Heading Off-Planet

The first thought I had, which I was actually writing as a stand-alone thing for tonight, revolves around this from the @GeekxGirls Twitter and FaceBook account:

I love this a lot, but after sharing it on both Twitter and Facebook, it occurred to me – maybe we ARE on a career path toward Starfleet. If we believe that it (or its equivalent in the real world, whatever it will be or be called) will exist and exist in our lifetimes, someone is going to have to be involved in starting it and being the first faculty and/or students.

Why can’t that be us?

Then, just before 23:00 tonight, ULA launched an Atlas 5 (big freakin’ rocket) out of Vandenberg AFB up the coast. I knew of the launch and had thought about driving up to see it, but just have too many other things to do.

I was watching the launch online on my phone, and it occurred to me about 30 seconds into launch that there might be a tiny chance of maybe seeing something of the launch from outside. Vandenberg is over 100 miles to our WNW and I’ve got a big hill to my west, but maybe.

Oh. My. Freakin’. God!

Just as I got out the rocket started to clear the hill with a bright red and orange flame that stretched at least as far as the moon is wide. It was bright enough so that even with the city lights all around and the street lights and security lights at the school up on the corner, people driving down the street were seeing it and stopping to look.

Over the next minute or more, as the rocket climbed out of the atmosphere it also climbed more overhead, directly to our west. The flame trail grew less visible, but the exhaust cone, sort of a bright, curved V-shape, got very bright and spread out. Lots of blue and orange color, just a spectacular sight.

As the rocket kept climbing toward the south I crossed the street to keep it in view over the neighbor’s house. I could clearly see the first stage dim, flash, and cut off, followed by the flash of the second stage ignition. Another few seconds after that and it faded into the haze on the southern horizon.

I need to remember this. If seeing a launch is this moving and emotional and full of elation even when seen from this far away with none of the noise or smoke or other phenomenon present, I can’t wait to see one from a much better and much closer viewpoint.

Heading off-planet, the Earth in our rear-view mirror. Today a display on the horizon, tomorrow an addicting up-close experience, soon to be a career path for all of those waiting to go exploring and working. It would be neat if they named it “Starfleet” just like they named the first Space Shuttle “Enterprise,” but I don’t care what they name it as long as I get to go!


Filed under Space

2 responses to “Heading Off-Planet

  1. I decided against taking that holiday to see a launch from Baikonur. Looks like it was the wrong decision. 😦 Thanks for the post – it sounds awesome!


  2. There was a great programme on commercial space programs a week or so ago on UK tv. I had no idea that Bazos (sp?) who started Amazon was spending all those billions on it, as well as Richard Branson (who’s treated like a playboy in the UK press as a result of his expensive toys). But these ARE the guys who will probably get us off planet. Maybe I’ll go back to being nice to Amazon like I was when it started up.


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