TORONTO – In an announcement which has stunned the scientific community, Minister of Transport and retired astronaut Marc Garneau has challenged former commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, to a winner-take-all race to the moon.
In a special piece published in newspapers across Canada, Garneau has set out the reasoning behind the challenge: “For as long as man has gazed at the heavens, he has dreamed of conquering them. Both myself and Commander Hadfield have touched the very fabric of the space, soaring higher than mortal man has dreamed. However, neither of us have ever set foot upon the cursed satellite, The Moon, which few have visited but none have seized. And it is for this reason I hereby issue forth a wager to Mr. Hadfield! A Race!”
Speaking in a press conference Tuesday, Garneau elaborated on the terms of the competition. “Both men shall be tasked with constructing and executing a means of reaching the moon. Though each may elicit the assistance of up to two volunteers in designing the travel contraption, the voyage must be undertaken alone, with no interruptions or diversions, and the first man to set mortal foot upon the Moon’s cold surface shall be proclaimed winner and true master of the cosmos. The prize shall be a modest purse of 50 silver coins, a roast pheasant, and the esteem of the world.”
Hadfield initially gave only a veiled response. “Well, I have retired and I am currently focused on writing my next book, but maybe I’ll call Marc and see what this is about.”
Despite the noncommittal answer, Hadfield’s neighbours later reported seeing an arrow being fired from his property carrying a red flag, the symbol of acceptance of the contest.
For his part, Garneau has already begun construction of a great balloon, which runs off nitrogen and the laughter of children. He has also recruited the assistance of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to assist him in preparation for the journey and to theorize on what sort of curious creatures or phenomena he can expect to encounter during the trip.
“What fun! With my fortnight’s worth of provisions and my journal at the ready, I am well prepared to chronicle my visitations. Perhaps some alien creatures or even the very face of God above. For Queen and Country!” Garneau exclaimed.
Hadfield’s own preparations have been kept more guarded. Those close to him have suggested that he is busy designing a great electronic staircase device which will propel him skywards, while others have speculated he will capture and train one of Canada’s legendary ‘space eagles’ to carry him to his destination.
Hadfield would not say exactly what he and Garneau will do when they reach the moon, other than whispering a few words about reuniting with his “lost love, the Moon Queen.”