So we’d been sent up to screw the bulb back in. A routine mission. But even now, two hundred years after Gagarin and Glen, nothing about space travel is ever routine. There’s too much that can go wrong.
It’s funny to say that, given that everyone who lives on Mars is here because of space travel, and Mars is hardly the nurturing, gentle home that Earth once was. But at least on Mars you’ve got a surface under your feet, and the terraforming has progressed enough that you can survive long enough to get to shelter if something goes wrong.
Out in space, it takes very little to make you toasty. Literally.
So it was just me, my co-pilot, and the two mission specialists riding our little Europa shuttle up to space. I didn’t really know any of them before the mission. There’s a large pool of pilots and specs to choose from; they pick the ones with the best attributes for any given mission rather than forming specific crews.
We met for the first time on the gantry, as the shuttle was getting ready to launch.