Space - "Houston we have a problem," was the call put in earlier by NASA astronaut Maj. James P. Sutton, Jr. It seems Maj. Sutton left the keys to the international space station on his bedroom nightstand.
As the control room in Houston sat in stunned silence, NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe began to formulate a plan to help Sutton jimmy open the door to the station. "When Jim radioed home that he'd forgotten the keys to the space station's main entrance, I'll have to say we were pretty stunned," says O'Keefe. "He didn't really have an excuse, basically just that he ‘had a lot on his plate' this morning."
With a crack team of engineers and scientist in the emergency operation room, Sean O'Keefe set out to solve this problem.
"We've dealt with some pretty important problems in our day," said emergency team leader Jack Reynolds, "but lost keys? I thought he had crossed his CO with his H2O intake or at least had a backed up space toilet." Nevertheless the team pressed on, aware that with each passing moment Maj. Sutton became more susceptible to horrendous embarrassment.
Of the many ideas that were thrown out by the team, some of the most promising included:
-Pulling hard, maybe the last person out didn't lock it
-Jimmy the seal with a credit card
-Knocking was suggested, but nobody believed the Russians would be sober enough to answer the door
Hanging weightless in the heavens Maj. Sutton exhausted all of the recommendations proposed by Houston with no luck. He had not felt this type of pit in his stomach since the day he forgot it was his turn to train on the G-Force machine and that morning ate two of Denny's western omelets. That had been messy, but this was down right embarrassing.
Sutton was preparing to board the space shuttle for a return flight back to Red Face, USA when the NASA team sent word that there was a solution. A hide-a-key box had been welded to the space station's exterior in 1996. Reynolds remembered the Russians added the box after an ill-fated space walk the year earlier, "I kept telling them ‘Vodka and zero gravity ventures outside of the space station don't mix'."
Dead, frozen Russians tell no tales, but they should at least be a reminder that not forgetting the keys to the space station is a must.
Reports are that Maj. Sutton was overjoyed at finding the hide-a-key box and was warmly welcomed by his new comrades. Perhaps when James returns home he will be able to look back on this adventure and laugh - that is if he doesn't freeze to death in the icy grips of space first.