In the blackness of space, the Jupiter 2 made it's way across the infinite heavens.
Anticipation was high that this would be the trip that would end in reaching their ultimate destiny of Alpha Centauri. They had only been in space for a few days. John and Don had spent endless hours preparing for this flight. Slide rules, star charts, and computer calculations had occupied most of their time for the 2 weeks proceeding the lift off. This time they were sure they were on the right track.
As everyone slept, the peaceful, black, silence was broken by the shrill sound of the ships alarm accompanied by the Robot's "Warning, Warning…" The serenity of their dreams was no more.
Don leapt from his bed and was on the ladder to the upper deck and to his pilot's chair in no time flat. He sprang into action at lightning speed, trying to steady himself, pushing buttons, and yelling commands to the Robot. Through the view port he could see a huge meteor shower pummeling the exterior shell of the ship. Don struggled to gain control.
John quickly joined Don at the control panel. "How bad is it?"
"It's bad John." Don feverishly tried to get control of the ship as it lurched, first one direction and then another.
As the meteors continued to bombard the ship, the other members of the Jupiter made their way to the bridge. Will quickly scurried off the ladder, followed by a sleepy Dr. Smith. Maureen and the girls ascended in the elevator. They clung to the elevator and to each other. "John, what's happening?"
"Maureen, keep the girls back!" John warned. "We're caught in a meteor shower!"
If it had not been so life-threatening, the meteor shower would have been a beautifully spectacular site. As each one zigged and zagged across the dark emptiness of space, they glowed like a swarm of dancing fireflies.
"We're doomed, doomed I tell you!" Smith screamed as he ran about the bridge.
"Shut up Smith!" Don yelled,
At that moment there was a loud thud. The ship lunged, and the passengers of the Jupiter went flying in all directions.
Dr. Smith ran toward the control panel and yelled, "We're hit, I tell you, we're doomed!" Don grabbed the hysterical man's shirt collar and physically shoved him toward the elevator. "Get him outta here!" he demanded.
"Come on Dr. Smith." Will took hold of his arm and led him to the elevator. "Let's go to the lower level."
The women watched in awe as both John and Don took control. They worked together like a well oiled machine. It hadn't always been like that. They had experienced their own power struggle early in the mission, but had come to a mutually workable relationship. More than once each had saved the other's life.
As they worked, the meteor shower began to subside. As the last boulder sped past the view port, the women breathed a sigh or relief and hugged each other.
John looked back at his wife and two beautiful daughters. He was so proud of them. They had all agreed to colonize a planet, but none of them had agreed to this! "Maureen, why don't you and the girls go back to bed. Don and I have our work cut out for us here. I'm sure we'll be working non stop for the next few hours."
"Are you sure John? Would you like one of us to bring you some coffee?"
"No Maureen, just take the girls and go get some rest."
Judy turned her eyes in Don's direction, but he was too busy to notice her caring glance. More times lately than not, he seemed too busy to pay much attention to her. Frustrated, she retreated with Penny and Maureen to the lower deck and to her room.
As John and Don worked throughout the night, they tried to assess the damage. Don frantically pressed button after button. "Oh no, it's the thrusters. They're sluggish. I think we took a direct hit to one or maybe even two." He slammed his fist down on the console in anger. "We're going to have to set down on another planet and make repairs."
"That could be tricky without the full use of the thrusters." John's concern showed on his face.
"We don't really have a choice John. The thrusters are the main component in our being able to make course changes. We'll never make it to Alpha Centauri with limited functionality."
"Then I suggest we get busy finding another habitable planet that we can land on."
Hours turned into days as Don and John diligently worked to find a suitable planet on which to land.
"John, look at these readings… I think we've found something." Don called out, as he pulled a tape from the main computer.
"That's it! We've found our next stop. Don, program these coordinates into the navigation system." John handed the tape back to Don. "How soon can we be there?"
Don concentrated a moment on the computer screen. "I estimate nine hours."
John patted Don on the back. "Good job! Now, go get some sleep. We'll need you in top form for the landing. I'll go tell the rest of the family."
With that, Don turned and headed straight for his quarters. He lay in bed thinking about the difficult landing to come. 'I'll need to be at my best.' he thought as he went over and over the landing procedures in his head. Just as sleep was about to come, his thoughts were interrupted. 'Judy… I have to talk to Judy soon, I can't put it off much longer.' He then succumbed to a fitful sleep.
Eight hours later, John knocked on Don's door. "Major, it's time to get up, we have a lot of work to do."
Don jumped out of bed. He had slept in his clothes, so was quickly on the bridge. When he got there John was already seated in the co-pilot's chair. "Are you ready?"
"Yep, let's do this." Don plopped down in his seat and proceeded to do what he did best.
The family had gathered on the upper deck and watched as the Jupiter approached the distant planet. As it filled the view port John turned to face them. "OK, it's time for everyone to go below and strap in." He winked at Maureen, and added, "It's going to be a rough landing."
'So what else is new' crossed everyone's mind as they obediently descended to the lower deck. 'Here we go again.'