“Has the sixth transport finished moving?”
“No sir. It’s still out there.”
Malcolm picked up the communicator.
“Transport 6, you’ve got a few thousand yards to go. How are you guys holding up?”
“We’re hangin in there, although I have several on board suffering from radiation sickness.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be sure to get you guys some medical attention once you get beneath the August. Keep moving.”
Malcolm watched the Transport crawl across the distance.
“2500 yards.” Stephen sounded the progress.
Despite all 38 personnel in the compartment, no one made a sound. All watched directly through the small windows in the module, or on the monitors that had live feed from the external cameras.
They had all been just doing their job. No one imagined that they would be attempting such a large scale rescue operation.
“Shields are fine sir.”
“1500 yards, but it’s slowing down.”
Malcolm hailed the transport.
“Transport 6. Pick up speed.”
“We can’t sir. Our main engines just died. We had to fire what was left of our front maneuvering thrusters to keep from running into the August.”
Malcolm muted the receiver.
“They’re completely stopped sir.”
Malcolm whispered to Brianna.
“Bri. What’s going to happen to these people?”
Brianna just shook her head as her hand went to her mouth and tears welled up in her eyes.
“I need ideas people.”
Seconds ticked into minutes.
“They need thrust. Anything. Anyone have any idea where those transports vent their O2 supply?”
“Topside vents are forward and aft.” Shipwright James Matthews spoke up.
“But they do have chemical retro rockets on the top and bottom. With a down-angle they might be able to maneuver without the forward thrus..” Malcolm cut him off.
He unmuted the communicator.
“Captain. I want you to fire your fuselage top and bottom thrusters to put the ship ninety degrees to your previous path of travel. We’re going to try to fly you guys the remaining hundred yards with what’s left of the chemical engines.”
“I think I can do that.”
“Stephen where’d he stop?”
“He’s just a touch over 1000 yards sir.”
“Captain. I’m going to have you give me a quick burn. We’re going to try to put you below the rest of the parking lot we’ve got down there. Give me a minute to come up with a game-plan.”
“Can somebody do the math to figure out how long he needs to drift before I tell him to retro fire?”
“Captain, once you start moving, your cockpit is going to go out of view of the August. I’ve got people up here running the numbers so we know how long you’ll need to drift so you don’t hit any of the other transports.”
The transport moved like a giant oil tanker stood up on its end.
“Roger that. By my ships on-board computer we need to fire pretty quick here.”
“6 second burn with a 55 second drift before retro fire!”Someone erupted from the crew.
“He’s right. That’s what I got.” Another voice from within the module.
“Me too!” Echoed a third.
“Hey Captain, looks like you need to do a burn of six seconds flat. 45 degrees down angle, with a 55 second drift. Can you do that?”
And from the module the crew of the August watched for the eternal minute while a transport crawled across the remaining distance before disappearing beneath the stacks of ships below.
“Captain, I show you should have retro fired by now. Where are you?”
The voice broke.
“We’re beneath you guys, but I think we’re taking up six or seven parking spaces.”
The Cool Things I Didn’t Have to Make Up (and links to all of them)
Described here as the first Earth sized planet in the habitable zone. I mean…once we travel the 500 lightyears to get there.
The constellation that contains Kepler-186f.
Seriously. These things heat a propellant so hot it turns to plasma. Once the propellant is in a plasma state, it’s bombarded with high frequency radio waves which can be used to produce thrust. The helicon couplers are used in the first stage of the engine for the bombardment part. Oh yeah…and they get REALLY hot.
While we’re talking about plasma…some physics students figured how to make shields out of them. Molten stuff is apparently super useful.
You probably knew these existed, but did you know that we don’t always know where they come from? The radiation that comes from the sun can be deflected with some high density materials…but there’s some stuff that can go through those materials ‘like a needle through a chain-link fence’.
The True Story
The link to the true story is in the parenthesis below. Read it! You’ll find there are more than a few similarities to my sci-fi take, but the true story is wonderful and incredible at the same time:
(Paraphrased from the arstechnica.com post by Nathan Mattise here)
On August 29, 2005 hurricane Katrina made landfall on Lousianna. Malcolm Wood responded alongside his 38 other teammates to go into work at the NASA assembly plant in Michoud.
As the rains came, it became the teams responsibility to maintain four primary pumps which prevented the water from overtaking the levee and flooding the manufacturing area.
At the time, Michoud was the only place where external rocket tanks were retro-fitted with measures to prevent another Columbia tragedy (which had happened two years prior). If the levee failed, NASA would have been shut down until repairs were made. The timeframe would have been years.
Two weeks after Katrina made landfall Malcolm’s team had effectively cleared the only available terrain in all of New Orleans. Their little dry spot of earth became the staging point for the Coast Guard, Navy SEAL teams, Canadian forces, and anyone else doing search and rescue.
No lights. No cameras. Just pure unadulterated faithfulness saved the space program…and countless lives.
There’s more to the story, and it’s completely worth whatever time you spend reading it, but I want to focus on the faithfulness here (and why I leave the incredible details to the arstechnica article).
No Thanks, Give Thanks
In the place of quiet servitude is an opportunity to echo the character of heaven. The secret place is precious. So while there are no accolades for a well built gas-tank, rockets
and cars refuse to work without them.
The Kingdom works similarly.
The work we do in secret is rewarded.
God sees the ones that show up, and He rewards the faithful.
For where else are the motives of men tested, but when the glances of men are elsewhere?
On my list of readers I know there are stay-at-home moms, engineers, students (the list goes on). Every day is a an opportunity for the secret tests.
Children. Numbers. Homework.
When no one’s looking.
This can be a place of gratitude as we look to heaven knowing that our reaping is not in vain:
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
– Galatians 6:9 (NASB)
Your turn! Thinking about the rewards of heaven is just one way to persevere when no one is noticing. What are some other ways? Comment for the edification of all!