March 11th, 1959; Baikonur Kosmodrone.
“Welcome all to today’s launch everyone”, Gene told the assembled reporters. “Today you’ll the sister rocket to the Jupiter-1 from January launch – although it is heading a bit further out. This time, aiming for Saturn”.
“Orbital Dynamics estimate that with the planned launches, we’ll intercept the planet closely, and be able to establish a highly eccentric polar orbit inside the planetary rings – so we’re of course hoping for some good shots – in about 8 years that is”, Gene ended with a wry smile.
“Any questions before we head out?”, he asked as a single reporter raised his hand, seemingly to the chagrin of the remaining reporters.
“Sir, no one has touched upon this, but nearly two and a half months ago, the Illyrien presses reported discovering many new planets, have you found those as well?”.
“Well, I think I’ll let Wernher answer that one, Wernher?”, Gene answered her, indicating for Wernher to provide an answer.
“Yes, we have been tracking these for nearly two months as well – though they are not planets, merely large rocks. We are currently tracking two near Earth, and are contemplating if we should try to intercept one of them once we have an available spot in our launch schedule – which we do not anticipate for a while yet”, Wernher answered the reporter.
“Only one of them, why not both?”, the reporter countered.
“Well, because the other one looks to be hitting the northern part of the planet in a few weeks, a good ways north of the Arctic Circle. Don’t worry, we are tracking it, and it is quite small. It is very likely that it will burn up in the atmosphere as a shooting star – but in any case, we are tracking it, and will of course make sure to evacuate any areas if it is large enough to land. On the other hand, if it lands, we won’t have to make a rocket to go examine the other one I guess?”, Wernher ended – with Gene quickly taking over and ushering people to the launch to take their mind off impending doom, while briefly giving Wernher a menacing brow.