It’s not often you find two examples of towering space-related jackassery in the same day (at least in the places where I hang out – if you’re into UFO hunting then your mileage may vary). But thanks to a couple of long-retired government officials, we are treated to a smorgasbord of hot steaming BS.
Yet another “former Air Force officer” comes forward to confirm that yes, Virginia, there were space aliens that crashed in Roswell. In fact, it happened twice. Because I guess if something is good enough to screw up once, then twice must be even better.
Yawn. Remember the ridiculous “Alien Autopsy” TV special on Fox a few years ago? It wouldn’t be surprising if that was a big reason why some people refuse to take Fox News seriously to this day.
So let us move on to more serious fare, in this case a former NASA public affairs officer who insists there’s a dirty little secret hidden in the story of the Apollo 13 rescue. He claims an MIT student contacted the Agency and suggested, “hey fellas, why not just put them on a free-return trajectory?”
“Wow!” one imagines Gene Kranz exclaiming as he slaps his forehead. “And I could’ve had a V8!”
I’ve never had much patience with PR types and this just reinforces the stereotype. Sorry, man, but this is just clueless. And if there were any truth to it, then the whole affair was an even bigger miracle than anyone imagined because free-return was the first thing on their minds after ruling out a direct abort. The lunar transfer orbits were in fact purposefully constructed with that very option – every step of the way they had some kind of escape plan.
If you don’t believe me, read Jim Lovell’s Lost Moon or Gene Kranz’s Failure is Not an Option. Both are front-row views of the whole affair from the guys in charge at both ends of the mission. Kranz’s book has the added benefit of being a fascinating description of the evolution of Mission Control from the first days of Mercury.
An aside: being an operations desk jockey, I’m naturally disposed to the flight controller’s point of view. If you want some good ol’ fashioned gossipy dishing on certain astronaut personalities, Chris Kraft’s Flight makes for another fine selection. His accounts of certain events after reading the astronaut’s versions (either on ground or in flight) are enlightening to say the least. I’ve encountered the exact same types of interactions in my own career, from fighter squadron ready rooms to airline control centers. Kraft’s memoirs gave me the confidence to rely my own observations to spice up certain character traits in Perigee.
As they say, “don’t piss me off, or I’ll put you in my next book.”
How is it I’m always coming back to writing???