Red dust under my boots

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A random short story about Mars landing I came up with after spending the day browsing NASA stuff for UNI project.

"Russia beated USA when first sending human to space, USA beated Russian in the race to the Moon, but now they stand united when first human has landed on Mars."

I had planned that commentary for the press when I was first chosen for this mission. Hey! Me being half-Russian half-American was most likely why I was chosen to command this trip. And being a woman, well, that didn't hurt either.

I glanced to the camera to make sure it was secure on the landing strud as I reached the bottom of the ladder. Geez, so this is how Neil Armstrong must have felt when first on the Moon, I thought trying to calm down the butterflies that had invaded my stomack.

And then my feet touched the surface of the red planet.

"It was not a race here," I said to my helmet microphone knowing that the words would take minutes to reach the Earth. "So why do I feel like I have just won one?"

I could hear my ESA colleague Mikael Turola, laughing as he crawled out of the landing module above me. He handed me the flag especially designed for this mission - it is a combination of all the national flags that participate international space project. It is the efforts of all of them that allowed us to reach this much wanted destination.

"You're the commander, Val," Mike says. "You should do the honours."

So I spread the flag and stick it to the ground. The rock is hard around this area and there is only a thin layer of dust covering it so prying the flag properly upright is not easy.

"Moonbase here, nice work," the voice of mission control cracks in my headphones. "People here are beside themselves with exitement. You really should see this. But you have a timetable to keep."

"You got it, mission control," I answer.

Mike headed off to collect some rock and dust samples we were expected to bring back home with us for studying. I had a set of sensor systems to install that could be used to further analyze the thin atmosphere of Mars as well as watch our launch back to the orbiting module.

"I can read you guys down there again," Li's voice greeted as the orbiter came around the planet. "How's it going?"

"Great, Li," I tell him. "This place reminds me of those red hills in Australia, but it is even less vegetation here. We should be back in the landing module next time you come around."

"Okay, Val, see you then."

"All done, Mike?" I ask wrapping up my tasks and heading back to the landing module to see Mikael closing his sample kit.

"Yup," Mike says heaving the kit back up the ladder. "Can't wait to get out of this suit. I'm starving."

Before I climb up the ladder I look down for the last time. The red dust covers my boots and most of the lower part of my suit. I can see our footprints criss-crossing around the landing craft - they actually found Armstrong's footprint from the Moon, but ours will soon be wiped away by the blast from our engines when we leave. Too bad, but I hope I got the flag secured well enough so it won't fall.

I climb up and close the hatch. I know we were out there for almost eight hours but it felt like a blink of an eye.

First manned - and womanned - Mars landing is now half way done.

Mike and I help each other out of our EVA suits after the cabin pressure has been stabilised and we are sure there is no leaks. Next we grap some food and try to sleep before heading back out to meet Li and the orbiter. Sitting there I cannot take my eyes off the red dust that covers our equipment.

I still cannot believe that I was the first human to walk on Mars and feel that red dust under my boots.

Submitted: April 07, 2011

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