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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Sunday, Sol 29 (1.1.29)  1:10 PM NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Monday, 1 February 2016  2:06 PM PST

Many of the same people present on the Command deck of the ESS Sagan were now present on the Command deck of the ESS Queen Elizabeth II. The main difference was the presence of all 28 members of her crew.QE II Plaque

For years engineers, scientist, and crafts people had been thinking, planning, designing, and building on a dream to send humans to Mars. Now the entire program became real. Today, two ships and a crew of 28 would officially become Earth’s first interplanetary ambassadors. 

Commander Jenna Wade began the final Commissioning ceremony with a nod and one word, “Captain.” At that Captain Ken Hart followed the same procedure he had done earlier in the day and broadcast a “Code Alert,” which meant everyone to standby for an important message to the crew.

As the Captain, anyone on his ship, with the exception of Commander Wade, was subject to his orders; however, this ceremony included many more people than those standing in the Command section. Around the world millions of people watched as this group of people orbiting 2,500 kilometers above Earth were witness to history. Today Earth would commission the ships and crew to be committed to take humanity to the fourth planet.

After this morning’s ceremony Earth had commissioned the ESS Carl Sagan. Now, the second ship, the ESS Queen Elizabeth II and the entire crew would be commissioned.

Again, it was Nick Castillo, the Director of the Earth Space Exploration Program or ESEP, that would conduct the ceremony. In his hands he held two cloth covered plaques. Everyone knew one was the ship’s plaque, but the other object was a mystery.

Castillo stepped to the edge of the platform near the center of the Command deck and began,

For over a century we have pretended that we still had ‘frontiers’ on Earth. There are many things we still need to explore and understand on our planet, but no place on Earth is really a frontier. This ship and crew, along with the sister ship the ESS Carl Sagan, are reviving the exploration of a true frontier.

Since 1960, Earth has sent 46 unmanned missions to Mars. Only one-third of them made it. The ones that did make it have given us volumes of data; however, the knowledge we have gained about Mars and interplanetary travel will double within one year after we set foot on Mars.

Human exploration is the most efficient way to truly explore a frontier as vast as Mars, and now we are ready to step past the millions of kilometers between Earth and Mars and write the next chapter of human knowledge.

Castillo paused as the everyone applauded. He looked around and realized that this was the largest group of people to ever gather in space. At that moment it hit him. His smiled suddenly disappeared. What would happen if the carbon dioxide in the air rose to toxic levels? He briefly considered stopping the ceremony, but then quietly reassured himself that alarms would go off if there was a problem, so he continued and hoped that the ceremony wouldn’t end in an embarrassing scramble for oxygen,

On the 24th Earth day of this month, and the 51st Mars day of Sur One, this ship will lead humans to another world and they will do so on a ship named after one of history’s most constant leaders, Queen Elizabeth II. For over sixty years she has served as Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Today we thank her for service to humankind and name this ship in her honor.

Castillo removed the cloth from one of the covered objects and held it up for the remote cameras to zoom in on while the section was filled with clapping. He then handed to plaque to one of the ESEP VIP’s standing behind him, and then Castillo continued,

As the first ship to begin our human journey to Mars it has been designated as the Flagship of Earth’s coming fleet of ships. It will pass this designation to the ESS Carl Sagan once the two ships integrate, but it will retain Flagship status anytime she flies as an independent ship.

It has also been decided that the ESS Queen Elizabeth II will be the first ship to carry back a crew from Mars in April 2017.

He unveiled the second plaque designating the QE II’s Flagship status and again held it up for all to see. After a brief period of applause Castillo handed the second plaque to the man behind him and turned to one of the other ESEP VIP’s who looked more serious than the rest and said, “Mr. Duncan, if you please.”