Pasadena, JPL – Triumphant NASA engineers indulging in perhaps in a little too much post-touchdown champagne admitted on Tuesday that the elaborate landing procedure used for the Mars Curiosity rover was in fact a bit of grandstanding.
“Of course we didn’t NEED all that nonsense,” said Flight Director Bobak Ferdowski from across a margarita the size of Lake Winniboshish. “We were just showing off. We could have lowered Curiosity to the surface with a big balloon… but THE SKY CRANE WAS THE SHIT, AMIRITE?!” Ferdowski then spent the next several minutes inexpertly high-fiving all nearby individuals.
With little further prompting, Ferdowski whispered that “additional ‘flight elements,’” curling his fingers in exaggerated air quotes, “may or may not have been part of the landing sequence.”
Ferdowski revealed that NASA has felt pressured by private-industry startup SpaceX, which has been making strides towards commercial viability. “We showed those bitches!”
At this point Ferdowski revealed a heretofore unknown flight maneuver, code name “WOO HOO!”
“Okay, so we gots a heat shield,” slurred Ferdowski, illustrating by drawing in beer puddles, “an’… an’ we got a parachute… and a fuckin’ flyin’ ROCKET PLATFORM… but what we don’ got is… ah… a, ah, LOOP DE LOOP!” Reaching into a clinking backpack, Ferdowski produced a color diagram. “But we DO! We added it in at the last minute!”
The diagram Ferdowski provided indicates that at approximately 300 seconds after re-entry, Curiosity did in fact swing through a completely gratuitous 360 degree vertical loop.
“We din’ NEED the Sky Crane, we din’ NEED the supersonic parachute, but NASA gotta REPRESENT!” insisted Ferdowski.
“Wait, watch this!” the engineer announced, pulling out his cell phone. “I can send commands from my phone!” he giggled, tapping the surface. “Okay, okay,” he says finally, “This is gonna take a few minutes. WAITER!”
After a half hour spent drinking, a new signal appeared on the flight monitoring viewscreen. Acting on a pre-programmed sequence, the Curiosity probe produced a hat and cane and began to execute a dance routine to the tinny strains of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” transmitted from Mars.
“Let’s see Elon Musk program his fuckin’ Dragon to do THAT!” belched Ferdowski, before falling asleep with his head in his arms.