Astronauts have always spent well over a year in a single space flight. (Class of 2016, #72)
A bit of the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, has always existed in space. (Class of 2016, #40)
The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens. (Class of 2012, #54)
The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters. (Class of 2011, #56)
Travel to space has always been accomplished in reusable spacecraft. (Class of 2003, #22)
They are too young to remember the Space Shuttle Challenger blowing up. (Class of 2002, #8)
I’m going to wrap up Astronaut Week here at Beloit Mindlessness a day early because Prof. Angry and I will be hosting a space-travel themed party in the Mindlessness office suite all day Friday. Drop by anytime. Costumes are recommended but not required.
I have half a dozen space-themed items left to cover in this post, but I want to start with the punchline to this week’s exploration of space through the alien minds of Messrs. McBride and Nief: Despite regularly including trivia about space travel in their lists of “cultural touchstones,” in 2007 the pair admitted that space travel “has never really caught the attention” of matriculating college students!
They did give “disasters” as an exception, but the only time a space disaster (the Challenger explosion) was mentioned on a Beloit Mindset List was to explain that the Class of 2002 is too young to remember it!
Regarding the other items, none of which have “caught the attention” of college students:
• The space flight that lasted “well over a year” (437 days) was in 1994, the official BML birth year of the Class of 2016. This is one of those “happened the year they were born but never since” items that show up frequently on the lists.
• The spacecraft carrying Gene Roddenberry’s ashes fell out orbit and disintegrated into the atmosphere in 2002, when the Class of 2016 was eight-years-old—so it hasn’t “always existed in space.”
• The Hubble Space Telescope was indeed was launched the year the Class of 2012 was born.
• The first space shuttle operational flights (presumably the “reusable spacecraft”) took place in 1982, when Class of 2003 was one-year-old.