A Galaxy Far, Far Away—The crew aboard the well-publicized Space X Endeavour mission to the International Space Station began encountering movie tropes almost immediately after liftoff Friday.
“Zee worst part, is zat zay are all American movies. Terribles!” said French astronaut Thomas Pesquet as he held a dying daisy and stared into the maw of space while wearing a beret.
This is American astronaut Megan McArthur’s third space mission, and first since the aborted Discovery mission two years ago during which her husband, Will, was killed when a faulty fuel seal ruptured and Will heroically dove onto the breach, saving the other five crew members.
“Meg, I’ll see you on the other si…” were his last words. They ring her ears when she touches the wedding ring she still wears. Since then, McArthur has thrown herself into her work and though quite attractive – the male astronauts swoon when her sultry voice says “What’s the drag coefficient on the outside boosters?” – she’s never considered dating again. That is until she met Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, who is making his first venture off the planet. She’d met him once at a conference, but didn’t get to know him until training for this mission. They talked often; he showed her pictures of his daughter, Miko, and opened up about his recent divorce.While repairing the oxygen distribution system just before liftoff, each reached for a wrench simultaneously and briefly touched hands.
Shane Kimbrough, the fourth and final astronaut, grew up in Denton, Tex. and is known for pointing to his cowboy hat and saying “This is the only helmet I need.” He resents McArthur being in charge of the mission because she’s too by-the-book.
Saturday, Space X docked at the International Space Station, only to discover everyone on the base was dead.
“Time to lock and load,” Kimbrough said as he grabbed the largest laser blaster he could find.
“Wait, we don’t know what we’re dealing with,” McArthur said.
“We’re dealing with a mass murderer! Now either follow me or get out of the way!” Kimbrough replied.
Kimbrough and Pesquet spent much of the day hunting the alien creature, though
Pesquet wondered aloud if what they were hunting was the folly of caring in a ceaselessly indifferent universe. McArthur and Hoshide spent the day doing science stuff.
Tragedy struck Sunday morning when Kimbrough, having cornered the alien through guts and instinct, was killed by a second alien that he didn’t notice.
“Tell McArdle she was right,” Kimbrough said as he gasped his last breath.
“Zis is very surprising! I thought I would be killed since I am zee least likable character,” Pesquet said, just before being killed by a third alien that had been hiding in a closet. The word “FIN” appeared over his body.
Cornered, low on food, and out of ammo, McArdle and Hoshide stumble upon a solution. Recalling a nursery rhyme she heard as a Girl Scout, McArdle suggested that she stand on Hoshide’s shoulders and confront the aliens. By working as one, they appear bigger and fiercer than the aliens, who run away.
“I can’t believe that worked,” McArdle said. “It wasn’t logical at all, but maybe, life isn’t about logic. Maybe it’s about taking chances.”
She took Hoshide’s hand.
“Perhaps space isn’t the void you need to fill,” he responded just before they kissed.
On Monday, Kenneth Turan and A.O. Scott panned the weekend’s events as “predictable and derivative” but most of America thought it was an entertaining way to spend an hour-and-a-half.