With The Race For Space, the latest long-player from popular beat combo Public Service Broadcasting currently riding high in the charts, we ask 'whither the British space industry?'
And we're sad to say this is whither the British Space Industry is: On its arse.
While the Russians lead the way in space launcher technology; while the Americans put a man on the moon and have a robot mooching about on Mars; while even India is sending probes to other planets, we're still stuck here trying to find a milk bottle big enough to put the stick.
Unfortunately, budget cuts and government ambivalence toward the conquest of space has left us plucky Brits miles behind, to the point that our astronauts have to pretend to be Americans in order to get a ride in a spaceship. Well, that won't do.
If the government won't get us into space, then it's up to us civilians. And here's the plan, devised by a panel comprised of 12-year-old schoolboys:
- Bribe the people who name planets to call an asteroid Yourmum
- Be the first civilised people to land on Yourmum
Nothing to it, and with a bit of good-old British spunk and ingenuity, we could achieve this goal within two years if we start today. We've got the materials, we've got the people, and as a nation we've done irredeemably stupid things before, and - by Jiminy - we'll do them again.
I spent my teenage years investigating rocketry, and still have the scars to prove it. While those Russians and Americans swear by kerosene and liquid oxygen-based fuels that have a nasty habit of blowing up all over the place, my own experiments in the 1980s found that you could construct a decent rocket motor from little more than scraped-off match heads stuffed in a Parker pen squished flat at the sharp end. Unfortunately, they've bollocksed up the recipe for weed-killer, so that particular secondary fuel has fallen by the wayside, so matches it will have to be.
This being the situation we are forced to deal with, now is the time to scale this operation up and set the unemployed the task of scraping the heads off enough Swan Vestas to get this thing - quite literally off the ground. Now, old fire extinguishers and oxygen cylinders aren't going to be big enough to give this project the oomph it needs, so this is where we've got to think big.
Either that, or we will lay waste to a town of 212,000 souls in the English Midlands, which would probably be seen by many right-thinking people as A Bad Thing. But I - for one - think that a vast, smoking crater would be an ample monument to British adventurism and a preparedness to take risks, however fatal they may be for people you have never met.
Britain: LET'S DO THIS THING.
I am not mad.