From the diaries of Commander Jacob Hardy, pilot, Ares One
The hike from Ares One.
You've watched it. Everything was recorded. I think you can get it in full immersion, now, and fly around like a hummingbird. I'll add what I can.
The route was planned. We all went together - the CEV and Ares One itself had enough automation to go home alone in the event of crew loss. Whatever we'd find at the artifact, it needed the human element.
We carried rifles. They made us heavier and slower and probably less safe. I think the argument about the rifles can be left for another time. What's important is -
It turned out well. Look at me. Look at us! You're talking to a ninety-year-old man. A ninety-year-old who's never been sharper. I'm miles ahead of every cognitive benchmark.
What's happened to me is good. What's happened to all of us is good. When we crested that rise and made visual contact with the artifact I don't think any one of us dared dream that it would end this well.
We went to Mars at the cutting edge of human civilization. And it wasn't our weapons that won the day.
It was our ship. Our training. Our camaraderie. Our belief that if we just reached out to the universe, not to grasp for profit or security but with an open hand, we would be elevated.
We were right. That makes me so happy. To this day.