In my novel, The Rags Of Time, travel to the outer edges of Earth’s solar system has been accomplished. But the Moon still holds its sway – literally.
To celebrate the space outing of fifty years ago. I’ll post another segment of my written ascent through the heavens. My crew are returning from their trip to the outer reaches of our solar system. and something goes awry. There is no Huston to contact, but there is a problem.
The Captain, Eric the Red, turns to again look at Pluto.
“If it’s not internal, then it must be external.”
He shifts the image of Pluto to a larger screen.
“Although, quite frankly, that concept isn’t much better than its alternative.”
He tries to sharpen the focus on the large screen. After a minute of adjusting the controls, he shrugs his shoulders in failure.
“That indistinct picture is not due to our sensors. Have the other stations turn their view screens to Pluto. See if they get the same results.”
While Malcolm checks with the other observation officers, Eric the Red again runs a sweep of his instruments. As he thoroughly goes over each one, he pays attention to the responses received by his first officer. It is quickly apparent the same fuzzy image appears over the whole ship.
“Any ideas, Number One?”
“I think our movement is being disrupted.” Malcolm looks at the same sequence of instruments. “I’d guess there’s agitation in our centrifugal rotation.” He peers closely at the view screen. “It can’t be much. Our artificial gravity doesn’t seem affected.”
“You don’t look in danger of floating away.” The captain smiles. “So I doubt this explains my `light-headedness’.”
“No, sir.” Malcolm can not tell how serious the older man is. “The rotation alteration is minimal. It is just enough to make our cameras waver.” He taps the view screen. “Considering how sensitive they are, I would judge this force to be weak.”
“Any guess what it is?”
“No data suggests a malfunction within the ship.” Malcolm moves a dial a millimetre. “Which leaves an outside cause.”
“Well.” The captain leans so close his nose touches the view screen. “I think we’re being influenced by the mysterious Tenth.”
“Yes.” He turns back to his first officer. “With Pluto and Charon positioned the way they are, and our attempt to execute the Hohmann-ellipse to take advantage of the Film Technique, we may have added the weight of Iris to our backs.”
“The alignment shouldn’t be intense enough to – ”
“Iris is so perversely inconsistent, it doesn’t have to fit into our ideas of alignment to make itself felt.” The captain makes some inclusions into the library computer. “After all, we’re the ones entering its sphere of influence.”
“It is a minor influence.” The first officer makes some quick calculations in his head. “We could accept a reduction of our artificial gravity for the duration of the manoeuvre.”
“That’s a viable option.” Eric the Red looks up co-ordinates to enter into the computer. “But we can negate the problem without weakening our reserves.” He inserts a bar of information into the computer. “Run an evaluation of our solar cells.”
Malcolm walks to the banks of light-activated monitors surrounding the doorway. He takes a laser probe from his instrument pouch, and traces it across a screen. As the figures appear, he reads them aloud. Most are at full capacity.
“Do you see what I’m getting at, Number One?”
“Yes, sir. We use some of this power to counter the effect of Iris.”
“Exactly.” The captain smiles. “We don’t touch our reserve fuel, and we replenish the solar storage during our last month of earth approach.”
The captain pauses to read a number off his computer screens. He performs some equations on his hand-calculator, then turns to look at his first officer.
“If the Film Technique is successful, we’ll save nine to fourteen days.”
Eric takes a binder from under his work station, and flips through its pages. He enters data into both his computer and his calculator, and talks over his shoulder.
“If we use solar packs A7, A12, A17, K12, K13, O2, O5, S37, then form a Perpetual Loop between the GOT Terminal and the S37 Positive Outtake, we’ll only exhaust 252 of the solar cells. The depletions will be uniform, and restricted to known sectors.”
Malcolm is also doing calculations from the laser screens. He doesn’t look up as he speaks.
“That will give us more excess power than necessary to confront the drag from Iris.”
“Yes.” The captain closes the binder. “But with the Loop, we have the option of creating a surge to replenish some used cells, instead of venting the surplus.” He swivels around in his chair. “We should begin the manoeuvre at the first opportune time.”
“That will be five hours and thirty-seven minutes.” Malcolm crosses the floor to stand beside the captain.
“Advise the crew, and have them double monitor until we correct the interference of our rotation.”
(Image) https: //www.rocketstem.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/AS11-0629-69H-977.jpg
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