In my work area at Kennedy Space Center, there is only one other female technician. Nancy has worked at KSC for a total of about 38 years in a couple of different jobs. She is stubborn and sometimes ornery- that’s what I like best about her. She puts up with me, so we end up working together quite a bit. During these times, she often entertains me with stories from working during the Apollo years or from the early days of the Shuttle Program.

Nancy has told me a lot of crazy stories, but I was really floored one day when she casually mentioned being pissed on by Crippen & Young, the crew of the first shuttle mission. My response was something like, “WHAT?!” and she proceeded to explain what she meant.

It was shortly after STS-1, and Nancy was working in the OPF, or Orbiter Processing Facility. It was OPF Bay 1, the only one in existence at the time. Bays 2 and 3 were built later. All of the shuttle processing tasks that we have perfected now, nearly 30 years later, were just being pioneered. The task of the day was to service the “potty.” The job was being conducted by engineers in the firing room, who were providing instructions to the SCO, or Space Craft Operator inside the crew module, over the headsets they were wearing. They would tell him which switches to flip or buttons to push. Nancy and her co-worker also received instructions from the engineers over their headsets. They were told to hook up a length of flexible tubing to a port on the orbiter, and place the other end of the tubing into a bucket partially filled with water. 

Apparently the engineers were having trouble with the procedure, or there was some confusion. After about an hour they told the technicans to disconnect the tubing, even though no liquid had been drained. It was not clear why the procedure hadn’t seemed to work, so they would have to investigate. Nancy disconnected the tubing and leaned down to pick up the bucket. You can probably guess what happened next. Apparently engineering had relayed one more switch throw to the Space Craft Operator in the ship, and it caused a spray of, well you-know-what to be released, all over Nancy.

As soon as she realized what had happened, she began spewing forth a healthy stream of obscenities, as almost anyone would in that situation. She says she remembers that her co-worker stealthily snatched the headset off her head, not to protect it from the liquid, but to keep her from getting in trouble or even fired for cursing like a sailor over the comm system. At the time, there was no “white room” leading into the crew module of the orbiter, it was all open around the hatch. Nancy said she looked up and the SCO had poked his head out of the hatch and was convulsing in fits of laughter. 

So, that’s basically it. Nancy got cleaned up as best she could and got a new shirt and went back to work that day in 1981, perhaps smelling a bit foul. Ever since, her claim to fame has been that she was peed on by the crew of STS-1. I’m pretty sure no one else in the world can truthfully say that has happened to them.