Vol. 1, Issue 14, August 19, 2003
Dr. Watson Cures All.
The Sleaze

JPL Gets Back To Basics: Jet Packs

Charles Elachi, director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, announced this morning that the research facility would undergo a substantial shift in the direction of its research and development.

"We have in recent years pursued a number of research programs which have been very successful, including the Mars Rover programs. However, it is time for us to 'get back to basics' and refocus our energies on what we are all about. In short, it's time for us to get back to jet propulsion."

Under the new mandate, every single research project that JPL conducts must include, as a central component, a functional jet propulsion unit. This includes everything from small robots to space apparel to software. In addition, JPL will adopt a new dress code effective October 1, 2003 which will require all personnel to wear jet packs and to travel via aerial propulsion whenever feasible.

Elachi was apparently responding to widespread speculation that JPL's funding would face severe cuts in the 2004-2005 budget. NASA has been accused of poor management in the wake of the Columbia shuttle disaster and has been working to justify its funding. However, the real motivating factor behind the change is alleged to have come from President Bush, who expressed "disappointment" during his recent visit to southern California that JPL didn't have "more jets."

"We are well aware that the current investigations plaguing the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory were actually initiated because the President wanted to know why they weren't doing more liver-related research," said White House source Victor Dennehy, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "G.W. is a literal man, and JPL is scrambling to make sure they live up to their name."

In addition, in an effort to address what he called a "low visibility problem," Elachi added that future satellites and spacecraft would be making more dramatic, low flights across the continental United States.

"Taxpayers want more return on their investment," said Dennehy. "If we spend $300 million to shoot something into outer space, I don't think it would kill JPL to let it swoop over some populated areas first, maybe do some loop-de-loops."


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