May 2nd, 2018. 4am on a Saturday and the NASA InSight launch was V lit.
I wanted to write a solid intro for this, but each time I tried, it either came off too mushy, or I went off the deep end rambling about existential anxiety. Sooooo… with that in mind, here’s a bunch of pictures and stuff.
Thanks to NASA, Stephanie Smith, Ryan Bell, and Kaitlyn Soares for the invite, and 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
Mars: inside and out.
InSight lander doppelganger.
Mars VR tours and space jackets. V stylish.
Mission Director's Center. V tight.
L to R: Nose cone. Inspirational sign. Fine art sculpture.
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.
America doesn't need a wall, but it could use a little more Space.
Harris Grade vista. This would've been a great spot to watch if it wasn't for the foggin' fog that rolled in 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.”
It was 4am and 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 news 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 remains the same and that a new generation of space nerds are being raised.
Goodbye InSight lander! Goodbye Atlas V! Goodbye rocket-based shorthand text puns. They've been V fun, but probably not V funny.
My trip began with a sunset at Lompoc and ended with a sunrise in Santa Barbara... then I slept in my car for a few hours.