By Jack Brummet Image courtesy of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory In 1960, during desert survival training, the Mercury 7 astronauts wore clothes made from parachutes (they also trained in the jungle—just in case the capsule landed off course).
In news from Cape Canaveral, a Russian toilet pump was ferried from Moscow by an American NASA employee to the U.S. just in time for this weekend's liftoff to the international space station, where the lone toilet is on the fritz. [Ed's note: I have to admit, the space station is cool. I like the idea that there are always a couple of Americans Out There.
Saturday's big ticket delivery is a 37-foot-long Japanese lab, the longest module/room in the growing installed at the space station. But that kaybo pump is critical too.
The latrine situation on the space station has beconme urgent. The two Russians and one American have to periodically manually flush the Russian-built toilet, which takes 10 minutes and requires two people.
Click image to enlarge. A road crew in Washington state collected these jugs of urine. In one year, a single, small county in the state collected 2,666 jugs.
On the other hand, if it comes to that, couldn't the astro- and cosmo-nauts take a cue from American truckers? My state (Washington) has launched a Jihad on trucker "urine bombs." See the Washington State PSA and photograph, above. ---o00---
Click to enlarge this photo of Baker, a squirrel monkey who rode a Jupiter IRBM into space and back in 1959. (photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)
According to the Associated Press: "After drinking heavily, an astronaut flew on a Russian spacecraft and another was cleared to launch on a space shuttle, according to interviews by a panel of outside experts, the panel's chairman said Friday.
"In the case of the shuttle, the mission was delayed for mechanical reasons and the astronaut wanted to fly a jet from Florida back home to Houston, said Col. Richard Bachmann Jr., head of the panel, created to assess astronaut health. He said he didn't know the outcome.
"In none of these can we say factually they did or did not occur," he added, speaking by telephone to a news conference held in Washington. He said it was not the panel's mission to investigate allegations and that NASA would have to ferret out details.
"The independent panel was created by NASA after the arrest of astronaut Lisa Nowak in February on charges she tried to kidnap her rival in a love triangle.
"NASA said it is unaware of any astronauts who were drunk before a flight but that it is investigating. Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said the panel provided no details and did not verify the troubling revelations and promised the space agency would pursue the truth. " ______________________________________________
OK. So what? If you read The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe, or any of the other many accounts of America's space program, you know that being drunk is not much of an impediment to being an astronaut. It's not like they drive the shuttle. They're passengers! Remember in The Right Stuff, how the astronauts complained that they were trained for years as astronauts, but when it came time to launch those early rockets, they were essentially strapped in for the ride? And that they were really just public-friendly versions of the chimps and other primates launched in the early space rockets.
So why all the outrage about astronauts flying drunk? If you're a regular here, you know I suffer from a case of aviophobia. Now, if you were an astronaut about to fly on what is essentially a gi-normous airborne rocket fuel bomb , are you telling me you might not want a touch of the gargle too? We've watched two of these things blow up right in our faces on TV! I'm not sure I could even get on the shuttle unless I was fried to the hatline. ---o0o---