984: Space Launch System

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Space Launch System
The SLS head engineer plans to invite Shania Twain to stand under the completed prototype, then tell her, 'I don't expect you to date me just because I'm a rocket scientist, but you've gotta admit--this is pretty fucking impressive.'
Title text: The SLS head engineer plans to invite Shania Twain to stand under the completed prototype, then tell her, 'I don't expect you to date me just because I'm a rocket scientist, but you've gotta admit--this is pretty fucking impressive.'

[edit] Explanation

SLS, which stands for Space Launch System is the new launch program being designed by NASA to replace the retired Space Shuttle launch system. In the first frame, Cueball is showing Black Hat something about the SLS, possibly a video on his phone or other portable electronic device.

As usual with his appearances, Black Hat is causing trouble. Here Black Hat would appear to be telling the truth because Nazi-Germany era scientists like Wernher von Braun, who was one of the developers of the Saturn V launch vehicle, came over to America and helped develop NASA's space program.

Black Hat's assumption in the last frame is obviously a bridge too far (which is where the joke is in the comic), but he gets his desired reaction out of Cueball, who is hanging his head.

Shania Twain comes into this comic in the title text because in her song "That Don't Impress Me Much", she sings: "Okay, so you're a rocket scientist / That don't impress me much". But, the title text argues that if she stood under the new SLS prototype, she would admit it was in fact, impressive.

[edit] Transcript

Cueball: Check out the SLS — 130 tons to orbit. Finally, rockets that improve on the ones we had 40 years ago.
Black Hat: Are we getting Nazis to build those ones too?
Cueball: What?
Black Hat: When we first captured von Braun and his team, we had our engineers interview them, then we built the rockets. But our rockets kept exploding.
[Von Braun interviewed by a scientist while under guard.]
[The same scientist in front of a spectacularly exploding rocket.]
[The Saturn V gracefully arcing across the night sky.]
Black Hat: Eventually we gave up and had the German teams do it, and they built us the Saturn V moon rocket.
Cueball: I'm… not sure what lesson to take from that.
Black Hat: "If you want something done right, learning from the Nazis isn't enough. You have to actually put them in charge."
Cueball: That's a terrible lesson.
Black Hat: Then I guess you should get a Nazi to come up with a better one.
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Discussion

But then we built a whole pile of rockets after that. Apollo, moon landing, mars rover, etc. Boo Black Hat.06:53, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

"Apollo, moon landing" -- that is, in fact, the Saturn V, built by von Braun, captured Nazi scientist, and his team, largely captured Nazi scientists. Yes, other rockets were built after the Saturn V, but as pointed out in the strip, none have been bigger or more powerful. "Finally, rockets that improve on the ones we had 40 years ago."
The first Mars lander (true, not a rover), Viking I, was launched on an Titan/Centaur. The Centaur was a co-creation of Krafft A. Ehricke, nazi scientist.
Mars Sojourner, a rover, part of the Mars Pathfinder mission, was launched on a Delta II rocket. The Delta family of rockets are based on the Thor ballistic missile. The Thor was originally co-developed by Dr. Adolph K. Thiel, Nazi scientist.
You see where this is going? 212.149.48.43 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Technically, von Braun wasn't captured. He voluntarily defected. He was wandering Germany because he had chosen to no longer support Hitler, so to stay at the concentration camp where he worked, or anywhere where a Nazi soldier could find him was suicide, so he escaped and was wandering out alone. He surrendered and defected to the first allied troops he saw, which just happened to be American. This is why he worked on the space programme instead of being shot on sight. By the time he was building American rockets, he hadn't been a Nazi for years.76.29.225.28 14:40, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

You're way off the mark. He was never opposed to the Nazis per se, but did understandably start grumbling a bit when he realized this Endsieg thing wasn't really working out. He and his team left the base because they, again understandably, did not want to be prisoners of the Red Army and Soviet Russia. Then, when the Americans finally caught up with them, he surrendered himself, avoiding execution by guards at the same time. --Qwach (talk) 02:19, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

[edit] Incomplete

Oh, this comic is one of the "more complex" ones. The time line (not the comic sequence) is starting with the US failures to archive space flight in the 1950's, then referring to Nazis, and by the end we are on the current US space policy, which is also highly questionable.--Dgbrt (talk) 19:51, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Not sure what you mean by one of the "more complex" ones, it is actually pretty straightforward. Some nitpicking though: there was no US failure to achieve space flight in the 50s; both the US and the USSR did it within 4 months of each other at the end of 1957/beginning of 1958. A little history lesson:

The Space Race didn't begin until July of 1955, when the US announced its intention to launch Earth-orbiting satellites sometime between July 1st 1957 and December 31st 1958. The USSR followed suit shortly afterwards, and by the end of August 1955 the Soviet Academy of Sciences created a commission (i.e. offered support and possibly some sort of incentive) for the sole purpose of beating the US into space - which they ended up doing with Sputnik 1 (10/04/57) and 2 (11/03/57). The creation of that commission is considered the start of the space race. The US launched its first successful satellite a few months after the Sputniks, the Explorer 1, on February 1, 1958, well within what most people would call the 1950s. 108.162.216.80 19:53, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
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