It Did Launch The Hubble Telescope, Which Is Cool, I Guess.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida- (Drugmonkey News Service) The impending retirement of America's space shuttle program has posed a problem for the country's broadcast news organizations. What to do on slow news days when you need a story in between the really important ones and the one at the end designed to grab attention and serve as a lead in for the next program?

"Every few months we've just been repeating the same thing about another launch" said National Public Radio's senior vice president for news Ellen Weiss. "It was pretty much the same bullshit. One day we'd say something about how the weather looked for tomorrow's launch, then the next day we'd say how the launch went. Every once in awhile we'd say the launch was delayed because of a storm or something. Then a couple weeks later we'd run a story about the shuttle's return. Every couple years we'd ask an intern spending spring break down in Florida if they could go over to the space coast and make sure it was still actually there."

"Imagine our shock when we got a fax from NASA headquarters checking to see if we wanted extra credentials for the last shuttle flight. We were beside ourselves to think that this great national asset would be lost."

Ms. Weiss said she thought the last flight would be in November or early December. "I've got that fax around here somewhere, but I've been really busy coordinating our coverage of the Goldman Sachs fraud lawsuit."

"We've also got a great piece cooking about a cat who can play piano. I'm sure we'll work in a space shuttle retrospective sometime this year. Probably in August. August is always the slowest news month. More than likely we'll need some timekillers in August"

While NPR was widely recognized as the go to source for coverage of space shuttle takeoffs and landings, ABC was the leader in zero-gravity stories.

"Oh yeah, whenever it was supposed to be up there we'd say something about it doing zero-gravity experiments, if there was nothing really going on that day" said veteran ABC news reporter Gina Sunseri. Over the years Ms. Sunseri recalled filing stories about zero-gravity experiments involving fish, ants, soldering of electrical circuits, mushrooms, ants, mucus, the growth of fingernails, ants, and the effectiveness of weightlessness as a contraceptive method.

"At least that's what the astronauts called it." She said with a chuckle.

The end of the shuttle era, which was actually announced more than 5 years ago, will also mean the end of the occasional story of a junior high school science class that communicated with astronauts using some sort of ham radio, which was indicative that ham radio still exists.

Asked what type of story might replace the space shuttle beat, NPR's Weiss suggested they might start in depth coverage of New Zealand politics.

"I'm sure they have an election coming up in the next few years, and the issues that that election will turn on probably have more of an effect on the average American than that thing flying around in circles ever did."

When asked if anyone at ABC had contacted NASA to get their take on the end of the shuttle era, Ms Sunseri said she thought about it, but decided she really needed to get some laundry done that day.
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It Did Launch The Hubble Telescope, Which Is Cool, I Guess.
It Did Launch The Hubble Telescope, Which Is Cool, I Guess.
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