A recent episode of the “This American Life” podcast (episode #329: “Nice Work If You Can Get It”) opens with an amusing rundown of what astronauts actually spend their time doing now that there are almost no manned spaceflights. The answer was mostly: go to lots of meetings in Houston.
The more interesting revelation was that the astronauts get their vicarious space thrills by watching Farscape and Battlestar Galactica. Aside from being “hugely jealous” of the capacity for interstellar space flight, one of the astronauts pointed out that classic BSG Viper/Star Wars X-Wing Fighter design is pretty dumb:
“All of those shows assume that there is some sort of magical gravity thing so that when you’re in your vehicle, you know, everybody’s all walkin’ on the floor. Well, not in our space program.
“They’ve got fighter jet flying. They have pointy noses and wings and they make them look like fighters. None of that is any advantage when there’s no atmosphere.
“You could be a box and have the same maneuverability. The Borg had it right. They’re a big cube and they’re perfectly maneuverable, as opposed to the little star fighter with the pointed nose and the wings and the engine in the back.”