The trip was going to be long, but I know it is worth it. I was also proud that I was one of the five chosen to go to Mars. The year 2008 and I am 24. My name is Max. I would be going as a payload specialist. I would set up the computers to relay pictures and communicate back to Earth. I was on my way home to tell my wife the news. When I arrived and told her the news she said to me that I was crazy. I was confused because I didn't know what was wrong with her. She had never been upset about my other missions. Then I realized this is no normal mission. I hadn't thought about it that much. She said, "If this is what you want to do then do it." I was mad and upset and happy all at once. I wanted her approval but knew I wouldn't get it. I had eight months before the flight for all the training.

The next day I got off from work and took Barb my wife out to dinner. We were having a good dinner and then I asked if she was ok. She said, "Please just listen." I said, "ok". She said, "I am pregnant." I was so excited I yelled out to the entire restaurant I'm a daddy. Then I realized I'd be gone for the birth of my child. I asked if I should quit now and she said no although, she really did want me to stay with her and our child. I was very happy and was amazed.

It is one month until the flight and Barb is seven months pregnant. The crew would be using a new shuttle for experiment and safety. They had to be confined to a small room for a day.

The day had come. It was the day of the launch. Barb was out there to see me off. She did not know if she could handle the stress. It was T-5 minutes and they had to do an emergency evacuation. A gas leak was spotted in the cabin. The launch was postponed for two more days. Barb was really stressed and was scared. She thought if this happened anything else could happen. It turned out that the hose had a pinhole in it.

It was the second launch date and they were prepared. At T-1 hour she felt fine. At T-30 minutes she felt a sharp pain in her stomach. She thought it was just indigestion. Later she screamed and a man whose wife was on the shuttle came over and asked her if she was ok. He told her that he was a doctor. He said, "you have to go to the hospital now." She didn't listen. At T-5 minutes the doctors at NASA helped her into a room that had the launch on a TV. The crew and I were ready to leave. As every man in the control room were asked they all replied, "We got go." The shuttle lifted off and as we entered space and left Earth a message was sent. Max you are a dad of a 7.5 lbs baby boy. I was so excited and every one on the shuttle congratulated me. Then I asked, "How is Barb?" They told me that she was ok. I was so happy. Then the master alarm went off. It was saying that there was a rip in the floor in the cargo bay. We had to do a Contingency EVA. Suse the other payload specialist and I had to perform this space walk. It took one hour to prepare for the EVA. We then went "outside" and examined for damage. When we got to the back we noticed something. The orbiter Triumph was leaking fuel that we would need to get back. Only a little bit was out and we patched the leak immediately. We never saw a crack in the floor though. We had to examine closely because landing with a gash would tear open Triumph and burn what was left. Then a shingle fell off. We saw a gash wider than the shingle. We called ground control and told them. We couldn't land now so we were told to dock with Challenger the International Space Station. It would take two orbits to catch up. Suse and I got in and were questioned by Pete the mission specialist. He thought we were lying and told Josh the Commander to scrub the mission. They knew then that Pete was trying to start mutiny. They told him when we dock with Challenger you can stay and we pick another person. He told them good. The flight manager cleared it.

Michelle, the pilot, was about to dock with Challenger. Going at a speed of 345mph a perfect docking. Pete was glad and Yurgi from the Russian Space Agency was chosen. He was proud to go to Mars but he knew he would be the last off the shuttle because if he was the first person on Mars. Then it would be Russia's. The floor was repaired luckily it was a small hole. We were now ready to depart.

Triumph disconnected and was on its way at full speed. Man was going where man has never been before. Yurgi was going to look for any signs of life from now or the past. It was believed that there was a huge ocean once on Mars. We would land near Valleris Marineris. We would later explore the area around Olympus Mons. We would stay there one Earth year. The total trip would be twenty-eight months long. The crew was excited and nervous but they were proud.

Commander Josh has written in his journal every day and just now let us read it. It has been two months since launch and Earth is a very tiny blueberry. We are all getting along and feel safe. No one has gotten sick. Max has done great with the computers. I think mainly to see his son. All systems are ok and I feel like we will make it to Mars. I am not sure if I will make it there. I will protect my crew and my shuttle for as long as I can. I am not sure how much longer I am going to be here.

Josh was starting to get sick. Suse was the doctor and diagnosed him with cancer. How he got it this far out we did not know. We all prayed for him to make a recovery. We want to turn back but he will have no part in it. So we have to listen to him.

Today Josh couldn't even get out of his bed. Suse did all she could. He was going to be there for a while. Then something happened Josh just died. Suse looked him over and found a lump on his bladder. The false gravity and 0-gravity must have created it. Ground control told us to examine every one of us. We are all Ok. I did find his journal and read it out loud.

It has been four months in to the flight and I am greatly ill. When I die I want to be left in space. I don't know if the mission can carry on with four members but here are the new ranks. Michelle is the commander, Max is the pilot and the others are the same. Please tell my family I died in my sleep of a heart attack.

I told ground control of his wishes. They were ok with the ranks but not the burial. I told them this is what he wants. They told me if I did this they would over ride the computers and turn us back. I signed off right then.

I knew I had to do this for him. I didn't know if anyone else would help. They all came up to me and were preparing for an EVA.I knew it was time. I know that Josh is looking down on us and is proud. He will want us to go straight to Mars. I disconnected the wire for override and told ground control of our plans. They could not override us now. Michelle and I took the body out. It was hard to open the last door because I knew he would be gone in an instant. We got him out and said a few words. In five minutes his body was destroyed. We had a tape of this incase his family wanted to see it. We knew though that we had to keep on for him and for us.

We were now six months into the flight and two to go. Mars has come into view and Earth has left. We were now preparing for the worst. We had to look out for asteroids from the asteroid belt. We had to watch out for possible life of any sort. The crew is all doing fine and getting along. We all miss Josh but we are moving on. We have to detonate a series of rockets that will cover the atmosphere with a black film. This will kill or stun anything living on Mars. It will not affect us and will be gone when we get there.

Sensors and alarms awakened us from the command module. An asteroid had hit us. We did not know where or how bad yet. I got up there first and saw that it claimed we were missing half of Triumph. I looked out the window and saw that the tail fin was broken. This would affect our landing only. I saw no other damage and then it showed we had a fire on the left wing. The only thing we could do was set off the sprinklers. Ground control told us to stay back. We had to stop it because the sprinklers were dead. I got suited up in 30 minutes when it should have been 1 hour. The fire was moving very slowly because of 0-gravity. I took two fire extinguishers and went out. It was hard spraying but the extinguishers were made especially for 0-gravity. The fire was out but I still checked for more damage. There was a hole in the wing. The wing was burnt. And the tail fin was broken. Luckily that was the extent of the damage.

I got back in to make sure everything was ok. Everyone was checking the walls and panels for damage. Michelle was trying to control Triumph. Then we saw it Mars right in front of us. It was amazing the time had come. We got ground control and we were ok to land. We all got seated and buckled up and we were ready. We started in and lost communication for five minutes. We were in Martian air it was amazing. Triumph did great landing considering the damage. We got unbuckled and checked all systems. Everything was ok. I set up the camera to film us walking out. Michelle was the first human on another planet. I followed and there is nothing that can describe my feelings. Suse came out of Triumph and Yurgi followed. Michelle placed the American flag on the landing spot. We had a lot to do today. We could only stay out for four hours a day because of the radiation. We set up a green house today and tomorrow another habitat module. We got out the Mars rover. NASA asked us to look for the ruins of the two satellites lost in space. We told them we would. We went in and had a real dinner and champagne to congratulate us. I was so happy that we made it.

The next morning I woke up and I checked in with ground control and they had some bad news for us. The space shuttle Discovery was launching when apparently a bomb exploded on the hydrogen tank just creating a huge fireball within seconds. I asked about their relatives and they told me that they were ok. This was carrying one of the many teacher student space missions.

After I got done talking to ground control I did the daily checking routines. Something I hadn't noticed until now so I think it is an error. It claims we don't have enough fuel to get back. I redid the numbers and it was right again. I got Michelle to check them and she got the same thing. She told me I could not tell the other two. I told her I wouldn't because there was nothing we could do. She asked me to call ground control and aware them of this. They told me that this was ok and we had a reserve tank. I didn't feel safe but agreed. Now we were going to work outside and could only stay out four hours because of radiation. We decided it would be better to take shifts and we would do two people at a time. It would be Suse and Michelle and Yurgi and me. We would go in after the others came out. We thought we could get more done.

We got up the habitat module and Yurgi is trying to find a place to set up an outdoor but indoor lab. He found a great cave and started working on it. I helped as much as I could. This lab would allow Yurgi to stay out longer. The time is up and the girls have to install the plumbing for the habitat module. As I was going inside I heard Yurgi scream. We thought he was dying but found something spectacular. He found a trap door and found tiny plant. He did not touch it for not knowing what it is. We called ground control and they told us to describe it. I said, "its leaves are triangular and it is green and small." They said that they had never heard of such a leaf. They told us to put it in a vacuum jar and seal it tight for freshness. This was remarkable a tiny cabinet protecting a baby plant. Then we thought a plant requires water. We started digging and went down a good two feet. The roots had ended and no water. Suse just came in and said congratulations we were said on what. She said Crystal Ice. She said it is a form of water made into a dry ice type deal. We had gone right past it. It was amazing. When I told ground control they didn't believe me at first because they the planet was dead. Now they know different. We got as much of the Crystal Ice as we could. We ran test on it to see if it was safe to use. Everything checked out. It was so clean we tested it again and it was ok. The trip to Mars is turning out to be great. We knew that at certain times Mars would align with the asteroid belt. When this happens all hell breaks loose. We did not know the time that this would happen. All we know is that if this happens we will have to abort. Even if we do have to abort the mission it was still a success. Tomorrow we will go to Valleris Marineris. We will not be able to go into the canyon but will still do testing around it. We will have a portable trailer with a cover on it so we can go out and stay out longer.

We woke up at 8:30 Earth time. We packed clothes, food, and spare radios. We had to prepare for the worst but hope for the best. I noticed Michelle had an extra bag and I asked what is in it. She just kept going. I said, "Michelle what is in the bag?" She told me don't worry but protection. I then knew that she had weapons. I didn't know what kind or how many. They must have been hidden in the lower deck. She told me that NASA believes that life might exist. I didn't think much more of it for a while. I packed my bag and went out.

We were on our way and I was walking some. I got left behind a bit and saw the most extraordinary thing it was something flying. I didn't know what to think. At first I thought maybe it was something on my visor but when I got caught up they said that they saw the same thing. We didn't know what to do now. We went back to our campsite immediately and got ground control. They told us that we were crazy. I told them that we all saw it and we know what we see. They told us first thing in the morning we would go back to where we were and continue our journey. Suse was scared to go out and couldn't sleep at all last night. We tried to comfort her but she was afraid she would never see her kids again. No one said anything but we all were scared we would never see our family again.

We got up and got ready to go out again. We were all scared and afraid for our lives. We started out and I waited to see if I could see the flying thing again. I did not see anything so we kept going on. We finally made it to the canyon. It was amazing and breathtaking there was nothing like this on Earth. Suse and I did weather testing around the area while Michelle explored. Yurgi was on the radios the entire time. It was time to go to fix dinner and then go to sleep.

We woke up the next morning and headed for Triumph. It was amazing to see the scenery. I thought how much fun it would be to live here. We made it back to Triumph and I noticed something. I told the others to stay back and be careful. The door was open to the shuttle and I knew we had shut it.

I walked up and saw the inside had been ransacked. The computers were destroyed and half the food was gone. I called Michelle over and she went crazy. I got the other two inside the greenhouse and told them to stay and try to get ground control. We now knew we were not alone here. We finally got ground control and told them that we were going to abort the mission. They told us that we were just going crazy and to relax. I told them that we were going to quit the mission and that the crew agreed.

Michelle and I tried to come up with some plans to leave as soon as possible. We decided that we would leave tomorrow morning. We all started checking the systems to ok them for launch. Everything seemed to be ok so we ate dinner. After that we talked to our families before bed. When we were all done we went to bed.

I woke up the next morning and went for a walk before we left. When I was done I woke up the others. We fixed breakfast and took one last look at our second home. We all wanted to stay but we all wanted to leave.

It was time to leave and we all got ready. We strapped ourselves in and had a countdown. It took longer to get out and at first we thought something was wrong. It was a rough trip coming up. The stuff in the cabinets came out all over the mid-deck. Luckily we made it through.

We were back in space now. They put me in charge of cleaning up the mess. I didn't really care it gave me time to think. I was thinking about my family, Josh, and if we would be cleared to come back to Earth. I started lunch since half the food was on the floor. We all took a last look and headed home.

We celebrated Christmas on Triumph. It was hard for us all not being with our families on Christmas. We got to talk to them through a camera but it wasn't the same. I told my family that I had a special present for them. On my walk on the morning of the launch I grabbed a rock just for them. I thought that this would be something none of there friends has.

Now was the last time we would see Mars in person not in pictures. I grabbed the camera and took a picture of it and got one of its moons in it. This picture was amazing. As we were looking for the last time we had a little turbulence. We checked for damage but luckily nothing. It must have just been a little rock or something.

We were one month away from Earth and it started getting bigger. We were all happy to be home but sad to have left Mars. Everyone was doing ok no sickness or anything. We knew when we got there we would have to dock with Challenger to get clearance to go back to Earth. This was something we were all scared of. If we couldn't go back who knows what they would do with us.

We were finally there. Home at last. Michelle pulled us up to Challenger and the first thing we did was hug everybody. The one thing we couldn't believe was who was still there. It was Pete. He asked us how it was and we told him everything. The doctor pulled Suse in first and cleared her. Then she got Yurgi and took him to a different section after she was done. She cleared Michelle and me. She got Suse, Michelle, and me in the shuttle and told us that Yurgi had some disease she didn't know of. We asked if we could catch it and told us that only Russians could get it. We asked what they were going to do with him and she told us that we were taking him back home. I smiled and got ready to go home. They all wished us luck. We offered to take Pete home but he told us he preferred to stay where he was. I think he was ashamed that he got out of the Mars mission.

We strapped in and headed home. The ride in was extremely rough. We made a semi-perfect landing at Cape Canaveral. They kept us in at first and then finally let us out. They shook our hand and commended us for our brave journey. We thanked them for choosing us. I asked how soon we could see our family and they told us tomorrow. I asked why and they said that they had some more test to run. We told them that we had already been examined and they didn't care. We let them do the testing and they cleared us all and they cleared Yurgi.

I woke up first and asked to see my family and they led me straight to them. The boy was so big and Barb was even prettier. She had named our son Parker after my dad. I loved that name and she did to. I showed her the presents I got them and she laughed. My flight manager came over and shook my hand and took Parker and told me that if we hadn't left when we did we would have been dead. I asked why and he told me that after we left the asteroid belt lined up with Mars and could have killed us.

Barb started crying when she heard this but I told her I was here and ok. I told her that it would all be ok. I was here with my wife and my son finally. I had wanted to hold my son for so long and finally I got to. This was a moment in my life that I would never forget.

Over the years I have still flown with NASA and I still enjoy it. My family and I have gone on so many trips for space flight practice. Parker has grown so much in the past few years. He hopes to possibly fly like I do. I give him all the support I can. I have been offered a great deal to work on the space colony Explorer. I think I might take this job so it can help Parker grow up in a better place. Also, so he can learn more about space.