All posts tagged: NASA

Spider, Spider

IT STARTED, AS THESE THINGS ALWAYS DO, with some bright spark saying, “Yeah, no problem, I can do that.” This particular bright spark was named Clark Kent, a wunderkind in biology. His specialty? Spiders. Big spiders. Kent thought he was accompanying his buddy, Dwight Eisenhower, to Bill Wiley’s presentation. Dwight, though, had other ideas, big ideas with Bill Wiley, who started in on his presentation to the NASA engineers and scientists. “I give you the Space Elevator,” Wiley began. And, with a flick of the wrist, a slide appeared illuminating one wall. Wiley had skipped the usual pulldown screen wanting to showcase Mark Rotherham’s fabulous artwork on an entire wall. He hoped to dazzle the assemblage. They had seen it all before. Weary scientists who had heard it all before too and would need something spectacular to elicit even mere interest. Wiley’s reedy voice betrayed his excitement as he moved through his presentation. And, as the last slide of the completed elevator hung on one wall like a slender, silvery thread stretched beyond imagination, he …

First Words

NEARLY HALF AN HOUR passed before the panic died down, although to the casual observer the word ‘panic’ would hardly seem to apply. The four astronauts spent that time gabbling at one another in a controlled and even manner, running through checklists and reading out numbers from various screens. Eventually, it was ascertained that the damage was not as bad as had been initially feared and their thoughts returned to the continuation of the mission. Forty minutes after this, Commander Trent Hooper, snug inside a bulky environment suit, opened the outer hatch and looked out over the Martian landscape for the first time. It was a stunning sight. More astounding even than he’d imagined, and he couldn’t help letting out a tiny whistle of awe. On the horizon, miles away under a butterscotch sky, an uneven mountain range ran for as far as he could see and, above it, a ruddy smear in the sky was the retreating dust storm that had so nearly killed them all. It looked so incongruous now and Hooper might …