A rebel space agency protested Trump science policies from on high

Perspective is everything.
Perspective is everything.
Image: Tim Peak/European Space Agency
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Donald Trump is a tweeter. Typically, he likes short, aggressive statements with no context. So it’s fitting that the first-ever political protest from space aimed a mean message at the US president in the form of a truncated quote.

Attached to a weather balloon with cameras hovering above Earth, 90,000 feet up in the stratosphere on April 12, was a large printout of a tweet for @therealdonaldtrump. The message read: LOOK AT THAT, YOU SON OF A BITCH.

It’s a reference to a quote by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who was the sixth man to walk on the Moon. The experience turned him from a technician into a humanitarian he said. He reflected on it retrospectively in an oft-repeated quote that appears to have been made to People magazine in 1974:

In outer space you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter millions miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

The political protest in space was a symbolic act of alliance with the April 22 March for Science, planned in Washington. Both are meant to call attention to Trump-administration policies that threaten scientific research and the Earth, ultimately.

Organized by a collective of artists, hackers, scientists, and engineers in Arizona called the Autonomous Space Agency Network, which for now is made up of just one branch in Phoenix, the rebel space agency’s website says it aims to make the final frontier accessible to all by creating independent space exploration organizations worldwide. Basically, the group hopes to democratize space exploration by sharing research and joining forces with other independent would-be explorers to ensure that governments and wealthy entities aren’t the only ones with access to what lies beyond Earth.

It is a lofty goal, but they’re starting small, with symbolic projects like the political protest. The group shared details about the protest on Twitter. Total cost, only $75.