• Story: Our First Steps (Update Part Complete!)

    [Sci-Fi][Adventure] All ponies dream of some day trotting among the stars


    In a secluded desert on the frontiers of Equestria, an eccentric genius works to bring the stars within reach of everypony; But can smiths and metalworkers who never made anything more difficult than ploughs or golden trinkets really make the dream a reality? Or has inspiration arrived a hundred years too early?
    Our First Steps: Part 1
    Our First Steps: Part 2
    Our First Steps: Part 3
    Our First Steps: Part 4
    Our First Steps: Part 5
    Our First Steps: Part 6
    Our First Steps: Part 7
    Our First Steps: Part 8
    Our First Steps: Part 9
    Our First Steps: Part 10
    Our First Steps: Part 11
    Our First Steps: Part 12
    Our First Steps: Part 13
    Our First Steps: Part 14

    Our First Steps: Epilogue (New!)

    Additional Tags: Rockets, Explosions, The Right Stuff

    Yay (6 Star) Sci Fi! That's a first!


    1. that pic has already been used twice

    2. Beautifully written so far, it has all the makings of a sold story and the amount of characterization in only this first part makes me wish I was that good.

      I'll be watching this one.

    3. That was... a very interesting read, definitely a refreshing break from the 'slice-of-life's I have been reading recently.

      It is very well written, plus this is definitely the work of someone who knows his stuff - and it shows! I love all the detail in Zvezda's observations.

      Ya got me hooked, Mrakoplaz! I'll certainly be waiting for the next release. :)

    4. Well now, THIS is certainly an interesting idea...

      The characters seem nice so far, and aside from a weird issue I had where my browser decided to flip the quotation marks (,,Like so,,) the writing interested me enough to not care.

      I look forward to see where this goes.

    5. Very good, yes? I love your writing style! Waiting for the next part now..

    6. This.

      I want more of it, please!

      I mean, ponies in space? Makes sense to me.

    7. Thanks for the kind comments, everypony, they really are most appreciated! ^_^
      I've been working on the next volume while the first one was in the queue, so it shouldn't take too long until I upload it.

      The quotation marks issue seems weird - it's using the standard Czech symbols, which ought to be in Unicode. Still, I've switched to German symbols now, hopefully those'll be more common (as an aside, who knew there were so many types of quotation marks!).

      And about the pic, I couldn't really find many "ponies in space" ones (surprisingly enough) - let's see if some more will appear!

    8. uhm, i like how it's a mixture of American and Russian space program ideas. commissar? comrade? in Cape Coltavril? i like it.

    9. I very much enjoyed the second chapter. It's neat to hear about their difficulties in the design! We forget how much of our own technological development was fueled by war-time research. If it weren't for Nazi Germany's V2s, we probably still wouldn't be in space today. Trying to imagine how something like that could have happened without war as an impetus really is fascinating.

    10. @Mrakoplaz

      This isn't really a huge issue, but you seem to have two titles going on here. It looks like the actual story title is "Our First Steps," so what's "Bureau of Atmospheric Experimentation" about?

    11. This is brilliant. Not only is it an homage to the early days of NASA and Cape Canaveral, this story has darkly humorous undertones reminiscent of Thomas Day's "Grey Moon Over China." You seem to really be developing an expository style ripe with intelligent and comedic flair. Bravo, friend.

    12. The real question about this story is: How long until they figure out that they're using the wrong kind of rocket?

      Perhaps someone should send these ponies a copy of Tsiolkovsky's 1903 paper, "Exploration of
      Space with Reactive Devices." (Which boils down to: Don't use gunpowder rockets[1], you need to use liquid fuels.)

      Of course, going to liquid fuel rockets means you get to have all the fun of developing said fuels. If you can, dig up a copy of "Ignition!" by John D. Clark[2]. In which you find stories about compounds that react to having wet sand poured on them by causing the water to explode and the sand to catch fire.[3]

      [1] i.e. Fireworks

      [2] If you know any chemistry, expect to regularly go "they decided to try what?!?!?"

      [3] All while emitting clouds of deadly hydrogen fluoride.

    13. Rule #0 of FiM fiction: Ponies make everything better.

      I mean, come on! If this fiction had humans in it, I wouldn't have deemed it a single chance. Here I am instead, getting excited all over for multicolored pastel ponies with a craving for space.

      It certainly helps that your style manages to keep me interested. Doing very well so far, can't wait to see more action going on! :D

    14. Ooh a middle european brony! Pozdravuji!
      I`m going to read this tonight.

    15. @Tosxychor

      If it were with humans you wouldn't give it a chance?

      Go watch the following movie: "Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise". Even if the film weren't great, (and it very much is), it would be worth watching for the climax alone.

    16. Seeing all these comments is incredibly encouraging, so THANKS EVERYPONY!
      I'm editing the 3rd volume right now (a bit shorter than the others, sorry, but at least it has a launch). After that, things might slow down a bit, unfortunately.

      @Shellsh0cker: That was just the working title (calling a file 'unnamed story' feels silly to me). I was kind of lazy to change it, and didn't realize it would appear in the GDocs version...

      @Ado_PO: Hello to you too! I know you must also be from middle Europe, because everypony else just calls Czech Republic "Eastern" ^_^

      @Chakat Firepaw: I've read Ignition! and Atomic Rocket, so don't worry about the technical side of things (I even calc'd the mass ratios and delta-vs for every rocket in the story, that's how big a nerd I am); The Chief Designers still haven't revealed everything!

      @Tosxychor: Multicoloured pastel ponies definitely make everything better. They actually convinced me to write fanfiction for the first time in my life!

      Oh, and "Royal Space Force" is pretty awesome, but hard to get ahold of.

    17. OK, this is just beautiful. It has a lovely old-school sci-fi feel, the characters are instantly sympathetic, and there are a lot of small details that make it work (I especially like Zvezda's evaluation of the train, and the later realization as to why it's built that way). The scene at the end of Volume 1 is wonderful and a huge tearjerker, somehow managing to hold to the original show's themes without changing genres or feeling awkward. I love it and will recommend it to my friends, even the ones who don't like fanfiction.

    18. 72 ratings with a perfect 5.0. Wow!

    19. I love the attention to technical detail in this one, as well as the pioneering spirit of the poy workers. This reminded me very much of "Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise".

    20. Very cool, I love stories about rockets and space exploration!

    21. @Chakat Firepaw
      First reason: because such a fic would be drowning in a sea of crud, so I wouldn't even find it in the first place.

      Second reason: because canon ponies are all about optimism, joy of living, enthusiasm, and they live in a world where it actually pays off (unlike other works where not 'breaking the cutie' is either avoided or poorly done. Here, they are all 'cuties', and it works.) And personally, the positive tone and messages is one of the things I love the most about FiM, and (most of) the resulting fanon. So there.

      But anyway, yeah I'll have a look at that movie ^^ I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Feedback to come shortly!

    22. Wow, this story keeps getting better somehow.

      Like others commented, this fic has a distinctive feel of old hard-sci-fi movies, that revel in taking the watcher along for a ride about the actual building process, the math and the schemes behind the final results, that intrigue the spectator with its naivety and simplicity of concept, yet this fics manages to sneak in subtle (and very enjoyable) humor, well-developed characters, mixed with modernized pace and narrative (plus of course, like I mentioned before, ponies, but that seems kinda redundant to say in EqD).

      The launche scene was gripping, and Lyuka's commentary was both hilarious and ultimately, what made the scene work so well.
      Plus so many small jokes being cracked here and there, oh my, would you like a run-on commentary next time? (read: writing reactions as I read)

      The whole thing is very cleverly executed, and I love it so far!
      Keep up the awesome, Mrakoplaz ^^ I can't wait to read next chapter! :D

    23. Just finished the third volume. Brilliant as always, with just a few spelling mistakes. I really felt for those ponies and their mad quest for spaceflight. I'm enjoying this fanfic more than any other. It's just so different and well written. Everything appears to be well researched and thought out.

    24. wow, with every chapter I'm further impressed. you really captured the excitement and suspense of watching a rocket rise into the air, wondering when it will explode. it speak to your skill as a writer.

      well met pony, well met.

    25. This is a great story.

      Ultimately, stories about ponies are stories about humans, except we use the fact that the main characters are ponies as a lens to focus our examination. The same is true about any story, whether it features aliens, monsters, fuzzy animals, whatever. Ultimately it's about us.

      This story says a lot about humans. It also makes you think about how insane it was that anyone ever attempted to fly into space like this, or that they didn't get discouraged and quit almost immediately.

      Looking forward to more. This definitely deserves its rating.

    26. Been travelling, offline, apologies for late responses, etc.

      Anyway, reading your comments, I'm quite... well, 'speechless' might work, because I have no idea what to say ^_^
      Still, I've been through a whole day of being stuck in a boiling car with broken air conditioning (which someone tried to steal during one of the stops!), not much water and not much sleep, but then I arrived, opened the browser, and these comments cheered me right up!
      So, yeah; THANKS. I said it several times now, but I do mean it fully. You have no idea how encouraging these comments of yours are.

      I've managed to finish writing the fourth volume and move on to editing, so it hopefully shouldn't take too long.
      However, now that I see so many people are loving this story, I'm not quite sure about this new chapter... it might either make it even better, or it might 'jump the shark', so to speak. I'll probably have to get some external feedback before posting it, just to avoid disappointing you guys!

      Oh, and @Tosxychor, run on commentary would be just awesome!

    27. I'd just like to point out that this story has 107 ratings and is sitting pretty at a perfect 5.0 stars. the impossibility and the awesomeness of this fact blow me away.

    28. @RyexThat's not a perfect 5, that's more of a 4.95+, a perfect 5 would read "5: loved it" on mouseover. Still, this is incredibly awesome.

      But anyway, great chapter! The unexpected visit managed to keep things interesting, and now I can't wait for all the mayhem RD will bring in! :D

      But anyway, here's the running commentary:

      You're doing great Mrakoplaz, keep up the sciency awesome! ^^

    29. I kind of feel like bringing the Mane 6 into the picture and having RD become a main character in the story kind of ruins it. I mean, I love RD, but I get enough of her from the show, you know what I mean? Still, I absolutely loved the fourth installment. This story conjures up real emotions for me. I just really miss Zvezda.

    30. @Tosxychor I was JUST about to point out the stars thing; Still, I think I'm more than happy with a "mere" 4.95 ^_^
      And thanks for the commentary, it's pure awesome. I mean, I can look at the ratings and know people like it (and I'm very thankful to all those who rated!), but to read your actual reactions is absolutely wonderful.

      @DanDan_jr Yeah, that's exactly what I was referring to when I said it might "jump the shark". I've spent a long time wondering whether I should do it.
      Most people I showed it to liked it well enough, though, so I decided to keep it in the end.
      I brought the Mane 6 in simply because they made the chapter more interesting (at least to write) than just Will+Celestia talking to each other the whole time.
      Except for RD, they shouldn't really appear almost at all. And as for her, she'll be pretty important, but still definitely second to the main trio, basically providing a different perspective on things.
      And there's lots of Zvezda in the chapter I'm writing right now, don't worry; This volume was an anomaly in many ways (I was a bit low on ideas at the time, basically, and that's fixed now).
      But I'm glad you've liked it nevertheless, and I promise I'm doing my best to not screw it up!

    31. Arg.... I understand now why the Director isn't making use of magic in the designs to stabilize the structural components, or otherwise cheat, hack, or smash with a hammer the laws of physics. It's a noble goal, but at the same time, arrrrghhhhrgbllele! What a rocket scientist would do for magic!

      Pierce the heavens with those rockets!

    32. Rainbow Dash will be an astropony! She certainly has the 'Right Stuff' lol.

    33. Oh Jeez! i completely forgot about this story after the first chapter! looks like a have almost an hour of reading to do now:)


      Seriously, thank Celestia for backups and USB drives. If I didn't have those, this thing would be dead right about now.
      Instead, work will just be a lot slower as I don't have my own computer, not until the replacement hard drive arrives. However, I DID manage to write up the chapter, and all that's left to do is editing - so I still might post it fairly soon. We'll see.

    35. Just finished chapter 1 (1/2 of the first part), and I'm really enjoying this a lot more than I initially thought I would. I mean, I might've been putting it off for awhile but now that it's officially a six star story my reasons for reading it are starting to vastly outweigh my reasons for not reading it.

      I'll spare any of my initial misgivings with this plot since at the moment they're vastly irrelevant. I'm just really looking forward to seeing if Zvezda and Cherry actually become friends, cause at the moment it kinda looks like a case of person #1 finding person #2 annoying, while person #2 thinks person #1 is their best friend in the whole wide world.

      With how good and detailed the writing style is, I expect I won't regret spending a few hours reading this story!

      Oh, and on an unrelated note; @Tosxychor Yeah, Pastel colored ponies make everything better!

    36. Congrats for yet another brilliant chapter of space ponies! :D

      Gotta say, although the second quarter of this fifth chapter was a bit bland, the rest was exquisite, and the interview part was spectacularly executed! The cherry on top was how RD was just seamlessly integrated into the Equestria Seven, with equal time given to each. And gotta admit, in this chapter Zvezda's and Sara's part were also pretty great.

      All in all, another great chapter! As a token of gratitude, please accept my running commentary:

      Keep up the awesome, Mrakoplaz! :D

    37. Is it me, or is the 4th volume posted twice on EqD? As far as I can tell there should be 5 volumes (7 chapters total).

      So confused why EqD has posted this way?

      Like I said, i want to give this story a read. I have high hopes, given the exemplary rating!

    38. Really enjoying this. I like how you gave rainbow dash a back seat and let the other characters shine through - I was worried that she was going to eclipse the story... :P

      It's also really cool how you have handled the rocket. With detailed descriptions on its construction and everyone's job in making it come together it is almost a character in itself!

      Lastly, the tone really captures the enterprising and adventurous spirit of those early rockets perfectly. It's so easy to get excited along with it.

      Very well executed; 10 out of 10. Can't wait for more!

    39. Love it! It reminds me of the space race! Though if you turn it into a novel will you end it like the US and pull the plug on the once noble space agency that brought us great understanding of the universe?

    40. Thanks for the kind comments once again, everypony! And especially thanks to all who voted and made it a Star-6 story! I emailed Seth about the links mix up, so it should get fixed soon.

      @Violet Droplet: Thanks for giving the story a chance, and your initial feedback! I admit it's pretty long, but hopefully it's worth it. About Zvez and Cherry, it might look static for a while, but given the length and amount of stuff happening, some plot threads only pop up a distance apart.
      Oh, and I'm hoping you like Chapter II as well!

      @Tosxychor: Thanks again for the running commentary, I love it!
      I admit this last chapter dragged at some points, probably because it's the longest one yet. I've also had serious trouble at points (restarted thrice, scrapped about 5000 words). However, the next chapter I'm exactly sure what to do, so it'll hopefully be better ^_^
      [...I hope that didn't jinx it...]

      @Curebores: I'm trying hard to make sure RD doesn't take over. She will have a role, obviously, but hopefully I won't screw it all up.

      @monkeyshine89: Oi! Don't ask questions like that, I might accidentally spoil something :)

    41. This comment has been removed by the author.

    42. So, how many ponies have died to bring the project to its current status, and how many of those were in the Chlorine Trifloride accident?

    43. So. Here's a story that I initially passed over. Space program ponies just didn't seem like 'My Thing', you know? Of course, that's an odd statement for me to make since, on their own, the space program and ponies are very much two of 'My Things'.

      Anyway, I finally decided to give this one a go, and WOW! I'm blown away by how much I love this story. Not only is the premise surpringly well executed, but it's brought to life with an entirely original cast (minus Dash, who has blended in seamlessly in her few scenes) of interesting and believable characters.

      Congratulations on turning a skeptic into a follower by sheer force of awesome!

    44. Really curious how/if you'll to blend together Cherry's story and Zvezda's. There's also a lot of possible emotion that's not addressed that's easily justified by everypony being tired all the time and Zvezda's characterization. On the other hoof, there's a bit of skipped potential there that could come with introspection.

      5 stars, will continue reading as you update.

    45. @Mrakoplaz

      "Minus Ten and Counting"? "Only One Way To Go From Here"?

      I saw what you did there.


      Time to find that ancient cassette and listen to it again.

      Marvelous story! Thank you!

    46. Part 6 posted to Seth, hopefully it'll be up fairly soon.

      @Rekiara Thank you! Out of interest, was there anything that made you sceptical, or did you just roll your eyes at the premise (which I agree is pretty silly)?

      @axlemn Thanks for the 5 stars and the constructive criticism! I agree I rushed over a few bits, but I had to set the stage and introduce everything - hopefully the next few chapters will have more characters and less equations.
      Oh, and hopefully everything should come together nicely at the end (unless it crashes and burns... also a possibility).

      @Chris Tucker Thanks! The cassette's on Youtube now, by the way ^_^

      By the way, since this is a Star-6 now, don't be afraid to be a LOT harsher; If you see errors/stupidity, don't fret to point them out. Bear in mind that initial 'plotholes' may be building to something, though (but they might also be accidents, so point them out!)...

      Also, apologies to everypony, but the editing of part 6 might be a bit rushed, and part 7 might be a bit late (not too much, hopefully, since there's an EXCITING ACTION SCENE).
      Basically, I'm making an application to Cambridge right now, working on writing a personal statement, getting references, etc. Without exaggeration the most important thing in my life so far - a tiny bit more important than ponies, I dread to say.
      After the fic's all written I swear I'll go over it again and fix all the punctuation/grammar, I promise!

    47. I'm looking forward to see how the rocket launch goes. RD is actually kinda annoying in this story, I liked how you took her down a peg. She needs to just 'get with the program' and stop expecting special treatment. I like the engineers side stories better... the astronauts are just too high strung.

    48. I swear, I don't know how you manage to do this, repeatedly. Each chapter is awesome beyond my expectations XD

      I'm really liking what you are doing with RD, and how she's learning to fit in with the others. Plus of course, the rest of the cast is still doing very well. I particularly loved the "fly through the loops" scene, I'm a type for action you see :p But really, I can easily enjoy any part you write, most are really well thought-out.
      The double engine feeding discussion was maybe dragged a bit too long, but really, I can't say I haven't enjoyed it, since I did :p

      And last but not least, please accept this chapter's run-on commentary:

      And best of luck to you for your application! May Twilight Sparkle and her studiousness be with you :D (and the rest of the mane cast too while we're at it ^^ )

    49. This fic is cool.

      Read this fic if you want to be cool.

    50. Okay, sorry for disappearing off the face of the Earth, but the application's now done, and I should have plenty of time for ponies again. The new chapter's about one-third written now, and hopefully will go up soon.

      @nick012000 (sorry for missing you earlier): Don't forget, before the start of the story, all they built were basically glorified fireworks (from backyard experiments to Goddard-type minirockets)... even the rocket they launched in Part 3 wasn't all that big, so accidents wouldn't be all that disastrous. It's only now that they're starting to build proper rockets.

      @monkeyshine89 Glad you like it, I'm trying my best, especially for the next chapter, hopefully I won't disappoint!

      @Tosxychor I have no idea how either, and therein lies the problem ^_^
      Anyway, I'm EXTREMELY grateful for all the specific feedback and your commentary; Picking out good/bad points is definitely helping make this fic better - e.g. I tried making the separation more obvious, as you suggested, and it's looking a lot less confusing already!
      Not so sure about the G/gee thing, but I'll definitely think about it. Either way, THANKS!

      @icefire :) Glad you like it!

    51. Oh Celestia, WHAT HAPPENED?! My anticipation for the next chapter is palpable!

    52. Ante up, place your bets on what happened:

      1) Science and shit, the -ides and the -iums had a throwdown, and Rocket kicked them out

      2) Magic and shit, I ain't gotta explain anything

      3) Lyuka got the rocket to climax

      4) Cutie Mark Crusader Terrorists!

      5) Dem comrades

      6) Dammit, Discord/Celestia/random-Ask-Tumblr!

    53. I read the first chapter once, and found it interesting enough, but this kinda got pushed aside by other fics. I'm glad I had a chance to come back and read through it.

    54. Loved this chapter, so many interesting things happening in here. Some hilarious, some d'awww-worthy, some foreboding, some amazing, and some downright terrifying.
      That was surely an interesting chapter to read, Mrakoplaz, I tell ya! And without further ado, here's my run-on commentary.

      I must specify, there's two things I left out of the commentary, which I will explain here:

      1) Applejack's scenes in general, mostly because I didn't like how she was portrayed as a whole, but no single phrase was an example enough to single out. Taken singly, they were acceptable, but on the whole, they make a rather.... improvable interpretation of her. I'll make some examples:
      - Sounding a bit too 'nerdy' at times ("bona-fide mathematician")
      - Too harsh in places ("buy apple or no buy apple")
      - Talking behind the back of somepony ("Some ponies just think they're such unique snowflakes.")
      - And in general, not using her southern vocabulary too much.

      To better explain myself, I'll try and provide a better vision of what Applejack is (mostly inspired by the idea in this video).
      Applejack isn't just an honest pony, she's also a very honorable one:
      She's very dependable (the most dependable in Ponyville, at that), and she always strives to keep her promises and commitments.
      She's very concerned with fairness and playing by the rules.
      She takes pride in her work, in her actions, in her family etc.
      She avoids subterfuge and gossip (as much as possible anyway).
      She's very honest and straightforward with ponies.

      You see, that's all traits of a pony with lots and lots of honor in her, with honesty being just a part of this brilliant pony.
      So, for example, it would take way more than some enthusiastic RD fan to make her lose her calm with customers (especially since she's selling so well).
      Or, she wouldn't be concerned with commenting on somepony's demeanor. If she has something to say, she says it in the face of whoever it was destined to.
      So, I hope this cleared up AJ's character for you. :)

      2) The final scene. Oh Celestia, the final scene. It was so brilliant in its entirety, again I couldn't single out any particular phrase. (save for a couple :p but anyway). It was just too good. It had me reminding the first times I tried commenting Kkat's chapters, and going "How the f*** am I supposed to comment pieces here and there if everything is worth it?"

      So, again, it was brilliant. All of it. It also helps that the entire chapter was so visibly tending towards that moment, with the countdowns at the beginning of each passage (thanks so much for the separations! ^^ It reads much better for me now)

      Summing up, another wonderful chapter ^^ I'm glad to have you back Mrakoplaz. Hope your application goes well! :D And as always, keep up the awesome.

    55. Aw ffff-
      I did the link to the video wrong, here's the right one.

    56. D: I have to say that that was the most frightening thing I have read in all the fanfics on EqD. Not this-would-be-horrible, since Fallout Equestria has that covered, but I'm still partially shocked at what happened. There aren't may clues, but it seems like the rocket launched? Something got propelled into the sky really quickly. The impossibly tall pillar of fire, though, to continue to last and strain Celestia trying to contain it, doesn't seem like it's something that any of their fuel could cause. And unless you've suddenly turned this fic grimdark, well, it can't be... yeah. So, inexplicable magical mishap? Really, I just can't guess anything take makes sense besides a pipeline below the rocket pumping litterally tons of fuel out, and that doesn't make any sense either. :(

    57. This was... unexpected. I mean, I know it's not a story with no conflict, but it's not a story with everyone dead and funding all cancelled, either! I can't wait to see how it's resolved!

      I loved the bit with L and the rocket, though. And the quick thinking with getting Luna a calculator! What a great way to get something like that accepted. It reminds me of the atomic devices that the traders sold to the up-and-coming elder in Asimov's Foundation

    58. @Derpmind

      Unless, in a world where magic is real, some reactions might lead to explosive magical generation, a self-generating inferno of fire and magic that would prove incredibly difficult to quench!

      Physics would do strange things if magic were a part of it.

    59. I'm thinking that this rocket was an analogue of the Vanguard TV3 Launch, the first televised US launch attempt, which flew up about two meters, then fell back to the pad and exploded.

      But daaaaaaamn, this story's good.

    60. THANKS everypony for your extremely kind comments! I'll try to get the continuation written up as soon as possible (though it's obviously going to take some time, with school and all).
      Truth be told, I didn't originally want to have a 'two parter', but the wordcount just kind of exploded, so I decided a cliffhanger would be better than a rushed cut-down thing... here's hoping the next part will make up for the wait!

      Anyway, some replies to the non-spoiler questions (^_^):
      @Justin Owen: I wasn't actually really thinking of the TV3, more of Nedelin (Redstone even mentions a "Programmable Circuit Distributor" at one point, I think) - though obviously minus the "hundreds dying instantly" bit.
      Of course, since Wilhelmina's program is sort of a mix of the USA/USSR agencies, they basically got a Soviet-style accident with American-style publicity, and no way of hushing it up. Not so good.

      @Tosxychor: Man, you say I shock you, but you keep shocking me with your elaborate feedback! The fact somepony's actually spending so much time on my work and writing dozens of paragraphs is humbling.
      Anyway, I loved your analysis of Applejack - I realize that I have some problems with canon, that's why I started writing OCs in the first place (the mane 6 are there basically to show that this isn't just some thing happening in the desert, it's affecting ponies everywhere). Re-reading it now, I admit it could be improved:
      1) I tried writing southern accent, and she came off as a COMPLETE dumb hick (which I don't see her as), so I just wrote it normally. I'll practice a bit for the future, or at least add some "she said in her thick accent"-type things.
      2) With the "bona fide" bit, I was imagining she was acting like that on purpose, just as a friendly jibe at the whole 'RD learning maths' thing; The part probably needed more tags to make that clear (I sometimes forget you can't read my thoughts, but only the things I actually write down ^_^).
      3) Talking behind somepony's back... my idea was she makes it plenty clear to the other pony just what she thinks of her (who, from her one line of dialogue, was just being excessively arrogant), and that the 'snowflakes' line was just a tired-sigh type of thing. Again, it obviously came out differently than I thought it would, but the original intention was there.
      Still, you've certainly provided me with the best analysis of AJ I've seen, and cleared up couple of things... now all I need is that for the rest of the mane six, and I'll be fine! (j/k, don't worry)

      Oh, and I never did read Fallout Equestria, at least not yet (the whole "Stable" thing I just got from Project Horizon's summary ^_^). I definitely want to read it (hearing it's the best story in the fandom and all), but I'm saving it for the holidays (as it's LOOONG).

      Oh, speaking of 'long' - how does everypony think the pacing has been, so far? I realize there's been a few too many technical scenes that could probably either be cut or made more interesting, but apart from that, does anypony think it's too slow/rushed, at least in places?

      And yes, Lyuka/Rocket 4ever! (any fanfic above X hundred words invariably must contain shipping; it's the law)

    61. @Mrakoplaz
      Yeah, no need to apologize for AJ's lines; as I said, no one was a major offender, and taken alone, they might pass as appropriate, but as a whole blahblahblah, you know the rest XD

      Anyway, whenever you want to get some canon character right, here's some advice:

      1) Learn by example, most obviously. The main source being the actual episodes (duh), you'd be surprised at how well a character flows after you've seen her acting in front of your eyes.
      The second main source being, good fanfics. Sadly, not all the 6-stars get the characters completely right, but at the very least they make a good job with them, so it's more or less a reliable source.

      2) If you want to get serious about it, get some practice with them first. Drawers make warm-up doodles, and probably the best thing for writers is jotting down random scenes on the fly, just to stretch the writing muscles some. Get a feel for a character by rehearsing what you wrote and telling yourself if the real thing would do that. Learn from your previous experiences (but of course, you already knew that :p )

      3) There's a nice lil' compilation about the psychology of the mane cast, which is quite spot-on (save for PP, I don't relate much to that analysis, I feel she is quite deeper than that)

      And for the pacing, I already commented on how some chapters were dragging themselves a bit, but for the most part, things stay interesting enough not to notice one bit. Which surprises me to this day, being a fic about OCs and actual ROCKET SCIENCE!!, which in turn speaks volumes of your skills ^^

    62. 3 weeks, 40 pages, 17000 words. FORTY BLOODY PAGES. Arrrrgh. And to think that I wanted to get both of Chapter 9 and 10 into around 8000 words... ah, the delusions of innocent youth.
      Anyway, it's definitely coming, and hopefully it's actually good; I've tried quite hard to make this the best yet, and scrapped/replaced a whole 7000 words that just weren't up to scratch. Hopefully it wasn't all wasted effort ^_^
      @Tosxychor Definitely thanks for the tips; I already do 1 and 2, as you might have guessed, but that link was certainly interesting! I sincerely hope this continuation doesn't disappoint.

    63. Oh it has certainly not been a waste! I'm just going crazy trying to keep up with all the stories I'm following! I think I must be getting about as much sleep as Seth does! (i.e. none) ;3

    64. ^_^
      Final count, 18932 words. Hopefully they make sense. Apologies in advance for spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, and other idiocy, but I simply haven't had the energy to re-read it more than twice. It's just WAY TOO MUCH TEXT (I feel sorry for all you readers, actually).
      Also, I'm tired now, so let's just hope I uploaded the correct version...

    65. Did anyone see the word banana written on the console in the first clip of the picture?


    66. I'm curious. Have you ever seen The Right Stuff? Parts of this fic definitely remind me of that film.

    67. This fic reminds me a lot of the game 'Kerbal Space Program'. They both involve a lot of kludged space hardware and beings with no business using it.

    68. @DarkRook The Right Stuff, Wings of Honneamise, Moonlight Mile... I think I've watched almost everything space-related there is ^_^
      What always annoyed me about those stories is that they ever paid any attention to the little people, though; The designers, scientists, technicians all seemed to get ignored, and all the attention was given to the astronauts. I want a story about someone I can sympathize with, not just the human demigods! That's why Zvezda's there, really. She may not always do much, but that because she's just a normal pony with normal dreams, whom nobody'll remember a hundred years from now...

      @GBscientist Oh, I love that game! But I'm still waiting for the update where you'll finally have some sort of docking/space station assembly. Reaching orbit without any computers is fun by itself, but I wish they put in everything else already :P

    69. Okay, I gotta say, I love this story, but the last two chapters? I have no idea what happened beyond *KABOOM* *PANIC* *MAGIC* *STOP BOOM*

      I'm happy that Luna took charge, but... what's gonna happen now? Why did the rocket explode so spectacuarly? why were the stands so close to the rocket anyway? How is it at all concievable that the space program isn't going to be taken down?
      Did princess Celestia Really just use this to show how powerful she is and to help Luna adapt to the new world? ARGH!
      On that note, you did apture the chaos of a space rocket failure; nobody has any freaking clue what's going on and are simply just trying to keep things from getting worse.

      Also... is this it? The end? I love the characters here, and you developed all of them well but... is this it?

    70. MRAKOPLAZ! Good colt, man! That was an amazing chapter! There was more good material in that one section than I write in a year.

      Pinkie's little bit as Celestia's champion, the Director's words about equality being "not just fluff", Twilight's re-discovery of a ridiculously cool old spell, Lyuka's bit about blaspheming and Celestia's time-dilation... And all of it, I think, was topped off by Cherry's musing about prayer.

      "He had said it applied to almost every force in the universe. So, hopefully, prayers would obey the inverse-square law too."

      I love the fics that question the way it would work out to have real deities living among us, assuming that their powers have limits but never quite knowing what they are. You definitely did some great work here exploring that territory, and I love the picture you've painted.

      Other awesome stuff... Rainbow's unreal reaction to the sand in the searchlights just before she is rescued. You described that beautifully. And Geist fantasizing about Luna and then repenting when she began casting? Hilarious.

      Oh, okay. I'll stop gushing now. But the mix of drama, humor, courage, and fear in this chapter just set a new standard for me. You got it just exactly write. Kudos, brony. Volume 8 is epic.

    71. @Crosshair: First of all, it might be the end of act 3, but this is a five-act story, so there's still so way to go yet! Besides, do you really think Wilhelmina would just give up and go home? ^_^
      And yeah, it was supposed to be fairly confusing. After all, all the questions you asked are for the investigative committees and bureaucrats to answer (so prepare for Equestrian politics).

      @Macon Mixx: THANKS! Your single comment alone would have made all that work worthwhile :)
      Anyway, the "Gods amongst us" angle really is one of the big things that stand out for me in this setting; I mean, I'd love it just for the ponies either way, but this one aspect just gives you so much more to play with as an author.
      Add a few unstable chemicals, and it's pretty much the perfect setting!

    72. This comment has been removed by the author.

    73. Just finished reading chapter 8, and let me say, howee! That was one epic chapter, both in length and content.

      Personally, I loved how well you blended the presence of the Mane 6 and of the Princesses together with that of the true protagonists of this story. That, and I noticed much, much improvement over your rendition of the Mane 6 ^^
      Rainbow Dash's starting to scare me a bit, however, she's quite the Iron Pony hehe. But she still has flaws, so it's all good ^^

      Definitely a gripping, interesting, amazing, compelling chapter. You outdid yourself once again Mrakoplaz!

      As a little token of my appreciation, here's my run-on commentary. Hope you enjoy ^^

    74. Tosxychor, always a pleasure! By pointing out all the little things that work (as well as the ones that don't), you're definitely helping me a lot here. Some of them, I really wasn't sure if they were any good (just little experiments for fun), but now I do ^_^
      I pretty much concede on all the derps like Fluttershy's line and so on; although it's always possible to make up plenty of headcannon to explain it away, I fully admit I've paid individual lines a lot less attention than I usually do.

      Anyway, thanks again for all your compliments. The next chapter is going to be a lot less epic - obviously - but also a lot more relaxed and (hopefully) thoughtful. We're in the latter half of the story now, though, so the pressure will slowly start ramping up now, and for good!

      PS: Just a question that popped into my head. Although it hasn't really been a problem near the start of the story, lately I've noticed everything suffering from "Pinkie Pie narrator" syndrome; i.e., lots of short scenes, rapid cuts to other characters, the lot (basically written more like a film than an old-fashioned novel).
      Is this making the story far more disjointed than it should be, or does everypony appreciate the added breadth of seeing what's happening to every character, even if it comes with less depth in return?
      No idea, that's why I'm asking ^_^

    75. @Mrakoplaz: Brilliant job on this gritty, hyper-real chapter. The only issue I had was with the constant and disorienting switch of perspective. Just three points of view, in my opinion, should be sufficient to convey the mood of terror, desperation, and confusion while still retaining narrative depth. That's just a thought I have.

      Oh, and if the Commissar yelling "Onwards, ever onwards" is an Evolutionary Void reference, even more props to you. If it isn't, I've gone daft.

    76. Thanks, DanDan_jr! And yeah, that's pretty much what I meant by "Pinkie Pie narrator" syndrome ^_^
      Was it just that chapter (with the fast action and everything), or would you say it's more of an endemic problem with the whole piece? Because I'll be the first to admit the viewpoints change way too fast.
      And sorry, it's not a reference. Just something I thought the Commissar would say.
      PS: Not saying you've gone daft! :)

    77. the constant viewpoint change is often used to produce a feeling of disorientation, just look at every action film, during the exciting action scene you rarely get the same camera shot for long. its just a tool used by storytellers.

    78. I agree, the in some cases the viewpoint changes can make chaotic scenes feel chaotic.

      In other news, i've taken the liberty of starting a TVTropes page on the fic. Because I think it deserves it.


    79. @Unknown: Heh, I agree it's a tool, I just wasn't sure if I was using it correctly or not; thanks for the vote of confidence! The next chapter is a lot less chaotic (I hope).
      @ABitOfWeather: Wow, a TVTropes page? If you think it deserves it, then OK; I'm honoured! Seriously, thanks.

      In other news, the next chapter is ALMOST done, I just have to fix up one scene and do a final proofread - and hopefully I'll get that done today. Sorry for slowness, but I've literally written this chapter twice (wrote 10000 words over a weekend, felt really really good, then re-read, groaned, and steadily went about changing every single paragraph again). It's a lot less epic than Volume 8, obviously, but hopefully still good (a bit of a comfy time-out before stuff starts happening again) ^_^

    80. Hoping theres still more to come for this story!

      Oh, and also dashie goes first into space.

      Dashie is best pony.

    81. I'm guessing now comes the investigation as to what happend? I must admit, I'm very curious as to what went wrong.

    82. Right, FINALLY submitted. Apologies again for slowness, folks!

      Also, about this chapter. It's... well, a bit slow, I suppose. I don't really think it was worth 3 weeks of wait, considering how little happens there; but then again, when you treat it as a unified text, it's also very necessary.
      Oh well. Hopefully there's at least some good things tucked in there.

      PS: These wordcounts just keep exploding! Not only were Volumes 7 and 8 twice as long as I originally thought, the entire current content of Volume 9 was supposed to fit in two/three pages at the start of the chapter. Does this keep happening to anypony else?

      PPS: And that everything's finished, I can finally go watch the new episode. Here's hoping it doesn't completely derail the entire chapter ^_^

    83. @Chakat Firepaw
      1) thank you for bringing that one up. It is a mainstay in my anime collection. It is a VERY interesting look at a space program left to rot with people dedicated to making it happen anyway.
      2) Nice to see a Chakat around. I know quite a few of them about.

    84. @Mrakoplaz

      And just as they get the rocket completed and everything works perfectly...

      ... Celestia shows up in a Federation Starship, "Oh hey guys! Guess what! I found warp speed! Forgot to mention that last time I was here!"

      Trollestia. ;D

    85. *3 AM, just finished FOE's due commentary, remembers the last chapter of OFS is out too...* *sigh* Letz do diz.

      Unnecessary drama queen aside (seriously, I'm just proud of doing this for you), another verily enjoyable chapter ^^ I love your occasional use of canon to keep things fresh (in this case, Aaaaaaaappleoosa), plus of course all the OC goodness. Just a thing I wanted to point out for a while, if you'd read FO:E you'd have noticed that it's always a good thing to give the general public occasional reminders of the looks of the protagonists, just so that they don't forget inbetween the chapters. (and in this case, some subtle reminders of what each pony does in the Cosmodrome wouldn't hurt either). And on a related note, I planned to write this mid-read, and then I read "The blue mare was grinning to herself,...". Seriously, of all the ponies to describe, Rainbow Dash? XD I was in fits of laughter because of this.

      But enough of this, have at you! Here's my commentary for chap 9.

      With all my love and appreciation for another great chapter <3

    86. I held off on this for a while, as it seemed half-hearted from the description and pic, but I'm glad I took the plunge.

      What I expected: Pony-flavoured US moon shot.
      What I got: A credible pony space program that is different in so many ways.

      Now I am a literary geek first, science geek second, so my raving will be literary. You've:
      Continually addressed the species barrier (genius touch, using that as a motivation for the program);
      Thought out how the different races would work together and the tools they would use;
      Gotten out of the same locations other fanficcers have used;
      Sold me on the existence of a whole world out there;
      Acknowledged magic without overbalancing everything they've already accomplished;
      Really made me picture what it'd be like to have someone like Celestia overlooking your work;
      Introduced the six without making them the main characters, or making it feel like a walk-on or self-insert;
      and finally, consistently surprised me. As a chronic troper, I appreciate this a lot.

      The scientist in me is pleased that the science is solid. I mean, you did the math! :-D

      I can't give you six stars, so five will have to do. Looking forward to more.

      P.S. I heard of Ignition! through this little column that features good old ClF3. Worth a read.

    87. @Alondro: LOL, interesting idea to ponder :)

      @Tosxychor: 3 AM? Wow. I seriously appreciate these commentaries, and that you're spending so much time on them; even on less-interesting chapters like this one! Thanks again!
      For the reminder about each pony's appearance/position: I think I've been slipping them in steadily throughout the story, but while it's probably enough when you read it in one block, I can see why it starts being a problem when there's 3 weeks between every chapter. I'll try to figure out a good balance that works for both ^_^
      Also, about the "blue mare" thing... derp. I keep trying to stop myself from repeating words, and sometimes idiocy like that comes out XD

      @acksed: If I hadn't written it, I'd probably be sceptical too! As far as story concepts go, this is definitely one of the more outlandish ones. Thanks for giving it a try anyway!
      As for the rest of your comment, it just warms my heart. After a long, tiring day, this is the perfect thing to get me motivated for writing again ^_^
      But my head's getting too full now! Start listing some bad things already!

    88. @Mrakoplaz

      "As far as story concepts go, this is definitely one of the more outlandish ones."

      Well, for me, it was the outlandish concept that got me interested in the first place. :)

    89. Another astounding chapter! I could gush on and on like last time, but let's save that for special occasions, okay? No need to wear it out. ;)

      A story that is "all action" is in truth all boring. There's no emotional investment in the fight if you don't know the characters! This chapter was simply stunning for it's rich development of Cherry and Zvezda, as well as for the more limited development of several other ponies.

      The last volume clearly introduced the fact that Cherry was born to money, more than had been previously hinted at. But in the chaos, we didn't have much time to think about what that really meant. This was really a great exploration of what that would mean to the character.

      I also love what you did with Zvezda. It's nice to get a chance to see her with her mane down... literally! They say you find out who a person really is under stress. I think we got a great insight into her character, as well, and I like what I saw. I look forward to seeing how the tension from her mediation between Ray and the settler ponies plays out. (Besides, she deserves a nice stallion.)

      I loved the recurring theme of "magazines"... the one we thought would be risque and then the one that actually was! Your description of that, by the way, was great. I admit, it's a little hard for me to imagine what "erotic" might look like to a pastel pony, but Cherry's line about airbrushing really related it to the real world. Or, I suppose, the fake world that we here in the real world like to pretend that we live in. Very authentic.

      I'm excited for the next chapter! I want to see how Will's friends and allies really work! This seems like it will be too good to miss out on. You really are talented, and seeing a new chapter to this story is always a treat. I hope we get to read more soon!

    90. Alright, I just read your request for listing some "bad things" already. Well, I'm afraid I can't do that exactly, as your writing has developed since you began this project to something that is way over my head to critique! There seriously was nothing in that last chapter that I didn't enjoy. The sentences were neither too wordy nor too terse. The characters were as I mentioned before. The break in the action was very, very enjoyable and time well-spent, not just "and then they waited until the next cool thing happened." However, there are a couple of things that I could see going wrong in the future, so I suppose I'll throw those out.

      1) Don't lose sight of where you're going with this story. I've seen it happen to stories I've loved, and it's been heartbreaking. I don't think you will, but consider this a friendly bit of encouragement to keep on the right path.

      Do remember that it will have to wind down eventually. I envision the story currently at somewhere between a quarter and half of the way completed. You're welcome to make it however much longer or shorter than that that you want! Just remember the risk of losing your focus if you do.

      2) Continue developing the characters. Don't let them find all the answers and then stop growing. It's just not realistic, and it makes a story much less satisfying. I've seen too many fanfics start out with great, dynamic characters that get "frozen" half-way through when the author gets the to the point that they envisioned them. This is an especially dangerous trap for you, since you use so many OCs that don't have any life or story outside of this one. Don't stunt your character's growth.

      3) Don't change the style too greatly. You made a good choice here minimizing the jumps in narration vs the last chapter, but that's not really what I mean. (That's mostly a difference between an action and a development chapter. Short bits are fine in an action setting.) What I really mean is the kinds of stories you're telling. They all focus around the project, and how ponies lives are affected by it. This is exactly right. Don't let your characters get spread too thin. You're on the right track when you are continually weaving their stories back together.

      How is that for some constructive feedback? I'm a total amateur, but it's what I have to offer. I'll keep your requests for the "bad" in mind. If I ever feel like I am seeing it in your stories, I will let you know.

    91. @Macon Mixx: Wow, that's... well, thanks for all that, seriously! I'm sure there's loads more wrong with the story, but the fact you can't find many gives me a fuzzy feeling ^_^
      I've been trying to keep your three points in mind so far, but by having them written out I'll hopefully avoid forgetting them. I can definitely tell you, though, there's a planned overbearing arc, and it's already past the halfway point.
      But seriously, thanks for that. If you ever see any stupidity, please point it out ASAP, before it grows too much (applies to anypony else as well)!

      About the next chapter; unfortunately, right now, it just isn't very good, so I'm trying my best to fix it. I keep running into the one huge problem with any story involving politics, though; keeping it away from appearing like it's referencing real events, without scrapping 90% of already established characterization (I really couldn't have picked a worse time for pony politics, actually, what with the huge politicking going on all around the world and everything - I just hope it won't appear preachy O_o).

      Also, I'm afraid the pace of my writing's slowed down, mostly due to the ridiculous amount of workload I'm under right now (end of semester approaching, everypony going crazy with assignments, you know the stuff). The fact I actually got invited for interview at Cambridge (and that it's pretty soon) isn't helping either... I hope I can get it out in one more week. Apologies if I can't, but that's the way things are right now.
      Christmas break should be fun, though ^_^

      Aaargh, I think I've fixed that "preachiness" I mentioned last comment (it was actually just a single scene that was bad like that, so I simply cut it), and I've got a fairly solid plan for the chapter now (yeah; only now!)... the thing is, I think I still got approx. ~5000 more words to go, which I don't think I'm going to manage to both write AND proofread in time before the interview (which is going to be 3 days of offline).
      So I guess this next chapter's just going to come out a bit later; sorry for that, everypony. It's going to be longer than the average, though (not as much as the FIIIIRE chapter, but still quite a bit), and hopefully fairly interesting to boot ^_^

    93. I'm a space nerd myself and I was to thank author for writing this amazing story and proving that old-school hard SF is not dead. All those references to OUR first steps into space (both USSR and US) are pure awesome!
      6 stars, no questions. Eagerly awaiting for the next chapter.

    94. BLARGH. That's all I have to say after finishing this chapter.
      Honestly, it probably needs much more work and polish (as well as at least one major rewrite), but I've already spent way too much time on this, and simply can't will myself to budge further.
      In retrospect, all the major, MAJOR problems I had with this chapter probably stem from the fact I had nothing whatsoever planned for it, except for a vague 'pony politics' note scribbled in a margin somewhere. Fortunately, the rest of the story I'm a lot clearer on, so this situation hopefully won't repeat again.
      Let's just hope this tenth volume doesn't tank everything!

      Oh, and thanks for the kind words, Shantara! They're much appreciated ^_^

    95. @Mrakoplaz

      Pony politics? Bah! Clearly Celestia needs to read up on how to be a proper totalitarian empress! Impose your will upon them, and smite the rebels to dust! >:3 Give in to the temptation to abuse your power, Celestia. It's sooooo easy..

    96. Mra ... your characters are terrible and brilliant at the same time ...

      stop beating yourself up, this is a truly wonderful read and something to be proud of!

    97. 'Plaz, don't be so hard on yourself, this is seriously I think the strongest chapter so far. I found the politics genuinely interesting, and have to nominate Zvez for best pony. Zvez/Ray is a delightfully awkward coupling, and her teaching Ruby just makes me want to d'aww. I hope the filly gets an advanced mathematical formula cutiemark, or at least a coordinate plane. Cherry and Cathorne's bit was awesome too. I hope we see more of these characters.

      -Havok Pony

    98. I honestly didn't mind this chapter at all. If "pony politics" are your entire basis for this chapter I can't wait for the rest! Keep up the good work. I read this right after I woke up and would not have spent my morning any other way. =)

    99. Eeep, well, sorry for all the melodrama then! The thing was, I had just finished a 6 hour editing marathon, and was STILL finding more and more wrongness, so eventually I just said "Screw it, let's publish anyway!" Glad to see it worked, then ^_^
      Anyway, merry Christmas, everypony! Onwards to the holidays! And here's to hoping I manage to avoid Skyrim for long enough to actually write something.

    100. New First Steps update? Made my holidays.

    101. Just finished Chapter 10, but I think this could probably be said after most chapters: well, this isn't going to turn out well.

      You just gained several levels of respect for your description of learning science and mathematics. Probably the first writing not by a scientist [though actually, I don't know you're not] that explains it so well. Learning by teaching and example... what you've said reminds me a little of Feynman.

    102. @axlemn Well, I might not be a scientist, but I definitely want to be one! Starting a joint-honours chemistry/physics course next year; that's probably the reason why there's so much more technical exposition and discussion of rocket fuel composition than character development ^_^

    103. You said in the comments it would be a kinda boring chapter, but I find each chapter more intriguing than the last, is it even possible at this levels? You're getting really, really good at this, Mrakoplaz.

      I particularly loved the filly sections, the Ray ones (heck, just Zvezda in general, you write her fabulously), and the last dialogue with Celestia was powerful, mang.

      What to say, I'm definitely stoked on what the developments around the Cosmodrome will be about (and how they will be received)! Keep up the amazing work, Mrakoplaz.

      P.S. And before I forget, my reading commentary for this chapter. With my best wishes for a happy Christmas ^^

    104. Chapter 10 is really really good, Probably the best so far. No rockets or explosions but I honestly didn't care. It showed that by far the biggest challenge facing the space program is not the science and engineering of getting someone into orbit and back again alive - It's showing the rest of the world that it isn't all just a very dangerous and expensive pipe dream.

      All the scenes in this chapter where handled beautifully, I have no complaints. Every time the scene changed I would think "But what happened next!" and then instantly get drawn into the new event and think exactly the same thing at the next break. When the scenes are continued it happened at just the right time and had just enough in them to keep you interested in them all without it becoming too much to keep track of at once.

      This chapter solidifies this fic in my top 5 (and top 3 on this site). Fantastic work, keep it up!

    105. Yeah, Curebores put it, the best thing about this chapter is it showed the hardest part of a space program, covnicning people it's worth it.

      Somewhat reminds me of Royal Space Force, they also had a lot of problems getting people on their side.

    106. * as Curebores put it

    107. @Tosxychor: Merry Christmas to you too, and thanks again for your commentary! I think they've definitely been responsible for the steady increase in quality, at least partially. Glad I didn't disappoint.

      @Curebores, Apollo: Heh, yeah. It seems that the only time humanity can really get off its bum and do something is when we're at war; just consider all the sheer effort, innovation, and amazing feats done in World War II, or even the Cold War. I'm probably suffering from selective memory syndrome right now, but what major advance in technology HASN'T been because of military demand? Computers, space, aviation, nuclear... I suspect this is one of the reasons Equestria's techlevel is lower than ours ^_^

      Anyway, that little rant aside, there's 4 volumes to go now, and hopefully I'll have the last planning issues sorted out by today. I love the holidays! So much time for PONI PONI PONI!

    108. I really love how you weave together dozens of the actual engineering issues and solutions from the history of space travel into a new story.

    109. @Mrakoplaz

      Steam power was mainly civilian I think. Not a lot since the Victorian era certainly.

    110. @Curebores
      Yeah, true enough, the Victorian era as a whole was driven quite a bit by civilian developments... things like electricity, railways, internal combustion engines, all done for the common good.
      Of course, all these inventions still helped the European powers a lot in solidifying their power over the colonies, so in a way, they still were oppressive, even though they weren't outright military. However, if one considers the viewpoint of-
      [smacked over the head by story's readers]
      Oki oki, I'll stop wasting time ranting here and get back to the writing already, I promise ^_^

    111. @Mrakoplaz

      And that's precisely why we need to spice Equestria up a bit! Give them some REAL enemies to fight!

      Hmm... maybe I could sneak a Borg or two in there... >:3

    112. "The universe is probably littered with one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space—each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."
      - Chapter 10 made me recall this quote from xkcd.

      It was a very strong chapter. It's hard to justify the necessity of spending billions on space exploration especially without active competition, like it was during Cold War. The future of Programme remains bleak, but there's always a place for hope. It cannot end like this! Right?! Right?..

      I love Zvezda and how she continues to get distracted by engineering problems during the most inappropriate moments. Awkward, but very cute.
      The math-loving filly got my attention, can't wait to know what would happen to her.
      The conversation with dragon reminded me of those eternal philosophy vs science debates and made me smile. Generally, I think it was a good decision to separate Canterlot politics scenes with more lighthearted moments.
      Bonus points for using "market for five computers" quote in a way that made a complete sense in story. A rare case when it's not taken out of context.

      Thank you for your continued hard work!

    113. Have I mentioned how much I love the holidays yet? Let's start off 2012 with another update of Our First Steps! Hopefully it's not a rushed mess ^_^

      Just a shorter chapter this time, but things happen. Big things. There's only 3 volumes left, so we're basically entering endgame now. I'd just like to re-iterate my thanks to everypony who's been so supportive all this time; I promise I'll be doing my best to give this story the grand conclusion that both all its characters, and all of you readers, definitely deserve!

      It obviously won't arrive as quickly as this update, but at least should have longer chapters (kind of like Volume 8?), and hopefully also be full of EXCITING ACTION.
      Oki, I guess I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, as the next chapter doesn't quite have the launch yet... but I'm the author. I can get excited whenever I damn well please ^_^

    114. My Little Pony: Rocket is (literally) Magic! With this last chapter, as things wind down to the real launch, suddenly everything is amazingly wonderful. Especially the janitors. No idea how they keep such a huge complex completely clean. The janitors are the real heroes here! And so is everypony else too. *SoAwesomeface*

    115. Just finished reading the latest chapter! WHOA!!! I'm so excited, smiling and jumping like Pinkie now! Big events are set in motion! Cherry's Dad is awesome! Feelings of enthusiasm, friendship and unity leave such a warm aftertaste! Fillies of Appleloosa have gained an amazing teacher! Wow, you made Dashie to study! That's a first! Liquid engine didn't even explode! "5 operations per second", haha! Zvezda overcame all engineering distractions and found herself a coltfriend! I'm not a big fan of het romance between my ponies, but they are technically your ponies, so YAY for them!

      /end of Pinkie mode
      *deep breath* Now I'll try to calm down and get some sleep...

    116. I was taking your comment about being over halfway done with a grain of salt, but after reading Chapter XII, I think I can see the direction your heading. Or maybe just feel it. But the story feels like it's no longer expanding and world building so much as narrowing down and starting to point us into the direction of the final crisis and the conclusion. That's not a bad thing, it's great! That's how all good stories start to read when you get closer to the end. :D

      >>It's Sunday! No need to rub our noses in it.
      I love the Sunday reference. I've heard it made several times in the fandom, but never yet in a fanfic. Convenient how it falls on a day of worship IRL, isn't it?

      >>Why, then, was the place still an arid desert?
      I had always assumed this was due to a lack of clouds being brought in by pegasus. I'd caught hints at an omnious past before, but this one is the most overt yet.

      >>„Trying to determine whether Celestia can make a plate so strong she herself cannot smash, or some such, are you now?“
      As other readers have said, I loved this whole dialogue! This character was well outside any of the other character types you have written, and you did a great job with him. It speaks to your ability as a writer to do something so out of the box!

      >>As she approached, however, he acted faster, and with a raised hoof he turned her away.
      THANK YOU for not letting that happen. It would have been... cheap, wrong, too easy, etc. You took the hard way, but it set the story up for something so much better! It was great to see Z taking charge like that at the well!

      >>But Wilhelmina was already walking away, towards the exit.
      I can't imagine that Celestia's patronizing "little observatory" job would have sounded, even if she was well-meaning. I can't wait to see how the cast turn this around! Maybe, even if the industrialists can't do it in the Sejm, they can help find a way to sell a few of those computers?

      >>Heh, yeah. It seems that the only time humanity can really get off its bum and do something is when we're at war... I suspect this is one of the reasons Equestria's techlevel is lower than ours ^_^
      This is exactly why I got so invested in this story in the first place. I just looked back... it was my very first comment on this page! Way back in August. I can hardly believe I've been following this story now for over four months! You've made it worth every second, though. Thank you.

      And now... I have to read the chapter that you just put out! :D

    117. >>But, aren't we all like, comrades here?
      Comrade Dash is best Dash. XD

      After celebrating New Year's last night, I'm too tired to write a second page-long commentary. I want to just say this chapter was great and leave it at that, but I'm not sure I can. lol...

      I was a little disappointed that Z and Ruby's interaction got glossed over but I understand why. You can't go on with side stories forever. I do hope we hear more of it, though! And I love Mr. Skies. I understand Will's hesitation, but really, he and she have a lot in common. I mean, they're both nobles who have foresworn their estates in furtherance of the good of the common pony. Mr. Skies just happened to give his up at a later time in his life than she did, that's really the only difference. If anything, that made his sacrifice harder than hers was. I hope that getting all of that out in the open helps them work through their issues. I know they'll make an amazing team! And speaking of teams, it's good to see that Sara stayed on. :)

      Thanks for the great New Year's "gift", 'Plaz! Happy New Year to you, too! Now, as Shantara said, it's time for sleep!

    118. I just had this big stupid smile while reading this chapter. The whole chapter is just heartwarming and after all that's happend I want so much for them to succeed and show everyone it can be done.

    119. This story is becoming stronger and stronger, I love it.

    120. Aw yeah! SCIENCE is happening. The Right Stuff has been found. The end is in sight and it shall be glorious!

      Come on my little ponies, you can do it!

      Genuinely cannot wait for the next chapter.

    121. I gotta agree with what said above, the story is building stronger as it progresses, and I find myself empathizing more and more with the remaining workers. You've created a beautiful atmosphere with this last chapter, and I'm eagerly waiting to see what will come out of this. It looks so idyllic at the moment ^^

      And to thank you for another wonderful chapter, here's my reading commentary. Have a happy 2012 ^^

    122. @Curebores

      I can help fund the rockets!

      *renames the project 'Bank of America'. The next day, it gets a $50 billion bit bailout!*

      No need to thank me! >:3

    123. I was a bit worried about only spending a week on the volume, but it seems to have worked. Onwards to the final chapters ^_^

      And seriously, thanks for all this incredibly enthusiastic and encouraging feedback, everyone! I must say, it is exactly what's been keeping me going and prodding me to improve my writing over these 4 months (as an aside, the calendar's lying - there's NO WAY I've spent 4 months writing about ponies). Heh, if you go back to the first chapters, you'll see I couldn't even punctuate dialogue properly... so, if nothing else, I've learnt that at least ^_^
      And of course, special thanks to Macon Mixx for the mini-writeup, and Tosxychor for his writeup!

      But yeah, this kind of chapter is exactly what inspired me to write a MLP fanfic in the first place; it was kind of chapter 2, with the Cherry rescue, but it's better now. It's just so much fun to write this kind of heartwarming stuff, and a pleasant break from the usual doom & gloom.
      Of course, now I have to work extra hard to make sure the ending exceeds even THIS...

    124. This comment has been removed by the author.

    125. @Mrakoplaz

      Dont worry, im sure your writing will end with a bang (I hope not literally for the sakes of the equanauts). I hope you continue to write fan fictions on EQD. Im not lying when I say this is literally my favorite fan fiction in the entire brony community (F:OE and past sins included). This fan fic deserves just as much recognition as any of the aforementioned fics. The character development is superb! I like how there is more than one protagonist yet their stories are entirely intertwined. The plot is equally enthralling (I like the element of mystery surrounding the commissar and his ponies and the origins of 'The Cape'). As a chemical engineering major, I'm glad that you have taken the time to make sure that all the physics of the rocket building are quite plausible. I am also interested in aeronautical engineering so this story is right up my alley. Anyways I'm rambling, thank you Mrakoplaz for your contribution to the community!

      TL;DR this is going to be a fan fic I will read again!

    126. Computers running at 5 flops! Amazing!

    127. One thing I've noticed. If the program went on normally, zvezda would be one of those people/ponies who's contributions would be forgotten. But now, being part of the small handfull of personell who are defiantly working on achiving their dream, she might not be aware of it, but she's very much become part of history as much as everyone else invovled.

    128. This story makes me want to drop out of law school and become an engineer.

    129. Just letting everypony know this is still alive ^_^

      Anyway, mid-term exams are kind of getting in the way, plus also I'm starting to tie up loose ends now (at least, preparing to), so the volume's getting longer than I expected; both meaning it's taking more time to write.
      Should still be out by Sunday, though (hopefully).
      Thanks for being patient!

      Oh, and bigscarysnowman, to me that's one of the most touching things I've ever heard :)

    130. Long chapter is long, and I apologize in advance for any derps still present there - if you see any (especially egregious ones), please point them out, so I can fix them!
      But yeah, it's kind of a mish-mash chapter. Lots of stuff I postponed from earlier and had to do now, resulting in some forced kludging (turns out, I actually do better when I don't plan at all, because I'm horrible at planning!). Here's hoping the launch makes up for it. I know I ALWAYS say this, but this time I actually mean it.
      On the upside, you get not one, not two, but three whole countdown sequences! Them sci-fye readers love countdowns, right?

      Now, if you excuse me, editing this horrid thing has killed me quite effectively. Editing is horrible. I'll be back after some sleep, and hopefully this won't drop to 2 stars in the time I'm gone ^_^

    131. Is it bad that when I saw this picture I immediately thought "It's a penis."?

    132. Look, the official, NASA-approved name for radially-mounted booster motors is "Strap-on" (just look the term up on Wikipedia!).
      I don't believe this needs any further comment than that.

    133. Excellent as usual, didn't notice any glaring errors but then again I wasn't looking for them. I really liked RD in this one - especially the "nerd" conversation. Derpy and Dinky made me giggle too.

      The launch is almost upon us... Don't blow up (touch wood, fingers crossed)...

      GO PONIES! GO!

    134. I so wish this were on fimfiction.net

      I read my stories on a portable device. I can view DA, fimfiction.net, and fanfic.net... but Google Docs craps out on it.

      The only way for me to read these is to download the document, convert it to plain text, put it in a secret directory on my website, and load that in my portable's browser as a basic text file.

      Gets a little hard to do though when Google docs starts derping...

      "Trying to reach Google Docs. Please reload, blah, blah"

      I'm pretty sure I'm only up to part 7, due to the fact that it's too much hassle to read a story this massive on Google Docs.

      I wish I could afford to just buy a freaking tablet with a half decent portable browser and ebook functionality.

      Anyone know if you can make a Kindle fire read epub... Or is Amazon still trying to give cross standard compatibility the upturned hoof (pony finger).

    135. @Curebores
      Thanks, again! ^_^
      I must say, I've had serious trouble with this chapter, half with typical writer's block, and half with over-writing boring stuff (e.g. I literally cut 2000 characters from the Zvezda scene without any difference to anything, that's how bad it was). I'm still not so happy with some of the scenes (especially the Rarity/Dash, before Derpy appears), but it's reassuring they aren't complete disasters!

      Daaamn, that sounds INCREDIBLY annoying. Does your device really not support any other files than .txt? If it helps, there's an online .pdf e-book thing on maximillianveers.deviantart.com/
      But fimfiction.net might sound like a plan. Just one question; does it support uploading normal files and keeping the formatting? Because if it only supports plain text, and I have to re-add all my 10000+ lines of italics again...

    136. @richfiles
      Here you go:

      I like to have access to all my ebooks in subway or on the plane, so I always store them locally. If you need any other fic, feel free to ask.

    137. @richfiles

      I actually am very seriously contemplating a Kindle Fire at this point. Wikipedia says it supports ePub (all the old Kindles did NOT). I confirmed with a friend with one, that there is a Google Docs app (lame that the browser doesn't necessarily directly support it, but at least there's an app).

      I just gotta take the plunge and make my wallet weep a pair of bens. I'm conflicted as to whether to spend all my cash on an expensive ereader, or try to save more for a cheap tablet... Is there any real difference?

      I just want a device I can read ALL fics on!

      I love my 3DS as a game player, but I probably use it 85-90% for reading fics, and 10-15% for games. It's nice to be able to have it fit in my pocket, and I can legitimately take it to work (I work at a Gamestop, so it serves as a nice selling tool, since our smaller store never got any kiosks to demo the glasses free 3D).

      The problem... Nintendo ended up using the SAME freaking browser Sony slapped into the PS3. That browser is horse manure! It can't handle complex pages, crashes easy, and has no flash or decent scripting support. I can't even leave comments on most websites with it's browser.

      To any Kindle fire users out there... can you cache or save pages in memory to view later, when you don't have wifi available? If it could do that, I'd be 100% decided in it... Like I'd get in the car right now, and deal with a $10 late fee for my utilities! LOL!

    138. @Mrakoplaz

      Yeah man... I don't have a smartphone or a tablet. I only have my trusty Nintendo 3DS and an 8 year old Mac. Sadly, though I'd certainly PAY NINTENDO for an eReader app on their store, they don't actually have one. I'd love to be able to load eBooks on my SD card and read them on the go.

      I don't want to spend a lot of money, cause money's tight, but I'm also realizing that there are smartphones and tablets that are starting to approach the total processing power of my 8 year old Mac...


      I do love my computer, old as it may be, but being tethered to it to read... sucks. It's why I do like my 3DS. I can read Fimfiction, fanfic, and DA links with it, not to mention any basic HTML or TXT files that I can load in the browser. It even caches the last page, so long as I don't close the browser, meaning I can load a chapter and read it later, like on my break at work. SOMETIMES DA links fail due to their scripting, but it usually just means reloading 2 or 3 times and crossing my fingers. Google Docs is a very active script, and the NetFront browser just DIES under this load. Usually, it just sits there, sometimes it crashes.

      Ah! I just read it has only 8 GB and NO SD card slot either. That kinda sucks, as my 8 GB iPod was full before I killed it, twice. My 6 GB iPod is BURSTING at the seams, and is only good for a dozen or so songs anymore due to an aging battery.

      I know I should just wait for a real tablet... But I'm not sure. I could probably squeeze out a pair of hundos, but I know that later I'll regret getting what amounts to the heavily restricted, entry level model. Also, their cloud based web browser disturbs me... Let us run all your websites through our central server and put them together for you so you can shave 100s of milliseconds off your render time. We promise not to look over your shoulder, wink, wink.

      I HATE the cloud. it just... Disturbs me.

      I just get the feeling that the Kindle Fire would be too restricted for my liking. You have to understand, my Mac supports 2 internal hard drives... which means MY Mac has 11 SATA hard drives, strewn between two interlinked towers, 3 monitors (1 HD, 2 >HD), and it all looks like something cobbled together from junk scavenged from an abandoned Fallout vault and the vast wasteland. LOL!

      Ahh!!! decisions! I'm just gonna go and catch up on all the old drawfriends that I haven't yet saved the images out of. I got like half a dozen of 'em. All nighting two Bronystate livestreams two weeks in a row and having a nasty head cold has destroyed all concepts of a normal sleep cycle, not to mention made me tired for two weeks straight!

      I think I'll read this later.

      Also... you have italics in the story? Crud. I've always read it plaintext.

      Facehoofs again...

    139. @Mrakoplaz *rocket booster flies overhead* What the heck is that thing? It looks like a giant... Johnson! Get over here! What are you staring at? Good lord almighty! That thing huge and it's got... Two balls, one strike. WHOAH! Did you see that? It's shaped like an enormous... Willie? Willie Nelson? Wow it is you!

      I could go on for a long time... Austin Powers judo-chop!

    140. @richfiles Whoa, a 3DS? I didn't even know those things could go on the web! Then again, I still remember connecting through dial-up in good ol' Eastern Europe...
      Anyway, I'll check out the FiMfiction.net thing. And don't worry about the italics, they don't really serve any real purpose aside from making it neater ^_^

      @Alondro Pretty much, yeah. Rocket designers have ISSUES.

      PS: Oh, oh, I still haven't mentioned the best (worst) thing!
      The Atlas rocket's lightweight single-hull construction was so flimsy, that in order for it to support its own weight, it had to, and I quote, be "kept rigid by internal tank pressure", otherwise it went limp and flaccid, collapsing on the pad.
      I am not kidding.

    141. Whoa! The latest chapter was even more awesome than usual! I'm WAY too excited to write a proper review, so I'll just post my random thoughts below. >_<

      * I like how you handled Rainbow's character development. Giving credit to all the Cosmodrome staff in the interview and accepting the results of equenaut selection was a definite progress over how she usually behaves in the series.

      * Scene in Canterlot. Payback time! Will finally got over herself and can now be friendly to Mr. Skies.

      * Zvezda still teaching those fillies and Rarity has finished the spacesuit. Kudos for keeping track of all minor plots even when the big events are unfolding!

      * I kinda wished to see Twilight and Luna cameo. I loved your portrayal of Luna during the failed launch, so it would be nice to see her in the story again. Mention of "princesses" in the end of the chapter fills me with hope.

      * Dinky building her own rocket to help her mother was very sweet scene. Was Derpy/Ditzy naming mixup intentional or something that was missed during editing?

      * You even integrated Gagarin's speech into the story, replacing Soviet cliches with Equestrian! *nerdgasm*

    142. I forgot to mention the most important thing in my previous comment.

      I applause you for having guts and talent to pull what rare fanfic writers even attempt to do - creating a story with loveable OC taking the spotlight and canon character staying in background. I hoped to see this outcome of equenaut selection, but didn't think it would actually happen. (Though there still could be some sort of last moment crisis...)

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    143. In turn, I thank you for the feedback, Shantara! ^_^
      Anyway, the OCs thing was more of a necessity, since the whole idea of this story really is "A toast to the unknown heroes"; all those ponies (people) who we've never heard about, whose names will be forgotten, but who worked so hard on making our modern world a reality. So, putting the Elements of Harmony in the major roles wouldn't really work (doesn't mean they can't show up and be fun, though).
      Kudos on recognizing the Gagarin speech!
      And yeah, the Ditzy/Derpy thing was intentional. In my opinion, it's not canon that her name is Derpy - all that's canon is that Dash CALLS her Derpy :)

      PS: I've already had Twilight and Luna cameos planned for the last chapters, so don't worry!

    144. @Mrakoplaz

      I'd been hoarding $200 for the last month, trying to decide wether to get a Kindle Fire or not. I ended up spotting a store display Acer Iconia A500 online for only $100 more, and decided to take a gamble... and pay my utilities late. LOL!

      Yeah, these days, the only game system that DOESN'T go on the web is the xBox 360. Odd, since it's the ONE COMPANY that actually HAS their own commonly used browser. /)-_-

      PS3, PSP, 3DS, and possibly the Vita all use NetFront, which is a pre modern smartphone browser that used to be used on early web capable phones... and it SUCKS!

      Wii uses Opera. Yes. The OPERA.

      DSi might have used Opera or Netfront. Not sure, as I don't have one.

      PS3 used to run Linux, but then it took a patch to th.. SMACK


      OK, I won't make that joke, but seriously. Sony sucks. Make the most powerful system, Sell it, saying in a press release it can double as a home computer running Linux... Install NetFront on it and then take Linux away on a lie... Releasing a patch on April 1st that irrevocably destroys your Linux instal, without saying ANYTHING more than calling it a vague security update. So many updated, thinking the "it wipes your Linux" was an April fools joke!

      Sony is clearly the bastard lovechild of Trollestia and Discord.

      I'm still sore about that. It used to be the most powerful computer in my house. I could browse the web using Firefox, on my big screen, and read stuff from anywhere in my room, even all the way across to my bed.

      Now I'm back to my 8 year old Mac, with it's spinning rainbow beachball of death.

      Getting antsy for my tablet to show up. I sure hope that Acer A500 was a good pick.


      Checks tracking number again!


      Why does time move so slow... and in order!

      I promise I will enjoy this story in it's entirety, once I can rip open that package with my tablet! yay!

      Also... I LOLed at the bit on the Atlast rocket... You definitely want to make sure your rocket doesn't have projectile disfunction!

    145. @Mrakoplaz Dinky is a super-genius! My only rocket exploded about 2 feet off the ground. But what an explosion! It was awesome! I found pieces a hundred feet away! And it was just a gunpowder rocket! :D

    146. Just right now reading chapter 11, I have to say this. "Me, in my coolest space suit. Full colour photo, and not with that cheap chemical stuff either. Enchanted.“ That line right there is GENIUS! Mrakoplaz, you're a creative genius. I love this story soooooooo much, and I'm grinning my face off at one. line. Heh. I want magic pictures, too!

    147. So heh, that was silly of me. Anyways, too much wonderful stuff in this chapter for me to talk about, but I have to say this: Please don't put in the end: ...and Dash joined the Wonderbolts and happily ever after. Because it's not like Rainbow Dash and Bliz Shepard couldn't have also gone up, it's just that there was only one rocket and it had only one seat. There will be more rockets, and you can't stop Rainbow Dash!

    148. Thanks Mrakoplaz for another brilliant, brilliant chapter of this saga. I swear I loved every little part of it ^^ I'm looking forward to the last chapter SO BAD now! :p

      For the derps, I spotted three, but I only managed to report two :\
      I'm sure understand it better than me!
      - accidentally a 'you'
      What did it say in book did you had yesterday?“
      - might want to reword that.

      And of course, my (slightly belated) reading commentary for this chapter. Hope you enjoy ^^

    149. @Alondro
      Then again, you probably didn't have magic to help you, so I wouldn't feel so bad ^_^

      @Derpmind Heh, I'd call it more "writing down whatever silly stuff comes into my head".
      And don't worry, I'd never put that in the ending. What I've got planned, I actually like quite a lot!

      @Tosxychor Thanks for both pointing out the derps, and your commentary! I hadn't even thought of the "seven colours on the rainbow" thing... actually, that makes me wonder how much of this fic's perceived 'brilliance' is utterly accidental ^_^
      And it's not one chapter left, but two! They'll obviously take ages to go up, but at least now that the mid-terms are done, I won't feel so utterly exhausted anymore.

      PS: I can't take credit for the "YOU should be convincing ME" line either, that was said by a professor at my Cambridge interview ;)

    150. Eep, I WANT to fix the derps, but people are reading whenever I click the link... I'll just have to time it right, I guess ^_^

    151. @Mrakoplaz
      "I can't take credit for the "YOU should be convincing ME" line either, that was said by a professor at my Cambridge interview ;)"

      My physics teacher used to say exactly the same phrase. Maybe it's a professional thing. :D

    152. I'll point out that the heat of rocket re-entry is not caused by friction, but compressive heating. Air is a Newtonian fluid; the air in contact with a solid object has a velocity of zero relative to that object, and thus no friction can occur (we call it "air resistance" for a reason).

    153. Alright, you know what's coming, right? Lots of fan gushing? Well not tonight! No, tonight I am going to be calm and factual. Terse, even.

      Ha! Who am I kidding? This chapter was GREAT! I know, I know... fantastic writing is par for the course at this point. But you do such a great job telling this story, but I can't help but love every second of it. The mish-mash you mention? Didn't even notice it. Though, I will confess that I am a little late to this party. Perhaps you've had a chance to go back and iron out the rough spots.

      Great job managing the classroom scene. It's wonderful seeing that go off. And Mr. Skies enthusiasm as the launch announcer made me more excited about it too! Rainbow's grace there, before the launch when the reporter came in, was also something worth comment. Not only is it hard for Rainbow to be humble, it's hard to write a humble Dash story believably. You did a great job of it.

      You know that one of the things I love most about your story is the interaction between demigod Celestia and her mortal subjects. The whole bit around "The eternal ruler of all ponies, blinked." was fantastic. I love that line. I love that whole scene. I love even more what it says about Will as a character, that she was able to have that victory. I imagine there are not more than three or four ponies in a generation who ever manage to suprise Celestia.

      The bit leading up to the mysterious "final exam" was a great view of Rainbow and Cherry's psychology. Redstone's too, for that matter. And I always enjoy the bits of goofy humor you throw in. Not just in their "study session", but throughout the whole chapter.

      I thought the same thing that Rainbow Dash did when we found out that Rarity broke the bank! I was like, "No, it's just a story... I can't read that far into it..." trying not to convince myself that half of Ponyville had just lost their life-savings. But I should have known you weren't going to leave a plot hole that big open like that. I loved how you worked it into the story! I can't believe you felt this scene was a disaster. That was a great little subplot you had going there.

      That, and the Wonderbolts bit, too! There have been other "Dash leads the Wonderbolts" stories I've read, but I've not liked any of them because they haven't been believable. For once, RD actually has a legit reason to be ordering them around.

      And Dinky is cute. Love your characterization. 'Nuff said.

      Yet another hint at something... darker... with the mysterious note about the Cape. I'd been wondering that, too. You have me dying to find out the answer! Also, I loved the fire scene. Sara continuing to narrate over the panicing reporters... Priceless!

    154. (Character limit? What character limit?)

      Cherry is handling her last days on Earth (pun intended) very well. Especially considering that she has to spend them as a lab rat. And... we're landing a CAPSULE on land? I know the Russkies do it... but that looks painful! I've seen videos of those cosmonauts getting out of their capsules. They can't walk for hours! I mean, this isn't... oh, wait. She won't be in the capsule when it lands, will she? Ha! You really had me going there!

      "A wide smile appeared on her face as she imagined the shocked face of Celestia, staring emptily after the rocket exploded in front of her very eyes, taking her historical speech along with it; the fact she'd die in the blazing inferno not bothering her tired brain at all.... History. She shook her head in disbelief..... What a joke."

      I love these last lines of the chapter. So real. So of-the-moment. Our greatest heroes, on the night before their greatest deeds, were all just men and women, trying to get some sleep. History was always the present at one point, and there is very little chance it was actually as glamourous as we remember it. Point very well taken. You did an excellent job conveying that feeling through the whole chapter. Even through this whole story. Once again, I loved it. Thanks for posting.

    155. @nick012000: Yeah, exactly. Rainbow kind of blew her interview, the poor thing :(

      @Macon Mixx: Yay, another one of your two-post reviews! Thank you! I'm really glad to see that people like this stuff ^_^
      Then again, I have to admit I kind of liked some of the scenes myself, too. One of the reasons I love the FiM setting so much is the whole "immortal ruler among her subjects" thing, and how she interacts with them!
      Anyway, I guess the source of my constant worrying and uncertainty about the quality comes from the fact I'm treating it like a novel, and not like the fan-fic it actually is. Plus, I've never written anything of this length, so there's that too.

      PS: Before, you mentioned it was half-way through, when it was closer to 70%. Now that's it almost over (and everything's completely planned, so I can't get influenced by other stuffs ^_^), could you perhaps explain how you thought it was going to turn out? I'm intrigued.

    156. Love this story, started out a touch boring, but it was all I had on my Kobo (I downloaded the .pdf from GDocs) but once I hit the Royal Visit I couldn't put it down. I can't wait for the conclusion.

      Also, you know how everyone hits their "Fireman" "Policeman" "Veterinarian" etc. phases? Well I hit my Astronaut/Pilot phase 12 years ago and have yet to leave it. I can guarantee you, if I make it to space, this story, in hard copy form, is going as well.

    157. @Bpendragon Thanks! And, well, you know what they say about aiming for the Moon: "Even if you miss, you still end up among the stars." Heck, I myself applied to Cambridge on a whim, never thinking I'd even get an interview, and now I'm the proud owner of a conditional offer! Point is, you never know if you can succeed if you don't try ^_^

      Anyway, instead of working on the latest chapter (hah!), I went back and fixed the dialogue punctuation issues in the early volumes. If any new readers see this, please tell me if I've accidentally derped something else while doing that!

      PS: The next chapter's going SLOW. Sorry, everypony. I'm trying to make this one worth it, but what's coming out of my keyboard isn't exactly stellar (slowly getting better, though; just give it time)...

    158. Well! I love my new tablet. I'd been busy lately, but I finally finished the story up to the latest chapter. Sadly, I must now go off and build cables, and have no time to write long comment. I just want to say, i have LOVED the story so far! It even made me blink! :D

    159. Also... The bit on the computing devices, especially the scene where Princess Luna is excited about receiving one from Will, made me giddy with nerdgasmic joy! The Luna's question in regards to whether they can calculate logarithms actually made me think about my Wang 360SE. All transistors and resistor-diode logic, without a single integrated circuit in sight for a few more years, it managed to perform all the functions of a typical scientific calculator, using a pair of logarithm calculating circuits and a pair of accumulators. To add or subtract, you simply ran the numbers through the accumulators for a result. For multiplication and division, the numbers ran through the log circuits, and were then run through the accumulator, and then anti-log. It was literally an electronic slide rule. Through a diode array in the keyboard it would perform pre-programmed stepped instructions to execute sines and cosines and such tasks. A work of engineering art, if you ask me!

      I also enjoy the mention of valves. Early computers did use valves (vacuum tubes) also. I think my favorite artifact in my vintage computing collection is the decade counter/display board from an ANITA MK8. It has a Nixie tube display (like the Wang), but it predates even transistors. It's logic is performed by thyratron tubes. Thyratrons, sometimes called trigger tubes, are cold cathode devices, usually filled with a gas like Neon or Hydrogen. They are designed with either 3 or 4 terminals, though careful selection can allow a standard 2 terminal neon lamp to function in a similar manner. Essentially, they hover at a voltage, and allow a voltage spike on the trigger to basically jump the air gap and create a path for electrons to flow. Once ionized, the neon continues to carry electrons to the other lead until a voltage interruption, or if it has a 4th lead, a grid interrupts the flow. The ANITA used Selenium half wave rectifiers as a pair of diodes (because it was cheaper! LOL) to create a 10 step decade counting ring with carry. Each pulse stepped the counter forward by one position, illuminating another digit on the nixie tube. when it passed back to 0, it would send a carry pulse to the next board. Subtraction was performed automatically using 9's compliment, and a different series of pulses coming from the keyboard. If you wanted to subtract 3 from 8, you stepped forward 7 pulses, and sent the carry pulse a bit differently as well. The beauty of these old machines, were their simplicity! A neon or hydrogen filled glass bulb with 2-4 electrodes, and far more reliable than vacuum based valves, as the cold cathode devices required no filament! Curious thing... Even to this day, cold cathode tubes have been in common use, lighting up your LCD monitors and TVs, though LEDs are finally pushing those to the sidelines in a bid to wipe out one of the last remnants of the pre-solid state world of technology into the past.

      I am such a nerd...

    160. Oh yeah... 2 more things...

      The beauty of the thyratron computing devices, is the tube lights if active, and dims if inactive, creating a lovely light show of orange or violet light (neon was orange, and hydrogen filled tubes were violet). People have made clocks based on these principals!

      Also... NOW I will go off to build cables. I feel like one of those workers, putting in way too many hours! LOL! :D

    161. @richfiles: Whoa, those ancient computers sound even more exciting than I thought! I did the slightest bit of preliminary research about them for the story (obviously not much, though ^_^), and although I liked what I found, your account is fascinating! Thanks!

      In the story, I always imagined the pony computers as a complete random mish-mash of every approach under the sun. Hundreds of relays, valves, some mechanics, a bit of magic, and an absolute nightmare to build and debug. After all, they're mostly built by one very crazy pony, who doesn't really care about elegance or efficiency as long as it works. An actual human mechanic would probably have an aneurysm just from looking at it.
      Along with pretty much every other example of pony engineering, actually...

      Anyway, Volume 13's proving to be a doozy, kind of like Volume 8 was, back in the day... by which I mean, of course, ABSOLUTELY BUCKING RIDICULOUS. Right now, it's 23000 words, and I STILL need to write at least a few more pages.
      Aaaargh. And I wrote 5000 of those in a single sitting, too, so both my head and fingers hurt...

      So yeah, sorry about the excessive length and all that. Considering it's just ponies, it's definitely way too many words...

      PS: Editing will probably drive me insane, but it should be out by next week, hopefully. After that, the final volume will be shorter, though.

    162. @Mrakoplaz
      I mostly collect calculators, but I do have a few computer artifacts, such as an awesome univac keyboard from a 70s era machine that used to be used as part of a law enforcement database terminal. I have a very old card from a late 50s or an early 60s era machine (I think, also a univac). It was a relay driver card that used very early transistors as part of an "AND" circuit. I already mentioned my ANITA MK 8 decade counter/display board. I hope to someday have some more of the "great" calculators. I have a Friden EC132, and a Smith Corona Marchant (SCM) Cogito 240SR, two of the earliest transistorized models. My Wang 360SE is incomplete, missing the display/keyboard head units. It could have up to 4 user stations running on a single electronics package, which was a great way for the customer to get the best bang for their buck in the days where calculators cost over $1000, and a Cadillac could be had for $5000. Those models I have... but there are some models I truly wish I had in my collection. the Hewlett Packard HP 9100 was the greatest of the 1960s calculators. It was a fully programmible scientific calculator with a large memory that stored both variables and programs, it was expandible, and is argued by some to have retroactively stolen the claim of first personal computer from the Altair, and with a superior user interface to boot! With the right accessories, it could even be a graphing calculator. It used resistor-diode logic, with a ccompliment of transistors, rendered numerals on a tiny CRT as vector graphics, and had magnetic core memory for RAM, and a 32Kbit ROM made from a 16 layer Teflon insulated circuit bboard with NO COMPONENTS!!! The HP 9100 already cost $4900 in 1968. Diodes cost $0.25 each in bulk back then, and assuming 50% 1s and 50% 0s for the ROM program, it would have taken an estimated 16000 diodes, upping the cost another $4000. Using the electromagnetic principals behind the core memory, they created a zigzag of copper traces on the 16 layer circuit board to code the ROM program as a grid of electromagnetic polarities. It was the most elegant solution. From 16000 parts on stacks of circuit boards, to NO parts on a single circuit board, with nothing more than a row and column drive and sense circuit. That's engineering elegance at it's finest!

      the beauty... it was pitched to HP in a green painted wooden box by an outsider with a dream! :)

      I'd also love to add a Wang Loci II and a Wang 700 series to my collection. Both are quite legendary machines, but don't hold a candle to HP's 9100 model.

      The 9100 also has the distinction of having received a sstanding ovation from JPL nerds when it was presented and used with an X-Y plotter to graph the proposed oyager gravitational slingshot around Jupiter. Recall, these were still the days of slide rules!

      My how far we've come from glass tubes filled with metal bits!

    163. ^^^ I meant Voyager. Also... I may have forgotten to mention HP packed the 9100 into a beautifully curved enclosure no much bigger than a typewriter. It should also be noted, that there was an amazing syncro based analog computer that was being designed in parallel. It never made it anywhere, but supposedly, it was saved from the recycler and ended up in an HP employees barn! Your description of one computer on the pony rocket really reminded me of it! :)

      Tom Osbourne designed the HP 9100 and only got HP to make it after being turned down by both Friden and SCM. The 9100 was actually a 64-bit machine! Your PC is likely only 32 or 64 bits! 1980s computers were only 8 or 16 bits typically!

      For a very in depth read on the history of this machine, read...


      Also, look at...


      These machines were nuts... You could even write self modifying programs on it! I so wish I had one myself!

      Speaking of analog computing... I used to work for a company that made synchros. They look like an electric motor, but are actually a sensor that generates a VERY precise analog output that translates shaft angle into phase shift and voltage on 2 or 3 outputs. It's actually possible to build a computer out of them! I'd even go so far as to say a good portion of the pony computer you described could be based on such technology! That combined with the relays, valves, and possibly condensers as memory. you ought to look up the ABC made in 1939 by John Atanasoff at Iowa state university. Though not reprogrammable, it could solve sequences of linear equations, and was only the size of an office desk (shocking, considering the room sized machines of the 40s and 50s). Amazingly, this computer opened the way for the PCs we use today. Sperry-Rand owned numerous patents for computing tech, including for the VERY CONCEPT of an electronic computer, thanks to their construction of ENIAC. Honeywell uncovered the existence of the ABC, and learned that a Sperry-Rand employee had VISITED Iowa state during it's construction. In 1973, in a court room in my own state of Minnesota, computing technology was legally unbound from Sperry-Rand, their patents nullified over prior invention and prior art, not to mention... they copied the idea directly!

      Not many people realize the mid-west is the home of the electronic computer. It's just that we really have absolutely nothing better to do out here in the middle of nowhere! :)

      Sadly, this knowledge never hit the front page of newspapers, despite it opening the door to home computers only 3 years later. A little thing called Watergate was happening at the same time. Dang it Nixon! My state could have been famous! LOL

    164. Oh yeah...

      You'd also love the Z1 made by Konrad Zuse in 1936 in Germany. It was purely mechanical, and used sliding metal plates as logic and memory. 35mm film could be punched and used as a punched tape program reel. His original name for the computer was the Versuchmodell 1, or V1... but he renamed it for obvious reasons. He built it in his parent's living room, and quit his airplane building job to finish it. It was too large to move out of the room, and was destroyed in 1943 during bombing raids against nazi Germany.

      Interestingly, the Z1 ran at 1 Hz, the Z2 ran at 3 Hz, and the Z3 ran at ablazing 5.33 Hz, or about as fast as your pony computer! LOL!

      Zuse fled Berlin in early 1945, unable to ignore the danger of the war. He hid the prototype of the Z4 in a barn in Bavaria., and supported his then pregnant wife by making and selling woodcuts to the local farmers and American troops. Eventually, he was funded, and the Z4 was finished and put to use performing scientific calculations in Zurich. Unlike most computers of the day, it was simple to use. It took an average of only 3 hours to learn to operate it, and it was more reliable than any machine in 1950, operating overnight without being attended... something unheard of in the day!

      It's quite amazing how technology has changed. The lines in your story about science being about friendship over generations was creative... and quite true! Science is the knowledge we share with those who come after us. I love reading about the crazy things engineers had to struggle through to achieve anything revolutionary.

      That's why this story has TOTALLY made me slack and be late on my cable work. LOL! So... you mention the current chapter is huge, and you have at least one more.... PLEASE SAY IT WON'T END... Actually, it sure looks like you are aiming this story for simply reaching orbit and returning alive. Will the story aim for the moon (Luna might be very interested in that)! Will you separate such a path into a separate story? Do you plan on continuing?

      If not for me... do it for Pwincess Woona... Pweez!

      -- Uses filly Pwincess Woona's puppydog eyes as a weapon of coercion --

    165. @Mrakoplaz
      LOLOLOL! So much typing here!
      One can never have too many words when it's ponies! LOL

    166. LOL! My memory failed me. The JPL standing ovation was after an HP 9100 plotted complex bessel -function antenna patterns. Also, the gravity slingshot was plotting Pioneer 11. The updated trajectory allowed Pioneer 11 to BEAT Voyager 1 to Saturn.

      You ought to look up Stanley Frinkel also. He was a Manhattan project mathematician who worked with some of the earliest computers for the US at Los Alamos National Labs. He openlynspoke out that nnuclear science shouldnp be open and academic, to allow for better development of peacetime nuclear sciences... wrong thing to say in the Macarthy era. He was censured, and was unable to get government work. the only job he could find in his field, was with the adding machine company Marchant. They soon merged with Smith Corona, and tried to market his electronic calculator design to Friden. they turned it down... and beat them to market with a near identical machine by mere months... surprise...

      Both machines used resistor-diode logic, a small compliment of transistors, vector based CRT rendered numbers, and something called magnetostrictive memory. You know how if you grab a rope and flick it, the wave will travel to the other end? SAME concept. A coil of nickel-steel wire was vibrated with a transducer at one end. 480 bits could be stored on the vibrating wire before the pulses reached the other end. The pulses are torsional (twisting), and so, are resistant to external vibrations. They are picked up by a second transducer, fed serially back into the calculators circuits, and the results fed back into the loop. When idle, it reads the output and feeds identical data back to the input of the delay line loop. The calculator was so slow, you could watch the numbers "dance" as they churned though the circuits. The keyboard actually would lock so you could not press keys while it was "thinking"!

      Crazy stuff!

      These days, we don't bat an eye at 3 or 4 GHz.

      One oddity about the Cogito 240SR, as long as you keep track of the decimalmplace, it would count decimal position in a 4 stage cyclic pattern that would theoretically allow you to continue calculating to infinity. You just lost precision as the calculator discarded the leeast significant digits.

    167. @richfiles *attempts to comprehend the conversation... eyes go derp* My cat's breath smells like catfood... *has seizure*

    168. Whoa, richfiles, I didn't expect you'd write out an entire book about these old computers! It's all really interesting stuff, but please don't get fired from your job because you spent too much time writing! ^_^
      Oh, and I wouldn't worry about the ending if I were you. I won't spoil anything, but I think you're going to like it!

      Right, anyway, I think I've got the entire chapter written now (at 27kwords, you'd certainly hope so), but I want to spend a bit more time on just proof-reading and general editing. There's a few scenes that still definitely need fixing, a couple more that could flow a bit better, and of course billions of tiny grammar derps. It's getting to the final point of the story, so I want it to be good!
      But, right now, I really have to do some long-delayed chemistry revision, or bad stuff will happen. Expect the next volume before the week's over!

    169. @Mrakoplaz
      No worries... I build cables for a surgical tool in my home shop. I'd been pretty out of it lately due to an inner ear problem, so I've been both trying to rest, but also have been falling behind on my schedule. I'll be working on them more today. I work another job and sometime the hours also interfere with how much time I get to work on the cables. Between my ear, my other job, and parts being late from suppliers... They will only be due in last January! I'm not concerned over a day or two. Since when has anything ever been on time and under budget... Oh, wait... When NOT made by ponies! :D

      I look forward to freezing all activity in my life to read 27K words again... later... after cables! LOL! :D

    170. I can help you with the electron configuration of chlorine if you want.

    171. @Autunite Hmm, I just double-checked that particular passage, and I can tell you it says exactly what I wanted it to say! ^_^
      I mean, at first sight it might look wrong to you (or me, or anyone doing chemistry), but there is actually a reasoning behind the configuration Dash gives... just compare with the structure of the nucleus she describes right before that.

      And yes, I spend WAY too long on sneaking in these little things instead of paying attention to the spelling and grammar :)

    172. Ok thanks! Also I am building a high power rocket for a scholarship and I usually name the rockets I build. Usually I have a good name for my rocket but since this is my first high power rocket I wanted it to be extra special and thus I have been stumped for several months (the name also affects how I paint the rocket so its still unpainted). I was wondering if I could name it after Zvezda in the fic (I know it means star, and that it is an ISS module). The rocket is a half scale AMRAAM missile here is a picture of me holding it.

      Painting design ideas would be nice too if others are willing to give their two cents.

    173. @Autunite Well, of course! It's not like I have a copyright on the name or anything ^_^
      I've always wanted to do some model rocketry, but we've never lived somewhere with enough free space/etc. for that. That rocket certainly looks pretty damn awesome. No ideas for the paint, though, sorry.

      Also, editing is almost complete now (finally). Just one last read-through, and I'm sending it off!

    174. Welp, I made a thing.
      Ninety four kilobytes of space ponies. Not sure if my life had taken a very wrong turn somewhere, or a very right one...

      Anyway, yeah. Not much to say, too tired from all the editing. Hope it lives up to your expectations. Please report any derps you see (grammar, spelling, OR logic).
      Now, off to watch the new episode, I suppose. But first, SLEEEEEEEP!!!

      PS: Sorry about the stupid cliffhanger of an ending, but I hope everypony understands that there was simply going to be no way I was going to finish this in a single chapter. Onwards to the finale ^_^

    175. Huzzah! The computeronic efficiency has been doubled!

    176. @Mrakoplaz

      to put it in the Immortal words of Applebloom in "Heart and Hooves Day":



    178. Absolutely everything in chapter 13 was indescribably awesome. Let me say that again: indescribably awesome. There are a hundred things I could write entire paragraphs about in this one chapter, but I'm so emotionally drained from the awesome that I can't type anything about the chapter.

      There's a stupid belief that 13 is an unlucky number. For as long as I can remember, I've always held that 13 is, in fact, the most lucky number ever. Everyone sucks all the bad luck out of it, so therefore all that's left is an astronomical quantity of good luck. Thank you for reaffirming my belief in life, the universe, and ponies. Thank you for this INDESCRIBABLY AWESOME story!

    179. @Mrakoplaz:
      When Zvez walked Cherry to the rocket, the Commissar wanted to talk to her about something, but you never got back to it. You should probably edit that bit.


    180. Whee! Most glad I didn't disappoint ^_^
      I've got the finale all planned out, and it should also be shorter than this monster of a chapter, but I think everypony here knows just how slow a writer I am. Plus, school is kind of ramping up too, so we'll see how fast I actually manage to write it all out.
      Seeing as it's the ending, though, I'd prefer to take my time, and not rush anything.

      @Justin Owen: Unless I've missed some specific grammar derp/missing word/broken sentence there, then that oversight is supposed to be quite intentional. After all, in all the excitement, ponies might forget stuff.

    181. I know this is a fairly short response not worthy of mention, but I love this story thoroughly. I eagerly await the next part!

    182. I absolutely love this. Part 1 has got me hooked. The premise is spectacular, and the writing of the piece itself makes me think I could see this on a bookshelf in a store. If only! Magnificent, 500 out of 5 stars.

    183. @Mrakoplaz:
      No grammatical errors, I just thought you might have forgotten about it in the excitement, rather than Zvez forgetting about it in the excitement.

    184. Also, thank you SO MUCH for writing all of this. I'm a space/sci-fi geek, and this is far and away my favorite MLP fic.

    185. Mrakoplaz I just want to say I read Ch13 and LOVED it...you perfectly capture the thrill and terror of early spaceflight!

    186. I'm still in the middle of chapter 13 (will post detailed comment when I finish it). However one thing confuses me. Why were they fueling rocket after Cherry has been put inside the capsule? Fueling is usually performed one day before launch. It is done not only for safety reasons, but to accommodate for thermal expansion of fuel and rocket. Considering, the rocket itself is finished and the Cosmodrome team is not on tight schedule anymore, I don't see why would they take such an unnecessary risk.

    187. I've finished chapter 13 and let me say one thing: SQUEEEEE!!!!

      Ahem... Now onwards with more meaningful thoughts. :)

      Absolutely fantastic work with this chapter! The excitement kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the very end. There were so many awesome, touching and funny moments, I can't possibly mention all of them. I gave up on trying to count all references to historical space programs, they are everywhere!

      Zvezda stays true to herself and her friend and running equipment checks until the very last moment.

      Rainbow bossing around Wonderbolts made me laugh. :)

      Wow, Rarity surprised me by taking perfectionism up to eleven! I can only second Redstone's reaction. Her spacesuit is now the most durable and overengineered piece of hardware in the entire Program. And its capabilities would definitely come into use.

      I read a lot and I mean A LOT of pony fics so I can tell you with certainty: your portrayal of Luna is the absolute best I've ever seen! Luna-geek, Luna-technician, Luna-emergency worker and sad Luna-goddess... They are all truly amazing! I wish we've seen more of her, even though the flow of the story doesn't allow us many opportunities to do so.

      Celestia on the other hoof is much more collected and professional. She shows her true personality only around Luna. And the contrast between Celestia-ruler and Celestia-sister is absolutely shocking to her subjects.

      The scene with Zvezda walking together with Cherry was very heartwarming. And it possibly earned Zvezda her place in history. Another heartwarming moment was Cherry thanking her dad. Dawww...

      The launch scene was completely nerve-wracking like it is supposed to be. Rocket overtakes Rainbow and Cherry is now officially the highest and fastest flying pony in Equestria. Very symbolic.

      No direct 'поехали!' reference? Perhaps it's for the best, it would probably be way too cheesy.

      It's ironic that the designers tried to avoid using magic and when they were forced to do it to overcome budget cuts, it was the first thing to break down.

      Ditzy and Dinky scene <3

      Another symbolic scene that Ray and Zvezda are talking about their future when the future of the world is becoming reality before their own eyes.

      Everypony watching spaceship together was a great nod to satellite viewings during the start of Space Era when flyby times were even published in newspapers.

      A view of a native planet from space always was and will always remain one of the most touching sights for every sentient being. I don't know what else can I possibly add. :)

      DAT CLIFFHANGER. You are a cruel person... How could I wait for weeks to know the outcome?!

      Let me speculate about the possible resolution of current crisis.


      Cherry will reenter atmosphere in 100 orbits due to orbital decay. The period of low-Earth orbit is in range from 1.5 to 2.5 hours with lower value being more probable due to rocket mass limitations and experimental nature of the Program. We can assume the same is valid for Equestria as it has the same surface gravity as Earth. Given the full charge of life support system is designed to last 10 days (like in real Vostok spaceship) and additional oxygen reserves of space suit Cherry's chances for survival look quite optimistic. That is, if no other vital component would suddenly break.

    188. Thanks for the encouraging feedback, everypony! The finale most likely won't be nearly as 'epic' as the launch, but hopefully everything will tie together nicely. Well, either that, or all the plot-threads will just get tangled up and explode into a giant mess. Who knows?

      @Velvet: Oh, there's no such thing as 'not worthy'!
      Especially since this all happens over the internet, and I have no idea how many people are actually reading this. So I always squee to myself whenever I see a comment from another person, even if it is short (or critical) ^_^

      @Justin Owen:I'm a geek too, that's why I wrote this ;)
      And it's always good when people point out possible errors, because you never know when I really DO derp on something (see below).

      @Shantara: Eeep, looks like I did genuinely screw up on the fuelling thing.
      HOWEVER! [retcon hat on]
      In-universe, it still does make SOME sense. First off, the chief designers are, by this point, fairly confident with solid rockets. I mean, sure, they've had the big public accident, but apart from that, all their solid rockets worked (more or less) beautifully.
      However, they've got very little experience with liquids. A lot of testing was done, obviously, but if you look back you can see just how many accidents/fires/explosions they've had while developing the liquid engine (I think I mention "Lyuka's chemically-bleached mane" a couple of times, and she's the liquids designer; also, her exploded lab during the royal visit, and how late in the story the liquid engine is finally finished). From their point of view, it is a far less reliable technology than basically anything else on the rocket, and especially prone to sudden explosion. Hence, they only load the highly reactive fuel at the last possible moment.
      Also, think like a pony. A firework, albeit a bit one, is something you can easily understand; it's almost instinctive (plus, we all know how much ponies love fireworks). But a highly-toxic sludge of chemicals, that's also incredibly explosive, but still looks just like water, is going to make you a lot more uncomfortable. Just before the launch, when Zvezda looks at the pad crews on the already-fuelled rocket: they're all wearing full protection suits.
      Lastly, they still don't have much experience with launching such a massive rocket. Their philosophy basically was, keep all the volatiles off the rocket for as long as possible (also done with the capsule oxygen, etc.), which makes a bit of sense.

      Overall, I dunno. It was kind of a derp on my part, but it works from an in-universe standpoint, so I'll guess I'll leave it.

      Anyway, thanks for your extremely positive feedback, as well as pointing that out (not quite sure why I thought NASA did fuelling this late, actually). I obviously won't spoil anything, though ^_^