Chapter 08.2

04:45 – Brandon was working at the germination station on the Hydroponic Deck, about to set out a new batch of strawberry plants when there was a sudden dull thump. It felt as if he was sitting in a parked car and someone bumped it with a car door, but their vehicle is half way to Mars. Curious, he stepped over to the nearest window and gazed out, but couldn’t see anything unusual. Rather than risk contaminating a fresh planting by entering one of the other garden bays, he turned toward the ladder-well and climbed down two decks to where the others had gathered in response to this jarring sensation.

Tom and Sally had just gotten up from their bunks and everyone was awake and crammed around one of the half-meter wide portholes. “What was that?” Brandon inquired in a low tone. As Tom turned, he could see concern reflected in Tom’s face and that it was not good news.

“Take a look,” he said. The crew parted to allow Brandon access and he moved to press his face to the window.

Peering out, at first all appeared normal. The stars were passing by the window in a slow upward movement, as if the ship and crew were falling through space in slow motion. As he shifted position to look more aft-ward, his view was blocked by the solar panel as usual. Tilting his head to view further out the length of the panel, however, he realized something was amiss, or more accurately, missing. Brandon did a double take and looked again, amazed that the far end of the panel was no longer there.

The solar panel, formerly measuring 26 meters in length, was now more like 10 meters and appeared jagged at the tip. An asteroid about the size of a small bus had narrowly missed the Hab by 10 meters.

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