Outer Space - (Ass Mess): Planning inspectors from NASA's building regulations directorate have warned that a recent application to build a conservatory-style extension on the International Space Station is a cynical ploy to install a skunk factory.
The news comes amid reports that the crew of the Discovery are disillusioned with all the relentless to-ing and fro-ing to the space facility after the on-board bar was shut down in 2001 by teetotal NeoCons in the Bush Administration's Ethics Committee.
Today the Discovery's crew began unpacking an Ikea-style flatpack described as a two-tonne, $11 million cube-shaped structure running entirely on solar energy and powering a hydroponics systems linked to human waste recycling from the space station's sanitary facilities.
A number of specially cultivated super-skunk seeds are understood to have been germinated in the on-board bio-lab and are ready for immediate planting.
It may be just as well that the growing season will take quite a few weeks because a press release from NASA's PR division stated today that the Discovery crew's other tasks scheduled for this week include "subsequent spacewalks to rewire the Russian section of the space station.... which involves cutting off the power and activating extra solar panels to double the current electrical output".
Phew! Quite a challenge.
A NASA spokesman commented today that the trickiest manoeuvre ever carried out in space will be the installation of the biosphere.
However, trickier still could be the subsequent interpretation of video footage of the plants and their harvest - something which is likely to be monitored at all times by cameras from the Hubble telescope.
Unless, of course, there is co-operation from the Russians on board to change the ISS's orbit to a fiendishly clever position on the dark side of the moon....