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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Sunday, Sol 29 (1.1.29)  9:10 AM NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Monday, 1 February 2016  10:06 AM PST

Several of the remote-controlled cameras inside the Auxiliary Control Deck, or ACD, were active and broadcasting the scene on the ESS Carl Sagan. One of them zoomed in on a man standing on the sixth deck of the ACD holding a flat object covered in a soft cloth. He was Nick Castillo, the Director of the Earth Space Exploration Program or ESEP. Castillo looked at the 21 people in the Command Deck and then began,

Carl Sagan said, ‘Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.’ Today, I stand on the Command Deck of a ship that will take us in search of the incredible. Often space programs justify their existence by explaining that what we learn out there will help us better understand our world. This is true, but the exploration of space elevates us as a species.

Sagan Plaque

We are not merely seeking a better understanding of Earth, but a better understanding of the human being and the context in which we all exist.

The incredible awaits us and now we have Archimedes’ lever that will take us there. This ship, the Earth Space Ship Carl Sagan, is that lever that is big enough to move our world to Mars.

Almost fifty years ago we took a step off our home world and landed on the Moon. The impact of taking that small step has carried humans into a new age of technology and economic success. It is long overdue for us to take the next step.

The Carl Sagan will not take our crew to Mars to touch it and quickly run back home. Almost all of this ship will stay in orbit around Mars, or serve as human’s first habitat on the surface of another planet.

With this ship we honor Carl Sagan for his vision, his brilliance, and his love for humankind. Without people like Carl Sagan we would still be nomadic tribes subject to the whims of nature and superstition.

And so, on behalf of the Earth Space Exploration Program, I commission the Earth Space Ship Carl Sagan. May she take us to the incredible and beyond.

As everyone applauded he uncovered a plaque that had the name of the ship and an image of the man for which it was named. People moved to Castillo and shook his hand.

Captain Hart moved over to Commander Wade and said, “Do you suppose Carl Sagan ever imagined this?” Wade looked at him and said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he meets us on Mars and offers to show us the sights.”