ESCA’s Geoponic Intelligence Low Earth Satellite (GILES) lifted off from the former RAF Bentwaters site aboard the Ransomes X rocket on December 8, 2013 at 3 o’clock, give or take. Separation took place at roughly quarter past, the twin Villiers mower engines splashing down safely in the Deben. Before the hour was up, telemetry from GILES was received by volunteers at the Bawdsey Radar museum.
“We’re over the moon to have finally met the December launch target set by my father,” said Ted Leadbetter, GILES mission controller at ESCA’s Propulsion Labs in Oulton Broad. “Dad’s initial aim, some 40 years ago, had been to rendezvous with Apollo 17. That groundbreaking plan, like so many others, was thwarted by the Local Government Act of 1972 and the enforced unification with West Suffolk.”
Tens of spectators watched as Gemma Sadler, 9-year-old winner of our county-wide colouring competition, repeatedly yanked the Ransomes pull cord to ignite the rocket. Her classmates – and, indeed, all East Suffolk schoolchildren – have been asked to watch the skies over the next few weeks for a hi-tech parachute. Said package will, as per the original ’70s ESCA design, contain an Agfamatic 126 full colour camera. Up to 24 images will be available on our website as soon as the film has been processed. Branches of Boots The Chemist from Beccles to Bungay have been put on alert.
By Thursday, GILES will cruise at an altitude of 258 miles and provide a comprehensive agricultural survey of our glorious non-metropolitan county. ESCA’s crack team of COBOL coders promises that the satellite will fly in from the North Sea and directly over East Suffolk several times a day. Then, as GILES approaches the border with West Suffolk, it has been programmed to rotate all sensory devices by 180 degrees. The team also guarantees that GILES will not come within 25 miles of Norfolk airspace.
Mr Leadbetter added: “Not for the first time in the space race is the East leading the West.”