NASA Exercise
This is a fun scenario and exercise as well as a great story starter


You are a member of a space crew originally scheduled to rendezvous with a

mother ship on the lighted surface of the moon . However, due to mechanical

difficulties, your ship was forced to land at a spot some 200 miles from the

rendezvous point. During reentry and landing, much of the equipment aboard

was damaged and, since survival depends on reaching the mother ship, the

most critical items available must be chosen for the 200-mile trip. Below are

listed the 15 items left intact and undamaged after landing. Your task is to

rank order them in terms of their importance for your crew in allowing them

to reach the rendezvous point. Place the number 1 by the most important item,

the number 2 by the second most important, and so on through number 15 for

the least important.

Your Ranking NASA Ranking

_______ Box of matches _______

_______ Food concentrate _______

_______ 50 feet of nylon rope _______

_______ Parachute silk _______

_______ Portable heating unit _______

_______ Two .45 caliber pistols _______

_______ One case of dehydrated milk _______

_______ Two 100 lb. tanks of oxygen _______

_______ Stellar map _______

_______ Self-inflating life raft _______

_______ Magnetic compass _______

_______ 20 liters of water _______

_______ Signal flares _______

_______ First aid kit, including injection needle _______

_______ Solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter _______


Item Ranking NASA's Reasoning

Box of matches 15 Virtually worthless -- there's no oxygen

on the moon to sustain combustion

Food concentrate 4 Efficient means of supplying energy


50 feet of nylon rope 6 Useful in scaling cliffs and tying injured


Parachute silk 8 Protection from the sun's rays

Portable heating unit 13 Not needed unless on the dark side

Two .45 calibre pistols 11 Possible means of self-propulsion

One case of dehydrated


12 Bulkier duplication of food concentrate

Two 100 lb. tanks of


1 Most pressing survival need (weight is

not a factor since gravity is one-sixth of

the Earth's -- each tank would weigh only

about 17 lbs. on the moon)

Stellar map 3 Primary means of navigation - star

patterns appear essentially identical on

the moon as on Earth

Self-inflating life raft 9 CO2 bottle in military raft may be used

for propulsion

Magnetic compass 14 The magnetic field on the moon is not

polarized, so it's worthless for navigation

20 litres of water 2 Needed for replacement of tremendous

liquid loss on the light side

Signal flares 10 Use as distress signal when the mother

ship is sighted

First aid kit, including

injection needle

7 Needles connected to vials of vitamins,

medicines, etc. will fit special aperture in

NASA space suit

Solar-powered FM


5 For communication with mother ship (but

FM requires line-of-sight transmission

and can only be used over short ranges)


For each item, mark the number of points that your score differs from the

NASA ranking, then add up all the points. Disregard plus or minus

differences. The lower the total, the better your score.

0 - 25 excellent

26 - 32 good

33 - 45 average

46 - 55 fair

56 - 70 poor -- suggests use of Earth-bound logic

71 - 112 very poor – you’re one of the casualties of the space program!

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