Did Ridley Scott plan the most brutally delicious revenge against JPL or am I just making this stuff up?
It's too soon to know for sure but lets go over what I think I know.
Every year JPL has an open house in May or June, where the public is invited to tour their facilities. Scientists and engineers give live demonstrations of their technologies and run over children with tiny motorized vehicles.
The JPL campus is absolutely gigantic and there would be no way for a person to see it all in one weekend. Each of their tour-able buildings are microcosms onto themselves that house massive amounts of information.
They seriously put a lot of effort into this and everyone should go at least once. I was lucky to be one of the first visitors through the gates and for that I was thankful because lines of curious people seemed to stretch for miles.
And what these folks didn't know was that when they got through this line…
There was a host of other lines waiting for them.
And even when they got past the front gates…
There were more lines going in all directions and there seemed to be lines to wait in line.
To the untrained eye, this simply appeared to be a poorly planned event – but to those of us brave enough to see the fabricated truth I lay before you, it was clear as day. Ridley Scott was been behind it all!
You see, if it wasn't for his newly created movie about an astronaut who's left for dead on Mars, the lines at the JPL open house wouldn't have been half as long as they were. Coincidence? I think not!
Here's some other stuff I most certainly made up, but think is true –
Ridley Scott is a crazed, multimillionaire, movie director who's had it out for JPL for more than half a century. This is because they didn't let him shoot on their property for his West Hartlepool College of Art, film project in 1955.
On that day, Ridley began laying out his complex, 2 step plan for revenge.
Step 1 – To develop a film career that rivals Norman Rockwell in its longevity and in its ability to harness the power of propaganda. This, of course explains Mr. Scott's collaboration with Steve Jobs in the 1984 Apple commercial which was merely done to send a message to the powers that be at JPL.
Step 2 – To satisfy his ever-growing, lifelong grudge against JPL, he needed to create films about science and rational thought so popular that people would blindly rush the JPL complex on a day of his choosing. He studied the technology and struck while the iron was hot. The timed release of The Martian couldn't have been better – for his revenge! These 2 elaborate steps, of course, were carried out for the purposes of ruining JPL's open house, while pushing his own agenda of selling tickets to his new blockbuster movie!
This plan was pure genius because to most, it merely seemed like the folks at JPL just can't throw a party – and you really have to hand it to Mr. Scott. He's a patient chess player and we're all his pawns. It became absolutely clear just how powerful the man was when I laid eyes upon the exhibit we all traveled so far to see.
The great hint that he was in control of everything was that at the Mars rover exhibit – there were no lines.
The fleet of Mars rovers were in plain view from any angle of approach! It was a complete 360 degree experience and it made you wonder why the entire open house wasn't handled this way. But the answer is simple – the entire open house was an elaborate and frustrating commercial for his upcoming film.
Well played Mr. Scott!
A team running laptops set up rocky obstacles for the rovers to slowly climb over. Even though they were wearing JPL t-shirts, it was clear who they were truly working for. The speed at which these rovers traveled, served as a beautiful metaphor for what was to come. The craggy rocks represented the other installations at JPL's event, and the time it took to drive over them represented our lives invisibly melting away.
I did some research on JPL while I was there and here's what I learned
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and NASA field center located in Pasadena, CA.
In 1939 a jet-assisted take off system (JATO) was funded by the United States Army for a mere $1000.00. The idea was inspired by the need to power planes that had too much weight and too little runway to take off. The grant was given to the very men who would later create JPL in November of 1943.
Developing for the Army, they designed the MGM-5 Corporal, which was the very first guided nuclear warhead. Interestingly, a toy version made of die-cast metal was marketed to children to coincide with the British test firing in 1959.
That must have been the greatest Christmas ever! A contemporary nuclear warhead in the palm of your hands – just imagine the thrill!
After successfully launching rockets and satellites throughout the 40's and 50's, JPL was transferred to NASA in December of 1958 becoming the agency's primary planetary spacecraft center. NASA had only been operational since October 1, of that same year.
Every mission into space was taken in baby steps with each building on the learning of the last one. There were questions that had to be answered before they could satisfy JFK's desire to get a man on the moon by the end of the 60's.
– How long would the journey take?
– How would guidance systems and course correction function?
– Could the vehicle remain at a constant speed until just moments from impact when it would have to go into slow vertical descent?
The Ranger Program
The Ranger program was a series of unmanned space missions designed by JPL engineers to obtain the first close-up images of the surface of the Moon.
The missions were plagued with so many photography mishaps and launch failures that at one point, the program was called "shoot and hope".
In the end, there were 9 Ranger Missions and all told, they sent over 10 thousand images to Earth detailing the Moon's surface.
NASA had made close visual contact but now they needed to get onto the Moon.
The Surveyor Program
The Surveyor Program lasted from June 1966 through January 1968 where 7 robotic spacecraft were sent to the surface of the Moon to prove that a landing was actually possible. If the dust was too deep, it would mean that astronauts couldn't walk on the surface or land. The mission was a success and all seven spacecraft are still on the Moon to this day.
Do you know how many lines I had to wait in to learn that stuff?
Well thank God you didn't have to.
But, I can't tell you how inspired I've become after seeing JPL and its technology in person – even if I was manipulated by Ridley Scott. The fact that these astronauts traveled so far, and did so much for our country, makes me feel lucky I was able to make the 7.5 mile trek.
I kinda feel like a hero myself.
From this complex trip schematic you can see that I made the journey in just about 17 Earth minutes. I returned home with just enough rations to spare and with what I think is a remarkable tale.
You can force us to stand in long lines in the blazing summer sun Mr. Scott, but you can't take away our desire to view technology other than mechanical crawly thingies and solar panels.
I'm on to you sir.