Ha, when I started taking part in the exercises I often did struggle to stay under 600 words or edit down to 600. Sometimes I offered the unedited, “Director’s Cut” here on medium.
I’m glad my story doesn’t look rushed to you. Perhaps I’ve managed to learn something through practice! Regarding the Soviet markings, there’s a Spanish astrophysicist who has a great space blog, and he’s specially fond of the Soviet space effort. Through him I knew they did have plans for a nuclear-powered ship to Mars, but I invented the name.
Thank you again for your kind words regarding the WDG exercise. In a sense I feel like cheating, because I’ve reached the point where I need my own prompts to keep writing every week. I do want to go for novel-length stories, but my mind needs to change gears; this way I keep writing and writing.