“Shock” and “Amazement” are two words astronaut Frank Maynard used to describe his experience on the space shuttle Atlantis last month, where he learned that the so-called weightlessness his colleagues spoke of experiencing in orbit was in fact physical.
“Now don’t get me wrong I know about gravity and all that, I just didn’t make the connection. I assumed that it was more of a figurative weightlessness, a letting go of one’s earthly concerns. Honestly I don’t see why that’s so far fetched,” Maynard told us over the phone from his newly minted cubicle at NASA’s HR services facility in Tampa.
“He seemed as prepared as everybody else during launch. But then when we got up there he was all like, ‘Woah! what’s this now?'” said fellow crew member Michael Scott, who was on the same mission as Maynard. “Somebody’s gotta rent this dude Apollo 13 or something, heh heh. But seriously this is fucked.”
“The great irony,” Maynard notes, “was that in space I actually had a hard time letting go of my problems. In fact the extreme isolation seemed to bring them into sharper focus.”
The goof is being hailed as a major public relations blow for NASA, coming on the heels of several highly fictionalized failed attempts at sending a manned spacecraft to Mars, most of which resulted in dismal box-office returns. NASA is planning on implementing a “Simple Steps” program for all astronauts in training, to make sure they have the basic world knowledge necessary to anticipate the nature of outer space.
After all this you might expect Maynard to be reeling. The higher they climb…not quite. The apoopriately nicknamed “ass-tronot” appears to be taking things in stride. “I mean how many people have seen the sun and the moon at the same time, gazed upon the many rings of Mercury, or flown, much in the way that a bird flies, across the midnight sky?”
Impressively optimistic, and do we detect a hint of lyricism in there? We do! Maynard has reportedly begun work on a book of impressionistic poetry chronicling his experiences. “We take so many things for granted, and then all of a sudden there’s this thing everybody calls ‘space’, and it’s super deep and like sooo empty. I mean where does it come from man, where’s it going?”
In Space, No One Can Hear You Dream is still in its early stages, but he hopes it will hit store shelves by next Autumn. For those who cannot wait, and want to hear more of Maynard’s “refresh…ingly…unique” outlook, you can check out his blog at babybeanz.blogspot.com. Or friend him on Facebook, I think he’d like that.