Saturday, August 04, 2007

NASA = Need Another Seven Astronauts

On January 28, 1986, I walked into my local in Hampstead, ordered a pint, and settled in for a few hours of drinking. One of the patrons, noticing that I was an American, said, "Hey, do you know what NASA stands for?"

"No," I replied.

"Need Another Seven Astronauts."

And so, I learned that Challenger had, spectacularly, disintegrated just 73 seconds into its flight. I rushed back home, and turned on the telly. Shortly after the end of "Nude Yoga," I found the news, and watched the footage...over and over. STS-51-L ended before it began, and all seven astronauts perished.

Fast forward to the next NASA disaster, the loss of Columbia, on February 1, 2003. Again, seven died as a result of a situation that caused the mission, at its end, to be FUBAR. Again, I remembered the asshole in the pub.

So, when I read that NASA was taking "swift action" to deal with the drunkenness of at least two astronauts, who were shit house when their mission commenced, I thought, "What's the big deal??"

If I were about to go up into space on a giant Roman Candle, I might have a few pops, too. Especially since the twelve-hour "bottle to throttle rule" is a bit anachronistic (sort of like NASA) given the automation of the modern space mission. Indeed, a few drams of a fine single malt whisky might actually prompt me to suit up and fly, given NASA's abysmal safety record.

In the meantime, the investigation continues...

2 comments:

dawne said...

They say that there are moments in your life that you will never forget where you were when you heard the "news". I remember my mother and many of her generation saying this about where they were when JFK was shot. This is true for me when I heard of the Challenger disaster. All I could think of was the school children, so excited about watching their beloved teacher going into space. The first time I heard that joke, which was within hours,I remember feeling sick to my stomach.

The Lifeguard said...

By the way, FUBAR means "Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition."