by Drew Fong
What a Wonderful World by Aaron Fong, THG Alumnus on guitar
“The USSR’s Vostok 1 has been successful, and has completed their first human-crewed orbital flight.” The USSR had won the Space Race. Those words from the television monitor caused chaos in the NASA control room. Some people were demoralized and defeated, but most were curious. How had the Russians done it? The Americans had done their hardest to produce a rocket engine with the required thrust to weight ratio. Sadly, the department had failed to come up with a design capable of meeting those ratios. While the Russians were jubilantly rejoicing, the Americans experienced bitter-sweet emotions. On one hand, they had lost the race, but the Russian victory was a monumental achievement for mankind. Although the Russians won this race, it spurred the Americans to do better and opened the opportunity to launch America back into the lead. “Where next? – The moon!”. Everyone in NASA immediately got back to work with new vigour, to start on making the moon rocket. This time, under the command of Professor Michelangelo, the lead scientist of the project. He is the person responsible for the mechanical aspects of the moon rocket.
After a lengthy selection process, Professor Michelangelo chose George Kennington, the pilot of the previous unmanned craft missions of WAC Corporal and Explorer 6, as the Captain of the moon rocket. Jennifer Crosby was chosen from the engineering department, responsible for the electronics. Nasa’s plan to the moon was simple. The NASA team would send an unmanned rocket to the moon, to circle and take photographs, then return to earth. Then later, a crewed version was to land on the moon. After going through the blueprints for the rocket, Michelangelo found out that the engine required for the mission has never been made. Professor Michelangelo set about helping the engine department to produce an engine with the correct ratio. In the meantime, the unmanned craft was being constructed. The craft was red and white, with an American flag already sprayed on the side of the fuselage.
Weeks past, and with much blood, sweat and tears, the engine was finally perfected. The Merlin engine was constructed, and loaded onto the unmanned rocket, ready for launch. However, the launch had to be done at night, so as to have the most efficient way of orbiting the moon. On that magical night, NASA’s Control Room was packed with people and media. After the rocket made lift-off and reached space, the trip took longer than expected as the rocket had to make detours to avoid asteroids in the way. Once many photographs were taken of the moon, the rocket was ready to return to earth. Many complicated turns were made to maneuver around several obstacles, and the rocket returned to the base without issues. Owing to the successful mission, the morale of the entire NASA team was boosted, and the research and information were very helpful for the actual manned rocket.
Since the rocket for the manned version was much bigger than the unmanned one, it took much longer to produce the craft, and required three people to pilot it; the pilot, the co-pilot, and a mechanic. Before long, Ronald Chump, an experienced engineer in NASA’s hydraulic systems of the rocket, was chosen as the chief engineer of the craft. Still, Professor Michelangelo was concerned. He relayed his worries to George, Jennifer, and Ronald. “With the size of the craft, avoiding asteroids would be extremely difficult and treacherous. The craft is already fragile as it is, and any impact with objects could cripple it. What do we do?” Professor said. Trying to add more protection would increase weight, and not allow the rocket to have enough power to lift off. After some thought, George thought of a solution that would decrease the threat, but not eliminate it. He thought that if the rocket were to possess a simple harpoon gun or grappling hook at the top of the rocket, it could maneuver through the asteroids by using the asteroids themselves and reel their way through danger. Most people were skeptical with the idea because it would require the rocket to reduce its speed to a slow drift, and the rocket would need to be enlarged further. However, with this proposal, the rocket could “drift” through the space between obstacles. After much discussion, the team decided to go for it because there were no other ideas generated by the team. The team took the blueprints of the rocket and modified it. The rocket possessing the Merlin engine was capable of going to the moon and back with ample fuel. The rocket’s hull was split into three parts. The nose and the tail of the rocket made up the majority of the craft. However, the center had a disc fitted with a grappling hook launcher, allowing the gun to have an excellent range of motion. The gun was to be manned by Ronald.
The building of the rocket resumed, and the upgraded craft was ready for launch in no time. Much cargo was loaded in the lower deck. The space suits were fitted in the hatch so that the astronauts could get in them before exiting the rocket. George sat at his control board in the cockpit at the nose of the craft, with Jennifer beside him to co-pilot. Below them was Ronald, so he could man the grappling hook, or climb down below to tend to the engine or other technical requirements. The launch site was evacuated, and everyone took their respective places for launch. Again, it had to be launched at night, rendering visuals on the rocket even more challenging. Before long, the countdown ensued. The tension in the rocket reached record limits. The last five digits were being counted, and George tried to release some tension by asking, “Is everyone ready?”. He was replied both by Ronald and Jennifer. “Lift Off!” The onboard radio sounded as the thunderous rumble of the engines roared in everyone’s ears. Amazingly, despite the sheer size of the rocket, it still hurled itself towards the sky at a tremendous speed. Before long, they were in space. They had already beaten their own record of the furthest manned craft from the earth.
The craft continued onward, and as expected, were met by the asteroid group. The rocket then slowed down, allowing the grappling hook to be used without harm. With the coordination of Ronald and George, they glided through the field and reeled themselves away from the dangerous obstacles. However, as they continued, the asteroids became denser, and in closer proximity to each other. At this time, Jennifer remembered that when she was working on a cruise ship, the captain would use icebergs to push other icebergs out of the way, without damaging the ship. She thought, “Maybe that strategy could help in this scenario”. After sharing her plan with the others, Ronald decided to try it out. He attached his grappling hook to a nearby asteroid and spun the launcher around while reeling in the line. George fired up the engines to keep the rocket steady. After allowing the grappling hook to launch the asteroid past the rocket, Ronald released the grappling hook, hurling the asteroid into another one which was blocking the way. Soon, the asteroid field had become a giant game of snooker.
Before long, they were orbiting the moon and establishing the planned location to land their craft. George and Jennifer slowly maneuvered the craft and safely landed on the moon. They had done it. They landed on the moon, and before the Russians. The crew of three jubilantly set step on the moon, enjoying the different gravitational force. They returned to the craft and set the American flag beside it. America has won the race to the moon!
And not only that but we also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
and perseverance, character; and character, hope.