We had our eyes on the abandoned structure for a while. A couple of weeks back we got the keys at last.
A big black container with skylights, the building is imposing enough. "What are you guys doing?" asked a cashier at the hardware store. "Build rockets," we replied. "Oh, you are on Willow?"
Already, we are the big talk of our little town.
Bishop sits at 4,150 feet (1,260 m), near the northern end of the Owens Valley, with peaks (including Whitney) reaching above 14,000 feet (4,300 m). The area is an active super caldera, treating us with occasional quakes.
A number of western films were shot here, including movies starring John Wayne and Charlton Heston. As for the tech scene, we are neighbors with Caltech “Big Ears” Radio Observatory, a few hours by car from Mojave, four from the Bay Area, and three from LA.
Still, "why Bishop?" locals want to know. For the skiing and climbing of course (the best physical astronaut training you can get) but there's more to the story.
Legendary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who worked out the rocket equation, never got to build a rocket himself. Instead, the self-taught math teacher lived out his dream of human space travel in the novel "Beyond Planet Earth."
His was a small crew of wild hearts, "a Frenchman, an Englishman, a German, an American, an Italian and a Russian," building a rocket in a castle high "among the highest spurs of the Himalayas."
There you have it. Our rocket lab. To call it a castle would be an overstatement though. Maybe after the A-round.
Other news: Asterex is off for Inconel manufacturing. Ready for water tests in a couple of weeks.