Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

If we don’t get it fixed, the crew will have to break out the Apollo bags

Wayne Hale
NASA Blogs

The shuttle is in flight once again this Thanksgiving Day, not the first time a holiday has come during a shuttle flight. My station friends remind me that they fly 24/7/365 and Christmas is really just GMT day 359. But when the shuttle is flying during Thanksgiving, I am always reminded of one significant day:

STS-33 was one of those classified DoD shuttle flights we can’t really talk about. But I don’t think I’ll be in any trouble with security over this mostly true story. I was the Orbit 1 team Flight Director and the shift schedule called for my team to be on console about noon. We had a big family Thanksgiving meal early that year (a real challenge for my wife). Satiated with turkey, all the trimmings, and pie, I arrived at the MCC to start handover from the planning team lead by Rob Kelso. We were expecting a really quiet shift.

Falcon Flight gave me the big news before I even plugged my headset into the console: “Potty is broken!” Sigh. Flight Directors spent hundreds of hours studying the various systems: engines, fuel cells, navigation. Everybody’s least favorite system was not working. “If we don’t get it fixed, the crew will have to break out the Apollo bags” Rob continued. If you don’t know what an Apollo bag is, well . . . let’s just say that you really didn’t really want to know. It’s a big plastic bag with sticky substance on the lip which you apply to your . . . anatomy . . . to take care of your . . . business. Not glamorous.

Fixing the potty is not exactly the kind of problem you want to work on following a big meal.

Read Wayne Hale's latest HERE.

No comments: