By Nathan Skaggs
BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
© 2013 by Nathan Skaggs.
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The Space Program
170,000 feet above a distant planet twice the size of Earth, a lone astronaut, Helier, observed the magnificent ultraviolet sun at the center of his solar system. Helier felt divine while gazing upon his home planet, Simulacrum, from the Luna hydrogen strato lab blimp. From this altitude, Helier could easily see the North and South Poles, the planet’s three land masses-the Eastern, Northwestern, and Southwestern Continents, and the many islands in the vast oceans separating the continents as the jet stream carried him around the planet. Simulacrum’s twin moons, Severus and Drusus, were also clearly visible. Each moon was half the size of Earth. Recent satellite surveys revealed the moons had breathable atmospheres, plentiful water, and abundant flora and fauna. Helier prepared for landing upon seeing the Northwestern Continent’s southwestern coast.
“Helier to mission control, I’m beginning my initial descent.” Helier reported.
“Welcome home, doctor. Are you ready to be on solid ground again?” The project commander said.
“Yes sir! 722 hours in the sky is enough! I’m ready for some real food!”
“Congratulations are in order. You’ve set new worlds for airship speed of 69 miles per hour and flight duration of 15 days. Since you’ve arrived a few hours early, the Air Force can begin remaking the Luna into a hybrid flying wing and pontoon boat shape. The completed vessel could make aquatic take offs and landings. Airship designers at the Northwestern Continent Space Administration think your family’s ultralight concept shows promise.”
“We aim to please. Is my family aware I’m about to arrive.”
“We certainly are, Helier! We came to Salt Flats Air Force Base last night. Gratus arrived this morning.” Helier’s father, Lucan, said.
“Dad! Are Mom and Gratus with you now?” Helier asked.
“Yes, honey. Your brother’s right by me.” Helier’s mother Cato said.
“How’s the view up there, buddy?” Helier’s brother, Gratus, asked.
“It’s great! I actually had a better view of Severus and Drusus without the full atmosphere! Even without a telescope or binoculars, I had an excellent view!” Helier exclaimed.
“Son, save your stories for after your landing. We’re on our way to the dry lake bed for a final check of your landing zone.” Lucan stated.
“We thought you’d like a smooth runway. We’ll have the celebratory champagne waiting.” Cato said.
An hour and a half later, Helier received a hero’s welcome. Following a brief party, the base physicians rushed Helier to the infirmary for a post flight physical.
“Helier, you’re in remarkably good health following your two week journey around the world. We’ll closely monitor your physical and psychiatric health for the next two weeks, since you’ll be the first astronaut to man the Northwestern Continent Orbital Space Station. Your successful circumnavigation of Simulacrum proves a sole individual can survive in a sealed environment for 15 days. Your mission will only last two weeks, since the effects of zero gravity for extended periods on living organisms is unknown. Now I believe you need to have some time with your family.” The senior base physician said.
“Thank you, sir. I’m ready for Mom’s cooking. I’ll see you in three days. Helier said.
Helier immediately joined his family at a guest house the base commander reserved for them. Helier was astonished by the Air Force’s generosity.
“Is it characteristic for the military to be so hospitable for civilians?” Helier asked.
“This is very uncharacteristic, but the Air Force knows we’ll be here for half a month, so they saw the need to accommodate us, since we’re all part of the upcoming project.” Gratus said.
“They can also keep an eye on us here. They want to make sure their two astronaut candidates don’t hurt themselves before the launches.” Lucan said.
Helier made a surprised look.
“Oh you didn’t know. Gratus will be your relief astronaut. The decision was made this morning.” Cato said.
“Now we have two reasons to celebrate.” Lucan said.
“I’ll be doing some high altitude balloon flights and weather experiments during the next 22 and a half days for my preparation.” Gratus said.
“Well congratulations! We always wanted to be astronauts!” Helier said.
“The Eastern Continent Space Agency just unveiled the Cronus V Rocket. The Eastern Continent Navy is ready to transport it to the West Coast Spaceport. Did you see this spaceport?” Gratus inquired.
“I think so. But their Air Force had most of their space technology concealed during my flight over their territory.” Helier stated.
“The Politburo is keeping a lot of their technology classified.” Lucan said.
“That’s enough talk for the moment. You must need some rest.” Cato
Verlag: BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 13.09.2013
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