Field Reports & Away Teams

Alan Stern's Titanic Away Team Journal: T-1 Day, Reflections on Risk and Reward

By Keith Cowing
Alan Stern
July 21, 2022
Filed under ,
Alan Stern's Titanic Away Team Journal: T-1 Day, Reflections on Risk and Reward
OceanGate Submersible

The North Atlantic was calmer today, and the forecast has 60% chance of a Go for our Titanic dive tomorrow morning with OceanGate Expeditions. Unless we are pushed into a Saturday dive, this will be my last blog post until after the expedition to the historic wreck and back. Since I have an 02:30 a.m. wake up before dive preps, I’ll this it short. Share this post if you please.

My reflections for today are on risk and reward. Both are integral parts of what it means to be human. Both risk and reward are sides of that coin come up in so many ways across the days of our lives. But rarely do we have a day in which the risks and rewards both peak so strongly as mine will in the dive to 4,000 meters depth tomorrow to explore Titanic and its watery grave site.

Just like the risks of a one-shot flyby of Pluto that the New Horizons team pulled off so successfully, and the upcoming Virgin Galactic suborbital research missions I’ll fly in 2023, tomorrow’s expedition will be risky but full of promise.

The risks are well established to be low; I would not participate if they were not. But they are also both non-zero and much higher than most other activities in my career, including years of flying of F-18 Hornet missions on ejection seats and a month-long research trip to South Pole Amundsen station in Antarctica.

As least for me, it’s always a little sobering to take deliberate risks. But I’ll do that tomorrow, as I have in the past, because the risks are so well worth the rewards. From my up-close exploration of Titanic and the deep ocean bottom there, I expect to contribute to science, to bring back experiences to share and to be able to inspire others to greater accomplishments of their own.

If tomorrow goes poorly, you will read about it in the news. If that actually materializes, know that it was worth it to me to take those risks, like so many who took very much greater risks for other rewards in the exploration of our planet and space, in service to their country during war, and in countless other endeavors that have contributed to the ascending trajectory of our species and our society. I salute everyone who has taken risks in such service!

Now, to get some rest, before I drink in every moment of the special opportunity tomorrow will be to explore deep ocean and what remains of RMS Titanic, up close and personal!
Ever onward!

-Alan

ps. There is no connectivity on the submersible to communicate on social media or by email or even text. I would love to have that, but the reality is I’ll have to report on how it all went after the 10-hour dive concludes.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.