The following is a work of fiction. The characters are fictional. Any resemblance of characters to real people is a mere coincidence and unintentional.
"Test, test. Is this thing on?"
said Tom Riverfall checking his microphone. He tried to look past the blinding
lights to see his audio guy. All he could see was the camera men.
working, Tom," came a voice in his earphone. He adjusted his suit and
got ready for the mission at hand. Then he looked straight into the
"2030 is the year of more commercial
space progress. The Dragonfly project is going to take off tomorrow
around 6 am in the morning. The project will test an in-line air boost
to orbit concept in the hopes of competing with the reusable rocket
family from SpaceX. This is Tom
Townsend live from Cape Canaveral. Here with me is the pilot of the
mission, Dan Darger. Dan, what got you interested in space?" Tom looked
starlight at his guest in a silver pressure suit that had several logos
of sponsors on it.
"Well, Tom. That's a good
question," Dan said trying to calm himself to say the right thing. "I
think it started when I was pretty young. You see, my Dad got me and
himself tickets to ride a Virgin Galactic spaceplane. I guess it was love at first launch." Dan felt really good about that answer.
"Was that the SpaceShipTwo class or later classes? I think were up to SpaceShipFive if I'm not mistaken."
Yeah. It was a small ship that seated six passengers and took us up to
about 100 clicks." Dan paused a moment with his finger ponting to Tom
with a up an down motion. "The thing that struck me was the view of the
Earth. I always thought the rocket ride up would be the coolest, but
the Earth....Man! That was something." Dan's mind went back to that
moment, that emotion.
"I heard it's a magnificent site."
haven't been up? Oh man! You gotta go, you just gotta. You don't know
what your missing until you go." Dan smiled at Tom feeling a little
"Well, I guess I just might. But let's talk
about your mission tomorrow. What is the significance of it?" Tom
attempted to gain control back after feeling a little put down.
Tom. It's a winged craft with scram jets and a orbiter attached to its
nose. I will be riding in the orbiter. The two crafts will take off
from the space runway here at the Cape with the first stage rocket.
Then that will be jettisoned. It will scream up into the atmosphere
gaining acceleration as it goes using the scram jets. At about 100,000
ft, the orbiter will detach with a small rocket and go into space. Once
in initial orbit, that small rocket is jettisoned, and the orbit is
stabilized by the orbiter's main engines." Dan could feel himself
relaxing and getting the hang of this interview.
"OK. What will happen to the mothership?"
"Oh, right! It will fly back down to the runway."
know the project is about the mothership, but tell us a little about
the orbiter." Tom put on the best interested tone he could muster.
the orbiter has been to space before. In fact, it's been in orbit more
than a hundred times and was retired about 5 years ago. It was built
by SNC and it was the original
Dreamchaser. It's a lifting body style craft that flies well in space
and the atmosphere. It was refurbished and retrofitted for this
mission." Dan went through the data in his mind to see if that was
enough for the answer.
"So, why are you not piloting the mothership rather than the orbiter?" Tom smiled smugly at the camera then at Dan.
"Well...uh....isn't it obvious?" Dan looked quizzically.
everyone is a rocket scientist, Dan. The folks out there want to hear
your expert viewpoint. So tell us why your in the orbiter."
Well the project is about getting to space cheaply. So the mothership
was designed to fly without a pilot on board. The actual pilots will
be on the ground. It is also smart so it can fly independently if need
be. I'm in the orbiter to do orbits. Yeah, for the system to be
proven, I have to get the orbiter to orbit and then land back safely on
"Good. That sums the mission up pretty
good." Tom felt back in control and Dan was all smiles patting himself
on the back. "So, Dan, what are you wearing?"
my pressurized flight suit. It keeps me alive in case of a loss of
pressurization." Dan looked down at his silver suit. "As you can see it
has logos of my sponsors."
"Yes, it's very colorful.
And loss of pressurization means when the orbiter looses air Dan won't
die because of the suit." Tom felt a little ticked that Dan didn't
elaborate on that detail.
"Yeah, that's it! On top of this I will be wearing a parachute."
"Uh....yeah! In case something bad happens." Dan felt that was enough said.
"Something bad? Like you blow up?"
but not exactly. If the orbiter blows up I blow up with it and the
chute is no good. But if the mothership has a bad failure I can just
detach the orbiter and fly it down to safety. Now if the mothership is
badly damaged and the orbiter is damaged as well but in one piece but
can't get back to land, then I have the chute to bail out and fly
another day." Dan felt that that was a blunder of an explanation and it
was uncomfortable to say.
"Oh I see. You just want to live no matter what." Tom stated the obvious but he felt it needed to be said.
"Ah, yeah! Don't you?" Quizzical look again showed up on Dan's face.
"Sure I do. And we all do." Tom laughed his way through embarrassment.
"Well, good luck on your flight tomorrow. I hope the Dragonfly project is a success," said Tom concluding the interview.
"Thanks Tom," said Dan with a big smile.
Tom gave a cut sign to the camera men. The cameras lenses dropped like horses stopping to graze.
"Feel nervous about tomorrow?" asked Tom.
Dan slumped back in his seat with a sigh. "Not as much as I do about this interview."
Tom looked at him quizzically.