Orion Launch

I had high hopes in being able to put up an excited post about the Orion capsule going up and coming back down. But alas, instead you’re getting a frustrated rant. 

The company I work for played a major part it designing and building Orion. I was not directly on the team but I was called in to support occasionally and to clean up a mess or two. But, over the years I’ve become friends with those who are on the team. I say are instead of were because there is still much work being done. 

These fine, fine individuals think nothing of working 60 sometimes 70 hours a week, not once in a while, or for just a few weeks but months on end. When the company went on double shifts to try and keep the tight schedule the fella in charge of making sure the bits and pieces got put together right could be found at the office at 3 AM just as often as at 3 PM. 

Theirs is not a job that can be “mailed” in. The dedication and passion have to go bone deep. 

So the fact that the mission had to be scrubbed today broke my heart. All those people were there to watch their “baby” go up. And it didn’t. NOT because of any fault of theirs. 

A boat wandered into the restricted area….REALLY… How effin irresponsible can a person be?  It’s not like this was hush-hush military satellite going up. There has been more media coverage for this launch than all the others in last few years combined.

That turned out to be their best launch window because by the time that got cleared up (and a small software issue) the winds kicked up and then a valve didn’t shut properly. The valve was on the rocket, not Orion, which upsets me because this is not ULA’s first friggin rodeo. 

Speaking of media attention. All the major and most of the minor outlets were there. And what’d they see…? nada but a lot of steam and near misses. Grrrrrr. In comparison Japan sent their second astroid hunter up from their Tanegashima spaceport without a hitch. Also, at the French Guiana’s spaceport, Kaurou, a major communications satellite is set to go up on Friday. I do not wish them ill but darn it, it’d be nice if we weren’t the ONLY spacefaring nation with issues. 

I think few people outside the Aerospace world understand how badly we’re falling behind in the quest to explore and harness the solar system.  I refuse to point fingers because we’re all responsible in one way or another. 

And I know there are “issues” here at home that need attention. BUT, it’s kind of like writing. (Like how I did that? ;)) People who wait for the right time to write. The ones who say, “I’ll do it when I retire, when the laundry’s done, when the kids go to school, or college, or move out.” These are the people who miss out, who wait and wait and then look around and see the book they could have written, should have written, already on the shelves.

We, as a nation, need to not be those people. I do not want to wake up and find India, China or even Japan sitting atop the moon in their shiny new base. 

I don’t know if Orion is the answer. Actually I don’t have any answers. I just know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that we must never stop asking the questions that lead us to out the great beyond. 


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