NASA scientists have finally figured out a way to keep their new moon rocket from shaking astronauts to death: put in some really big springs.
As the Associated Press report puts it, the solution is essentially "a space-age version of the rusty springs under old pickup trucks."
“It operates a lot like shock absorbers on your car,” Garry Lyles, associate director for technical management at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center told reporters.
No word on whether the brilliant idea will placate astronauts who have been grumbling about the new rocket.
At least no duct tape was involved.
As it stands now, about two minutes into a take-off the Ares rocket will start shaking violently. This is not considered a good thing.
Here's the solution, as NASA describes it:
The first part of the fix entails the installation of a spring and dampener ring between the first and second stage of the rocket -- as the violent shaking is at its worst for about five seconds less than two minutes after launch. The second fix requires NASA to install a device that can read shaking aboard the rocket and counter it with what amount to 16 springs.
Other solutions that should have been considered:
Putting in a Sealy Posture-Pedic mattress, or -- according to NASA specs -- "Whatever that mattress is where you can drop a bowling ball on it and not spill a wine glass." Mattress Mac reportedly offered to donate the mattress in return for astronauts planting a "Saves You Money!!" flag on the moon.
Filling the space below the capsule with Jell-O. (Lemon, preferably.) Can also be used for life-support should things go horribly wrong and astronauts are sent drifting forever into deep space. Would be good for morale in that case, too, because who doesn't like Jell-O?<.p>
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Get the astronauts to enjoy the shaking. Play some of that "rock music" the kids like. Or have them try to sing during the most violent part -- that always cracks people up.
Staff the astronaut corps with people who just really enjoy shaking.
Abandon the moon mission as a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle.
-- Richard Connelly