Bridge To The Stars – Part 1

Those applying for positions in the current space program would explore and conduct experiments where humans have never been: the lunar South Pole. They are called the Artemis Generation astronauts. With NASA’s plans for the future of exploration, new astronauts would fly farther into space than ever before on lunar missions and possibly be the first humans to fly on to Mars.

The International Space Station, built by multiple nations, is the largest single structure humans ever put into space. It was completed in 2011, and the station continually evolves to include new missions and experiments and has been occupied by three to six astronauts on each expedition since 2000.

It was exciting to realize the International Space Station would likely fill with more females than males at some point in history, something in the making for many years. Men got edged out as more and more female candidates flooded the STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Even more importantly, the women also started outperforming their fellow male candidates on entrance tests, showing better adaptability to harsh environments by passing the NASA long-duration flight astronaut physical in higher degrees. The female candidates also seemed to possess better emotional stamina than the male candidates and had equal, if not better, skills in leadership, teamwork, and communications.

All the candidates, male and female, reported for training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and spent two years learning necessary astronaut skills like spacewalking, operating the space station, flying T-38 jet planes, and controlling a robotic arm. Once they had successfully passed this training, it was on to the Space Station. Those accepted were a small fraction of the class but were the top of their class. And for the first time in history, the ratio of women was higher than the men. Out of the six qualified astronauts to board the ISS, five of them were women. It was groundbreaking to witness.

The new astronauts – Victoria Eddleston, Jennifer Botel, Kendra Lakeland, Sue Cummings, Carol Fitzgerald, and Jeff Stanton – the team considered Expedition 64, was scheduled to depart on their first mission on January 22, 2021. It was the first time there would only be American astronauts at the ISS probably because the other nations wanted the USA to iron out a predominantly female crew’s logistics, problem-solving them before the other countries sent in their top females. America was happy to do that. After all, it was history in the making. This country always did like being at Number One.

The crew of Expedition 64 were excited for their take-off date as they got their affairs in order at home. All those with families spent as much quality as possible, knowing they wouldn’t see them for at least six months. There were two – Victoria and Jeff – not married and also didn’t have any children. But even for them, they got in as much time with their friends knowing it would be a long six months of hard work and no play.

Life as they knew it would change in two weeks.

TO BE CONTINUED ON TUESDAY…

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