This commercial is deliberately over the top, in a hilarious sort of way. Nevertheless, its tag line is a message NASA (and its political masters) ought to keep in mind.
NASA has been quietly downsizing the astronaut office, and actual flight opportunities have been downsized greatly. The expensive Orion capsule and Space Launch System won’t help the flight rate any. If this trend continues, it will become a problem for NASA. At some point, taxpayers will start to ask why they are spending so much money on a space agency that’s sending almost no one into space.
Whenever these facts are mentioned, NASA responds by pointing out how much progress is being made in the unmanned space-science side. (The Curiosity rover is the current poster boy for this.)
It’s true that NASA’s unmanned programs have been doing better, but robots don’t vote and robots don’t pay taxes. The people who do want (and deserve) more than that.
As Scott Glenn, playing Alan Shepard, said in The Right Stuff, “You see those people out there? They all want to see Buck Rogers, and that’s us.”
Nobody throws a ticker-tape parade for robots.
And nothing beats an astronaut.