Space Flight – The Second Launch

At the Huntsville Alabama rocket command center sometime around 1961, three hard working engineers sat at the control console and discussed how they would launch the first Redstone rocket into space.  Milton, the not-so-hard working engineer was off playing Shut the Box.

Milton rolls….”Hey, I’m starting out fine cause I just got a..………….………9”

 

Engineer 1 speaks, “It’s imperative we launch this rocket properly.  We need a countdown where the launch sequence can be rolled out logically.  The first launch was a  dismal failure.  ”

Milton rolls….”Bada Boom,  it met its fate, hey I rolled an………………………8”

 

Engineer 2 says, “We simply shout  ‘ready, set, go!’ and I push the button to fire off the engines”

Milton rolls….”Four and three aren’t eleven, I did the math and got me a……7”

 

Engineer 3 says, “Ready, set, go???  This is Huntsville Alabama, home of the most sophisticated rocket systems known to man.  Ready, set, go, what are you a uneducated pimply English teenager?

Milton rolls….”Skittish British,  their accent you can’t fix.  Another great roll, I just got a……………………………………….….…………………………………….6”

 

Engineer 1 states, “My 5 year old kid usually says something like 1, 2, 3 go and wets his britches.”

Milton rolls….”I feel so alive well blimey a ..……………………………..5”

 

Engineer 3 complains, “Look gentlemen, we’re all professionals here.  We can’t use childish gibberish to launch a multi-million dollar rocket.  Milton, do you have any ideas?

Milton rolls….”What?”  Then quietly, “These guys are a bore my soul for a ..…4”

 

Engineer 3 takes a look at Milton’s game and says, “That’s extraordinary Milt, you have a perfect game of Shut the Box underway”

Milt rolls…. “Why is he watching me, ooh a ……………………………………………… 3”

 

Engineer 2 says…”What are the odds on rolling a perfect game, I wonder?”

Milton rolls….”Sweet goo a……………………………………………………….2”

 

Engineer1 chimes in…”This is unprecedented, according to my calculations a perfect game has odds of a  billion to one.

 

Milton pauses and rolls the dice.    “Blast it” a…………………………………………………………5

 

In a mad furry Milton with his fist, slams the launch button.  A perfect game perfectly ruined by a 5.   The rocket however, heads skyward.  Engines burning bright,  the sky opening up as the vehicle advances in all its glory- a nation uniting behind it.  The space program developed the first countdown that day and used it for many years to come.  For some reason they start the countdown at  ten now  and shout “blast-off” not “blast-it”.  It just doesn’t matter,  Milton’s place in history maybe forgotten but his almost perfect Shut the Box game will never be, as long as rockets soar majestically into space.

Will history ever be the same without Shut the Box.  I think not.  And so ends another not so well known lesson in American history.  There may be other happenings but I’ve already told you more than I know.

 

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