Friday, November 20, 2009

Stuck in Space

One of the headlines in today’s news concerned the scheduling of an astronaut’s flight. Apparently, one astronaut on a current mission is due to become a father during the course of the mission.

He may have some trouble being the lamaze coach this time.

The headline, however, made the statement that the said astronaut was “stuck” in space on his wife’s due date. This puts in mind some “Apollo 13” or “Lost in Space” scenario. Neither of which is true.

I think the AP manual has guidelines regarding specificity of language the headline writer needs to consider for future headlines. The connotation of “stuck” is that it is somewhat against the will of the astronaut to come back or that he is in an unplanned or unexpected circumstance. The scheduling of missions is highly planned and scheduled and the reports following the inspection of the shuttle following launch found no damage that will prevent or delay it’s return to earth.

The unfortunate thing is the wife’s fertility cycle, but the astronaut is not technically “stuck” in space. With the technology we have available now, he can “virtually” be there. I have seen those people who walk around wearing web-cams that broadcast their every move. Surely the doctor could put a webcam on his cap and have the images beamed up to the astronaut.

Likewise, the astronaut could be beamed down to a monitor so his wife could scream at him as necessary. Better yet, this is NASA, let them beam him down in a 3-D hologram so he can “virtually” hold his wife’s hand.

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