January 12, 2005

Space flight is a dangerous profession

Riding a rocket has been described as "sitting on top of a fuel tank that's exploding in a carefully controlled manner". That's not precisely accurate, but it's not far off either. It should be no surprise that astronauts have dealt with the pressures using humor.

Before the flight of Apollo 17, Gene Cernan asked the wife of Don Evans for advice on how to wake the deep sleeper. "All I do is give him a kiss", she replied. Always ready with a joke, Cernan reported that after eight days of flight "he did start to get pretty good-looking".

The last words spoken from the moon also came from Cernan: "OK, let's get this mother out of here".

The crew of Apollo 8 read from Genesis while in lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, and when a Japanese correspondent found a Gideon Bible in his hotel room he reported that "NASA Public Affairs is very efficient - they had a mission transcript waiting in my hotel room."

Apollo 9. After jettisoning the lunar module, one of the astronauts mentioned to ground control that they hoped they hadn't left anything aboard it. Ground control asked if that meant they hoped they hadn't left the LM pilot aboard. Astronaut James McDivitt replied "I didn't forget him -- I left him there on purpose..."

Shuttle mission STS41-C - The mission was originally numbered STS-13. The crew's alternate patch flaunted the 'Apollo 13 curse' by showing a black cat, the number 13 and a Shuttle flying from underneath the cat.

Mercury mission MA-8. Deke Slayton tried to trip Wally Schirra up with "Are you a turtle today?" on open comm (the reply must be 'you bet your sweet ass I am'). Later, in orbit over Ecuador, the ground controller insisted that Schirra say "Buenos dias", and Schirra replied with an exagerated "Buenos dias, y'all".

Mercury MA-3 (first US manned flight). During the press conference after the flight, John Glenn noted that Alan Shepard, who's suborbital lob came between the flight of the chimpanzee Enos and Glenn's pending orbital flight, represented the "missing link between ape and man". Shepard received $14.38 in Navy flight pay for his fifteen minutes aloft.

Apollo 16. Astronaut Charlie Duke had been hypnotized to keep him from using his customary cuss words while being broadcast live from the moon, which led to his constant singing to compensate.

I don't know if this is supposed to be funny or not, but it's so typically Russian:

Khrushchev was removed from power while the crew of Voskhod1 was in orbit, and the crew was cryptically informed that "there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy."

Thanks to Encyclopedia Astronautica for most of these.

Posted by Ted at January 12, 2005 05:25 AM
Category: Space Program
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