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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When Space Nerds Attack

Posted by Nathan Gilles on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 1:40 PM

NASAs Curiosity Rover.
  • NASA's Curiosity Rover.

It’s looking like a good week for space nerds.

NASA’s budget has shrunk for the last five decades. And while the exploration of the great big starry vacuum that surrounds our tiny world is now considered unimportant by many politicians and policy makers—and perhaps much of the general public—nonetheless, earlier this week, the space nerds won the day with a minor victory supporting the final frontier.

Documentary filmmaker Paul Hildebrandt is making a feature-length documentary called the Fight for Space. The film examines the political reasons space exploration stopped being a priority for the United States, why the US is now 23rd in the world in science literacy, and why NASA has consistently lost funding (Hint: they’re all connected). But NASA and space exploration might not be as unpopular as politicians and pundits would lead us to believe. For financial support Hildebrandt turned to the fund-raising site Kickstarter, and within nine days of launching the campaign he received enough money to finish the documentary.

Hildebrandt started his fundraising effort on July 20, and according to the documentary’s Kickstarter page, as of July 29, he’s raised the $65,000 needed to complete his film. He’s now aiming higher hoping to reach a new goal of $100,000, which will allow the filmmaker to get the movie into theaters.

Fight for Space, as of this post, has now raised $72,555. Hildebrandt has until August 19 to raise the rest of the money. Of course, the film will take at least another year to make. So you if can’t wait to get your space nerdiness on, you’re in luck, there’s another local option.

Starting at 9:00pm this Sunday August 5, Portland’s Living Room Theaters (341 SW 10th Ave) will be streaming live footage of NASA’s Curiosity rover landing on Mars. This will differ from past robotic explorations of our red neighbor in a big way. The aptly-named Curiosity hopes to answer that nagging existential question; “are we alone in the universe.” The rover will be sifting the red sands of Mars for signs of microbial life. Okay, that’s not as exciting as a flying saucer landing on the White House lawn, but still the discovery of life, even microbial life, on another planet would be amazing.

While the Curiosity streaming event is free, the planners are asking people RSVP for the event at curiosity@livingroomtheaters.com.

For a sneak peak at Fight for Space, check out the trailer below.

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