THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 236

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 236

…“You know Dad, I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I appreciate what you and Francine have done for us.”…

The future Mrs. Gus McKinney and current Mrs. Roy Crippen, Mindy and Francine are trying to be inconspicuously confident in their supporting roles. The two women from different generations have forged a bond, despite their age disparity or love for either of the Stellar Explorer pilots.

There will be no fanfare trappings surrounding an event that has attracted an inordinate amount of media attention. The principle players do not wave to the adoring throng or give lavish speeches touting this SOL engineer or that IFOS founding member, such is the focus on the 15 billion mile roundtrip ahead.

The principles have congregated inside the turbotransport for last minute briefings and technical interaction. The final personal exchange is between Roy and Deke, “You know Dad, I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I appreciate what you and Francine have done for us.” His spacesuit precludes closeness, but his teary hug of the man who had raised two adolescent boys through to manhood, is applied with all his might. “I know that Gus feels the same way, even though he hasn’t done a good job of showing it.”

“You better stop before you fog over your facemask. Just go out there and makes us proud.” Roy was fighting back tears.

But when Gus joined in the embrace, all bets were off, “I barely remember life before the ranch, but I never would have made it here without you and Braden, and Francine.”

It was a strange time and place for the pouring out of hearts, though no one seems to mind. Such is the intensity of a moment that will go down in history as a pivotal moment in the future of an Earth’s place in the Universe.

It is a shame that Francine was not there to share in the hugs, as deserving of credit as she is. That she never had to fret over Roy in his astronaut days, does not diminish her role in comforting young Mindy, the wife-to-be waiting for her hero to return safely to her arms.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 236


page 213

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 185

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 185

…The mourners want to stop crying, but who will be the first? They wish they had more answers when God alone knows what happened on Mars…

Presidential candidate Crippen wraps up the grim occasion.

“But because we don’t know what exactly happened to them, is of little matter now. Today we are here to honor them and to make a promise, the promise of continuing dream of the McKinneys …and all of us at NASA…SOL-logo the dream of colonization, not just of Mars, but the stars beyond it! But we are going to go there, AT THE SPEED-OF-LIGHT!!!.”

The reference to the SOL Project is intentional.

Roy does not miss the opportunity to draw Charlotte Walker onto the funeral altar, a move that does not go unnoticed by the attending press.Image result for red white and blue wreath

“All of us, in our own way, knew Sampson and Celeste McKinney. Do not fail them or their memory.”

Roy Crippen, Braden King, Deke McKinney and Gus lay a giant RW&B wreath on the flag-draped caskets. The clergy representatives, each of their faith, give their blessing. The honor guards carry the sarcophagi to the waiting horse drawn cortege.

The crowd disperses slowly, bound together by a trance of unbelief. They want to stop crying, but who will be the first? They wish they had more answers when God alone knows what happened on Mars. They do not want to have to memorialize speculative assumptions, but just when is the right time to say when?

Apart from a mourning nation and most of the “civilized” world, two significant figures remain stoic. Whether or not they are expected to be resigned and vulnerable, the McKinney boys, with eyes to the heavens and beyond, hold firm. They are sending a message for the world to heed: ‘We remaining McKinneys dedicate the rest of our lives to the memory of our parents and the future of America’s space program.’


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 185


page 175