OK, here’s what we’re going to do.
We’re going to stand up one of the world’s largest missiles, of a design first used in the 1960s, and we’re going to stick two guys in special suits with butt pads (for comfort) in a cozy little pod at the tip of the missile.
There will be a countdown.
Then we’re going to light that sonofabitch up and accelerate the two guys on the tip of the rocket — one of whom is a guy from Louisville, whose name is Jack (here he is spinning in a chair for 10 minutes while wearing a Captain America shirt; hi, Jack) — fast enough to escape Earth’s gravity.
How fast? I asked acting NASA Press Secretary Stephanie Schierholz (who is from Colorado Springs, by the way).
“17,500 mph,” she said. “Five miles per second is the conversion.”
Using math, somebody has confirmed that the time and place of the missile’s launch, during which various parts of the missile fall away, will get them into generally the right area to go find a nearly-20-year-old, Lego-style pre-fab space castle that is just, you know, floating around up there with humans in it.
The space station is not that big. On Earth, it weighs the same as about 100 Blucifers. Or, I dunno, like 3,700 Von Millers. Inside, it’s about the size of a Boeing 747.
So back to the brazen flinging of actual, living humans from Earth into outer space: In the cubicle-sized space capsule that is remaining, you’ve got Jack, Fyodor and Jack’s Denver Broncos jersey (yes, he’s bringing one; yes, I have started a buddy-cop screenplay about Jack and Fyodor) — all on the way to the 100-Blucifer Space Castle.
It’ll take six hours to get there.
“That’s considered the fast-track way to get to the space station,” Schierholz said. It sounds like a long time, but remember, they’re going about 250 miles straight up, and while the beginning is very, very fast, the end is very, very slow — you don’t want to hit the galaxy’s only (known) microgravity science lab too hard.
When they get there, they attach the thing to the other thing and open the space door. This is currently scheduled for 9:05 a.m. MT and you can watch a live broadcast from space to the pocket-sized computers you carry in your purses and pockets on NASA TV or the NASA app.
Then Jack and Fyodor just go through the space door and live in outer space for a while.
People seem to think that this is kind of routine now.
Not-quite-Hall-of-Famer Larry Walker hit 383 home runs in his Major League Baseball career, 258 for your Colorado Rockies, and after every damn one of them, people were like, “Wow, home run, very good job, Larry.” And after the 154 home runs he hit in Colorado, a lot of people probably even stood up and shouted and I bet they turned on giant, celebratory fountains in center field.
But that’s just one of many baseball guys hitting home runs.
We — the global we — have sent manned ships from Earth to dock with the International Space Station only about 90 times. I point this out to combat any sense that this, the launching of humans to an orbiting science lab, is a mundane feat, something we do by rote. Just — the least you could do is — I don’t really want to go here, but, please clap.
Because this is a crazy impressive feat.
For them, though, it’s just the beginning.
“The most important thing that the astronauts do during their mission is science and research,” Schierholz told me. “There will be specific experiments in which he is engaged. Each crew during their mission completes approximately 250, or participates in 250, science and research experiments and investigations while they’re on the station.”
“The ISS is actually designated as a national laboratory, and it’s the only microgravity laboratory,” she said.
The least important thing that the astronauts do is chill out like normal people. Schierholz said that our guy, Jack, is hoping to watch Denver Broncos preseason games from space.
Anyway, they’re launching the rocket at 1:13 a.m. MT on Thursday, April 20, and this will be Col. Jack D. Fischer’s first time in space. He graduated from Centaurus High School in Lafayette and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and by the time I’m having my second cup of coffee, he’ll be orbiting in space under the command of Peggy Whitson, who will break the U.S. record for cumulative time in space on Monday, April 24.
Fischer will also plant a tree in a special grove in Baikonur, Russia. It’s something first-time cosmonauts have been doing since Yuri Gagarin did it ahead of his first flight.
Here is an adorable cake commemorating the mission.
Nobody made cakes for Larry Walker’s home runs.