THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 66
…We all knew, deep in our souls, that something like this could happen and yet here we are behind the 8-ball….
“T-minus 2.75 hours and counting folks, the nuke propulsion is coming on line for the first time and all systems are go,” the intercom is buzzing with exciting news of stretching out the new souped-up engines, leaving only crew concerns and ground fog from getting the New Mayflower on its way.
Roy Crippen is in full-pace-space-mode. With both midnight and an untimely early-season tropical system moving north out the Gulf of the Americas getting closer, his nerves are starting to show. It is one hell of a time to test a new launch method. It is quite another risking more lives on the enhanced propulsion, even though NASA’s chief engineer has been perfecting things for 2 years, when perfection is impossible.
“If it is the last thing I do in NASA, Karl, I will see us into full-blown SOL technology,” speaking to Karl the engineer. “We do not belong in space if it takes two months to travel 100 million lousy miles.”
“There was no way we could foresee this accident,” insists the aging veteran of metals and motion.
“If it is an accident at all… don’t ask, I’ll tell you later” Some stories have no abridged versions. “We all knew, deep in our souls, that something like this could happen and yet here we are behind the 8-ball.” Roy draws a deep breath to continue, “And we have our two best people out there, having stuck out their necks farther than giraffe on stilts, confident that they would be safe…safe……safe my ass and living in a lander that is not designed for a sleepover, let alone 2 f***ing months.”
“And Fred Cabell and Phil Jansky… shit… and all we can do is wait & see what happens next. I was hired to do a job and I am back here scrambling…”
“Please do not succumb to the ‘it should have been me’ syndrome. Somebody once said, I think it was Herbert Hoover, ‘The older men start the wars that are fought by the young’, you get what I am saying Roy.” Old Karl speaks through a heart of experience, a reliable ticker that has been broken before, only to mend and go on.