Since my misadventure has even garnered a headline in national news, I thought I’d quickly put together a travel log of sorts. Sans the few hours under the playful gaze of the stars, it has been a much-needed solo journey to talk to and catch up with my wants, visions, and priorities.
Before I ramble on, many of you might have just come to see my rocket launch photo in full HD, and here it is.
Feel free to use it (CC-BY-SA 4.0).
I did quite publicly promise a technical aside on the significance of CAPSTONE (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment). but I think in the interest of time I am better off pointing you to NASA.
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During the launch window, the sky cooperatively cleared up, and most low-level clouds drifted away. As such, the “halo” you see around the thruster flame trail is most likely just due to condensation on the surface of my camera lens.
I wasn’t able to take a temperature / humidity reading of the moist night at Nuhaka beach, but that my lens was consistently fogging up in the matter of minutes really underscored the challenge of the environment (and caught me by surprise).
The surprise factor was especially because I’d performed a full dress rehearsal at the same location the night prior. In hindsight, the test was conducted during civil twilight, and the sands were still warm. Certainly a mis-controlled variable.
Before I further compromise the time ordering, here’s the test shot produced 28 hours before the actual launch. For many-a northern hemisphere readers of mine, the southern celestial pole is clearly visible, which might not be a familiar sight (it’s much lamer than the Big Dipper and Polaris anyway).
This trip was organized under the assumption that the launch was to go ahead in the evening of Saturday 25th of June, but was stretched to accommodate the revised dates (Monday 27th, and later Tuesday 28th — better late than fail). It was indeed a good lesson on managing expectations and realistically-assessed risks. I say that after I got to see the launch, but have made up my mind far before reaching certainty that I will.
During these days, I’ve driven over 1700km according to my odometer, with most travels being meaningful and only less than 30% of those roads being unsealed gravel.
I had also produced a pile of real-time narrated driving footages, like this one