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HOLY SH*T MAN WALKS ON F**KING MOON
January 6, 2012 7:25 AM   Subscribe

At one point, Stafford recognized a landmark crater, Censorinus A. He was momentarily distracted by the dramatic shadows and giant boulders surrounding the crater. “I’ve got Censorinus A right here,” he said out loud to the world, “bigger than shit!” A shocked reporter listening to the transmission in mission control turned to astronaut Jack Schmitt. “What did Colonel Stafford just say?” Thinking quickly, Schmitt covered for his colleague and replied “He said, ‘Oh, there’s Censorinus… bigger than Schmitt!’”

How not to swear on the moon, and other fun facts from Vintage Space.
posted by Horace Rumpole (21 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Okay, that's amusing. I have to say, though, hypnotized astronauts are just some great conspiracy fodder, there. MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE ASTRONAUT. If the hypnosis thing is true, then at least it worked reliably as opposed to "Hmmmm hmmm hmmm dum da da WALKIN ON THE MOTHERFUCKING MOON, BITCHES hmm hmm mmm dum dum daaa."
posted by rmd1023 at 7:46 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Impossible not to link to this. Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket.
posted by The Bellman at 7:47 AM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would think wandering around the Moon surface should make any person with even a shred of sense want to go HOLY SHIT I'M ON THE MOON every 30 seconds or so. I would! Let them space travellers swear in peace, geez.
posted by Iosephus at 7:58 AM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Stafford was, I think, the first astronaut to to be over cussing over the radio, back on Gemini 9. Gene Cernan had to issue an apology for his "Son of bitch" on Apollo 10.

I would think wandering around the Moon surface should make any person with even a shred of sense want to go HOLY SHIT I'M ON THE MOON every 30 seconds or so.

Nope, they were professional. All Armstrong and Aldrin did was share a handshake and grin once they landed, then they got back to work.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on January 6, 2012




Censorinus?

Shenanigans.
posted by Foosnark at 8:23 AM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


The story about the astronaut being hypnotized just to block his swearing sounds highly apocryphal to me. I mean, if there's any situation where you want your guy to have a completely clear mind, free of any tinkering or blocks, it's probably on a mission to the freaking moon and back.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:23 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, the linked article sounds like complete and utter bullshit. Pete Conrad missed out on the first astronaut selection (what became the Mercury 7)because he found all the tests idiotic and walked out. I don't buy that he's let himself be hypnotized, not after essentially saying 'fuck you, I'm not dealing with this bullshit'. Landing the lunar module was extremely difficult, no serious pilot at the time, particularly a Commander, was going to have anybody monkeying around in his head.


Andrew Chaikin's book A Man on The Moon, widely considered THE definitive account of the Apollo missions, recounts a conversation between Conrad and his partner on the moon, Alan Bean. Conrad was raising cussing to an art form in the various simulations for the moon landing and Bean reminded him that he couldn't swear like that on the actual mission. Conrad just laughed and said it was people like him, who let it all out in the simulations, that would never do it on hot mike.

Conrad's humming and “dum de dum dum dums" were noted, both by Chaikin and in the book Rocketman, which Conrad's 2nd wife commissioned and authorized after he died from a motorcyle accident in 1992, as just signs that he was happy and working.

Fun fact: Conrad was almost the first man on the moon. His crew was originally backing up an Apollo 8, which meant they would rotate to Apollo 11. Armstrong's crew was backing up Apollo 9, so they would rotate to Apollo 12. Then the mission objectives for Apollo 8 and 9 got swamped and so did the prime and back up crews.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 AM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I ended up wandering around that site and found myself discovering that the Flight Director's vests I remember from Apollo 13 weren't just a fashion statement or arbitrary clothing choice - they had significance and meaning.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:51 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The story about the astronaut being hypnotized just to block his swearing sounds highly apocryphal to me. I mean, if there's any situation where you want your guy to have a completely clear mind, free of any tinkering or blocks, it's probably on a mission to the freaking moon and back.

Well, planting a suggestion about what it is you say when you're babbling absent-mindedly isn't exactly CIA mind-control territory. The part that's weird to me is that a person who putters around muttering, "fuck shit asshole balls," to themselves A) exists and B) was deemed sane enough to fly a god damn rocket to the moon.
posted by cmoj at 9:03 AM on January 6, 2012


The story about the astronaut being hypnotized just to block his swearing sounds highly apocryphal to me. I mean, if there's any situation where you want your guy to have a completely clear mind, free of any tinkering or blocks, it's probably on a mission to the freaking moon and back.
Maybe not hypnotized, but lots of people with tourettes and other ticcing or compulsive behaviors have learned to modify with less offensive replacement behaviors.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:06 AM on January 6, 2012


I mean, if there's any situation where you want your guy to have a completely clear mind, free of any tinkering or blocks, it's probably on a mission to the freaking moon and back.

You only think that because you haven't seen what resides on the moon. Seriously, your human brains need all the help you can get to block that out.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:38 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course they hypnotized the Apollo astronauts. All of them. Otherwise they would have immediately realized that it was all a front and they were actually walking around a sound stage at Area 51.

Buzz Aldrin is still under and reacts violently to any attempts to snap him out of it.
posted by Naberius at 9:40 AM on January 6, 2012


Uhhh, Tranquility?

Yeah, hypnosis sounds weird and unlikely, especially since hypnosis was fringe weirdness even in the 60s. I'd imagine they'd just put a censor delay on live feeds and have someone hit the button whenever an astronaut happened to swear.

The part that's weird to me is that a person who putters around muttering, "fuck shit asshole balls," to themselves A) exists and B) was deemed sane enough to fly a god damn rocket to the moon.

Eh, most of the original astronauts were fuckin' hard drinking, fast driving, skirt-chasing, alpha-male test pilot cowboys. Test pilots were already a wild and rough and tumble breed, even if they were capable of being scientific and methodical, they also had to be able to fly improbable contraptions by the seat of their pants. There's a certain amount of insanity and disregard for self-preservation involved from the get go to be a test pilot.

Even more so to voluntarily strap yourself to about a million pounds of fuel and oxidizer wrapped in a thin skin of aluminum and titanium designed and built by the lowest bidder.

Today's astronauts aren't really of the same breed. Back in the 50s and 60s they didn't really have anyone with the aeronautical engineering + piloting experience + crazy enough to try this damn fool thing skill set besides test pilots.

The original astronauts were probably perfectly capable of swearing like a drunken pirate during casual conversation - but these are test pilots, so they're probably also perfectly capable of practicing radio/mic discipline, which is an essential piloting skill for all pilots, test pilots, military, or civilian/commercial.

You know that clipped, precise "cool and professional" radio voice that pilots use? That crisp sort of enunciated drawl that sounds a bit like Texas - or Houston? Pilots actually practice that, even today - and it's no accident they all want to sound like Houston's Mission Control Center.

It's a point of pride among professional pilots, and it's not just an ego thing, nor is it just about a veneer of professionalism. It's about clear, precise communications and being able to be heard and understood over radio static, radio noise and aircraft noise. Having to retransmit a heading or position or course change while you're moving along at or above near MACH speeds is bad.

So, yeah, I wouldn't be at all surprised if NASA had an adult language problem with the original astronauts. I wouldn't be surprised if they had some training to deal with that - diction classes, perhaps, or some kind of exercises to reduce the chances of swearing.

But I'm having a hard time buying hypnosis, even if NASA had a known image problem with the cowboy test pilots they turned into astronauts.

Though, they did some pretty weird things for NASA astronaut training.
posted by loquacious at 10:06 AM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd imagine they'd just put a censor delay on live feeds and have someone hit the button whenever an astronaut happened to swear.

Well no, they didn't do that, because we have mic recordings of astronauts cursing i.e. the subject of this post.

Today's astronauts aren't really of the same breed.

That makes no sense. Test pilots still exist and still become astronauts. They were the only ones allowed be Commanders or pilots of the Shuttle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2012


To the best of my knowledge (i.e., I can't remember a citation and can't be arsed to find one), the "pilot voice" derives directly from Chuck Yeager.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:03 PM on January 6, 2012


To the best of my knowledge (i.e., I can't remember a citation and can't be arsed to find one), the "pilot voice" derives directly from Chuck Yeager.

Citation: Tom Wolfe, "The Right Stuff".
posted by Mcable at 12:29 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well no, they didn't do that, because we have mic recordings of astronauts cursing i.e. the subject of this post.

True, I was speaking hypothetically that it would probably be a preferred solution to hypnosis.
posted by loquacious at 12:34 PM on January 6, 2012


Transmissions from Commander Pete Conrad are punctuated with “de doo doo doo” and “de da da da”.

Giant steps are what you take walking on the moon
I hope my leg don't break walking on the moon. . .
 
posted by Herodios at 1:52 PM on January 6, 2012


This web page says the hypnotized astronaut was Charlie Duke, on Apollo 16. It doesn't have a source. Supposedly he sang instead of cursing.

This is slightly more believable, as Apollo 16 was Duke's only flight, as opposed to Conrad's four flights. Duke was also the Lunar Module Pilot as opposed to Commander. Contrary to the title, LMP's didn't do any actual flying so maaaaaaybe NASA figured it might be ok if the secondary guy had a hypnotic suggestion. Still hard to believe though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:11 PM on January 6, 2012


Great, io9 is repeating the blog post, so now it'll be considered truth. Sheesh.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:44 PM on January 8, 2012


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