Nerd Culture

How Phoenix Collective ASAN Intergalactically Dissed Donald Trump

Space is the place (to put your Donald Trump tweets).
Space is the place (to put your Donald Trump tweets). Photo Courtesy ASAN
A local collective calling itself the Autonomous Space Agency Network last week launched a weather balloon into the stratosphere, with a message aimed down below to our commander in chief.

“@realDonaldTrump: Look at that, you son of a bitch!” the printout of a tweet read.

Sent skyward on the 56th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s famous first-human-in-space flight, the note from the Phoenix-based group was a reference to Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell’s oft-repeated quote. Mitchell, the sixth person ever to walk on the moon, said from space, “You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”

Thus, the tweet sent skyward on Aphrodite 1, which weighs about a pound and was filled with enough helium to take it to 90,000 feet. The balloon weighed a little over a pound, was inflated with 120 cubic feet of helium and outfitted with more than just sneers at our much-reviled president. Aphrodite 1 also sported a GPS sensor and a camera, perhaps to capture Mr. Trump’s earthbound response, still pending.

The ASAN folks are equally mum. Members of the agency remain anonymous as “a way to discourage the use of the group for the ego or vanity of individual members,” a representative recently wrote to The Washington Post.

“To our knowledge, the Aphrodite 1 launch was the first political protest in near space,” the same member said in an e-mail to the Post. The agency’s less-than-salutary salute was a reference to President Trump’s proposed budget cuts of NASA’s earth science program.

ASAN brought the event to earth by way of a YouTube video that described the act as the “first protest in space.” This was the first of several projects expected from ASAN, a fledgling space program composed of scientists, engineers, and artists.

Up next: A GoFundMe campaign that will finance another balloon launch this summer.

“We're here to show the world that space is not just for generals, autocrats, and boy billionaires,” the agency has stated.

Up yours intergalactically, Mr. President.


KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela