THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 252

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 252

…Like a puppet on a string, the well-traveled ship from “home” dangles above its new dock…

YouTube Song

“The Stellar Explorer has entered into a descending orbit,” Celeste sense aloud. Her and Sam’s memorable first impressions of Eridanus, the then unnamed planet, flood in. “It is a shame that they cannot be fully conscious, to see the mist parting to reveal the towered cities.”

“Perhaps Ekcello will trust me to take them up in one of these ships, one of these days.” There is a hint of selfish motive and respect in his voice. Nothing would scratch his itch like taking one of these flying machines out for a spin, now that he knows them inside and out {Perchance to circle the Epsilon system at sub-light speeds, or reignite interest in physical space travel, or convince them to use their 5th dimension time-travel talent instead of suppressing it}. None of these notions are probable.

“Not a chance! He knows you know the way back to Earth,” his wife engenders reason aimed at her daughter.

“Do you think I would abandon you & Sammy? No, no, no, I would abduct you both first.”

Celeste cuts him off at the pass.

“Kicking and screaming you would. I’m not sure that we fit on Earth anymore. But I know it has crossed your mind,” she points to her own cranium. “You would make Earth a dominant space power within a year.”

She knows him all too well. —

— The trio steps to the side of the huge receiving doors and strain to catch their first external glimpse of Stellar Explorer. The pink sky parts and they gaze upon the sleek SOL cruiser, which outwardly looks like it had a few in-flight nicks. It is a handsome piece of aerodynamic design, bearing the proud flag of the United States of America on either flank. The mere sight of the Stars && Stripes opens the tear ducts of the elder McKinneys. Deimostra takes in the touching emotional display, now realizing what loyalty to country, and home planet, is all about.

S-E-x Look at that nickname, I love it!” Sammy Mac is tickled proud.

They stand transfixed as Stellar Explorer defies gravity in its low speed maneuvering which brings it to rest next to Explorer/NEWFOUNDLANDER. Like a puppet on a string, the well-traveled ship from “home” dangles above its new dock, seemingly reluctant and clueless as to how and why.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 252


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 245

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 245

The Eridanian Solution that ultimately saved two lives of Earth was not news for Earth to share in…

The irony of death, as it concerns the space program, is that the numbers are bloated. Four people are killed every seven minutes by such ordinary things like ground transportation and only immediate family and friends bother to notice. Should you lose four lives in space, the detractors of exploration cry “foul” and the world mourns.

All able hands are on deck at Lovell Space Center, tethered together by the hope that Stellar Explorer would begin to come-about, to make the wide sweeping turn necessary to return to Earth.

That torturous fifteen minutes proves to be the longest q~u~a~r~t~e~r  h~o~u~r on record. If those with the most dogs in the fight, namely Roy, Francine, and Mindy McDonald, if they could possibly hold their breath the entire time, they may have.

The perceived passing of the next few digital ticks eclipses the previous ones.

But in this poignant moment, the loved ones of Deke & Gus McKinney, as well as awaiting world, exhale; emptied of any remaining dioxides and positivity. They draw another bated breath when the Stellar Explorer blasts through the heliopause and continues on without slowing down.

If those on Earth could only be comforted by the truth; that this perceived disaster had actually been averted… the Eridanian solution that ultimately saved two lives of Earth was not news for Earth to share in and neither will they see the benefits from it, at least until that miracle can be properly sew into the fabric of the current timestem.

If that withheld truth be known, their flagging souls would have been buoyed by the fact that in thirty months, 2 1/2 years, The Space Family McKinney will be reunited once again!

Until and when that truth is revealed to them, scar tissue will form around a wound that is permanently deep and painful beyond belief.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 245


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 164

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 164

…Sampson McKinney is, at most, a spaceship pilot, not some flaky, lab coat wearing, eat & sleep pure science guy that he wishes he were now…

“I think we are going to dissect the Orion Constellation, right about at “The Hunter’s” navel.”

“I was just double-checking your numbers Cel and I would guess if we are whizzing our way with a purpose, our destination is a star close to what we call Bernard’s Loop. But yeah, we are going to see if Orion’s belt buckle does indeed twinkle.”

“Do you have any guesses about the time frame we are looking at; I mean are we talking about 10 years? Celeste is well aware that they are not going around the block, but the mental commitment it takes to orientate the human brain for space travel is far from immediate gratification. The one saving grace is that SOL or even multiples of it, are not fractions thereof; at least you have the sensation of getting somewhere very f-a-s-t… zoom-zoom.

Sampson finds himself in a position he never imagined. He is at most a spaceship pilot, not some flaky, lab coat wearing, eat & sleep pure science guy that he wishes he were. That guy would come in handy now. Then again, 21st Century earthly mankind has not been programmed for the parameters they are facing.

“Vell, vell Frau McKinney, das eez a doozy uv a qveston,” he does his best to imitate the stereotypical German rocketeer, like Werner von Braun.

“Spare me the Einstein and give me your best estimates, we are raising a baby here and I need to have some idea of what’s what!”

“Of the five most likely star systems on this heading, Bernard’s Star and Struve 2398, a single and a binary red system respectively are six light-years out. Another red, Ross 154 is at eight. But you have to keep in mind that these red stars are cool by our standards, which means they well past their prime, on the downslide side of life.”

“If you knew your sun was burning out, wouldn’t you go searching for another sun and planet as a bailout?” Celeste submits possible reasons for the NEWFOUNDLANDER’s trips to Earth and eventually Mars.


THE RETURN TRIP

Dying Star by Sammy15

Episode 164


Bernard’s Loop (catalogue designation Sh 2-276) is an emission nebula in the constellation of Orion. It is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex which also contains the dark Horsehead and bright Orion nebulae. The loop takes the form of a large arc centered approximately on the Orion Nebula. The stars within the Orion Nebula are believed to be responsible for ionizing the loop.(Wikipedia)


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 161

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 161

…Systems on the NEWFOUNDLANDER that never made so much as a peep, poop or gurgle are adding their ovations to the emergent chorus…

Chorus by Jacob Rowan

The Space Family McKinney, Sampson, Celeste, and Sammy are strangely content with whatever fate befalls them, but not long after that adorable-Mars/moon-namesake joins the 4th planet party, the NEWFOUNDLANDER seems to be having other ideas. Several times in the recent past, Sampson noted sudden, uncharacteristic computing activity. It seems random and spontaneous, not as a result of anything they or he was doing, but it is incremental in its frequency.

“Here it goes again Sam! Are you sure you didn’t bump something over there?”Celeste is concerned about the electronica noises distracting Sammy from feeding time, courtesy of one of her two milk-filled nursing stations. It is the only dispensary aboard this ship that is certified Grade A.

“I keep telling you that nothing I am doing around this musical chatterhouse is causing any of this. I would not risk upsetting the status quo, although I really think I getting that steering thing nailed.”

During this current cycle of beeps, boops, bops, pops, and hums, the whole ship comes alive at once, in the familiar key of A. Systems that never made so much as a peep, poop or gurgle are adding their ovations to the emergent chorus. It is like the ghosts of its former crew were manning their stations, which was impossible.

When the unmistakable whine of the ship’s propulsion unit, that magical mystery miniature module in the bowels of the lower deck shakes the control bridge and the sheer awesome power is being harnessed and directed with purpose, Sampson acts instinctively.

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control.


  THE RETURN TRIP

No Control by Güneş Yılmaz

Episode 161


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 146

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 146

…What Francine cannot say {the devil’s-in-the-details} is that an out-of-control computer has an itchy trigger finger or that the destroyed Sang-Ashi space probe had itself likely destroyed Space Colony 1 …

— True to his word, Roy Crippen arranges for a hotline conversation with President Sanchez, irrespective of the leader’s chosen availability. It is midterm Congressional election season and Sanchez and the Democrats may be busy clinging to their support base, fundraising, campaigning, and solidifying their slim majority.

“If I were president, I would be spending less time on politics and more on sound policy,” he mutters to himself. He doesn’t much care for Pete Sanchez as a person, let alone his policies. It is at times like these that Roy feels he could make a real difference in the White House; a thinker and a doer he would be, not a manipulating party person who is mentally missing when things really matter.

A mere 7 meaningful minutes is going to pass as the secure cellular call bounces off three different satellites on the way to Keokuk Iowa via Washington D.C. That tiny towns in agricultural Iowa or the town halls of New Hampshire carry any weight in political circles, speaks volumes about the very drivel that is keeping Roy from jumping into the national arena with both feet. Today, the country’s business is being conducted from an ethanol plant in the middle of 100,000 acres of corn.

Roy thinks compassionate thoughts about Francine, who is currently in the midst of her maiden news conference. International incidents rarely have their roots sprouting from the hopeful unknown of the space program and the New Mayflower Incident, as it is being called, is being blown way out of proportion.

Peering out to the newly constructed conference room, with ten rows of ten chairs, he sees Francine control the room with cool familiarity. Perhaps they were going easy on her, hands are raised, questions concisely put, shouting at tolerable levels, and hardly a discouraging word expressed.

This is itchy

What she cannot say {the devil’s-in-the-details} is that an out-of-control computer has an itchy trigger finger or that the destroyed Sang-Ashi space probe had itself likely destroyed Space Colony 1, to set these events into action.

This is the stuff that comprises a competent Press Secretary. Give them enough information to fill column inches or that 30 second video clip for the evening news.

“I believe that I have answered all your questions for now and I look forward to dealing with you folks in the near future. Thank you and good day.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 146


page 138

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 91

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 91

…Francine’s words land harshly and dig deep, and may as well have been a dagger to the heart to a man who had suffered more than his share of setbacks as of late…

Fantasy dagger by Vadich

…Roy is taken aback by Francine’s callous bluntness, and he hasn’t even asked a question.

Without being asked she continues, “I am flattered that you’ve seen enough of my work that you would offer me the job, without consulting your higher-ups. And believe me when I tell you that the space program intrigues me, interesting and exciting to say big-butthe least.

“But, the big but is that I am in the 2nd year of a 4 year contract and if I haven’t admitted it before now… I am engaged to KHST’s VP of News,” she pauses to count on one hand,going on 5 years this May.”

Her words land harshly and dig deep, and may as well have been a dagger to the heart to a man who had suffered more than his share of
setbacks as of late
. Does this signal the return of “old” Francine Bouchette? Had she now secured the inside story, that juicy prize that will get her where she wants to go? ‘Good bye Charlie, I must be getting along.’

Image result for btw“I see,” TMI, BTW, TTYL Roy is an unemotional as possible, after all, what did he expect or hope for after merely holding hands or that pressure packed tender kiss.

FrancineCorvette

New

Francine stands, her skirt soiled and wrinkled and that $150 hairdo looks like a fright-wig. She brushes her hair straight and a mirror helps restore her face, the skirt is too far gone, fitting results for a day that has turned the page – plus 3 hours more.

“I have to head out Roy. I believe you granted me another exclusive and if I don’t get
going, someone else will beat me to it. I hope your valet didn’t drain my hydrogen tank, Corvettes are not fuel efficient.”

Old

“No they’re not; I have a gasoline 2001 Stingray rag-top myself.” He is brave on the outside, “If you ever need a source here at Galvy or Lovell, you can look me up.

“And don’t be too hard on us,” he uses two hands to squeeze one of hers.

Her smile is pained as she turns to find her car and shows herself out of the complex.

“It’s just another ordinary day in the life of an everyday ordinary space freak.” Roy mumbles this and other self-deprecating phrases on the way to his now lonely office, plopping onto the overused couch to close his eyes. Sleep come mercifully quick, dreams not so sweet. —


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 91


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Plan B Apollo 13 – WIF Space

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Fascinating Facts

About the

Apollo 13 Mission

Apollo 13 Command Module by RoDuPhotography on DeviantArt

When Apollo 13 lifted off from the John F. Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970 on America’s planned third visit to the surface of the moon, the general public greeted the event with a collective yawn. After just two manned visits to the moon the reaction by many to continuing lunar exploration was “been there, done that.” The major television networks broadcast the launch, as was customary, but declined to broadcast planned transmissions from the spacecraft as it journeyed to the moon, due to lack of viewership. After just four Americans had walked on the moon, the general public had lost interest. Serious discussions of canceling the remaining Apollo missions took place in political circles in Washington.

All that changed on April 14, when Jack Swigert (not James Lovell, as depicted in the film Apollo 13) informed mission controllers, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” An explosion and subsequent venting of precious oxygen ended the mission to the moon and threatened the lives of the three astronauts aboard, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise. The mission to the moon became a gripping drama, as the crew and experts on the ground encountered and overcame problem after problem. The world watched the unfolding tale as it occurred, unsure of whether the three astronauts could be brought home alive.

10. Using the lunar module as a lifeboat was a planned and practiced evolution

The 1995 film, Apollo 13, brought the story of the ill-fated mission back into the popular imagination. The film, based on astronaut Jim Lovell’s book Lost Moon, presented the story with the usual dramatic license practiced by Hollywood (Lovell appeared in the film near the end, as a US Navy Admiral greeting his character as portrayed by Tom Hanks). One fictional aspect in the film was the implication that the Lunar Module (LM) was forced into service as a “lifeboat,” an evolution which was both unforeseen and unrehearsed. Neither was true. Use of the LM to provide shelter for the astronauts due to a casualty had been both envisioned by mission planners and simulated during training, as recalled years later by Ken Mattingly, who was dropped from the original crew at the last minute after being exposed to the measles.

“Somewhere in an earlier sim, there had been an occasion to do what they call LM lifeboat, which meant you had to get the crew out of the command module and into the lunar module, and they stayed there,” Mattingly recalled in an interview with NASA in 2001. Mattingly’s recollection, though admittedly vague, was that the training was intended to simulate unbreathable air in the Command Module (CM), with the astronauts using the LM while the CM was ventilated. During the Apollo 13 mission the LM supported the astronauts for a considerably longer period than had been simulated, but the use of the LM as a lifeboat in space had been foreseen and some procedures prepared before the astronauts experienced the problems which afflicted them on the journey to the moon.

9. Carbon dioxide buildup posed the greatest danger to the crew

The loss of oxygen caused by the explosion of a tank during an attempt to stir its contents led to the assumption that the three astronauts were in danger of running out of air. Loss of oxygen did not present the greatest threat to survival. Nor did a shortage of water, though all three men observed strict rationing and all became dehydrated as a result. Fred Haise was so dehydrated he developed a kidney infection. According to Lovell in his book and subsequent interviews, the single greatest danger posed to the astronauts was from carbon dioxide buildup, which they created through breathing. The scrubbers in the LM, which used lithium hydroxide canisters to remove the carbon dioxide from the air, were insufficient for the exhalations of three men.

The ingenious modifications allowing the use of square canisters in scrubbers designed to use round ones did occur, developed by technicians and engineers in Houston. It, too, had a precedent, practiced on the ground in simulations. According to Mattingly, a similar device was contrived during the training for Apollo 8, coincidentally another mission flown by Lovell. “Well, on 13, someone says,” Mattingly recalled, “You remember what we did on the sim? Who did that?” The engineer who developed the procedure was located, and instructions to construct a similar device in Aquarius (Apollo 13’s LM — the CM was named Odyssey) were radioed to the astronauts.

8. The average age of the experts in mission control was just 29

The lead flight director for Apollo 13 — that is, the man in charge on the ground — was Gene Kranz. Kranz was just 36 years of age when the accident occurred during the mission. Still, in comparison to the team he commanded, known as the White Team in NASA parlance and dubbed the Tiger Team by the media, he was a grizzled veteran. A second team, the Black Team, performed the same functions when the White Team was off duty. The Black Team was led by Glynn Lunney. The average age of the engineers, scientists, and technicians which made up the teams was just 29. They were the men who established the limits of usage in the spacecraft of water, oxygen, and electrical power. They calculated the lengths of the engine burns to properly position and orient the spacecraft, and prepared modified procedures to restore the CM to operation in time for the astronauts to safely re-enter the atmosphere.

Many were recent graduates, on their first job out of school. They worked around the clock, supported by other astronauts in simulators and laboratories, as well as technical representatives (tech reps) from the primary contractors and subcontractors which built the components which comprised the Apollo spacecraft. In the movie Apollo 13, Ed Harris portrayed Gene Kranz as exhorting the teams, “failure is not an option.” Gene Kranz said he never made that statement during the unfolding of the mission. He didn’t have to. Kranz relied on dedication and talent of the young team around him. “Every person that was in this room lived to flaunt the odds,” he told an interviewer years later. “Watching and listening to your crew die is something that will impress upon your mind forever.”

7. Lovell was on his fourth space flight, Swigert on his first (and only)

At the time Apollo 13 cleared the tower and began its journey to the moon, Mission Commander James Lovell was 42-years-old. A veteran of three previous flights, including two Gemini missions and the Apollo 8 voyage around the moon in December, 1968, Lovell had more hours in space than any other American. The three missions combined to give the former Naval Aviator 572 hours in space. Apollo 13 made Lovell the first person to fly to the moon twice. His companions, on the other hand — though both highly experienced pilots — were on their first journey into space.

For Jack Swigert, 38 and a veteran of the United States Air Force and Air National Guard, it was his first, and ultimately only, trip into space. Swigert was a last minute replacement for CM pilot Ken Mattingly, after his medical disqualification from being exposed to measles. Fred Haise, the designated LM pilot, was 35 and also on his first mission for NASA. Haise was a former US Marine Pilot, a civilian flight researcher for NASA and like his companion Swigert, never flew in space again. The average age of the crew for Apollo 13 was nearly a decade older than the members of the teams on the ground, on whom they relied for a safe return to Earth.

6. Ken Mattingly did help resolve the power conservation and startup problem

The film Apollo 13 depicted a resolved Mattingly (portrayed by Gary Sinise) working tirelessly in a Houston-based simulator to find a series of procedures through which the shut down CM could be restored to life. Mattingly was beset by the problem of needing power in excess of what was available in order to bring the stricken CM back to operation. According to the real Mattingly the scenes in the movie in which he attempts procedure after procedure, only to be frustrated by inadequate power reserves, is a false one. Mattingly did work, with other astronauts, to establish the steps to restore the CM. But the actual manner in which it was done had Mattingly outside of the simulator, reading procedures to astronauts within, in order to create the procedure for Lovell, Swigert, and Haise to use.

According to Mattingly, the astronauts included Thomas Stafford, Joseph Engle, and a third whom he hesitantly speculated may have been Stuart Roosa. Mattingly said the astronauts were put in the simulator and a series of procedures were read to them. “We’re going to call these out to you, and we want you to go through, just like Jack will. We’ll read it up to you. See if there are nomenclatures that we have made confusing or whatever.”

The reading of the procedures to Jack Swigert in the Odyssey was thus first rehearsed by Mattingly using astronauts in the simulator. In the real event, astronaut Joe Kerwin, serving as Capsule Communications (CAPCOM), read the start-up procedures step-by-step with Jack Swigert in the Odyssey.

5. Firing the LM engine for course correction was also practiced before the Apollo missions

During development of the Apollo missions’ flight procedures, the Descent Propulsion System (DPS), was tested as a backup for the Service Propulsion System, the main engine on Apollo 13’s Service Module (SM). Firing, shutting down, and reigniting the DPS was performed in laboratories at both its leading contractor’s facilities and at NASA facilities. However, little research had been done using the LM to power the entire Apollo configuration of Lunar Module, Command Module, and Service Module. Flying the entire spacecraft from the LM was a novel experience, unique to Apollo 13. It was made necessary due to the unknown condition of the engine in the Service Module, and the necessity of shutting down the Command Module.

The DPS was fired to loop around the moon and begin the voyage back to Earth using a technique known as free return trajectory. As the spacecraft approached the Earth the need for a second burn of the DPS arose, to correct the trajectory and ensure the CM, carrying the three astronauts, would splash down in the Pacific near the recovery vessels on the scene. On an ordinary mission, the descent stage of the LM remained on the surface of the moon, the ascent stage crashed onto the lunar surface after delivering the astronauts to the CM for the voyage home. Aquarius, LM for Apollo 13, entered the Earth’s atmosphere entire, and burned up during the descent, after having fully lived up to its name, which means in astrology, the Water Bearer.

4. The astronauts used the Lunar Module engine for multiple burns

The first use of the DPS engine to control the direction of the Apollo spacecraft in space occurred as the astronauts looped around the moon. Prior to shutting down the CM and moving into the LM, the astronauts transferred critical navigational data to the latter’s guidance computers. As the astronauts gazed down at the lunar surface (the second time for Lovell), mission controllers confirmed a burn of the DPS engine for 34.23 seconds placed Odyssey and Aquarius on the necessary trajectory. The LM performed flawlessly as the astronauts emerged from the dark side of the moon. The Earth’s size began to increase through the spacecraft’s windows, the moon receded.

The trajectory to Earth indicated the CM would splash down in the Indian Ocean, where the United States Navy had relatively few of the assets needed for recovery. Nor was there sufficient time to move them there. A second burn was therefore required, to move the splash down near the recovery forces in the Pacific Ocean. The astronauts used the Sun as the fixed point of reference, centering the moon in Lovell’s window for the burn, which lasted 4 minutes and 23 seconds. After the completion of the second burn the LM was almost completely shut down, in order to conserve power for the rest of the voyage.

3. The astronauts used the moon as a fixed point of reference for one burn, Earth for the other

As Apollo 13 flew slowly back to the Earth, various factors caused it to drift slightly off course, necessitating another burn of the DPS engine on the LM. The burn used to establish the course on which they flew, known as trans-Earth injection, had been successful. Yet there was some doubt that the DPS engine would fire a third time, at least according to the film Apollo 13. In the real event, few doubted the DPS would perform as needed. The 14 second burn of the DPS guided the spacecraft to the correct trajectory, with Lovell and Haise using the line of demarcation between night and day on the Earth as their point of reference.

A final course adjustment, using the thrusters on the LM rather than the DPS engine, occurred just before the Service Module detached. It last 21.5 seconds, again using the day-night demarcation for reference. Once the course adjustment was completed the astronauts observed for the first time the damage sustained by the SM from the explosion. Lovell reported an entire panel missing, and Haise observed damage to the SM’s engine bell. Another problem arose over the release of the LM, a procedure which normally took place in lunar orbit. Grumman, the lead contractor for the LM, assigned a team of engineers at the University of Toronto to the problem; their solution was relayed to the astronauts, who applied it successfully. Aquarius was released just as re-entry began.

2. The temperature within the spacecraft dropped to 38 degrees, not freezing food

A major plot device in the film Apollo 13 was the cold conditions within the spacecraft, with condensation freezing on panels in the Command Module, windows frosting over, and food freezing hard. The spacecraft was cold and damp, but it did not freeze. The temperature dropped to about 38 degrees Fahrenheit. The astronauts were subject to the cold conditions, which Lovell and Haise fought by wearing the boots in which they had planned to trod on the lunar surface. Lovell considered ordering the crew to wear their spacesuits before rejecting the idea, believing they would be too cumbersome and hot. Swigert donned a second set of overalls, though he suffered from cold feet.

Swigert had collected and bagged as much water as he could as the astronauts shut down Odyssey and moved into Aquarius. During the process, in which he drew water from the tap in the CM, his feet became wet, and in the cold, damp, conditions never fully dried. Despite his efforts gathering water, the crew sustained themselves with a ration of just over 6 ounces per day for the remainder of the flight, leading to significant dehydration and weight loss for all of them. They also consumed as much of the juices found aboard as they could, and what little they ate came from foods labeled as “wet-pack,” indicating some water was contained.

1. Apollo 13 led to several design changes for subsequent missions

The lessons learned from Apollo 13 led to several changes to the configuration of all three components of the Apollo spacecraft, the Command Module, Service Module, and Lunar Module. Additional water storage was added to the CM, and an emergency battery for backup power was installed. Modifications to simplify the transfer of electrical power between the LM and CM were adopted for future missions. The oxygen tank which exploded — creating the crisis — was redesigned with additional safety features installed. Monitoring for anomalies improved both aboard the spacecraft and in the control panels and telemetry screens of mission control.

None of the three astronauts ever flew in space again, with Lovell retiring from NASA in 1973. Haise was scheduled to command Apollo 19, but the mission was canceled. Only four more missions to the moon were carried out before Apollo 17 ended the manned lunar explorations in December 1972. By then public interest in the space program had again waned, the burst of national pride initiated by the successful return of the Apollo 13 astronauts having proved short-lived. Now 50 years later, Apollo 13 remains one of the most dramatic stories of humanity’s short experience working in outer space, a story of disaster, ingenuity, courage, and perseverance.


Plan B Apollo 13

WIF Space

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 73

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 73

“What happened to your lousy English and didn’t your hair used to be black?”…

plot-thickens3

The Plot Thickens by Donna MacDonald

“Then why has his hair color changed?” On a thin whim he says, “Let’s pay Gherkin a visit.” With time dwindling, hunches played trump hunches ignored.

Roy Crippen douses power to the what-not room as he and Francine scamper over to the nerve center of mans’ first colony away from Earth. From scamper to gallop, their pace quickens and if Francine had any doubts as to the seriousness of the situation, all she need do is keep up with the bulldog in front of her.

In a big building with odd angles and unexpected transitions, Roy bowls over an unsuspecting  technician, sending him sprawling. He excuses himself, sort of, while acquiring a limp in the process.

Francine mostly ignores the tech, asking, “Are you going to be alright Roy?”

“What…. Oh yes, come on,” not a complete answer.

“I hope I’m not out of line, but are we chasing a ghost here. You are making a pretty big fuss about one little man.” She is not privy to Roy’s unfolding theory.

He stops to collect himself, address her issues with a glance and a right hand thru his floppy brown straight hair. Francine straightens his tie thereby restoring the look of a man in control.

He speaks, seemingly into the thin air, alerting security as to the nature of his pending confrontation, rejoining the previously frantic pace, with a newswoman bring up the rear.

At this late stage of the approaching launch, less than an hour now, nearly every eye sneaks a peek at NASA’s man of the hour. He looks like a man under the gun, acts like a man possessed, and don’t you dare get in his way.

With Roy grabbing the Spatial Debris tech by the shoulders, spinning him around in-your-face style, the man is startled by the aggressive move, “There is no problem in the launch window, Mr. Crippen, only some small stuff out at 500,000 out.”

“What happened to your lousy English and didn’t your hair used to be black?”

“I do not know what you are talking about, Sir.”

“What is your name and when did you get here?”

“My name is Gurkhas Shah Dhangotma and I have been here all day, except for a short break early this morning. I had been on duty for sixteen hours. Someone relieved me for an hour, no more.”

“You could barely speak English when we spoke this morning.”

plot-thickens


THE RETURN TRIP

switcheroo-001

Episode 73


page 68

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 70

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 70

…the red carpet seemingly rolls out, with Roy Crippen holding the key to this city of space geeks and rockets…

Image result for red carpet painting

Marcus Glenn- Red Carpet Series Painting. ( THE NITE THE STARS FELT CLOSER )

As her new/old-school speedometer needle exceeds the 225 speedometer limit, she has covered the 50 or so miles in an exhilarating 13.3 minutes. Francine takes the GLF (Galveston Launch Facility) exit off I-45 and travels down the expressly made frontage road for the spaceflight center.

She had been here before, but only once and only to be turned away by a snotty guard. But today the barrier drops below the pavement, the red carpet seemingly rolling out, with Roy Crippen holding the key to this city of space geeks and rockets.

“Go straight ahead to Area 3 and hang a right… nice car… you can’t miss it.” Formalities are spared but he does admit, “You are prettier in person than you are on television.”

“Well you are more handsome than your televiewer image.” She is used to gratuitous attention, the kind a lecher or slack-jaw emotes, but hearing it from a dashing astronaut-type is an especially pleasant experience.

As she drives thru the massive complex, a village in itself with streets and speed limits to match. Building heights vary greatly, from ordinary offices to futuristic towers, white coated men and women scurrying back and forth, even at this late hour.

Just as on the Interstate she glides through unimpeded. Crippen tells her to stop in front of a building, which seems to defy gravity or balance. The new Mission Control has been hailed as an architectural wonder and she can see why, with its top width 5 times that of the base and a combination V & X.

“It’s a secret,” he sees that her mouth was agog and ajar, “and don’t disable the start button Miss Bouchette; someone will happily park it for you.”

“I bet he will,” she makes eye contact with the valet while vacating her now well broke-in car.

“You made great time. Good call on your part.”

“Other than feeling like I was in a one car race, I made it here in one piece.” She takes a closer look at the man she had only just met and is so often the case, the voice and face are a disconnect. For a man so slight, he is extremely appealing. ‘I wonder if he’s married,’ a girl is allowed.


 THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 70


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 57

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 57

…“You’re just a speck of moon dust to her, like she would be interested in a kid like you,”…

Pebble Beach by Emily James

 CHAPTER FOUR

  Space Family Confidential

  “As we prepare to bid adieu from the scenic and historic Pebble Beach Golf Links, you are looking at rare ground, one of only 500 pieces of real estate around the world that has the capability to host a professional golf tournament, none more treasured than this.

“And how appropriate it is that the man holding the Bing Crosby Trophy is none other than Evan pebble-beach-trophySamuel Michelson, whose father has joined him on the 18th green. Let’s go down to Bubba Watson for the presentation…”

Gus McKinney is wearing the headset for the televiewer and he has set it in motion to search for other sporting activities. They have violated rule #1 in the McKinney brood: Never put a VoIP block on the televiewer. They have been incommunicado for the balance of this January day. Braden King, their Earthly guardian is currently on his way back to the ranch, to ward off “you know what” from reaching the kiddos before they can be properly {co}parented.

Related image“AW, COME ON GUS, if we have to watch Four-man Power-Curling or Male Ice Dancing I am going to throw up,” brother Deke is already tiring of the 2030 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway. The mindbogglingly 1000 choices arbitrarily comes to rest on the low number 13, the lower the number, the more local it is; 1000 being JEOPARDY!, hosted by Watson the IBM brainiac.

“Good Evening, my name is Francine Bouchette and this is a KHST 13 Special Report, your news authority for the last 10 years.” An assortment of Space Colony footage scrolls on the screen.gif pretty art indie moon Grunge space stars dark Alternative moon gif phases craters

“Isn’t she a fox?” raves Gus.

“You’re just a speck of moon dust to her, like she would be interested in a kid like you,” which isn’t completely true, given her afternoon’s crash course in McKinney Family history.

breaking-news-1

The ever-fetching Francine reappears on camera; now joined by her junior co-anchor {piece-of-crap} Steven Sharkey who doesn’t have a clue on what he may be reading in a few seconds.

“In a KHST 13 News Authority Exclusive, I just got off the phone with Space Colony 1 Coordinator Roy Crippen, a friend to Channel 13 News, having confirmed a story that I have been tracking down all afternoon. He has confirmed the horrible news that Space Colony 1 appears to have been destroyed, which verifies my confidential alternate source.”

“Nnnooooooo,” screams Deke…


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 57


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