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The edge of the void

Posted 02-28-2013 at 01:02 AM by Bloodworth

Wed. April 12, 2045
Niven base, Jules Verne crater, lunar far side


(Reuters) In the 30 years since the first commercial space agencies opened space and the creation of more powerful and efficient rocket engine designs and fuels; mankind has reached forth and begun the colonization of our nearest companion, the moon. Not one, but two permanent bases have been built. The first, Brighton Beach, located on the southwest end of Sinus Iridium (bay of rainbows) and backed by the Montes Jura mountain chain was an entirely commercial venture. This now sprawling spaceport is currently home to 3000 people and is the current point of arrival and departure for all lunar passengers and cargo. The second base, Niven, was started 2 years after Brighton Beach by a joint governmental coalition of all Earths currently space capable nations and is even larger than Brighton, with a current population of 4500 colonists and researchers. Niven was built here on the on the far side of the moon to shield it from Earths radio signature. With the moon as a shield from all earths radio communications the skies here are clear around the clock for radio astronomy.

As I stand here just outside the airlock at pad 9 I can see the massive shapes of the 3 recently completed Arrow class exploration ships sitting nearby. When I say massive, I mean massive. These are the largest spacecraft ever built by man. With hulls a little over 775 feet in length and just over 171 feet in width and a wing-span of 531 feet, they will be the largest manmade objects ever to fly. Arrows 1 and 2, recently commissioned by the names “Armstrong” and “Destiny” sit nearby in their NASA livery, bright white against the stark grey lunar background. The third arrow, “Black Star” was entirely funded and is solely owned and operated by S.E.T.I. (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). Black Star is, as her name suggests, black in color and all but invisible against the black horizon as she sits next to the Niven ATC (Air Traffic Control) dome.

Things have gotten extremely busy here at Niven since the announcement by NASA 5 years ago of the Arrow program; intended to send man to every planet and moon in the solar system. They have gotten even busier as the time draws close for the first launch of Armstrong two days hence. This audacious program is expected to last as long as a century and will see the advancement of our knowledge of the solar system and the universe far beyond what we currently know.

As I stand here in the discomfort of my spacesuit with nothing but a few thin layers of cloths and plastics between myself and a searing -270.2 degrees Celsius and hard vacuum, I see a great deal of activity over near Armstrong and her XR-2 series shuttle “Enterprise” as they are loaded up and prepared for the very first of the Arrow missions.

This first mission, which is set to launch the day after tomorrow at 5PM local time, will take the Armstrong to Venus and Mercury after a rendezvous with the aging ISS in Earth orbit to take on extra supplies, fuel and a few crew members. It is expected that among the highlights of the voyage will be an aerobraking maneuver by Enterprise deep into the hellish atmosphere of Venus and a landing on the night side of the planet Mercury. The mission is expected to last a little under 2 years which will make it by far (with the exception of space stations), the longest, and farthest manned space flight in human history. Yet even this pales in comparison to the future planed missions to the outer planets, some of which are expected to last a decade or more.

A few hours ago I had a chance to talk with Mission commander Capt. Terrence Armstrong; great-grandson of the legendary Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon and whose name the ship bears. When asked why man would continue to go through the expense and danger of what has been described by many for nearly a century as nothing more than a publicity stunt, or worse, a cosmic joyride, he said: “What we do here today is no stunt. There is far more at stake here than public image. What we are doing here and now is an evolutionary imperative. Mankind has a genetically rooted and evolutionary NEED to explore, to learn. Evolutionarily speaking, we have come almost as far as we can in the cradle of Earth; it is almost time for us to take the next steps in the evolution of our species if we are to survive. However, if we are to take those steps, we must first find out what those steps are and where they might take us. Or, to quote an old 2D television show of my ancestors time ‘to boldly go where no one has gone before’.” At the end of our interview, Capt. Armstrong politely excused himself stating that he had to go “prepare to follow his great-grandfather’s small step with a giant leap in the direction of the sun.”





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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    MaverickSawyer's Avatar
    Nice! Where'd you find the black skin for the Arrow?
    Posted 02-28-2013 at 01:16 AM by MaverickSawyer MaverickSawyer is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Bloodworth's Avatar
    It's in the skins directory on the right hand MFD console. bottom left button is skins. the new arrow comes with something like 8 stock skins including a pirate skin
    Posted 02-28-2013 at 01:43 AM by Bloodworth Bloodworth is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Pipcard's Avatar
    Nice news report. Three Arrows ready to explore the Solar system - now that's epic.
    Posted 02-28-2013 at 05:11 AM by Pipcard Pipcard is offline
  4. Old Comment
    MaverickSawyer's Avatar
    wait, whaaa? the UCGO 3.0 pack is out? when did THAT happen?
    Posted 02-28-2013 at 03:46 PM by MaverickSawyer MaverickSawyer is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Izack's Avatar
    Christmas, mate. You've been missing out.
    http://orbiter.dansteph.com/index.php?disp=d
    Posted 02-28-2013 at 04:40 PM by Izack Izack is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Are we going to get mission reports and first-hand accounts of what the crew finds? Is the seti ship there going to do something different?
    Posted 02-28-2013 at 08:44 PM by Keatah Keatah is offline
  7. Old Comment
    Bloodworth's Avatar
    keatah, the second blog is already posted. The concept of this blog is to report this entire mission series as seen through the eyes of the news.
    Posted 02-28-2013 at 08:49 PM by Bloodworth Bloodworth is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Pipcard's Avatar
    IMO, I prefer news reports to dialogue-based narratives.
    Posted 02-28-2013 at 08:52 PM by Pipcard Pipcard is offline
  9. Old Comment
    BruceJohnJennerLawso's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pipcard View Comment
    IMO, I prefer news reports to dialogue-based narratives.
    I find it a little bit cheesy, but you may have a point there. Doing the story media style makes it seem less monotonous.
    Posted 03-02-2013 at 01:24 AM by BruceJohnJennerLawso BruceJohnJennerLawso is offline
 

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