I am going to switch to normal blogging for ease of communication with our more earthly readers. Can we talk about the International Space Station, your current home? Word in our atmosphere is: you are in big trouble in little Milky Way come mid-November.
- International Space Station, Not made of LEGOs
Astronauts will abandon the International Space Station, probably in mid-November, if rocket engine problems that doomed a Russian cargo ship last week are not diagnosed and fixed.
Even if unoccupied, the space station can be operated by controllers on the ground indefinitely and would not be in immediate danger of falling out of orbit.
Three Russian astronauts, two Americans and a Japanese are living on the space station.
Yikes, what got us into such a predicament? One reason: Vladimir Putin (aka: The Hairless Bear) and his Ruskies can’t get all of their rubles in one sock:
- Oopsie doopsie Comrade. We are staying in Siberia, and not the Motel 6 (мотель шесть), but in Motel Gulagiski
On Aug. 24, Russia’s Progress 44 cargo vessel crashed in Siberia after the third stage of its Soyuz rocket failed. That rocket is similar to the one NASA and other space agencies depend on to loft astronauts, raising doubts about whether the issue could be fixed in time for a new crew to get to the station before its three remaining residents depart for Earth on Nov. 22.
Headlines from the Muscovite music mag Popski indicate that the Britney Spears song Ooops, I Did It Again enjoyed brisk sales after the disaster. . .
Space issues appear to be a world-wide phenomenon. Even the Red Dragon can’t figure out the right music to play after its launch two weeks ago:
The lift-off was flawless. The orbit immaculate.
But while China’s leaders were celebrating the triumphant launch of Tiangong-1 space lab on Thursday, viewers of state television footage were treated to a bizarre choice of soundtrack: America the Beautiful.
- America the Beautiful, China’s Official Space Song
Or was that a subtle (like a jackhammer), Eastern poke at the cloddish West?
Not that our space program is any better. Unfortunately, we have to deal with shenanigans like the one alluded to above with an asterisk*, regarding Lisa Nowak.
Why do we stress cultural outreach over replacing the Space Shuttle with a more advanced vehicle to travel to Mars and beyond? (Please don’t try to tell me that a capsule is more advanced.)
Who is this wacky Nowak person? Glad you inquired, her boyfriend was in the news recently and her story bears repeating. Especially for Junior Officers, as a classic, textbook case in what not to do.
Ensign Bobby, Lieutenant Sophomore Grade (LTSG) Betty: put down your sextants and listen carefully.
First and foremost, Ms. Nowak is United States Naval Academy graduate. As in the USNA or the Academy. Yes Ensign Bobby, we can refer to it as Canoe U. And she was once a Captain in the United States Navy and a former NASA astronaut.
Why former astronaut? Good question, LTSG Betty. From her no-wak-apedia entry:
- Lisa Nowak, Academy Grad
According to police reports, Nowak drove from Houston to Orlando, Florida, on February 4–5, 2007. She packed latex gloves, a black wig, aBB pistol and ammunition, pepper spray, a hooded tan trench coat, a 2-pound drilling hammer, black gloves, rubber tubing, plastic garbage bags, approximately US $585 in cash, her computer, an 8-inch (20 cm) Gerber folding knife and several other items before driving the 900 miles (1,400 km) to Florida.
Early police reports indicated she wore diapers during the trip, but she later denied wearing them.
On February 5, 2007, Nowak went to the Orlando International Airport, waited for about an hour in the baggage claim, and then proceeded to the airport parking lot, where she located and confronted Shipman, who had just arrived from Houston by plane.
- Lisa Nowak, Ring-knocker
So our space program is in shambles and we have to deal with the above drama. So what happened to Ms. Yes-wack? She was drummed out:
Capt. Lisa Nowak will retire with an “other than honorable” discharge and her pay grade will be knocked down one rank, Assistant Secretary of Navy Juan Garcia said in a statement.
Nowak’s conduct “fell well short” of what is expected of Navy officers and she “demonstrated a complete disregard for the well-being of a fellow service member,” Garcia said.
- A Dependable Love Triangle (of terrible haircuts): Nowak, Shipman, and Oefelein
As for Commander Nowak’s love interest, Commander Bill Oefelein, he married the lovely Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, whose Wikipedia page has been mysteriously wiped clean. And he was in the news several weeks ago for possibly saving a big-time biff in Alaska:
Oefelein and Shipman are now married and living in Anchorage, according to Florida attorney Kepler Funk, who has represented Shipman in the past.
In the Sept. 15 crash, Oefelein managed to skillfully steer the stalled small floatplane into some alder bushes and land without any injuries near Judd Lake, about 50 miles northwest of Anchorage. None of the three on board was injured, but the six-seat Regal Air plane was heavily damaged when it went down in a swampy area of alder bushes about 200 feet from the lake.
A friend of the Commander searches for answers on the Lisa she knew.
I can rant and rave about declining standards. But, I will let the facts sit. All in all, Ms. Nowak has issues and requires professional help. Not as a punchline, which she has dependably become.
And perhaps this post can be construed as mean, but shame is a powerful motivator to our incoming junior officers. And Ms. Nowak forgot that her actions have ramifications. She was a Captain, an astronaut, and a representative of our country, after all. Oh, did I mention she’s an Academy grad? A ring-knocker?