12421 days to go…
Lee and Guin looked back on those early days with envy.
The rocket tests, the Mars environment simulators, the planning subcommittee meetings…
It all seems so easy now.
However, at the 12421 day mark, an incredible accomplishment was announced — the list of team members selected to go to Mars, divided into three teams or phases.
During Phase One, robot landers would deploy habitats, including living quarters and food growth chambers. The first team of humanlike explorers would follow and assist the robot landers in completing the Alpha Base setup on Mars. They would also conduct a few scientific experiments in their spare time, establishing baseline data for future Mars explorers to use.
The second and third phases would further ensure the successful colonisation of Mars by humanlike organisms.
Being the only living members of Team One, Guin and Lee were often asked to recount what it was like to not know if their journey would be successful.
Every time, they responded, “Oh, but we knew we were going to succeed. We always have. It’s not that we lead a charmed life, it’s that we believe life is limitless. We believe in the power of love.”
They also believed in selflessness, fully self-aware, cognizant of the fact the success of future generations depended solely on the confident success of Team One.
It wasn’t for themselves that they gave up close, face-to-face Earth-based family time — it was for all the seven-plus billion others who didn’t even know Lee and Guin existed, for those who come after them they’ll only meet after their lifetime through historic retelling.
That was their secret to success, always had been and always will be.
When they sat down with the superstructure that was the support team at the 12421 day milestone, Guin and Lee listened openly, willing to accept mission scope changes that erased months of training in order to ensure every effort was made to add to their success.
They believed every team member would give more than best effort.
They knew that ancillary projects by other companies and other projects in their organisation would also succeed, adding to the unofficial database of space exploration ideas that had been hashed out and tried — no idea was too small, too large or far-fetched, including drawings by six-year old dreamers.
As Lee and Guin returned to Mars and met their newest team members dozens of years after their stint as the first Martian Pioneers, they shared the joy of teams past when the 12421 date arrived.
It had always been a special day, a decimal reference to binary notation, a tribute to prequantum computing technology that had built the space industry, a moment that Lee and Guin had spent congratulating current and past technological achievements by Earthlings.
They told their new team members about that day, what it was like to still live on Earth before Mars and the Moon were populated, isolated on a single planet, before life of any kind was discovered in other solar systems.
Their team members laughed at the use of the word “day” instead of “sol.”
Guin and Lee smiled. This new team was good. Very relaxed.
Just what they needed to explore the Oort Cloud for a viable way station.
Mars would always be their favourite watering hole but the Milky Way Galaxy continued to call their name…