CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CAP) - While the shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station in preparation for its landing at the Kennedy Space Center, Mission Control operators watched in horror as a situation unlike anything before it unfolded inside the cockpit.
"We could see a lot of agitated hand motions, but they weren't saying much," said Mission Control capsule communicator Megan McArthur. "Then Piers pops Michael right in the nose and before you know it, they're going at it like kids in a schoolyard."
Female crew members Stephanie Wilson and Lisa Nowak were the only two astronauts not to take part in the fracas, which left all the male astronauts bloodied and two with broken noses. Pilot Mike Kelly accepted blame for the circumstances that led to the fight.
"Houston, I have a nose bleed," Kelly told NASA's station flight director Rick LaBrode when everything had calmed down. "What happened? I misplaced the keys, okay? I lost the keys."
Kelly said the melee distracted them from the flight itself, and as a result they got "a little mixed up." He said Wilson further exacerbated the situation when she suggested they ask for directions. That's when Kelly said he "just lost it."
NASA officials said they don't intend to take disciplinary action against any of the astronauts complicit in the brawl because they understand that being trapped for days in an enclosed space without being able to have sex with either of the women on board is very difficult.
"We were going to send up a couple monkeys to duke it out so we could test the effect of weightlessness on bloody wounds, but now we don't have to," said NASA engineer Kel Micham. "These guys actually saved the space program $2 million."
Micham said the money would roll over into next year's budget and will most likely be used to fund a new Douwe Egberts coffee machine for the break room on the shuttle - one that includes options for mochaccino, cappuccino and faux espressos.
- CAP News Staff