As we continue the tests, we slowly learn more about what Mutta brings to the table as an astronaut.
He has a new shounenesque ability: the power to visualize an abacus. We’ve already seen his amazing memory and visualization skills, so this comes as no surprise.
Unfortunately, Mutta’s imagination is too powerful, and the beads slide around when he runs. Oh well, practice makes perfect.
But in this episode we discover another characteristic which makes Mutta a strong candidate, revealed through the letter writing exercise: faith.
Despite all the trials the space agency is going through, Mutta knows that everything is going to be all right. Once Hibito steps on the moon, Japan will begin to dream again. It may be a bit naive, certainly. But he believes in his brother and his country. And for the trip to Mars, he’s going to need plenty of faith.
As for addressing the woman’s complaint— personally, I mostly agree with her. Human spaceflight is, at the moment, largely a waste of money. Most things that we need to do in space can right now can be done more cheaply and more effectively with robots. The end goal, of course, is for humans to go into space. But at the moment we’re just not ready. Let’s send the robots to the moon to build Gingrich’s secret base first, and we can send the humans along once it’s complete and they have a safe and livable habitat.
But there is one very important reason that we need to continue sending humans into space in the short term: the public is stupid. NASA’s budget is already being cut so we can do stupid crap like bomb people living in caves and cut rich people’s taxes. And unfortunately, the public doesn’t care about science and about robots, so these programs will continue to be cut. But sending men into space— that captures the public’s imagination, although only children seem to be smart enough to care at the moment. A manned space program is an expensive but effective PR stunt. (Plus it’s awesome! Who needs an excuse?)