Humans have dreamed of space flight since antiquity. I too have been fascinated with space since childhood. The international space station is a research laboratory orbiting around the Earth. With many countries contributing to its design and construction, this high flying laboratory is symbol of world cooperation in space exploration.
I am the doctor on board the spacecraft which undocked from the international space station a month back. Our mission is to explore the solar system till its outer fringes and return back to the space station in a year’s time. Commander Will is the chief commandant. Mr. Chang is the chief officer in command. I Dr. Bhavya am of the same rank as Mr. Chang, and besides my work as a doctor I am a part of the daily policy meetings.
The previous month passed by quietly. The space craft is fitted with gravity plates, so unlike other space shuttles everyone can walk around as on earth. A huge hall has numerous pods. Each pod is like a cubicle with a bed. One can sit upright on the bed and read. Commander Will, Mr. Chang and I have small rooms at the beginning of the hall. The rooms are sparsely furnished with a bed and a table.
During my training years at the space medicine school, I developed a hand held device, which when slowly passed over the body of a person would display all the basic health parameters. This invention had assured me a place in the international space station. With further training in space surgery I got a place in this mission. My daily routine begins with examining all the crew members with this hand held device called Bscanner.
We had crossed the planet Mars a couple of days back and are heading towards the asteroid belt which is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The chief engineer had charted the shuttle course in such a way that we would steer clear of all the rocks. I sat near the window of my cubicle admiring the rocks of different shape floating by. The famous sentence of Star Trek playing in my mind “These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise. Its continuous mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before”. This was the first step to such missions.
I took out my dairy and started writing my thoughts. June 1st: ‘After this mission, I wonder whether I will be a part of other travel missions or get a posting on the teaching faculty in the space medicine school.’ Suddenly a bright artificial light appeared near the window. I squinted as I peered out. It was a medium sized shuttle emitting a blue light which seemed to scan us. Suddenly I could hear voices in my head. They seemed more like monologues.
Commander Will: ‘This is an alien ship. Are we under attack or are they just gathering information about us. I should get a better view. I will go to the upper deck. I hope all my crew members are safe. Has anyone else noticed this light? I shouldn’t alarm anyone…… let me first assess the situation.’
Mr Chang: ‘ What is this light. Has Commander Will deployed some module in space which I am not aware of? Can’t be…..He did not inform me….Is it an alien ship. ….Let me find him and tell him of this light.’
Engineer –in-chief: ‘ What the heck is this….We are under attack….let me go to the Captain’s cabin……Should I ask my crew to gather in the bay.’
I could hear hosts of other voices. Some were scared, some not sure and others excited and imagining school boy heroics. Suddenly the beam disappeared and with it all the voices stopped. The alien spaceship turned around and as if by magic, a tunnel opened in space and swallowed the spaceship. All of us gathered in the bay to discuss the incident. Our space ship scanner had not shown any blip to indicate another space shuttle. Almost everyone recounted hearing other people’s thoughts. It’s called telepathy. The communication system which some medical school professors had hypothesized would be the most efficient way of communication in space. Did the aliens try to gather information about us through the beam? Were they trying to read our thoughts and gauge the level of our knowledge and mental development? None of us heard anything from the other space shuttle. Who were they? Where had they come from? What information did they gather? So many questions ….and all unanswered.
As the ship doctor I scanned all the crew members with Bscanner once more. All reports were normal and the telepathic communication did not leave any unhealthy consequences on the mental health. This report along with the detailed report on the encounter was sent to the International space station. Our space ship will cross the asteroid belt in another forty eight hours. There is no turning back, the mission must go ahead. Will we meet the apace ship again? No one knows. Our mission is similar to STAR TREK. The crew members are relaxed and looking forward to the voyage ahead. They are a team of dedicated professionals with years of single minded devotion and hard work behind them. This encounter is a dream come true for many. It will make waves in the news the world over but here on the space shuttle it’s just another day again.