No Helium, No Fun – WIF Science

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 If We

Ran Out

of Helium

Helium Balloons GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Helium was first discovered in 1895. It is the second most abundant element in the universe and it makes up 0.0005 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a colorless, odorless gas that is lighter than air and it is the coldest liquid on Earth.

 While it’s abundant in the universe, on Earth, we might be running out of it. You may not know it, but helium is an important part of modern life and possible shortages have been such a big worry that the United States government has been stockpiling helium since the 1960s.

The problem is that once helium hits the atmosphere, it is pretty much useless, so it needs to be mined or pull from natural gas. This makes helium a finite element on Earth.

So what would a post-helium world look like?

10. No More Party and Parade Balloons

When the American government first announced a possible shortage of helium in April 2012, one of the first things suggested to conserve helium is to stop using it to fill up party balloons and balloons used in parades. This is pretty hard to argue against because it’s a completely frivolous use of the a finite element, even if you can get a good laugh out of listening to people’s voices change after inhaling the gas and parades won’t be as exciting. However, as you’ll see, helium has a lot more important uses.

Unfortunately, eliminating helium filled balloons isn’t going to solve the problem of helium running out, because only a minuscule amount of helium is used to fill up balloons. It would be like a pack a day smoker trying to avoid cancer by taking one last puff every year.

9. Airships

The Goodyear Blimp over Dodger Stadium. (Courtesy photo)

One reason that helium is so useful in many different fields is that it is safe to use because it isn’t flammable or combustible. This makes it great for flying machines like blimps. When blimps are filled with a different lighter-than-air gas, such as hydrogen, which is both combustible and flammable, things can go horribly wrong. A notable example is the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, when the German blimp LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames while trying to dock at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey. In total, 36 people were killed. While the cause is debated, the fact that the airship was full of flammable and combustible gas wouldn’t have exactly slowed down the fire.

Granted, blimps aren’t common and most people have probably only seen one at an air show or a football game, but amazingly they are still used by different segments of the United States government. One example is the Tethered Aerostat Radar System(TARS). They are unmanned blimps that are used to detect low and slow flying aircraft and marine craft. It’s currently being used along the American-Mexican border and in a portion of the Caribbean.

Another blimp used by the United States is the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, which is used to track things like cruise missiles or even trucks full of explosives. The project has been in development for over two decades and the Pentagon has spent at least $2.7 billion on the project.

A whole other field of flight that wouldn’t work without helium is balloon space tourism. Currently, there are two companies that plan on sending people into space using helium filled balloons. For $75,000 to $125,000, travelers can get into pressurized pods and the balloons will lift them out of the atmosphere. This is similar to the way Felix Baumgartner got to space to do his famous jump.

However, without helium, attempting to reach space in a balloon would be much more dangerous.

8. A Leak Checking Tool

When the Manhattan Project started in 1942, it was important that when they enriched the uranium needed for a nuclear bomb, there couldn’t be any leaks in the pipes or tanks during the process. Even a tiny leak could have been disastrous.

To ensure everything was sealed, the scientists sprayed the welding seams with helium. If there was a leak, the helium would get into it, because out of all the elements, helium has the second smallest atom (hydrogen is smaller, but it is inert, which means it doesn’t move). So helium can find really small leaks, which helps ensure that the tanks and pipes are sealed.

Besides just having a small atom, helium is also non-toxic, non-condensable, and non-flammable, so spraying it won’t leave a trace behind.

Since the Manhattan Project, helium has gone on to be a common way to detect leaks in more than just tanks and pipes. It is used in such industries as food canning, refrigeration, air conditioning, furnace repair, fire extinguishers, aerosol cans, and car parts, just to name a few. Essentially, any industry that relies on sealed cans use helium to look for leaks. That means without helium, we may have products that be will more dangerous because they are leaking, and/or products will be more expensive because some other method will need to be implemented to detect leaks in all those different fields.

7. Some Welding Will be Impossible

One of the most common applications for helium is welding; about 23 percent of the world’s helium supply is used for welding purposes.

Certain arc welding jobs, which is the process of joining two metals using electricity, depends on helium because it is used to keep the molten metal from oxidizing. One type of metal that couldn’t be welded without helium is aluminum. That means things like shipbuilding and building space shuttles will be much more difficult to do.

However, arc welding isn’t the only type of welding that utilizes helium. CO2 laser welding, which is used in car manufacturing, uses helium as a shielding gas. Shielding gas is used to keep the molten metal away from other elements in the air, like oxygen, water, and nitrogen. Without helium, this could cause an increase in vehicle prices while alternative methods are implemented.

6. Barcodes

One of the most common ways that we interact with helium is at the supermarket. Barcodes scanners use helium-neon lasers, also known as HeNe lasers and they use a gas ratio of 10:1 helium to neon. HeNe lasers are used because they are inexpensive, have a low energy consumption, and they are efficient. Besides just barcode scanning, HeNe lasers are also used in other fields, like microscopy, spectroscopy, optical disc reading, biomedical engineering, metrology, and holography.

Of course, the good news in this example is that, as many of you with smart phones already know, there are other ways to scan codes. It will just be a matter of changing over to the new forms of scanning.

5. Space Travel Would Become More Dangerous

A field that would be incredibly hard hit by a lack of helium is the aerospace industry. NASA reportedly uses about 90 to 100 million cubic feet of helium a year in a whole variety of ways.

One way is that when a rocket burns fuel, the fuel that was in the tank is replaced with helium. This ensures that the tank doesn’t collapse under structural pressure. This also reduces the risk of fire or an explosion in the fuel tank. Helium is also useful during space travel because it keeps hot gases away from ultra-cold liquids.

A third way that NASA uses helium is to clean liquid oxygen out of tanks. Finally, there are other minor uses, like it’s needed for pneumatic control systems and it cools fueling handling systems.

Without helium, space travel will still be possible, but it will be a lot more dangerous than it already is.

4. The Large Hadron Collider will be Useless

It’s believed the Large Hadron Collider at CERN can help unlock many of the universe’s mysteries. It’s the biggest, most powerful machine on earth, and it smashes subatomic particles together almost as fast as the speed of light. And in order for the whole thing to work, liquid helium is needed.

Shooting those particles around the 16.7 mile loop are magnets that steer the particle beams. However, they can quickly overheat and they need to be cooled with liquid helium to -452.47 degrees. Also, the niobium-titanium wires that make up the magnets that shoot the particle beams around the loop are housed in a closed liquid-helium circuit that is -456.25 degrees. Liquid helium also cools the entire system down to -456.34 degrees. 

Without liquid helium, the Large Hadron Collider would literally become, and we’re gonna use a technical term here, a hot mess.

3. MRI Scans Will Be Less Common

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common tool in the medical field and it is used to non-invasively look inside the human body at things like ligaments, spinal cords, and organs, including the brain. A lot of times, ailments like torn ligaments and tumors are diagnosed using MRI machines. However, without helium it will be impossible to run these machines.

How an MRI works is that a magnet is powered and it creates a magnetic field. This field causes the protons of hydrogen atoms in your body to align and then they are exposed to a beam of radio waves. This creates a signal that is picked up by a receiver, which converts the information to a detailed image. However, maintaining that large magnetic field requires a lot of energy. To get that much power and sustain it without overheating, helium is used and that is done by reducing the resistance in the wires to almost zero. This is accomplished by constantly bathing the wires in liquid helium that is -452.38 degrees. On average, one machine uses 1,700 liters of liquid helium.

While there are MRI magnet cooling systems that do not use helium, the problem is that they are not designed for full body MRI machines, like the ones that are in hospitals.

2. Computer Chips and Fiber Optics

As we’ve mentioned a few times, helium is commonly used for cooling. In fact, nearly a third of it is used for cryogenics. One notable feat is that it can be cooled to temperatures near absolute zero, which is -459.67 degrees. This makes it the coldest liquid on Earth.

Another field where cold helium is vital in computers and telecommunications. One of the main uses is with fiber optics, which are cables that are used to connect the internet and telecommunications. Fiber optics can transfer more data over longer distances than wire cables. However, they are much more fragile than wire cables and they need to be housed an in all-helium environment or it can cause air bubbles, which would make them useless.

Another way helium is used when it comes to computers is that computer chips are made using superconductors. Superconductors are basically magnets that are supercharged and don’t overheat thanks to liquid helium.

Without helium, computer chips will be incredibly hard to make. This is going to have big ripple effects on everything that uses computer chips. This includes cars, smart phones, appliances, and of course computers.

1. Scientific Progress Will Be Slowed

The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest experiment that uses helium, but it is also necessary for use in all different types of experiments and machines that are used in universities and laboratories around the world. The reason it’s used is because it’s safe because it isn’t flammable or combustible, which is great for researchers, especially students who are still learning.

So other elements, much more dangerous ones, will have to be used to cool the machines. This will clearly slow down progress and make experiments and machines more dangerous. Even if there was a way to run the machines, that means they will have to be retrofitted or purchased new, which isn’t cheap. For example, Western Michigan University’s chemistry department has a $250,000 machine that needs helium and they have a tank of helium delivered monthly. That is just one department at one university.

Without helium, all fields of scientific study that rely on machines that use helium will be slowed down this includes physics, medical science, chemistry, and computer science, just to name a few. In turn, scientific study will be severely handicapped.


No Helium, No Fun

WIF Science

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 33

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 33

…It is either a weather balloon or an incomplete mirror ball from Dancing in the Stars…

2052 has been a welcomed, quite a quiet year to this point. Other than the Middle East, where little has changed in the last 500 centuries, conflicts are few, economies thrive and life expectancies shoot past the century mark.

Typhoon Maemi In The Western Pacific Photograph by Stocktrek Images

The entire world is currently transfixed by the appearance of a large {90 km}, perfectly smooth, polished ball suspended over the United Korean Peninsula, floating at the uncomfortable altitude of 10K meters.  Even a rare spring typhoon cannot move it from its mark. Not that the Koreans are paranoid or anything.

But smoke signals rising from the region indicate that the ruling Jong-Un Family is beyond squirrely over the situation. Few things make the Jong-Uns squirm.

 So, that the Koreans seem to be the object of the object’s focus is of little concern for the rest of the world. The mere stubborn nature of these people will not allow them to reach out for outside help or consultation, not even from Talibanistan.

They could reach out until their arms get sore.

In the rarified air percolating at the Galveston Launch Facility, a select two or three are watching the Korean’s predicament from an acute angle. Gus McKinney and Prez Roy Crippen know much more than they are letting on {albeit without many specifics}, with a 3rd in the person of lead NASA engineer Fletcher Fitch.

The obvious reactions to this event, which has global ramifications, have since played out. Fletcher Fitch has been briefed about Lorgan and he has provided his assessment as to its purpose. “It is obviously a curious sort,” is all he can add to the already sparse perceptions.

“Thank you for that incredible insight, Fletch.” Gus was expecting more. “While we’re at it, how did the SEx go from warp capability 1 to 3 without your knowing?”

“Never look gift camels in the snout,” quips the man of Arab lineage. “Seriously Gus… You have had a front seat to all these things and what clarity have you provided? ‘ Weird S**t Happens’ is all you can say!”

It is either a weather balloon or an incomplete mirror ball from Dancing IN the Stars. You watch that viral show on the Galaxy TV don’t you?” Gus can be serious – seriously sarcastic.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 33


page 37

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 30

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 30

…“I seem to remember your mom & dad telling me about a shiny moon O that they spotted right after leaving Space Colony 1

“Wow that tops your last tale by a bunch!” Prez Roy wraps his brain around this newest tall tale from the prodigious storytelling talents of his remaining star astronaut.

“The Sun trumps Pluto every time,” Gus would know.

It is not just about Deke, Celeste and their cryptic warning.  It is that vanishing sphere that merits close attention.

Roy suddenly has a flashback moment, “I seem to remember your mom & dad telling me about a shiny moon O that they spotted right after leaving Space Colony 1. The excitement of their landing Tycho threw us off that trail… soon after that the colony was destroyed. The rest is history. Let’s see if we can make a connection.”

Image result for wormhole gif“You’ll see what I mean about that jazzy dealeo. It should be all over my visual array, hell, for over a minute… then poof it’s gone into a wormhole!”

“You do know that there are no recorded wormies this close to the Sun. Out past Uranus, yes, we have detected some crazy stuff.” What mankind knows about deep-space pales in comparison to what they do not. “We’ll be looking for volunteers to go through a worm in the future Gus, how about it?”

“That is a one-way road this boy won’t be going down!”

With SOL technology in hand, going around them is the prudent choice.–

–So… it is off to merge Stellar Explorer’s video with the lander Tycho’s Colony last moments in the Mission Visual sector of the mainframe, for that closer look at the largest alien made object in the greater Earth/Mars neighborhood; what it is, who may have made it and what its purpose is {or was} or is still.

Roy Crippen’s experienced eyes have never seen such a thing. From bogies in his flying days, to too many episodes of Star Trek, the object he is zooming in on is as out-of-place in the solar system as any single item. Judging from the greatest magnification, it is flawless in sheen.

“Look at that,” Gus points, “you can see the reflection of SEx!”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 30


page 34

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 28

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 28

…A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Back to Earth Too by Gus McKinney…

Now Playing on a Spacecraft near You:

Related image

The recounted story of a youngish astronaut and the strange things that keep happening to him after he reaches the speed-of-light threshold…

In the relatively short time it takes to return to Earth, by way of the Sun, Gus McKinney explains it to his wife this way:

He is hesitant to share his story with NASA; “I’m telling you Mindy, after I saw that metallic planetoid disappear into a wormhole or something, I put SEx on cruise control, you know, at a reasonable numerical factor of SOL 1 and headed back, as Roy ordered … everything was going fine. I had Venus in my side view when it happened again… ” for fear that they would think him crazy.

 The Story behind what happened aboard Stellar Explorer this very day:

What he was not prepared for was an in-your-face dose of déjà vu. Mamma Celeste {the person, not the famous pizzeria in NYC} was getting bored and when mamma is bored, stuff happens. After all those parsecs logged, meeting a brand-new alien race and eavesdropping on the conversation between a Null and the pilot of her TSF ride, Celeste decides to take a peek at Gus’ timestem. In 2052.51 she picks up his saga as he passes Venus’ orbital path. Mamma knows that she only has a short window to work with, before Gus decelerates for his rendezvous at Galveston.

Only there is one huge/B-I-G difference between her current plan and the one that produced Gus’ vision previously. This time she brings along her firstborn for good measure. He has quietly graduated from telepathy to hyperphysical transmigration, the long-distance version of teleportation.

Stellar Explorer {SEx} is a two-seater. The lack of a support crew dictates that there is a redundant pilot… normally.

It was in the 1st seat that Deke McKinney had phased-out {at the Pluto turnabout} in 2051; horrific/traumatic.

It is in 2052 that the phasing image Deke McKinney appears in the 2nd seat, as that same ship approaches Earth orbit; terrific /baffling.

 

“Good job Gussy!” the image speaks.

His brother Deke has been missing for the better part of a year or more. It was at that same time that the image of their mother was present to calm & reassure.

“Where have you been, you SOB?” he waits for an answer from Deke, to the number one 64-_illion {fill-in-the-blank} question of this corner of the Milky Way.

“We are all together.” It’s hard to keep the Space Family McKinney down, but timestem constraints keep Deke from going into specific details, just enough to intrigued and confuse. “Mom is with me. Dad and our sister are back in another corner of the galaxy.”

“We don’t have a sister. You cannot be real!”

Celeste pops in, beside Deke, once again to calm & reassure.

“We are not able to stay much longer. Listen closely. Our Galaxy is danger. You must convince your stepfather to stay vigilant. Keep an eye on the NASA mainframe. Some new defensive tools are on the way.”

“What?” too little and too much info to process in a single apparition.

“Deimostra is your sister and the Seljuk are your friends.”

They phase out just as fast as they phased in.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 28


page 32

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 13

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 13

…Speaking of supposed-to-be’s {what-ifs and cold days in hell}, President Harper Lea Bassett is closing in on the would-be festivities…

“Take it easy, Fletch. While I was poking around in there last night, I discovered that SEx can achieve escape velocity on its own. The reinforced hull, along with the molecular stabilizer, will allow Gus to take that baby out solo.”

The youngest McKinney {that Earth knows about} is suiting up as he speaks.

“Somebody please inform our President about the change in plans, after the fact.”

“But…”

“I know what you’re thinking. We are going to show file footage of the boys inside SEx. Nobody will know the difference.”

Related image“But what about taking off without a piggyback? Somebody is going to notice.”

“Gus is going to be past the moon before anyone knows he’s off the pad. We’re all supposed to be on the receiving stand, isn’t that correct.”

Speaking of supposed-to-be’s, what-ifs and cold days in hell, President Bassett is closing in on the would-be festivities. Few things are more important to a figurehead than advertised appearances. There was a “leak” a week back {not weak back} about her welcoming the heroes of hyperspace in person. She has long since laid claim to bringing SOL technology to the light of day, when in fact it is only her pen and the insistence of her political backers that are truly responsible.

“Where are our men-of-the-hour?” is the most asked question.

“This guy Shriver is being a leaky O-ring,” is how Francine Bouchette-Crippen describes him, for everyone in the inner circle with an earbud. She is not as cranky as her husband, but at their station in life, they don’t suffer fools lightly.

All Prez Roy does is point to the unique contrail left behind by the Stellar Explorer. He makes up a non-treasonable explanation, “There they go, Madame President. We wanted to give you a live demonstration. How will that play in D.C.?”

To support his elaborate smokescreen, he summons a video of Gus and Deke waving to the camera, curiously resembling the one from their original roundtrip to the fringe of the solar system – and back – mostly {before Deke vanished}. The screen behind the reviewing stand is innocently playing that recording and another showing long-range footage, which elicits rousing applause from all the space-geeks and political freaks who would not know the difference between an asteroid and a comet.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 13


page 19

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 1

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 1

…THE CONTINUING SAGA OF THE SPACE FAMILY MCKINNEY…

Chapter One

 The Return Trip Continues {Stardate 2051}

… And so it was on that fateful day of the return trip, at 3X the speed-of-light, on an abnormally cold January day {in usually arid Galveston Texas that Gus McKinney is trying to explain what is inexplicable. His adoptive father, who also happens to be the heart and soul of NASA’s SOL Project, fears the possibilities. How can the young co-pilot possibly clarify someone vanishing? That he departed Earth’s gravitational influence with his brother, Deke in Stellar Explorer’s pilot seat, only to return without him.

“So you and Deke thought you were in trouble, ‘phasing in and out’ as you put it?” Roy Crippen is in an untenable position. After having experienced the elation about what had been deemed a colossal success, he must now reconcile what can only be described as a handful of nothing.

Gus McKinney knows nothing, at an utter loss for answers, but for some odd reason he parades a peaceful façade.

Former President of the United States of America {#48}, “Prez Roy”, can only be described as befuddled. “I have been getting some feedback from Fletcher Fitch here {lead SOL engineer}, not to mention the crew of the SLAV that clocked your speed averaged around warp 3 — WARP freaking 3, Gus! Stellar Explorer was engineered to approach SOL, not exceed it, could not exceed it… yet here you are in one piece, returning to Earth with a spacecraft that has been souped-up!”

“Look Crip, if I had clue what happened, you’d be the first to know.” Gus is still in shock himself. “All I know is that I have this nagging feeling that Deke is alright.”

“But…”

“Yeah, I know that doesn’t make a lick of sense, but some damned weird stuff was going on in the cabin just about the time we lit the fuse.” The memory is fresh, if not sketchy. “The last thing I remember, Deke said something about Mom.”

“What do I have to do with this?” The former First Lady of the USA, project Spokeswoman and host on The Space Channel, Francine Bouchette-Crippen, has been an insistently ardent observer to the debriefing.

“No offense Francine, but I got the feeling he was talking about our real mom, as in Celeste McKinney, you know, the one who vanished from Mars along with Dad back in 2030.”


The NULL Solution

Episode 1


page 7

THE NULL SOLUTION = RETURN TRIP Recap/History

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The NULL Solution = TRT Recap/History

…Off to parts unknown – History of THE RETURN TRIP…

…It all began on Mars…

The McKinneys are whisked off Mars {Star Date 2030}

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

“Where are we going?” Celeste wonders.

“I’d like to know, who is driving?” Sampson 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.”

NEWFOUNDLANDER 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.

The McKinneys spot their destination

As the enlarging emergence of Epsilon Eridani and the heightened anticipation it is producing, Sampson’s demeanor stabilizes; finally a goal is in sight. There aren’t stars around every corner. In the coming of a new orange sphere, he can sense the warmth internally, even though an Earthly comparison would be like spotting the Rocky Mountains from the east while driving an automobile. What seems like a day later, you first get the sense you are going uphill.

The End is in sight

The NEWFOUNDLANDER continues to hurtle toward the planetary system which must surely be their final destination {that would be a muffled please, please, please?}. The ship with a remote control mind uses all the right moves on its approach, like it had done this very move before. A skilled navigator himself, Sam sincerely hopes so, because he is beginning to feel uneasy with the speed at which they going at this late stage. That scary mega planet is looking large and larger, its red-hot surface churning like the gates of hell…..and they have barely dipped below SOL.

The McKinneys arrive at their destination {Star Date 2036}

As NEWFOUNDLANDER shimmies into its pre-destined parking place, something occurs to Sampson’s astronautically trained mind, “Could it be that these people have abandoned space travel? I mean, did you see a fleet come out to escort us in? Have any of us seen any shuttle traffic, weather satellite or space station anywhere on the way here?”

Before Celeste can agree, the closing of the 100 foot tall doors distracts her and once again they are left to wonder what happens next. The enclosure now adds a claustrophobic slant to their rampant speculation. Confinement is a stark certainty, after over 5 years in the vastness of deep-space

Unease, doubt, apprehension: all these begin to consume Commander Sampson McKinney, formerly of Space Colony 1, recently employed NASA astronaut and previous inhabitant of Earth. It is all he can do to merely stand still and wait. The waiting is the hardest part.

An historic chapter of Earth’s history is about to be written.

The folks on Planet X (Eridanus) are in for a surprise of historic proportion.

This concludes our “catch-up” of THE RETURN TRIP

Sunday February 21 The NULL Solution = Prelude/ TRT Recap


The NULL Solution

Recap/History


THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 260

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 260

…“We can’t be sent back or they won’t let us go back?…

Cerella speaks to Deke alone; who takes her hand and kisses it gently, like it may fall off in his.

“What did she say Deke? It sounds like Far East music to me.” Gus is not used to being upstaged when it comes to getting attention from the female persuasion.

The two that have been taken with one another, continue their one-on-one exchange undaunted.

Quite comically, the remaining characters in the room restart a conversation of their own.

“What’s the matter Gus, do you feel left out?” Sampson chides Gus, like a father teases a son.

“Hell no Dad, I’m engaged to be married.” The fact that they are 10 light-years away from a wedding day matters not.

“What’s her name, where’s she from, do you have a picture?” Celeste bullies her way into a litany of motherly queries.

Gus reaches into his SOL Project flight suit for the engagement picture from The Houstonian  of him and Mindy McDonald. “How long did it take us to get here?

Celeste looks to Sampson, the official timekeeper of the family.

“30 months, as far as I can tell.”

“That’s 2½ freaking years! Are you sure we needed rescuing, because I bet Mindy has already mourned my death… like we did you guys?”

“Ten more seconds into SOL warp and you surely would have died. NASA astro-mechanics did their job, but the bio-people did not,” Dad does his best.

“The Eridanians have mastered the fabric of time and they thought we would like to know about your fate. So, “we” went back to when/before that happened, adjustments were made to your ship. It is because of those adjustments that we could not allow you to return to Earth,” good news-bad news from a loving mother.

“We can’t be sent back or they won’t let us go back?” The more the idea of being separated from Mindy sinks in, the less savory is the notion.

A loving father cups Gus’ face with his hands, massaging his cheeks, wiping away the tears, “Never say never…”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 260


page 233

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 172

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 172

…“I am relieved about Gus!.” Francine is all too aware that Gus is the one suffering most by the loss of his parents…

Suffering by Paula Heffel

“I am not going to waste our time together squabbling over that necktie.” Their 17 month marriage remains solid, as most do, in spite of the ongoing McKinney heartbreak, career shifts, and the blinding glare of the national spotlight. Like those ships in the night, passing near not seeing, “We can’t waste this time.”

Space Academy

“Speaking of not seeing someone, how did Deke & Gus do on their Academy exams?” Co-surrogate father Roy would give anything short giving up on the election to be there to help the boys with the critical Space Academy simulator tests; the single biggest factor in becoming an astronaut candidate. Braden King is a ground expert, but has little to offer the two rapidly maturing space-aspiring young men.

The adults’ combined mission is to help them attain those desired goals.

“Gus barely got by the book test, then A-ced the simulator.” she tells Roy. “Deke lost his gyro-control, hit an asteroid and he will never live it down. It turns out that the professor rigged his test by inserting THE QUARKIAN QUANDARY, I believe he called it.”

NASA Top Gun

NASA“They only pull that on the Top Guns. I bet Deke had already been promoted.”

“I am relieved about Gus!.” Francine is all too aware that Gus is the one suffering most by the loss of his parents.

“The way I see it Francine, Gus knows that his flying skills are the only way he graduates from the Academy; it’s hard to keep up with his genius brother.”

“Whatever the reason,” she concludes as their Ford Hydrogen vehicle pulls up to the Hilton Hotel & Casino, “I think that Celeste would be pleased as punch and Sammy Mac is screaming at the top of his lungs … somewhere out there.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 172


page 163

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 166

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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