Pope John Paul II's influence may extend to all matters spiritual, but his Holiness's clout doesn't run to the extra-terrestrial, it seems.
US rocket courier NASA has banned space shuttle Endeavour fly-boy Umberto Guidoni (above) from being the first man to deliver the world's first ultra-atmospheric papal missive. The reason? Well, it might upset the non-Roman-Catholic crew members.
As the Endeavour possee includes a representative of the godless ex-Soviet Union and - worse - a Canadian, the administration's reasoning appears sound enough.
(We wonder, though, just how far into outer space does political correctness extend? Will Mars colonists get hauled over the coals for discriminating against people from the 'wrong side of the great rift'.)
You can find out more about NASA's secular and PC reach for the sky:
Interestingly, the blurb notes: The primary purpose of the flight is to deliver and install the new Canadian Robot Arm (Space Station Remote Manipulator System), as well as an Italian-made resupply Logistics Module (MPLM) nicknamed Raffaello. During the flight three spacewalks are planned, which will make Hadfield the first Canadian to ever leave a spacecraft, and float free in space.
The Holy Father's stance vis-a-vis the Candian Robot Arm, or the Canadians for that matter, is not noted. Pity. ®
For the record, the Endeavour crew comprises:
- Kent V. Rominger, Mission Commander
- Jeffrey S. Ashby, Pilot
- Chris A. Hadfield, Mission Specialist
- Scott E. Parazynski, Mission Specialist
- John L. Phillips, Mission Specialist
- Umberto Guidoni, Mission Specialist
- Yuri Valentinovich Lonchakov, Mission Specialist