T-Minus…

T-Minus...

Colin C., Student Writer

8/31/2040

3:48 PM

launch of Artemis 21

Mission to Moon – Investigation

Crew: Commander Calvin Nasjaq – Lunar Commander Lukas Dodd – Gateway Commander Michael Roberts

T-1M

“T-Minus 1 minute and counting.”

I stare into the sky from my seat. I start thinking about my previous missions. This was the last minute that I would be on the Earth. Literally. Me and my crew are on a faraway mission to the Moon. A rover had picked up weird signals from the dark side of the moon. But then, it was gone. The rover had completely lost signal. It was way too mysterious to not inspect. We are being sent there to inspect what happened and how. The “How” part is what my heart is beating about. I’m not actually too worried about it, it’s just a rover. Plus, I have been on the moon for Artemis 17.

“T-Minus 30 seconds and counting.”

“Launch Director, go for launch.” the Launch Director calls out.

“Copy LD, go for launch.” I respond.

Geez. This is it! Within these 30 seconds, this Rocket will be up and into the atmosphere. And then it’s to the moon we go.

“10. 9. 8.”

“ Go for main engine start.”

I can feel the 4 RS-25 engines roar to life, as the rocket becomes alive.

“5. 4. 3. 2. 1.”

I feel a massive jolt as I get pushed into my seat, the solid rocket boosters have exploded to life.

“Booster ignition and liftoff! 

The rocket rumbles intensely as I can feel the rocket spin. We are now rolling the rocket so we can position for the downrange pitch which will put us in orbit.

“Roll program, Houston!” I call out.

“Copy, roll program.”

“Artemis is now pitching downrange.”

The rocket starts slowly turning sideways. I can’t even feel it because of gravity pushing

against me.

The sky suddenly starts to get darker. We are reaching space.

“Go at SRB separation.”

The Solid boosters eject off of the side of the rocket.

The intense and painful rumbling has now gone away now that the solid boosters have been jettisoned. 

The windows were dark because they were covered by the escape system, but then, a bright flash of light came through them. I could suddenly see the earth below me, as the escape tower had flown away from the rocket.

“Go at MECO. core stage separation.”

The core stage separates from the exploration upper stage.

From here we orbit around Earth for a while. Then we hurdle the rocket to the Moon. This might be a while.

“Artemis 21, stable parking orbit confirmed.”

Many hours later…

It might be a few more minutes until we hear the call for-

“Go for TLI.”

Nevermind then.

It was time to hurl ourselves to the moon.

“Ignition.”

The Exploration upper stage started up its engines raising our orbit to intersect the moon. Within a couple of minutes after ignition, the engine shut off, and I feel the upper stage separate from the Orion spacecraft, the capsule we are in.

We are gonna be here for a long time. Almost 3 days. The moon isn’t that close you know. It’s about 238,900 miles away from Earth. Anyway, we are whizzing by at almost 10 miles a second. A bit under. This might be boring, but at least we are still alive. We have food, water, oxygen tanks, and entertainment. So far, I think I’m gonna be ok.

It’s totally silent up here.

Hm.

Day 1: So far so good

I think I’m doing pretty well. Me and my crew like to make little water bubbles that float in the cabin and catch them in their mouth. I like to do it too. It’s quite fun. We do the same thing with the food. We just throw it up above our heads and try to catch it. We have to exercise here, or we could probably lose a lot of bone mass. It’s like having osteoporosis. All we have is a small rowing machine. Muscles don’t have to work as much in zero gravity. Duh. We just float around and try not to hit each other. I worked out for two hours for an hour or 2. We’re lookin’ good.

Day 2: Meh

Meh.

We are doing ok. I threw up like an hour ago. It almost came out of the bag. I went to sleep for a couple of hours. Sleeping here in zero gravity is weird; I don’t know exactly how many hours I slept last night; it’s harder to keep track of time in space because you are no longer on Earth, and you can’t use time as you do there. I tried eating when I woke up, and it went pretty well. It’s starting to get a bit boring up here, but we only have less than a day left. Tomorrow, we will be on the moon. 

Day 3: Oh god

Today we land on the moon. There’d better not be some sort of technical difficulty, or I’m gonna freak. If we run out of fuel on the lunar module on landing its bye-bye for us. I hope whatever caused the rover to lose connection doesn’t blow us into oblivion. Or even worse. I wonder what would be worse than getting blown into oblivion, but I would rather not think about that.

 

Welp, here we go. We began the burn to enter lunar orbit.

“Artemis 21 has entered Moon orbit.”

“Artemis 21 is all good for rendezvous and docking.”

I forgot to mention, we have to dock with a station called Gateway. There we can use a lunar lander pre-docked. We docked, which means our spacecraft attached to Gateway, and me and Lukas got on the lunar lander.

We undocked from the station, and Lukas and I were off to the predicted landing site. I hope Michael is doing well back on Gateway. He has to stay there for our time on the Moon.

A while later…

“Artemis 21, you are all good for Lunar landing.”

Let’s do this. 

We start the deorbit burn to drop out of lunar orbit and we keep going to slow down the vehicle so we don’t slam into the Moon. You know, we don’t want to do that, because why would we?

“Artemis 21, loose parts have ruptured the fuel tank. you have only a minute of fuel left for landing.”

WHAT?! HOW?! OH NO!

Now it was full panic mode in the module.

“What?!” I yell.

“Ruptured fuel tank? How? We are literally 15 miles above the surface!” Lukas yells with me.

“Why us..” I question before being cut off:

“Artemis 21, 45 seconds of fuel left.”

“Oh god, we are done for.” I blabber to Lukas.

“The engine has to keep burning! Otherwise we are going to crash!”

This isn’t going too well.

Another one of our members, Michael, has radioed over to us from Gateway. “I’m trying to #######” The radio turns to static. We lost contact with Gateway.

“Artemis 21, 30 seconds of fuel left.”

“The engine is not burning enough! We’re going too fast! We can’t abort!”

Then Lukas stops abruptly.

“Wait wait wait!”

I look at him like he’s a psychopath. He probably is. He doesn’t realize that we’re gonna slam into the moon here. I catch my breath, and ask, “What?”

“We’re getting a call from Earth.”

I am relieved. Finally, we’re going to be saved!

And then he says, “It’s from Able.”

Oh, come on.

“Guys, down on Earth, it is completely crazy right now!” Able yells. Her brown hair that was once neatly held in a bun is frizzy and knotted. She looks like a mess.

“Well, what do you think is happening over here?” Lukas has finally come to his senses.

“Artemis 21, 15 seconds of fuel left.”

Lukas yells, “What’s going on over there?!”

Able replies, “I have no idea!!!”

“Artemis 21, 5 seconds of fuel left; counting down.”

Lukas, Able and I share sorrowful looks.

“Guys, whatever happens, good luck,” Able says, with a forced smile.

“5…”

The live stream video begins to lag out.

“4…”

“3…”

“2…” 

“1. All remaining fuel depleted.”

The lander begins spinning out of control.

All I hear is screaming, and I soon realize that it is from me.

Our screens are blacking out, and the entire lander begins to shut down.

my head gets whiplashed onto the back of my seat.

Everything goes black.

Dark.

Nothing.

Gone.

CRASH!!!