HOUSTON—Watching from mission control, where they whistled carefree tunes and capered about the room in an improvised, frolicsome dance, whimsical flight directors at NASA confirmed Wednesday they had launched a single balloon into outer space. “T-minus 30 seconds to liftoff of our solitary red balloon, which will float gently through this brave overhanging firmament—this majestic roof alight with starry wonder!” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson, who added that the balloon, christened Imagination 1, would be propelled by stardust in its mission to make contact with a little boy who lived on a far-distant moon, perhaps in another solar system. “We have our finest astronaut, Captain Wollingford J. Walmsley, standing by on the launchpad, where he has drawn a smiley face upon the balloon and now waits to release its string. All the hopes and wishes have been loaded on board, and we are ready to send our tiny dirigible on its serendipitous sojourn in three…two…one… Yippee!” At press time, NASA officials announced that every fanciful dream aboard the vessel had perished after the balloon caught upon the point of a star and popped.
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