'Thank You for Flying Boeing to Outer Space'

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Boeing has announced that it's entering the space-tourism business by offering for sale any seats that NASA does not use on its rockets bound for the International Space Station. - New York Times: "Boeing Plans to Fly Tourists to Space"

Boeing2.jpgWelcome aboard the Boeing XL-57 space capsule bound for the International Space Station. By now you should have safely stowed your auxiliary oxygen tank in the overhead bin or underneath the seat in front of you.

At this time, we ask you to take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with the safety features aboard this Boeing spacecraft. There is only one exit on this spacecraft -- the large red door marked ESCAPE HATCH. Take a moment now to locate the ESCAPE HATCH, keeping in mind that in some cases, it may be behind you. Please do not touch this door unless instructed to do so by an astronaut. And please do not take photos of each other pretending to exit the escape hatch.

In the unlikely event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device. In the more likely event of an extra terrestrial landing, your seat cushion can also be used as a crude shield to protect you from the deadly gamma rays that will likely shoot out of the eyes of an alien who's angry that you've crash-landed on his property.

The cabin in this spacecraft is pressurized so that you won't be crushed like a tin can upon leaving the earth's atmosphere. In the event of a cabin depressurization, a second oxygen mask, besides the one you are breathing through now, will drop from the overhead compartment. Quickly take as deep a breath as you can, rip off your present oxygen mask and then pull the second mask up to your face, fully extending the plastic tubing. Quickly exhale and place the second mask over your nose and mouth, and slip the elastic strap over your head. Tighten the mask by pulling on the ends. Do not take another breath until you are instructed to do so. Once you're given the okay, you may begin breathing normally, or as normally as you can manage. The plastic bag attached to the mask does not need to inflate for oxygen to be flowing, although it helps. If you are seated next to someone needing assistance, secure your own mask first. No sense in two people getting hurt.

This is a non-smoking space mission. There is no smoking in the seating area, on the flight deck, in the forward command module, the aft sleep deck, or the "astronauts only" lounge. This spacecraft is equipped with smoke detectors. Tampering with, disabling, or destroying a smoke detector is prohibited by intergalactic law and could result in fines, jail time, or in extreme cases, being ejected out of the escape hatch into the inky blackness of space.

Just a reminder, there are no lavatories on this spacecraft. Please take a moment to be sure your personal waste disposal unit is properly connected, and the green "ready" light is glowing. Tampering with, disabling, or destroying the personal waste disposal unit of another passenger, even in jest, is strictly prohibited.

Once we're airborne and have reached escape velocity, a spaceflight attendant will be offering complimentary plastic pouches filled with Tang. A snack pack containing protein pills, vitamins and a freeze-dried brownie will also be available for purchase.

Our flight time to the International Space Station is estimated at two days, 14 hours, and 25 minutes, although we may be able to make up some time with the prevailing solar winds. So we invite you all to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. And no fooling with the escape hatch: we don't want a repeat of what happened last time.

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Tom McNichol, a frequent contributor to TheAtlantic.com, is a San Francisco writer whose work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on NPR's "All Things Considered."

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