Weird Crap in Mike’s Place, #2
From time to time over the past couple of weeks a number of people who know that I like anything NASA (except of course for the cancellations of Apollos 18, 19 and 20. I still grimace at that like a three year being served escamoles, as does Joe Engle no doubt. Get over it Joe!)….and so what I thought of Gravity.
I loved it, from beginning to end, in spite of the dozen or so fundamentally basic errors. Most of the problems in the show are absolutely necessary to propel the story along. Things such as the close placement of the ISS and the Chinese space stations, or the Shuttle and Hubble being within zero-G spitting distance of the ISS are wildly unreal. But I am also a forgiving and gentle soul if it looks like the writers tried their best, and considering the other details are so right and beautifully set before us, I just leaned back and enjoyed the visual treat and visceral spacey-goodness splashing over me. Not to mention the fact that Sandra Bullock’s performance has reaffirmed that my grade school-like crush on her is well warranted.
So, what piece of Weird Crap do I have that correlates to Gravity? After Dr. Ryan came to realize that the ISS didn’t actually come with a lovely fire pit for the crew to roast marshmallows, she correctly elected to flee the station using the Russian emergency Soyuz spacecraft. Soyuz has been flying since 1967, becoming something like the DC3 of space vehicles. With the retirement of the Shuttle, it is now the only way humans can go to and return from the ISS. Watching her navigating around the control panel was fun as I happen to have one myself.
It is an intact (and possibly flown) Soyuz main display panel. While mine is circa-1992, theirs was considerably more modern, but still from the same spacecraft. How did I get one? The magic of eBay! One of the most well recognized items in a Russian spacecraft going back to Vostok 1 with Yuri Gagarin, is their cute mechanical globe showing the crew where they happen to be at any time. This was the part I got from eBay. A few months after that, the guy I got it from contacted me and said that he now had the actual panel it came from. And since any possible buyers weren’t interested in the panel unless it had the orbital display, he thought I might like it. And so a couple of months later a 200lb. box was dumped in my living from, for what would be, well, a “frame” of sorts for the globe.
Only a couple of years ago I was able to get an English language manual for the thing. So, if I am in LEO during a debris storm with a Soyuz on hand, I know, sorta, which buttons not to press.