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(Josue Evilla)

Baptism by Ramjet

How I survived my first test at the “rocket ranch.”

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I wanted to feel the experience, not view it on a monitor. For the next test I volunteered to be roof observer rather than test conductor.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Dick, our expert roof observer (his real job was electrical tech supervisor).

“Sure!” I climbed the ladder to the flat tar-and-gravel roof, donned the headset, checked in with the test conductor, and stretched out near the raised edge. The ramjet was about 200 feet away. With binoculars I could see everything on the test stand clearly.

“T minus two minutes.”

“Data recording?”

“Ready.”

“Facility?”

“Ready.”

“Roof observer?”

“Gotcha covered” (the traditional response).

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