My gosh, certain people sure do love doling out criticism. Even the slightest mistake or delay, and the critics come out in droves, robed in all their smugness. I see this all the time as a writer and an artist, and on Monday I saw a smattering of critics online smugly criticizing NASA’s Artemis Program.
On Monday morning, NASA had to scrub the launch of Artemis 1, an uncrewed test flight of the spacecraft that will soon return American astronauts to the Moon. Apparently there was trouble with one of the engines. Most people, I think, understand that technical problems happen and that safety must come first. But a few folks out there saw this as an opportunity to take cheap shots at NASA, the U.S. government, and America as a whole.
Now look… (heavy sigh)… okay, there are some valid criticisms to be made about all those things. The United States has problems. NASA has problems. The Artemis Program, in particular, has been politicized from the start, and whenever things get political in the U.S., bad decisions ensue. But even if none of that were the case, even if NASA could somehow operate independently of Congress and politics, problems would still crop up.
Taking time to stop and fix the problem with Artemis 1’s engine—that’s not a sign of weakness. That’s not a failure. If anything, it shows that the people at NASA are doing their jobs, taking the proper precautions, and learning from past mistakes. Ignoring the engine issue—plowing ahead with the original plan, regardless of the danger—potentially allowing a multi-billion dollar spacecraft to blow up on the launchpad? That would have been a real failure.
But no, a few people out there think delaying the launch for a few days is a “huge embarrassment” for America. There will always be people like this who act super smug while lobbing lazy criticism at others. Whether you’re a national space agency or just some writer/illustrator on the Internet, try to ignore this sort of criticism if you can (or rant about it on your blog, if you must—just don’t dwell on it for too long).
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