Tuesday, 1 March 2016


On board the International Space Station… with Vladimir,
I sat in the radio operator’s chair deep in  thought for quite a while after Drew had signed off. I was still shocked by all that had happened in the last six months, as was the rest of the crew of the ISS. We had watched in helpless horror as our home planet was destroyed beneath us. We had had front row seats for that holocaust. We all had feared and subconsciously known that the conflagration below us would have wiped out most, if not all living creatures down there. Some of the mushroom clouds bursting up from the surface below seemed would engulf us. We knew in our hearts that if there were any survivors of the explosions and exposure to the huge doses of radiation, they would have perished from the nuclear winter that followed, caused by the radiation clouds that covered the Earth for so many months afterward, preventing the sun’s life-giving rays from reaching the Earth’s surface. When the clouds finally started to dissipate gradually as the radioactive dust sank back to the Earth, our fears were confirmed by the sight of the charred and blackened surface of the planet we once called home. The whole crew was totally devastated by it all, but it grew worse as the realization sank in that we were stranded in an orbit around a dead planet until we died, which would occur in the very near future. With no hope of resupply or rescue and nothing we could do about it, We were destined to follow our comrades on Earth in four to six months when the last of our supplies were exhausted.

I was amazed at the vagaries of fate and luck that had worked together to put in place a staggering series of events that hopefully would lead to our eventual salvation. We had all known about the launch of the Albatross, of course, as it was big news in the media for weeks before the ship actually launched. We also shared the same radio frequency with Flight Control, so on the day of the launch we watched the television coverage while listening to the actual transmissions between Flight Control and the Albatross. We actually watched from our perch in space as the Albatross blasted out of Earth’s gravity and into space on its way to Mars with all its engines at full thrust and fully lit. It was a moving and inspiring sight that moved me to radio a congratulatory, best of luck message to them. As I never received a reply, I assumed that they either never got it or were too busy to reply. We watched until the ship’s tail fire had dwindled into the distance and was lost among the stars before we went back to work.