Blood pumping double-time in your veins. One-two. One-two. The helmet catches beneath your shaking fingers and you feel the cosmo-engineer's hard stare on your forehead.
Get it together. This is what you were bred for.
The silence is too much. "See you in 20 years," you say, as you zip up your suit and climb into the hatch.
A curt nod is the only reply from the cosmo-engineer. The row of suited men and women watching from thirty feet away do nothing.
It's alright. You're used to your own company. Your own thoughts. Time alone.
The inside of the shuttle is all white padding and grey controls. You wonder who designed it, and if they couldn't have added some colour somewhere. You imagine the colours of Saturn, rings of a flaming rainbow. No one has ever been there before. The thought brings a smile to your lips, almost.
Sixty seconds to go. The radio crackles and the voice coming over it counts down the numbers, smooth and slow, like honey, like those old-time records the matron used to play in the orphanage years ago.
Take a deep breath.