Ben Durkee, Crew 218 Journalist
This morning started off soothing and somber. We crawled out of our sleeping bags to the gentle ukelele of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Depleting our remaining hot chocolate supply, we watched the sun scale the hill east of the Hab. Without sharing any words, we lamented this being our last Martian sunrise together. Once we had fully woken up and sufficiently mellowed out, there was an immediate paradigm shift and we launched straight into our jam-packed itinerary.
First on the docket: Hab cleaning. Since we had done most of the cleaning yesterday, we knew exactly what still needed to be done and we each splintered off to tackle a different task. I took mop duty. Our pipes still hadn’t thawed, so mopping became a struggle between refreshing the water as little as possible without slathering the floor with a muddy sludge. I spent a period in a seemingly unending sine wave between cleaning a region and then painting it brown, back and forth ad infinitum. Eventually, we sent Jonathan outside with pots of hot water to pour on the pipes in an attempt to thaw them. In light of this effort and the many gallons of water we had remaining from the mission, we considered water conservation a bit less of a concern. As a result, we got our Martian housekeeping done just in time for our guests to arrive.
Our metaphorical doorbell (the Habitat radio) rang and we invited Crew 219 through the airlock. They are a squad assembled of Florida Tech students and alumni, 8 people strong. Considering there are only 6 state rooms and 1 loft, it’s going to be a bit of a cozy Hab. I get the impression they’ll handle it well, though. They seem like a very tight-knit group and more than ready to face this mission together. I have only good things to say about these guys and training them today has been an absolute pleasure.
It’s weird to be the jaded survivors tasked with passing down knowledge to our starry-eyed successors. I’m almost jealous they now get to live this incredible experience that we’ve just concluded. It’s like when you finish a great book or television show and wish you could just erase your memory of it and live it again. But we’ve had our fun and the time has come to pass the torch and hand these folks the keys to a shiny new Mars Habitat.
Tonight is going to be a bittersweet night, full of reminiscing about our time on the red planet and breaking bread with our new Floridian friends. All in all, this has been an unbelievably enriching experience.
Were we packed into tiny, overheated sleeping quarters like a can of sardines in an oven? Yes. Did I have to painstakingly scrape beans from all the dishes with my fingernails and a bean juice-soaked sponge? I’ll never be able to forget. Was I forced to put up with these 5 lovable scamps for two whole weeks? Yep. Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.