Michael Anderson by Jeanne

This is Michael Anderson, the one that she (Jeanne) kept calling "Mark." I'm the token black dude. Ron (McNair) and I are twins. (chuckle) But I don't play the saxophone.

They're really a quiet group. (about the audience) They've been really told to be quiet. (audience chuckle)

I did all sorts of stuff. I went for coffee for them. I made sure their shirts were ironed. (chuckle, laughter) I gave them their questions ahead of time. You know, I was the go-to black boy. I was shorter than the rest of them. But I digress, actually... (chuckle, laughter)

Yes, you do.

You didn't know that I was this funny little guy.

No. You were annoying before? Sorry.

(phone signal beeping) Oh, they're calling home. ET phone home.  

Lost Ken (participant on phone). 

I'm right here. Ken, I'm right here.

So – I have many duties on the shuttle besides going for coffee and making sure that the toilet was flushed properly. (chuckle) Umm, that is a hell of an experience. I don't even want to go there with how you do number two. That's just crazy. Because you know, I would tell you if you asked me, but don't.

So, I make light of things. Because... because I have a tremendous amount of anger and rage. Ah. So, I'm just doing this. Because you know, we haven't had the chance to be back in the body like those Seven Little Foys (re: Challenger Crew) and to regurgitate all of her angst and get pissed off at NASA, and all the stupid things that go on in the world. And I don't want to be an asshole on tape. But umm... you know, this is how I manage my feelings when I come close to the human body, and I come close to what I lost in my family. And everything that was so dear to me. And the reason why I went into space exploration in the first place.

We were all really altruistic. We really were there to naively go where no man or woman had ever gone before. Knowing that perhaps we were pawns. But we were worth... it was worth it to us to be pawns just to get up there. You know, we weren't all as enlightened as KP – KC. Oh, she does do kp-duty once in a while. KC, you know, she was... she was a Little Miss Sunshine. I know Laurel (Clark) won't like me saying that. She's jealous, but she'll get her due.

Well, anyway, so... "Stay on task. Stay on task, Michael."

Okay. Ron and I, I do talk to more people besides Ron; I am integrated as a black person. So that's okay. I find that I have a lot of camaraderie, actually, with Alan Shepard, because, you know, he was the first guinea pig. And he got to pee in his pants because they had him up there so long after four cups of coffee, when he was sitting up there waiting to launch.  And I really admire a man who can, you know, wet himself in one of those early spacesuits and still smile about it afterwards. Umm... Anyway, that's another story.

But you know, we're really driven to be where we are. We're very competitive. And we try to be nice about it, you know. But there's a tremendous drive to excel and to be accepted. You know, I think of my friend, the first black woman, they were writing about her for Black History Month.

Jeannie doesn't remember her name. So therefore, I don't remember her name. But she was the first black African American on the shuttle. And, you know, so they had their token black woman on the shuttle. You know they had their token first woman that was a gay woman on the shuttle. You know, they kind of went around the different things to make sure they were, you know, politically correct. Even though NASA has never been known for being politically correct. But, you know, they did that.

Am I doing well? Robin has been coaching me, Dan. So, umm, "Robin" is a referral to Robin Williams.

But, you know, there's a part of me that really wanted to tell my story. And then I get in here and think, "Well, why should I bother?" I mean, you guys all know the story. You all know what's going on. You know, so I’m kind of like – am I humoring you guys, you know, is it just a Saturday morning? Would you rather be out golfing? You know, something like that.

But.... but we're really having to get through this introduction, because we do have a lot of information that goes beyond just the, our death. And... and whether we ever come through again, I think as Jeanne was feeling, this will be it for us because we really don't have a desire to continue this kind of communication. But we did really want to tell you what we were working with on the shuttle that we can’t talk about, and that's why we didn't come back. So, I'll leave that there. And then we'll come back later. Bye.