May 2nd, 2018. 4am on a Saturday and the NASA InSight launch was V lit.
I scored a NASA Social invite for the InSight launch and geeked out on Mars, rockets, and random sights around Lompoc.
Thanks to NASA for making it a highly inspiring and memorable experience.
Vanderberg Air Force Base. 30th Space Wing. Lompoc, CA.
"This piece of paper says you've been vetted by the Air Force. You need it with you to enter the base. Do NOT lose it!" *Takes pictures of signs and palm trees in the entrance parking lot... loses piece of paper before even getting on the bus.*
Prelaunch Media Briefing
InSight lander doppelganger
Mission Director's Center. V tight.
If you listen V hard the tune will come to you at last. When all are one and one is all, to be a rock and not to roll, and she's buying the stairway to heaven.
Lompoc is pronounced "Lump Poke"
Dinosaurs didn't have rocketships, and that's why they're gone... or maybe they did, and that's also why they're gone? Whoa.
Lompoc's mural game is strong.
Harris Grade vista. This would've been a great spot to watch if it wasn't so foggin' cloudy that evening.
I wish I got the kid in the main photo but he was a little too short to make the cut, and I was frantically trying to compose a last minute shot in the dark (figuratively and V literally).
To set the scene a little, we were perched atop Santa Ynez Peak overlooking the Pacific coast. The view was reserved to those willing to drive an hour up a windy mountain road that ended in a stretch of pavement that was more cratered than the surface of Mars. I drove that last bit in an uninsured, bottom-tier sedan rental, and in my head I was already rehearsing how to convincingly say, “oh, that axle was already bent.” Fortunately, the car held up and everything was chill.
4am at the summit was eerily quiet. I felt compelled to whisper even though we were all obviously awake. In the distance, a thick fog blanketed the launch pad while the sky sparkled above. Prior to launch, this father/son duo were sitting next to me watching a live stream of the countdown on their phone.
I found it striking because even though the most advanced pieces of technology were in their hands and about to soar over head, I imagined similar scenes unfolding decades ago. Except instead of watching live streams on smart phones, people were listening to reports on the radio, and instead of looking towards the west, they were looking east.
It was a pleasant reminder that as we blast into the 21st century space race, the human experience and awe that fuels it all, still remain the same and there's a new generation of space nerds being raised.
Goodbye InSight lander! Goodbye Atlas V! Goodbye rocket-based shorthand text puns. They've been V fun, but probably not V funny.