Being an astronaut is tough. You never get to be alone, constantly under supervision and nannying from people planetside. You ever read that book, The Martian? He ends up on Mars, eventually regains contact with Houston, then loses it again? It’s all excellent drama. They started using it during training actually, reminding us about how to act if we ever lose contact with Planetside.
That’s what happened to me. Day four hundred and sixty three of the ATLAS mission. They told us it was the longest anybody had spent in space intentionally, almost time and a half of Valeri Polyakov’s Mir mission in Ninety-Four at six hundred and fifty four days. Then the comms went dead on four hundred and sixty three.
It started like any other day. The alarm went off, dragging me violently from my dreams of weightlessness. I’ve found my favourite spot on the station, just enough airflow that I don’t wake up gasping for air, but not so much that it’s like sleeping in a wind tunnel.
Then I went over to the computer to check the daily tasks, any updates to procedure, etc. There was nothing. Which was odd, as usually there’s some kind of minor system update to put through.
Not a damn thing. I picked up a breakfast from the rack and went to start doing my science. Yuri and Gagarin were struggling to get used to weightlessness, but didn’t seem to have gone insane just yet. They’re my lab mice, seeing as I’m alone up here.
That was the whole point of Atlas. One person, holding up the heavens. As it happened, day four-six-three was one of my low-stress days. Just some basic equipment maintenance. Including the comms array.
That’s when I realised that I wasn’t receiving signals. I was cut off. I could imagine them down in ground control, flapping and panicking, dancing around the room. All I felt was calm. It’s cathartic, realising that you are completely alone. I dragged it out. I spent the day lounging. Fulfilled my daily tasks then just enjoyed being weightless. You don’t know enjoyment until you’ve been weightless. The dead sea has nothing on space.
Anyway, there’s a reason people become astronauts. We’re independent. We relish challenges. We seek danger. I was about to fulfill all three by doing a blind space walk.
You all know how that turned out. I’m here, I’m talking to you now. I don’t want to talk about the walk, because it’s mine. It’s my memory and my memory alone.
It was the best day I’ve had. I was at peace.
The Idiot in Tin Foil