THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 167

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 167

… I am issuing a gag order, no network feed until further notice. I don’t want Deke and Gus finding out their parents are missing…

“Mission Control, we have a problem,” Rick Stanley reports. “We are seeing some surface disturbance in Space Colony 1 lander’s landing field and it looks fresh, real fresh. Can you see what we see?”

Braden King and Roy Crippen are only separated by their cuffed shirt-sleeves, side-by-side to rely on the other for support.

Braden wonders why neither McKinney is signaling their brave rescuers in any way…. or answering the hails… .or firing a single blast from the quieted Tycho.

Roy is in possibilities mode… they are conserving fuel… they are low on oxygen…that impact crater, maybe a meteorite knocked out their communication gear.

Anxiety levels on Earth can be measured at the Moon Station and the beating of hearts drown out any other sound. Even the successful landing of the New Mayflower fails to break the spell.

“Two of us are going EVA. We can see lights on inside the lander and one of them is the green airlock beacon!”

“Doesn’t that mean they’re out of the lander?” Braden knows enough about procedure to be dangerous.

“You’ll need to close the airlock manually to balance the air and pressure before you enter,” Roy cautions and informs those who have not been around a lander simulator for a while.

It seems like only yesterday that New Mayflower had Mars within
hailing distance. Was it too much to ask for Sampson & Celeste jump on the horn and say “hey!”? Shouldn’t monumental effort be rewarded when expectations are being met?

Those damned Koreans officially leapfrog Osama Bin Laden as “Satan of the Century”? It is a very long line of evil and growing.

“It’s a good thing we did not run a live feed to the networks, in fact I am issuing a gag order until further notice. I don’t want Deke and Gus seeing this stuff.”

One doesn’t read a book from back to front, right?–


Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) is any activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth’s appreciable atmosphere. {Wikipedia}


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 167


page 158

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 166

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 166

…“Mission Control, there is a problem…

“This is Rescue Mission 2A-1B, the New Mayflower approaching Mars orbit, range 225,200 miles and closing.”

To say that this April day has been anxiously anticipated is a colossal underestimation. Few like comparisons can be made, with the almost three month build up to this historic moment.

“We have been attempting to make contact, but Tycho is giving us an away message. Image result for emotional rollercoaster gifThe signal is strong and there is no sign of distress. She’s a good sight for sure!”

Roy Crippen, Braden King, and the entire GLF staff are poised to witness a watershed moment in the agonizing saga of Space Colony 1. The minimum expectations of the rescue mission involve flattening the emotional roller coaster that has been this colossal project, one that has dominated the past two years in everyone’s’ life.

High-highs followed by the lowest of lows are not a healthy prescription for the faint of heart. Braden can attest to how mounting mental pressures can manifest itself into the physical.

And hope is the most powerful drug at our disposal and you do not need a medical doctor to prescribe it. Suppressing it today would require a cold wet towel or a badass, who-cares attitude. To have gotten the mission organized and off the ground, overcoming relentless interference from determined enemies, and reach this point is a testament to the audacity of hope.

“Take it down to 200 miles and make two orbits at 0º degrees latitude. When you have a good fix on Tycho, use the Plain of Xanthe as a landing strip, just like we did out at White Sands {Missile Range N.M. simulator).”

“We still have not established voice or visual Roy.”

“Let’s not borrow trouble now Rick. Take her down on the smoothest 200 yards you can find.”

This newest incarnation of the Mayflower circles Mars at its equator twice, the first orbit locates Tycho; the second has trouble locating anything that resembles smooth. An area to the left of the lander has the appearance of a recent Xanthe neighborhood to-do.

“Mission Control, there is a problem…..”


THE RETURN TRIP

Emotional Rollercoaster – fightingwithstrength.com

Episode 166


page 157

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 165

1 Comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 165

… “I have been triangulating ever since we left Uranus behind.

I love it when you talk space-dirty to me“…

“If you knew your sun was burning out, wouldn’t you go searching for another sun and planet as a bailout?” Celeste submits possible reasons for the NEWFOUNDLANDER’s trips to Earth and eventually Mars.

“That would be excellent motivation, but I do not think it applies to our friends. These chaps were just plain curious and that is why I am leaning toward the orange Epsilons — Eridani and Indi. At seven and ten light-years, either of those would be more likely home bases. If you subtract the tracks we are laying down every second, who knows when we would get there.”

“You are talking possibly ten years Sam, and that’s if you are right. I happen to know that Rigel, the white-hot giant of the Orion Constellation is 500 light-f***ing-years away. If it took Columbus 500 years to reach the West Indies from Italy… well you know where that comparison is going.” Celeste’s perspective is that of a new mother, realizing that Deimostra may never set foot on solid ground in her entire space-bound lifetime.

“You’ve got me there Cel, but we must look for the positives in our predicament. Maybe I failed to mention that we may be going much faster than the mere speed-of-light factor of one. As my hero Captain James Tiberius Kirk would say, ‘Can you give me Warp 8, Scotty?’”

“I’ll do what I can Captain, but the strain on the di-lithium crystals may be more than they can take!”

“You remember that episode too.”

“Of course I do. When we were dating at the Academy, we couldn’t go anywhere until thatSpace Academy or any of the other bleeping on-demand episodes or movies were finished!”

“Why didn’t we pack the Star Trek z-ray file into our PDAs. The trip would go by quicker.”

“So do you think we are past Warp 1?”

“Exactly. I have been triangulating ever since we left Uranus behind.

I love it when you talk space-dirty to me. Triangulating Uranus must be code for interstellar whoopee,” she puts her sleeping infant down to make a flirtatious flyby of her husband.

“Isn’t it too early… for THAT?”

“Recovery times on the NEWFOUNDLANDER are amazing.”

It is not your average romantic advance, so in the middle of a serious discussion, they achieve Warp 2 to their makeshift living quarters.


THE RETURN TRIP

Warp Speed Mr. Scott by Euderion deviantart.com

Episode 165


page 156

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 164

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 164

…Sampson McKinney is, at most, a spaceship pilot, not some flaky, lab coat wearing, eat & sleep pure science guy that he wishes he were now…

“I think we are going to dissect the Orion Constellation, right about at “The Hunter’s” navel.”

“I was just double-checking your numbers Cel and I would guess if we are whizzing our way with a purpose, our destination is a star close to what we call Bernard’s Loop. But yeah, we are going to see if Orion’s belt buckle does indeed twinkle.”

“Do you have any guesses about the time frame we are looking at; I mean are we talking about 10 years? Celeste is well aware that they are not going around the block, but the mental commitment it takes to orientate the human brain for space travel is far from immediate gratification. The one saving grace is that SOL or even multiples of it, are not fractions thereof; at least you have the sensation of getting somewhere very f-a-s-t… zoom-zoom.

Sampson finds himself in a position he never imagined. He is at most a spaceship pilot, not some flaky, lab coat wearing, eat & sleep pure science guy that he wishes he were. That guy would come in handy now. Then again, 21st Century earthly mankind has not been programmed for the parameters they are facing.

“Vell, vell Frau McKinney, das eez a doozy uv a qveston,” he does his best to imitate the stereotypical German rocketeer, like Werner von Braun.

“Spare me the Einstein and give me your best estimates, we are raising a baby here and I need to have some idea of what’s what!”

“Of the five most likely star systems on this heading, Bernard’s Star and Struve 2398, a single and a binary red system respectively are six light-years out. Another red, Ross 154 is at eight. But you have to keep in mind that these red stars are cool by our standards, which means they well past their prime, on the downslide side of life.”

“If you knew your sun was burning out, wouldn’t you go searching for another sun and planet as a bailout?” Celeste submits possible reasons for the NEWFOUNDLANDER’s trips to Earth and eventually Mars.


THE RETURN TRIP

Dying Star by Sammy15

Episode 164


Bernard’s Loop (catalogue designation Sh 2-276) is an emission nebula in the constellation of Orion. It is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex which also contains the dark Horsehead and bright Orion nebulae. The loop takes the form of a large arc centered approximately on the Orion Nebula. The stars within the Orion Nebula are believed to be responsible for ionizing the loop.(Wikipedia)


page 155

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 163

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 163

…No strangers to astronomy, like any astronauts worthy of his or her spacesuit, the combined knowledge of the McKinneys serves them well …

The Great Orion Nebula was captured with a Canon T1i using a Celestron CGEM-800 telescope by Philip A. Cruden

Image result for speeding away gifCeleste gradually recovers from time distorting space speed and the resulting blackout, examining Sammy for signs of physical harm. It seems that the 1st baby in space has slept through the 100-to-300,000 mph acceleration. She is very much like any other child when come to riding in the family car; after a couple boring minutes they are fast asleep, usually for the duration.

For the duration of their trip away from their solar system home-space is:

  1. up for grabs
  2. one guess is as good as the next
  3. let the meter run
  4. the GPS is on the fritz

Unlike distances between planets in the same sun-system, intergalactic space travel entails the equivalent time light needs to travel from point A to point B, and where the only significant “landmark” celestial bodies are an occasional asteroid, meteors of erratic size, and the granddaddy of them all, the wandering comet.

No strangers to astronomy, like any astronauts worthy of his or her spacesuit, the combined knowledge of the McKinneys serves them well. They are charting their progress through this new astronomical perspective with the aid of galactic star charts salvaged from the dear departed Tycho plus old fashioned reconnoitering.

orion“Do you remember the history syllabuses that taught us about Alpha Centauri correctly being the closest star to our star and all the speculation about where other forms of life may come from,” asks Sampson about the horse ‘n buggy days of dim understanding.

“Yes I do. They were a light-year short in calculating the distance and didn’t even know that it was part of a three star system.”

They harken back to when the Hubble Telescope altered cosmic perspectives from seeing uncountable #’s of stars to reveal a jaw-dropping millions of galaxies.

Then to have had the brief privilege of working with Space Colony’s 20” mirror, you could say that the Universe is getting smaller and bigger at the same time. “But we are not traveling on a course that remotely resembles a path to Centauri. I think we are going to dissect the Orion Constellation, right about at “The Hunter’s” navel.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Lego Hubble Telescope

Episode 163


page 154

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

…“It appears we are going for a ride, family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?”…

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control. The king and queen of this mysterious realm are compelled to hang on for an unidentified unknown outcome.

The previously dormant main viewscreen snaps to, filled with a panoramic picture of the Martian landscape. Syrtis Major looms stoically in the background, with Tycho and AL wondering what is going on in the fore. At the peak perfect pitch of A, the NEWFOUNDLANDER pauses, as if to bid Mars farewell, the only home it has known for some 3000 years.

“It appears we are going for a ride family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?” He tries get the feel for some sort of helm, but it seems to be fruitless. “Let’s hope that it hasn’t forgotten the way to Earth, if that’s too much to ask.”

Liftoff is smooth and with the exception of the anticipated g-forces, they were soon out of Mars’ loving embrace and headed… headed… unfortunately headed away from the sun, which at this point in planetary alignment, is in the opposite direction of Earth. After Sampson proves to himself that he has not figured out the secrets of navigation, he unbuckles himself and what to his wondering eyes does appear a solid boot footing and a stable atmosphere. Space Colony 1 had some measure of gravity, but not anything approaching this downward force.

His first official duty as commander of the NEWFOUNDLANDER is to check on Celeste, who is still in post-delivery recovery, and of course the baby. Both are partially conscious from the shock of the ship achieving what has to be multiples of the speed-of-light. There is no space-speed indicator, but the sun of this sun system is fading faster than the orb on an Alaskan winter’s night.

Martian Sky


 THE RETURN TRIP

Rocket Ferry Leaving Mars by Chesley Bonestell

Episode 162


page 153

Turn On The Lights – WIF Next Gen Power

Leave a comment

The Future of Power:

New  Sources

of Energy

Listen, fossil fuels have been great. They’ve provided such an abundance of cheap energy over the last century and change that we’ve ridden their wave from horses and muskets all the way to rocket ships and the internet. But there are costs to burning them (you know, like how you also burn the planet). As the cons begin to outweigh the pros, it’s abundantly clear the time of oil and coal is rapidly coming to an end.

The debate over which renewable sources could potentially replace them (and therefore deserve more public investment) has been raging for years now. But solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear (fission) are just the beginning. Turns out one thing we don’t have a shortage of is jaw dropping ideas for energy production that can, with the right resources and public investment, be implemented within our lifetimes. Things like…

8. Nuclear Waste

Nuclear fission reactors have been around forever, currently provide roughly 20% of America’s energy, and will likely be a central component to any climate response plan due to the low greenhouse damage they cause. Contrary to popular belief, they’re also quite safe, as accidents like the infamous Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are preventable and rare. But there is one problem that isn’t being overblown, and that is the nuclear waste issue.

Current light-water technology surrounds uranium fuel rods with enough water to slow the neutrons and generate a sustainable fission reaction, but only an unacceptably inefficient 5% of the uranium atoms inside the rods can be used before they have to be replaced. The remaining 95% kind of just gets dumped into an ever-growing stockpile (90,000 tons and counting) that we don’t really know what to do with. This is where Fast Reactor technology comes in, which submerges the rods in sodium and can therefore switch those numbers: using 95% of the uranium and only dumping the remaining 5% rather than further contributing to the current mess. If we can muscle our way past the political stigma against nuclear power, this technology has real potential.

7. Nuclear Fusion

Of course, we don’t have to stick with fission at all. At least not long term. Nuclear fusion, in which molecules are combined into a new element using immense heat and pressure, is safer, overwhelmingly more powerful, clean and harmless to the environment, and could provide power in enough abundance to launch mankind into the kind of future only dreamed of on The JetsonsSadly, at this moment it’s not easy to sustain net positive (meaning we get more energy out of the reaction than we have to put in to trigger it) fusion reactions long enough to be commercially viable.

There’s an old adage commenting on the long, long road fusion has already traveled and how far it still has before we start rolling it out: “nuclear fusion is the power source of the future, and always will be.” It’s funny and a bit depressing, given the enormous potential that always seems to be just one breakthrough away. But we know fusion, the Holy Grail of clean energy research, works. We need only look up at the stars, which exist because of fusion. So technically, since none of us would exist without the sun, you do too. 

6. Geothermal Energy

As appealing as fusion and wind are, though, there’s certainly something to be said for an energy source that doesn’t depend on expensive reactor facilities or unreliable weather conditions. Enter geothermal energy: heat pulled straight from beneath the surface of the Earth, where there’s always plenty. Now technically, we’ve been harnessing geothermal energy for over a century by just collecting it from water and steam. But modern geothermal harnessing techniques are limited, both in range of use (even when the technology is mature, it’s mainly used for basic heating and cooling functions) and by geography itself (we have to harness the heat where it is, almost always in tectonically active areas).

However, we’re constantly improving at both getting to the heat and spending less money, effort and time doing it. And in the very near future, expect technologies falling under the umbrella of Enhanced Geothermal Systems, which drill and pour water into ‘hot dry rock’ areas in the earth’s crust in order to turn the currently inaccessible energy stores there into several times more usable, clean energy than fossil fuels currently give us access to, to reshape the energy landscape.

5. Space-Based Solar

The first thing anyone thinks of when they hear the term ‘renewable energy’ is probably solar. Why wouldn’t they? The sun is bombarding the earth with more raw power every second than we’ve ever managed to spend in a year. But the problem was never a lack of it; it’s always been harnessing and storing the stuff. Luckily, solar panels are getting cheaper and better at an alarming clip. But what if we could harness the sun’s energy in space? It’s always there, after all, in waves not filtered and diluted by the fickle atmosphere (which reflects 30% of it back into space anyway).

The basic idea would be to construct enormous solar farms which would collect the sun’s high-energy radiation and use mirrors to deposit the energy into smaller collectors, which would then send it to Earth in the form of microwaves or laser beams. As of right now, this technology is prohibitively expensive. But maybe it won’t be for long. After all, companies like SpaceX are constantly engineering ways to drive down the cost of sending cargo into space, so hopefully we’ll be running out of excuses not to build one of these world-changing (and charging) behemoths in our lifetime.

4. Solar Windows

But you know what? Cool as space solar is, we don’t actually have to go into space to revolutionize solar energy generation (which is already revolutionizing energy itself). Down here on the surface, solar panels are already covering rooftops throughout Europe and desert expanses in the American Southwest, not to mention steadily eating away into fossil fuel dominance. With upcoming quantum dot solar cell technology about to burst onto the scene, which essentially replaces standard silicon with artificial, solar-energy collecting molecules, expect the revolution not just to continue, but to accelerate. 

Before we continue, it’s worth noting that lots of cool but ultimately impractical solar-panel-as-something-else designs (where solar panels replace roads, walls, windows, etc) have been floated lately. The problem always comes down to the fact that solar panels just aren’t advanced enough to double in function. But quantum dot tech may change that. Imagine every window in the world filled with solar harnessing technology that you wouldn’t even be able to see with an electron microscope. So say goodbye to those unsightly panels, because without even looking different, your transparent windows might function as mini power stations in just a few short years.

3. Tidal Power

We already have hydroelectric power, generated by massive dams that use rushing river water to turn energy turbines. It’s powerful, clean stuff and certainly worth continuing to use. But it’s nothing compared to the untapped energy of the ocean’s currents, which, if properly harnessed, could power the planet several times over. Sadly, solar and wind cornered the renewable market early on, and as a result, tidal power is only just now getting reconsidered due to its enormous potential.

Oyster, for example, is essentially a giant hinged flap bolstered to the ocean floor, which swings back and forth with the current and pumps enough resulting energy to the surface to power thousands of homes. There’s also the Terminator turbine, designed by Air Force Academy engineers and inspired by aircraft, which ditches drag technology for wing-like lift, in order to (theoretically) harness an astonishing 99% of available tidal power (as opposed to the standard 50%). And the potential isn’t limited to raw energy generation, either. Perth, Australia just started using a tidal-powered desalination plant that can provide drinking water for more than half a million residents.

2. Hydrogen

Advantage number one: burning Hydrogen produces just about no pollution or greenhouse emissions at all, which is why NASA has been using the stuff to send rockets and shuttles into space for years. Sadly, it’s tough to expand this energy source to a global scale since hydrogen, the simplest and most abundant element in the universe (by orders of magnitude) isn’t available in large enough quantities where we can actually get it (unless it’s combined with other elements like Oxygen, as is the case with H2O).

But if we could figure this out, maybe by engineering a way to separate hydrogen from the elements of which it’s a part, we could change the world. Luckily, such hydrogen fuel cells, which may very well be the future of transportation, are already being built. Honda is actually planning to demonstrate the power and efficiency of this technology with a new Clarity Fuel Cell car by plugging the vehicle into a house which it will then power (as opposed to electric vehicles, which would draw power from the house). Like all new technology, of course, this will be expansive and unavailable to the public at large for some time. But the potential is real.

1. Biofuel

Like a lot of entries on this list, biofuel itself has been around for ages. Henry Ford actually envisioned his Model T car running on ethanol before cheap oil was found everywhere and captured the energy market instantly. Ethanol, the first generation of biofuel, is making a comeback too, but the fact that it can only be harnessed using the same land and resources as food is problematic (and driving up the cost of food). Generation 2’s switchgrass was floated as an alternative for a while, due to its hardiness and ability to grow like a weed virtually anywhere. But we’d need an amount of land equivalent to Russia and the US combined to grow it in large enough quantities to overtake fossil fuels as the primary power source for cars, so that won’t work.

But what about algae? Its natural oil content is over 50%, it’s not food, and doesn’t require fields or fresh water to grow. Instead, the remaining parts of the plant can be converted into gas and electricity and fertilizer to grow more algae in small labs. This one’s no brainer, folks.


Turn On The Lights

WIF Next Gen Power

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 161

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 161

…Systems on the NEWFOUNDLANDER that never made so much as a peep, poop or gurgle are adding their ovations to the emergent chorus…

Chorus by Jacob Rowan

The Space Family McKinney, Sampson, Celeste, and Sammy are strangely content with whatever fate befalls them, but not long after that adorable-Mars/moon-namesake joins the 4th planet party, the NEWFOUNDLANDER seems to be having other ideas. Several times in the recent past, Sampson noted sudden, uncharacteristic computing activity. It seems random and spontaneous, not as a result of anything they or he was doing, but it is incremental in its frequency.

“Here it goes again Sam! Are you sure you didn’t bump something over there?”Celeste is concerned about the electronica noises distracting Sammy from feeding time, courtesy of one of her two milk-filled nursing stations. It is the only dispensary aboard this ship that is certified Grade A.

“I keep telling you that nothing I am doing around this musical chatterhouse is causing any of this. I would not risk upsetting the status quo, although I really think I getting that steering thing nailed.”

During this current cycle of beeps, boops, bops, pops, and hums, the whole ship comes alive at once, in the familiar key of A. Systems that never made so much as a peep, poop or gurgle are adding their ovations to the emergent chorus. It is like the ghosts of its former crew were manning their stations, which was impossible.

When the unmistakable whine of the ship’s propulsion unit, that magical mystery miniature module in the bowels of the lower deck shakes the control bridge and the sheer awesome power is being harnessed and directed with purpose, Sampson acts instinctively.

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control.


  THE RETURN TRIP

No Control by Güneş Yılmaz

Episode 161


page 152

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

1 Comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

…Deimostra Samantha McKinney is born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030…

…our space heroes are indeed alive, with an infant conceived on the way to – now a citizen baby of Mars. Deimostra Samantha McKinney was born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030. Deimostra {Deimos} is certainly an uncommon name for such a cute blond-haired blue-eyed baby girl, so named for one of Mars’ reliable, if not fickle moons; Phoebe {Phobos} would have been too easy. As one would guess, her middle name is the feminine form of father Sam, an everyday tag she will carry as “Sammy”, the affectionate term she has already responded positively to.

If delivering a baby on another planet were not challenge enough, add in the aged-41 aspect, she-mom-herself-in-labor had to coach “Dad” through the entire birthing process; no small task when massive pain is dominating every two minutes or so and they are using medical facilities that does not accommodate childbirth (as earthlings would know it).

So, as they had done with all the other strange devices and workings of the NEWFOUNDLANDER, they modify, improvise, and utilize. Considering that Sammy will spend much of her first six months in artificially enhanced gravity, she will surely be hailed as a miracle on Earth; Baby Announcements are in the mail.

Their hope of rescue hinges on a leap-of-faith; the faith that NASA knows that the reluctant Mars colonists have finite survival resources and that their “ride home” should be arriving any day now.

For the crew and launchers of the New Mayflower, they have been assuming that Sampson & Celeste had indeed survived the loss of the orbiting station and are waiting anxiously for its appearance.

These nagging, creeping doubts, that growing suspicion that the NASA did not or could not pull the rescue trigger, has hastened Sampson’s attempts to master the propulsion mystery of the idled NEWFOUNDLANDER. It is a singular quest, considering that if they must, they could live out their natural lives, perhaps exceeding the current 100 year life span. After all, carbon analysis of their lone Newfoundlian cabin/cohabitant indicates he died at the ripe old age of 700 and perhaps older than that. And this was achieved with a body that is eventually victimized by an undetermined alien fate. So immortality may or may not be part of their alien equation.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 160


page 151

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 159

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 159

…A weak field of contenders leaves the door wide-open for a simple astronaut with the honest face, gorgeous wife, and a perfectly vetted past…

Good Horses and Wide Open Spaces by Tim Cox

It is mid-2030, the time for Presidential contenders to step forward and declare their intentions for 2032.

In some cases, as with Roy Crippen, you may be touted as a frontrunner, never having expressed public interest in the nation’s highest office. He is as popular a man there is around the country, even more so in Texas and with Southerners in general. It is a well-known fact that he is not content merely fronting the heroic rescue effort in an otherwise failed NASA project.

And as much as he is going to see the McKinneys back into Earth’s embrace, he is surprised that he cannot ignore the ovations of the Republican National Committee. A weak field of contenders, many of whom are dodging the label of “hawk” or falling all over themselves to appeal to the “Minority Majority”, leaves the door wide-open for a simple astronaut with the honest face, gorgeous wife, and a perfectly vetted past.

He does not take that bold step into the political arena lightly, with the bitter taste of Space Colony 1 on everyone’s palate and the stench of a potential nuclear war wafting over continents and oceans.

One has to wonder what the American public would think, if it came about that Sampson and Celeste McKinney were stranded on Mars, instead of being rescued. Who then takes the blame, the evil empires or Roy Crippen?


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 159


page 150