Bouncing towards Shackleton Crater, I had my first chance in almost a week to relax and take in the beautiful, deadly lunar surroundings. I was confident because I had performed that EVA before on paper, VR, and underwater. Our new personalized xEMU suits took care of radiation, extreme temperatures, and toxic gases. Patriotically-colored renditions of traditional suits, these had voice-activated mics, weathered the glass-like soil, and were riddled with redundancies. Furthermore, my crew had considered and prepared for every conceivable way things could go wrong.
I glanced left at 35-year-old Mission Specialist Lando driving our rover. An exceptionally strong Eagle Scout skilled in many areas outside his expertise, he brought a lot of positive energy, always desired the best for the team, and knew all our abilities and lackings. A communication from our pilot on the Gateway (a small space station) interrupted my thoughts. 41-year-old Chinese-American Air Force Veteran Sabine was a selfless professional, comfortable making tough decisions, and led by example, seeking out feedback and criticizing the problem, never the person. I was honored to command such a dedicated and conscientious crew.
That week, we installed solar cells on the crater rim, a radio relay station on Malapert Mountain, and, today, a laser that carves tiny names into the lunar surface. On Earth, the Artemis Awards program encouraged kids, regardless of GPA or U.S. residency, to explore STEM fields through online challenges: lessons with quiz, specialty games, practical activities/experiments, and essays. Graduates would develop communication, perseverance, and practical skills; receive a certificate and commemorative coin; and have the opportunity to watch live as their name and subject area were permanently preserved extraterrestrially. The experience would inspire more youth, including those in minority groups, to pursue interesting and crucial STEM careers, benefiting our country and world.