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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Georgina.

  • Have you finished writing that report yet, Neil?

  • Err, not quiteit's almost done.

  • Well, finish it this morning please, then make sure you've planned all the

  • studio sessions for the week and show me so I can double check, OK?

  • [Sigh] OK. Has this ever happened to you?

  • Being micromanaged by someone?

  • That's what it's called when your boss wants to control everything, down to the smallest detail.

  • and I notice you've written the report in font size 11

  • when I told you to use size 12!

  • [Sigh] If this keeps up I'm might go on strike.

  • It wouldn't be the first time someone has refused to continue working

  • because of an argument with their boss.

  • Hmm, maybe I'd better go easy on Neil.

  • After all, I don't want a repeat of what happened on the

  • American spaceship, Skylab - the subject of this programme.

  • In 1973, three US astronauts on board the Skylab space station

  • had a disagreement with mission control over their workload

  • in an incident that has, incorrectly, been called the Skylab space 'strike'.

  • But before we find out more, let me ask you my quiz question

  • if that's OK, boss?

  • Go ahead.

  • Well, the Skylab astronauts felt they had been given too much work

  • to complete during the space flight.

  • But how did they protest to their bosses at ground control?

  • Did they… a) pretend the radio had broken? b) stop shaving and grow beards?,

  • or, c) fake the results of their experiments?

  • I guess, a) pretending the radio had broken,

  • would show them who's bossalthough floating in

  • space without radio contact sounds a bit dangerous to me!

  • OK, Georgina, we'll find out what really happened later.

  • Now, Skylab was planned to be the fourthand final -

  • crewed flight to orbit the Earth.

  • For scientists it was the last chance to test out their theories

  • in space and the Skylab crew were asked to study everything

  • about space travel, from its effects on the human body

  • to how spiders make webs.

  • Here's one of the Skylab astronauts, Ed Gibson, telling Lucy Burns,

  • presenter of BBC World Service programme, Witness History,

  • how they communicated with ground control:

  • We got our instructions over a teleprinter.

  • One morning we had about 60 feet of teleprinter message

  • to cut up and divide up and understand before we even get to work.

  • All space missions run to a tight schedule all the way down to

  • exercise times and meal breaks but the Skylab 4 astronauts

  • felt their ground control team was being particularly bossy.

  • I don't know if any of you have ever had to work

  • do something under the conditions of micromanagement

  • it's bad enough for an hour, but try 24 hours a day

  • we're just not constructive that way, we're not getting things

  • done the way we should because we couldn't use our own judgment.

  • With so many experiments to carry out and a limited time in space,

  • the Skylab crew had a tight schedule - a small amount of time to finish a job.

  • Bosses at ground control sent radio messages every morning,

  • detailing exactly their duties for that day.

  • They sound like real micromanagers, Neil!

  • Absolutely! Or in other words, bossy - always telling people what to do!

  • Astronaut, Ed Gibson, wanted to use his professional judgement

  • to complete the work, not be bossed around by ground control

  • 24 hours a dayan expression meaning, all day and night.

  • When one of the astronauts got sick, it was decided that

  • they would take turns talking to ground control.

  • But one day, all three of them missed the daily radio meeting

  • and some Nasa bosses thought they'd gone on strike!

  • In the crisis talks that followed, both crew and ground control

  • agreed better ways of working and communicating

  • and less micromanagement!

  • But the newspapers had already got hold of the story,

  • and to this day the incident is misremembered as the 'strike' in space.

  • Here's Ed Gibson again, speaking to BBC World Service's,

  • Witness History, on what he learned from the experience:

  • We all conclude that we learned something from it

  • micromanagement does not work, except when you're

  • in a situation that demands it like a lift-off or a re-entry

  • and fortunately I think that's been passed down to the

  • space station people and they learned that that's the way to go.

  • In the end Nasa agreed that trusting people to do their jobs was

  • the way to gothe best method for doing a particular thing.

  • I told you, Georginano-one likes being bossed around!

  • Including the Skylab astronauts!

  • But was my answer correct? About how they protested?

  • Ah yes, in my quiz question, I asked how the Skylab astronauts

  • protested to their bosses. What did you say?

  • I thought the astronauts, a) pretended the radio had broken.

  • Ah, good guess, Georgina, but actually the answer was

  • b) they stopped shaving and grew beards.

  • Unless that was just another experiment?!

  • Let's recap the vocabulary, starting with micromanage

  • control everything, down to the smallest detail.

  • If you're bossy, you're always telling people what to do.

  • But be careful, because your workers might go on strikerefuse to work.

  • The Skylab astronauts had a tight schedule

  • a small amount of time to complete their jobs.

  • They felt their bosses were watching them twenty-four hours a day,

  • or all the time.

  • But in the end, trusting people is the way to go

  • the best method of doing something.

  • That's all for now, but watch this space for more trending topics

  • and useful vocabulary, here at BBC 6 Minute English.

  • And if you like topical discussions and want to learn how

  • to use the vocabulary found in headlines, why not try out

  • our New Review podcast?

  • Don't forget you can also download the app for

  • free from the app store.

  • And remember to check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • Over and out!

  • Bye!

Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

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B1 space strike radio georgina ground gibson

Astronauts on strike? 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/25
Video vocabulary