Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 130 – Shooting Igor

Finally everything was set-up. The habitat where we will live for the next, let´s say, 50 years was working well. All the systems are nominal. Our new home was working perfectly. It even smelt like the new homes does. But we all knew that this won´t last.

Also my job nearly ends here. I was on the mission because my expertise on the spacecraft systems but now that we are in the habitat I have anything left to do. But taking into account that 2 of our crew members have dies, I´m sure I will have to help the others on doing their task.

Today my task has been to prepare a fantastic dinner. With all the food provisions that there are here I have done something really special, but I it tastes like the void of space. It´s a shame that the only fresh food that we will be taking from now on will come from the greenhouse, and hence will only vegetables.
As we decided to synchronize our dinner with the Trojan re-entry, we all gathered at the predicted by the simulations and we waited until the show started. Nobody wanted to miss how a multibillion dollar spacecraft ended its life being destroyed.

Finally the moment came. But wait, what was that, there were two fireballs. The second one was much smaller, but it was clearly visible. It was some Trojan debris burning into the Martian atmosphere or it was Igor redeeming his sins.

Daniel J.R.III


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 129 – Buring the dead.

Finally we were in our new home.

Reaching the habitat marks the end of this adventure. Now a new one will start surviving here, and looking back at how many people the trip has killed I think that is not going to be easy.

Today we have buried Linda on Mars were she will rest forever. We have dug a big hole in the ground. Not too far from the habitat, approximately about 1 mile away. There we have put her dead body and we have covered with Martian soil.

At the end, the crew of Valkyrie has joined the ceremony. We were the 8 of us silent and looking to the new grave. 12 departed only 8 arrived. We are famous on our home planet, the planet that we choose not to return to. Here we are all equal, and at least we will not have to worry about

Tomorrow we will make a welcome dinner and we will take a look to the re-entry of Trojan. We have predicted that it will be visible from our base and that it will be an impressive spectacle.

Daniel J.R.III

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 128 – No country for old men.

We now were on Mars but we were not exactly were we should be. Disengaging the capsule manually doesn’t improve the landing accuracy. If we landed on the nominal landing site we should have visual contact with the habitat, but we didn’t have it right now.
So we started working on the emergency procedures. That meant basically that we would deploy a big antenna and we would try to communicate with the habitat. Another part of the procedure was to check the capsule computer to extract a good estimation of the landing point.
Because in our case the capsule hadn’t suffered any damage we were able to determine that we had landed 10 km away from the intended site. That would basically mean a long, long walk. And taking into account that we had stayed in zero g for almost 6 months that wouldn’t help either. And if you thought that was not enough we have brought the dead body of Linda with us. And guess who was going to carry it?

After resting a couple of hours and getting in touch with the Valkyrie crew, we started walking. It took us nearly 1 hour and a half to see the habitat. It seemed that it was tremendously isolated from everywhere. It was only a white dot into a reddish world.

But finally we were at home. At least, our new home.

Daniel J.R.III

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 127 – Houston, the Eagle has landed.

After some more minutes of terror finally the most critical part of the re-entry was behind of us.
The chutes deployed normally, about 3 miles above the Martian surface. From the small window of the re-entry capsule I was able to start picking some of the surface details. I could see some mountains and big craters, and at the end a large basin. Now, at this altitude, Mars didn’t seem to have any type of curvature. We were so close to the surface that the planet looked flat. It was enormous! We would have this entire planet for us.
Descending the last 3 miles took us only a few minutes and finally the retrorockets fired slowing us down, and hence, preparing the capsule for a gentle touchdown. From the window I could see that the surface was approaching fast to us, for me it didn’t look like that was going to be a gentle touchdown.

When the capsule was only a few feet high the rocket engines roared louder than ever and the capsule hovered over the surface. At that point you could feel the excitement of the other crewmembers over the communications loop. You could hear Rosso shouting and enjoying the ride like if he was on a rollercoaster. Akane was crying as always and you could hear Sandra’s loud breathing.

Finally we touched down.

We at the end were at the surface of Mars.

Daniel J.R.III

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 126 – Look up, in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Superman? … NO! It’s Trojan!

“This is Daniel Jefferson Redford III, from the ESS Trojan, mayday, mayday! We are going through some problems with our heat shields, I repeat we are the Trojan, our shields are melting like an ice cream in Venice Beach on the 4th of July!” – Daniel’s voice came out of the central radio as the crew members of the first expedition, the Valkyrie, were having their breakfast.

One of them, big looking guy, tanned and with a little beer belly run towards the microphone and started transmitting back. “This is Melquiades, wath’s up muchachos? We were not expecting you this early” he said as he wiped off his milk moustache with the back of his hand.

“Shut the fuck up and listen! We are reaching 42ÂșC in the cabin and we are still 30 minutes away from touching ground, I will send you the coordinates, it should be pretty close to the base camp, bring all the liquid hydrogen you can, if we don’t survive at least you can cool down the vital components we are bringing with us”
“Ok boy, now you shut up, the same shit happened to us when we were reentering, to solve this, try to orientate the spacecraft in a 15 degree angle with the horizontal and have the bottom shield face opposite to the rotation of the planet, it will help canalize some cold flow of particles to the hottest areas and finally, try to override the valves that keep the pressurized hydrogen in your spacecraft so they will spread all over the floor, that will help cool down the internal cockpit’s atmosphere, that way at least you will boil slowly, just kidding, but hurry up and do as I say. We’ll see you down here soon!”

Transcription from the audio recorded on ESS Trojan black box on October 20th, 2011. Classification: TOP SECRET.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 125 – Good Bye, Lenin!

Rosso and I sat down for hours trying to decide if this guy was lying and he was a very good actor, or he was actually looking for redemption. We concluded that even if he was, it was our only and best shot. Yes, Igor was our only hope – as Princess Leia would have put it.

We gave Igor a suit, the last one he’ll ever wear; we offered him one last meal, but he refuse it; he took on his only precious possession, a gold and silver crucifix and started praying in Russian and Latin while the moment came. I had Sandra watching that the orbiting sequence was going as expected and Rosso was taking care of switching the cargo, with the help of Akane, destined to “land” (the Earth needs a new word for when touching ground on Martian surface)

By the time we were all buckled up in our corresponding seats, Igor was already briefed with what his orders were. It has to be timed, and it all depended on him, there was still a slight chance of bringing him back in before the reentry phase turned so severe that only the thermal shields would survive at those temperatures.

We were in orbit now, everybody was watching at their corresponding screens, in a few minutes we’ll fell what having gravity was like again, as soon as the small attitude clusters of boosters started to fire Igor was supposed to manually overdrive the separation mechanisms.

“And 5, 4, 3, 2, … everybody hold on tight, we are entering Mars field of influence!”

A metallic symphony of clicks and clacks was the signal that let me know that Igor did it, and I looked at Sandra and she was actually unsettled. She suddenly jumped out of her sit, and run to the windows, trying to find where Igor was, she saw him and he saw her, by the time I unblocked she was already running for the hatch, and all I could do was scream at her, everybody else was agitated now, in less than a minute we’ll enter the violent phase of the reentry and we all should be tied up like chickens in a roasting machine. As I was looking through the window I see how Igor was making signs to her as if trying to say “STOP!” but she was not obeying, so Igor did the first act of real honor in a long time, something that probably will honor his memory, he moved his lips asking for forgiveness and right away he tore his suit and in less than a second his face ceased to live as he froze and floated away in front of our faces.

I got to Sandra; she was shaking, crying, and screaming “He is the father! He is the father!” I force her into her sit, and then I hurried up to my position. Then, it was all fire around us, it got really hot inside, for the first time I was sweating like I’ve been running… “It’s getting really hot in here guys!”

Daniel J R III

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 124 – Comrade to the rescue

“He’ll do it” That’s all Akane said to me when I went by the contention area to see if everything was fine.
What does she meant by that? Well, supposedly Igor overheard some of the crew members talking about the jettison problem and he is informed that the only way to survive is by having a member outside when the separation burning occurs.

And somehow he managed to get Sandra to listen to him; I guess after the bond that they share now she was more willing to do so. Akane told me that she heard him telling Sandra that he wanted to have a child, that he knows that what he was doing was not right, and now that his bloodline can fill the pioneer position of the Mars settlers he really doesn’t want anything to happen to the mother of his child or to anybody else. And that if they let him out of the spacecraft he will ignite the mechanism and he will not expect them to bring him back inside.

That sounds really sweet and heroic, but how do I know he is not bullshitting us all over again, letting him outside on the final stage of the mission in charge of the most vital task is as risky as letting MacGyver alone in a NASA warehouse. But still, that is something that we must all agree on.

Daniel J R III