The 30 astronaut candidates (ASCANs) have all arrived at Houston, Texas for basic training. Mutta is excited, but still a little worried about how Amanti responded when trying to read his future. Meanwhile Vincent Bold, who is partly in charge of training the candidates continues to be strict, uptight and militaristic as ever. They begin their first survival training, a 6 day trek through the desert.
Always Have a Pedometer In Your Heart
The Mutta and Kenji along with the other ASCANs meet their new instructors, Vincent Bold and Larry Bison. Mutta remembered that Vincent was at the welcoming party the other day, drinking whiskey and eating oysters alone. Vincent explains that their training will take 2 years total. Vincent says they will complete it in 1 and a half years. Mutta is excited by this because it means he'll be able to catch up with Hibito sooner! After this introduction, Larry jokes lightly with Vincent about his decision to speed up the training, saying the astronauts have more to learn now than ever before.
Vincent decides that they should start the training with his survival program, before doing Larry's program. The survival program begins in the desert northwest of Amarillo, Texas. All the ASCANs take buses out there, divide themselves into teams of 6 members, are given huge backpacks of supplies and are told to start walking. Each backpack weighs roughly 12 kilograms. Their goal is to walk for 6 days to reach Amarillo. Since each team is composed of 6 members, each day there will be a new team leader. Each team is also assigned 2 astronauts serving as advisers, whom the team can rendezvous with at certain times and places indicated on a map given to each team. Their first task then is to meet with these astronauts at the first rendezvous point.
Since the teams were divided by county, and 2 countries represented in each team, Team E consists of: Mutta, Serika, Nitta, Kenji, Ena and Amanti (from India). After taking about 6000 steps, Serika seems optimistic, having the chance to wear army uniform and camp in the desert. After walking some more, they spot the vehicle where they rendezvous with the 2 astronauts.
Their adviser Mike Davis is irritated when they arrive, saying they took too long, like his wife and he is busy with his own training too. The other adviser is Lowry Cuomo. Lowry pretends not to recognize Mutta because Bold has instructed all of them to be intimidating to the candidates. Mike radios Vincent to confirm that Team E has checked in last. Larry, who is with Vincent, comments that it is natural that Team E check in last because they have 3 female members, unlike the other teams which only have 1 female each. Vincent notes that part of this exercise is to try to eliminate gender differences. While they are having lunch, Nitta takes an important phone call. When Mutta asks about it, Nitta just jokes saying he gets lots of women calling him all the time.
As the sun starts to set, Kenji continues to lead the team. Kenji says they should try walking another 2 km to a food cache, which should serve them for dinner and breakfast tomorrow. Kenji learned from Mike that their performance is being ranked, and Kenji wants to make up for their slow start in the morning. Also, Mutta says after 21 150 steps, the pedometer in his heart stopped counting the steps they took. Mutta thinks to himself, at least now the scenery is starting to change.
Points of Interest
- Bold notes that if he accelerates just a little bit faster, he can save 1 hour of travel time each day.
- A number of meters are used or referenced in this episode including: pedometers, odometers and speedometers. Some pedometers also have a built in heart rate monitor, hence the title of this episode.