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- Sam speaks with someone at NASA whom he
identifies as the "mission commander in Houston" [#22]. In our world the mission commander is on the shuttle (Sam may have just mis-spoke referring to the Flight Director). Also, it is, alas, not possible to launch a rescue shuttle in a couple of days, as Bartlet suggested. Although, maybe in the West Wing's alternate universe, President Bartlet has supported much more aggressive development of space technology. --- this was noticed & submitted by Mike Okuda.
- Vance P. Frickey writes: "The term Sam was groping for was "Flight Director," the harried fellow in Mission Control at Houston who is responsible for coordinating support for shuttle flights. (Remember Ed Harris' character in "Apollo
13"?) The Flight Director (FD), call sign "Flight," is the leader of
the flight control team. He or she is responsible for overall Shuttle
mission and payload operations and all decisions regarding flight
conduct. This information is excerpted from NASA's MCC Facts Sheet.
A good Web page which describes all of the jobs at Mission Control is:
- The US military takes downed, rescued pilots to Tel Aviv [#22] --- in this world, they have always been taken to an area completely controlled by the US, a base or a carrier (and we have no bases in Israel).
- The Chairman of the Joints Chiefs believes (maybe incorrectly) that the eagle on the Presidential Seal changes the direction it faces depending upon whether it is wartime or not. [#22] In this world, the White House told Entertainment Weekly, Truman instigated a policy that the eagle would always face the olive branch and never the arrows. For more information about the background to this, a link was posted on the Television Without Pity West Wing forum by Martha Jackson to Urban Legends Reference Pages: History (A Turn of the Head) which has some in depth information on the background.
- Sam can get information on whether it will rain or not from a "1st Lieutenant Emily Lowenbrau of the U.S. Coast Guard". [#19] But Andrew G. Webb --- former-Lieutenant (junior grade), U.S. Coast Guard) writes us: "Alas, there ARE no 1st lieutenants in the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard uses the same ranks as the Navy's. Also the Coast Guard has no weather forecasting responsibilities and no one at Coast Guard Headquarters would make official weather forecasts. Its operational forces rely on the National Weather Service for weather predictions."
- The retiring Chief of Staff of the Army is a three star general [#27] whereas such a position is usually headed by a four star general. As Kevin W. Lynch writes: "The Army Chief of Staff is a 4 star slot for a full General and has been for decades, probably dating back to Pershing. Even the Vice Chief of Staff is a 4 star. Also, his aide would not be a Lieutenant." And Andrew G. Webb wrote pretty much the same thing: "The Army Chief of Staff --highest office in the Army -- is a general (4 stars) not a lieutenant general (3 stars). Also, the Chief of Staff would never have a 1st lieutenant as his aide. A captain, perhaps, but more likely a major."
- Both Kevin W. Lynch and Andrew G. Webb also say there is no such thing as a Distinguished Combat Service Medal. [#27] And to prove it Andrew G. Webb has sent a link to all the medals the country offers: http://www.usmedals.com/store.php3?ref=73104&id_medals=0926775732.
Reference to a fictional medal, may have been done deliberately.
- See information on other problems with information on military weapons.
- Also see our information on mis-identification of military helicopters
- When was Mars at its closest to the Earth and when did Voyager 1 cross into the edge of the solar system that has been referred to as "termination shock"?
"The Warfare of Gengis Khan" refers to these things happening around the time of the episode.
- After traveling through space for more than 26 years, Voyager 1 is approaching a new milestone. On November 5, 2003, the spacecraft reached 90 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun.... It is the only spacecraft to have made measurements in the solar wind from such a great distance from the source of the dynamic solar environment.... Voyager 1 is in a region unlike any encountered in its 26 years of exploration. These observations and what they may infer about the approach to the termination shock will be the subject of a NASA Space Science Update (SSU) on November 5, 2003. (NASA's Voyager web site)
- Richard "Doc" Kinne emailed us, "At exactly 5:51AM EDT
on August 27th, 2003, Mars made the closest approach to Earth its made
in 60,000 years."
- Editor's note: We assume that Josh wasn't seeing Mars at the moment of its closest approach. The woman he was talking to may have been talking in astronomical terms, and in the distances and times used to talk about space objects, some time around the summer of 2003 will be when Mars was closest to the Earth. If we get off a mission to Mars in the next decade or two, Mars will still be close to Earth --- closest it has been in 60,000 years (except for the last coupld o decades or so). And the exactly when Voyager will pass an actual edge of the Solar System doesn't seem to be an exact moment. So we assume both these things could be described in cosmic terms as happening around February of 2004.
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