December 11, 2007
I'm finishing up Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane's "Riding Rockets", a pull-few-punches look at his time with NASA (including his own admittedly sophomoric humor, as well as a fierce criticism of the political culture there.)
One thing I had forgotten is besides the two tragedies, the Space Shuttle program has had many near misses. On his second flight, on Atlantis, heat tiles got knocked off the bottom-- they couldn't even tell qui how many until after they had landed-- and their chances about making it home safely were in doubt. His commander on that flight, "Hoot" Gibson, encouraged a casual stoicism:
"No reason to die all tensed up."That's a pretty decent outlook to have.
Reading the book reminded me of my vague desire to go into space, though I'm not sure if I'd be able to afford it any time soon. But Mullane writes mostly about the spectacular view... I realize I'm more in awe of the idea of weightlessness. I figure the view I can get some idea of through wide-angle pictures, etc, but the physical sensation of floating, without the viscosity of water interfering with your movements... that's something you can't readily duplicate on Earth.
Maybe I should just try to go in one of those freefall "Vomit Comet" planes for 30 seconds at a time. Zero gravity is actually a bit annoying in the long term! (Especially in the bathroom department, another topic Mullane isn't shy about discussing.)
Link of the Moment
The skateboarder, from "Skate or Die", was one of my favorites. Overall I thought that game looked like it came straight from an Amiga. (And the NES version was much less impressive.)
PS it's more difficult than I expected to get a clear MP3 of the title screen music for Skate or Die... I don't think the emulation gets it quite right, and its sampled electric guitar and terrific simple drumwork just doesn't carry through.