Sunday, October 21, 2007

Soyuz Craft Lands Short of Destination...Were They Packing?

MOSCOW (AP) -- "A Soyuz craft veered off its designated landing course Sunday, coming down more than 200 miles short of its original destination on the steppes of Kazakhstan. It arrived safely, bringing two Russian cosmonauts and Malaysia's first space traveler back to Earth, officials said.

A computer glitch caused the landing capsule carrying Russians Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov and Malaysian Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor to end up about 210 miles west of the designated site near Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, Russia's Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin said.

The craft arrived at 6:36 EDT - one minute ahead of schedule - and the crew was unharmed, he said.

Russian search and rescue teams quickly located the craft, NASA reported on its Web site. It said all the three crew members were feeling fine."

Virtually all of the original space missions were supplied with firearms should the capsules veer off course and land in a less than hospitable environ.

Like say maybe Newark, or the Bronx, perhaps.

The cosmonauts and astronauts had their choice of .38 Specials and/or versions of the Henry .22 survival rifles, and as a kid I remember some media flack cutting John Glenn short as he was describing how prepared they were for any eventuality.

"We can protect ourselves," Glenn said right before he was hustled away from whatever throng of reporters had cornered him on that day, and while my Mom couldn't explain what he meant I pounced on my Dad upon his return from work and he chewed it over for a time then said they probably had the same stash that Airforce pilots took along with them.

Can you imagine what such a weapon would go for today were it to be auctioned?


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