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Pleiad

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He gave years of his life to the lander. Sacrificed, toiled, dreamt of it at night. He knew it better than he knew his children. It had caused him more heartache and more hope.

Pleiad ended up scattered across the surface of Mars. So they tell him, at least. They never found out exactly what happened; they lost telemetry too early to be sure. Perhaps the radio transmitter failed, and it landed after all, safe but forever silent. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care about the inquiry, or the placing of blame.

Other men have succeeded. Tom Kelly is gone now, but the descent stages he built will stand on the Moon forever. Voyager’s signal is weak, but it still beams back from beyond the heliopause. Spirit and Opportunity will die one day, but they have made their mark on Martian soil.

He does not care. He will never know where his lander came to rest.

I had a star in heaven
One “Pleiad” was its name—
And when I was not heeding
It wandered from the same
And tho’ the skies are crowded—
And all the night ashine—
I do not care about it—
Since none of them are mine
--Emily Dickinson