Thursday, August 04, 2005

Shuttle Dee Dee

NASA officials present a serene front to the media, sort of like celebrity publicists who insist their clients are "still friends" after a bruising divorce battle and angry revisions to flesh art at the pricey tattoo parlor. In spite of some problems so obvious that they can be seen with the naked eye standing out in your backyard, they assure us everything is under control. I don't believe it for a minute. In fact I think all the top guys (and gals) and their geek functionaries are locked in a soundproofed room screaming at each other. Scientist With Bad Haircut: Now all we have to do is send What's-His-Name out on a spacewalk with the soldering iron, and... Guy in Bowtie: You idiot! Why didn't you tell us the "Check Engine" light was blinking? SWBH: There is no danger. We're just undertaking this highly risky spacewalk as a precaution. Man Playing With His Pocket Protector: I TOLD you we shouldn't have lifted off. Now the whole world's gonna find out we think the space program is our own personal video game. Woman With No Makeup And Thick Glasses: Shut up, Roger. As I recall you were conveniently in the bathroom when we were voting on whether to launch. GIB: You're a bunch of BOOBS. (Aside to woman) That wasn't directed at you personally. (Gazing fiercely at men) We burned up the last crew and we're all gonna get fired if we don't get this crew down in one piece. Or nine easy pieces. (to SWBH) How many of them are there, again? SWBH: Now about the coefficients on the heat shield... I don't think they'd have attempted the risky spacewalk thing, much less TWO of them, unless they were really nervous. The first spacewalk took care of some "filler" sticking out from between the tiles like aeronautical cellulite because it may cause problems upon re-entry. "Problems upon re-entry" translates to "may catch fire and incinerate the shuttle," or "may rip off the whole bottom of the ship causing the crew to fall out" or "may go off in a series of explosions to commemorate the end of the space shuttle program." As a person who has watched the movie Apollo 13, I am more than qualified to advise them on how to best fix the various problems. First, send the Pocket Protector Guy to the dollar store with a giant green trash bag and a hundred bucks. Then have him randomly fill the bag as he wanders through the aisles, grabbing everything from pot scrubbers and gift wrap to extension cords and plastic party cups. And of course duct tape. Send all the stuff up there in an "unmanned space drone" and drop it off where the guy performing the next spacewalk can snag it. Then let them assemble a repair kit to be used any way they like! I also heard on TV, directly from the lips of a former shuttle spacewoman (who was also not wearing makeup) that the spacewalker needs to be careful so he doesn't accidentally bump the shuttle with his head, or scrape it with his shoulder, causing an incurable indentation. Ahem. The shuttle is THAT DELICATE? What about that stupid bird that they hit on the way up? Shouldn't someone pluck the beak out of the shuttle's underside? They may as well have made the thing out of fine porcelain, for Neil Armstrong's Sake! The shuttle would not be safe in a roomful of toddlers, who, I'm sure, would leave bite marks right on the expensive foam. If my van were made of delicate foam I would not expect to survive a trip to the mall, much less a flight into outer space. Whose brilliant idea was it to make the space shuttle out of foam? (Probably the Scientist With the Bad Haircut, who started assembling his models that way as a kid and never stopped.) Well I'm just going to offer my sturdy bridge made entirely out of NEWSPAPERS to the city of Tampa, which needs some new bridges because the current ones under constuction are cracking like, well, shuttle tiles! And the Peace Bridge to Canada can be made from old editions of the Toronto Sun and the Buffalo News. It worked for me in eighth grade, I'm sure it'll hold up in traffic. So our astronauts are basically orbiting our earth in a giant foam coffee cup, albeit with a few dents and rips. Sounds safe! Why couldn't they have chosen a more durable substance? Couldn't they have given the project to the people who package ordinary household batteries into plastic that is impervious to EVERYTHING? I once tried to open a package of batteries (with the help of some scissors and car keys) and gouged myself so deeply with the indestructible PLASTIC that I bled all over the car. (Which won't look so good for Hubby if I turn up murdered or missing, but oh well, he'll have to explain about the battery injury.) Now we're also being told that the shuttle had "lightweight fabric covers" on its steering thrusters that were supposed to "float off harmlessly" at liftoff. But one came off late, striking the ship and possibly causing a "bubble protrusion" near the captain's window. The closeup photos sort of make it look like it has the consistency of one of those cheap plastic cups that melt when they're in the dishwasher. On top of all this, some other space program know-it-all pointed out that one of the main reasons we're still blasting people out into space is that the shuttle has to "pick up the garbage from the space station." In other words, they're just a sanitation crew with a really expensive (and difficult to maintain) truck! At this point the astronauts are probably wishing this was simply a Publicity Flight manned by Michael "Moonwalk" Jackson and his chimp Bubbles. I have three words for the space program, once Discovery has returned intact, with crew safe. Grounded For Life.

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