Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not knowing a damned thing about the space program

I am very disappointed that Houston did not get selected as a site for one of the retired space shuttles. And, even though I think his actions are not going to amount to anything in the end, I do have to give credit to Texas Representative Ted Poe (Republican) for at least saying something about this poor decision.
"NASA made a mistake," Poe said during a Sunday interview with Fox News. "People understand the center of space exploration is at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. It has been for almost 50 years. It is a historical snub, if you will, to take the shuttle and put it somewhere else."

Poe added that sending Enterprise to New York was "like putting the Statue of Liberty in Omaha."
(from Fox News)

I don't necessarily buy his Statue of Liberty comparison, but I agree with Poe, and he does show at least a fundamental knowledge of the space program and its history. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Beth Sullivan, the journalist who wrote this article. Her penultimate paragraph states this:
Johnson Mission Control ran every shuttle mission, including Apollo 13, when the infamous line, "Houston, we have a problem" was spoken.

Really? Is Ms. Sullivan truly under the impression that this thing:

is the same as this thing?

And was there really no editor anywhere that could have caught this slip? If so, then journalism truly is in a sad state these days. I know, I shouldn't be surprised, but sometimes I still am.

Oh, and just to be picky, the actual line was "Houston, we've had a problem."


Anonymous said...

Really? that's how you read that article? Only a total moron would think the writer thought Apollo 13 was a shuttle mission. They are two separate thoughts. Myself and several friends (we are all space nuts) read the article several times and not once did we get that meaning from it. Also the line "Houston We have a Problem" is the catch phrase every English speaking person is familiar with. Don't be a douche bag. That exact line was in the Apollo 13 movie.. which was based on a book written by James Lovell. Lovell was also hired by Ron Howard to be on set as an accuracy consultant. He had no problem with the use of "Houston we have a problem" AND HE WAS THE ONE WHO SAID IT! You need to move out of your parent's basement and get a life.

Albatross said...

I'm not a teacher, so I will try to explain this as simply as possible.

When a person says "every [set of things], including [particular thing]", that particular thing is understood to be a part of the set. (Or it should be, at least.) Every shuttle mission includes only shuttle missions, not Apollo missions, Gemini missions, Voyager missions, or any other space exercise. Shuttle missions include only shuttle missions, so it was wrong to refer to Apollo 13. (Especially in an article entirely about space shuttles.)

Now if Ms. Sullivan had said/written the following, she would have been more on the mark:

Johnson Mission Control ran every shuttle mission, including STS-51-L, the ill-fated Challenger mission, when the infamous line, "Uh oh" was spoken.

But for some reason she wanted to get that Apollo 13 reference in there. So she plunked it in, and in the most awkward place possible -- her sentence talking about every shuttle mission. If she meant it as a separate thought, she should have put it in another sentence.

It's sloppy writing, and I'm not even a little bit of a moron for noticing it. I'm sorry you didn't.