August 25th, 2011
An unusual happening last night -- I actually had a dream.
For those who don't know, I usually dream about 3-4 times a year. Throughout my entire life, I've never dreamt terribly much.
(Quick sidenote: Yes, I know the claims -- people say you always dream, you just don't remember. I know what it's like to wake up from a dream and forget it. There's something qualitatively different about that kind of sleep. I often wake up without that feeling. I wake up with no sensation of having dreamt at all.
As a kid, I used to go to sleep talking about things with my mom, wake up in the morning, get up, and start talking to her again. She used to keep notes so she'd remember what the heck I was talking about. My typical experience is that I black out and wake up again in pretty much the same state of mind.
It's always been this way. The only difference is that my dreams have become longer and more cinematic as I've gotten older. I've never been a lucid dreamer. I also have never had a nightmare. Call it what you will, but I don't dream.)
I dreamed that a friend of mine and I were onboard an Orion spacecraft. We were bound for a space station -- maybe a Bigelow habitat? It wasn't the ISS. That's for sure.
(I haven't seen this friend of mine (L~) in nearly half a decade. She fell off the face of the planet. She had cerebral palsy and had a knack for finding herself in really interesting situations in spite of being confined to a wheelchair. At one point, she was in a dance troupe that toured internationally. I think part of it was her parents who were very plugged in socially. Good folks -- but I digress.)
Anyway, we were in the capsule on the launchpad. The capsule didn't have any equipment. It had windows all the way around, with a bench that ran the circumference of the capsule. There were no pilots, no massive cushioned seats. We weren't strapped in. She was in her electric wheelchair and we were making small talk while we waited to take off. I wasn't sure what we were in for, so I was sitting on one of the benches.
Everything was apparently automatic and we didn't have a radio or anything like that. We were along for the ride. I was terribly excited and committed to engrave everything about the experience onto my memory.
We knew about when ignition would happen and we took off very slowly. I was surprised at how gentle the acceleration was -- it's fairly obvious that the slower you proceed away from gravity, the more fuel you have to burn to maintain a high rate of acceleration. I didn't feel pushed down or anything -- I got up from the bench and walked around the capsule a bit and was surprised by the effect. There wasn't a rumble or anything like that -- you could tell from the windows that we were climbing slowly though.
Without our notice, the acceleration cut out at some point. It wasn't really noticeable in the first place -- we just noticed that we weren't climbing any farther. We weren't terribly far up at this point. Maybe as high as a skyscraper. Hard to say. Then we noticed that we were coming back down slowly. We landed in the water and someone was telling us over a speaker in the capsule that everything was fine and we were going to be recovered, but there had been a minor problem with the launch. Obviously nothing had gone explosively wrong, so we shrugged our shoulders and waited to get picked up.
Before I woke up, I theorized that the escape rocket had gone off to pull the capsule away from the rocket, probably for some minor electronic failure. It seemed like that should've been a much more drastic acceleration though. I didn't really have a good answer as to what happened.
It turned out to be kinda funny when I woke up and noticed an email from an ex-cow-orker with a link to a news story about a failed Russian launch. He asked if I'd still want to go to space.
I replied that one of the nice bits about the current state of space travel. If things go wrong, there's not terribly much you can do about it. May as well just sit still and enjoy the ride one way or another. I'm still happy to take the first available flight out. 8)