"close enough for government work" 1965

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Apr 28 15:06:25 UTC 2008

On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 10:27 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> At 4/27/2008 07:39 PM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
> >Both lines are marked in the transcripts as "CC" or "Capsule
> >Communicator", so it could very well have been the same fellow at
> >Mission Control on both occasions.
> I look forward to seeing as "quotation author" in the OED, CC.

Oh, we can do better than that. The first of the two transcripts, from
Feb. 20, 1962, is from John Glenn's orbital mission, Mercury-Atlas 6.
More here:

04 33 47 Pretty good looking flight from what all we've seen.
04 33 51 Roger, everything went pretty good except for all this ASCS problem.
04 33 55 It looked like your attitude held pretty well. Did you have
to back it up at all?
04 33 57 Oh, yes, quite a bit. Yeah, I had a lot of trouble with it.
04 34 04 Good enough for Government work from down here.
04 34 06 Yes, sir, it looks good, Wally. We'll see you back East.

"Wally" would have been Glenn's fellow Mercury astronaut Wally
Schirra, who was the California CapCom (capsule communicator) for the
mission, according to the above page. Confirmed by _The Right Stuff_,
p. 268:

"Good enough for government work from down here," said Schirra. That
was one of Schirra's favorite lines.

The second transcript is from Mercury-Atlas 7, Scott Carpenter's
mission. Full transcript here:


The CapCom who says "That's probably close enough for government work"
is identified as "Deke", presumably yet another Mercury astronaut,
Deke Slayton. Perhaps he borrowed it from Schirra.

--Ben Zimmer

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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