• Published 4th Jun 2012
  • 4,160 Views, 110 Comments

Our First Steps - Mrakoplaz

A tale of the Equestrian Space Programme, in the style of 50s science fiction novels. Poyekhali!

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Special Thanks

First and foremost, to my most awesome sister: Both for being a true element of honesty whilst proof-reading and mercilessly shredding all my worthless scenes (especially those involving Celestia – I just can't write Celestia!); and equally for all her incredible hard work when making the cover picture. Applejack's got nothing on you, sis!

Next, to all my great teachers: For instilling me with not only an endless fascination for science, but also an unending love of the written word. I might not achieve anything else in life, but I have certainly written one of the most scientifically-accurate pony fan-fictions on the internet, and that's because of them! (please don't screw me over in the finals)

To the following, for being such absolutely wonderful, free, and publicly-available research sources:

Atomic Rockets (http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/)

Encyclopaedia Astronautica (http://www.astronautix.com/)

Wikipedia (I think you all know this one)

To Sonata Arctica, Bad Religion, Leslie Fish, The Lillingtons, Taize, and all the other bands whose music helped me through writing all these words! A special shout-out also goes to Gustav Mahler, and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks for their excellent renditions of his great symphonies (Mahler, please don't rise up from the grave and strike me down for putting your name in a pony fanfic).

(actually, on second thought, Mahler rising up from the grave would be pretty awesome)

To Lauren Faust and Hasbro, for creating such a wonderful little universe to play around in.

To you: Yes, you! For being a great and incredibly supportive audience. Your kind words are the one thing that had truly kept this thing going, from the first silly chapter, through the endless failures and ponitics that followed, all the way to this hopefully-satisfactory epilogue.

And finally, to all the unsung heroes: Whose ceaseless, thankless, unremembered work allows us to live in peace and prosperity today.

Nobody knows their names. But without them, we'd still be toiling around in caves.

Comments ( 54 )

This is an amazing fanfic :pinkiehappy:. Pretty inspirational stuff. Unfortunately I am not quite familiar with some of the scientific topics brought up, and now I am going to have to take as many math, physics, and chemistry classes as possible over the summer so I can understand them. That would probably be the smart choice anyways, but this fanfic was certainly a big factor in getting my lazy self to do it (stuff I don't know/understand bugs me to a rather large degree). In any case, thanks for making such an awesome (and scientificly accurate) story.

I'm so glad you decided to upload this here. I put off reading it for ages simply because I dislike Google Docs.
I loved it all, the politics, ponies in space, the bittersweet ending, but I must've missed something. Why did the Commissar and the other security ponies continue to wear winter gear in the hot desert environment? I know Celestia did some world-tinkering, but I got the impression that it took place a long time before the story setting.

Quite on the contrary! I have no clue what I am doing, and that explains things like the Commissar and his crew. I don't even quite remember if I had a reason for that when I was writing it in the first place - it might have been just a "lol russian ponies" thing, to make the Cosmodrome seem less of a NASA/American-only place. That entire aspect is the weakest point of the story, I think, and one of the things I didn't really manage to wrap up in the finale.
Still, my writing skills certainly improved while writing it, so I am happy with it :twilightsmile:

EDIT: The implication with Tia's tinkering was that the effects/consequences of her action are felt even today, which explains some of the weirdness of the place. Still, I am not quite sure whether I managed to communicate that thought well enough in the actual story...

I also think that the whole Comissar and his crew mystery is the weakest part of the the story. As far as I remember it's the only plot thread that's left unresolved. The whole thing just disappers after the big public accident.
But that's about the only big weakness with the story.

That was amazing! The story you weaved was, in my opinion, greatly integrated to the mlp story and dare I say realistic? Not perfect sure, but not where it matters! You hopefully took pains to give it credibility, gave it substance, the commissars was the only thing that I felt remotely slapped on yet even that had a meaning I can understand (old wound that was better forgotten). The story was funny when it wanted to and serious when it needed, and switched between the two with no problem, Mrakoplaz I thank you and everyone who helped you. This story caught my attention (you are by the way the reason I have no sleep this past day), and I say it was one of the best fanfiction stories among those I've read!

and now enough of my jumbled words, I leave saying one really memorable quote from your story.


A fantastic story, inspirational, very, VERY accurate in terms of scientific background and perfectly capturing the feeling of insurmountable odds the ponies faced.

I love your writing, you did a fantastic job with the characters, though I would have liked to know what EXACTLY Celly did to nuke the "cape".

Keep up the good work!

Heh, I was wondering where you'd gone off to. Glad to see you're okay! :twilightsmile:
Anyway, I can't wait to hear what you make of the ending and epilogue. Not quite everything got wrapped up together in the end, but I worked in some other neat things instead, so I'm still fairly happy with it.
In either case, I still can't quite believe the kind of feedback this got, from everyone. Makes me think more seriously about writing some more stuffs... if only I had all the time in the world!

Based on the feedback I got (and not just on the internets, but from real life peoples, too), I do actually plan on writing a non-pony story thing now. Still sci-fi, but a lot different from what's in here; hopefully a bit less obsessed with technology, and a lot thicker on actual narrative themes and stuffs! I already got a few cool concepts that should work, and I'm fleshing them out as we speak. No idea how I'll fare in the world of actual literature; probably not exceedingly well. But, eh, gonna give it a try anyway. "Always aim for the Moon" and all that.
Not to say I don't have another pony project in the works, however, if that ever gets anywhere, you'll (hopefully) see it anyway :raritywink:

Finally... I must (again) thank you for all your kind commentary, Celestial. Whenever I finished a chapter, I would always look forwards to reading your lengthy writeups, and they definitely helping in getting this thing past that dreaded "halfway point of doom" and all the way to the finish line!

Impressive. I just started this yesterday, but I would have to say that the best part was the rescue from the exploded rocket. Very in character for all ponies involved.

Aw shucks :twilightblush: it was only a pleasure for me to be part of such a beautiful enterprise. (I'm very happy to read they had such a positive effect.)

And about your non-pony project, I can sure tell you've got what it takes to be great! And seeing as you already have in mind something that would appeal to a greater public, I'll just leave it at my general encouragement: You rock! Wohoo~ :yay:

That... was... incredible.

You know, I say this every chance I get: I'm a huge fan of science-fiction. Action sci-fi, epic sci-fi, technical sci-fi... you name it. Needless to say, this was a very technical piece of science-fiction; perhaps that is even an understatement. You obviously did your research, keeping within the realm of established physics rather than creating things out of imagination. And when you had (like the arcane computeronics), they made sense, due to it being set in the FiM universe.

Above all else, though... this was a very inspirational piece of literature. It's weird, because I'm not usually inspired by stories or movies. Any movie that aims to be inspirational usually focuses on an individual's road to success, and my skeptical side usually questions the legitimacy of it all once it's done, and the main character prevails. What was different with this story, though?

This story had a group of strong characters, all of whom with their dreams, specialties and beliefs, coming together to make imagination reality. Of traversing the crushing obstacles, achieving the impossible for the sake of everyone -- not just themselves. Of overcoming all difficulties and accidents to change the path of civilization -- using not violence or cunning, but sheer knowledge and understanding.

So thank you, Mrakoplaz, for writing one of the most believable, inspirational fan-fictions I have ever read. Thank you for motivating me to strive for my own goals. Just... thank you, and godspeed.

I definitely liked the story... a lot.... most of the time... but what happened with the commissar? He was there kicking up a fuss about something and then he disappeared. For 5 chapters I was thinking, "Did he sabotage it? Will she die? Did he run? Has he been paid off by anyone? Where is he? Was it his fault? WHERE IS HE?!?!" and the like. It just really bothersome to me that it was never addressed in any way. Well other than that i thought it was a really great story and felt similar to the Apollo 13 movie with the disaster things happening. You pulled it off great and i loved what you did with Dinky.

This story was awesome!!! I have some
questions, what happen to rest of her
friends? I mean Sara , Blues, Redstone,
Lyuka and rest of them? are they still
working at the cape? Are thy still keeping
contact with the rest of them? Please
And this story reminds me some awesome
movie. "The astronaut farmer" please,
check this if you don't allready know this.
Ps. Sorry for my English, I am from poland.
And don't have any problem with reading,
but writting is still little problematic.
Again. Than you for witting this. if you
really writting something no pony related.
can you give me link to this?

This story is utterly amazing, and it's sparked my interest in space exploration. Every time I think of the space race or Curiosity, I start thinking of this story and it gives me shivers.

Heh, people are still reading this story? Honestly, I am quite surprised!

If I remember correctly, I did plan on having Lyuka/Redstone/etc. show up in the epilogue, but it was getting a little too long already, so that's probably why I skipped that scene. Anyway, looking at my notes again, it wasn't really anything surprising: They basically all continue their jobs at the Cape (now that they're getting paid!). Lyuka takes over from Will as the chief chief director, Redstone works on the nuclear stuffs, the rest just... work. After all, rockets or not, it's still a job. I guess that's why I didn't put it in - you can pretty much work it out yourself!
But if you needed confirmation that they all stay in touch (except for Wilhelmina, obviously - she'd still keep with her old friends, but not so much the rest of the Cosmodrome), well, here you have it :raritywink:

And I am working on non-pony stuffs, but I have nothing, yet. This is my first novel-length story, you see!

so, have you ever seen those movie?

sorry for this. I am simply courious, what are you thinking about this. And yes, people are reading this fanfic. because of me you will propably get more wachers and favs at this story, . :derpytongue2:

I've been a fan of the older style of science fiction since I was very young, the sort that flourished during the 50's and 60's. Not the ones about fantastic, faraway settings with impossible technology, but the ones that looked ahead only a few short years to something just barely out of reach. Even though many of those stories had already been overtaken by reality before I was even born, they still have a sense of determination and hope for the future that never fails to engage me.

You've done a really incredible job of re-creating the feel of those works in pony form.

Bonus points for having Rainbow Dash get in touch with her inner nerd. :rainbowlaugh:

Ee-nope, I must say I haven't seen it. Heard of it, though. There's still a little holiday break left before uni, so I might check it out! Thanks for the recommendation :eeyup:

Heh, but it's the optimism in the end, isn't it? All the other "low-tech" pieces are a mechanical part of style too, yes, but it's that Wellsian bright-eyed optimism, the belief that science is genuinely going to make the world a better place, which really seals it in those books. I don't know if you ever read any Soviet literature (or even Soviet science fiction) - I doubt much of it ever got translated into English - but they're all great for the exact same reason, too. A constructive instead of a destructive approach: You're not fighting aliens from outer space, you're building a rocket! You're not hunting down capitalist spies, you're building a tractor factory! Stuff like that. The 'proletariat-hero' works wonders too, I think.
It took me a while to understand it myself, the reason why all these old stories worked, but now I think I almost do. It's a lot easier when the technology is so basic, because you have to concentrate on the people more; but then again, I don't really see why such a humanist/positivist approach couldn't work in any other setting. And that's what I'm trying now, really (in non-pony form).
No idea if it's ever going to work, but, eh, it gives me something to do.

Author Interviewer

Hot damn. :O All this time, I coulda been leaving comments here too! XD

Great story, I loved it. Kept me interested throughout.

One problem, I don't like how Luna acts like she's beneith Celestia, when they were supposed to be equal. Then again, the show has recently made the same error...sorta.

I expected the manned launch to blow up at some point, especially once Zvez said, 'FILL UP THE TANK!' Forgetting that the whole mission was very sensitive to mass.

Considering the amount of problems during that one mission, I get the feeling that every single following mission was equally problematic, just by sheer odds.

Now, I'm surprised that when the politicians said: 'we can spend this on more important things,' no one responded with: 'I can't see anything more important that the future of our race, and our continued evolution.'

Anyway, that is all.

And I revisit an old classic. Brings back fond memories.

Every once in a while I blunder across a truly great story, the kind that should be published, should be a bestseller were it not for the fact that Hasbro would never let that fly. This is one of those stories, and I reserve hope that someday you'll be able to find these stories in bookstores right in their own little section, perhaps near Sci-fi and Fantasy. This, Fallout: Equestria, and Contraptionology would all be right next to the works of Terry Pratchett, next to the hundreds of Star Wars books, and many others. Congratulations, for this is a magnificent story. It's almost criminal that it doesn't have nearly as many views as it should.

Love the way you went about writing this, with the integration of the tech-aspect of the story aswell as focusing on the characters. Just the general feel of it is so much different to pretty much everything I've read :)
In a sentence? This is the kind of stuff that should be published.

Finishing this story i have one big regret: not reading it a long time ago and i feel bad for missing the chance of putting references to it in my silly stories. Good job, really, sorry for being so late.

if there is one thing i wish for basicly my fave fanfic of all time is for there to be more of it :fluttercry: 25.media.tumblr.com/fe7e4a9e84ccaf2f7dc0b99a2761a9e0/tumblr_mldv7wAn011s0cbhmo2_500.gif

This was an amazing story and I'm so glad I had the chance to read it. You had me on the edge of my seat. Anticipation, fear, genuine concern for the characters, all masterfully woven into a wonderful story. Bravo!

Wow. This story is really something special. Granted, I had a prior interest in astrophysics and spacecraft engineering, but still - almost 200,000 words, and I was interested for every paragraph of it. From the characters, to the science, to the journey, this was pure brilliance. Mrakoplaz, you have a masterpiece on your hands.

I finally got a fimfiction account to comment on another story, but I need to write something here and say that this is BY FAR my favorite pony fic I've ever read. The arcs of character development, of the effort and motivations of the space program, the technical, political, hoof-based problems... EVERY aspect of this story is complete and rich and engaging, and not just on the scope of how its events impact Equestria, but in how they impact the spirits of the characters you've written. There's nothing in this that isn't fully realized: from the arduousness of welding in the desert to two goddesses watching the stars, this isn't just a believable Equestria, it's grand and majestic in a way that has nothing to do with enchantments or dragons or spells. It's a gate to a kind of inspiration and magic---the mystery of space, and of achieving something "impossible"---that this story understands completely. I've read this fic twice now (I don't think I've ever even WANTED to do that with any other pony fic, no matter how much I enjoyed them), and I know for certain that if---when---I return to it a third time, it'll be just as magnificent a journey as it was on my first read.

I hope I'll have the chance to read more of your writing---pony related or not---some day.

Thank You.

I am just so glad to see this story appear in FIMfiction.
Will re-read as soon as I can.


The story has tons of awesome technobabble, but I was just giving a warning since not everyone likes it. Also, the date on my post puts it at over 75 weeks ago, silly. :twilightsmile:

Splendid. Magnificent. Sublime.

One of the best stories I've read. Not just on fimfic but in general.

I enjoyed this very much.

Sweet mother of God, I finally got around to finishing this story.
I have been reading this damn fic since before I joined FIMFiction!

Wonderful fic, just wish the author hadn't disappeared.

4020510 Her surname was chosen to make her sound more Russian-like, I guess, and "Horyova" is somewhat close to "Korolyov", 'cause let's face it, she really resembles him. Also, her surname can be widely translated as "daughter of(the one belonging to) Ferret (clan)". ('cause ferret translates as "horyok" in Russian). Of course, it's only my opinion, and it can be REALLY different from the real reasons of Zvezda naming. Anyway, this story is A+++.:twilightsmile:

5432131 hah! never heard of them! yay me!

I couldn't help but edit my terrible attempt at commenting. sheesh.

Great story. Reminds me of Wings of Honnêamise.

Oh, and nice to see Leslie Fish mentioned in the credits. I had „Hope Eyrie“ running through my head on and off the whole time I was reading this (mostly alternating with Jordin Kare’s „Fire In The Sky“).

696158 How did that experiment go?

1180443 I know you'll almost definitely never see this, but in case you do: I loved this story, completely. I've remembered it in the back of my head for years, and I finally decided to try to find it again, and it was so worth it! I read it in a day, completely enthralled. Thanks for writing it, man!

Read it again, still as great as the first time.

One of the most amazing pony fanfics ever written.

This was an amazing story! It's the only fanfic I've ever read that has actually made me feel awe and wonder and pride. I love that you made so many references to real historical events and real physics, but were still original enough to imagine the space program in Equestria such that I didn't know what to expect. The tension during Cherry's rescue was nerve-wracking. I'm an engineer with parents who worked for NASA, so I really enjoyed this story on just so many levels and identified a lot with Zvezda. Bravo!

This is among the best stories on this site. It really brought out the feeling of enthusiasm from the Era of Space Race.

Comment posted by Meruit deleted Apr 27th, 2017

Okay, final thoughts.

12 out of 10, best story ever. It has everything one could want in a fanfic, without needing to resort to shipping.

It's technical, it's tactical, it's feely, and it has SPAAAACE!!!!!

So why does this story have so few views? This should be on the essential Fim Fictions read list!

I don't know how what to say. That was wonderful. A masterfully executed ending to an inspiring story. Thank you so much for writing this story. If you'll excuse me I need to go wipe the tears off my face.


hell, my iPhone 6 Plus has about 300 MILLION times the computing power than the ENTIRE 11 years of Apollo missions!

Поехали! ;)

What an absolutely magnificent pony science fiction story. There's lots of seat-gripping adventure, tear-wrenching drama, romance, comedy, action, thrill and splendor, and everything's carried on an undercurrent of hard and detailed science fiction, in a massive, massively huge scale. The characters are awesome throughout, the story has so many facets and is so well thought out, and the writing is magnificently satisfying. An enrapturing tale on every front.

If I had to change anything, half of the mane 6 were there for ambience reasons, but most didn't even say a word. I would have just left them out. However this is just a tiny complaint.

Overall this is an absolutely brilliant story, far and away among the best out there. Definite reading recommendation under any circumstance.

Absolutely loved this story, and reading it inspired me to play ksp again, and build a rocket vaguely similar to the friendship one (needed a few mods to manage things like the multi srb stage, which proved *far* more efficient then i could have imagined). My only complaints, were minor grammatical errors (such as wander/wonder) and referring to their fur colors as skin colors. That said, top 5 pony story I've ever read, easily.

I loved that movie, and I can't believe I only discovered it in the past year or so.
Definitely agree with the comparison too! :twilightsmile:

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