1074: Moon Landing
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist and science communicator. As of writing he is the "Frederick P. Rose Director" (a special honorary title) of the Hayden Planetarium. He has appeared on many different shows, ranging from The Discovery Channel to The Big Bang Theory.
There are a number of conspiracy theories claiming that the moon landing was a hoax. Tyson offers a pretty compelling argument against them, but Megan presents an even more convincing refutation, snarkily implying that NASA really hasn't done anything spectacular since 1969.
And Cueball responds with a pun on the word "burn". Burn can mean a particularly effective insult, or it can mean the consumption of fuel for propulsion. In this case, the "burn" was so effective it pushed the spaceship out of orbit (which usually takes a very large amount of burning, depending on the gravity of the planet or moon).
- The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Opportunity is working for over ten years on the Mars surface while Spirit is out of order. See this comic: 695: Spirit.
- Kepler did find many unknown exoplanets
- New Horizons is a mission to the dwarf planet Pluto and beyond. It's scheduled to arrive at Pluto by mid 2015.
- Cassini is a probe orbiting Saturn since 2004.
- Curiosity is an other Mars rover at the size of a small car, exploring the Mars surface since August 2012.
- TiME is a proposed mission to explore the oceans of Saturn's moon Titan.
- Project M is an idea to send human like robots to the Moon.
The final sentence of title text notes that all manned missions since the Moon landings have taken place in low-earth orbit, which is barely far off of the Earth's surface. If the Earth were scaled to the size of a regulation basketball, approximately 24 cm (9-1/4 inches) in diameter, those manned missions would have all taken place within 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) of the ball's surface. At this scale the Moon would be at a distance of 7.7 m (25.3 ft). Unmanned missions, such as those named above or the Voyager and Mariner probes of the 1960s and 1970s, have traveling much further.
- [Cueball is sitting at a table with a laptop open. His hands are on the keys.]
- Cueball: Hah- Neil DeGrasse Tyson has a great reply to people who doubt astronauts went to the moon.
- Voice off-screen: Oh?
- Cueball: "Atop 3,000 tons of rocket fuel, where else do you think they were headed?"
- [The voice off screen turns out to be Megan. She is depicted, and now Cueball is off-screen.]
- Megan: Cute. But it overlooks an even simpler argument.
- Cueball: Which is?
- [Both Megan and Cueball are now visible. Cueball has turned his chair around to face her.]
- Megan: If NASA were willing to fake great accomplishments, they'd have a second one by now.
- Cueball: Ouch.
- Megan: ...Too mean?
- Cueball: That burn was so harsh I think you deorbited.
- Spirit and Opportunity are Mars Exploration Rover missions (MER) and Opportunity is an ongoing robotic space mission exploring the planet Mars. The fate of Spirit is here: 695: Spirit.
- Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.
- New Horizons is a robotic spacecraft mission currently en route to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to flyby and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, Hydra and more, with an estimated arrival date at the Pluto-Charon system of July 14, 2015.
- Cassini–Huygens is a flagship-class NASA-ESA-ASI spacecraft orbiting to the Saturn system. It studies the planet and its many natural satellites since arriving there in 2004.
- Curiosity is a Mars rover launched on November 26, 2011. Currently operating at the planet's surface as planned, landed in Gale Crater at about 05:31 UTC on August 6, 2012. The rover's objectives include searching for the evidence of past life, studying the Martian climate, studying the Martian geology, and collecting data for a future manned mission to Mars.
- TiME or Titan Mare Explorer is a proposed spacecraft lander that would explore Saturn moon Titan oceans, the largest moon of the planet Saturn, and would perform the first exploration of an extraterrestrial sea.
- Project M was a proposed NASA project headed by Stephen J. Altemus, to send a Robonaut to the Moon.