With man's unrelenting passion for the conquering of space, it was with great fascination that the population of this humble planet Earth, stood gazing at the sky Sunday last.
We were finally going to set foot upon the famous 'red planet'. We were to leave our first human footprint on that rugged and angry place, far off, yet known throughout humanity. We, as a race, would finally walk on Mars!
The mission to Mars had been planned meticulously, each detail checked, and checked again. The astronauts, hand-picked from the military's elite, are of the finest calibre. Strong of chin, and sharp of wit. All American men. The sort we should be proud of as they forge ahead in to unknown territory, facing all manner of dangers, and who knows what?
The mighty red planet was to be tamed, that's what we were told. Thoughts of possible colonisation were chewed over in government boardrooms across the country.
As television channels beamed live images of the craft's descent to the planet's surface, the world stopped. Not a car or voice was to be heard in the street, as everyone was watching the screens, be it in bars, at home, or on the massive cinema screens erected in public parks and squares, especially for this momentous event.
As Flight Commander Trent Rockman slowly eased open the door of the Martian Landing module the suspense was palpable. He slowly edged to the steps and began climbing down.
We were waiting for something legendary, some phrase or quote that would be remembered for eternity, just as Neil Armstrong had uttered from the lunar surface a hundred years ago.
And I guess we got it, but I fear it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
"Houston, are you getting this? Check, check. 1,2,1,2. Testing, are we on yet? Oh, good, now let's see.....As I slowly descend this short ladder, I, a humble normal man, will often see.....what the jiminy is that?"
Co-pilot Colonel Ring Dickens panned the camera around from the steps of the module, and there for all to see, upon the surface of that distant, fantastical planet, was a McDonald's Drive-thru.
We spoke to Rockman and Dickens about their experiences, when they returned to Earth. This is the full interview, with no editing.
Science Sunday Magazine: Trent, Ring, first off, thanks for talking to us, and welcome back!
Trent Rockman: No problems, guy!
Ring Dickens: Hey! It's all good!
SSM: So, bit of a shock the whole Maccie D's thing, eh?
TR: Hell, yeah! Wasn't expecting that, I can tell you!
RD: Uh-huh, totally outta left field that one!
SSM: So, what was Mars like?
RD: I'd say the coffee was hotter, I mean it was pretty much boiling in the paper cup, a real health and safety time bomb. They're just asking for a lawsuit!
TR: I can't comment on that, as I only had a shake. It was far creamier than Earth, and the taste seemed to linger longer! Beautiful!
SSM: Uh, yeah, I see, but Mars! The planet, what was it like?
TR: Well, you know, we didn't see that much really. Working, and all...(coughs).
RD: The burgers were outta this world. Ha, I actually guess they truly, really were, if you see what I mean...ha, ha! Beautiful lettuce, so crisp and fresh, and the cheese was melted perfectly between the burger and bun. Fantastic!
SSM: Did you actually go anywhere except McDonald's?
TR: Oh yeah, on the Thursday before we left we took a tour of the Coca-Cola plant.
SSM: There's a cola manufacturing plant on Mars?
RD: Of course! Biggest brand name in the Universe!
SSM: But we've never set foot on Mars! How did they get there?
RD: They have very strong and effective brand placement strategies, and a forceful influence on market trends. What can I tell you?
TR: Yeah, Ring's right, I was lookin' over McDonald's business plan only last night, and it states an intention to increase it's pace of acquisitions, with a target of 60 new restaurant openings per year. Their current growth rate within the market place is phenomenal.
RD: Look, feller, I think of it like this, McDonalds, Coke, Subway and even Brangelina, to a certain extent, they're like carrots in sick! You may not like them, you may have never seen them before, you could have lived a carrot free existence, but they're always there! Every time! No one knows how or why, they just are! Live with it.
SSM: What was the atmosphere like up there?
RD: It had a good vibe, friendly even. I mean being a Drive-thru, I guess they're used to lots of visitors everyday!
SSM: Did you feel any different? Was there unnatural pressure?
TR: Obviously, everyone feels pressure. It was a new menu, and there was a queue. You always feel the need to rush in that situation. I don't want to hold people up, but I want to enjoy my food, so it's a fine balance. But we're professional, we cope under those situations. That's what astronauts do, man!
SSM: Did you have any communication difficulties at all?
TR: The girl behind the counter was Indian. She didn't speak fluent English, but it was good enough to order a burger.
RD: She messed up my change, but I put that down to her being new. She only had one star.
SSM: Did you find any water while you were there? I understand that is still a raging argument between scientists, whether or not the planet has or had liquid water on it.
TR: OH, it's there! Oh yes indeedy! Loads of it! Thousands of bottles I'd say!
RD: Thousands, yeah! All nicely refrigerated.
SSM: You're not really telling me anything about the planet, are you? I mean, did you guys even go there at all?
TR: Hey, man! Of course we were there! We just, maybe didn't venture too far, that's all! You know what it's like when you go on holiday? Sometimes you just wanna hang by the pool!
RD: Yeah, it was stressful moving around up there.
SSM: Probably all the burgers!
TR: I heard that!
SSM: Yeah, well, anyway what sort of effect did time spent on the planet have on your body? Anything adverse? Or anything positive, for that matter?
TR: Yeah, we both gained about 56 lbs (4 stone).
RD: And I lost a tooth.
TR: I told you not to chew on the ice from your Coke, you have sensitive teeth as it is!
RD: I know, I know!
SSM: Look guys, thanks for talking to me, but this is hopeless, let's call it quits, shall we?
TR: Fine by me, feller! Fancy a McDonald's, Ring? I got some coupons left over!
RD: Geeze, I sure don't mind if I do. All this talkin' has got me hollerin' for something mighty and meaty!
And with that the two humans who first set foot on Mars walked away. Leaving this reporter with many unanswered questions, a slight hankerin' for a Bacon Double Cheeseburger (which for a vegetarian, is slightly disconcerting), and an unpaid bar bill of $143.
Those astronauts can drink.