Being a Pain in the Butt

There is no doubt, I am a pain. I question everything. I can be relentless. Sometimes I stick my nose where it shouldn’t be. For instance, I just found this email while looking for something else. It was sent about 3 years ago to the folks who were running NBC at the time, Scott Sassa and Garth Ancier.

NBC was considering a show called “Destination Mir” and I was petrified.

I am writing the two of you because of the recent announcement of NBC’s intention to run a show where a trip to Mir will be the grand prize.

Mir is an accident waiting to happen… a deathtrap. Up since early 1986, it’s well past its design lifetime. Many scientists feel Mir should be brought down and destroyed in the atmosphere.

As the pressure inside has varied over time, stresses have been placed on the outer walls, some the thickness of corrugated paper. It’s something like bending a paper clip back and forth, over and over again. It is widely believed that corrosion is taking place behind panels where inspection is impossible. Over the years there have been fires, computer shutdowns and problems keeping MIR stabilized in orbit. I don’t believe the damage caused by the collision of a supply ship with the Spektr module has ever been located or fixed. The Russian space agency is incredibly strapped for cash. They are desperate.

Would you step aboard an airplane or drive in a car that had this kind of history? I wouldn’t. Yet having NBC offer a trip there as a prize implies that it is less risky than it really is.

My expertise in this subject comes from years of science reporting. Five of my seven Emmys are for science reporting. I’ve been with a local ABC affiliate for 16 years, during which time I also hosted 4 seasons of “Inside Space” on SciFi.

But, please, don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself. It’s too important to go in blind. I will get no satisfaction by being put in a position to say, “I told you so.”


Geoff Fox

Of course, this show never did happen. It was killed when the Russians finally realized on their own that Mir was in big trouble. I wish I could say I had something to do with it… and my note was forwarded within the upper levels of NBC… but this died on its own. The result is the important thing.

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