Will’s Time Warp
It’s June 18, 2020. I feel the gravity of the situation, weightless or not. I’m on the lunar surface with no communications link to Earth. Space Venturists, Inc., my friend Peter Brill’s parent company, flew me up here with a mission: pace off an acre of lunar astro-turf (the area of a football field) and bring back samples of regolith. Regolith’s the crunchy-under-your-feet silt that covers much of the moon.
“Sounds like fun,” I told him. I had been hankering to get up here for years. I’d made a successful agribusiness on the island, and I had skills Brill needed. He was six months behind his competitors in designing a sustainable outpost. I knew a bit about food production, water and oxygen-generation. I suppose Brill might have been tempted to push the mission up without the requisite safety checks. I’m going to have to have a word with him, if I make it back.
The mission is “a piece of cake,” Brill kept saying before the launch. “Just ‘up and back,’ four days max,” he’d said.
Overstatement is usually a warning sign with Brill, that he suspects the opposite is true and he’s trying to convince himself. I felt wary, but I put the feeling down to launch-day jitters. Besides, I wanted an adventure, and any true adventure involves risks. What’s a good comparison? Maybe Juan Ponce de Leon crossing an ocean in 1506? At least I am not facing hostile natives, tropical diseases: I’m not even physically uncomfortable –- yet.
For three days I’ve been living out of a cocoon-like module. I’ve collected the samples. Tomorrow is the fourth day; the day I’m supposed to flip on the rocket thrusters and come home. I’ll either get the navigational and other instructions I need in time for launch, or I won’t. I guess I’ll find out soon enough if mine was a one-way ticket or a round-trip fare. Either way, I’ve decided to enjoy the moment. I’ve never jumped this high in my life. I could get used to moon-walking.
(Give me a little demerol for a broken leg, and I have all kinds of fantasies.)
What’s your myth of no return?
Depending on your time zone, you may be able to see a lunar eclipse tomorrow, October 8. Check the NASA link below.