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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Syracuse; Mission 1 (Victor's point of view)

Posted 10-28-2013 at 09:12 AM by PhantomCruiser
Updated 10-28-2013 at 12:01 PM by PhantomCruiser

It was with great relief that Victor (Hugo) Patel watched the massive rocket riding on a column of flame and exhaust as it cleared the launch pad. The Energia stack looked somewhat ungainly and graceful at once as the stack began to pirouette towards the launch heading as directed by the flight computer. Eight minutes, Victor reminded himself, if I can make it eight minutes I’ll be OK. Behind him there was a team of people enjoying a mix of hamburgers, fries, hot dogs and bratwursts, as the Phantom Manufacturing tradition of feeding the teams responsible for the launch was being continued. Victor wasn’t much for believing in superstition, but as both his boss Kirby, and his friend Cleveland said “You’ve got to respect the streak”.

The flames emanating from the rocket were going to be a good match for the heartburn that he was going to suffer in a few hours. An engineer from the Russian contingent had pressed a red plastic cup in his hand that like vodka and something (it was the something that had Victor concerned). The mystery drink coupled with the bratwurst was going to result in a 4 alarm case of heartburn soon. With some luck, that’s all it would do to him.

Victor took in the crowd watching a large projection screen that was showing real-time video of the flight. In split screen was the forward view, showing black sky and a bright blue band of the Earth’s upper atmosphere, the rear view had no longer become interesting and had just switched to an inside view of the cargo container. Victor was able to monitor the launch controllers via a wireless ear-bud, and with each passing second the calm voice of the announcer was easing his concerns. As the flight progress several people started counting down numbers that corresponded with the data Victor was hearing in his head, and while the voice-over in his ear was very reserved and professional, the crowd around him erupted in cheers as the cargo module separated from the booster. Victor, for his part, maintained an outward nonchalant appearance, as if launching one of the worlds largest rockets were something that he did on a daily basis.

He did his best to maintain this calm outward appearance as he garnished another bratwurst and added fries to his plate. But when the video showed the cargo module open up, exposing the station core he cheered as much as anyone else in the crowd. Once the tugs engine fired, he gave up listening to the voice in his ear and left the net, pocketing the little ear-buds. Milling among the crowed shaking hands and giving “high-fives” he continued to watch the monitor as the stations altitude target was finally reached and the little tugs engines shut down. Somewhere is the crowd, his cup was topped-off with the mysterious drink, with nothing better to do; he downed it quickly and looked to dispose of the container to avoid another refill. Sheesh! What’s in this stuff Victor thought as he searched around for somewhere to sit. As he slumped down onto a picnic bench, it occurred to him that he had neither eaten much, or slept much since his arrival on the island. Am I getting to old for this, he thought, Cleveland would tell me that I’m taking the job waaaaay to seriously.

Victor worked through his plate of food and was headed back for a bit more, while keeping tabs on the video feed. While he’d been eating and conversing, the station had passed through the Earth’s “night-side” and the tug had finished tweaking the orbit. The crowed hushed noticeably as the video revealed an orbital sunrise, and Victor watched the feed with as much joy, awe and terror as one man could possibly feel. There was a slight moment of panic when the countdown timer hit zero and nothing seemed to happen. Finally the camera view switch to a reverse angle and Victor could make out the tug, slowly receding with a slight rotation to begin an avoidance maneuver. There was a long pause, and it seemed to Victor that the whole crowd had stopped breathing. Again the operator switch to a different camera, and when the station “mast” began to move the crowed started murmuring, but once the radiator and solar array unfurled, the party atmosphere kicked into high gear. Victor gratefully accepted a refill of the mysterious beverage, and smiled widely.
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  1. Old Comment
    PhantomCruiser's Avatar
    I'm a bit (like really) late on this. I'll edit in a few pictures when I get home.
    Posted 10-28-2013 at 09:14 AM by PhantomCruiser PhantomCruiser is offline
  2. Old Comment
    IronRain's Avatar
    A very good read! It somehow reminds of Voyage, from Stephen Baxter.

    Thank you and keep is up-to-date!
    Posted 10-29-2013 at 03:43 PM by IronRain IronRain is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Aeadar's Avatar
    Now I know what's been missing lately! Phantom updates!

    I want to work for Phantom Manufacturing. I'll even do lawns...

    Excellent read, thanks.

    Posted 10-29-2013 at 11:57 PM by Aeadar Aeadar is offline

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