Lips in space
by Will See
Copyright © 1999 Will See
All Rights Reserved
5 minute tongue in cheek tale that follows the first female commanded space shuttle crew as they blast off into space. Based upon a real life 1999 mission, with one or two modifications.
My mother is an excellent driver, but for those who may have a less than positive outlook on how ladies drive, I present this transcript of today’s STS-93 (95) shuttle mission to launch the Chandra x-ray telescope.
In the interest of comforming to contemporary Hollywood culture, I have taken certain creative liberties. You have been warned!
These are all real people.
Eileen M. Collins, Mission Commander
Jeffrey S. Ashby, Pilot
Steven A. Hawley, Mission Specialist
Catherine G. Coleman, Mission Specialist
Michel Tognini (CNES), Mission Specialist
Lips in space
Ground control: “OK crew of STS-93, all systems check out ok from here, Columbia, you are cleared for launch.”
Collins: “Ok, where are the keys?”
Hawley: “I gave them to you.”
Coleman: “I thought you had them Tognini?”
Crew looks at each other.
Tognini: “Not me.”
Collins: “No, I specifically gave them to you Hawley before we left the cabin when I went to the bathroom. Oh… Wait a minute, here they are at the bottom of my purse. Sorry guys. Ok, let’s rock.”
Collins inserts the key into the ignition slot. ‘Clunk’.
Collins: “It won’t turn.”
Ashby: “You have to put your foot on the thruster pedal first, it’s a safety feature to prevent accidental launch. Don’t want to leave your crew behind do you?”
‘Click’, The red lights on the control panel all light up.
Ground control: “10”
Collins: “Jeff, did you bring the map?”
Ashby: “I have the map in my top inside pocket. It’s a bit chocolaty though.”
Ground control:”Prepare for booster ignition.”
Collins: “Catherine, I think I left my lipstick at home. Do you have some rose red?”
Coleman: “I think its in my purse, but that’s in the payload bay. I’ll get it later.”
Collins: “Boys, are you all wearing your seat belts?”
Crew, one by one: “Yes”, “But Ashby keeps rubbing his fingers on my helmet visor to make it squeek.”, complained Tognini.
Collins, “Behave Jeffrey, or I won’t let you watch the in flight movie.”
Launch control: “Throttle for powerup”
Vroom vroom, rooaarrrr….
(Shuttle rumbling and shaking under the pressure.)
Collins: “Why won’t it launch? My foot is on the pedal.”
Hawley: “Because the parking break is on.”
Collins: “Oh yes, sorry about that. Here we go.”, ‘Clunk’
The shuttle leaves the launch pad in a cloud of flames and smoke.
Columbia arcs towards the heavens.
Hawley: “Do you have to fly so slowly?”
Collins: “What’s the hurry Hawley, it’s my first time ok?!”
Hawley: “The Russians will get there first. Look, the Progress supply ship is passing us!”
Collins: “Oh yeh, so let them!”
Hawley: “Look, if we don’t go any faster, we’re not going to reach escape velocity.”
Tognini: “And I don’t want to miss the sunset over Tuvali.”
Collins: “Grrr.” (She gently applies an itzy bitzy bit more pressure to the throttle pedal hoping the crew won’t notice. The speedometer readout slowly changes from 1204 mph to 1224. Columbia s-l-o-w-l-y passes the Progress supply vessel.)
Coleman: “When are we going to get there? I’m hungry.”
Collins: “Soon, we’re nearly there pumpkin. If you’re really that hungry, there’s a dried banana bar in the glove compartment, but it may be a bit stale. I left it there on my last flight. Look behind the tampons.”
Coleman: “It’s ok, I’m not hungry any more.”
Ground control: “Go for booster seperation”
Collins: “Uhm…”, (finger hovering back and forth over the control panel…)
‘Click’, swish swosh, swish swosh, swish…
Hawley: “That’s the wipers my dear.”
Hawley: “The space horn…?”
“Press this one…” (Hawley gestures towards large red flashing button marked ‘BOOSTER RELEASE’)
Collins: “Ah, there it is, thank you.”
Hawley: “You’re welcome!”
‘Click, calaaaang thunk!’, the boosters drop away from Columbia.
Ground control: “Go main engines”
Collins moves a thruster lever forward and Columbia’s main engines ignite.
Collins: “Did I do ok?”
Hawley: “Wonderful, you’re doing just fine Eileen.”
Coleman: “You go girl!”
Ground control: “Columbia, you have now reached primary orbit.”
Ashby: “Where are we?”
Collins: “In space”
Ashby: “Duh! But where? I don’t recognise the constellations.”
Hawley: “I think we’re lost, in space.”
Collins: “What do you mean? You never told me to take a turn anywhere.”
Hawley: “Give me the map.” (Peering out of the window), “OK, there’s Africa, so we need to be more over Europe. Eileen, head towards Sagittarius and take a right.”
Collins: “Are you sure? I thought we had to go left?”
Hawley: “Trust me, I’ve been here before. Look! Floating outside, there’s a wrapper from the peanut mocha Space Power Bar I ate on the last mission.”
Collins: “You mucky puppy. I’m not bringing you here again.”
Much arguing and fuel guzzling thrusting later, the space station comes into view…
Tognini: “There it is! Wow! It’s so huge. Do they have a Taco Bell?”
Ground control: “Prepare for docking with space station.”
Collins: “Roger!, will do.”
Rest of crew in unison: “Who’s Will Dew?”
Collins: “Don’t joke around alright!?, I’m trying to concentrate!”
Pearing over her shoulder, Collins slowly backs Columbia towards the space station.
“Ooo, nearly there.”
Crew remains silent in nervous apprehension.
Collins: “Uh oh, I think someone is coming behind us.”
Applies space thrusters bringing Columbia to a sudden stop.
Hawley: “Why did you stop?!”
Collins: “There’s another ship coming up behind us.”
Hawley: “It’s the Russian Progress ship, ignore them, he’ll give you the space dammit. Wimmin!”
Collins: “What was that Hawley?!”
Collins: “Ok, here goes.”
Collins: “Oops, sorry about that!”
Hawley: “Oh Eileen honeeee, please do be careful, you’ll scratch the paint. If we ding this puppy, we’ll lose our no claims bonus.”
Collins, growing frustrated: “Look, shut up and let me fly! You wanna take the controls?”
With that silent “Okayyyyy, you know what you’re doing” look on their faces, the male members of the crew slip down in their seats, hands over their half closed eyes, as the space station looms ever closer.
Coleman: “You just ignore them, men have no respect.”
Ground control: “Docking procedure countdown…”
5, 4, 3…
Tognini: “Hick! Oops, sorry.”
Collins: “Ssshhh, I’m concentrating.”
Columbia slowly approaches the docking bay.
Sept 1999: Too busy to finish it. Sorry.