In this story, Eric Choi imagines an alternate past where the damage that brought down the space shuttle Columbia does not go undetected, but is instead caught on time by an eager and highly motivated ground crew. Once they confirm the damage on Columbia’s left wing, ground control works diligently to plan a suitable rescue mission to bring the ship’s crew safely back home.
“The Greatest Day” offers little in the way of originality, but it is nevertheless a well-written tale full of suspense, excitement, and bureaucratic tension — as well as tons of delicious detail regarding NASA’s internal operations. The author does a great job at keeping a crisp pace so that the plot does not get bogged down in technical minutiae (of which there are plenty). The simple and straightforward prose, organized by dates and locations, adds greatly to the realism of the piece, which at times reads like a governmental report. All in all, an entertaining read.