OPINION: You are not sufficiently awed by the process of shooting a man from Colorado into space

This is going to be Colorado native Col. Jack D. Fischer’s first time in space. Please clap.

At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 51 crewmembers Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, left) and Jack Fischer of NASA (right) field questions from reporters in front of a Soyuz spacecraft mockup March 31 during the second of two days of final qualification exams. Yurchikhin and Fischer will launch April 20 on the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a four and a half month mission on the International Space Station. Expedition 51. (Rob Navias/NASA)
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft can be seen in this image from the International Space Station as it passes over the American state of Florida surrounded by the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico on the west side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. (NASA)
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft can be seen in this image from the International Space Station as it passes over the American state of Florida surrounded by the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico on the west side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. (NASA)

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.

At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 51 crewmembers Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, left) and Jack Fischer of NASA (right) field questions from reporters in front of a Soyuz spacecraft mockup March 31 during the second of two days of final qualification exams. Yurchikhin and Fischer will launch April 20 on the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a four and a half month mission on the International Space Station. Expedition 51. (Rob Navias/NASA)
Expedition 51 crewmembers Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency, left, and Jack Fischer of NASA field questions in front of a Soyuz spacecraft mockup in Star City, Russia. (Rob Navias/NASA)
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.

But look.

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.
Expedition 52 cake cutting ceremony at the Johnson Space Center on Jan. 31, 2017. (NASA)
Expedition 52 cake cutting ceremony at the Johnson Space Center on Jan. 31, 2017. (NASA)

Nobody made cakes for Larry Walker’s home runs.

Dave Burdick

Author: Dave Burdick

Dave Burdick is the editor of Denverite. He has previously worked at The Denver Post, The Daily Camera, The Huffington Post, Naropa University up in Boulder and the Best Buy down by Park Meadows circa "Now That's What I Call Music" volume 4. His parents are retired local newspaper journalists, and he is married to a freelance journalist. He lives in Denver with her, their two children and a dog.