"Never stop dreaming!"
When advertising a promotion, NASA attempted to spit facts about the fact that traveling anywhere in space is unfathomably expensive and unrealistic for the average person — but after irking a bunch of space fans on Twitter, was forced to apologize.
"Is visiting Jupiter on your bucket list?" read a tweet from the account for NASA 360, one of the agency's video networks. "Let’s face facts, it’s not going to happen."
The rest of the tweet advertised the agency's "Message in a Bottle" promotion, which allows space enthusiasts to have their names engraved on the uncrewed spacecraft that's launching next year toward Jupiter's icy moon Europa, located about 1.8 billion miles from Earth.
Although the trip would be impossible for humans to undertake with current spacefaring technology — not the least because of the searing radiation surrounding the gas giant and that even if it were possible, it would likely cost untold billions given the $1.13 billion price tag on NASA's uncrewed 2016 Juno mission to the planet — lots of people seemed to take offense at NASA's tone.
"NASA [is] really out here telling kids to stop dreaming and instead engrave their name on a tiny plate," SpaceX intern Nathan Commissariat responded. "There are so many better ways to have worded this."
Facts, Meet Feelings
John Kraus, a spaceflight photographer — whose work seems to, you guessed it, center on SpaceX — also pushed back on the assertion that nobody will be able to travel to Jupiter anytime soon.
"I think someone is alive today who will visit Jupiter," Kraus tweeted, specifying that it could be either a fly-by, a landing — which, again, is impossible, especially because there's nowhere to land — or a jaunt to one of the planet's many moons.
The agency was apparently listening, and a few hours later, NASA 360 posted, replete with a facepalming astronaut GIF, what passes for a contrite apology on Elon Musk's X-formerly-Twitter.
"Hey, folks — we goofed up," the account tweeted. "We want to be clear: we’re always reaching for the stars (and planets and moons), and we want what we do to inspire you to do the same. Never stop dreaming!"
While we don't necessarily love that a bunch of SpaceX stans shamed NASA into issuing an apology for stating what is currently an indisputable scientific fact that's not likely to change until we develop much, much better spaceflight technology — and that the average peon wouldn't be able to afford a flight to Jupiter even if science had advanced enough to do so — it's nevertheless kind of hilarious that the space agency had to essentially tell people that they can do the impossible because the alternative (read: the truth) hurt their feelings.
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