Once upon an intergalactic time, there was a planet, far from Earth, orbiting its sun, as it had for trillions of Earth years, when it was first discovered by relentless and underpaid scientists. And upon discovering this new planet, the scientists excitedly informed their superiors, who in-turn informed their superiors, and their superiors, and so on. Days later, after their corporate superiors had been informed, they ordered their government underlings to prepare a mission to the new planet.
The teams of highly-paid corporate engineers, consultants, analysts and lobbyists spent trillions of taxpayer dollars on many years of intense planning, designing, testing and refining, and other words that would rhyme in cool ways to make advertising jingles for yet more marketing revenue.
Finally, the day had come when the space vehicle was ready for launch. The crowd of anxious onlookers ceremoniously bid farewell to the brave astronauts, as they hugged and kissed their loved ones, before embarking on their golf carts toward the shiny contraption as it stood majestically alongside a frame, with hoses connected, spewing clouds from the super-cooled liquids fed into it.
Their much-anticipated entry was delayed while they were each required to sign a 30 page release form, indemnifying the corporate owners and shareholders of any liabilities should the vehicle self-destruct, fail in open space, or arrive at their destination only to be greeted by creatures that found them to be both nutritious and delicious. Their words, not mine.
An hour later, they were allowed to board. However, because this vehicle was owned by Earth Aerospace, formerly American Airlines, their launch was delayed at the gate for several more hours while they waited for their luggage to be loaded. Finally, the space vehicle was ignited, the connections removed, and with a furious blast of smoke and thunderous noise, it lifted off and escaped the clouds and entered open space. And then, a commercial break for their sponsors.
And back again. As the space ship traveled, a reality show was beamed back to Earth, which garnered high ratings and spawned fan clubs and meet-ups, along with expensive merchandise, clothing and special access to communicate with the astronauts at only $100 per minute, with a special discount for the first 100,000 new members.
Several years later, the space ship arrived at the remote planetary system and entered it’s calculated orbit. Sensors revealed possible signs of life on the surface below! Viewers back on Earth were ecstatic! A probe was readied, and launched. The crew watched with heavy anticipation of what it would report back from this strange new world using its many cameras and sensors. The viewers back on Earth watched the delayed “live” video feed, gathered together in homes, schools and pubs. Just kidding. They were watching it from their own phones, completely isolated.
Everyone watched as the probe skimmed the outermost edges of the planet’s atmosphere, creating a vapor trail and eventual glow from surface friction. And then, as the probe eventually immersed itself into the rich gaseous layer, they suddenly realized that the planet was surrounded by a layer of absolutely-pure Oxygen. At that point, the probe’s rocket burner ignited the atmosphere, incinerating the entire planet, and all of its inhabitants.