|Everything was ready, and the world
watched with bated breath as the sheath came off, and the
name of the rocket that was to take humankind to Venus
The good ship "Penis I" stood on the launchpad, ready for lift off. The boss of NASA, knowing only he was responsible for the name, was trying to make up his mind whether he should run away and become a hermit or just commit suicide. But nothing would stop the mission now.
"Penis I, Penis I", spluttered Mission Control, to the muffled sound of background laughter. "Confirm ready for lift off. T minus Fifteen seconds."
"Roger Control", replied Ralph. "Penis I ready for lift off".
The flight path had all been designed so that Penis I would launch, skilfully avoid crashing straight into the moon, and head for Venus in record time. When it got there, a landing module would detach itself and land on the surface of Venus. What happened after that was anybody's guess, although the various parties involved in the project had their own particular aims.
The scientists wanted the astronauts to gather scientific data about the planet, and to collect samples of anything that wasn't nailed down. Dust, rock, water, plants, anything they could find to bring back that the propellerheads could pull apart and study the atoms of.
The PR people wanted great pictures of Venus, showing the power of humankind's skill at getting men onto Venus. They wanted weird alienesque images, and preferably, some contact and an informative conversation with an actual alien.
The military wanted to make sure there were no aliens there, especially Communist or Iraqi ones, and to have the crap blasted out of any that they found. They also wanted the planet claimed on behalf of the population of Earth.
Penis I lifted off to the cheers and laughter of most of humanity, and climbed through the heavens towards Venus. Some joker back at Mission Control had programmed the computer to say "welcome to the inaugural flight to Venus. We'll be flying at a speed of..." but Ralph, who was not one for joking even at the best of times, shut it off. He didn't even listen to how many frequent flier miles he would be earning.
Actually they were frequent flier kilometres, and there would be fifty million of them going each way, assuming that the astronauts survived the Venus mission. Unfortunately NASA didn't run many public flights, and they weren't associated with any of the other space flight companies or the airlines, so the chances of using the 100,000,000 points were not very good.
- The Year 2031
Copyrightę1998 Daniel Bowen