Yeah, They're Working in Space...
Not Taking the Biggest RV Ride in
By Mike McLeod
The world watched fascinated last month as the Space Shuttle Discovery and
its seven-person crew made history once again in space. Most were thinking about
the bravery of the crew and their historic work in space.
But RV owners know
that the crew was saying to themselves all the time, "What a trip! I'm in space!
No RV park fees, and all the entertainment is free!"
How do we know that?
Just look at the resumes of the crew.
Mission Commander Eilleen Collins,
Colonel, USAF, retired: "Born on November 19, 1956 in Elmira, New York,
Commander Collins enjoys running, golf, hiking, camping, reading, photography
There you go. She's a camper. The only question is, where
did she attach the barbecue grill to the Discovery? Because you know no camper
ever goes anywhere without a grill.
Mission Specialist Stephen K. Robinson,
"Born October 26, 1955 in Sacramento, California, Robinson is unmarried
and enjoys flying, antique aircraft, swimming, canoeing, hiking, music, art, and
stereo photography. He also plays lead guitar in Max Q, a rock-n-roll band."
A hiker and a canoer. Robinson took a couple of hikes in space, one to
repair the Shuttle's loose gap filler between the heat tiles. When asked about
the repair job, Robinson replied, "Heck, I've changed tires with rusted lug nuts
that were tougher."
I made that up.
Mission Specialist Andrew S. W.
"Born December 18, 1951 in Adelaide, South Australia."
what Aussie didn't like camping and traveling? Shoot, you have to RV just to get
to work in Australia. Thomas likes to ride and jump horses (probably on his way
to work), mountain biking, running, wind surfing, and playing classical
Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi:
Before joining the Japanese
Aerospace Exploration Agency in 1996, Noguchi worked as an aerodynamics
engineer. But here's the real story: Noguchi was a Boy Scout, and in his off
time, he likes "basketball, skiing, camping and flying." Another camper. And he
did space walks and vehicle inspections and repairs that have never been done
before. Now what RVer hasn't done that on the road before?
James Kelly, Colonel, USAF:
"Born May 14, 1964 in Burlington, Iowa. Ever
persistent, Kelly received a bachelor's degree in astronautical engineering from
the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1986 and a master's in aerospace engineering from
the University of Alabama in 1996."
He was educated in Alabama. Now you know
that campin', hikin', catfishin' and such are required courses there.
says, "my primary job is to back up [Mission Commander] Eileen pretty much in
anything she does-flying the vehicle, reconfiguring the vehicle, all those kind
of things." Yeah, and what else? Packing,
"We're primarily, a re-outfit for
the [International Space] Station. It's been 2-1/2 years since we had
significant upmass, and especially downmass to bring things back, so it's going
to be critical for us to take off all the stuff aboard Station that no longer
needs to be thereand bring it home. So we're primarily a service and supply."
Packing up and haulin' stuff home-inherit traits of any RVer.
sounds like those space people are just like the typical RV family-arguing when
it comes to packing and deciding what goes and what stays.
Kelly: "And the
other critical part is the, the Russians' Soyuz [which has resupplied the
Station most of the time] only has, I think it's around 150 pounds of return
mass capability, so every time a Soyuz comes back, there were huge raging
arguments about what pieces of gear needed to come home. We've got so much that
needs to come home; they really have to fight to see which one is actually going
to make it aboard the Soyuz. Once the Shuttle starts flying again, you can take
so much more home that you don't have to have most of those arguments anymore;
you can get almost everything you want to get home. Hopefully within the first
two missionswe'll have cleaned out everything that needs to come home, and then
we'll be back to the normal business where you're taking up about as much as
you're bringing home."
The resumes of the other two,
Mission Specialists Charles J. Camarda and Wendy B. Lawrence, don't specifically
mention that they are RVers or campers, but obviously they like being in an
enclosed vehicle for long periods of time.
Well, there you have it. The
biggest trip of a lifetime. NASA may say that "RV" means "re-entry vehicle", but
we know what it really stands for.