Grassroots Phoenix space exploration agency holds 'first protest in space'

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Protesters with ASAN launched a device up into space with a tweet as an anti-Trump demonstration. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Protesters with ASAN launched a device up into space with a tweet as an anti-Trump demonstration. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The entire balloon contraption cost about $750. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The entire balloon contraption cost about $750. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
They used a quote from astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Look at that, you son of a b---." (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) They used a quote from astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Look at that, you son of a b---." (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
As for the masks, ASAN says they didn't want the protest to be about egos. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) As for the masks, ASAN says they didn't want the protest to be about egos. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
ELOY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Protesters against President Donald Trump’s proposed policies are getting creative.

A new group of Phoenix-based grassroots space explorers is launching what they say is the very first "protest in space."

Operating under a mask of anonymity, they call themselves the "Autonomous Space Agency Network." Its abbreviation is NASA spelled backward.

“Right now it’s a lot of corporate and military influence, so we want to make it a space that’s democratic for everybody,” said one of ASAN’s founders.

At a time when the President has proposed cutting research funds and placed gag orders on some federal agencies from sharing information, ASAN wants to shake things up.

“When we should be more open, we’re closing things off,” ASAN said.

Their message came in the form of a tweet to Trump.  

“That’s his preferred mode of communication it seems like,” said ASAN.

They used a quote from astronaut Edgar Mitchell, “Look at that, you son of a b---,” stuck it on a weather balloon, outfitted with GPS and a GoPro, and sent it up to the edge of space.

Mitchell wrote of his experiences as the sixth man on the moon for Apollo 14, saying:

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a b----.” 

To paraphrase, ASAN said, “When you’re up there, you really see the pettiness of all these terrestrial troubles, specifically political ones.”

Their high-altitude balloon was made from parts bought online or made at home. The entire thing costing about $750.

They launched out of Eloy in late March. Their floating vessel of dissent eventually landed near Benson.

 “It flew for three, three and a half hours, and picked this guy up. It’s a bit tangled,” said ASAN.

The video it recorded was uploaded Wednesday, reaching nearly 100,000 views in its first 24 hours.

“I don’t think any of us anticipated it being as big as it was,” said ASAN.

They hope one of those views might have a Pennsylvania Avenue IP address.

“We wanted to send a message to him that the Earth is something to take care of and cherish and the best way to do that is through space science,” said ASAN.

ASAN invites anyone to take part in its open-source space exploration project.  

As for the masks, ASAN says, “Rather than this being an ego-driven project where people are doing it for personal gain, this is about the community aspect and putting the project first.”

ASAN is seeking funding for future launches. They hope to live stream their next one. 

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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