Ridiculous History: 5 of NASA's Greatest Pranks


How Do You Spell That, Again?

Shuttle mission badge
Astronaut Pierre Thuot paid back his crew after NASA actually misspelled his last name on the Shuttle mission badge. NASA

Let the record show that astronaut Pierre Thuot's last name is pronounced "thoo-it." (In case you're curious, it has French-Canadian origins.) Before NASA recruited him in 1985, the Connecticut native had built up an impressive resume as a pilot with the U.S. Navy. To date, he's taken part in three space flights, the first of which was a 1990 shuttle mission known as STS-36. As is the custom, a special patch was designed for the five-astronaut crew. Unfortunately, the first edition of this badge misspelled Thuot's last name as "Thout." Whoops.

From there, some good-natured ribbing ensued, with Thuot's crewmates calling him "Pierre Th-OUT" in jest. Ultimately, though, he got the last laugh. After two postponements, mission STS-36 was set to launch on Feb. 25, 1990. That day, upon entering the room where their pressure suits were kept, the astronauts discovered that Thuot had gotten his revenge. At some point, he'd removed the name tags from all of their chairs (excluding his own) and swapped them out with erroneously spelled placards. Thus, mission specialist Mike Mullane had to recline in a seat labeled "Molline." Being good sports, everyone seemed to get a kick out of the stunt.