The Space Force was in its early stages of development but world society faced more impending challenges.
Aura was interested in becoming an astronaut like her father. He was famous for being one of the first American members of the team that started construction on Mars.
She couldn't just jump into the space-faring enterprise, however.
Earth was in a widespread health crisis.
People were quarantined and unable to travel freely in the manner done in the 20th and early 21st centuries. A virus, causing dangerous respiratory syndrome had spread throughout the globe and scientists were yet struggling to find a safe and effective vaccine. During the interim everyone was required to practice social distancing by staying at home; in most cases even from work or school. This challenge, the challenge to stay healthy and virus-free took precedence over much of the commercial and social elements of the world.
This didn't mean that Aura didn't think about Mars and the Space Force. She still enjoyed watching jets and helicopters as they flew over the cities of Los Angeles County. She also unpacked her professional telescope at night and photographed the planetary bodies as they spiraled across the sky. She had heard of the Space X company. It was the first private company to send highly trained astronauts into orbit around the Earth. Other corporate magnates, such as Elon Musk and Richard Branson, also gave serious interest in funding a space program privately, outside of the developing Space Force.
Aura thought about the hurried development of the vaccines. The availability of the medicine couldn't come soon enough as far as she was concerned. She wondered whether the teams of colonists in space would someday be able to develop their own vaccines when they were positioned far from the Earth. This would be a challenge that did not yet exist. The important thing, she thought, was to make it safe enough for children and students to return to school and allow their parents and caretakers to work at what occupations remained.
One avenue of activity that apparently blossomed under the pandemic was the concept and software related to video conferencing. Aura thought video conferencing was great. It allowed her to share information with like-minded people and even discuss the facets and techniques related to her astronomy hobby. At times she was even surprised at the number of interested people willing to socialize in a safe manner through computers. It seemed that social contact and feedback were an essential part of post-industrial life.
Aura's thoughts turned to her father again. He “flew” to Mars with an international team of scientists and engineers in 2027. They built a spaceport there, allowing larger cargo ships to land outside of Olympus Mons. The diaspora as it was called was in full effect and Mars soon possessed air-tight living facilities, hospitals, schools, stadiums and even golf courses. Now the necessity of medical research labs was on the forefront.
Aura thought about the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It was a testament to the dangers of unfettered science. Now, at times, the respiratory virus seemed to be more frightening than Shelley's fictional monster. Lives had been lost and politicians and doctors alike insisted on the benefit of testing people, sometimes one by one. Few people could speculate as to how soon the vaccines would be available to the public or as to their overall effectiveness. Just as cultural and racial disparities demanded to be understood and changed Aura struggled to pay for food at the grocery store and sometimes at the food bank as well.
Strange things were happening on the Internet. A Dungeons & Dragons game playing channel on YouTube remained active despite the pandemic. Some episodes had over half-of-a-million viewers. Protests in Hong Kong and Portland, Oregon also brought media attention to lasting social and governmental injustice ranging from student protests to all out clashes with crowd control agents.
The President voiced his desire to open the quarantined economy as soon as possible. People wondered if this was safe or even feasible where buses and jets remained parked and idle due to fear of infection and the spread of dangerous contagion.
Where once Americans feared of a nuclear attack or invasion overland, now the impending risk of communicable disease was slowing everything down.
'If America could send Neil Armstrong to land on the Moon and return to Earth in 1969 there must be a way to divert the destruction of the virus,' thought Aura.
There was word of vaccines being tested in the United Kingdom and the United States. Thousands were stricken with disease in Brazil and Africa among other nations. This was also the case for Italy and China.
Aura also had a cat. She had named him Apollo after the early space programs.
[To be continued.]
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