My name is Rex Snyder. I’m not an astronaut but I and Mrs. Snyder are on our way to Mars. We left Earth on January 1, 2040. Today is June 1, 2040 and we’re a little more than half way to our destination. A great deal of progress was made last year in power generation and space technology. A new form of propulsion was discovered named fusion flame. A luxurious space vehicle was built by NASA which enabled my wife and I to begin the trip.
The distance from Earth to Mars varies from moment to moment. The minimum distance between the two planets is about 40 million miles but in traveling from Earth to Mars, we’ll need to travel many more than 40 million miles; actually about 150 million. Because of this, NASA chose a happily married couple to make the trip. My wife and I are living in a bullet-shaped vehicle that doubles as a space ship and a luxurious home. It has every modern convenience that happy home owners could wish for. We won’t need to do any “driving” since our entire trip has been computer programmed. When we get to Mars, we’ll simply orbit the planet, then return home. There will be no landing. The entire trip was planned as a political coup. Several competing nations have been preparing to travel to Mars and our President decided it was imperative that our nation be first. The voyage was begun even though the planning for it was only partially complete.
During the time the voyage was being planned, there was a contest throughout the United States to select the most eligible childless couple to go to Mars. Happily Lucille and I were chosen.
It’s been fun so far. On January 1, 2040, there was a short dash on a runway at Dallas airport. Mars One then rotated skyward and escaped Earth’s gravity within a few seconds. The ship is traveling at about 25,000 miles per hour. Lucille and I spend our time looking out the picture windows, enjoying elegant meals we prepare using the Fusion-powered range, reading, watching TV, listening to music, and, otherwise simply enjoying a life of leisure. We’ll be returning to Dallas on or about May 1, 2041. I know we’ll be greatly honored when we return and I’ve been composing our arrival speech.
March 1, 2041
A lot has happened since I wrote the first part of this story. After June 1 last year, life continued happily until one day in July. NASA hadn’t told us but several months after Lucille and I had begun our trip, further advances in space technology were made and another couple was launched to travel to Mars. Their ship was Mars Two and was twice as fast as ours. One day, as we were looking out our starboard picture window, we suddenly observed Benny and Helen Brown looking out the picture window of another space ship as it overtook and passed us on its way to Mars. We learned later that Benny and Helen were going to arrive at Mars well before us, and that our ship had been turned around for a return to Earth. This was disappointing but, at least, we thought, we’d arrive on Earth in plenty of time to get a small amount of glory.
About a month later, as we sped toward Earth, we were looking out our port window and unexpectedly saw Grace and George O’Brien looking out the starboard window of still another space ship aimed toward Mars. This was Mars Three. Even further advancements had been made in technology and this ship was much faster than Mars Two. It was going to arrive at Mars before Mars Two. The latter ship had also been turned to return to Earth. This was bad news but we still thought we’d arrive on Earth first.
Alas, this was not to happen. Last month, we saw Mars Two forging ahead of us on the way to Earth. A few days later, Mars Three went by in the same direction. NASA told us that, actually, Mars Three would be first to arrive at Dallas. This will be on May 1. Grace and George O’Brien will get all the honors. On May 10, Mars Two will land. Lucille and I won’t get back until May 15. Our ship has been declared obsolete. There will be no welcoming ceremonies for us. What is worse, our ship will not even land at Dallas. As a convenience to NASA, it will be redirected and parked at a huge junk yard in Houston. Our return to Dallas will be by bus at NASA’s expense.