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  • Writer's pictureThe Fake Guru

The Satellite Mechanic

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Taking a deep breath, the Satellite Mechanic ejects into outer space.

Leaving the pod is always the most harrowing part of the repair job. The suit he wears is designed to protect him from the harshness of the exosphere such as temperature extremes, micrometeorite dust, and the vacuum of space. It expels carbon dioxide and provides oxygen – but no matter how much corporate training one absolved or the number of times one launched out of the pod, taking the first step into the outermost layer of the atmosphere never became routine. There’s no such thing as standard protocol 10’000 km above the earth, he thinks.

He instructs his drone to direct him to the closest satellite flagged for repair. TikTok, it reads in bold, black letters on the wing. One of the older ones. The satellite was close – he probably could have ejected to it without drone support. But rather safe than sorry. He docks, and before getting his hands dirty, he looks down through the thick cluster of satellites and space junk that obscure our pale Blue Dot.

Planet Earth, the Garden of Eden, a lone Utopia of the Universe, swirls majestically in green, blues, and whites below him. His eyes sparkle at the sight of her. Still worth it.

When he was a boy, he looked up at the sky from below. He had never studied the stars and he knew little about their astronomical significance. But he lived to admire them. They appeared to him like distant beauties, ethereal constellations that reminded him of just how precious his planet must be, to have such a magnificent celestial ceiling. They evoked thoughts in him of just how boundless the universe must be, to shine so brightly at night through the gloomy void of infinite space. One night, a long time ago, he lay in a field and looked at the stars from below, losing himself so deeply in their eyes that he hadn’t noticed the earth shaking around him. It was his love for the stars that drove him to become a satellite mechanic, if only to be that little bit closer to them. Even now, on a cloudless night, he would seek out a non-polluted hilltop outside of the city – as hard as they were to find – and gaze up at his beauties. But as the view of Earth from outer space became more and more obscured, so had the once gorgeous face of the nighttime sky. Over the years she had become industrialized.

In the beginning outer space belonged to nobody. Then, one day, it belonged to the government. And then, as time passed, a handful of powerful and wealthy individuals grabbed at it. The industrialization of everything up to 36,000 km above sea level began and over the last decade private and governmental organizations launched more than 10,000 satellites into space, to orbit earth until their end-of-life and beyond. A link of satellites - stars without souls - should extend around our planet, providing high-speed internet for everyone.

At first, the people applauded these excursions. “Everyone, and everything, should be connected, so that we can have flawless communication, frictionless transfers, and on-demand TV!” Satellites would "help us map the world, analyze the weather, and spy on our neighbors," the propaganda read. Then we were told our planet was dying, and so, instead of saving it, to “venture out into the great beyond!" became the imperative. So, under this premise, the colonization of the exosphere began and thousands upon thousands of machines took ownership over the rim beyond our ozone.

No one considered the consequences. It was all too far away. In the wild west beyond the atmosphere, everyone had to have their own satellite.

Ironically, the astronomers were the first to complain:

“Your satellites are blocking our view. We can no longer see the stars through our telescopes!” they protested. “You have made us all blind! If we cannot see the universe, how are we supposed to study her meaning?”

But their voices were too few and too quiet, and to everyone else it was too distant of a problem. Time passed, and the once starlit sky swelled further into lifeless obscurity, slowly replaced by red, white, and blue blinking lights.

More people complained. Nothing happened.

One day a colony of harbor seals was spotted off the coast of Brazil. Then another was seen from the city of Manakara in Madagascar. Suddenly, seal colonies started turning up everywhere. For several days sightings of the species, which traditionally lived in the colder climates of North America, Europe, and Asia, were made all over the southern hemisphere and a wave of happiness swept the globe. The people smiled and laughed at the spectacle. Later, when dead seals in the hundreds started to wash up on the shores, the people cried at the sight of them. The conclusion was reached that they were “harbor seals of a peculiar, suicidal kind, and, regrettable as the event was, the world must move on.” The voice of the small group of activists, who pointed to the stars that could no longer be seen for an explanation - the same stars by which harbor seals orientate themselves at night - was kept quiet.

Some time later, one of them came crashing down. An American satellite exploded onto the roofs of St. Petersburg. Walmart, it read on the bent metal amongst the burned bodies and limbs, and for a while the world held its breath in anticipation of a second Cold War – but it never came. Instead, in the new world, Satellite Defense Systems were set up, fashioned similarly to Israel’s famed Iron Dome: an all-weather, anti-air defense system designed to shoot down incoming satellite debris before impact. Once again, the new world was safe. In the old world however, showers of deadly space debris are a weekly occurrence. The images that circled the globe of burned down villages and displaced locals, sobbing at the sight of their broken homes, were shocking at first. But as time passed the people became desensitized to these too. Like all headlines, they sank to the bottom of the toxic media ocean. To the day, the disparity of wealth continues to grow.

At least the sequence of events gave me a job, he thinks dangling off the foothold. Satellite mechanics are in high demand these days.

He finishes the repair and logs the task as complete with the drone.

“Which one next?” he asks, mentally preparing for launch.

“Satellite D43 in sector 12-15,” the drone responds. “It belongs to Nokia. It’s ancient. Ten more to go after that.”

The Satellite Mechanic clocks on to sector 12-15 and kicks off. As he floats through space – great space, immense space, endless space – he ponders how small everything has become.

Even up here it is impossible to escape human greed. It is impossible to escape the curse of mankind. We are cursed with an incessant want for progress, for development, for power and for consumption. We are cursed with an insatiable need for grandeur and greatness.

The notion of looking up to the heavens and no longer being able to behold these twinkling wonders of the galaxy brings a deep sadness to his heart; to see only, sprinkled among the dark horizon, the sun reflecting off mechanical, lifeless creatures, and a strew of man-made lights. As time passed, the earth’s ceiling had grown smaller – and with it, he felt, its inhabitants' souls had also shrunk.

He knew the stars have a purpose: To give the old and the young unbounded beauty to gaze and wish upon; to serve as a reminder of how small we are; and to ensure, at a glance, that we do not forget that we too are fragile and made of nothing but stardust.

Yet it seems mankind is also cursed to forget. It is our nature, he laments.

He docks on to 12-15, D43, and, with a sigh, commences with the repairs.


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