In 2033, the first human mission to Mars enters the planet's atmosphere, but the Daedalus crew faces a life-threatening emergency when the ship's landing system goes offline. The crew's commander risks his life to fix the problem as Mission Control monitors back on Earth. Interwoven within the drama, in current day, SpaceX is attempting to land the world's first reusable rocket to pioneer the critical technology that will help humans reach Mars.
In 2033, the Daedalus has landed 75 km away from its intended target, where previous missions had left a well-stocked base camp. The Captain's internal injuries are serious so the crew attempts to transport him to lifesaving medical supplies at the base camp. They drive their rover vehicle too fast and it breaks an axle, forcing them to walk and haul the Captain on a 2-wheeled cart. They barely make it before their oxygen runs out. Within the base camp med unit, the Captain's space suit is cut away and a torrent of blood rushes out. He dies. Hanna Seung becomes the new Captain. Written by William Manatee
New Captain Hanna Seung contemplates the former Captain's grave and her new heavy responsibilities. Javier Delgado becomes enraged when he finds that Robert Foucault has cannibalized an electrical box. Marta Kamen (the mission's mental health officer) must intervene to calm Javier. Written by William Manatee
It is now 2037, and numerous additional colonists have arrived. A variety of wings have been added to the base camp which is now called Olympus. A massive dust storm blocks out the sun for many weeks. Lack of light and power shortages test the sanity and mental toughness of the entire population. Solar power is lost immediately, and a backup nuclear reactor is soon disabled by lightning emanating from the dust clouds. Drastic power conservation measures are ordered. This forces light to be cut off in the plant-growing area, where biologist/geneticist Paul Richardson has been nursing small crops of Mars-evolved wheat. All of his plants die within days in the darkness. Desperately, he preserves one specimen in a lighted box, as he is slowly driven insane. The dust begins to clear and as the sun shines again, Paul has a psychotic break which causes him to open the airlock to the science wing. Paul and six others in the wing die from decompression and the laboratory is destroyed. Written by William Manatee