Is "green board" a known idiom or phrase?
September 6, 2014 3:15 PM   Subscribe

I seem to recall the phrase "green board" being used in some sort of flight test or launch sequence that I watched once, the meaning being that all of the control board system status indicator lights display green, and so the flight/launch can commence similar to the cliché "all systems go". I can't however find an example of this usage.I was wondering if anyone could corroborate that this is an indeed a Thing That Is Said, or better yet provide a source!

I don't have a particularly pressing need to know this. It's just a phrase that's found its way into my vernacular, usually when I want to evoke some tongue-in-cheek faux seriousness in response to some sort of everyday question of readiness. I was curious about finding an example of the phrase in use, but when I tried to source the phrase I was surprised that I wasn't able to find anything via dictionaries or google. I was interested as a kid in aeronautic stories, and growing up my uncles and father liked to lend an air of goofy military cliché to everyday tasks, so it's possible that's where I picked up the phrase, but I'm not sure.
posted by johnnydummkopf to Writing & Language (15 answers total)
The line "My board is green. Ready to jump, sir," occurs in the script for this Battlestar Galactica episode ("Exodus, Part 2", season 3, episode 4).

According to this writeup, the line "The board is green" also occurs in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Encounter at Farpoint" (season 1, episodes 1-2).

"My board is green" is also said in Mass Effect 3, as shown in this short video clip.

So yes, this appears to be a Thing That Is Said, although it seems more usually phrased as "The/my board is green" rather than "green board."
posted by snowmentality at 3:35 PM on September 6, 2014

I've heard this term. With context it made sense. At space camp (yay teen years) we used the term Christmas tree as code for there are many different colors and we are doomed.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:01 PM on September 6, 2014

I would think green board would be a thing that people would say if a green light meant whatever state was "good". It's similar to "straight board" which means all the submarine hatches are shut before diving. (The indicator for each is either an orange O for open or a blue - for shut. All the blue -s in a row look like a straight line, hence "straight board")
posted by ctmf at 4:10 PM on September 6, 2014

Searching for "'the board is green' nasa" gets me this unofficial transcript (PDF) of the Gemini-Titan 3 mission from March of 1965. Relevant quotes:

"And the board - the status board - for the individual stations around the world is completely green" (page 2)

"The Board is green around the Range and we are looking very, very good at this time." (page 5)
posted by asterix at 4:12 PM on September 6, 2014

Interesting, I imagine the writers of those shows and video game had heard it in a similar context to what I'm recalling.

I like "Christmas tree". I'm imagining some gritty noir film: "And that's when shit really went Christmas tree on us.

Do you know if this was codified in any sort of ops script or glossary? I know that many times ops centers will have very specific lists of acceptable phrases in response to preflight/prelaunch questions.
posted by johnnydummkopf at 4:13 PM on September 6, 2014

For some reason I remember it as 'green across the board', but no idea where from!
posted by symphonicknot at 4:14 PM on September 6, 2014

Yes, a known idiom. I've encountered "green board" in several submarine stories. US Navy, WWII to Korean War time frame. Sorry, no citations.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:55 PM on September 6, 2014

Confirming Bruce H. and US Navy submarine usage (source: I'm a sub brat, and it was common with my dad and pretty much all of the dozens of submariners I knew or still know).
posted by easily confused at 5:03 PM on September 6, 2014

My memory is that it's a certainly a NASA thing; a little Googling turns up this
Scientific American
account of watching an August 2003 Delta2 launch, which confirms:

"At last we get to the final minute, and then to “10, 9, 8 ... the board is green ... 3, 2, 1” — by now the throng is chanting in unison..."

("It's just a phrase that's found its way into my vernacular..."
I hear you: whenever I drive my kids in the car, I ask them if the chocks are pulled; and as I turn the ignition, I remind them to "Clear jets!")
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:58 PM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've worked on many NASA missions, and telemetry pages on all of my missions have had mnemonics that are green when nominal, and yellow and/or red when out of limits. (Also white if data is not being telemetered and there is no value.) While I've never heard or said "green board" I have heard and reported "We're green across the board", although more typically we would say "Green" or "Nominal". Sometimes I throw in a "Copacetic" because "Green" or "Nominal" gets old after a while.

While it may be used at NASA, it looks like it is an idiom borrowed from the silent service, as has been mentioned above.
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:10 PM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I should add that in the submarine stories, "Green board" is almost always followed by "Dive! Dive!"
posted by Bruce H. at 9:36 PM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're not the only person it's drifted into the vernacluar for; at my final midwife appointment for my second child, the midwife did her internal check, stripped off her gloves, and said "The board is green, you're clear for launch."
posted by KathrynT at 10:13 PM on September 6, 2014

In software engineering, people say green bar to mean that all tests are passing (and therefore the test harness is showing all green "passing" indicators).
posted by mbrubeck at 8:25 AM on September 7, 2014

Ex submariner here. Green board – When the status on the ballast control panel indicates all hull opening are shut and the submarine can be submerged. Also known as a "straight board".
posted by cmdnc0 at 9:06 AM on September 7, 2014

In my software company, we also say green board (where mbrubeck says green bar), to mean that all tests are passing. And we have a great big monitor on the wall that shows red or green for each test.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 5:29 PM on September 7, 2014

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