Fifteen-year-old Michael May makes history as the first child in space and part of a crew to the far side of the moon. However, from the moment he docks at the International Space Station, things change...
Click. The red arrow on the hatch door handle turned one hundred and eighty degrees to the word Locked. Michael May had imagined this moment for over half his life. In just minutes the launch sequence would commence and the fuelpacked rocket would thrust him into space. He looked down at his orange fl ight suit: an American emblem on one arm, a European badge on the other and a round Fortis mission patch on his chest. No more simulations. This time he was doing it for real.
The golden ball of Florida sun acted as a perfect spotlight, illuminating the historical event below. Banks of TV cameras trained their lenses on the spacecraft, crowds of excitable fans cheered and gangs of journalists interviewed nervous relatives. Only once had Michael glanced at his family. He couldn’t bear to see the enormity of what he was about to do reflected in their faces. Whoops and shouts rang out as the ‘five-minute countdown’ announcement boomed over loudspeakers and a sea of photographers shouted for one last front page-worthy image.
Crammed into their crew capsule and wedged in their bucket seats, the six astronauts carried out their final suit checks and fastened their harnesses. Michael was less than four minutes away from being fired into the sky in a spacecraft that had never carried a crew before and five months earlier than scheduled. If anything went wrong, this thing contained enough fuel to give Florida the best firework display ever.
Michael scrunched up his clammy, gloved-hands, tried to ignore the thread of sweat zigzagging down his back and flicked up one of the tabbed switches at arm’s length.
‘Er…this is Michael May confirming my communication link.’
‘Check,’ said a voice to his left.
It was the pilot, Steve Winters. ‘ How are you doing, Michael?’
‘Er…I’m OK thanks, Steve. I suppose I can’t actually
believe we’re going. I mean...I’ve been thinking about this
for years and now I’m suddenly sitting here.’
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