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|You are the first person to fly a spacecraft beyond the moon and on to other planets in our solar system. There are a few annoying spelling errors, will have to correct later.||
Ever since you were a child, you wanted to be an astronaut. Others teased, called you "space cadet," spaceout," and other affectionate things. The more you were teased, the tighter you hung on to that dream. You didn’t do well at times in school, your grades fell below average, your family didn’t understand. You dealt with anxiety and depression. You were weird, and no one wanted to play with you. You were never picked when forming teams and no one wanted anything to do with you –– unless they wanted help with an answer or to look over on your test paper.
After your school career was over, you joined the Air Force. Some things were difficult, — more difficult than you ever thought, but you stayed with it. You spent hours, days, and months, in training. Now you’re sitting at the controls of an F-5 trainer. A little twin-engined rocket. Everything you learned was hard-earned, and now it’s your chance to solo. At the command, you throttle up the engines of your trainer and it slowly moves. You steer it to the taxiway and wait for clearance. Your heart beats, and your breathing is rapid. This is not Top Gun, the movie, this is not Rambo. This is the real thing, and if you pull this off, the first part of meeting your dream is complete.
The clearance is given, you throttle up again, and your little ship taxis down the runway. You are aware that you are being watched, cataloged, and scrutinized. You push your F-5 and lift off the runway. The ground rapidly falls away and mist condenses on your wings, leaving trails. Your first flight is on display. You take commands and maneuvers and execute them flawlessly. Soon you will graduate to flying a fighter or bomber. But deep in your soul, your heart, your mind, it is your dream to fly in space.
You land the little F-5 flawlessly and pry your hands off the controls. You see people walking out toward you, holding clipboards. You look at the controls and about the jet’s cockpit in a bit of self-reflection. "I flew this!" You think, and nod. You open the canopy and technicians help you out of your ship. Now it’s time for the real test, the flight evaluation. You walk into your Captain’s office. He closes the door ominously and you both sit. He runs through the flight evaluation, after some chatting where you want to take your goals, your Captain smiles and tells you, you passed all tests. You move up in rank.
You have been flying F-22 Raptors now for a few years. Your favorite thing to do is fly low over the homes of your friends. While they have unsatisfying jobs, you are flying the most sophisticated aircraft ever built. Spacecadet? Space Out? The ones that teased you are not the ones flying a stealth jet, with the radar profile of a little bird. Except that you’re flying your bird at nearly three time the speed of sound!
You’ve just received a letter of recommendation that you are eligible for training as an astronaut. You look repeatedly at the blue mast-head of the stationery. The masthead has red letters on it and it keeps drawing your eye to it. You’ve heard about NASA all your life. It was your dream to go there once. But something isn’t right, you can’t connect NASA with the letter addressed to you.
You report to NASA and begin training. You thought it was hard and bad in the Air Force! You are subjected to tests that make one wonder why Amnesty International hasn’t called yet. You’re shoved into a small sphere-like contraption and whipped around. You’re not getting sick, but the feeling is still unpleasant. You ride aboard a large jet that suddenly drops out of the sky. You are participating in a test for weightlessness. Now you know first hand why they call this jet the "Vomit Comet." You feel like you’re always falling and spinning.
The call goes out. You have passed all the tests and made all the requirements. You have applied and trained. Now you have been selected to fly the first interstellar spacecraft. It is capable of near light speed. You train for months in a simulator, and now it’s time. The moment you meet your real destiny is tomorrow. Your family is with you, your friends shake your hand and you notice a little streak of envy their eyes. You feel an odd mix of contentment, excitement and and a little apprehension. Newscrews swarm outside like bees, hoping to get a glimpse of the new explorer. Your ship is designed for a month-long voyage through interplanetary space. You will travel to the outer reaches of the solar system.
You sit strapped into your spacecraft, a long sleek ship that looks like a larger version of a fighter jet. Huge fuel tanks sit behind you, but there is also a new engine, an ion particle accelerator that sits awkwardly on the back. The countdown starts and your heart is racing. You’ve been sitting here for hours while the flight crews prepped the new ship, and now the moment is almost upon you.
The countdown nears the twenty-second mark and you feel a powerful thrum. A shudder races through your ship and the engines ignite. You see the countdown counter one more time while the ship vibrates. " . . . 5- 4- 3- 2- 1." Umbilical cables break away and the gantry supporting your ship separates like a huge clam shell. You feel a slight downward movement before the ship’s engine begins to tear away at Earth’s gravity. You feel a slow acceleration, then a tremendous pressure on your whole body.
Far away, the crowds watch your ship lift off, even far away, they are engulfed in a sound that is unnaturally loud and powerful. They feel it more than hear it and their clothes vibrate on them. Now your ship is leaving the atmosphere and you kiss the edges of space.
Assisted by the big chemical engines, the ion engines ignite! A long blue shaft, visible from the ground and causing momentary disruption in communications reaches back from the ship. It takes awhile to build speed, but that’s good because you already feel like an elephant is sitting on you. Your ship has started an orbit, the Earth’s rotation will act as a springboard. You are in momentary orbit and are flying over some country where it’s night. A child has seen your ship, she knows who it is and why. She doesn’t know it yet, but your flyover, has ignited a dream and goal she does not quite understand yet, but one day will fulfill. She may be an astronaut herself, or a pilot of a small plane. Nevertheless, her dream and destiny is to fly.
Now it’s time, your engines are taking your ship to speed, you steer your craft toward the moon and it quickly fills your field of view. Always distant, you now get to see the moon close up, you start seeing the craters in stark relief. Black shadows against bright sun. The dark side of the moon is just that. So dark, it looks like some of it is missing. The slingshot effect of the moon flings you farther out into space, and now you are on your way to Mars, the asteroid belt, then on toward Jupiter.
It is incredibly dull out here in space. The strong sun blots out many stars, there is nothing to see! If you look behind you, all you see is the vast bulk of your ship. Looking forward, you see the ship’s controls and flat-panel displays. You’ve been out here for three days and it takes longer to communicate because it takes longer for the radio waves to travel between you and Earth, which now looks like a blue dot.
You are now travelling close to the speed of light, there is a crushing sensation on you, but that’s because you are breaking all speed records of anything man-made or otherwise. The engines of your ship are actually quieter, as if relishing the speed and power they are creating. You push a button, groaning with the effort because your arm feels like it weighs forty pounds.
You’ve passed Mars. A dusty orange ball with vast features on it. You see tiny billows of clouds and try to imagine a space colony there. You’re flight may open that door and you briefly reflect on that before moving on to Jupiter. Soon, you see the bulk of Jupiter, and it’s entourage of moons. The planet is absolutely huge and you can only get a sense of its bulk from the confines of your ship. Bands of color wind around the planet and you see the violent storms boil around it. The Great Red spot meets your view and you can almost hear the violence of its one-thousand mile per hour winds.
The ship takes you around Jupiter and its small ring system makes the sun wink on and off to you. You skim the surface of the rings then are on your way home. You sit back, your flight will take you home, and now you join the ranks of the pioneers and explorers. But deep down in your heart and soul, you know you have paved the way for things to come. You are an interplanetary traveler, and have earned a place in history.
|A Dream of Reality|