NASA officially banned consuming alcohol in space in 1972 after sherry was proposed for Skylab meals, but it never really went away. “NASA will tell you there is no alcohol aboard the ISS” says astronaut Clayton Anderson. “As a person who lived there for five months, I’ll tell you that’s bogus.”
Landing humans on the Moon required the most sudden burst of technological creativity and the largest commitment of resources ever made by any nation in peacetime. At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities.
In early 1990s, NASA sent jellyfish to space to test how spaceflight would affect their development. The jellies did not develop the proper gravity-sensing capabilities and had trouble figuring how to swim around in normal gravity, with abnormal pulsing and movement when returned to Earth.
In 1977 Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune were entering a rare alignment that occurs every 175 years. This happened to be when humans were first attempting space exploration so we were coincidentally able to send Voyager 2 on a flyby of all four planets on its way out of the solar system.
In 2013, NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover hummed Happy Birthday to itself by vibrating its sample-analysis unit to obtain the musical tune, but did so only on its first “birthday”.
During the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission, to help USA/USSR relations, astronauts and cosmonauts played smuggled audio recordings of glasses clinking, laughter, and many female voices. Houston radioed to ask what’s going on. “Oh nothing,” they said. “We finished work, just having a party up here.”
Earlier this week, NASA fixed one of its Mars rovers by programming it to hit itself with a shovel.
The man credited with saving both Apollo 12 and Apollo 13 was forced to resign years later while serving as the Chief of NASA when Texas Senator Robert Krueger blamed him for $500 million of overspending on Space Station Freedom, which later evolved into the International Space Station (ISS).
On September 10, 1973, NASA Astronaut Owen Garriott successfully pranked flight controllers by playing a recording of his wife whilst on SkyLab. There were no women on board the space station and was used to make it look like there was a stowaway.
Controllers in Houston were startled to hear a woman’s voice beaming down from Skylab. The voice startled capsule communicator (CAPCOM) Bob Crippen by calling him by name, and then the woman explained: “The boys haven’t had a home-cooked meal in so long I thought I’d bring one up.”
After several minutes in which she described forest fires seen from space and the beautiful sunrise, the woman said: “Oh oh. I have to cut off now. I think the boys are floating up here toward the command module and I’m not supposed to be talking to you.”
As the Skylab astronauts later revealed, Garriott had recorded his wife, Helen, during a private radio transmission the night before.