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Song Parodies -> "The Launch Of Space Shuttle Discovery"

Original Song Title:

"Romeo and Juliet: The Balcony Scene"

Original Performer:

William Shakespeare

Parody Song Title:

"The Launch Of Space Shuttle Discovery"

Parody Written by:

Tommy Turtle

The Lyrics

One of the fringe benefits of hanging in warm places where the turtles live and breed is seeing rockets launch. Watching Space Shuttle Discovery's launch light up the sky and the ocean at 11:59pm Friday, August 29 (0359 UTC Saturday, 30 August), inspired this follow-up to last Friday's parody/poem of the same OS.
But, look! What light upon horizon breaks?
It is the North; Discovery is the Sun
Arise, fair ship, thy thrill o'er scientists strewn
Who are already quick to hail relief
That what they've made sails far o'er air and sea
A voyage made; though it be tenuous
The quest through history risks much; not routine
As Challenger can't bear it; blasting off [1]
It is a sad day, O, nine miles up!
O, heroes, you so were!
Columbia speaks likewise: tragic, that --
-- Could not bear forces: heat, like cancer, is. [2]
But Man is bold, 'tis not the safe he seeks!
Two of the solid rocket boosters leavin' [3]
Flaming from friction, do so treat my eyes
They twinkle: atmosphere, till they return.
What of ignition's flame, from ground to spread?
The brightness drowns out planets, moon, and stars --
-- As daylight, but at night; it lights up Heaven.
LH2, "LOX" combustion: steam so bright [4]
That hearts will sing: perhaps not Man's twilight.
See: knowledge glean, unique; there's hope for Man! [5]
O, that I were aboard that ship o'er land
That I might: whole Earth, peek!


OS (Act II, Scene 2)
Romeo outside Juliet's window; she appears at the window


But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

[1] January 28, 1986. Overnight temperatures were forecast to go below freezing, very unusual in the Space Center's location in coastal central Florida, and therefore not a major design factor for the Shuttle, including both the formation of ice and the freezing of its parts. Numerous entities expressed concern, but NASA gave the go-ahead anyway. Failure of a seal, stiffened by the cold, allowed super-hot gases to escape, leading to the chain of events that caused the vehicle to break up at 48,000' (14.6 km, 9.1 miles) above sea level -- visible to all watching from the ground and on television.

[2] February 1, 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas due to failed insulation and the resulting overload of heat during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

[3] The two solid-fueled supplementary engines, known as "solid rocket boosters", or "SRBs", burn out about two minutes after launch, and are then jettisoned at an altitude of about 28 miles (45 km). As they are still red-hot, on a clear day or night, you can see them glowing as they drop -- if it's clear enough, all the way until they hit the water.

The unmanned Delta II rocket carries as many as nine SRBs: six fired at launch and three fired one minute after launch. Again, if the weather's clear, you can see the six drop, then the three, all the way down. Cool!

[4] No fancy rocket fuels. Liquid hydrogen (L = liquid, H2 = hydrogen [H, normally found in paired atoms]), and liquid oxygen (LOX, no relation to smoked salmon but pronounced the same), ignite to produce H2O, commonly known as water, although with tremendous heat and pressure, producing thrust without pollution.

[5] Throughout history, civilizations have rarely stood still for long. They either move forward or backward. We're moving backward. It's been tried before. The world's technological leader in the 1000s -1200s, who discovered true north with a compass; invented gunpowder; advanced clockworks and windpower; made numerous other contributions to science and technology; and sent fleets of 700 ships carrying 28,000 men on 16,000-mile (25,000km) expeditions, underwent a change of government and philosophy (spending more on social projects at home and "wasting" less on science, as some would say today), destroyed their shipyards, and became a third-world, poverty-stricken country, only recently re-emerging under the influence of de facto capitalism. (We're talking about China, of course.)

The US's retirement of the aging Space Shuttle fleet in 2010 is such an abandonment. Supposedly, the Orion program will resume flights to the Moon and eventually to Mars, starting in 2015, but under the previous and present administrations and Congresses (bi-partisan blame here), it seems doubtful that the government will have either the money or the desire to do so by then. Get ready to be a second-rate power, then a third-world country. Cheers.

© 2009 Tommy Turtle. All rights reserved. E-mail:

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Mark Scotti - August 31, 2009 - Report this comment
Boy, does Shakespeare seem fitting for this classic story of one horrible "Tragedy"!! Great job, TT
Timmy1000 - August 31, 2009 - Report this comment
Another Shakespeare write well done. It is sad that program is abandoned, but on the other hand, a lot of tax dollars went up in flames.
Fiddlegirl - August 31, 2009 - Report this comment
Beautifully done. Standout line: "But Man is bold, 'tis not the safe he seeks!"

As per your last paragraph (in footnotes)-- hear, hear!

@ Timmy1000-- several tragedies, certainly... but a "waste" to reach, to explore, to discover and learn? Surely not. :)
AFW - August 31, 2009 - Report this comment
Very well expressed
Tommy Turtle - August 31, 2009 - Report this comment
Mark Scotti: The subject of this one was successful, contrasted with the "two" tragedies, illustrating that Man must take risks to achieve, but thanks for appreciating the use of the Bard and for the v/c.

Timmy 1000: As opposed to the trillions of dollars wasted, or worse, spent by LBJ's "Great Society" programs, most of which have been found to be unproductive, or even counterproductive, destroying families, homes, and neighborhoods?

As for going up in flames, in the absence of the space program, exactly how would you be using your GPS, iPhone, satellite TV, and, for that matter, the Internet itself?

At the time of Apollo, there was a joke going around among its critics that "The only good thing to come out of the space program was the Teflon™ frying pan". Whereupon someone (Boeing, IIRC) ran an ad in the Wall Street Journal listing 529 contributions from the program to our lives here on Earth, in medicine, science, computing, electronics, materials, etc. -- and that was 40 years ago. Almost everything you use today has benefited -- including that personal computer on which you're reading this. The need for more computer power in less space and weight was a major impetus in developing smaller, lighter, faster, more powerful puters.

Fun fact: The computer that took the men to the Moon had (Timmy) 1k of RAM, about half of what Atari™ Pong™ had. Overall, a far better return on those dollars than on most of the wasteful social spending. Look it up sometime for yourself if interested - as well as the damage done by such Great Society programs as ADFC and "urban renewal". (Old joke, esp. among African-Americans whose 100-year-old, closely-knit communities, churches, and homes were being destroyed: "Urban Renewal Is Negro Removal:"
Thanks for the v/c. Hope you'll follow up on your own.

Fiddlegirl: "We know what we are, but know not what we may be. " - unless we dare to find out.
(and @ Timmy1000) "Nothing can come of nothing. ".
"Boldness be my friend."
"Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once".
"How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good dead in a naughty world."
"I say there is no darkness but ignorance."
"If it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul."

Last (for now), most fitting, and best, IMHO:

"Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven."
Amen. Thanks for v/c, FG.

AFW: Thanks much for v/c.
Typo Turtle @ Timmy1000 - August 31, 2009 - Report this comment
Should have been "AFDC" = "Aid to Families With Dependent Children", which would not pay benefits if there was a working-age man in the house, effectively paying men to leave the household so that the family could get the benefits -- paying to create broken homes and fatherless children.
Gari J - August 31, 2009 - Report this comment
Tommy I'm not sure what makes a more interesting read your parody or the footnotes you leave, both are interesting. Nothing but 5's again from me, your right about something, this world is going DOWNHILL FAST in all aspects politics, money, fuel resources etc.
Christie Marie M - August 31, 2009 - Report this comment
It's one small step for man (rather, Turtle)...One giant leap for all 5's!!! Nice job tying Shakespeare to aeronautics! I tell you, this is out of this world!!! Still enjoyed your last Romeo and Juliet parody.
TJC - September 01, 2009 - Report this comment
Nice Roddenberryesque trib to a great program... your Rome-O rings never failed! You sound just like alvin... (Toffler that is!)
Tommy Turtle - September 01, 2009 - Report this comment
Gari J: Thank you so much. In the past, I've received censure for long footnotes . Are attention spans actually improving, or is there a better class of knowledge-thirsty readers here now? Thanks again!

Christie Marie M: *Brilliant* paraphrase! How cleverly apropos! ... always nice to meet another Shakespeare fan. Thanks for v/c!

TJC: LOL @ "Rome-O rings"! And as for Toffler, why, yes -- expect a lot of Future Schlock from me. :) Thanks for v/c!
Susanna Viljanen - September 01, 2009 - Report this comment
Nice parody, and not too much from outer space. 555 kilos of liquid hydrogen.
Timmy1000 - September 01, 2009 - Report this comment
I read and understood your comments on scientific improvements with space program and agree. In the best of all worlds, we have that research anyway, with or without the program. In the real world, I suspect you are correct; we needed the program to get the improvements. What would I do without my more 1k of RAM - writing parodies on pieces of paper for nobody?
TJC - September 01, 2009 - Report this comment
Feweture Schlock... shudda seen it comin'! Now don't take this the wrong way... but don't ya just love 'straight' men?
TT - September 01, 2009 - Report this comment
Susanna Viljanen: It'd turn me into an explosive blimp, (cf. Hindenburg), but thanks for v/c anyway!

Timmy1000: Thanks for reading and replying. Some of it might have been invented, although surely not with the speed caused by the desire to beat the USSR to the moon. Much, I doubt anyone would have been researching in the absence of a specific need. The civilian applications came later. ... and yep, that's exactly what you'd be doing :) Thanks again for the chat.

TJC: You *did* set me up so beautifully! :) ... as I have you, at times. Keep 'em coming, Bro!
John Jenkins - December 05, 2011 - Report this comment
Very good substitutions and very good tribute to one of the few government programs with positive results. And I would not want to do anything that might hurt the central Florida economy and might have adverse effects on the local turtle population, but shouldn't the space program be private enterprise? Wouldn't the scientific discoveries have been made by private enterprise if government imposed fewer impediments on innovation performed in the private sector?
Tommy Turtle - December 06, 2011 - Report this comment
John Jenkins: You might be surprised at how much space R & D is going on in the private sector, esp. since it's been known for years that the Shuttle program would expire, and that the planned replacement was unlikely to be funded. Won't go into it here - it's a topic you might wish to research at your leisure. Or not.

KSC (as opposed to KFC) will be down to half the employment levels of a decade or so ago. Commercial launches, paid for by the private sector (Communications satellites, TV and Internet relays, etc.) still go on at Cape Canaveral (AFS), as do Gov missions (NASA Rover to Mars a few days ago, NRO spy sats, etc.)

Florida is among the locations being considered by some space entrepreneurs. And most of the actual work on the Gov missions was done by private contractors: Boeing, Lockheed, and for the Shuttle, a joint venture between the two called United Space Alliance. (USA, get it?)

Still, I doubt we'd have been motivated very much in the first place had the USSR not beaten us with Sputnik, causing fear of attacks from space and losing face. So we tried to one-up them with landing a man on the Moon - and won. Much of the basic theoretical research was carried out by NASA, just as its predecessor, NACA, did much basic research on aeronautics, which it made available to the fledgling airliner industry -- which made the US the world's leader in aircraft manufacture. (Airbus is heavily Gov-subsidized; Boeing pays lots of taxes, and tries to create 1000 new jobs at a plant in South Carolina, but the Nat'l Labor Relations Board won't let them... )

This incentive inspired a massive push to educate our students in math, sciences, engineering, etc. (TT was there. Being a turtle, he's a bit older than you) ... To this day, the area's public schools are among the top-rated in the State. Funny how the decline of our space program matches the decline of our schools in general, eh?

Thanks as always for read, vote, and the usual insightful comment. btw, the ending of Apollo caused a horrible slump in the surrounding county, but the presence of all those scientists and highly-skilled labor pool brought other high-tech industries in, e. g., Harris Corp. So the economy, which went from a few small motels for surfers to practically a NASA "company town", became much more diverse, so the Space Cutbacks, Round 2 will be proportionately less disastrous, though the area still reels from the real-estate (or is that "reals from the reel-estate?) boom-and-bust of the 2000s.
Private Enterprise In Space Is Already A Reality - December 13, 2011 - Report this comment
"Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) is an American company which specializes in the manufacturing and launch of satellites. Its Launch Systems Group is heavily involved with missile defense launch systems.It has its headquarters in the Dulles area of unincorporated Loudoun County, Virginia, United States."

"Orbital Sciences since inception has built 569 launch vehicles with 82 more to be delivered by 2015. 174 satellites have been built by the company since 1982 with 24 more to be delivered by 2015. Orbital has a 40% share of the interceptor market, 55% share of the small communications satellite market, and a 60% share of the small launch vehicles market. The company is expanding into the medium size launch vehicles and satellites market with the development of the Taurus II rocket and the acquisition of the General Dynamics Advanced Information System Satellite division.... "

SpaceX: (full name: Space Exploration Technologies Corporation)

"On 9 December 2010, the launch of the COTS Demo Flight 1 mission, SpaceX became the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft. NASA has also awarded SpaceX a contract to develop and demonstrate a human-rated Dragon as part of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program to replace the Space Shuttle as a crew transporter to the ISS. (Int'l Space Station). "

Coming Soon To A Spaceport Near You:
Feb. 7, 2012, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida:

"The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the second Dragon spacecraft, called Dragon C2, to demonstrate rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station for cargo-delivery. The company is building the Dragon to fly on operational resupply missions to the orbiting lab. The launch is also hauling two small Orbcomm communications satellites."

@ Timmy1000, if you're still here, and Anyone Else Interested:

I stand slightly corrected: 4k, not 1k. No offense to your nick, of course. ;)

The Lunar Module Computer

"The computers that formed the basis of the Apollo Guidance and Navigation System (AGS) were at the bleeding edge of technology in the 1960s. They were the first to use the integrated circuit technology that subsequently gave us desktop computers and so many of the consumer electronic products that fill our lives today. " (cough)

(The computer on the moon landing module, called the Apollo Lunar Module, had)" ... barely 5,000 primitive integrated circuits, weighs 30 kg (66 lbs.) and costs over $150,000. In order to store your software, the computer doesn't have a disk drive, only 74 kilobytes of memory that has been literally hard-wired, [You had to change the wires to change the information that was stored] and all of 4 Kb of something that is sort of like RAM."

The ancient computer on which I write this, which is 42 years old in computer years (same as dog years), had 74 GB (gigabytes, or 74 billion bytes) of hard-drive storage space, re-writeable without changing wires ;), or *one million times* as much as that vehicle that landed the men on the Moon and returned them safely to the ship. My 21-year-old machine (in computer years), has 3 GB of RAM (random-access memory, as explained in this parody [1]), or not quite a million times the memory of that device. Modern low-priced computers may have two million times as much memory, and higher-priced ones, five million times as much. But the need to change a "computer" from something that occupied an entire warehouse, then an entire room, to something that weighed "only" 66 lbs., was strongly motivated by the space program.

btw, that $150,000 cost translates, in today's dollars, to $925,426.43. Is it safe to assume that your current computer cost, uh, "somewhat" less than that? ;-D

[1] Parody explaining basics of modern computers in laypersons' terms:
Genuine Private Enterprise Commercial Launches - February 09, 2012 - Report this comment

"SpaceX to launch AsiaSat craft from Cape Canaveral"

"SpaceX and AsiaSat announced Wednesday a contract for two Falcon 9 rockets to launch communications satellites for the Hong Kong-based telecommunications firm in the first half of 2014. The AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8 communications satellites will lift off from SpaceX's launch site in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

"SpaceX is proud to be the choice of AsiaSat, a pioneer in advancing satellite communications in Asia," said Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO. "We are producing the most advanced launch vehicles in the world, and the international launch market has responded -- commercial launches now represent over 60 percent of our upcoming missions."

AsiaSat is the third telecommunications company to book specific payloads for GTO missions on the Falcon 9 rocket. Thaicom, an operator affiliated with the government of Thailand, last year reserved a Falcon 9 launch for its Thaicom 6 satellite in 2013. In March 2011, SES contracted with SpaceX for a 2013 launch of the SES 8 communications craft.

"We are pleased to have SpaceX as our launch partner for the two upcoming missions," said William Wade, president and CEO of AsiaSat. "We look forward to the timely and successful launches of AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8, thereby expanding our fleet from four to six satellites in 2014 to provide more high quality and comprehensive satellite services in the Asia-Pacific region." ....

(more at the linked article)
UPDATE on Private Rocket Launch to Space Station - April 19, 2012 - Report this comment
RE:"Coming Soon To A Spaceport Near You:
Feb. 7, 2012, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida:

"The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the second Dragon spacecraft, called Dragon C2, to demonstrate rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station for cargo-delivery. ...

Rescheduled to 30 April 2012, 1622 UTC. (12:22 pm EDT at Cape Canaveral)
Patrick - November 02, 2012 - Report this comment
I grew up with the early days of the Space Program. One of my brothers was born on the day the Russians launched the first Sputnik. I remember when teachers would bring TV sets to school so we could watch the launch of a Mercury capsule. Everyone would follow the flights on radio. I still remember sitting by my aunt's giant radio as the crew of Apollo 13 struggled to find a way to return safely to earth. Then it all became routine, and all but forgotten as the government squandered our money on useless wars and the deliberate destruction of our cities. If the government will stay out of the way, private enterprise will get us back into space in profitable ways. Someone once said that a musical greeting card, casually tossed after being listened to a couple of times, contains more computing power than the Apollo moon lander. Has anyone else noticed that the future, as projected in art, has become grim and hopeless. We went from the "Jetsons" and visions of flying cars, robot maids, giant TV's and exciting leisure time activities, to NBC's "Revolution", a world of tyranny, without electricity, where every day is a tedious struggle for a marginal existence. Compare the hit music of the days before the Kennedy assassination, with its optimism and lighthearted spirit, to the nihilistic, live for the moment cause we're going to die young stuff that constitutes the top 10 these days. I'd almost believe in a conspiracy, but I can't see a committee, especially of government types, being smart enough to pull it off.
Tommy Turtle - November 03, 2012 - Report this comment
Patrick, to be much more concise than usual, ;) I agree with your entire comment.

Conspiracy? Complacency. We became the world's richest economy and most powerful nation, then sat on our fat, dumb, "happy" butts and coasted. Also:

"All that is required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."
  Author unknown, but attributed to various sources, most likely Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 -- 1859), French observer of the young USA. How true. Thanks for the visit and comment.

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