During a shareholder’s dinner on Saturday, retail giant Walmart announced their plans to develop a space program, with the goal of launching a supply rocket to the International Space Station by 2016, with loftier ambitions aimed for the next decade.
Walmart President and CEO David Cheesewright told the room packed with top shareholders that the company began research and development of their rocket in 2011, but with minimal funding until now. The company aims to spend approximately $2 billion over the next two years on the project, launching a cargo vessel to ISS in the Spring of 2016. Cheesewright says the company is actively pursuing contracts for that and future missions, similar to the deals made by Orbital Sciences Corporation and SpaceX.
“We’ve brought our low prices to every corner of the world. Now, it’s time for us to spread out beyond that,” Cheesewright stated during his speech at the dinner. “The cargo vessel we’ll send to ISS will work as any Walmart store here on Earth, and the astronauts and scientists onboard the space station will be able to buy whatever goods they want, whenever they want, for the same great low prices Earthbound customers get to enjoy.”
Cheesewright went on to elaborate on a few details regarding the spacecraft. The ship is described as a cargo vessel, manned by a small crew consisting of a Walmart greeter, two cashiers, a janitor, and four stockers. Walmart says those employees will earn considerably less than minimum wage, since they’re in space and not technically working within the borders of the United States. They’ll also be asked to work an average of 90 “Earth-hours” per “Earth-week,” pointing out that “time works differently up there in outer space.”
As dismal as these conditions seem, some Walmart employees say they’d love the opportunity to join the program. “Our glorious dear leader will honor us with the ability to be space pioneers,” said one Sarah L. Jacobs, 26, of Clearwater Florida, who swore to PTP that she wasn’t brainwashed by the company. “I would love to be a part of this program, for the good of Walmart, hallow be thy shelves. I don’t mind getting paid less and having to work more hours, because what is good for Walmart is good for all, glory be upon its sales and stock prices.”
If their supply missions are successful, Cheesewright says he envisions a future where Walmart will set up shop on future human colonies on the Moon, Mars, Europa, and beyond. His company aims to have one such facility up and running on the Moon by 2021, making Walmart the first corporation to colonize ground away from Earth.
However, not everyone is thrilled with Walmart’s plans. One anonymous official at NASA says some in the science community are actively working to keep Walmart out of space. “We’ve seen a memo that leaked out of Walmart’s executive branch that claims they’re hoping to make astronauts work in their store, to afford to buy products from that store. I think the minute we hear an astronaut professionally utter the words `Welcome to Walmart,’ it will indicate that the human race as a whole has completely given up on scientific advancement.”