With NASA resorting to Soviet rockets until the new heavy lifter is ready in 2015, the state of our manned space program seems pretty dire. Naturally in this economy, everyone's got to make sacrifices, and that means budget cutbacks. At the same time we cannot give up on the spirit of exploration, which leaves only one logical recourse.
We send hamsters. First in low powered exploratory launches, to prove that it can be done safely. Then high altitude launches, with triple stage rockets and compact video recorders inside and outside the passenger capsule. Rockets on this scale designed to carry delicate cargo (an egg) and return it safely to earth via parachute already exist, and one has been purchased for the project. It will be upgraded over time with higher power engines and additional stages, but until funding makes those upgrades possible, this will be the vessel which carries brave hamsternauts beyond the heavens:I opted not to craft my own cockpit from a larger rocket's nosecone as I wanted a rocket already designed to fly stably while top heavy, and to carry fragile cargo and return it gently to the Earth. This fit the bill perfectly. It will naturally be repainted NASA white, with some type of special logo befitting such a noble endeavor.
But this is just stage 1 in Hamkind's conquest of space. The followup will be a space station. Or more accurately a skystation as obviously I lack the means to actually put hamsters in space. Nonetheless the design will closely resemble a futuristic space station, suspended by latex weather balloons and secured via a long fishing line tether to a heavy battery pack below which will not only anchor it against winds, but also keep it stable and upright, and supply power for the onboard resistive heating pad which the hamsters can use to warm themselves as needed if it becomes chilly:This floating habitat will be the crown jewel of the hamster space program, a worthy followup to Hampture Mk.III and the next logical step in the ongoing quest to expand the dominion of hamsters to all frontiers. Because obviously that is something which needs doing. Shut up, yes it is.