At eleven thirty, Justin closed his front door behind him and checked the sky. Cloudless blue, probably in the upper 80s, not a breath of breeze. Perfect launch weather.
He drove north on A1A to the Sands Space History Center, then parked on the grass and went inside, where he showed his driver’s license to the officials. They checked his name off the list and handed him the sheet of printed paper that served as his pass. Once all the reporters were lined up, they activated the flashers on their cars and were escorted in a line through the South Gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to the ITL Causeway, their designated viewing spot for Canaveral launches.
When everyone was out of their cars at the causeway, the other reporters began chattering among themselves. Christie Osborne, brand new to the space beat and the only female reporter in the group, called out to him. “Hey, Justin! Heard anything about the payload?”
“Nope. What about it?”
“That’s what I’m wondering. We know it belongs to Ideodax, right? But no word has leaked out about what it might be.”
Justin shrugged. “Ideodax has enough confidence in Skyose to send up a payload with ’em. That’s the only story they want out there, apparently.”
“Yeah, but if someone could find out… What a story, huh?”
“Yup.” What a story. Could Roy Shaw have planned to tell him something about the payload?
Even so, it was moot now. And Justin wasn’t inclined to tell the others about his missed appointment. That bit of information might prove valuable later.
The other reporters scurried around, taking selfies with the launch pad in the background and rehashing recent space news. Justin joined in the selfie parade but not the conversation. He felt unsettled, and he wasn’t sure why. A combination of early awakening and aggravation at Roy Shaw’s actions, he supposed.
And uncertainty about what he would write. So far, this launch was proceeding entirely to plan. Nominal, in the terminology of space flight.
The countdown reached sixty seconds. The reporters arranged themselves so that each had a clear view of the pad. Even though they all had cameras posted within 150 feet of the launch pad, they readied their phones on tripods to record video.
The Launch Vehicle Officer intoned, “Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. We have ignition. Four. Three. Two. One. And we have liftoff of the first SkyCatcher rocket.”
Justin sucked in a breath as the sleek rocket climbed from its pad. The sight of a spacecraft lifting off never ceased to thrill him. He trusted his phone to capture the video, and watched as the rocket cleared the tower and soared ever faster into the sky…
Then disintegrated in a massive fireball.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish