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After a while it seemed to Mark that the space capsule had slowed down. How much longer will it take to get there?" said Mark.

"It will be a few hours yet," said the pilot. "We have to dock with the space station and that means that when we get there our speed must be only very, very slightly more than the space station's speed. If there was very much difference in the speeds we would do a lot of damaged when we docked. I will ask the computer to control the docking for us and it will get the speed exactly right."

Picture of pilot                                                                  Picture of space capsule approaching space station

"You have probably hear of the accident that happened five years ago. The space capsule was commanded by Commander Hurst" the pilot continued.  "No," said Mark. "What happened?"

Picture of collision



"The space capsule was commanded by commander Hurst. It was travelling at the wrong speed and it hit a block of solar panels on the outside of the space station."

"Was anyone hurt?" said Mark. "Yes. There was a young boy hurt. It was Michael Jones and he was paralysed."

"When I started space school there was a boy called Michael Jones who joined us in a mock-up space ship by video," said Mark.

 "Yes. That's the boy. Commander Hurst said it was Michael's fault as he had not done what he was told and that he had pressed a button and fired the capsule's rocket motor."


"Do you think that is what happened?" said Mark."No, I do not. Michael is a very sensible boy. It is true that he was only 9 years old but he was very clever indeed. He would know that if the rocket motor was fired at that time they would probably be killed. They were very lucky to escape with their lives. Someone tried to steer the capsule around the space station  so it only hit the solar panels. 

Now they found out Commander Hurst had been getting drunk from time to time. and he was sacked because he very nearly had another space accident.  I think he was to blame and not Michael."  "But what about the flight recorder?" said Mark.   "They never got hold of it.  When a rescue capsule got to the space station Commander Hurst ordered them to fire the rocket on his space capsule by remote control so it flew away in the direction of Venus. It probably crashed into the planet.  He says he did it so it would not get in the way of the rescue craft but that does not seem very likely."

Mark thought about the time he saw Michael lying in bed. What did Michael say about it?"  "He was unconscious in hospital for three weeks and when he did wake up he could not remember very well.

Michael in bed 


  He said he told commander Hurst that the computer was telling them to slow down and the commander would not take any notice and that at the last minute he, Michael, had tried to steer round the space station. The trouble was that he was not sure if he had dreamt all this."

Mark remembered Michael, lying in bed. He felt very sorry for him. He was paralysed and some people still blamed him for the accident.

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