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Re-launch: Antares and Independence

I’m told that there are people called astronauts. These people get into space craft and somehow, through magic, get into an apartment in space called the International Space Station. Now, I think it’s a pain to keep our snack and tool supplies in ship-shape. When we run out, we have to dinghy into a dock, walk to the store, and carry our items back. And oh the woes of dropping a screw or tool into the water!

But what about these astronauts in their apartment in the sky? Supposedly, they are “doing science”. I think this is a tax-deductible code for “watching TV and wasting time on the internet, except from space”. Maybe it’s “this is as far away from my debts / family / car troubles that I can get”. So, by magic, these people get to the space station. Right away, they realize the last person left the wrong flavor potato chips, they drop a bolt into space, and have a hankering for Snickers. So, they fire up their Amazon Prime by NASA (subscriptions start at just several billion dollars a year) and order away. A team of hundreds  beaver away, designing rockets to carry these supplies to the space station. A whole different slew of people work just on doing “countdowns” and “checks” and organizing all these supplies so that they make it to space in one piece, while providing free entertainment for land bound folks like us. 

Nearly two years ago, cruisers gathered on the beach in Deltaville, waiting for an Antares rocket launch. It was loaded up with chocolate chip cookies and #10 screws. That rocket exploded on lift-off and destroyed the launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. 

Maybe we shouldn't have an ambitious space program. Maybe all this money and effort should go into reading programs in schools. Maybe leaving the atmosphere - leaving our comfort zone, shouldn’t be done. We could always leave it to someone else to do. Maybe we’re not cut out for this. After all, chocolate is pretty easy to come by here at home. Is it worth it, after all?

It took the team 2 years and many millions of dollars to re-build the launch pad and upgrade the Antares rocket; a little more time and about the same money as Independence has spent on her refit. Would it be worth it, after all? After all the money, disappointment, set-backs and frustration? 

After a few days of delays due to weather and technical issues, launch night arrived. A fellow sufferer in boating escorted us to a beach that had a clear view to the launch site.  Antares sat on the launch pad, waiting. 7:40 - the launch time - came and went. Generations of hard working dreamers have poured their blood, sweat and tears into making space accessible. They saw a future without bounds, a world without limits, a place where humanity can reach for the stars. Will it be worth it? All the time, pain, hope and dreams, storms and despair?

7:42 and Antares launched into space. After all the coffee and consternation, planning and perseverance, Antares returned to flight in a blaze of glory with a beautiful night launch that wowed. So, was it worth it? 
Like getting snacks and spares to space after a two year re-fit, we have re-launched Independence after a 5 week re-fit. Is it worth it, after all? The minute the rocket streaks across the night sky like a comet, and our sails are raised and pointed southbound: how the pain disappears, how it all seems so worth it. How spectacular! 

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6 comments

  1. So happy you guys are back in the water and that the misery of the past five weeks is just that -- the past.

    Cheers,
    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

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    1. There are some shoe shaped paint stains on the decks that are there to remind me that it wasn't all just a dream! But it is amazing to be back in the water... I can finally sleep at night!

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  2. That's a great shot of Antares! Did Hastings bark? I'm glad you made it back into the water, one week later than I "anticipated". Not bad. :-) Such an accomplished feeling! Enjoy your cruise south.

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    1. Hastings did not bark at the rocket - but it was silent. Funny enough, he barked every single time the travel lift moved other people's boats, but just watched silently while his boat was moved!

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  3. So glad you're back in the water! That picture Matt took of Antares is amazing!

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    1. Thanks! Now you have to get Scott in the right country so we can meet for sundowners in some exotic anchorage!

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