In a cool feat of “suborbital dissent,” members of the international, community-based, DIY protest in space against our anti-science ignoramus-in-chief. The activists of ASAN (NASA backwards), which believes in bridging the gap between science and art in the “radically free cosmic environment” of space without military or corporate involvement, hitched a giant tweet onto a weather balloon to an altitude of 90,000 feet – technically near-space, below the 330,000 feet of space-proper. The tweet, tagging @realDonaldTrump, all-caps and all, quotes late Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell on the perspective he gained seeing the Earth from on high. “From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty,” he said. “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.’”have launched the first
ASAN’s action was in solidarity with the upcoming March For Science on April 22, when over 500 cities will protest Trump’s culture of climate change denial, slashing of NASA earth science funding, and loosening of environmental standards. It was also timed to coincide with Yuri’s Night 2017 – marking the first human flight into space by Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961 – which all month sees hundreds of “World Space Parties” in 55 countries, from Antarctica to New Zealand. When Gagarin returned to earth, he famously focused on not the universe, but Earth’s loveliness within it. “Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship, I marveled at the beauty of our planet,” he said. “People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty, and not destroy it.” This rapturous “cognitive shift in awareness,” named The Overview Effect by author Frank White, is what Trump and many others need to achieve, suggests ASAN; they argue that “everyone is already an astronaut” and space should be open to all. Their fundraising toward that end starts at $5 for a bumper sticker and goes up to the “Yr Goin 2 Space” category. For $50,000, they say, “We will literally send you into space somehow” – if it’s still there post-Trump.