Pilot: John Glenn
Mission: Space Shuttle Discovery
Log: First Day
2:05 a.m. Wake up, severe urge to pee. Turn on enlarged prostate monitoring scan, which I’d forgotten to do. Also remember I’d forgotten to turn on short-term memory something-or-other.
2:12 a.m. Discover that crewmembers have hidden antimacassars I put on seatbacks earlier. Story Musgrave warned me they’d do that. Didn’t believe him. Fine. Candy dishes won’t come out either.
2:45 a.m. Can’t go back to sleep. Must have been given placebo instead of melatonin. Mice look dead. Feed them. [As a result, mice are kicked out of deep REM mode and into hyper-exercise mode, causing vital rodent dream-imaging data to be lost.]
3:41 a.m. Decide to surprise grandson with phone call from space. Recording says must dial “1” before number. When did they implement that? Try again. Wake up somebody in upper Mongolia, who seems mighty upset. No call for that. Should be up milking his yak anyway.
4:33 a.m. Make sandwich. Forget where I put dentures. Good thing I brought The Clapper. Clap once. Jaw vibrates violently. Gosh, never took ’em out.
5:29 a.m. Overhead panel begins to rattle. Unscrew panel and find problem: loose floating container inside. Label reads STANDARD ISSUE NASA CONDOMS (6). Only three left. Knew missions never should have gone coed. Date on container, however, is before missions went coed. Say silent prayer for future of program and country. Jettison evidence out waste disposal shute. Put up spaceseat foot rest and nap until fellow astronauts awaken at 6.
6:08 a.m. “Houston, we have a problem.”
“What is it, Discovery?”
“Senator Glenn has not woken up, sir.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“No one wants to…be the one to…confirm it.”
“Well, he is 77 years old.”
“Good grief, Colonel, we have a real busy day and—”
“Sir, it’s the crew’s consensus that Senator Glenn appears to have expir—”
[Siren goes off in shuttle.]
“Check that, Houston. Confirm Senator Glenn is now…up.” [Chuckles.]
“Congratulations, but why is alert still sounding?”
“One moment, Houston…I hope you’re monitoring that, Lieutenant Hemshaw. No, not with your camera! Put it down – that’s an order!”
“Discovery, we’re getting a reading that there’s a problem with Senator Glenn’s spacesuit. Is that the source of the alert?”
“Roger. Working on it. Minor puncture is all…Although we wouldn’t exactly call it a problem, Houston.”
“Why is that?”
“It seems someone conducted an unofficial experiment on the Senator while he was asleep – no cause for alarm. Totally harmless. Just some hijinks.”
“Colonel, switch off speaker at once. Do you read? This must not go out over—”
“You’re breaking up, Houston, didn’t get that…As I was saying, the good news is, the experiment appears to have succeeded.”
“Discovery, turn off your speaker!”
“Not only is Senator Glenn fully awake, but results from the first Viagra test in space should be coming your way shor—”
“We’re cutting communication, Colonel! Out.”
9:16 a.m. Outscore crew in balance and coordination experiment despite claims that use of walker skewed results.
10:00 a.m. Nap.
2:05 p.m. Polyester “elastic-band” space pants I ordered are vast improvement in comfort department than old Mercury suit, particularly in groinal and buttockal area. Usefulness of pants coming up to armpits, however, needs further analysis. Could be causative factor for why crewmembers no longer address me as “Senator” but as “Uncle Fester.”
2:20 p.m. Nap.
3:45 p.m. Was not awakened until after Jeopardy. Believe it was premeditated.
4:17 p.m. Conduct unofficial aging and weightlessness experiment to monitor muscle atrophy, cardiovascular system, reaction time, immune system, and bone density. Translation: Punch puissant flight commander in nose. Findings:
- Flight commander knocked into kitchen bay (muscle wasting not apparent).
- Heart rate soars, no ill effects (cardiopulmonary rate above average).
- Return punch misses (reaction time excellent, immune system undamaged).
- Knuckle/wrist sore but not broken (bone density above average).
4:18 p.m. Nap.
7:54 p.m. Get no takers for Bid Whist. Bet flight doctor 20 bucks that Ed Ames played me in Right Stuff, not Ed Norton. Bet science advisor 20 bucks that I didn’t play for Knicks, Ed Bradley did. Will get another 20 from communications officer when he learns it was me, not Jack Kemp, who played for Buffalo Bills.
7:58 p.m. Before turning in, ask Lieutenant Hemshaw for some Prune-Tang. Am struck over right eye by Lieutenant Hemshaw. Complaint officially filed.
8:22 p.m. Ask flight commander if I can “take her around the block” one last time. He agrees but insists on briefing me on instrument panel first. Respond that I know my way around inside of a spacecraft. Apparatus complicated, but no more so than campaign finance reform. Commander reminds me to check mirror before activating reverse thrusters. Give him look that once melted Werner Van Braun…or was it Zero Mostel? “I’m from Mercury program, Commander. We didn’t need mirrors to back up.”
“Not mirror, Senator, MIR. It’s right behind us…Wait – NO!”
8:23 p.m. Transmission from commander of MIR Space Station: “Moscow, we have a problem.”