Residents on the East Coast of the United States were informed that a privately owned supply rocket would be launching off the coast of Virginia just after sunset on Monday and it might be visible several states over as it ascended.
Although I have gone down a completely different career path, at one point I had dreamed of being an astronaut. The vastness of space continues to fascinate me. Therefore I was more than a little excited when I read about this event.
I set a reminder, and at launch time herded the family outside so that we could all stare towards the horizon. The hubby and I thought we saw something pass across the sky. Our eldest tried to follow where we pointed but saw nothing. The rocket was only expected to be visible for three minutes. Our son’s lip began to quiver as we told him that he’d probably missed it.
Eager to avert kiddo’s breakdown we ran inside and turned on the streaming footage, only to be confused to see a very large rocket still on the launch pad. The news broke that the launch was scrubbed. A civilian in a boat had gotten too close to the rocket. Like the Minnow in Gilligan’s Island, had the rocket launched as planned, the tiny ship would have been lost. What we had seen was only a high flying plane.
Terrible news for NASA, but awesome news for us. I told my son there would be a do over!
It was announced that the launch would take place the following day. Unfortunately Tuesday evening had significantly more cloud cover. It was highly unlikely we would see anything, but we tried anyway. Several minutes passed once again with my family out on the lawn looking at the sky.
Back inside, I cued up NASA footage only to see the remnants of a large fire-ball. The voice over the footage announced that there had been a catastrophic accident. My son, who had already ‘missed’ one launch looked to me and asked, “what happened mom?”
I hate to age myself, but I remember being in school when the Challenger Space Shuttle blew up. I was almost exactly the same age as my son is now. We had been watching it live in class. All the teachers were excited because one of their own was a crewman. I remember not quite understanding that the footage I was watching was abnormal or tragic. My teacher hurried to turn off the television as they were forced to explain concepts we weren’t quite ready for.
Thankfully in this instance, the mission was unmanned, saving me from a more complicated conversation with my son. The only damage then when the rocket exploded was material, and he is well aware of the concept of stuff breaking. But the entire event serves as a reminder that there is always a risk of failure whenever you attempt to venture into the unknown, no matter how well you have planned and prepared. And yet, without those willing to take those risks, we would not be able to communicate with those on the other side of the world at the speed of light nor would we have infrared ear thermometers (which both my youngest and I are grateful for) or be able to sleep easy with memory foam.
“The thing that’s important is that we don’t overreact,” William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator of human explorations and operations. “I don’t see this as a problem or a concern for us in the future. It’s just more awareness of what we’re trying to go do and it’s not easy.”
There is always the risk of failure in anything worth doing, but there is always an opportunity to learn, and that’s still a gain even if it isn’t necessarily the one you were aiming for.
Today marks my blog’s first anniversary. I began it as a way to help promote my first book, An Uncertain Faith. When I hit that publish button for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but to date it has been worth the risk. I’ve been able to connect with an extremely supportive community who have been willing to share their own pains and triumphs. I’ve also learned a lot about myself in the process.
Now I am taking another risk. I will be relaunching An Uncertain Faith in November under a different publishing label. As a result, my novel’s first edition will be unavailable for sale for a time. This was not an easy decision, I hate to risk the momentum I’ve been able to gain to date, but I found it to be a necessary one. But I have high hopes that this decision will prove to be less catastrophic, and a more rewarding launch than the events of this week.