Sunday, October 11, 2009
Once in the system, the cadets could pull up their dedicated station’s controls. Each window could then be arranged to the cadet’s own liking. Data displays could be resized and positioned on the touch screen monitors or, with a quick finger movement, tossed up on the HSDD (Holosphere Data Display) or ‘Sphere’ for short. A window could be resized and repositioned on the Sphere. With another slide of a finger, the data read out could be rotated to face anyone on the bridge sitting in the command circle.
The Holographic Sphere is generated by several projectors circling the lowest tier of the bridge. When on, the HSDD fills the entire circular center of the three level bridge with a bight transparent globe. Command officers can choose from several display options. For instance, an outside few of the ship and its surroundings, easily enlarged or reduced. Another options is the inner ship view supplied by the hundreds of security and monitoring cameras. The Sphere can also show multiple layers of data. The bridge officers decide what to display in front of their own stations. The officer on duty in the Captain’s Chair decides what is shown in the center of the sphere for all to see.
“Computer, Activate the Sphere,” Cadet Captain Carick said as he sat in the captain’s chair and looked over his armrest controls. The projectors came on instantly, filling the the open space between all three circular tiers of the bridge with a bright 3D holographical Sphere. Numbers and diagrams scrolled in front of each station as the Sphere received instructions from the cadets. Carick tapped his left monitor. The Center of the Sphere displayed a bird’s eye view of the Voyager sitting in the McAuliffe Station’s Space Dock. Using his forefinger and thumb, Carick widened the image. The Voyager became smaller as more and more of the station appeared in vivid high definition in the Sphere. With a left swipe of his index finger Carick changed the angle to the back of the ship looking forward to the space dock doors. Smoke poured into the docking bay from numerous sections of the station. Repair skips flew in multiple directions. A large explosion registered near the outer space doors. A part of the station’s bulkhead ruptured. Through it Carick saw the black of space.
“Steering Thrusters Mr. Hall. Take us out.” Carick said to third year Cadet Adam Hall.
“Yes Sir,” Hall replied. Hall looked intently on the touch screen before him. It was set to display a 3D view of Space Dock. To the left of the screen were the thruster controls. With a tap of his finger the corresponding thruster fired.
“Easy Hall, this is real.” Carick reminded him.
“I understand.” Hall reassured him.
Hall tapped the forward thruster. Nothing happened. He tapped it again. Nothing happened. He tapped the diagnostics button. A moment later a data screen appeared on the Sphere in front of him.
“What’s wrong?” Carick asked.
“The thrusters are in station keeping. They won’t respond to my controls.” Hall was frustrated.
“Let me see.” Carick tapped his right monitor and moved a copy of the display to his section of the Sphere. He quickly examined it then tapped the monitor again.
“Tex,” he called out.
“Go,” Tex responded.
“We don’t have thrusters. They’re in station keeping.”
“I got it!” a younger voice called out in the background.
“You got that Razz?” Tex called back.
“Yep,” Second year Cadet Rasband replied. “There was a problem with the
fuel distribution. It’s sorted out. I forgot to take the thrusters off station keeping. Sorry.”
“Try it again Carick,” Tex said, then closed the line.
“OK Hall. Do your thing.” Carick moved the data display off the sphere and concentrated again on the image of the ship in space dock. Hall tapped the forward thruster. The ship moved forward.
“We’re actually doing this.” Hirschi said to fill the silence as everyone watched the ship inch closer and closer to the doors.
“Murdock, have a course for the Magellan Station ready. Aland, ready with emergency impulse speed when I give the order. We will clear the dock doors, go to emergency impulse, get clear of the station, position ourselves facing open and clear space then jump to warp 6. Everyone on the same page?” Carick decided to give all the orders at once. It would save a precious minute or two.
“Yes Sir,” the cadets responded at once.
“Harkin. Fire on everything in range. Do what you can to protect the station and this ship. Oh and raise the shields when we are clear of the door. Hirschi, pull up the science station. The more information you get on the aliens and their weapons the better. We don’t.....”
“Open up.” Hall interrupted Carick. The Space Dock Doors were closed. The large lights on either side of the doors showed red.
“Roberts.” Carick shouted out.
“I’m calling the station now.” Cadet Chelsey Roberts replied. A moment later the door lights changed from red to green. The doors started to part. Brilliant explosions illuminated the blackness of open space. Debris floated in all direction. The plasma trails of incoming and outgoing missiles crated a spider’s web of orange around the station.
“OK Troops, Battlestations and don't forget to Buckle up.” Carick shouted after pushing his 'All Decks' comm link. Everyone in the ship strapped themselves into their chairs. Some quickly crossed themselves before returning their hands to their controls. Others, having nothing to do but monitor readouts, clutched their desks or chairs. All understood the danger that waited.
“We’re out!” Hall shouted. The front of the Voyager emerged from the station into a volley of missiles and phaser bursts. The station was true to its word. It was concentrating weapon fire to give the Voyager time to escape. Carick widened the Sphere display to see more of the surrounding area. The Voyager appeared as a small toy ship in the center of the projection emerging from a much larger toy station. Orange missle trails and brilliant yellow steaks of phaser power shot from one end of the projection to the other. Carick examined the scene carefully, looking for a clear area to make jump to warp. The Bridge alarm rang before he could settle on a direction.
“Incoming!” Harken shouted. She was on her feet pointing to the Sphere. Carick saw what she was pointing at. Three of the several missiles in the projection were circled in red. The Voyager was their target.
“Take ‘em out!” Carick ordered.
“Yes sir, “ Harken responded taking her seat. A moment later the sound of phasers came from the outside the bridge's wall. Yellow lines shot out from the small Voyager in the Sphere. Two missiles were hit. One got through. Harken fired the phasers. The missile was too close.
An explosion rocked the ship. The Bridge lights and HoloSphere flickered, blinked out then returned.
“Carick,” Tex’s voice was loud and urgent. ”The missiles are two staged. The first stage carries a powerful warhead. It’s designed to create a small disruption in the shields. The second explosion carries the EMB burst designed to break through the opening and short circuit our electronics. It nearly did but the shield regenerated quickly enough to prevent it. We can’t take many of those. Got it!”
“Got it,” Carick responded. “Harken, fire on everything whether its coming at us or not. Just keep firing.”
“Murdock, course set for Magellan?” Carick asked.
“Finishing it now. Ready in 20 seconds if I’m reading this right. You realize safety protocols won’t let us jump if anything is in our way. You’ve got to get us into clear space.” Murdock reminded him.
Carick reexamined the Sphere looking for a clear area. “Hall, look to your 2:00 o’clock. There's an opening . Aland emergency impulse. Push it.”
The Voyager turned in the Moon's general direction. The impulse engines pushed the ship foward.
Another alarm rang out followed by an explosion. The Voyager rolled starboard. A massive power outage blacked out six of the ship’s decks. The impulse engines went off line. The ship moved on inertia only.
“Tex, Report!” Carick shouted over the alarms.
“That one nearly took us out. We’ve still got warp drive if you can get us clear. We’ve got wounded. Anyone to spare? I need more hands.” Tex was out of breath. Carick looked around the bridge.
“Hirschi, engineering. Move.”
“Yes sir.” Third year Cadet Zac Hirschi jumped up from the science station and ran toward the turbolift.
The lights continued to flicker. The Sphere maintained stability providing real time views of their desperate situation.
“Are we clear?” Carick shouted to Murdock.
“No!” Murdock responded.
"Damn It!" Carick was losing his patience. His ship was in grave danger and his cadet's lives were on the line.
Hall read the situation and knew what his captain was thinking. “I know Captain. I’m turning the ship. There's another clear area. Give me a minute.”
The Sphere showed the Voyager making a slow turn, its weapons firing. Several of the ship’s torpedoes found targets. The ones that didn’t acquired new targets automatically. Harken used phaser bursts for anything that got through the torpedo shield created around the ship.
“Bridge, this is Payne.”
“Go.” Carick responded.
“I’ve got seven cadets in sick bay. Two with burns. Three with broken bones and the rest with cuts and internal injuries.”
“I can’t stop the bleeding!” Carick heard Cadet Spencer Merryweather’s voice in the background. He sounded panicked.
“Mary, take care of it. Apply pressure. I've got my hands full.” Payne shouted back.
“I am applying pressure. Meredith is suggesting a Dermal Fusion but I can’t pick one up. It's taking both hands to stop this gushing artery. I think I'm going to be sick.” Mary knew he was about to loose his supper. He hated the sight of blood. The only thing keeping him from passing out was the adrenaline pumping through his veins.
“Sick bay out.” Payne closed the channel.
“Incoming!” Harken shouted. The explosion took the ship off its intended course. The lights went out. Emergency lights came on.
“Tex!” Carick called out. Static replied. “Tex!” he said again. And again, static.
“Communications are down.” Roberts advised.
Carick looked at his cadets. They were each his responsibility. He felt he was letting them down. That's when he noticed blood gushing from Aland's forehead. The injury ignited a rage deep within the Cadet Captain.
"We will not lose this ship!" he shouted. "Roberts, take care of Aland."
Roberts unbuckled her harness and ran to the wall unit displaying a Red Cross. She opened the hatch and pulled out a small suitcase. A moment later she was treating Aland’s cut.
“Hall?” Carick asked.
“We still have thrusters. Our inertia is good. We’re at 3/4ths impulse.”
“I still have torpedoes. Phasers are down and I’m firing.” she replied, nearly out of breath.
Carick looked at the Sphere. His warp jump opening was filling rapidly with small alien fighters heading in his direction. Their escape window was closing.
Static came from the speakers, then a voice.
“Carick?” It was Tex’s.
“We’re here.” Carick was relieved. Without Tex they didn’t have a chance.
“Warp power gone. We’re dead in the water. Hirschi is working on them but he doesn’t know enough. We’ve got another problem. Look at our onboard life signs. We’ve got intruders. I’m guessing three, maybe four. They transported over when the port shield collapsed. Don’t know where they are. Take precautions. I’m working on the engines. Tex out.”
Carick was out of options. “Get your phasers.” he ordered. The cadets reached under their chairs and released their hand phasers. “Meredith.” Carick called on the ship’s tutoring program. “Display Intruder Protocol?” A series of steps appeared on the Sphere. Carick swung the screen around the Sphere until the display faced Murdock. “Ben, follow the steps. Find the intruders.”
Carick looked at the Sphere. There were no more incoming missiles. They didn't want to destroy the ship anymore. They wanted his ship for something else. Fighters would be his next challenge and the odds were stacked against him.
Another alarm rang. It wasn't the one signaling an incoming weapon. This was the proximity alert.
The Sphere showed a wormhole forming off to their port side. It was large. Something big was coming.
“Meredith?” he requested.
“Working,” came the calm teacher's voice.
“Wormhole query. How long will a wormhole remain open after a ship emerges?”
“I can’t answer that without know how much power was used to create the wormhole.”
“And if we are moving through a wormhole and it closes. What then?”
“You emerge into normal space wherever you are when the worm collapses around you?”
“I know where you're going with this?” Hall grasped Carick's thinking. He realized this new plan would involve careful steering. We had to push the Voyager through the newly formed wormhole without colliding with the alien ship emerging and before the wormhole collasped.
“It's up to you Adam. Time to earn your first medal. Be a hero.”
“Yes sir.” Hall made the necessary adjustments. He pulled the opening wormhole into the Voyager's 12 o'clock.
Seconds passed. The wormhole grew bigger and bigger. Suddenly a large alien ship emerged. The Voyager’s collision alarms rang. The ship’s automatic systems attempted to steer away from the oncoming alien ship. Hall anticipated that reaction and overruled the safety protocols. The Voyager continued forward in this galactic game of chicken.
A moment later the alien ship’s thrusters lit up its port side. The ship veered starboard, narrowly missing the Voyager’s port nacelle. Missiles were launched. The Voyager entered the wormhole’s event horizon then disappeared down a long tunnel with an unknown ending.
Once again, thanks for reading. This is the continuing story of a mission I'd like to eventually tell in the Voyager. Once again I beg your pardon for errors. I'm more concerned for getting the story down then making sure all the i's are dotted and the t's crossed. So much to write and so little time...........
Oh, and thanks to all that are sending comments. Don't think I have this story all thought out to the end. I'm writing this one week at a time. As for next week. Right now I haven't a clue what will happen to our brave cadets. Stay tuned.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Today at 10:10 A.M. the Voyager’s curtain came down to the sound of the cheers and applause of 13 campers. Their voices were joined by sounds of relief from the eleven or so staff - all celebrating the completion of the Center’s first Extended Overnight Mission.
Bracken Funk directed the mission, assisted by other flight directors and supervisors and some of the best volunteers the Center is blessed to work with. I was pleased with the results for many reasons, the chief of which - I wrote Event Horizon. I like the mission and am pleased to see it run again in a longer setting. I told Event Horizon myself a few years ago. No matter how I trimmed and shaved the story I could never get it told in a short 5 hour overnight block. Bracken suggested he tell the mission as an Extended Overnight Camp. Creating an Extended Camp model allows us to tell our longer stories and that means more variety for our campers.
Bracken spent many long, unpaid hours tweaking and polishing Event Horizon for its debut last night. Everyone is happy with the results. If you didn’t get a chance to attend I urge you to take the opportunity next time it is offered. It really is one of my best missions and we all know I write the very best missions - If I say so myself. Of course, I say that while blushing at my computer.
And now for other news.......
The Space Center started offering Supernova as a field trip option October 1. With the addition of Supernova, the Space Center gives teachers five field trip choices:
- The Children of Perikoi
- A Cry from the Dark
- Midnight Rescue
And now for a personal comment........
Boy am I tired. I don’t personally fly the simulator for these super long missions but I’m still here directing and chaperoning. I try to take a quick nip from time to time but find it difficult to drift off. Between the sounds of the simulators, the music, the explosions and the endless gaggle of children’s voices, my hopeful escape into unconsciousness is never fulfilled until everyone stops for the night.
Last night the mission went into sleep mode at 2:00 A.M. It was 2:30 A.M. before I got everyone down and could go horizontal myself. Just as I stooped over to take off my socks I felt an uncomfortable spasm in my back.
“Oh No.....,” I mumbled to myself. I knew what happened. My hypothesis was confirmed as I tried to stand upright. Back pain was my constant companion for the rest of the night. "Why didn’t I just sleep in my socks?” I thought over and over again.
After a few minutes of self loathing I realized that if this logic was carried out to its natural conclusion everyone on this planet wouldn’t move from their current spot for fear they could twist a muscle, fall down a flight of stairs, choke on a hostess twinkie, walk into the path of a UTA bus, get hit by lightening or fall out of a tree (just to name a few). No, I was meant to mangle my back muscle. It had to happen. The Fates decreed and my back obeyed. It is a lesson we all learn sooner rather than later. You can’t escape life. You’re in the thick of it and the only escape is death. So, either swim or check out and drift to the bottom.
So here we are like ducks on a pond. For the most part we maintain a calm, cool above water appearance while all the time kicking under water for all we are worth to stay on life’s course.
It is now 4:09 P.M. My back hurts and I keep drifting off at the keyboard. The Voyager is running ‘Perikoi’, the Odyssey is running ‘Goodwill Mission’, and the Phoenix is running ‘Supernova’. I hear Roger, our custodian, buffing up and down the hallway. That buffer brings the sound that heralds the start of our one day weekend. At 5:00 P.M. I leave the Second Happiest Place on Earth and set sail for the stars that signify home. We at the Space Center call it our ‘Only’ instead of Weekend. Its called an ‘Only’ because some of us only get one day off a week. We make the most of our Sundays. It gives us a chance to reconnect to the world outside of our science fiction kingdom.
OK, I’m stopping now. I’m surrounded by the sound of flight directors playing Paklids. I’ll go out in the hall and talk to Roger. I can count on him to share a bit of national scandal discovered from careful searches of the internet. If it isn’t contaminated flu vaccine it could be alien infiltration of Acorn. Regardless, it is more entertaining and informative.
I hope to see many of you soon here in the trenches, and don't forget to visit me and my friends at Cloverdale - our home away from home in a cozy little corner of the world :) http://ourcloverdale.blogspot.com.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Mr. Kyle Herring sent the pictures below for my approval. As you know, the new Galileo sits in Central School's lunchroom. It isn't finish - but close. Once it is operational (November 1) and capable of handling crews we will focus on external decoration. This is a design I like. What do you think?
Space Center Educator
From his blog: http://spacerubble.blogspot.com
Thursday, October 8, 2009
A REALISTIC FREE SPACE SIMULATION ONLINE GAME FROM NASA....RECREATES A SPACE WALK MISSION TO REPAIR INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I enjoyed by walk home this evening. The temperature was perfect in every way for someone raised on the frontier of South Dakota. The setting sun cast long shadows of trees and houses and the air carried that delicious sent of multiple patio barbecues cooking up half a ton of beef. My mouth was watering like Niagara Falls by the time I got home. I was starving for beef and what did I get? Well, not much when you're trying to count calories.
I sit at my desk and watch my teen age staff eat everything from 5 Variety Pizza (named 5 variety because of the five different types of fat and grease dripping from the edges and pooling in the center) and Gandolphos signature sandwich, The Cardiologist's Delight Its a lovely stacked sandwich seeping with grease, meat, eggs, and a leaf of green lettuce to make you think your getting something nutritious. Oh, I almost forgot the ten pound take away they each order from Sumo Express during the Overnight Camps on Fridays. We're talking rice bathed in soy sauce, deep fat fried Gut Plow Chicken , General 3 Chin Beef, and Sweet and Sour Sow Belly. They distract me with their chomping and chewing while I'm trying to do an honest day's work for an honest day's half pay (you know us teachers, always feeling overworked and underpayed). The smells fill my nostrils and put my stomach in starvation's throws. I want to cry out "Enough I can't take it anymore"
They fill their faces with 9000 calories of completely non nutritious food completely lacking in fiber and antioxidants while I nibble like a rabbit on carrots. Yes, I sit there cruching away with my bag of little mini carrots. They know not to offer me anything. I don't need the calories and the indigestion........ oh wow, it would be like being hung, drawn and quartered.
There was a time when I ate like that. I was growing up. Everything I ate went into the growing up. But there came a time when I stopped growing. The calories had to go somewhere and I'm sad to say they found a place. So, the moral of the story is simple. You younglings, enjoy your growing up years when you can eat almost anything and not gain one pound. Those days will come to an end. When that day comes, you'll be forced to drastically reduce your calorie intake or work out several hours per day. That's hard to do when you work for a living like most of us.
So, the sun is setting. I'm home from my long walk, drenched in saliva from smelling the smells of backyard barbecues. I'm preparing to eat my Low Sodium Progresso Light Chicken Noodle Soup with a side of steamed veggies (a must so I get my fiber) and perhaps, if I'm a good boy, I may get to nibble on a few more carrots. Now, if I'm a really good boy I may get to have two tablespoons of hot air popped corn, sprayed with that fake calorieless oil, colored to look like butter's distant cousin. The rest of the night I'll sit in my easy chair chewing on a shoe trying to satisfy that craving I have for beef.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
And now chapter 5 of a new Space Center story. Please read the first four chapters if you haven't already done so. Excuse the errors. I write and post without too much concern for editing. No time. I've other posts to make and emails to answer so you get it just as it pours out of my brain. Make allowances.
They're On Their Own
The cadets waited in the starship’s entry port. The lights were at half. The Voyager sat still, motionless in mid air, while all hell broke lose around it. The ship was in dock being refitted and retooled as a cadet training ship assigned to the McAuliffe Station’s Command Training Academy. The newest starship technology was being installed along with a new computer module called ‘Meredith’ designed and programmed to work alongside cadets and teachers in the proper running of the ship.
An alarm sounded. The cadets froze in place.
The sound of a strong male voice was heard near the open portal, “Move away from the entry. Move away from the entry. Portal closing.” Red light illuminated the door frame and floor panels on either side of the port.
“Why is the portal closing?” one of the first years asked. “The teachers aren’t here."
“I don’t know, move!” Cadet Captain Carick pushed the boy aside to reach the control panel. He pushed the cancel button. Nothing. The male voice spoke again warning everyone to move away from the portal.
“Meredith, why can’t I override the portal door?”
A pleasant woman’s voice, programmed to have the vocal mannerisms of a patient school teacher answered. “There appears to be a problem with torque. The boarding ramp is moving. The motion could damage the ship. Stabilizers can’t stop the motion. The clamps will be released momentarily.”
“Meredith, locate Captain Young,” Carick asked. The computer paused for a moment as it accessed the station’s main computer.
“There is a problem locating Captain Young. Many of the communication signals are not registering due to station damage. I will continue to try and notify you when communication is established.”
The thick portal door closed slowly. Once the doorway was sealed the doorway and floor panels changed color from red to slate gray. A deep thud sounded. The boarding ramp was released. The ship’s anchor was up. The Voyager stood alone.
“I have Captain Young,” Meredith spoke again, breaking the silence in the room.
“Who is this?” Captain Young shouted over the sound of a decompression alarm.
“Cadet Captain Carick,” answered the fourth year cadet and highest ranking student officer in the Academy.
"Let me speak to one of your teachers.”
“ They didn’t get on the ship.”
“The boarding ramp became unstable. It was released.”
“Who else is onboard beside you?”
“There’s 29 of us now sir.”
“What about Tex?”
“The chief engineer. He was supervising the refit.”
“I’m not sure.” Carick looked at the other cadets to see if any of them knew anything about Tex. This was their first time aboard the Voyager. Up until now, their flight time was spent in a starship simulator - a combination of holographic illusion and solid sets. Their work on the Voyager was to begin when the refit was complete and everyone returned from their holiday vacations.
“Listen, we cant’ transport aboard." Captain Young continued. " The impacting weapons carry a strong electromagnetic pulse. We might be able to get there using a maintenance skip. The ship may.........” the line went dead.
“Connection terminated,” Meredith’s voice replaced the static from the dead line.
“Meredith, locate Tex.” Carick asked.
“Tex is located in engineering.” came the reply.
A moment later the voice of the Voyager’s Chief Engineer came through the speakers. “You got Tex,” Somehow the voice fit the name perfectly. It was a male voice with a definite southwestern American accent.
“Tex, this is Cadet Captain Carick. There are 29 of us on board. We had orders to...”
“I know. We have to launch the ship. Where’s Captain Young?” Tex asked. He sounded too busy to be polite.
“He didn’t make it. We were just talking to him and got cut off. He says they can’t transport. Something to do with EMP weapons. He said he would try getting aboard by maintenance skip.”
There was a short pause before Tex answered. “It won’t work. I’ll bet every skip is out trying to keep this station together. I’ll try to get through to station command.”
“What do you want us to do?” Carick hated to feel useless in any situation. He was training to be a Starfleet Officer. It was in his blood to get involved and defend what was his.
“Take who you need to operate the bridge. Get this ship ready for launch. Do we have anyone trained in first aid?”
“Anyone?” Carick looked around. Third year Cadet Payne raised her hand. She was blond, thin, and tall for a third year. Many of the male cadets classified her as 'hot' but steered clear. She had real attitude.
“I’m an EMT.” Payne replied.
“What’s your name?” Tex asked.
“Cadet Payne. Third year.” she answered.
“Good, you’re in charge of sick bay. There will be injuries. Take someone else to help.” Tex paused again. Carick could tell he wasn't considering options. He was working while talking so there were slight pauses in the conversation occupied by the kinds of sounds one would hear in a machine shop.
“Carick, send everyone else to me. I need all the hands I can get down here to keep this ship operational in battle. She's a fine ship but the poor girl's just gone through major surgery and not quite on her feet. The Meredith programs are installed. Most of the holoprojectiors aren’t, so the tutoring will be spotty. Mostly voice, a few stations will have the teacher as well. I’ll need cadets able to listen, learn, and follow orders. Let’s go troops. Oh, and Carick - call me when the bridge is ready for launch.”
“Payne, who are you taking?” Carick asked while waving his hand to close the communication.
“I’ll take Merry. He took the EMT classes with me, dropped out at the very end?” She answered. Third year Cadet Merryweather shook his head in the negative. The 14 year old had issues with blood.
“I almost did. It was the blood.” he answered.
"If blood was an issue why did you take EMT training. You didn't know you were scared of blood before taking the class?" Payne shot back with her hands on her hips. Her attitude was locked and loaded and ready for a conversation long overdue.
"My dad's a doctor. He wants me to be a doctor. I got pushed into it. I told him I didn't like blood. He said I'd grow out of it. You know, if you see enough of it you'll grow used to it."
“Time to grow a pair big boy. You're up to bat.” Payne slapped him on the back. “Let’s go.” Payne and Merry picked up their backpacks and walked toward the turbolift. Merry glanced back at his friend Cadet Aland. Aland drew his thumb across his throat as a parting shot and smiled. Merry looked shell shocked. The door closed. The first team was on its way.
“OK, I'll take Aland, Hall, Murdock, Roberts, Harkin and Hirshi. You’re all with me on the bridge. Everyone else. Find your way to engineering. Make the Academy proud. Listen to orders, learn quickly and keep your mouths shut. Move out!” Carick barked.
“Yes Sir!” the room answered back.
The turbolift opened. The cadets stepped slowly onto the Voyager's carpeted bridge.
"Lights full." Carick's order illuminated the room. The group of teenagers stood motionless taking in the beauty of their surroundings.
"Wow," was Aland's response. He spoke for everyone.
The bridge was round and divided into three circular levels or tiers. The lowest level was devoted to the holographic projectors. When engaged, they filled the center space of the room with a spherical 3D holographic image stretching from ceiling to lower floor.
The second tier was four steps up from the lower. The primary ship controls circled the second tier allowing everyone to face the center of the room to see the holographic projection, and through it, each other. At one end of Tier 2 was the turbolift. The raised platform holding the Captains chair occupied the opposite end.
The third tier circled the second, four steps higher. The third tier had the widest circumference. It held the ship's monitoring and auxiliary stations. Several of the third tier's stations faced into the circle while others faced the room's outer wall. Holographic screens illuminated the third tier in brilliant patterns of colorful light. The bridge's ceiling looked like it opened into space. Actually, it was a large flat 3D screen displaying whatever was directly above the ship. It was a starship’s version of a large, round sunroof.
“Aland, you find the engineering station. Hall, you take helm. Murdock, you’re at navigation. Roberts, you have communication. Harkin you have tactical. Hirshi, you’re first officer and science. Move it people. You’ve got a few minutes right now to familiarize yourself with your stations. Use Meredith if needed.”
“If she’s working up here,” Cadet Hirshi interjected bringing a small laugh and several nods from the others.
“Funny, but probable true.” Carick responded. “Now lets get to work.”
Carick circled Tier 2 stopping and examining every station. Finally, he reached the Captain’s chair. He looked at it wondering if he was up to the job before him. There was a bit of lint on the seat. He brushed it off.
“Its yours, at least for the time being. Better enjoy it while you can.” Cadet Hall said from his station on Carick’s left.
Carick turned and sat down. He rocked back and forth a bit to get comfortable.
“Look, already putting his butt groove in the thing.” Aland said to room.
“Get to work everyone. You’ve enough to do besides worrying about my comfort.” Carick said while tapping the screen twice on his right arm rest. The commlink opened to engineering.
Tex,” Carick called looking for the chief engineer. There was a pause. The line opened. Tex’s voice came through loud and clear. He was yelling at a few cadets, telling them to watch what they were doing. Something about the instability of antimatter.
“You got Tex,” the chief engineer responded.
“We are on the bridge and getting familiar with our stations. Do you have any news?”
“I was right, all the skips are busy trying to hold the station together. I don’t know how the Captain will get to this ship. All hell is breaking loose out there. Call station command for orders.” Tex’s calm voice was quickly replaced with shouting. “Don’t touch the red button. Its red for a reason.” The line closed.
“He’s got his hands full down there, especially with the first years.” Carick said to everyone in general. “Roberts, open a line to Station Command.”
“Yes Sir,” Third year Cadet Chelsey Roberts responded. A moment later the call went through.
“Cadet Captain Carick?” it was the voice of the station’s first office Matthews.
“Yes,” Carick answered.
“Admiral Meredith is busy. This is a full scale attack. The station's shields are nearly useless at this point. We can’t find Captain Young. Carick, you and your people are on your own. Launch immediately. We need to get the Voyager away before the station goes. Once clear of the station set a course for the Magellan and warp. No heroics. The safety of the ship and the cadets is now your responsibility. You’re the acting Captain under the supervision of Tex. The Captain needs to be on the bridge. Tex is needed everywhere else. You all need to grow up fast.” The link turned to static for a moment then came back on. “We're going to direct all station fire toward the outer Space Dock Doors to buy you enough time to set course and warp away. Good luck captain !” The line closed.
The bridge was silent. Everyone watched Carick for some kind of response. He knew from his command training that he couldn’t show panic. He had to look like he had it all together, for his crew’s sake.
“We can do this people. Right?” Carick asked his senior officers.
“Yes Sir.” They answered.
Carick opened the commlink to engineering. “Tex?” he asked.
“You got Tex,” came the reply. “What's the news?”
“I’m Captain under your supervision, whatever that means. We have orders to launch and make way for the Magellan station. They’re going to lay down cover fire to help us escape. We’ve got to go now. Your thoughts?”
"Carick, I can't be in two places at once. I'm needed in Engineering. You run the ship from up there. I'll advise and reserve the right to overrule only if absolutely necessary. Let’s do this then. Go when ready.”
"Understood Sir." Carick tapped two more buttons. “Sick Bay?” he asked.
Payne answered. “Yes Sir.”
“We have orders to launch. We will be warping to the Magellan Station. Captain Young can’t make it. I’m the Captain under Tex’s supervision. I guess you’re now the ship’s Chief Medical Officer.”
“Oh Crap!” Merry's vote of confidence was loud enough to be heard in the background.
“Shut it Merry,” Payne answered. "Captain, we have a fully stocked Medical Bay. And there's good news. Meredith is fully functioning down here. We should be OK.”
“We will be under attack for a few minutes while the course is set and the engines come online. There could be injuries. Be ready.”
“Oh Crap!” Merry was heard again in the background.
“Merry kind of sums it up for all of us. Do your best. Carick out.” Carick stood to give his first launch speech. He thought for a moment. Nothing came to mine. "OK cadets. No speech. Just show me the time you spent in the simulators will pay off. Let’s Go!”
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The Space Center is running a new Extended Overnight Mission on Friday, October 9th. It starts at 5:00 P.M. and ends at 10:00 A.M. Saturday morning.
- Mission: Event Horizon. New Extended Overnight Mission
- Simulator: Voyager
- Crew: 13 max.
- Age: 10 - 14 years old
- Price: $75.00 ($5.00 discount to our Blog Readers. Just mention you read it on the Blog. Regular price: $80.00)
- 5:00 P.M. Arrive. Supper is served in the simulator during the mission. Sign in, Mission Briefing, Simulator Training.
- 6:00 P.M. Mission begins. Mission continues until 2:00 A.M then bed.
- 7:00 A.M. Up and back to work. Breakfast is served in the ship.
- 10:00 A.M. Mission Ends.
Send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you're interested in signing up for this mission! Once again, space is limited to 13 people only.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
By Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator
Well well well...... I finally found the reason for my recent sleepless spell, not to mention a few extra aches and pains that some claim are the result of advancing age. Why just today I was sitting at my desk at the Space Center when one of our 7th grade volunteers came in to pass a few minutes of his day before venturing on home to bother his parents or torment his sister. We got talking about some of my old, former students from years back. When I mentioned a few names from the early 1980's he gave me this puzzled look. I could tell he was searching his juvenile data banks to try to place just when that might have been. I saw through his eyes and read his thoughts. For a while he had me placed in the horse and buggy days but soon figured out that couldn't be. Finally he just gave up trying to place something from so long ago and just stuck the "Man you're old" band aid on it.
Anyway, after a bit of research I'm ready to pronounce my theory to explain my latest symptoms. Cosmic Rays. I've decided to share some of my reasoning with you. Enjoy the article and do try to learn something.
Galactic cosmic rays have just hit a Space Age high, new data from a NASA spacecraft indicates.
"In 2009, cosmic ray intensities have increased 19 percent beyond anything we've seen in the past 50 years," said Richard Mewaldt of Caltech. "The increase is significant, and it could mean we need to re-think how much radiation shielding astronauts take with them on deep-space missions."
The surge, which poses no threat to Earth, was detected by NASA's ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft.
The cause of the surge is solar minimum, a deep lull in the sun's activity that began around 2007 and continues today. Researchers have long known that cosmic rays go up when solar activity goes down, because strong solar activity inflates and bolsters a protective bubble around our entire solar system.
Right now solar activity — marked by sunspots, solar flares and space storms — is as weak as it has been in modern times, setting the stage for what Mewaldt calls "a perfect storm of cosmic rays."
Monday, September 28, 2009
Yes, yes, yes...... we have the cool space shuttle. It's reusable and it makes a nice sonic boom on reentry. I'll give you all that and more. Can I say BUT and add another thought? How cool is this Russian Soyuz rocket!?
There is just something about this rocket that means business. There is no denying the fact that when this baby ignites it is going to go somewhere. I mean, just count the nozzles. Look at the shape and design. To me it has sleek and style all wrapped up into one complete package - and that has changed very little over the past fifty years or so.
I had the privilege of being one of the first Americans (if not the first) invited to Kazakhstan to tour the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the late 1980's towards the end of USSR. I was a guest of the Kazak government. My nephew and cousin accompanied me. We represented the Young Astronaut Club of American at the 30th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first flight into space. Boy have I got stories to tell about that adventure. They must wait. There isn't enough bandwidth to do them justice. Needless to say, it was the trip of a lifetime.
I do remember seeing several of the rockets at the Cosmodrome. I stood beside one, close enough to touch it. It was a religious experience (even though the USSR was still a pronounced atheistic nation at the time).
It impressed me then and they still do now. The Soyuz rocket is the workhorse of the Russian space program. It is reliable and gets the job done and for that I take my hat off to this wonder of the space age.
Soon we mothball our shuttles. The government is dragging its feet on the new Ares rocket meaning the Great United States will be left without a vehicle to take men into space. Wait, I misspoke....... we can still get an astronaut into space if we use the Soyuz Rocket!!! Well, that is the ultimate irony of the whole situation. What an embarrassment for the United States and what pride it instills in the Russian soul!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
This is the 4th installment of my new story, An Enemy from the Dark. This story takes place after the mission called "The Children of Perikoi". If you haven't read parts 1 - 3 please do so. You'll find them in the last three weekend postings to this blog.
Pinwheel wormholes continued to open around the McAuliffe Space Station giving birth to alien ships. The larger ships disgorged fleets of small fighters. The smaller ships launched missiles as soon as their launching ports cleared the wormhole’s event horizon. Bright streaks of orange plasma exhaust laced through the dark. A small percentage of the missiles targeted the orbiting station while the majority struck military targets on the planet’s surface. It was a full scale attack of monumental proportions.
Captain Brady Young of the USS Voyager was on Deck 12 of the McAuliffe Station struggling to find an open route to his starship docked in the station’s interior space dock. He had orders to gather the thirty or so remaining cadets from the station’s Command Training Academy and launch from the station, setting course for the Magellan station at Alpha Prime. The orders were direct and simple. Carrying them out was proving to be difficult. The station was under heavy bombardment. What was once the fastest way to space dock was impassable due to fire, debris or hull breeches.
Brady stood in the smoky corridor looking at maps of the station’s interior on a holographic wall screen. Each map stopped long enough for the computer to trace an alternate route to the docking bay - bypassing areas now impassable due to battle damage. The screen froze four maps into the search. A red line pulsated through the diagram showing a maze of still open corridors leading to the bay and his ship. Brady tapped the download button in the corner of the screen. The button pulsed then changed from yellow to green, indicating the information had downloaded into his commbadge’s memory.
Brady turned and touched his comm badge. “Screen,” he shouted over the sound of the collision alarms and distant explosions. Laser lights brightened in the ceiling over head creating a holographic three dimensional computer screen before him. He held out his hand stabbing quickly into the air touching first the recent downloads file then the map he had just downloaded. It appeared. The red directional line pulsed once again, indicating the passageway was still clear.
“Computer, hallway marker directions.” Brady ordered as he broke into a fast run.
Transparent green laser generated holographic arrows appeared in mid air before him. Each arrow disappeared as he ran through it while another appeared further ahead of him. Several times the shaking of the station pulled the floor away, sending the captain either into a wall or down to the floor. Each time he rose and continued through the maze toward his ship.
Thirty cadets ranging in age from twelve to sixteen stood in the station’s inner space dock lounge. Each had a backpack, hastily stuffed with whatever they could grab in the twenty seconds or so they had to pack. Commander’s Houston, Clegg and Powell led them to the lounge before the attack started.
Commander Clegg stood near the large rectangle observation windows watching sparks and debris move across her field of vision. Everyone else sat or stood with eyes fixated on the large wall screen bringing news from Earth. Disturbing images of devastation filled the screen. Cities burned, explosions lit up the night sky on all the planet’s major continents. Surface missiles found their incoming targets creating enormous fireballs in the upper atmosphere. Each defensive hit brought muted cheers from the students. Each surface impact brought silence.
The room shook. The lights went out. A moment later they came back on.
“That was close,” Powell said as she helped two cadets to their feet. “What’s keeping Captain Young?”
“I don’t know but we have a serious problem,” Commander Clegg said while waving everyone to her window. The lounge window framed the faces of 33 people, all looking at the gangplank leading from the docking port to the Starship Voyager’s entry portal. The gangplank was slowly moving up and down. “That motion will rip the gangplank away from either the ship or the station if it isn’t stabilized. If it goes we won’t be boarding the ship. We need to stabilize it. “ Aleta thought for a moment while trying to form a new plan.
“ Quickly, all cadets to the Voyager.” She shouted. “Sheila, you find the Captain and get his orders. Lorraine lead the cadets to the ship. I’m going to stabilize the platform. Let’s Move!”
The cadets picked up their backpacks and rushed through the double sliding doors and down the main ramp leading to the gangplanks. Commander Powell stayed behind working to open a communication link to Captain Young. The group reached the platform. A midshipman stood by the hatch tapping at several controls on the wall.
“Stop!” he shouted to the approaching group. ”This gangplank is not stable. There’s too much movement. I’m trying to stabilize it now.”
Another explosion rocked the station throwing everyone off their feet. Sparks filled the room. The gangplank’s motion became more exaggerated.
“I’ll help you,” Commander Clegg said. “We’ve got to get the cadets into the Voyager.”
The midshipman jumped to his feet and nodded. “Careful,” he said while pointing them through. The cadets started down the long waving connecting tube which joined the Voyager to the McAuliffe Station. It’s constant motion made the gong difficult but they continued ahead, step by step.
“Where’s Lorraine?” Aleta shouted while punching at the stabilizer controls. She looked behind her. Off in the distance she found her kneeling beside an injured cadet. Her hands were bloody. Aleta ran to help turning the stabilizers back to the midshipman.
“She fell and hit her head on this desk,” Lorraine said holding a cloth just above the girl’s right ear.
“There’s nothing we can do now.” Aleta said looking at the gushing wound. We’ll carry her to the Voyager’s sick bay. The station’s will be overwhelmed. We couldn’t get there anyway with all the damage.”
Each women took one of the girl’s arms and pulled her to her feet.
A deafening explosion again took out the lights, sending everyone back to the floor. A moment later half the lights came back on. Power levels were dropping. The air filled with smoke. The station’s fire suppression system was working but the atmospheric filters couldn’t keep up.
“Look,” Lorraine pointed up the ramp toward the Lounge. Commander Powell struggled against two stuck double doors. She was trapped. Aleta jumped to her feet ordering the midshipman to help Lorraine with the cadet while she ran up the ramp to help Sheila.
“Its too late,” the midshipman shouted against the sound of grinding metal. The last explosion tore the gangplank from it’s station moorings. The Voyager’s automatic clamping system detached the clamps from the gangplank’s other end when it sensed the pressure against the ship’s hull increasing past the safe limit. The corridor floated away. The cadets were on their own now. Not even the Captain could get to the ship.
(I've also updated my Cloverdale blog. Enjoy. www.ourcloverdale.blogspot.com)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Space Center Educator
From his Blog: Spacerubble.blogspot.com
The discovery of widespread but small amounts water on the surface of the moon, announced yesterday, stands as one of the most surprising findings in planetary science.
Three spacecraft picked up the signature of water, not just in the frigid polar craters where it has long been suspected to exist, but all over the lunar surface, which was previously thought to be bone dry.
"Widespread water has been detected on the surface of the moon," said planetary geologist Carle Pieters of Brown University in Rhode Island, who led one of the studies detailing the findings.
While the findings, detailed in the Sept. 25 issue of the journal Science, don't mean there are pools of liquid water sitting on the moon, it does mean that there is — entirely unexpectedly — water potentially tied up or mixed in the minerals that make up the lunar dirt.
"What we're detecting is completely unexpected," Pieters said. "The moon continues to surprise us."
The moon dirt would be akin to soil from an arid environment like Arizona — it wouldn't feel wet to the touch, but there's certainly water bound up in it, Pieters told SPACE.com.
This discovery may well revolutionize our understanding of the nature of the moon's surface, experts say, and it has geologists eager to go back to the moon and dig up some lunar dirt.
"I rank this as a game changer for lunar science," said University of Colorado astrophysicist Jack Burns, chair of the science committee for the NASA Advisory Council. Burns was not involved in the new findings. "In my mind this is possibly the most significant discovery about the moon since the Apollo era."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
An Update from James Porter. Re: Cache Valley Space Education Center, Logan.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Here is the third installment. Please read the first two chapters before this one if you haven't already. This story continues the school year story "The Children of Perikoi" that many of you did when here on field trips. Let me know what you think.
McAuliffe Station. Earth Orbit
“Please come in and sit down,” Admiral Meredith said as he led his command officers into the McAuliffe Station’s Briefing Room. Admiral Mark Daymont was waiting in the room, studying the holographs on the wall. He arrived at the Station two hours earlier on his way home for the holidays from Magellan Station. Behind Admiral Meredith were the Captains of the Lexington and Omar Bradley. Captain Young walked into the room with Admiral Williamson. The last to enter were the Captains of station's training ships; Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Emily Perry of the Odyssey and Stacy Carol of the Galileo. They each found a seat at the large rectangular table in the center of the room.
The Briefing Room of the station was located directly off the Command Deck. Along one wall were holographic pictures of military ships dating back 500 years. Large windows occupied the entire opposite wall. The vivid blues,whites and browns of Earth filled the first three windows. The other two showed the stark blackness of space dotted with diamond stars.
“Lights half,” Meredith said. The lights in the room dimmed to half brightness
“Thank you all for coming.” Meredith said as he sat at the head of the table. “You realize our situation. Farpoint Station was attacked. A surprise attack. News is coming in on the military net but very spotty at best. This is what we know. Multiple alien ships arrived through wormholes. The station had no warning. The radio traffic received over subspace was primarily battle updates. Twelve minutes into the attack the radio went silent. We assume the station is destroyed.”
Meredith pushed a button on the computer screen embedded into the table’s surface near his chair. A holographic view ring rose from the table top to a height of three inches. Hundreds of pinpoint lights appeared, emitting millions of colors around the circle. A ring of color rose slowly to the ceiling. A moment later the color condensed into a sharply focused picture of one of the attacking ships.
“This is a picture of what is believed to be the command ship. I want you to compare this ship to the one I’m about to bring up,” Meredith pushed another button. The color’s changed bringing another ship into view.
“This is a picture sent to us by the Starship Voyager. Do you recognize it Captain Young?” Meredith turned to Capt. Young of the Voyager.
“I do. It is the alien ship we engaged at Perikoi,” Brady looked surprised and concerned. The Voyager’s encounter nearly proved fatal had it not been the courageous actions of the crew of the Copernicus.
“Yes it is,” the Admiral said. “I’ve reread the report you filed. We all know the general story. Perikoi is a planet inhabited by a primitive race of humanoids. The gods they worshiped were alien life calling themselves Hellos. These false gods visited the planet every twelve years to kidnap hundreds if not thousands of children. The children were enslaved. You and the Hellos had a run in. The USS Copernicus was lost. You barely escaped with your lives. And if I’m not mistaken, the large alien ship was destroyed when the Copernicus exploded. Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Meredith looked at Brady. There was a pause while Brady reviewed all the omitted facts.
“No Sir,” Brady responded. “You covered it very well.”
“Their weapons were superior?”
“Yes Sir, very much so.”
“Thank you,” Meredith ended the conversation and turned to the company assembled. “You’ll see from this hologram that the ship destroyed at Perikoi is the same design and size as the ship that led the attack at Farpoint. They have superior weapons. They can travel through wormholes. A science we are decades from achieving. We haven’t a clue how this is done or where they get the power to open and maintain a wormhole. You realize the danger to the Federation. An attack could come without warning. That is why this station, along with all other stations, are at red alert.”
Meredith rose from his seat, turned and walked toward the windows. His hands were clasped behind his back. Worry was etched across his face as he looked down at the beautifully peaceful planet rotating below. "What did you unleash upon us at Perikoi?" He glanced at Captain Young from the corner of his eye. He held his hand up to silence a response.
“Lights full,” he said softly. The room brightened. He returned to his seat and looked at each member of his staff. “I’m not a politician so I won’t comment on the justification of the attack. I'm sure you understand their point of view. We were in their space. We interfered in their governing of Perikoi and we destroyed one of their ships. They see this as just retribution, which makes the fighting very personal. I don't fault your actions Captain Young. You were defending your ship. I only wish the outcome would have been less severe.”
Meredith rose from his seat. “We must be ready for war. We are going to institute the following actions, first.....”
An alarm sounded from the wall speakers bringing the station to battle readiness. The Admiral in mid sentence. His heart raced with a sudden rush of adrenaline. He touched his comm badge. “Command,” he said to the automatic switchboard in an unsteady voice.
“Command,” a small voice was heard.
“This is Meredith.”
“We are picking up odd energy patterns in multiple places around Earth,” the voice answered.
“Wormholes?” Meredith asked. He knew the answer before he asked the question.
“Thank you,” Meredith said touching the badge to close the link. He stared into the dark. Despair seemed written across his face.
“My God,” he said looking into the faces of those present. “Our fleet is still hours away. I believe they attacked Farpoint to learn about our defenses and our weaknesses. This attack will be their decisive blow.”
For a moment time seemed to stand still. Every eye was focused on the Admiral. Every ear waited for his orders. He ran both hands through his gray hair, down his face and under his chin. He looked out the windows. “It has begun. Day is turning to night. Look.”
Everyone in the room stood quickly and moved to the windows. Dozens of pinwheel lights were forming. Some were closer to the station while others far away.
“Something is coming toward us,” Stacy shouted as she backed quickly away from the window. Out in the darkness appeared several lengthening lines of glowing orange plasma exiting the nearest wormholes. Soon every wormhole in view was shedding the same orange arcing light trails. Each line trailed what appeared to be a missile. Several were streaking toward the station.
“Full Shields!” Meredith shouted into his comm badge. The station’s shield generators came on line instantaneously. Metal shielding slowly descended over the windows hiding the missiles from view. “Gibbons and Andrews to your ships and launch at once, defend the station. Go Go,” he said to the captain’s of the Lexington and Omar Bradly. They were up and out of their seats before he finished the sentence. “Williamson, get your cadets into the Voyager. We can’t use the transporters with full shields. Perry and Carroll take your ships into the Voyager’s shuttle bay. Warner, launch the Phoenix. Brady prepare the Voyager for launch. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor . One more ship won’t make a difference. I’m thinking of the safety of the cadets. Captain Young, launch and warp to the Magellan Station. Take Admiral Daymont with you. Move!” he shouted. Everyone ran from the room leaving Admiral Meredith alone, a commander at the wheel of a floundering ship. The party crossed the Command Deck and into the turbolifts.
“Deck 12,” Williamson said as the turbolift doors closed. The lift began moving. Williamson tapped his comm badge. “Command Training,” Williamson said.
“Clegg here,” came the worried voice of Aleta Clegg.
“We are on our way to you. Where is Lorraine,” Williamson asked.
“She and Shelia are helping the cadets get packed,” Aleta said. “This is bad isn’t it?” The sound of the station’s weapons was heard over the humming of the lift.
“Yes,” Williamson said. “Get the cadets to the Voyager at once. They take only what they can carry. No more packing. Hurry.... we are under attack.”
“Why don’t we beam the cadets to Earth. Won’t they be safer there?”
“The shields are up. The Voyager is the only thing we can do. We have orders to report to Magellan Station.”
“Yes Sir,” Aleta said. "Will you be joining th........"
There was an explosion. The Command Deck took a direct hit. It sounded like the outer hull of the station twisted and folded upon impact. The lift shook violently and stopped. The lights failed momentarily.
“Come on Come on,” Brady shouted as he pounded the wall. He felt moisture near his mouth. His nose was bleeding. “We've have to launch," he said looking for something to stop the flow.
“What happened to the shields?” Emily asked picking herself up off the floor. “They couldn’t fail so quickly.” There was another explosion. The sound was further away. The lift rocked again. Whatever was holding it in place dislodged. It resumed its course. The deck numbers changed. The lift seemed to be running slower.
The screen above their heads flashed ‘12’. The lift doors partially opened. Smoke from multiple electrical fires filled the lift. Williamson and Brady moved toward the blocked doors. Each took a door and pushed. The doors parted with a grind. Deck 12 was littered with debris and full of smoke. The lights seemed unsure whether to stay on or off. Sparks from exposed wiring flashed up and down the corridor like fireworks on the fourth of July.
“Go Go Go,” Brady shouted. Everyone ran from the lift coughing from the fumes. Another massive explosion rocked the station. The floor fell six inches beneath them. They struggled to regain their footing. They had to get to the Voyager. Hopefully the cadets would be waiting. The station was running out of time.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Ellen Stofan, a planetary geologist at Proxemy Research in Maryland and an honorary professor at University College London is suggesting NASA do just. She is leading an effort to design and propose a low-cost mission to Titan, one of Saturn's moons.
Sailing — But Not In Water
Titan is the only place in our solar system other than Earth known to have lakes on its surface, Stofan says.
The liquid isn't water, of course. Temperatures on icy Titan reach minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit. The lakes are actually liquid methane and ethane.
Here on Earth, methane is an odorless gas. But on Titan, methane acts just like water acts on Earth. Methane forms clouds in the atmosphere. It rains down on to the surface and forms rivers, lakes and seas.
This radar image taken by the Cassini Space Probe in July 2006 of Titan, one of Saturn's moons, provides evidence that it is covered by large bodies of liquid.
A few years ago, the Cassini spacecraft sent back radar images of the north pole of Titan, and those pictures showed evidence of hundreds of lakes. Some of them are large — the size of North America's Great Lakes.
One of the large lakes — either Ligeia Mare or one called Kraken Mare — would be the target for a probe that would splash down and float around, according to the plan that Stofan is working on with some other Titan experts.
And that would be something new. In the past, space exploration has been done with spaceships that orbit planets or fly by them, or with probes that land on a planet's surface and maybe drive around, like the Mars rovers.
Floating Space Capsule
The "boat" or "lake lander" that Stofan is designing with her colleagues would not look anything like the ships used to explore Earth back in the days of Christopher Columbus or Ferdinand Magellan.
"It's certainly not going to look like what most people conceive of a boat looking like," says Stofan. "It'll look more like a little capsule that floats." She says it will drop straight into the sea. It will have a mast, "but that's just to hold a camera. We don't have a sail," she says.
Titan's wind will push this capsule around the lake. The probe could drift for months. It would have a small, nuclear-powered engine. And it could shout its data directly back to Earth.
There's no danger of a shipwreck, according to Stofan. Titan's lakes have waves, but probably just gentle ones — unless there's a storm. Still, even that doesn't worry her. "In fact, we'd love for that to happen, to be able to return an image showing a rainy day on Titan and to see those methane raindrops falling down into the lake," she says. "The wind might kick up a little, but nothing as violent as sort of the tropical storms and hurricanes we get here on Earth."
Eventually, she says, the ship might just run aground in a muddy beach and get stuck.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The students of Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove arrived at school this morning thinking this would be an ordinary day just like all the others since the start of the school year in August.
That feeling of samo samo was replaced with “Wow” as they entered the cafeteria for lunch. Sitting in the corner of their cafeteria was the Space Center’s new Galileo Simulator. It is reported that some students openly wept. Others fell to their knees in reverence. Still others stood still, blocking the serving line, and stared in disbelief that such a curious object found its way to their little school.
The custodian reported that hardly a morsel was eaten. The students were in a hurry to be excused so they could touch the new simulator. Everyone wanted to get in. When told no even the best behaved appeared to be on the verge of mental breakdown. We may have to put up signs warning of electrocution of anyone touches the shiny metal outer skin but I’m afraid that won’t stop them.
The new Galileo was delivered to the school and Space Center last night by Kyle Herring, Stacy Carroll, Megan Warner, Alex Anderson and several other Space Center staff. It came in pieces on the back of a large truck. They finished assembling the ship at 10:45 P.M.
It is finally home after a very long wait. Now, what do we have to do before we open it for missions?
- We need to do some finish work on the exterior.
- We need to purchase all the Mac Mini’s
- We need to replace the ball bearing wheels with real ones so the ship will move along the cafeteria floor without damaging it.
- We need to paint the exterior.
- We need to put in ‘fake’ windows to make it look really good from the outside.
Alex Anderson is finishing up the computer controls. Matt Long and our Programming Guild are working on the next generation Galileo controls programmed in Apple’s Cocoa language (iphone).
Stacy Carroll is the Galileo’s Set Director and is anxious to open the ship to the public and start taking missions. Stay in touch through the Blog to know when the first missions will run so you can book your own private party in this out of this world new simulator, the Galileo!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
This is Chapter two of a story posted a few days ago. If you haven't done so, please read Ch. 1 before reading Ch. 2.
December 22, 2321
McAuliffe Station, Earth Orbit.
Commander Williamson entrusted the briefing of the cadets to his instructors. They parted company on Deck 12 of the McAuliffe Station.
“Brief the Cadets and put them to bed. I’m going to the Command Level to get more information. Meet me in my room when you are finished. By the way, it’s OK for the cadets to place calls home if they can get through. I expect most subspace frequencies will be restricted to military traffic.” Williamson said to his staff as they exited the lift. They turned right and walked briskly away nodding to say they heard and understood. The turbolift doors quietly closed leaving Williamson alone with his thoughts and the humming of the lift as it sped through the shafts of the Station. Williamson wondered how chaotic it was going to be on the Command Deck.
The turbo lift doors opened revealing a room in controlled chaos. The atmosphere was tense as staff scurried about. It was obvious everyone was caught off guard by the attack on Farpoint Station. You could tell from comments heard in passing that more attacks were expected - it was only a question of when and where. Out of the corner of his eye Williamson saw the Command Officers of the Starship Voyager. The tallest of the pair was First Officer Alex DeBirk, recently transferred to the Voyager from the USS Francis Scott Key. Next to him was Captain Brady Young. The Voyager was once a deep space exploration ship. Top of the line in her day. One month ago Command reassigned the ship to the McAuliffe Station to assist in the training of new midshipmen from the Academy.
Against another wall Williamson found a group of very familiar faces. They were the command officers of the Station's other training ships: Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Stacy Carroll of the Galileo, and Emily Perry of the Odyssey. It looked like everyone had the same idea. If you want news go to the source. Williamson suddenly realized he was blocking the entrance to the turbolift. An officer brushed roughly against him as she rushed to catch the lift before the doors closed.
"Excuse me," the yeoman said as she entered the cubical and turned around. She glanced up giving an embarrassed look for nearly knocking him over - then she looked down to her feet. She mumbled something to the computer. The doors slid shut. The sound of the moving car rapidly faded into the hum of the busy Command Deck. A moment later Williamson recognized who she was - Admiral Schuler’s Assistant. If she was here then so was the Admiral. Williamson wondered what Admiral Schuler was doing on the McAuliffe? He thought a more appropriate place in this situation would be Central Command planetside.
Williamson stepped back from the lift entrance and attached himself to the wall. Best to stay out of the way for a moment and listen. He chose to hold his questions until he found someone that could take a minute to answer them.
"Where can we find the Station Commander?" Williamson overheard DeBirk ask the station's science officer.
"We have orders from the Commander to report to a briefing,” Captain Young said, giving a purpose for their presence.
"He is in his ready room with the Admiral." the science officer replied. "You can wait here. By the way, tread carefully around Admiral Schuler . Many of the Inland Defense Ships are on maneuvers at Centari, and that's several hours away at max warp. Right now its Earth's planetside defense grid, a few foreign starships, this station and our training ships. That's all we've got for defenses should......well, you get the picture. You all command the training ship. I expect that's why you were summonsed. Careful, here they come."
The door to the Commander’s Ready Room parted and out came Admiral William Schuler followed by Admiral Meredith - Commander of the McAuliffe Station. Again, Williamson wondered what Admiral Schuler was doing on the station at this time of night. The only explanation was the Station Christmas Party.
The appearance of Admiral Schuler was enough to make the hair on a captain's neck stand to full attention. The Admirals walked toward the turbolift. Schuler stopped suddenly when he saw Capt. Young and redirected his eyes to look directly into his. The Captain stood at attention returning the Admiral's stare. Debirk was also at attention thinking how glad he was that Young was standing closest.
“Are those Captain’s Pips?” the Admiral asked with a sound of complete disbelief. “Who are you?" he continued in his loud booming voice hardly giving Capt. Young time to answer either question. Young was wondering what was louder, the beating of his heart or the Admiral’s agitated voice.
"Captain Brady Young just appointed captain of the USS Voyager Sir!" was the young captain's shaky reply.
"The Voyager, You?............You?! How old are you? I'm expected to provide some kind of Earth defense with training ships under the command of children? What is going on?" The Admiral raged. Young looked anxious to defend his record but was wise enough to understand the Admiral wasn't asking a question but making a statement.
"Sir," came a reply from behind Young. It was first officer Debirk's voice. Young thought he was either very stupid or very ........very.......no, just plain stupid.
"You have something to say to me?!" Admiral Schuler said as he moved toward Debirk like a cat about to bounce on its prey.
"Captain Young is a decorated war hero from the Borg war. Why he alone was responsible for saving the USS......."
Admiral Schuler didn't let him finish his sentence. Instead he let loose a stream of profanity that slowly turned the color of the bridge's atmosphere from clear to a faint green with a slightly acidic smell. Williamson noticed the turbo lift open during the "attitude readjustment". Two junior officers stepped out, saw what was happening, and immediately did what everyone else wished they could do - disappear. They turned and shuffled back into the lift praying the doors would slide together quickly.
Brady didn't know someone could swear as artfully as the Admiral. The words seemed so well chosen and fitted together like an 500 piece crossword puzzle. The Admiral was a master of communication. His reputation was well earned. Capt. Young waited for the right moment to tell Debirk to shut up and leave it alone. He couldn’t do it while the Admiral was spewing at full gale. He waiting for an opportunity. Suddenly the Admiral’s attention was diverted to a new piece of news coming in from Central Command. The Admiral turned his back to them. Young saw his chance. He didn't want to get caught breaking attention so he had to act quickly. He turned his head and gave Alex the look - eyebrows drawn together and down word with a slight left to right shaking of the head.
Debirk’s eyes returned Young's gaze acknowledging his error in judgement. He should have kept his mouth shut. He was learning a hard lesson. Young noticed moisture droplets covering Alex’s face. It was spittle from the Admiral's mouth. Not only did Debirk get to hear the Admiral's dressing down but he got to bathe in it as well.
The Admiral turned back to his wounded prey. He drew in enough air to arm both lungs and prepared to continue his description of Alex’s genealogy when the ship's intercom sounded. The Admiral was being ordered to report immediately to Starfleet Command. He stopped in mid sentence.
“Good luck,” he said to Admiral Meredith. He snorted at Young and half marched - half walked to the turbolift. Shuler nodded toward Williamson as he passed. Williamson stayed at attention, praying he blended artfully into the wall. No one on the Command Deck moved until the lift doors closed and the Admiral was gone.
Debirk leaned against the wall for support while wiping his face with the sleeve of his uniform. Admiral Meredith motioned for everyone to follow him into his Ready Room.
"We have problems," Williamson thought as he crossed the room. His cadets and the training ships may need to step up to the plate. The Command Training Academy's curriculum would be put to a real test. Goodbye simulations. The cadets would have to grow up quickly.
Chapter 3 follows in one week.