An interlude of burning hydrogen
"As much as I value an outing like this, my team has telescope time tonight and we have a lot of mountainside to backtra..."
- "Your team will do fine. Bright lads, probably more at home with this tech than you."
- "You've been cooped up in that office a lot lately. Now, I could give the old 'worried about your well-being' talk, but I honestly think you're smarter than that. What I do know for sure, is what's burdening you. You know what day it is?"
"Somewhat a rhetorical question in this field of work."
- "And you remember what happens today? Step up here, look southwest. Right about... there. You see that? The bureau wasn't keen on reviving rocket flight, but the payload was too heavy for the elevator - since it needs to go up as a single component. Millie, that launch right there signifies, more than any recent discovery in the Solar system, more than any engineering breakthrough in the last hundred years, the ending of an era, and the beginning of a new one. An interlude of burning hydrogen. That is the folding core, the 'Star drive' if you may, of the Vimana. Basically, what that rocket carries will take us to the places mankind could only see in blurry pictures through telescopes. To places even, which we know exist because of calculations alone. And that's the fact you're trying not to face. The looming death of the Earth-bound astronomer. It took me a while to realize how thoroughly it got to you."
"So what exactly am I supposed to do?"
- "I'm going. Chief astrophysicist. My orientation starts in two months and they told me I should pick my staff before that. There are some conditions: high-G tolerance, adequate health, clean background - all that - but I don't think that'll be a problem. Look... I know what this place means to you, but even if the future isn't where that ship is headed, it certainly isn't here anymore. Not for people like us."
The Saraswati observatory
In 2057, funding to the Saraswati observatory and to the astronomy projects housed within was cut.
During it's 19 years of operation, the facility provided valuable information about our universe, and was the first to publish data on the Eta Carinae hypernova.
The observatory employed many distinguished scientists, including, for example, doctors Daniel Hutson and Mildred Etheridge, better known for their participation in the fated Vimana project.
The mountain peak facility was abandoned up until 2077, when the Indian military began using it as part of its ballistic missile defence program. The site was ultimately destroyed during the first few weeks of the Second Indo-Pakistani War.
This is an update to the piece An interlude, which in turn is an update/sequel to the The Saraswati Observatory.
The plan was to make a larger version, but that necessitated some cosmetic improvements. There's now a passage written about the observatory, as well. The rendering for this version took 40 hours, the postwork considerably less.
I'm currently modelling some objects for a picture set in the same timeline, but it'll probably be set some decades later and in space. And soo delayed.