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The First Person to Journey to Mars

rosenthal2If you haven’t heard the news by now, you probably will soon. Though, if you’re viewing this blog, I’m assuming that you already know. Considering that the random, infrequent musings of an aerospace engineer don’t produce a high level of internet traffic, my guess is that you’re a newcomer. Well, if that’s the case, then welcome newcomer. I suspect there’s going to be an influx of attention heading my way, so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jerilyn Rosenthal, and people tell me that I’m destined to become the first person to journey to Mars.

I realize that the sudden attention that’s been attached to my name rests solely on lofty expectations. They do call me the representative of humanity, after all. But, believe me, it’s a title I’ve accepted with a large dose of humility. It all started with a single question: “what makes you exceptional?” I must admit, it’s a question I’ve struggled with all of my life, but after an enormous amount of pondering, I managed to arrive at an answer that satisfied myself, and apparently the people at VoloGen Industries and Astronautics as well. Some people have asked me what my answer was, but I think that’s a secret I will take along with me to Mars. It wasn’t just an answer to a question that brought me to this point in my life, however. If it were that easy, I would have been selected back in 2034. No, it took a lot of hard work to be the one chosen out of a pool of 1.4 million applicants.

For the past year I’ve been carrying around a secret, and though I managed to keep that secret well guarded, I sometimes wondered if my former colleagues at Boeing have been speculating about my recent whereabouts. Even though I’ve been anticipating this announcement with a great deal of apprehension, it is relieving to finally let the cat out of the vacuum-sealed polystyrene bag. For the past eight months I’ve undergone an intense series of training programs in addition to the months of endurance testing that preceded my nomination. I suspect that a large part of my recent successes is due to my highly structured and regimented childhood.

I suppose some people will be wondering about the time I’ve spent on this planet before I leave it behind. I was born in North Platte, Nebraska but spent most of my life at the McConnell Air Force base in Wichita, Kansas. My father was a senior master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and my mother was a pharmacist. Every afternoon after school, my father would walk me over to the Air Force training grounds and have me run the same workout routines as the pre-boot camp recruits. It was exhausting work for a young girl, but it strengthened my endurance and built my character. Every night after my workout, I would lay in the grass and stare up at the stars. I made a game out of trying to find Ursa Major as quickly as possible. After I found it, I would remain transfixed on its position in the sky, dreaming of what it would be like to travel there one day. Of course, it’s impossible to travel to a constellation, but I suppose the imagination of child doesn’t recognize those limitations. It was with my father’s training and my childhood fantasies that I find myself about to embark on humanity’s ultimate journey. I guess it’s with good reason that I ended up in this position.

There are still days that I think of my father. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. He was by no means an emotional person, and he certainly did not seek out emotion from me. In fact, I imagine he would have been somewhat disappointed by the fact that I mourned his passing. He probably would have thought that he had raised his daughter better than that. He tried his hardest to raise a daughter whose thoughts were never clouded by the burdens of pesky emotions. I like to think that the recent revelations in my life would have elicited a smile from him… or at least a solemn nod.

Sometimes I reckon that all of that time spent out in the fields could have gone towards making friends, or having the sort of fun that other children enjoyed. I’ll admit, life was lonely back then, and it still is… well, it was. Now I can’t go anywhere without feeling like I’m constantly surrounded by people. I suppose it’s one last opportunity to get reacquainted with humanity before I wave a final goodbye. It’s an odd situation to be bestowed with the title of humanity’s representative. Some have even called me humanity’s savior. Whether such nomenclatures are meant in jest or sincerity, I’m only starting to comprehend their meanings. It feels somewhat ironic that in order to save humanity it must be left behind.

At some point, the distinction of being known as humanity’s savior could have gone to Cody Winston. In some ways, I suppose it still does. The memory of his passing is still fresh in the minds of most people, as is the debacle that followed. I constantly think of the heroism he displayed on that fateful trip, knowing fully well that his situation had become irremediable. I can only hope that I will manage to display half of the courage that Winston demonstrated, regardless of the conditions that may arise.

Where have I been?

I know there aren’t many people reading this blog, but I thought I would give a quick update to all those who are curious as to where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing. The truth is… well, I’m not at liberty to say. I apologize for the cryptic lack of information, but I’ve become involved with a project that is of the utmost confidentiality. Unfortunately, that’s all I can say at the moment. But, don’t worry! I’m not in any trouble. I haven’t gotten involved with any gangs, drug cartels, mafia families, terrorist groups or human trafficking syndicates. No, there’s no need for concern. I’m doing just fine… more than fine, actually. I can’t give any more details other than to say that I’m incredibly excited for the future. If my life hasn’t been changed already, it certainly will be very soon, and once that change occurs, there’ll be no going back.

Palioxis Part 2

Apparently news travels fast at Boeing. Once I arrived back at my station, the work crew was abuzz with excitement about VoloGen’s latest agenda. The rest of the day was filled with wild speculation about how VoloGen would find the right candidate. Many names of Boeing employees were thrown around as potential nominees. While most of the suggestions were jokes, I feel that Boeing could certainly produce a worthy astronaut. Still, many people here would just be eager to watch their fellow employees be launched into the farthest reaches of space. I can certainly think of a few… but that’s besides the point. Boeing is filled to the brim with people who would love nothing more than to conquer the skies. I think someone from this workforce would do well as the first person to travel to Mars. With the guidance and resourcefulness of VoloGen Industries and Astronautics, this expedition could very well become a reality. Only time will tell, I suppose. No one suggested my name, but maybe that’s for the best!


palioxisI came across this flyer in the break room today. “Become the first person to journey to Mars.” Normally, I wouldn’t give such wishful propositions a second thought, especially when considering all of the failed attempts in the past. I don’t know how anyone could consider such an endeavor after the tragedy of Artemis I, but I suppose it does take a certain type of craziness to follow through with such an idea. It wasn’t until I noticed the name of the corporation sponsoring the project that I considered the lengths of my own craziness. VoloGen Industries and Astronautics, the world leader in aerospace engineering and mechatronics. “Holy shit.” That’s all I could think. “Holy shit, what has Neville Paulson gotten himself into now?”

Work Update

Hello friends… if you’re out there. Work at Boeing has been productive lately. I’ve been working on a new line of lightweight spacecraft propulsion systems that will hopefully enter standard production next year. The work has been keeping me busy, and I certainly do enjoy a good challenge. It’s also been refreshing to work in the company of such a talented group of individuals, even if they do tend to keep to themselves most of the time. I suppose it’s to be expected when working in the research and development sector. I’ve never been one to engage in conversation, and thankfully most of my fellow employees feel the same way. Some may say that it isn’t the best quality to seek in a person, but I think we get along just fine.

Boeing Recruitment Offer

I was approached by a recruiter from The Boeing Company today.  Apparently they’re looking for engineers for their research and development team. The recruiter was a stocky and excitable man who was very eager to explain his company’s corporate mission. I tried to explain to him that I was gainfully employed by Spirit AeroSystems, but he said it was perfectly natural for successful engineers to switch their place of employment. He told me that it would not be a lateral move and that I would be well compensated. He assured me that employees of Boeing thrive in an atmosphere of mutual respect and persistent learning. Had this been a recruitment offer from VoloGen Industries and Astronautics, I would have prepared my resignation papers immediately, but I was still unsure about Boeing. I refused to give the man a definite answer, but he took my indecision as a sign of willingness. I don’t know what the future has in store for me… I just know that, for a while now, I’ve been navigating by my own compass. I’m just not sure where it’ll point next.