- Mars Date/Time: Year 1, Sur One, Sunday, Sol 29 (1.1.29) 1:41 PM NST
- Earth Date/Time: Monday, 1 February 2016 2:37 PM PST
The promotion of Captain Hart to Commodore presented an interesting problem. Normal navy ranking placed a Commander below the rank of Captain. This had not been an issue as Commander Jenna Wade had been placed as the ranking officer of the Mars Mission and Captain Hart’s ships were to serve that mission.
However, as Commodore, Hart’s rank was two steps over Commander Wade and the difference would be hard to ignore as both Hart and Wade were both former naval officers. Wade was not the type to be concerned with a rank or title, but it did raise the question of what would happen if Hart and Wade disagreed on an issue?
The crew may have been aware of this issue as quiet discussions among them continued after the applause died down. Castillo became aware of this and decided he needed to keep the ceremony moving. The Director of ESEP once again gave Mr. Duncan a signal. Mr. Duncan moved forward to the edge again and then announced, “COMMANDER WADE, REPORT!”
Mr. Duncan’s attempt to bring order to the section have the effect it should have so the new Commodore stepped forward next to Mr. Duncan and announced, “CODE ALERT!” The crew instantly returned to attention as Mr. Duncan and Commodore Hart stepped behind Castillo. By this time Wade had arrived at the side of the ESEP Director who began again,
Commander Wade, the Earth Space Exploration Program has designated you as Commander of the Mars Mission. We also designate your crew of 27 astronauts listed in your orders, and any subsequent additional and/or replacement personnel to be under your command until such time as you are relieved of you duties on the Mars Mission.
Unlike the promotion of Captain Hart to the rank of Commodore, this announcement was merely a formality. Jenna Wade had been their leader for the past year and she had already been designated as the Mars Mission Commander. There was polite applause, but it wasn’t the wild applause of the last announcement. Castillo quickly waived for the applause to stop and then resumed,
However, in order for you to fulfill your responsibilities we are promoting you to the rank of Rear Admiral in accordance to naval tradition.
The Command deck exploded with applause as Wade’s new rank was not only deserved, but necessary. Castillo was not finished and he continued,
Jenna Wade, ESEP has decided that while the Mars Mission is one of exploration, it is also one that must consider the human and societal aspects of creating a community on another planet. Therefore, on the day that the first plant sprouts in any habitat on Mars, that location will be considered a colony of Earth and you are designated to act as Governor of Mars until such time as relieved of that duty by order of ESEP.
Castillo had done it again, but this time surprise was more of shock. All the discussions of ESEP’s mission to Mars had carefully avoided the mention of colonization for fear of reviving memories of disastrous efforts on Earth to colonize less developed countries in past centuries.
However, there was a reality that the ESEP administrators knew had to be addressed. Three more missions would arrive at Mars while Wade’s team was still there. Would the new missions have a different command, and how would each mission integrate with the priorities established by the first mission? Someone had to be that leader and the highest ranking officer of the first mission was the logical choice.
Commander Wade’s personality and background also qualified her for the position. The problem was that no one had discussed this with her, and making the announcement to the world at the same time she learned of it was forcing her to accept the decision.
She knew she would be the ranking officer until she returned to Earth and she knew she would have the most information and knowledge of any mission Commander, but Governor of Mars was a more powerful position and it came with more responsibilities.
Still, the declaration was a smart move for ESEP. It gave them over two years to assess the situation and determine who should be the next Governor of Mars. When she returned to Earth they would have a new Governor in place and the program would move on. With Wade as Governor, it effectively ended any issues of an arriving Commander conflicting with the established procedures and protocols.
Still, Wade was caught off guard. She felt flashes of embarrassment, pride, and anger. She knew the public announcement was meant to avoid discussion and forced her to accept the decision, but to the people watching it was a great honor that was being given to a rising hero of humanity.
She composed herself and fought back the emotions. At this moment she must show humility and acceptance of this honor. Later she would take Castillo to quiet place and inform him of her displeasure of how this was handled.