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[b]The Republic of Texas
Galveston Island
Galveston Space Center

[i]Project: Columbus[/i][/b]

[img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d1/Redstone_Missile_on_Launch_Pad-5800669.jpg/468px-Redstone_Missile_on_Launch_Pad-5800669.jpg[/img]

"I bet you twenty that the guy doesn't even make it off the launch pad." Fred stretched his arms as the seven men in their dark green T-shirts with "NASA Astronaut" written across it. They all stood inside a [i]Galveston Space Center[/i] building and were all standing in a hallway with a convenient glass window pointing west. They could see the first of many test rockets that their country were doing to try to get a man into space. It wasn't huge but it was as tall as some of the biggest hotels in Houston.

The seven men were standing side by side until Luke broke the perfect line and extended his muscular arm and his rough hand over to Fred. "Yeah I'll take that bet. They have been working on this thing for months. You really think it'll fail?" Fred was an electrical engineer so he probably had a good idea of what might had been wrong with the rocket. Luke was an air force pilot just like all the others except he knew how to fly and was certified to fly nearly 15 different types of aircraft. He could practically take apart a Ford and put it back together but he wasn't an exact expert on spacecraft. A voice boomed from far away and then in the loud speakers of the [i]Galveston Space Center[/i] "T-minus two minutes from lift off."

[b]The Republic of Texas
Undisclosed Location
[i]Texas Headquarters of Offense and Defense[/i] THOD[/b]

"Overlord this is Galveston Space Center, we are T-Minus two minutes to lift-off. Reconfirm that the skies are clear and that everyone knows we are about to have a big boy in the air?" Overlord looked over one of his various monitors and took a sip of his midday coffee, "You are all clear partner. Every foreign nation from the New World and beyond knows that we are about to try something out. I reconfirm that you don't have any birds in your area for miles. Go ahead Galveston; and good luck."
Overlord switched one of his monitors to Galveston, waiting to see how far the rocket would make it.

[b]The Republic of Texas
Galveston Island
Galveston Space Center[/b]

[b][i]Project: Columbus[/i][/b]

One of the guys for "L&L Mission Control" (Launch and Landing Mission Control) continued to talk into the loud speaker in front of him as hundreds of government officials, technicians, workmen, and seven astronauts looked west to the launch pad. "Eleven, Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three" the main rockets started up, "Two, One" the large white rocket with "NASA" written down it in big letters. The rocket let out a loud boom and micro-sonic-wave as it soured into the air. "And thus launches the Columbus-1 Rocket which will bring Texas another step closer to putting a man into orbit." The rocket made it pretty high up into it blew up into may peace right before it made it to the clouds.

Frank looked at Luke, "Told you it wouldn't make it." Luke snatched the twenty dollars from Frank's hands as the other astronauts-in-training watched the burning debris fall into the Gulf of Mexico. "No partner, you told me it wouldn't make it off the launch pad." Josh chuckled, "Burn bro."

"K guys, enough foolin' around. Time to get back to the test chamber."
"Come on Commander! A freaken rocket just blew up over the Gulf of Mexico. I bet that hasn't happened in years." Commander Bell stepped forward, "It's the first test rocket, I'm sure we'll see plenty of more big booms guys. Now move!" The astronauts moved along back to the testing facilities where they would be tested to the very verge of what they could handle in the since of G-force.

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[b]The Republic of Texas
Galveston Island
Galveston Space Center

[i]Project: Columbus[/i][/b]

"Mr. Vice President we are already testing rockets in a regular basis. I'm not sure if we can really be moving any faster then this." Vice President Denard paced in front of a window as several of his advisers and his NASA "Ambassador" spoke to him.
Denard turned around, "Those in the Gulf Federation have already launched satellites and we are still at the beginning stages. I want a man in space as soon as we can get him! I can get the president to increase the budget by 50% if that helps but I am telling you right now that we need someone up there very soon. How is the training going?"

Denard's NASA Ambassador felt his heart skip a beat when he heard the budget for NASA could be increased by [i]50%[/i]. "The training is going fine. A few of them are ahead of the others but I think they can all operate the basic functions of the capsule we have made. We are going to keep training them until we have the rocket and the capsule totally ready though." Denard shook his head, and walked to the door of the conference room, "You better change the situation so that you need more time to train the astronauts instead of building the rocket. I want us to make history gentlemen."

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[b]The Republic of Texas
Galveston Island
Galveston Space Center
November 1st, 2150[/b]

[b][i]Project: Columbus[/i][/b]

Lewis and his friends and future astronauts stood in a straight line in front of three men sitting at a large desk. It was silent in the room. A decision was being made. He would be the first Texan in space in over 139 years.
They were all inside a large hanger. It was dark. Texas flags draped the sides of the large steel structure and many historic air craft laid around them. They were standing in history. They were all sweating bullets. "Mr. O'Reilly. Please step forward." Lewis stepped up - NASA was barely visible on his shirt. "Have you ever been accused, tried, and or convicted of any felony or crime?" without thinking Lewis shook his head, "No sir. Never." The second man looked up, "Have you ever fought in battle? Have you ever belonged to a foreign military? What is your favorite color?" Luke shook his head. Most of these questions have already been asked, "No sir. The only other military organization was the Amarillo-Minutemen when our government was in transition and things were starting to get heck tick. When the Marines came to Amarillo we pledged allegiance to the Texas flag and then I joined the air force." Luke then scratched the back of his head for the last odd question, "Orange?"

The third and final man spoke up, "Do you believe in God, Mr. O'Reilly? " There was a short pause in then a faint reply, "Yes, I believe in God." The third man was an old general from the State Military of previous Texas. Before he had asked his final question to Lewis he was thinking of the times when he was a private and bombs were dropping around him or the times before when he had to defuse weapons that could kill millions. Most of the time he used his knowledge of electronics, some times he used his gut, and when it most mattered - he asked God.

Lewis stood still like a statue, hands behind his back, "Mr. O'Reilly, you have been selected." The man in the middle strapped a green "Approval" stamp on Lewis' folder. "Congratulations."

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[i][b]The Republic of Texas
Galveston Island
Galveston Space Center
November 17th, 2150

Project: Columbus[/b][/i]

"Overlord this is Galveston Space Center, we are getting ready for the launch of Columbus. We made a request last week for out skies to be cleared at 12:00, can you verify we are good to go?" Overlord's big screen zoomed in on the Galveston area. "A plane isn't in the sky all the way to League City, you are clear to go partner, good luck."
"Alright Overlord, thanks a lot. Galveston out." A message had been sent to every nation on the planet, one week in advance and a second message one day before the launch, that Texas would be launching a rocket into space.

[img]http://inapcache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/blogs/bigpicture/apollo_07_15/a13_C69PC442.jpg[/img]

Everyone who had a TV or radio had it set to a news station. The entire country sat by as a rocket waited on the launch pad in Galveston. Lewis O'Reilly waited patiently in his space-suit looking around at some of the switches and buttons around him. "Lew this is Vladimir; are you feeling okay?" Lewis stretched as he continued conversation with his Russian friend, "Yeah Vladimir I'm okay. How long until the countdown begins?" Vladimir, Lewis's best friend who was almost his brother, looked at a clock near the ceiling in Mission Control. He was in Houston Mission Control. See, when a space craft is taking off or landing, they'll be in contact with the Galveston Space Center. When they are in Space, they are in contact with Houston. "You have about one more minute my friend. You know the President is watching yes? Don't screw this up." Lewis laughed, "Yeah well the president is gonna kick all of our @%#$# if we don't get this thing off the ground. I'll see you around Vladimir."

Vladimir handed over the headset to one of the mission control men who immediately contacted Lewis, "Alright Lewis this is Galveston. We are about to start the twenty second countdown. Are you good?" Lewis shifted a little in his seat, "Yeah, I uh.. need to urinate though." Everyone in the control room heard, "Well uh, can you hold it Lewis? It's only a twenty minute orbit." There was a few seconds of silence, the countdown hadn't started just because of this conversation, "Uh.. yeah Galveston I can hold it. I might have to take a leak in the Gulf of Mexico but I don't think the fish will mind." Vladimir face palmed himself and Lewis could hear him yell in the background, "You are going to be first Texas astronaut in space in almost one hundred years! Get your @&% into the air!" With that the count down began.

A loud "Twenty" boomed over the southern half of the island as Texans waited eagerly to see the rocket lift off the surface of the Earth. "10" "9" "8" "7" "6" "5" "4" "3" Main rockets "2" "1" "Blastoff." The rocket roared off the launch pad as large flakes of white paint pealed off the metal shell of the monumental rocket. A ball of fire erupted bellow the huge rocket as it climbed into the sky. Lewis held on to the arm rests as he tried to control his breathing. He really had to pee.

Edited by PresidentDavid
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The several different sections of the rocket had broken off and now the capsule was orbiting around the Earth at outstanding speeds. Lewis could only communicate with Houston one-fourth of the time he was in space, but the sights he saw out of the small window was amazing. "Columbus to Houston... May the Grace of God allow us to go farther - over."
"Copy that Columbus, we copy that. Vladimir is still here, I'll turn the mic' to him. Over."
"Columbus this is Vladimir in Houston Space Centre do you copy over?"
"Yeah Vladimir, I got you loud and clear. The view is amazing up here. I already took a few pictures. My watch says I have about ten more minutes. I passed over Russia about three minutes ago. It's night there. Over."
"The Mother Land is sleeping now, as I should be. You have kept me up long hours the past few days my friend! I can't wait for us to pick you up in Gulf of Mexico, I want to hear all about this, over."
The transmission started to get fuzzy, "Alright Vladimir, I'll see you there. Columbus - Out."

Columbus continued to orbit and made several more transmissions until it began it's decent back to Earth. At that point radio transmission would be lost.

...

"Houston this is Search and Rescue. We see the capsule. We already radioed in the Navy, over."

A helicopter carried the capsule to a small frigate. Lewis exploded the bolts and came out of the capsule like a new born chick out of an egg. A Marine helped him out, "Welcome back."

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