Thursday, November 26, 2009

Atlantis crew surprised by Thanksgiving feast

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts thought they were going to give thanks with pantry leftovers Thursday as their mission drew to a close, but found turkey dinners awaiting them.

The meal switch was revealed Thursday morning when a TV interviewer brought up the absence of turkey dinners aboard Atlantis. “That's not going to be on your menu today, is it?” the interviewer asked.

“Shockingly, yes, I think it will be,” commander Charles Hobaugh said as some of his crew members grabbed the still unopened pouches of turkey and trimmings, and let them float around.

Hobaugh, a no-nonsense Marine, had made it clear before the 11-day flight that he did not care what he ate on the holiday, be it beef brisket or tofu. He made no special meal requests.

But somehow turkey ended up on Atlantis — smoked and irradiated — along with pouches of candied yams and freeze-dried cornbread stuffing and green beans — just add water and bon appetit.


Commenting on
yesterday's Star Trek episode post, which took the Enterprise back to 1969 to interact with the USAF and NASA at the height of American space exploration, my old pal Shane wrote:

Made back when America was madly in love with the space program.
Indeed. There was once a time when a story like this would have been on the front page, and would have led off the evening news. When I was a very little kid, the powdered drink Tang's main advertising campaign was that astronauts drank the stuff while in orbit. Seriously, people went nuts for all this shit. Space food was a minor topic in national discussion for a while there back in the day.

Today, space food is just a sidebar blurb, which is a drag because such minor news status is yet another disappointing reminder that the final frontier is more Hollywood than national dream made reality. Longtime Real Art readers are probably aware of what a space geek I am: I'd really, really, really love another space race of some sort; I'd really love this country to get serious again about NASA.

But I have no idea what it would take. I mean, the first space race, back in the 60s, took place in front of a Cold War backdrop, tapping into anti-communist and patriotic cultural strains, which made supporting NASA as American as apple pie. Somehow, it seems unlikely that space travel can be tied to fighting rag-tag fundamentalist terrorists with turbans, beards, and low tech improvised bombs. Just not the same thing as the mighty Soviet Union.

Maybe the
shitloads of water they've found in lunar soil, which makes Moon Base Alpha a distinct possibility in the near future, could do the trick. I guess we'll see about that.

Space food

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving!