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Day 1 Pre-sim

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Before our simulated mission, we will clean and prepare the habitat.

In Resolute at the Narwhal Inn on Friday, I got up at 6:30 and packed, breakfast at 7:30. I had oatmeal and a little egg, potato, and one bacon strip plus coffee. It’s difficult to eat a lot but I know I’ll need the energy. The shot guns are delivered to the Inn in a case with locks but no keys, we’ll get bolt cutters at the airport but we need to confirm the ammo, because only the case was delivered. In the case are 3 12 gauges with 15 slugs, good enough. Our plan was to split the crew and the cargo into two flights, Caleb and I were to go first but the Buffalo Airways pilots want everything in first then the full crew and fuel barrels second. They load everything except fuel and have room for me and Caleb only, so we’re back to the original plan. We take off, and fly 50 minutes over the water to the hab at around 2,000 feet above the ground. We overfly the hab and the pilots spend an agonizing 25 minutes circling over and over from many different directions choosing a suitable landing spot. I stop recording video after 15 minutes and I just want to land and get this started. Finally after some practice approaches, they land with the stall horn on and get us stopped very quickly. We unload everything. The ATVs have full fuel, but one is dogging, it revs too high for how slow it goes, the brake handle pulses under my hand. A warped rotor on a brand new machine. We install the trailer hitch on the good one and we make our way down to the river following worn paths. We stop at the water and lay down to drink directly from the water. It is the experience of a lifetime for certain.

We ride up the hill after fording the river and we can see the hab on the hill, and incredible view. I’ve seen so many pictures but there it is. We navigate on the winding switchbacks, not able to see the full course and lose sight of the hab. We choose to stay left of a cairn and find ourselves at the rim of the crater. We aren’t were we are supposed to be but are given an amazing surprise view of the vast expanse of smooth weather-worn shapes of brown, grey, and red that make up the Haughton Impact Crater. We dismount and take it in. We are giddy and laughing. We choose to walk toward the hab and scout the correct path back to the cairn.

When we arrive at the hab, it feels familiar, we’ve been studying and planning for this moment for months and here it is. Our first task is to find at least 3 barrels for trash to haul back to the airplane on the next flight to help clean up. We haul items back and forth. The Garmin InReach is working great and we text the crew back in Resolute an update. They are delayed only 40 minutes to load the plane and they arrive 50 minutes later. They choose to walk while I bring the pilot to scout a better future landing area. He finds it and asks us to mark it out with gravel bags. They depart, no more flights. It’s just us on the island and their departure makes it clear we’re on our own. They buzz the hab and are off.

The sun makes it almost too warm when there is no wind, but otherwise it is fine weather to work in, dry with a blue sky. The rest of the day is constant hard work. The old ATV fires up with fresh fuel and battery, no other work needed after sitting dormant for 6 years. We continue to get the last of the equipment using the old ATV. The diesel generator gets a new battery and Terry and I get it started. In the process I splash gas on my grey sweater, I’ll burn it tomorrow. I wont be able to clean it. We finally eat the sandwiches we took from the Inn for lunch at 5:30pm. Andrew our commander is planning on sleeping outside tonight, we aren’t able to clean the upper floor of mold we’ve found. We set up our tents and bear fence – this fence is a thin wire that trips a blank shotgun shell. Just before the end of the day, Andrew stands on the stairs and declares “this is our hab!” to cheers. We stop for dinner after over 18 hours.

Nearing bedtime we move the food inside the hab door and clean up. At this time our Mission Support gets our Starlink connected after a few hours of troubleshooting a unit that didn’t expect to be where it is. It’s nice to have internet access. We are sore and tired. The crew turns in for the night at 12:30am with the sun blazing in the sky. We’re here.

1 thought on “Day 1 Pre-sim”

  1. Burn the sweater? What an odd way to deal with stains! Since the sun does not fully set, does time go fast or slow for you? Ironic that the new ATV doesn’t work but the old one does. This is like reading, a chapter book, and I can’t wait to read the next chapter, but it’s not published yet!

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