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I found an article about ex-astronaut Schirra in a page from CNN.

Walter M. Schirra Jr.
Schirra in his Mercury pressure suit with model of Mercury spacecraft behind him. The jocular Schirra logged more time in space than any of the other Mercury seven -- 295 hours -- aboard Mercury 8, Gemini 6 and Apollo 7. He left NASA and the Navy in 1969 when there were no new missions coming his way. "I didn't want to be a potted palm," he says. He worked at an oil and gas company before forming his own environmental company, which he then sold, and did stints as an executive at Johns-Manville and Kimberly-Clark.

Now retired, the 75-year-old Schirra has written two books -- "Schirra's Space" and "From Wildcats to Tomcats" (the latter about naval aviation) -- and still makes speeches and public appearances. He was at Knott's Berry Farm near Los Angeles recently for the inauguration of a ride called "The Scream Machine." He lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and has a second home on Kauai, Hawaii. His hobbies including fishing, boating and golf.

Never at a loss for one-liners, Schirra has two regarding Glenn's return to space: "One, I'm not that old. Two, I don't need the flight time." Would he go back into space himself? "Not unless I could fly it," he says. "I'm not interested in sitting in back."

What I feel somehow difficult to get is the last paragraph. As for the first sentence, I take it as "Being never at a loss for one-liners (=jokes), Schirra has two (one-liners) regarding Glenn's return to space". Am I right? What does mean "Not unless I could fly it"? Is it an ellipsis of "He would not go into the space himself unless I could fly it"? Can we use an "unless"-clause in a second type of conditional? What does this "it" stand for? Is it "return to space"?

paco
Comments  
Hi, Paco,

I agree with your interpretation but there's a small correction: "He would not go into space himself unlsess he could fly it."

"It" stands for "space", not "return to space". He would only go into space (fly space) if he could operate the spacecraft. He would not agree to be just a traveller.
Hi guys,
I would say that 'it' refers to the spacecraft that would be used in a return to space. A spacecraft is not mentioned in the paragraph, but it is implicit.

Best wishes,
Clive
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Hello Mich and Clive

Thanks for the replies.

"Not unless he could fly it" sounds too reasonable to be a joke. I wonder if a [url="http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1998/06/glenn/where.now/boxes/schirra.html"]CNN article[/url] would pick up such a too normal saying. I don't think it is a typo.

Clive's interpretation about "it" is nice. Yes, "it" must be a spacecraft.

paco
Paco,

I think Miche was correcting your comment:
Is it an ellipsis of "He would not go into the space himself unless I could fly it"?


not the original paragraph, which contained
"Not unless I could fly it," he says.


(I wasn't sure from your last post whether that was clear. Emotion: smile )

CJ
Yes, Paco, I was correcting your sentence, not the original one. Emotion: smile
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Hello Miche and CJ

I understand I was completely wrong.
Would he go back into space himself? "Not unless I could fly it," he says. "I'm not interested in sitting in back."

My problem was I mistook "he" as a pronoun to refer to Glenn. This "he" refers to Schirra.

So it should read as:
Reporter :"Will you go back into space yourself?"
Schirra: "I wouldn't do so unless I am allowed to drive the spacecraft myself, because I don't like to sit in the back seat"


Thank you.

paco
Or:

Reporter:"Would you go back into space yourself?"
Schirra: "I wouldn't do so unless I were allowed to drive the spacecraft myself, because I don't like to sit in the back seat".

I suppose the 'back seat' part is another little joke (cf. 'take a back seat').

MrP
Thanks MrP. I got the sense of 'take a back seat'.

paco
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