As NASA’s Curiosity rover continues to inch across the red planet’s dusty Gale Crater, America’s interest in space exploration inches upward as well. Jeopardy!’s Ken Jennings is a bit of space nerd himself, and this month he’ll be navigating us through an asteroid belt of misconceptions about the exploration of the cosmos. Even if you’re not one of the 6 percent of Americans who believes that the moon landing was a hoax, you might have been fleeced by one or more of these fallacies about the final frontier.
Space Myth #2: American Space Missions Launch from Cape Canaveral.
If we’re using “Cape Canaveral” as an example of what your English teacher used to call metonymy—representing some thing or concept with the name of something else—then yes, NASA launches from the Cape. It’s the same way we might refer to the movie industry as “Hollywood,” even though only one major studio (Paramount) is actually headquartered in the Hollywood district these days—they’re all elsewhere in Los Angeles. The same is true of NASA: in strict geographical terms, it hasn’t launched manned missions from the Cape itself in over forty years.