Reuters reports that two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut were launched from Kazak…Kaza…from a former Soviet country in a Soyuz rocket today, for a two-day trek to the 100 billion dollar International Space Station. Americans are now dependent on other countries to ferry their space explorers to space, now that NASA’s nuts have been neuter…er, now that funding to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been winnowed back.
The crew consists of Fyodor Yurchikhin, Douglas Wheelock, and Shannon Walker. Guess which one’s the Russian. This is Fyodor’s second trip to the Space Station: he had formerly served as the station commander; Wheelock’d been on-board the Space Shuttle, which is going extinct; and this will be Walker’s first time out of the atmosphere – and though she’s from Texas, she can apparently speak Russian. She had this to say before blasting off:
“I’m very happy and a little bit apprehensive.” Okay, that may have been rehearsed. But I can’t even remember the Russian word for “comrade,” so she’s got one up on me. She’s also got a few more up on me, being married to four-time shuttle astronaut Andy Thomas, who served aboard the Mir back when Russia was still only getting its feet wet with democracy – which gets even scarier in space (“I vote we open hatch and let some vacuum in,” Boris said after his twelfth shot of floating vodka). She also owns a piece of American/Women’s History, which she’s taking with her to the station.
Soon to be floating on its way to the International Space Station is the watch worn by Amelia Earhart on her historic 1928 transatlantic flight, which is apparently now Walker’s personal property. Walker hopes that honoring Earhart will draw some new pilots to the field, which makes about as much sense as carrying around a hydrogen tank, hoping to inspire the construction of a new Hindenburg. Really Walker?
Amelia Earhart? The most famous pilot to go missing, ever? This is going to inspire people to take up flying*?
The Reuters article mentions in passing that Walker’s presence “will mark the first time the station’s live-aboard crew includes two women.” This makes me curious. How many dead women is the International Space Station storing up there?
*Thanks to Scumbag Style for the hilarious indignation.