Excerpt from Alex Castilblanco’s New Novel The Journey to Europa: Another Destination of Humanity

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    Chapter One

    Forming the ultimate team

    The silence in NASA’s control room was palpable as scientists, engineers and astronauts prepared for the next big challenge. After the success of the historic trip to Mars, the crew was ready to face a new horizon, the exploration of Europa, Jupiter’s icy fourth moon.

    Captain Sebastian Centeno, known for having commanded the Mars mission, stared determinedly at the three-dimensional hologram of Europa suspended in the center of the room. Next to him, Engineer Lee Mali was analyzing the data collected about the Europa’s surface.

    The rest of the team was quietly preparing, each focusing on their assigned task. Dr. Jennifer Wilson was reviewing the biological research protocols, while receiving emotional support from a psychologist who was preparing the crew for their upcoming liftoff to humanity’s next destination.

    But the crew did not count on the recruitment of new crew members who would be aboard the mission and who also went through the same selection process of the previous crew.  But this time it was more exclusive and secret, since the next mission to Jupiter’s Europa Moon would be a long and difficult process. This selection was a monumental task that required months of meticulous evaluation and analysis by the committee in charge. This committee, composed of leading scientists, engineers and space psychologists, among them David Scott, Joseph Michael Acaba, Franklin Chang-Diaz, etc, was tasked with the challenge of finding the best candidates for the mission. They were challenged to find the most capable, resilient and compatible people to face the rigors and dangers of this new destination.

    The first step was to identify the skills and knowledge needed for such a high-risk mission. Knowledge of planetary geology, space systems engineering, marine biology, spacecraft piloting and group psychology in extreme environments were some of the key areas that were considered essential for the secured crew slot. With these criteria in mind, the committee began a thorough review of potential candidate profiles. Hundreds of applications were received from scientists, pilots, engineers and professionals in various disciplines from around the world. Each application was thoroughly reviewed, and those candidates who met the minimum requirements were subjected to a series of additional tests and evaluations.

    Candidates selected to advance in the process were subjected to specific physical, psychological and skills tests. From emergency simulations in controlled environments to in-depth interviews to assess their emotional resilience and ability to work as part of a team, each step of the selection process was designed to identify the most physically and emotionally fit and capable individuals.

    Finally, after weeks of evaluation and deliberation, the committee announced the five members selected to join the crew of the mission to Europa:

    1. Athena Roman is a Planetary Geologist, born in Athens, Greece, loves beauty pageants and has vast experience in the study of extraterrestrial terrains. Dr. Franklin Chang noted for her ability to analyze the composition and geologic history of Europa. Her quick mind and ability to work under pressure made her an invaluable asset to the mission.

    2. Dr. Sophie Alpizary is from Nantes, France and is currently a Marine Biologist and enjoys writing poems. She brings a unique perspective to the team with her expertise in marine biology. Her knowledge of aquatic ecosystems on Earth could prove invaluable in understanding possible life in Europa’s subsurface ocean.

    3. Engineer Ahmed Khan from Karachi, Pakistan is a Space Systems Engineer and loves mechanics. With his brilliant mind and exceptional ability to solve technical problems, Engineer Khan was selected to ensure that all spacecraft systems function smoothly during the mission. His ability to improvise solutions in emergency situations makes him a vital asset to the team.

    4.  Dr. Lei Wei from Wuhan, China is a psychologist and enjoys making traditional costumes. Dr. Lei was chosen to ensure the mental and emotional well-being of the crew during the mission. With her experience in group psychology in extreme environments, she is prepared to handle any interpersonal conflicts and provide emotional support when needed.

    5. Alister Campbell is an Astronaut Pilot from Cambridge,UK and enjoys going to museums, he has an impeccable track record in space missions. David Scott selected him as the co-mission leader. His piloting skills and ability to make quick decisions make him the ideal choice to lead the crew through the unknown challenges of Europa.

    But before they become 100% part of the new crew, they need to have the spirit and intention to inspire the people of Earth and to push them to not give up dreams. Each of them transmitted the following messages to the world on all international media services:

     “Perseverance is the key to success. Even if the road is difficult, never give up, because every step brings you a little closer to your dreams,” said Lei Wei.

     “Challenges are opportunities in disguise. Face each obstacle with courage and determination, and you will see how you grow stronger in the process,” said Sophie Alpizary.

    “Failure is not the end, but an invaluable lesson on the road to achievement. Get up again and again, because each fall brings you closer to the top,” said Ahmed Khan.

    Society advances when its members refuse to give up in the face of adversity. Be the change you wish to see in the world, and never give up on your ideals,” said Athena Roman.

     “Success is not just reaching the goal, but the journey that gets you there. Every step, every effort, every stumble, is part of your story. Never stop writing it with determination and courage!” said Alister Campbell.

    Each of these crew members demonstrated an exceptional level of competence, skill and dedication during the selection process. Their diversity of skills and experience made them the perfect team to face the challenges that awaited them on Europa.

    The Journey to Europa is now, and the crew must be ready to face the challenges that await them on this distant and mysterious new horizon.

    Book Excerpt from Alex Castilblanco’s New Novel The Journey to Europa: Another Destination of Humanity

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