NASA, ever mindful of the ebb and flow of national politics, and well aware that the national mood does not favor huge expenses in space for what seems at the time negligible gains, is turning to an old reliable, low-tech alternative - eyesight.
At first encouraged by President Bush's outer space filled State of the Union address, NASA officials have since come to terms with the lessened interest in space given the huge budget deficit and billions of dollars more which must be spent on Iraq.
"We realized that there are high-tech and low-tech initiatives we might take to investigate the universe," said NASA project engineer, Lloyd Tucker. "We can spend billions of dollars to build spaceships, and space stations and telescopes all of which might come to fruition in fifty years, or we can approach it in another way and begin to gather information now that we can use now.
To this end NASA has begun recruiting individuals with extraordinary eyesight who can scan the skies at night searching for new planets and stars never seen before.
"Stuff is out there that we've never seen. This ought to give us opportunities we've never had before," Tucker said. "I think we're all very excited by the possibilities. I know it seems hopelessly low-tech, but already we've found several asteroids on near Earth collision orbit. This will pay huge dividends for NASA and the country."
Tucker introduced the first three individuals picked: David Elroy, Roger Falson and Nathan Kruikshank. "Roger can see a bologna sandwich from across town," Tucker said laughing, "I know, he saw mine and ate it."
The Bush administration is also interested in the project calling it a sensible use of limited resources. "Terrorist's eyes are full of sand," Paul Wolfowitz said. "They'll never get the jump on us again."