They called her Shane. Young, 25, solid and a mind of a genius. Training since she was a kid, down South, lots of potential.
Everyday she would go through her routine like a true athlete. Rising early at 4am, training and hitting the gym at 5am, train for two hours, breakfast and then school, before going to the gym again afterwards, study and then more of it on the weekends. This is not a walk in the park.
The call came when he entered like thousands of many aspirational astonauts. She passed the hardest of all physical tests, she had 100% eye sight, perfect health condition and withstood all the pressure tests. Her patience was tested and more over her heart, mind and body was churned, squeezed and poked at. Yet, somehow Bob, knew what she was doing, she was determined – she was going to space and she was going to do everything to make it happen.
She’s heard of stories, how astronauts go out there health and come back suffering all sorts – skin rashes, sensitivity to light and objects, feeling nauseas and weak because of chicken legs and puffy face syndromes. Even that was not going to deter her, she has every faith in the institutions taking her to space and bringing her home.
But there is a risk. What if……
there was a leak in the astronaut suit…
The doctors went through the regular health checks, it’s been a good three years of solid training in deep water tanks and also in all kinds of simulators. Bob feels as ready as ever. She’s never been in such a great shape and even the physicans working with her for 3 years feel that he’s ready.
So now is the time?
It was a few days before her mission and one night she had a dream. she dreamt of her death in space. It was nothing dramatic, nothing so shocking. Than to realise how time and space did not fit, on what happens when there is no gravity. Water does not come together, rather floats like bubbles, just as the body floats in outer space.
He’s starting to think of the routine processes, the protocols and starts thinking of commercial space flight. Thinking- what is going to happen to people who do not have such training – how are they going to survive?
Like a diver who has never dived, they don’t know how challenging and dangerous it can be. In the same way as parachuting, mountain climbing and swimming in the ocean.
24 hours before flight, they prepare the items, final countdown and they go into containment. And Shane waits with her crew. The seconds now pass rather slowly, much slower than she had ever experienced.
Then suddenly everything happened so quickly, after photos, cheers, and seated in her seat and strapped in – it was time for countdown.
Shane knew this was her time and she was ready – for life and death to space. It was a risk she was willing to take, the fact that she thought about it, made it less terrifying.
She is on a mission to explore space for humanity. She is an ambassador of earth and her mission is her pride.
This is the risk worth taking.
- A poem by Helen Tung, dedicated to all Astronauts, in celebration of UNISPACE50+– 50 years of space exploration