When he started his internship, Butz Smith was excited, esctatic, literally-over-the-moon.
The internship call did not specifically say what project he was to be working on, merely that it involved “Propulsion in a Vacuum”.
Butz had been in love with space since he was tiny. During his childhood, he’d written countless letters to NASA; silly things such as begging space camp actually be in space or that they get trained by real astronauts to real suggestions as he became older, such as different heat shield materials to decrease damage upon reentry of the reusable ‘space trucks’.
None of his letters ever received a reply. Butz just assumed they were never read, lost in the sea of fan-mail from the world’s starstruck children.
So, it was to Butz’s great surprise that he, guided down the hall towards the lab he was to spend the summer in, saw his his tiny, scribbly handwriting in glitter pen, framed and bolted to the wall next to the door.
Butz laughed and asked his mentor if all childrens’ fanmail was posted throughout the building, as inspiration for engineer’s more child-like imagination.
His mentor stared, “No. This is the only one.”
Butz was confused.
The mentor continued, “Butz… do you not know what this lab is for?” Butz shook his head. “It was all inspired by a joke sent in by a child. The person who opened it thought it so silly it got passed around, eventually reaching the hands of an engineer whose project had just proved physically impossible.
“The engineer was out of ideas, and figured it would be nice to reply to the child who had caused the department so much amusement by calculating out the physics involved in his proposal. As the engineer continued the project, they realized it was actually a feasible idea.
“Even though the engineer was awfully teased for the proposal, the numbers checked out, and it turns out methane is a perfect propulsion solution.
“To honor the child, the engineer framed the original letter. To this day, they are still teased, but now have a successful product. And now, we will enter the Fart Lab.”
The mentor smiled, “And now you read the letter that started it all.”
Butz was bright red at this point, nearly shaking from nerves as he read his childhood scrawlings:
Dearly Space People
I’m Butz and I’m 6 yeeer years old.
I have an idea.
Isn’t it best to use farts to push your rocket forward?
My mommy says it’s renow renewable cause humans will always make farts and we can’t help it.
So bottle of astronaut farts and use them to go to PLUTO (My farvar favorite planet, please esspour explore there next!!)
From–Butz Z. Smithz
Butz stuttered, “T-the name.”
Butz swallowed, “The name. It’s my name. This… is my handwriting… my letter.”
The mentor’s eyes widened as they began to chuckled. “You’re joking. Come on, we have to get you setup now.”
Butz shook his head. “I’m serious.” He handed his newly-printed ID to his mentor.
The mentor stared, then began to laugh, doubling over and placing a hand against the wall–next to the letter– for support.
“Oh…. my…. the guys… need to hear this…. Ohhhh… this is great….” The mentor continued laughing.
“Come in, come in, Butz. I need to show you around the lab you inspired.” The mentor opened the door and stepped through.
Butz took a deep breath and attempted to calm enough to ease the red coloring he knew covered his face.
With steeled nervous, he followed the mentor, already hearing the murmurs of chuckling from within.