Today we launched Herschel and Planck.
It’s easy to say. The two satellites are now on their way to L2 after what was, as far as I could tell, a picture perfect launch.
Today we launched Herschel and Planck!
But it’s not so easy to understand. I’ve worked on these projects for the last 8 years. I’ve been aware of them in development for nearly 20 years.
But today we launched Herschel and Planck.
Until now they’ve been intellectual ideas, problems to sort out, puzzles to solve. How would we work with the data, what might we see.
And today we launched Herschel and Planck.
We celebrated. We watched the video, we drank champaign, we ate cake, we drank the wine.
Because today we launched Herschel and Planck.
And yet, coming home tonight, far later than I should, far drunker than I should, I still didn’t realize what we had done.
Then I looked up, through the cloudy, London sky, the yellow glowing backsides of clouds glaring back at me. And I knew they were there, on the dark side of the Earth, heading towards L2 to start telling us about the universe. Then, even though I hadn’t seen anything, I’d just looked up, it began to feel just a little bit real.
Because today we launched Herschel and Planck!