One Small Step For Man
Upon reflection, the easy part had been creating an engine that was capable of boosting a space craft to the speed of light. Or, at least, so close to the speed of light that it made little or no difference. Really, he had only the most basic of understandings of how they’d done it. It involved warping gravimetric fields, bending space and almost surfing along ripples in space/time. That was just physics. Nuts and bolts stuff. Sure, it was complicated, but once all the equations had been figured out, it was just a matter of building the thing. It’s what mankind was good at, making things.
The hard part, he’d come to realise, was the waiting. When he’d boarded the ship, strapped himself into the flight chair, and braced himself for launch, his head had been full of the adventure and excitement of exploring new worlds. He would be the first human visitor to Epsilon Eridani, the nearest planetary system to the Earth. The newsfeeds had been full of how the breakthrough in space propulsion had made such a trip possible. How previously it would have required ark like ships, where generations would come and go during the journey, with the descendants of the original travellers being the ones who would first set foot on those distant worlds. Now, at the speed of light, this system would only take ten short years to reach. Finally, a round trip was possible within the space of one human lifetime.
Ten short years.
Ten years spent alone in a tiny capsule.
As the landing pod touched down on the first of the planet’s orbiting Epsilon Eridani that he was scheduled to survey during his five year mission in the system, he hesitated a moment before flicking the “record” button on his log. This was a momentous occasion, and his words, he knew, would be beamed back to earth, travelling at the speed of light. Ten years from now, the people back home would be inspired by these words. They would be as significant as Neil Armstong’s first words from the moon.
He breathed deeply and then, with great solemnity, pressed the button and began to speak.
“Captain, captain, the trees! They speak with bees. And the dog’s ears are numb. Mother says we sing at night, but we mostly sing at day.”