In 2004, the Chicagoland Browncoats decided to hold a one-night banquet that was planned as a formal Sino-Western ball like the one in the Firefly episode “Shindig.” The event was such a hit that Browncoats decided not only that they would do it annually, but also that they would host it in a different city every year. This unique shindig, officially dubbed the “Browncoat Ball,” has moved from location to location, year after year, and has gradually evolved into a full weekend of social activities, sightseeing at local tourist attractions and celebrating all aspects of the Firefly and Serenity ‘verse.
Previous Browncoat Balls have been held in Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin, Portland, Charlotte, Warwick (RI), Albuquerque, Phoenix, Greenville (SC), Virginia Beach, Salt Lake City, and most recently Gettysburg, PA. This year’s Browncoat Ball will be held August 17-19 in Washington, DC.
I attended my first (but hopefully not only) Browncoat Ball last year, and after my weekend at the Gettysburg shindig, I am convinced that every serious fan of Firefly and Serenity should make it a point to attend this event at least once. While every ball is different, I hope that the following account of my time at last year’s ball might give you some idea of what to expect if you decide to go.
This Sunday morning at 10:21am EST, a Falcon 9 rocket will pierce the early morning sky over the Florida coastline, breaking atmo with an unmanned Dragon capsule at her apex. The launch will be SpaceX’s ninth launch of a Dragon, and the seventh unmanned Dragon mission as part of its Commercial Resupply contract with NASA for the International Space Station. And this particular launch will be special for a couple of reasons.
This morning, shortly before 5am, SpaceX finally launched a Falcon 9 rocket (after a few scrubbed attempts) carrying an unmanned Dragon on its fifth official resupply mission to the International Space Station (CRS-5). The Falcon 9 lit up the early morning sky, and was visible to a large part of the East Coast before it separated from the rest of the craft and began its controlled descent back to Earth, making an historic, albeit “interesting,” landing on a drone-piloted barge in the Atlantic Ocean.
Viewers around the world (including this East Coast writer, who set his alarm to wake him in time for spacex.com‘s 4:30am live web coverage and watched the 4:47am launch still clad in his pajamas) watched online as the Falcon 9 broke atmo and the Dragon capsule achieved Low Earth Orbit and deployed her solar arrays. Dragon will now rendezvous with the ISS at 6:12am on Monday, January 12.