What would you do ? (7) The Solution

Here’s the emergency from last time:

And here’s the situation:

So, twenty seconds have already passed, and it’s already a dilly of a space pickle.

The space craft is still floating helplessly after the failure of the atomic motors. The crew have their space suits but they have had very little time to start the repairs to the motors before the alarm suddenly goes off. An extremely large meteorite is approaching them at ten miles a second. The time remaining before impact is less than forty seconds and decisive action is required.

What can the crew do ?

Well, page 2 of “Boys’ World” says that the correct solution is:

“There is only one thing they can do. They re-open both doors of the port airlock, allowing all the air to rush out of the ship. The rushing air acts like a rocket jet in the vacuum of space, and propels the ship away from the meteorite. Later the ship can be re-pressurised from their emergency air cylinders. “

And just to prove it, here’s the slightly blurry page of the comic:

“Why”, said the nine year old Ridley Scott. “What an amazing idea. When I’m a famous Hollywood director, I shall make use of it.”

“Stop daydreaming”, said his mother. “Have you done your paper round, Ridley? And have you done your English homework? That story about that woman on that space rocket?”

One intriguing thought is that Ridley Scott is known to have been a subscriber to “Eagle” comic. Did he used to read “Boys’ World” as well?


Filed under Aviation, Humour, Literature, Personal, Science, Writing

19 responses to “What would you do ? (7) The Solution

  1. atcDave

    Wow, that’s a pretty intriguing possibility for Ridley Scott!

    • Well, he was born in 1937, so he would have been in his early twenties. He may well still have subscribed to Eagle, which began when he was thirteen, and he may well have known about “Boys’ World”. Perhaps he had a younger brother who bought the comic. Whatever the case, he certainly made fantastic use of the idea in one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made.

  2. I wonder how many boys worked that out in 1963. I did watch Captain Steve Zodiac in Fireball XL5 at about this time so that perhaps would have helped.

    • I’m just trying to name the crew without looking it up…Steve Zodiac, Robert, Professor Matick, Zoonie, Venus and was there a co-pilot, the equivalent of Phones in Stingray? I have no idea, though, of the people who stayed at the rocket base, behind their electronic displays.

    • Well, it’s just an idea, although for it to be true, several things would have to come together. One other possibility is that he came across the idea in a short story of the time. There were certainly a lot of paperbacks back then, full of sci-fi short stories.

  3. Quite ingenious! I forgot to ask myself, “What would MacGyver do?” lol

    • It is ingenious and (dare I say it?) one heck of an idea to have with thousands of tons of rock hurtling at you at ten miles a second and not long to the moment of impact. Still, if you have the brains, use them!!!

  4. Interesting – I would have fired the port side maneuvering thrusters. Maybe atomic rockets didn’t have those fitted yet in 1963.

    • That is a very good idea, and if you look at the picture of the spacecraft, although it doesn’t seem to have any little manoeuvring rockets, the main rockets at the back do have a number of separate jets. Perhaps they could have switched on, say, one, two and three, and then used these to swerve left or right, which is basically the same as your idea.

  5. I was looking forward to knowing the solution. Space travel fascinates me. Enjoyed watching the alien video clip.

    • As a boy back in the sixties, I expected that there would have been bases on the moon and several landings on Mars by now. It was so exciting with all those moon shots and I really do wonder why we seem to be stuck here on Earth and not trying to carry out more of those ideals on StarTrek : “To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before”
      As for Ellen Ripley, well, you couldn’t have a better role model for a daughter. She takes no cr*p from anybody and if anything, gets tougher film by film. I certainly don’t see any smooth operator sweet talking her!

  6. Well I was stumped I must admit! Although it does make some sense I guess.

    • It makes sense I suppose, but as it initially took me days to think of the solution, I think that it’s justifiable to wonder whether anybody would have thought of it in the “less than a minute” they had to save the spaceship and themselves.

      • A very good point John. Maybe, in their extensive training programme there’s an element focussing on ‘in this situation’ scenarios, to prepare them for such unlikely events.

  7. Fascinating, I can imagine boys wondering about the answer 🙂

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