Thursday, August 10, 2006

1-900-NASA

Other, normal young teenagers, should they discreetly pour large amounts of allowance into a 1-900 number, do so with a person named after some sort of dessert on the other end. Me? 1-900-NASA.

Porn for the young space dork, 1-900- NASA allowed the dialee to eavesdrop on Houston-astronaut chatter during space shuttle missions. Occasionally a commentator would break in to translate the flying acronyms.

Imagine the yo-yo of horror and delight I shot through upon moving to Cape Canaveral when I discovered that what I had been listening to was the live audio track of NASA TV mission coverage, which I could now experience all day, every day—for free.

Always one to glut on over-information, NTV (for nothing is officially attached to the American space program without first being sanitized as a rimshot of letters) burns forth in my apartment whenever I'm in the apartment and Americans are orbiting. The programming puts astronaut life in the harsh rocket glare of mundane reality, as there is a great deal of:

"Cryro stir."

"Copy, Houston."

"Set switch 41-B to position O-7."

"Copy."

I mean, that's some compelling reality television.

But occasionally, the orbiting spacecraft will pass out of radio contact, and Earth and space are forced into temporary silence. The screen flips to telemetry data and the intermittent overhead shot of quiet, darkened desks in Mission Control. I am always startled by the sudden silence, and often poke my head around the corner or glance up from the keyboard to make sure everything is zipping along at a normal 17,500 miles an hour up there.

I wonder what the astronauts do with these large, lovely blocks of nothingness. Their schedules are crammed wall-to-wall with cleanup duties, scientific experiments, and exercise, but I'd be surprised if they don't every now and then—at the crackling silence—tilt their heads and steal a glance at the stars above, the curve of the Earth below, pondering their lonely place in between.

As for us, there are stop signs; there is computer reboot time. You be quiet today, Internet.

repacking all future carry-on baggage at: mb@blondechampagne.com

5 comments:

HelloBettyLou said...

Now all I want to do is gaze at the stars for the rest of my life.

tamar said...

Thank you.

You have repeatedly, with your words, helped me to regain that childhood facination with Space.

The bills, obligations, worries...all of it poof!

I am not a religous and this is one way for me to step back and feel that I'm a part of something much larger.

The wonder and pure simple thoughts and feelings that your words give me are priceless.

Thank you.

gryphonesse said...

and here I thought I was the only one who left the NASA channel on all the time when there was a mission up...

Hooray for fellow Space Junkies! You cover Florida, I'll hold the fort down here in Houston :)

mike, who has no life said...

You call that nerdy? A bunch of poker dorks like me hacked the ESPN pay-per-view live feed of the World Series Of Poker Main Event Final Table.

I watched it until 7 AM this morning.

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