[FPSPACE] happy 2013 & 2014 to all spaceflight fans!

Keith Gottschalk kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Mon Dec 31 09:29:47 EST 2012


Dear FPSPACE friends,

     a toast to a happy 2013 & 2014! May our countries recover from this international depression, & so the freeze on space budgets be lifted! To ring in the new year (lekker nuwejaar!) I include this poem for your enjoyment. My 2009-10 Fulbright gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to make the space pilgrimage literally from sea to shining sea, from Cape Canaveral to JPL.  The poem kept me waiting two irritating years until it finally came, but thank goodness it did.   

yours, Keith.


                 CAPE CANAVERAL ...its gateways reach to the sky; its flagpolesto the stars.
                            -King Amenempah II   c. 1914 BCE

                              KSC
 in theIndian River, even the fish try to fly.

                   * * * * * 
todaynot cairns but launch pads look longingly at the sky 
mooningwith their memories of
whenturbopumps roared & you were high
on thewhiff of LOX & liquid hydrogen
while amillion watched in awe,
yourvibrations shaking through them,
cheeringthe epic man in the Moon.
 
later,again the Banana River, transformed to mirror
reflectedfire & thunder as shuttles rose, then
returnedyour dear freight to runway;
while Voyagers,Hubble, Chandra, Curiosity, so many others
revelledin your sagas
of farplaces, the swirl of clouds & storms,
yourimages from alien skies beyond dreams.
 
rememberthe San legend of the girl 
whothrew up embers into the sky 
wherethey became the Milky Way?
&so they flung up these torches of titanium, 
tippedwith aluminium, that became our space station
you, shiningstar who rises west, sets east
Magellanof the ninety-two minutes. 
 
                              HUNTSVILLE
 whenWeimar dreamers got Third Reich budgets
theycould bend metal, these nibelungs of an underworld
chainedto a twelve year apprenticeship for that angel of death
beforetheir slide-rules could breathe free, to measure to the Moon:
now theircrafts could flourish, draw blueprints 
cuttemplates, weld pipes, lathe engines 
to roarto the skies.
 
                              HOUSTON
 Houston, the eagle has landed
are thewords that give you immortality
eclipsingforever Jim Crow, oil, bling;
Houston, we have a problem
turnedhubris into humility;
eversince, coaching crews, rehearsing every rescue
theyprepare you for the unknowns of the void.
 
                              JPL
 perchedon mountainside shore of the great ocean
theyfabricate fleets of robotic Odysseuses 
siliconcircuitry, electronic pas de deux
despatchedto heaven, deployed to worlds, moons, rings
choreographedby your digital catechisms of ones and zeros
beamingup eternal questions, beaming back whispered echoes
frombeyond the unseen, exploring our new horizons.
 
NOTES

 dearfreight -  hin dýri farmur Faroese nautical term meaning crew & passengers
San,also called Bushmen; First People star lore of Southern Africa
Huntsville - NASA Centre where the German rocket team was deployed to design Saturn rocket
bendmetal  -   engineers' slang for when a project is funded to move from paperdesigns to start fabricating components
Houston -  NASA Manned Spaceflight Centre
JPL -Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, NASA Centre for space probes
NewHorizons - space probe to Pluto & its moons, launched 2006, arrival 2015

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