). Today, we're more enthralled when a Jet Blue flight gets stranded on the runway than when you use rockets and laser beams to put a telescope into orbit... one that only sometimes-kinda-sorta works (yeah, I went there, too). More often than not, it seems like you're sending astronauts..."star voyagers" for crissakes... to go fix something that's broken. Whoever you hired as the Super on the International Space Station is doing a worse job than Schneider.

But cheer up! With a little imagination and a tweak here and there, the next phase of the space program will be as successful as the Mars Probe! (That's the last one, I promise.) Just keep in mind...


We Like Catchy Names
- You shot yourself in the foot by calling them Space Shuttles. "Shuttles" don't boldly go where no man has gone before, they go to Chicago, and occasionally bring you from Parking Lot T to the front entrance of the State Fair. And when you recently announced that your new spacecraft would be called the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, did you mistakenly think you were naming a new hybrid minivan from Kia? Aurora, Odyssey, Antares -- those are names! From now on, when it comes to naming a spaceship, don't think sensible, think stripper.

Don't Try To Fool Us - The big accomplishment you're crowing about from this latest mission is installing a Cosmic Ray Detector, a.k.a. an "Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer." Whoa. Cosmic rays? Now that we killed bin Laden, who are we protecting ourselves from, Blofeld? And trying to fancy it up by calling it an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer doesn't help. My scientific background may be limited to research into the relationship between Mentos and two-liter bottles of Diet Coke, but even I'm pretty sure you're making that up.

Space Travel Is About The Future - What's with this business of wanting to go back to the Moon? We don't look to you for reruns -- NASA isn't Nick at Nite! Why not say you want to explore Venus... maybe because you think it's named that because it's crawling with hotties? You know, chicks who look like Angelina Jolie! Not present-day, have a bunch of babies Angelina Jolie, but the crazy, vial of blood wearing Angelina Jolie from years ago.) C'mon, the moon is so five minutes ago. Actually, it's more like 20 million minutes ago, but you get my point.

It's All About Casting - We want astronauts with The Right Stuff, and that "stuff" isn't folksy charm or gee whiz likability. When your crew members speak to the media, they sound boring... and this is on NPR. Am I the only one who's seen Armageddon? We want guys with a need for speed, not the need for pleated khakis... Bruce Willis, not Bruce Vilanch... Animal, not Bunsen Honeydew! How can you not get it-- this isn't rocket science! (Back off -- it's a figure of speech.)

Look, we're all on the same team here. Most Americans understand that we've trashed earth like a spring break hotel room, and Mother Nature isn't bringing us any fresh towels. We know we're going to need new places to trash, I mean live, and that you're our real estate agent. But that doesn't mean you can't get the job done with a little style. And through it all, never forget that I'm here to help. Once you see my resume, I think it'll be clear that I'm (a state school grad with a major in popular music history who helped produce John McEnroe's talk show) exactly what you need. NASA... CNBC, whatevs. Now... let's light this candle!