The Challenger

I remember that day. I remember January 28, 1986 because it was one of those moments in time that you can’t forget. I was a junior at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California. I was sitting in my AP History class when a student burst in and said that the Challenger had exploded. We thought that he was kidding but soon learned that he was not.

The networks ran the video footage of the explosion all day long. It was a moment that showed glimpses of a future when instant information would flood all sources of news and information with endless amounts of noise. That is one of the challenges of today, finding an effective way to sift through the noise so that we can determine what is significant and what is not.

Past posts:
The Challenger- Astronauts May have Lived Longer Than We Thought

How to Deal With Crazy Astronauts

Ok, let me rephrase that to say this is how NASA intends to deal with crazy astronauts in space. Are you ready for it? Duct Tape.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — What would happen if an astronaut became mentally unstable in space and, say, destroyed the ship’s oxygen system or tried to open the hatch and kill everyone aboard?

That was the question after the apparent breakdown of Lisa Nowak, arrested this month on charges she tried to kidnap and kill a woman she regarded as her rival for another astronaut’s affections.

It turns out NASA has detailed, written procedures for dealing with a suicidal or psychotic astronaut in space. The documents, obtained this week by The Associated Press, say the astronaut’s crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary.

“Talk with the patient while you are restraining him,” the instructions say. “Explain what you are doing, and that you are using a restraint to ensure that he is safe.”

The instructions do not spell out what happens after that. But NASA spokesman James Hartsfield said the space agency, a flight surgeon on the ground and the commander in space would decide on a case-by-case basis whether to abort the flight, in the case of the shuttle, or send the astronaut home, if the episode took place on the international space station.

The crew members might have to rely in large part on brute strength to subdue an out-of-control astronaut, since there are no weapons on the space station or the shuttle. A gun would be out of the question; a bullet could pierce a spaceship and kill everyone. There are no stun guns on hand.

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