February 28th, 2552 Catch and Release
Shuttle pilot/Lab Rat/mechanic’s apprentice – Katherine ‘Kat’ James Reporting
So… the selected pilots they get to do planetary landings and all the extra flight time they can manage so they have as much experience as possible. That means landing on everything in the fleet, including Big Momma, and lots and lots of time in the simulators.
I do not envy them the simulator time the slightest. We have already determined that if it’s fake, I end up on the cleaning crew tasked with hosing the simulator down. Besides, with my new role, I have to be sure I’m ready and the RS Gumbo is up to the task of catching and towing a vehicle to the Twilight of the Gods.
Currently, my job is to pick up everything in the area from the Gumbo.
I was given a trash bag from the shop and told to release it, and then clean it up. That was fun for about the first 5 minutes, and then it got interesting as everything spread out and I had to go tracking it down. I almost cried when they suggested I repeat the process.
Cookie, thankfully, recognized the stress in my voice and told Flight ops that that was enough for one day. They started to argue that I needed to be able to pick up everything – in case something happened to the explorer ship and I had to pick up the samples.
Cookie pointed out that they also needed me to be able to pick up the ship, in case nothing happens to the landing craft.
It’s good to know that Flight Ops values their pilots almost as much as they value their convicts. I know the mission is what matters, but survival has to be part of that plan, or the overall mission is going to fail due to attrition.