Sunday 24 June 2018

Space: is it the final frontier or snoozeville?

Kirsty at large

Interstellar: Astronaut Chris Hadfield's video of him slowly wringing out a dishcloth while in space has been watched more than 13 million times by online viewers
Interstellar: Astronaut Chris Hadfield's video of him slowly wringing out a dishcloth while in space has been watched more than 13 million times by online viewers
A model presents a creation from the Gucci Autumn/Winter 2018 women collection during Milan Fashion Week 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Along with the rise of robotic dogs, the return of miniature sunglasses, and RTÉ's recommissioning of Dancing with The Stars, celestial space travel seems to be a terrifying and inescapable part of our future.

This week, the Government launched the country's first ever Space Strategy in the moonscape setting of Blanchardstown Industrial Park.

I was hoping Minister John Halligan, who was launching the strategy, would arrive in one of those shiny metallic suits they wore in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Or at least have brought some dioramas of Saturn. But sadly, no luck.

Talk soon turned to habitable planets in the super terrestrial stratosphere, and Minister Halligan told us he would be happy being beamed into space in the future.

"Absolutely… we are all explorers. Wouldn't you want to go?"

Well, no. Of course not. But then I also wouldn't relish a trip to North Korea.

If there is one thing cinema has taught us - apart from the risks involved in visiting dark basements when the lights have failed - it's that space is truly awful.

It's cold, it's poorly lit, it's lonely, and nobody can hear you scream.

But worst of all it's boring. Really, really boring. How do I know it's boring? Two words. Chris Hadfield.

Lovely man, don't get me wrong, but his viral videos from outer space just confirmed that space travel is, well, for the birds.

One of Hadfield's most popular space videos is him slowly wringing out a dishcloth. That's it. That was the stand out moment of that day. And it's been watched more than 13 million times.

I mean, imagine if one of your friends returned from a two-week holiday in Magaluf and told you that the best part of the holiday was messing around with damp towels. You'd seriously start to worry.

And it's not just Chris Hadfield - all astronauts seem to be bored out of their minds - sharing videos of themselves washing their hair, or eating freeze-dried food. And these are the best bits.

There are loads of other things about space travel I don't get.

There's the lack of oxygen. No king-sized beds, or all-you-can-eat buffets.

And then there's the waiting times. It takes six months to get to Mars. Six months. I've seen pictures of the place - it's no great shakes.

In fact, going to Mars is comparable to traveling for six months to wander about an abandoned carpark. Only you can't breathe, and there's a high probability you'll die.

By my reckoning, you'd have got the gist of Mars in 20 minutes.

But you can't stay for five days and then fly home. No, you currently have to wait for a year and a half before you return home. And then it's another six month journey back. That's a lot of annual leave to clock up.

Also spaceships are so cramped and crowded - everyone's floating about and bumping into each other. They make Ryanair aircrafts look plush.

But still the appetite for space travel grows exponentially and everyone seems delighted when Nasa releases news of innovative new developments.

As fate would have it, to coincide with Ireland launching its space strategy, Nasa announced this week the development of its new Orion Crew Suit with a built-in toilet.

That is the future people.

Floating through infinity in your own sewage for months at a time.

Thanks, but no thanks space.

You're very, very pretty from afar, but I think it's best to keep you at a distance.

Contrary to what Minister Halligan might say.

Farewell to the Winter Olympics - the Eurovision of sport

Stop all the clocks, and cut off the telephone, tomorrow the Winter Olympics draws to a close. No more skeleton, no more flip jumps, no more rifle-toting biathlons, and, worst of all, no more televised curling until 2022.

The Winter Olympics is the Eurovision of the sporting world. (I can imagine Tonya Harding singing her heart out at the contest). Camp, competitive, compulsive, and heaps better than the boring old regular Olympics. Here are some of the reasons the Winter Olympics are the tops.

* The Speed! There's bobsled, luge, ski jumping and speed skating - everything just zips along or hurtles through the air. For those with low attention spans this is a godsend.

* The exception to all this is curling. At first you're sceptical, thinking you'll never get sucked in. Next thing you know you've spent hours transfixed by people frantically sweeping ice. Even Mr T is a fan. No, really.

* There have been great plot twists and back stories; teen snowboarder Red Gerard overslept after a Netflix binge, lost his coat, and went on to win gold. The Jamaican bobsleigh team were saved by Red Stripe and British Bobsleigh teammate Toby Olubi funded his Olympic dream by winning big on Deal or No Deal.

* The stakes are higher and the risk greater. There are way more falls, slips and take downs. Snowboarder Markus Schairer literally finished a race after breaking his neck. That's commitment.

* There's a lot less throwing things around - javelins, hammers, logs etc. This is a good thing.

* It just looks better - all that freshly ploughed snow gleaming in the sunlight makes Pyeongchang look like Narnia.

* Figure-skating costumes. All that sequin, spandex, and skin-tone mesh. Almost as breathtaking as triple-axel jumps.

* More entertaining key players. We've had US skater Adam 'I'm a glamazon bitch' Rippon, Finnish snowboarding coach Antti Koskinen who beat her nerves by knitting on the slopes, Hungarian skier Elizabeth Swaney who won us over with her mediocrity.

* Finally, where else but the Winter Olympics would the US Curling team get in a Twitter spat with Cheers star Kirstie Alley regarding the standard of her film output?

Hurry up Beijing 2022.

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