My name is Max. It had been two years since my last flight and I was psyched to go. I could not wait to fly into the "open land". It was something that I loved to do but did not do that often. Since I was a computer expert they did not have much use for me except when the computers on Challenger the space station needed upgrading. Luckily this was my chance.

It would be a year before the launch. I had plenty of training to do and not enough time to do it in. I would pull all nighters and work days in a row. I had to be ready to leave. The training was tough and very intense. I had forgotten how bad it was. It was fun but not so easy. They had new ways of testing you and training you. They had perfected a 0-G room and had state of the art technology.

They gave us an overview of the flight. Ann and I would stay for one month on Challenger. The other crew would dock the shuttle and stay only two days. Ann had a lot of training to do because this was her first time to Challenger. She was nervous but she got through the training. They told us what sectors needed to be fixed first and which ones to fix last. They told us everything to do. They told us one last detail. We were going to Europe and Russia to learn to speak the languages. We would be in Europe and Russia for two months total. Our families would stay in the states.

I rushed home and was so excited about going to Europe. Russia did not excite me as much. My wife Barb was upset that she could not go with me but understood. I told Barb that we left in one week and that I would write as much as I could. She was so worried every time a flight came around. I tried to tell her everything would be ok but that was hard when I was scared too.

The week had gone and we had to board our plane to Europe. The flight was only five hours in the new planes and luckily we got a new plane. We got there and had one day to go sight seeing. We were all over Paris and just amazed. We decided to go and eat and then we would go to our hotel rooms. We woke up the next day and headed out to our speech class. ESA was a very nice space agency. They had extremely nice areas unlike ours. They grabbed us and took us to our classes. We had five-hour classes and then we explored the space agency until they threw us out.

We had been in Europe for four weeks. It was time to leave. We hated to have to leave but we had to be in Russia the next day. We packed and headed for the airport. We got on the plane and had no delays. We took off and got to Russia in 1 and a half ours later. We took off sightseeing and amazingly found some neat stuff. We went to our new motel rooms and waited to the next morning.

We woke up and headed for RSA for the speech classes. Their space agency was not as nice as ours and definitely not as nice as ESA. We went to the classes and we had some fun. We explored their space museum and walked through their launch pads. After the three weeks we spoke fairly good Russian.

We headed home and had only two months left for the flight. By that time we spoke good European and fairly good Russian. We were ready to go up to the space station. The next two months were the longest but we tolerated them. Now we had to do more American training.

We had to go over the new procedures for the new shuttles. The escape routes were stricter now. You had to get out of the shuttle and get to one exact spot. It was just a maze; hopefully we will never have to do it.

The two months have flown by and we are ready to fly. We were going on Desdimona, the newest of the shuttle fleet. Everything was going according to plan. At lift off time it was perfect.

We got up to the "open land" and we were ready. We would have to do about 20 orbits before we caught up with Challenger.

We finally did catch up and the docking went well to. We opened the two hatch doors and then we met. The reunion was great. While the crew of Challenger was crying, they were just happy to see us. We got on board and I went straight to the computers.

I looked at all sectors to see if anything had changed with in the time that they told us. Nothing major happened but there was one sector that had to be fixed quickly.

That night on the station was amazing. They had everything that a typical house had. It was very comfortable and relaxing. Ann and I started unpacking our things.

It was time for the crew to leave. We wished them luck and then we sealed the hatch. They pulled away and that was the last of them we saw.

Ground Control got on later and told us that there had been an accident. While Desdimona was going in the air started bleeding out of the shuttle. They tried all that they could but nothing could have helped them. When they opened the hatch door they found all the crew dead.

This crushed us but we were glad that we weren't on the shuttle. We had to stay an extra week while they prepped another shuttle to come and get us.