Define “safer”., and NBC affiliate out of Orlando, Florida (a state well known for pistol-packing, I might add), has published a fear-mongering story today about the presence of a gun on the International Space Station. Or, rather, very near the ISS aboard a docked Soyuz spacecraft, inside a survival kit, between two seats. They dredge up Lisa Nowak to get people worried about how unstable astronauts can be, and take their information from former NASA engineer Jim Oberg. Of course, Oberg admits “an astronaut bent on orbital manslaughter could simply throw any number of switches to do the job”, but somehow he arrives at the conclusion that “crews would be safer if the gun was locked up or left on Earth”.

Locking the gun up makes nobody any safer. There aren’t any children aboard the space station, and it’s not like they’re going down the the firing range with it, or even cleaning it. It’s inside a survival kit, hoping never to be used. But if the Soyuz crash-lands someplace where a gun is needed, do you really want wounded astronauts hunting around for a key?

Leaving it on Earth makes nobody any safer. Again, there are many ways to commit homicide or suicide on the space station, and most are probably easier to access than the gun is.

So what is the point of the article, other than to get people thinking, “Oh no! An evil gun! It’s only a matter of time before somebody dies!”? Must be a slow news day if this is the best thing we have to worry about.

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  • CraigM  On February 14, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Remember, kids: guns don’t kill astronauts, rapid decompression and liquid separation does.

  • Jay  On February 15, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I’m no gun fan but stories like this that freak the average idiot out are much more dangerous.

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