Off into the wild blue yonder, Soyuz (MPSIMS to the extreme, fueled with whiskey)

Hey, Richard!

You’re not a close personal friend or anything. We’re on “Hey there… you!” familiarity. You know me from Adam, but very slightly. But you’re an inspiration to me. You took the simple, blank "You can’t"s and turned them into "I will"s. You’re one of the legends in my field and a celebrity in my chosen hometown. You’re a pretty nifty guy and a friend of my friends. You served me a glass of port and explained how it’s made and how it was invented. You’re a pretty darn good bartender.

You’re in space, now, fulfilling your dreams, my dreams, and the dreams of millions. You’re not the first, you’re not the last, and in the scheme of things maybe you’ll just end up being another few lines in history. I look forward to seeing you back, listening to a hundred stories, sitting at one of the big round picnic tables under the moon drinking and laughing and talking and listening. You were my hero when I was ten, and I’m proud to know you now.

I watched the video of the safe cosmonauts in the Soyuz shuttle, watched as they went into orbit safely, heaved a big sigh of relief. I don’t have a shot glass, but I did find a little glazed bowl and filled it with vodka – Tito’s, a Russian drink distilled here in Austin. Appropriate to the occasion. I took it outside and found the moon and toasted you. I’m enjoying a glass of whiskey now, in your honor. Enjoy, you lucky bastard. Work on those experiments, and when you’re done up there we’ll see you back down here.

To all the crazy bastards who thought it was a good idea to stuff themselves into a capsule and shoot themselves into the sky, a toast. You have opened the doors to more world than we ever knew was there.

I think Richard deserves a bump. Sounds like a helluva guy.