Titanic Pride

You may call me old, but I prefer to describe myself as experienced. And when it comes to navigation, you can’t replace first-hand information with the text books and qualifications that the young cadets seep out of colleges with.

The selection committee knows this; they’re experienced too, and I’m sure this is why I was chosen as the chief navigation officer for the next phase of the lunar landings.

Now I’ll be the first to admit; there’s a lot of mathematics involved. Landing a vessel on an extra-terrestrial object isn’t as simple as you might think. Aim and shoot doesn’t work because by the time you’ve got there, there isn’t there anymore. But the computers with their fancy silicon chips handle all of that. I’m here for the final stage - the descent and the landing.

I’d like to think this is the most important part of the mission. It’s the bit that everyone still tied to Earth’s gravity watches. It’s the bit where the landing party rehearse their speeches. Small step, giant leap – it’s all thanks to people like me.

The launch from Earth was flawless. It would be, with the hundreds of ground crew monitoring every sixteenth of an inch of our vessel. Two days later we were in orbit around the moon. More than fifty years ago, Neil and Buzz argued about who should step outside first. Neil was the captain of the ship so it’s obvious he held privilege, but Buzz claims Neil got out first only because he sat closest to the exit. Things have changed since, and our individual duties and responsibilities were mapped out months ago.

It was time for me to carry out my duty. Our target was The Sea of Tranquillity, and indeed, there was a sense of tranquillity on board; the co-pilot sitting next to me and the three crewmembers behind her quite rightly had faith in my great experience.

The landing site came into the cross-hairs and I checked my velocity. My co-pilot checked other numbers and metrics on her screen. These young whipper-snappers don’t realise that numbers can’t describe everything. Ask a statistician.

She looked concerned, but that was her problem. I knew what I was doing, just like I always do.

“You’re coming in too fast. Ease back.”

I flicked the communication switch; I didn’t want mission control hearing anyone doubt my judgement.

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Paul Sterlini
May 2 2021

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