A family was reunited with a long-lost father today as Garry Hickens returned from space after being stuck in orbit for over 20 years. Hickens, a name you’ll all soon know very well, began his career at NASA over 30 years ago. He wasn’t a flashy astronaut that people knew well, such as Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin, but he defiantly played his part for them.
According to NASA, in 1995, a small shuttle was sent to orbit the Earth’s ozone layer to test for climate changes. Hickens was on board the craft, and it was a task he had accomplished a few times at her time with NASA. It was such a simple, routine mission, that Hickens did it solo, and it would regularly only take 6 days to compile the necessary information.
During his last attempt, the craft accidentally expelled out the fuel needed for a return to Earth; The module was launched further into orbit, and placed Hickens too deep into space to return. Teams at NASA attempted to retrieve Hickens, but after a week of searching and attempting to reach him, they considered him gone.
A funeral was held for him a month after the botched mission, where family, friends, and co-workers could discuss better times with Hickens. His death certificate, filled out by NASA doctors, read ‘lost in space’ as cause of death.
According to Hickens, after all this time, nearly 20 years in space, his orbit changed, and he hit close enough to Earth that gravity brought him back in. It was a crash landing, but the parachutes were able to be deployed, and NASA has confirmed that Hickens is alive and doing well, with only a few minor scraped and cuts from a hard-hitting impact in the California desert.
Hickens has reported that he survived heavily on recycling his own urine, and stretching his supply pack as far as he could. At the moment, his weak state limits his conversations, but he has told the media he is just happy to be home.
Hickens left at age 44, and celebrated his 65th birthday while in orbit just 2 short weeks ago.