I know you probably have a good record somewhere or what was done to me, to get me here, but I thought I’d fill in the gaps to explain what it felt like to have had that done to me.
Obviously when Greg told me that I was really, truly going to be the one going in to space I was excited and then I got nervous and scared. I had the sort of thoughts you’d expect: What if I get lonely, what about sex, what if I run out of food, what if I die.
Greg told me he understood if I didn’t want to do it, even after all that prep,. He got me to speak to a well-known psychologist who I won’t name, and we went through my fears and concerns, listing them out, ranking them and working through them one at a time.
Death was the easy one to deal with, because I knew I am definitely going to die on this trip. That’s the one given. So what difference when really. Space travel is inherently risky. Loneliness, sure, but as mentioned, I am exceptionally well suited to being alone, so if anyone could do it, it would be me. Sex, well, there’s a device, I won’t go in to details but it’s fine. Starvation… again, there’s a machine. If there’s one thing that’s been adequately provided for it’s the ability to put myself out of suffering if I decide to.
I was then and still am calm and comfortable. We went through the motions of launch. For me that meant a week back with my family. I told them I’d come back for a week before heading off again to Malaysia to work on assignment for a month. My cover story had me established as doing something vague and confidential internationally. I spent a week with my mum, my sistser and niece, a few friends. We drank beer, watched football, played in playgrounds, ate nice food. I paid for it all (Greg paid for it all). We argued a bit, we made up, normal.
Then I “left for the airport” and was gone to the base where I had some final tests, did my final prep signed all the paperwork and then got in the cocoon. Greg was there, the psychologist was there, the medics and techs were there and I just sort of fell asleep dreamily. And it wasn’t nothing, it wasn’t unconsciousness, but such dreams as I dreamt were mild and pleasant, I don’t remember a hint of launch to the dock, being transferred, launching again, slingshots, high-Gs, nothing. Just the shushing of the cocoon door opening then the whiff forest smell that I now know to be a sterilising compound suitable for floor, toilets, water and bodies.
When I stepped out I knew where I was, it was like being in the pod back on earth. But I went straight to a window. Honestly, I cried it was so beautiful.