Welcome everyone. You know Momus News as a bastion of humor, whimsy, and general silliness. But today I want to ask the question, “What service should manage spaceships?”
I read a lot of science fiction books about spaceships, especially those in combat. While reading these books, I note many of them include military ranks that don’t belong aboard a ship, like “Colonel.” Yes – I’m looking at YOU, Battlestar Galactica. This suggests to me that when the author needed military ranks they looked up the ones they were most familiar with and that ended up being the Air Force or the Army. In one particular book, the author dealt with this concern directly. An Army soldier stumbled into commanding a spaceship and, being the only human ever commanding a starship, ended up maintaining the command while the US Army became responsible for spaceships.
Well okay, I really did like the book. It was well-written with a great plot and pacing. Still, the notion of the Army in charge of spaceships bugs the hell out me. It is anathema. This book and others like it were part of the inspiration for me to write “The Huralon Incident.” In it, ships don’t have walls, they have bulkheads. There are no floors, only decks. No ship under my watch turns left or right, they turn to port or starboard. Why did I do it that way? Because it’s a bloomin’ SHIP, not a taxi.
All right, E.A., aren’t you just a bit biased because you came from a Navy family, studied the Navy all your life, and actually served in the Navy? Well, yes, that’s true and I’ll admit to a certain amount of bias. But there’s logic to the argument as well. The US Navy is 244 years old this year and it inherited many of its traditions from the far older British Royal Navy. This amounts to centuries of experience in controlling a vehicle, in a hostile environment, far from any source of support. “But,” you might say, “the ocean is water. Water won’t kill you.”
Really? How long can you tread water in fifteen-foot seas?
The sea is very hostile to human life. You can’t drink salt water for long before it kills you. Honestly, you can’t expect to live more than a couple days, if that much, without a flotation device. And speaking of that, is the Air Force expert at managing small boats like life craft? Don’t think so, but the Navy is. What if your SHIP is damaged and you must evacuate: who is most expert in keeping crewmen alive in a hostile environment after evacuating a SHIP? The Navy. To be clear, if you are thrown clear of your spaceship without a space helmet, this is what it looks like:
If an Air Force pilot’s aircraft is damaged, this is what it looks like after he ejects.
The Navy knows how to deal with operating a hostile (as in harmful to human life-irrespective of battle conditions) environment, the Air Force and Army, less so. So that’s my angle on it. What do you think. Let me know in the comments.