The United States Congress has passed a bill allowing private companies to mine the asteroids of inner space, a bill that some predict will be the beginning of the exploration and colonization of space. I began reading science fiction in the 1940s when I was fourteen. In the 1950s Arthur C. Clark published The Exploration of Space, and we haven’t gotten there yet, probably because we do not yet hold in our hands the magic of a sufficiently advanced technology. We have a beginning technology that permits us, with enormous effort, to land men on the moon. All beginning technologies are different, but different in the same way. Early steamboats were always exploding until the technology caught up. Airplanes do not crash as often as they did in the early days, and people still died despite Salvarsan. And so it will be with the early days of inner space mining. What happens when a crew finds themselves marooned, unable to be rescued, doomed to circle the sun forever. Are they issued suicide pills for just such an eventuality? Do they take off their breathing apparatus and quietly die? Or do they hold onto life for as long as possible before starvation and thirst does them in? Interesting questions.

Marooned, the men sat quiet, still
And watched the lifeboat drift away
And knew they had some time to kill
Before they left for Judgement Day
What are their thoughts, their hopes, their fears
Would rescue come, would help arrive
Or would they stay in space for years
Until they’re found not one alive
To be brought home in TV’s glare
As heroes gently laid to rest
To enter God’s eternal care
Content that they had done their best

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