WASHINGTON—Discussing plans for a new space-exploration project that it said could also potentially be the most advanced weapon system in the U.S. military’s arsenal, NASA confirmed Thursday it was trying to get in on some of the nation’s defense spending by designing a torpedo-equipped orbital telescope.
Agency officials told reporters they hope the state-of-the-art space observatory, which would allow astronomers to study the furthest reaches of the observable universe and would also hold a payload of 16 torpedoes, catches the attention of the Defense Department and ultimately scores them a sweet piece of the military’s $610 billion annual budget.
“This satellite has the ability to detect cosmic radiation from 13.5 billion years ago, greatly furthering our knowledge of how galaxies first formed after the Big Bang, and we installed some torpedo launchers on the side there as well,” said NASA senior project scientist Diane Everett, adding that the 21-ton telescope, which would allow scientists to study the formation of planetary systems capable of supporting life, could likely be outfitted with a few other types of weapons too, depending on what the military is looking for. “This would be an incredible scientific tool for learning about our universe’s origins. And once the Joint Chiefs get a look at the firepower on this thing, maybe they’ll give us a little taste of that 12-figure funding.”
With $30 billion, NASA could equip the next Mars rover with front-axle-mounted flamethrowers, a land-mine detector, and a “gigantic” mortar embedded into its frame that could blast targets many miles away.
“After all, it should be able to shoot things out of orbit, and it could probably even hit a bunch of targets on the ground, too,” Everett continued. “Who knows? They may want two or three of these things.”
Officials at NASA, whose share of the federal budget has decreased steadily over the past two decades, reportedly began discussing the idea of outfitting their next-generation orbital telescope with heavy weaponry such as machine guns and grenade launchers after looking over government records and discovering the space agency’s funding amounts to less than 3 percent of that received by the military. The scientists ultimately decided the best way to get some DoD green was to attach “a whole bunch of torpedos,” according to accounts.
Moreover, NASA sources stated several times that they’re completely open to placing penetrating or fragmentation warheads atop the torpedoes should that increase their chances of dipping their hands into the defense-spending honeypot.
“We want to emphasize that the prototype is very flexible, and with proper financial support, we could probably mount big cannons or something on each end of the near-infrared spectroscope—whatever they want, really,” said Everett, who estimated the massive sunshield required to keep the delicate scientific instruments operating in a thermally stable environment could probably fit “one of those big guns on a tank.” “As long as we get a piece of the Pentagon’s funding action, we can work with them to build a telescope that has laser targeting, heat-seaking missiles, or anything else, in addition to expanding our knowledge of the cosmos in ways we cannot yet imagine.”
Although this is the first weaponized research platform designed by NASA, Everett stressed that the cooperation does not need to end with this project. She estimated that with $30 billion, her agency could equip the next Mars rover with front-axle-mounted flamethrowers, a land-mine detector, and a “gigantic” mortar embedded into its frame that could blast targets many miles away.
“This could be the beginning of a bold new frontier, for NASA and for the military,” said Everett, who reportedly pressed her design team to devise ways to attach additional torpedos to the telescope after learning that many of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates’ budget proposals call for further increases in defense spending. “We only need the telescope for about 10 years, so we could even strap a thermonuclear device on board, and once its mission is complete, we could just make it fall back down to earth wherever they like.”
“We’re more than happy to do it, really,” she added. “If anyone in the Pentagon’s budgeting department is interested, really, just give us a call.”