When asked what I drink, I usually respond, “Gin! Gin is my rocket fuel! Vodka, on the other hand, makes me explode on the launch pad.”
In that spirit, I’m pleased that Charles Krauthammer has joined me in celebrating astronauts who tip a few back before liftoff:
Have you ever been to the shuttle launch pad? Have you ever seen that beautiful and preposterous thing the astronauts ride? Imagine it’s you sitting on top of a 12-story winged tube bolted to a gigantic canister filled with 2 million liters of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Then picture your own buddies — the “closeout crew” — who met you at the pad, fastened your emergency chute, strapped you into your launch seat, sealed the hatch and waved smiling to you through the window. Having left you lashed to what is the largest bomb on planet Earth, they then proceed 200 feet down the elevator and drive not one, not two, but three miles away to watch as the button is pressed that lights the candle that ignites the fuel that blows you into space.
Three miles! That’s how far they calculate they must go to be beyond the radius of incineration should anything go awry on the launch pad on which, I remind you, these insanely brave people are sitting. Would you not want to be a bit soused?