Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Partly Cloudy With No Chance of Taco


No theme today. No moon laments. No deaths (hopefully). No politics. Just a funny memory... and I have no idea why I had a dream about this last night. Just one of those weird flashbacks.

So hey, remember when Taco Bell used the fiery re-entry of Space Station Mir for an advertising campaign?!

Taco Bell Mir Target
Mir, meaning "Peace" or "World" in Russian, was a Soviet Space program craft, launched the 19th of February in 1986, and as modules were added, was intended for a 5-year mission. After the Russian Federation was established in 1991, Roskosmos continued to fund and operate experiments on the station until 2001, making the craft last 15 years.

Side Note: Cosmonauts Aleksandr Volkov & Sergei Krikalev were aboard Mir during the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. When they left Earth, they were Soviets. When they returned from orbit, they were citizens of the Russian Federation. Volkov and Krikalev are the only space travelers whose citizenship changed while they were away from their planet

Mir was scheduled to be decommissioned over the South Pacific Ocean, guided back toward Earth to burn up in atmosphere. However, it was the largest object ever to be brought back from space; would pieces survive, and plunge toward Earth? Clearly the marketing department at Taco Bell Corporation hoped so. They created a 40x40 foot target with a bell bull's eye and the words "FREE TACO HERE" and floated it in the ocean off the coast of Australia.

In the event of the core of the space station landing upon the target, customers could claim food at no cost. So said Chris Becker, vice president of brand communications, Taco Bell Corp, "If Mir rings our bell, we will offer a free taco to everyone in the US." Despite all our hopes (these are probably the same odds by which people buy lottery tickets), no free tacos were forthcoming.

And after all the trouble Taco Bell went through to purchase insurance, covering anticipated costs of free food upon a direct hit!

Space Station Mir

On the 23rd of March, 2001, Мир dipped from its 139-mile-high orbit, and re-entered Earth's atmosphere, most likely losing flimsy solar panels first, and then many of its larger modules broke into fragments around the 50-mile mark.

A few photographers captured small swarms of incandescent fragments hurtling toward the sea at near-sonic speeds, the flying debris left streaming trails of smoke. After 86,331 orbits, Mir plunged into the ocean off the coast of New Zealand at 175 West longitude, 25 South latitude.

Partly cloudy with no chance of taco...


Eric Kinkead said...

That was a great read! I really wish its return would have been covered better... and I wish I would have gotten a free taco!

PillowNaut said...

Thanks, Eric! It is a shame how sparsely it was covered at the time -- and I remember being surprised an American fast food chain pounced on this, LOL! I wonder if more brands will do something like this when the ISS is decommissioned?!

Anonymous said...

A *long* way off the coast of New Zealand...
On re-entry day day, we went to a lookout above town (Oamaru, on the South Island east coast) and looked hopefully to the northeast, but saw nothing. It was too far over our horizon - the videos and photos that we have of the re-entry were all taken in Fiji.

Mrs. L said...

Taco Bell must have a great PR department. Seriously, this and dropping Tacos into the Alaska town that was tricked into thinking there would be a Taco Bell built there? Genius.