Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world's only daily column that wants to salute our nation's astronauts. These people have more guts than most of us can hardly imagine. They strap themselves inside long metal devices filled with tons of incredibly flammable rocket fuel that then fling them away from the planet at speeds high enough to cause unconsciousness. Then they wend their way through the unspeakable vastness of space, using little more than math to make sure they hit their target and don't continue on into the empty depths of the universe.
We're mentioning all of this, of course, because today marks the anniversary of Apollo 13's return to earth. Even in the best case scenarios, an astronaut's mission can be tricky and nerve-wracking. Apollo 13 faced one of the most terrifying of all astronaut scenarios (barring hostile alien involvement) when one of its oxygen tanks blew up. The now-famous line "Houston, we have a problem" is probably the most egregious understatement in all of history.
We have to say that if we here at Summit Up HQ somehow found ourselves in a similar situation, you can bet that our comment to Houston would have been a lot louder, longer and more panicky. But that's the thing about astronauts: They keep their cool.
Instead of landing on the moon as planned, Apollo 13 circled it and limped its way back to Earth, landing successfully and delivering its incredibly amazing crew to their home soil once again.
For those of you inspired to join the brotherhood of interstellar travel, your chance might come sooner than you think. The all-knowing Internet tells us that a Netherlands-based nonprofit called Mars One is searching for aspiring astronauts. A seven-year training program will then hopefully lead to a landing on Mars by 2023. There's only one catch - you can't come back. But, on the other hand, as one of the founders of the first Mars colony ever, you are almost assured of having at least one Martian high school or football stadium named after you.
So what do you think? Would you pack up your bags and head out to the new frontier on the Red Planet, which may or may not be hiding ancient alien civilizations? Or would you rather take your chance with genetically engineered food, possible zombie apocalypses and reality TV shows on Earth? It's a tough decision. We're going to sit here and snack on a Mars bar until we can make up our minds.