From a systems-engineering standpoint, it is easy to identify the point where Sally K. Ride began to leave the rest of the world behind. A flow chart of her life would show the crucial decision coming one day in 1977, when — as a 25-year-old astrophysicist winding up her doctoral work at Stanford University — she spotted an announcement in the campus newspaper about openings in the astronaut program, a career she had never even contemplated for herself. In what once would have been called an epiphany — but she herself would probably describe as a go/no-go decision node — she was up and out of the room before she had finished reading the notice, one of more than 1,000 women and nearly 7,000 men to apply for what would ultimately be the 35 slots in the astronaut class of 1978.
I remember going to a party in New York about 35 years ago. They all called me Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. I said, “You, ma’am, your name and phone number? And you, sir, your phone number? And you, sir?” And they said, “Why are you taking our phone numbers?” I said, “Because the night we land on the moon, you’re going to get called.” I was in London when we did. I called three of them, and when they answered I said, “Stupid son of a bitch,” and hung up.
I’m tired of seeing creatures from other worlds with the brains on the outside of the skull. There’s too much imitation going on by people who think they’re writers but aren’t. Don’t put me in outer space with another galactic war. I can’t stand galactic wars.
You use these things; they don’t use you. If you allow them to use you, you’re sunk. A library is no better than the person who walks into it. A CD-ROM is no better than the people who use it. A computer’s the same way. It’s all been done backwards. The shuttle should have been done 30 years ago. It’s mail-carrying. They’re making topographical photographs of the planet, making atmosphere studies. It doesn’t lift the heart the way landing on the moon did. We should have done the shuttle first and then taken off for the moon and stayed there. Then we should go to Mars. You have to do one to do the other, otherwise you can’t go.
Scruggs was the man who made it cool to sound like that.