Mars continues to throw unexpected surprises our way, and we’re not even halfway there. Our unmanned probes orbiting the planet are viewing the area where the something has collected the wreckage of previous missions that failed, and in doing so they found a small circular opening.
Curiouser and curiouser.
The “Lost” fans onboard call it a hatch, but that’s wrong. There’s nothing covering it. It’s just…a hole. It’s small, but it’s definitely artificial. Something created it for a purpose. Once we land we’ll first make sure it’s safe by lowering one of Ming’s cameras (and lighting equipment) into its depths as far as it will go. If nothing looks threatening, the dodos will go next. It’s time they earned their keep.


Of course we’d all hoped for an uneventful nine-month voyage to Mars, but that went away when we discovered the dodo stowaways and then Samantha’s pregnancy. Even with those surprises, we’d finally achieved a routine after two months of flight.
Just as we were celebrating the success of Bambi’s song, we got the news that something was going on the surface of Mars. Special props go to the space program of India who in 2013 launched the Mars orbiter Mangalyaan that detected the surface anomaly. Samantha is cautioning against the assumption that life is waiting for us, but it’s now on everyone’s mind. We won’t be landing on a dead, barren rock.


Ever since we launched, Bambi has been songwriting. Sure, she could have gone into space with a whole backlog of material to record, but she preferred input from an experience that no other professional musician had previously observed.
Let me state that she has other duties onboard. While she has no specific technical skills, she’s good at minor tasks that free up Samantha, Luis and me for the major stuff. For an International Superstar she has very little ego. Of course, part of that is that we’ve known her since high school and have supported her throughout her career, including the rough patches.


In the years before the mission’s launch, it was recognized that we wouldn’t be able to carry all the supplies we needed in one trip. Therefore, containers were sent into solar orbit at the precise locations that intersected with various points on our journey.
Dave and Thomas did a large amount of practice rendezvous drills on the simulator back home, maneuvering the ship to line up with the container. They would only have one try with each shipment; if they missed it would be lost forever.


The dodos are no longer flowers, now that Samantha needs an extra source of protein during her pregnancy. The two troublemakers will earn their keep by providing it.
A note about their fertility: when Samantha changed them from chickens into dodos the female already had an egg inside her, and that became a dodo, too. That was their last offspring. Every egg she’s laid since, even ones with yolks, has failed to develop. However their son, and the dodos created at Stanford, *have* produced offspring. It’s just original two that can’t.


Samantha told the rest of the crew about her pregnancy, leading to raucous yet brief celebration. Later on during our scheduled free time we all had a properly festive party. Ming got it all on video.
I’ve been doing calculations and we should be okay with the added resources a baby will consume. We’d budgeted extra in case we had to take home a Martian which, if the child is born on the surface, will be exactly that.


Two days ago Samantha inexplicably began barfing, to everyone’s concern. It certainly wasn’t due to weightlessness-induced motion sickness, since her training on the “Vomit Comet” flights had proven her to be expert at adapting to freefall. It was Dethany back at mission control who raised the possibility of mankind’s first pregnancy in space.


In my previous message I mentioned a discrepancy in the ship’s biomass, but disregarded the reading. I should’ve paid more attention. If I had followed up on it, we would have discovered the dodos before we’d passed the point of no return. I blame myself for us having to deal with them for the duration of the voyage.


Once on board, Samantha and I went to the array housing the ship’s tech. (No, it didn’t look anything like HAL.) Using a port that only my mascot costume has, I was synched with the systems running the craft. Life support, electrical, plumbing, wi-fi, food processing… everything required for a successful mission was coursing through my awareness.


First message from Fastrack One.
We docked with the ship that will take us to Mars, and were greeted by the crew that’s been testing all systems for the past year. After a few days, they’ll board the shuttle that brought us here and head back to Earth. Until then it will be very cozy.