On January 8th, 2024 my first-ever fiction byline, LOYALTY, left Earth on Samuel Peralta's Lunar Codex Project. The launch was a success, but the mission hasn't quite gone according to plan. There was a propellent leak, so the Peregrine payload may not make it to the Moon. Even if it does, it will slam into the landing site, and the whole shebang will become story-confetti.
But I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Stay with me. I think there's a silver lining... at least from my point of view.
Side conversation (background for my argument): I've been watching launches at Cape Canaveral (Kennedy) since I was a tyke. Dad and I shared that. Sometimes we'd drive up A1A, get as close as we could, and watch from the beach. This was back when the Saturn V was being used and it was like watching an atomic bomb go off. The glow, the cloud... a little bit scary but oh so mind-blowing, and we marveled at the audacity of the human race. What business did we have thinking we could leave the planet, let alone land on the Moon?
Gene Roddenberry thought we could go one better. He thought we could travel to distant galaxies. Dad and I believed him, and we faithfully joined the original Star Trek crew every week (and later, all the iterations) to see what that would look like. It was quite the father/daughter connection.
He dreamed of me becoming an astronaut and so did I. But back then women weren’t welcome in the program. However, it was the 60's: ERA and the Civil Rights Movement... We hoped things would change.
They did, and although I couldn't pass the physical, Sally Ride could. I went with her vicariously. For me and for Dad, the only regret in life was that neither of us would get to see Earth from orbit. But then Richard Branson founded Virgin Galactic and I realized I COULD go into orbit. I just couldn't AFFORD to. Somehow, that was worse.
I’m sure nothing will ever come of this, but I do write a letter to Branson every year, begging to be a charity passenger. I’ve offered various enticements: my i-teeth, my right arm, vital organs... In my last letter I offer to let them dissect me when we land. I’ve never received a reply, but I hope someone is at least amused by my annual beggary.
Space tourism notwithstanding, my little short story did way more than was intended. It did what I could not. It left Earth. Whatever happens now is bonus material.
Besides, if the payload crash-lands on the Moon and the data is irretrievable, is that really such a tragedy? Technically, that still puts our stories on the Moon. We're not opening a library. It’s a time capsule.
And, if it never lands, here's is the tradeoff: maybe it will head out into interstellar space. The Voyagers popped out of the heliosphere: the first in 2012, the second in 2018. Now they're dancing among the stars, which was never the mission. I’m a little bit tickled by the idea that Peregrine might float through space for eons, traveling to who knows where?
Maybe we’ll pick up new readers in another galaxy!