The Fourth Astronaut

The Fourth Astronaut

The fourth astronaut’s selection for the first crewed flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) is kind of a fluke or an afterthought, and he is not as well qualified or as experienced as the other crew members. In the year 2021, he finds himself in the Orion Crew Module sitting on top of the huge SLS rocket that is launching in ten minutes. He is extremely nervous and fears he will have a heart attack or stroke. He wonders what he is doing here on the mission to save the world. The book flashes back to 2016 and begins describing events that led to placing the fourth astronaut on that rocket. Dr. Art Bennett, an aerospace contractor, is in Washington, DC to brief an important budget panel at the Pentagon. The panel is headed by a two-star general, Leonard Brown. Art is presenting his Galaxy Defense Plan which establishes that our Solar System is currently in a danger zone within the Milky Way Galaxy. General Brown and the budget panel reject the entire Galaxy Defense Plan. Little did they know that four years later it would be then four-star General Brown selecting Art Bennett as the fourth astronaut. After nine months of training, the crew is ready for the mission. In six weeks, they reach the huge rock, now labeled as a Near-Earth Object, or NEO. Deflecting the NEO requires four nuclear missiles, and it progresses like clockwork. There is a celebration as they begin their return to Earth. However, a bogy asteroid, about four miles wide, is discovered closing fast from behind. If it hits the larger NEO, the Earth would still be in danger of total destruction. The crew goes back to stop the bogy. They use their last three nukes on the smaller asteroid. Mission Control in Houston loses radio contact with the Orion Spacecraft and many believe it was destroyed. NASA calls in the families of the astronauts to explain that Orion may have been destroyed, or the crew could still be alive, but with their antenna damaged by debris. If alive, the astronauts will coast home to the Earth and hopefully, have enough fuel to slow down for reentry. Towns and cities and millions of people all over the world conduct candlelight vigils each night for two weeks, praying for and honoring the missing astronauts.

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Weight 23 kg
Dimensions 12 × 31 × 23 cm

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