"Heading is 29er7 point 1 3...speed is 19,000kph...picking up some ionization on the hull...atmosphere in twenty seconds...19..."
And before her countdown was complete we could see the pink glow outside the forward view, it wouldn't be long before we began to leave a trail behind us.
"Stand by...Aero-shell deploying..."
And we felt a shudder and a noticeable decrease in our downward motion. I watched the panel for any anomaly, but this was Surenko's baby and in reality I was just a passenger at this point like the rest.
She announced and our view out the ports was immediately obstructed.
For five long minutes we were a ball of flame streaking across the Martian sky, leaving a trail a mile long coming from nighttime into day. The vibration we experienced was well surpassed what we had anticipated, or prepared for in training, it was alarming. We were being bounced around and beat up pretty well, but no one said a word. At this point all we could do was hold on tight, and get through it as best we could.
I started thinking about how it would be early morning at the LZ when we touched down, how's that gona look. I asked myself trying to imagine and think relaxing thoughts. For a split second I could see it. I was standing on a bluff, looking out over a valley, it seemed so real. But I knew we hadn't gotten that far yet. My mind jumped back to reality and I was still in my seat, the vibration was increasing, and suddenly the entire panel in front of me went red, straight across the board in what seemed to be a cascade failure! I looked at Surenko and she was fighting the controls trying to keep us stable. And then it was gone. The vibration stopped and the turbulence was no worse; and there was nothing red on my panel. Was there a failure or wasn't there? I looked at Surenko again as if to say did you see that? But I took a deep breath and stayed silent, I watched her do her job.
As we punched through the upper atmosphere the turbulence subsided significantly and the next thing we felt was a series of small pops, the view port became clear and then a jolt and the first set of shoots deploy and Explorer separated from the cargo module with a violent yank. Now I was once again part of the equation.
"Telemetry coming on line..."
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