The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (better known as NASA) is the top agency dedicated to space research, the development of satellites, propulsion systems, and the construction of vessels designed to explore space. Some of the most renowned scientists in the world have been a part of NASA at one time or another, and who could blame them? This government agency has set out to explore space to get a better understanding of the universe, and perhaps, find other intelligent life among the stars. So naturally, they’d employ the brightest minds on the planet and swear them to secrecy. But NASA has had its share of strange and interesting tidbits throughout its history, and here are some of the most unusual ones.
NASA actually pays people to stay in bed.
As part of its research, NASA studies the effects of zero gravity on the body during various functions in order to keep astronauts healthy when they travel to space.
So they recruit healthy volunteers to just stay in bed and lie on their backs for 70 days, and in return, the volunteers get paid $18,000.
Now doesn’t that sound like a dream job?
NASA was once sued for landing on Mars.
Even though everything outside of Earth’s atmosphere is fair game, three men from Yemen claimed that they had inherited Mars 3,000 years ago, and they had the paperwork to prove it. Since they did not give NASA permission to conduct missions to Mars, they sued them for trespassing. Of course, this was thrown out of court as the very definition of a frivolous lawsuit.
Scientists wasted $125 million because they forgot to convert to the metric system.
The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world that uses the imperial system for everything. However, this was no excuse for losing a spacecraft worth $125 million as a result. It happened when the Mars Climate Orbiter got lost because its navigation commands got all jumbled up. What was the cause? Half of the scientists involved used the metric system while the other half used the imperial system.
NASA was fined $400 dollars for littering and they refused to pay it.
When some debris from a NASA spacecraft landed on the Australian west coast rather than its intended destination in the Indian Ocean in 1979, a $400 fine was imposed on NASA for littering. What was even more absurd was that NASA refused to dip into its billion dollar fund to pay the fine and it remained unpaid until the money was collected by a radio DJ in California from his listeners.
The Super Soaker was invented by a NASA scientist.
NASA scientist Lonnie Johnson is well known within the organization for being a part of the original team that worked on the stealth bomber project. However, it may surprise you to know that he is the brains behind one of the most well known household toys, the Super Soaker water pistol.
Lonnie Johnson / Invention
They bought spacecraft parts on eBay.
In 2002, the electronic parts for many of NASA’s older spacecraft were so outdated that they were no longer being manufactured, but they were essential to maintain the spacecraft in working condition. So the staff of NASA resorted to eBay in order to find the exact replacement parts that they needed.
The original moon landing tapes were wiped.
In 2006, NASA admitted that they might have committed a blunder like no other. The original tapes of one of humanity’s biggest moments were untraceable. When they were finally hunted down, they found that the tapes had been erased and reused to cut costs. Luckily for them, CBS still had a few decent shots from the original news broadcast, and those moments were not entirely lost.
NASA took its skills underwater to design a swimsuit.
NASA scientists are considered the best at making things aerodynamic to travel through any medium. So it should come as no surprise that they teamed up with Speedo in 2004 to design a super fast swimsuit that would reduce the drag on the swimmer’s body. However, they were so successful, that the suit was banned so that it wouldn’t give an unfair advantage to its wearer.