Author : Clint Wilson
It started when I was just a preschooler. “Who wants to one day fly up into space?” asked the instructor.
They gauge the reactions of children who get enthusiastic when it comes to questions of science and space travel. By the time I was in my twelfth year I had been selected for the long-range program.
I have always been a loner, more comfortable to remain in my own thoughts than in the company of others. And my love for space and space exploration has pushed my ambitions easily in this direction. Now here I finally am, on the first leg of my solo journey to another star.
The solar sails, now open to their full two and a half kilometer extent, glisten less and less in the fading light of Sol. Soon their gossamer sheen will be nothing but an ink black shadow against the backdrop of cold space. I cross Neptune’s orbit without incident, and head for the ort cloud.
I report back to Earth Base regularly, but it’s all scientific data and business as I have no family with whom to share well wishes.
I sip my morning coffee, freeze dried grounds from the massive provisions hull, enough to last me seventy years. I stare out the forward bay window, gazing at the distant speck that is my eventual destination.
Wolf 359, less than eight light years distant will still take far longer than this many years to reach. Considering acceleration and deceleration I will be a much older man when I finally arrive at this system where once no satellite was thought to orbit, the young red dwarf harbors a small solid body, most likely too primitive to contain life, but nevertheless, an actual planet orbiting a star besides our own, my ultimate dream destination. And I am to be its first Earthly visitor.
I have understood from a young age that since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the technology has already existed to do away with actual human participation in extraplanetary exploration. Why risk lives when robots can get us everything we need? But can they really? All the rock samples and data in the world mean nothing compared with mankind experiencing new worlds through the eyes of one of their own. This is why I now sail into the void.
I am one of many who dream of traveling into space and visiting far away worlds, but one of few actually prepared to receive this blessed one way ticket into ultimate discovery and wonder.
I am thirty now. I will be more than twice this age when I drop into orbit around Wolf 359’s little satellite. That leaves me with up to a possible thirty years or so for telescope exploration and data collection. And if potential conditions prove risk-free enough I then have the resources for a total of three actual landings with three-day excursions attached to each. This will be a challenge to my physical toughness when I am in my seventies or greater. But I am more than up for it. Of this I have no doubt whatsoever.
And then if I manage to live to the ripe old age of one-hundred out there circling that tiny rock and my food and fuel finally runs out? Well providing I haven’t miraculously discovered something else to eat, then I have a pill that will work quickly in assisting me to avoid painful starvation. But this is neither here nor there, because I am on my way… and I am ready.
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