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Astronaut Suicides: Funny, Tasteless or Both?

Astronaut Suicides: Funny, Tasteless or Both?
Photos by Neil DeCosta

The end of the space shuttle era affects everyone differently.

One group of creatives from Portland, Oregon put together a Web site called Astronaut Suicides, which is pretty much as advertised -- a slide show of an astronaut, faceless behind his spacesuit, reading about the closing of NASA, and then a bunch of pictures of suited-up astronauts committing suicide.

"We wanted to acknowledge the end of an era in a visual way that would bring the conversation to the creative community," Art Director Sara Phillips tells Hair Balls. "The incongruity of the astronaut in these situations is, we hope, compelling and humorous."

Astronaut Suicides: Funny, Tasteless or Both?

The pictures are no doubt compelling, but suicide is a touchy subject. And in Houston, where astronauts live and the economic hit of the shuttle's end is felt keenly by engineers and staffers, we wonder how some people will react.

"We hope that the project speaks to the future of space exploration, and the choice of using suicide as a vehicle reflects on the possible end of manned missions, and the lives that it could affect," Phillips says.

She says the group was "inspired by JFK's historic speech at Rice University which speaks to the achievements and aspirations of the times, and to recognize that the power of the sentiment is still relevant today."

In just two days, she said, the site has gotten 40,000 hits.

Astronaut Suicides: Funny, Tasteless or Both?
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