Words: 7 Minutes of Bullshit

NASA’s “7 Minutes of Terror” Joins the Hype

Nearly 2 million people have viewed NASA’s YouTube video trumpeting the Mars Curiosity Rover’s descent and landing on the Red Planet.

NASA, said by some to be impotent in the field of social media, has hit the sensationalist gold mine while simultaneously managing to degrade a word and their own history.

Terror can be defined as an “intense state of fear.”  Let’s be honest–exactly who at NASA, or anywhere else  for that matter, felt “terror” in that seven minutes or any seven minutes during the launch, flight and landing?  The answer of course, is no one.  Anxiety, certainly.  But terror?

NASA knows something about feelings of terror and those that would have experienced them:

Apollo One (AS-204)

Virgil Grissom

Edward  White

Roger Chaffee

Challenger (STS-51-L)

Francis Scobee

Michael Smith

Judith Resnick

Ronald McNair

Ellison Onizuka

Gregory Jarvis

Christa McAuliffe

Columbia (STS-107)

Rick Husband

William McCool

Michael Anderson

IIan Ramon

Kalpana Chawla

David Brown

Laurel Blair Salton Clark

Describing Curiosity’s landing as terror-inducing both cheapens the risks of manned space fight and their final minutes.



  • Mike Ramos says:

    Excitement yes, but far from terror.

  • Bill Hand says:

    You have hit the nail on the head again Eric! There is big difference between anxiety and terror when you compare money to human lives. The only thing on the line during Curiosity’s landing was money and reputations. I was teaching a class at Johnson Space Center when the first flight following the Columbia Disaster lifted off. I witnessed a lot of anxiety, but I didn’t see any terror. I am sure the folks in Mission Control know the difference. It is some of the morons in the media these days that just don’t get it!

  • Glenn Gaines says:

    The only terror realized in the landing would have been experienced by the Martians (if the exist) as this SUV sized vehicle pounced, unannounced onto their planet.

  • Sean Brooks says:

    Good to see you’ve joined the ranks of the Politically Correct word police.

  • Grant Deason says:

    Right on brother

  • Jim says:

    Right as right can be.

  • R. Konczal says:

    “terror” sells and NASA needs their cut of the pie in this post-shuttle era.

  • Chris says:

    Right. SHAME on NASA for suggesting that the devotion of 100 people’s lives to a single project for years and then sending it on a 352 million mile journey through space, and that project’s success or utter failure resting in 7 long minutes of perfect trajectory and timing, hovering rockets, sky cranes, and satellites, is “terrifying”. We’ve all experienced more “terrifying” events, but lets take it easy on NASA’s lexicon and not be so offended.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      I’ll stick to the notion that calling the Curiosity descent and landing “terror” is a crude and egotistical insult to the astronauts I listed.

  • DaveOC says:

    Yes that may be true but if you’ve ever described yourself as “starving” or “exhausted” or “dying” isn’t that also a crude and egotistical insult to far more people ?

    • Eric Lamar says:

      There should be, and in fact, there is, a difference between what you and I may say as individuals and what a billion dollar federal agency says. NASA made the decision to hype Curiosity using social media. That was a good decision, they simply over-played their hand.

  • Jack Rhem says:

    Hey Eric, you would know more than I do, but did it work ( media campaign )? They didn’t say anything overtly offensive. Hyperbolic statements are hardly a big deal.

    Seems well played on NASA’s part.

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