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...


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."