THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 252

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 252

…Like a puppet on a string, the well-traveled ship from “home” dangles above its new dock…

YouTube Song

“The Stellar Explorer has entered into a descending orbit,” Celeste sense aloud. Her and Sam’s memorable first impressions of Eridanus, the then unnamed planet, flood in. “It is a shame that they cannot be fully conscious, to see the mist parting to reveal the towered cities.”

“Perhaps Ekcello will trust me to take them up in one of these ships, one of these days.” There is a hint of selfish motive and respect in his voice. Nothing would scratch his itch like taking one of these flying machines out for a spin, now that he knows them inside and out {Perchance to circle the Epsilon system at sub-light speeds, or reignite interest in physical space travel, or convince them to use their 5th dimension time-travel talent instead of suppressing it}. None of these notions are probable.

“Not a chance! He knows you know the way back to Earth,” his wife engenders reason aimed at her daughter.

“Do you think I would abandon you & Sammy? No, no, no, I would abduct you both first.”

Celeste cuts him off at the pass.

“Kicking and screaming you would. I’m not sure that we fit on Earth anymore. But I know it has crossed your mind,” she points to her own cranium. “You would make Earth a dominant space power within a year.”

She knows him all too well. —

— The trio steps to the side of the huge receiving doors and strain to catch their first external glimpse of Stellar Explorer. The pink sky parts and they gaze upon the sleek SOL cruiser, which outwardly looks like it had a few in-flight nicks. It is a handsome piece of aerodynamic design, bearing the proud flag of the United States of America on either flank. The mere sight of the Stars & Stripes opens the tear ducts of the elder McKinneys. Deimostra takes in the touching emotional display, now realizing what loyalty to country, and home planet, is all about.

S-E-x… Look at that nickname, I love it!” Sammy Mac in tickled proud.

They stand transfixed as Stellar Explorer defies gravity in its low speed maneuvering which brings it to rest next to Explorer/NEWFOUNDLANDER. Like a puppet on a string, the well-traveled ship from “home” dangles above its new dock, seemingly reluctant and clueless as to how and why.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 252


page 294

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 251

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 251

… the line of potential Eridanian adolescent suitors for the McKinney daughter extends past Orion’s sword…

On The Sword Of Orion Framed Print by Angela Foster

What are the inexpressible words which will best describe the twisted path that brought the McKinney family here, against all odds?

Like how do they explain how Sammy came to be? They had not gotten around to “that talk” before they went to Mars. Celeste surmises, “I bet you Braden took care of that!” It has been tough going without the company of their best friend, though they would never have guessed that Roy Crippen and his wife adopted their pair of space-orphans. “And they are grown men now Sam.”

Stars And Orion’s Sword by Jennifer Rondinelli Reilly – Fine Art Photography

Deimostra has blushed to a crimson shade, having recently had that famous mother-daughter “talk”, although how “it” will work with an Eridanian male has not been explored, although Cerella had discussed how she would “interact” with Deke, given the opportunity. In a case where things like that work themselves out, the line of potential Eridanian adolescent suitors for the McKinney girl extends past Orion’s sword.

“I know you have only seen images of them on our PDAs, but I want you to show them how you feel, including hugs and kisses, once they process the concept of having a little sister,” father Sam interjects, “and Celeste, try not to cloud their minds with that telepathic stuff. If they are anything like me, they won’t take to it very well.”

“You need not worry father,” maintains the firstborn of space, “I am not the naïve child you pretend I am. It is true that I am not of Earth, but I have my mother’s wisdom and I have your….something, oh yes, your persistent persistence.”

“Thank you for that backdoor compliment Deimostra!”

“The Stellar Explorer has entered into a descending orbit,” Celeste senses aloud. Her and Sam’s memorable first impressions of Eridanus, the then unnamed planet, flood in. “It is a shame that they cannot be fully conscious, to see the mist parting to reveal the towered cities.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 251


page 294

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 245

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 245

The Eridanian Solution that ultimately saved two lives of Earth was not news for Earth to share in…

The irony of death, as it concerns the space program, is that the numbers are bloated. Four people are killed every seven minutes by such ordinary things like ground transportation and only immediate family and friends bother to notice. Should you lose four lives in space, the detractors of exploration cry “foul” and the world mourns.

All able hands are on deck at Lovell Space Center, tethered together by the hope that Stellar Explorer would begin to come-about, to make the wide sweeping turn necessary to return to Earth.

That torturous fifteen minutes proves to be the longest q~u~a~r~t~e~r h~o~u~r on record. If those with the most dogs in the fight, namely Roy, Francine, and Mindy McDonald, if they could possibly hold their breath the entire time, they may have.

The perceived passing of the next few digital ticks eclipses the previous ones.

But in this poignant moment, the loved ones of Deke & Gus McKinney, as well as awaiting world, exhale; emptied of any remaining dioxides and positivity. They draw another bated breath when the Stellar Explorer blasts through the heliopause and continues on without slowing down.

If those on Earth could only be comforted by the truth; that this perceived disaster had actually been averted… the Eridanian solution that ultimately saved two lives of Earth was not news for Earth to share in and neither will they see the benefits from it, at least until that miracle can be properly sew into the fabric of the current timestem.

If that withheld truth be known, their flagging souls would have been buoyed by the fact that in thirty months, 2 1/2 years, The Space Family McKinney will be reunited once again!

Until and when that truth is revealed to them, scar tissue will form around a wound that is permanently deep and painful beyond belief.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 245


page 288 (end ch. 10)

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 244

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 244

…for those left behind by Stellar Explorer, it is impossible to learn from the mistakes — when you are not apprised of the actual outcome…

There are no concrete answers let alone solutions, in this speculative world of SOL technology, but man struggles for answers anyway.

When you test drive a new automobile/sky-car/jet-cycle, does one try out every color of your preferred model? Does the red one go faster than the black, or does it only look faster? In the case of the SOL Image result for variablesProject, the only variable being 397 pounds of human beings, could that have changed the norm to such a radical degree?

Many other like questions and some more technical ones has crossed Roy Crippen’s mind. Perhaps the most humble of those drives to the fundamental heart of the matter: Does man belong in space? In other words, are they technically capable of tackling projects such as SOL or going twenty years back, Space Colony 1?

You can have everything right, cover all your bases and this happens:

  1. a killer satellite from a rogue nation blasts the first orbiting space colony out of  Martian orbit, stranding the world’s most prominent and popular married couple and they disappear before they can be rescued
  2. the accelerator on a spacecraft, that has only been on a couple test-drives, gets stuck just as two of your young and brightest test-pilots reach the speed-of-light and those brave young men are related to their folks in number 1

Bad luck–maybe, bad science or bad math—probably, but in either case it is impossible Image result for it doesn't add up gifto learn from the mistakes, when you are not apprised of the actual outcome:

  1. Either branch of The Space Family McKinney tree is alive and well. Without the clueless people on Earth knowing, their math is incorrect
  2. Courtesy of the planet Eridanus, instead of -4, the count of McKinneys in space thought lost currently stands at +5, with the actual addition of Deimostra.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 244


page 287

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 243

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 243

CHAPTER TEN

Where Were We?

…the Stellar Explorer, piloted by the McKinney brothers, is losing control…

“SLAV, we are losing contact with the chrono-link. The ship is breaching the threshold, but it’s like we are watching it via remote hookup…,” Deke tries to explain what is happening.Stellar Explorer

“We have you on our screens, engage the emergency decelerator immediately…” encourages the SLAV.

But instead of slowing, it has more than doubled its maximum velocity. The SLAV crew struggles with what they are seeing and the data that defies description, considering known parameters.

“We were talking with them one minute… they were having problems… we cannot regain contact.”

At SOL Mission Control they are desperate for answers. “How can that be Fletcher Fitch? You never hinted that they could travel that fast!” Roy Crippen’s comprehension cannot possibly keep up with the pace Stellar Explorer was setting.

“No sir. We don’t know if the speed-of-light can be exceeded… and the crew blacked-out just after they lit the fuse.” After reviewing the data, the former Talibanistani-national posits, “But then after reaching SOL 1 and maintain it for a minute, it immediately jumped to SOL 2 and they are now approaching SOL 3. The heliopause {rim of the Solar System} will be breached in five minutes.”

There is only disbelief from Mission leadership.

“What do we do President Crippen?”

“Didn’t that thing have a velocity governor, Afridi — I mean Fitch, can they make the turn going that fast?”

“We are running the numbers now Mr. President. The unmanned test went nothing like this. We are only scratching the surface of exo-WARP conditions.”

“Tell me about it!” President Roy is at a loss for action. The fate of Space Colony 1 haunts him still. “Holy crap! This cannot be happening!”

There are no concrete answers let alone solutions, in this speculative world of SOL technology. How could this be… having tested three unmanned cruisers (the same one 3 times) at these exact speeds completing the mission without a hitch… and now this?


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 243


page 285

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 238

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 238

…Before they lapse into whatever fate awaits them, they reach across and bump their fists; someone had to do it and this is what we signed up for…

warp core

— As Deke & Gus prepare for SOL, all phases are not aligned.

“SLAV we are losing contact with the chrono-link. The ship is breaching the threshold, but it’s like we are watching it via remote hookup…,” Deke tries to explain what is happening.

“Gus,” he urges, “wake up. There is something wrong here!”

Gus snaps out of his funk to check his instruments, “Everything is fine. We have passed Warp One !!!”

Stellar Explorer2

“No, look at the chrono-link, it’s reversing itself, like we are being heading back in time.”

Gus’s image, or Deke’s perspective of his brother’s appearance looks like something their generation never had to put up with; the fading signal from an analog receiver. In the digital realm, when you are losing the frequency, things pixelate, stop and start and rearrange. In the cabin of the Stellar Explorer, everything is wavy, like seeing things through the delirium of desert animated air.

“Yeah, I’m not feeling all here, how about you?”

“… like our molecular structures our breaking down? Try engaging the emergency decelerator.”

“I can’t, my hand gets within an inch, they stop short,” Gus is straining against an unknown barrier. “It’s no use. Our bodies cannot maintain structure at these speeds.”

Atlas 9

“The 3 unmanned went off without a hitch! I absolutely do not get this?”

“That may be the key… unmanned… they didn’t know how the human body would respond when they broke the sound barrier either.”

“Or if man could stand the G-Forces of a Redstone rocket or Atlas 9  liftoff in the Mercury Program,” Deke recounts.

“Or what is was like to experience prolonged weightlessness.”

All of those barriers had been crossed without major incident.

But there is a theme developing at SOL: You can only make your best guess as to what happens, if you have not done it before.

“Well if we cannot slow this thing down and our bodies cannot keep up, something has to give.” Deke’s assessment of the situation is simplistic, but consistent with the philosophy of the test-pilots that had blazed trails before, which means that they can only deal with what is directly in front of them.

But the faster SEx goes the behind-er they get. It is like there are two versions of the same movie playing at once. But which one is the correct reality and can both test-pilots survive the ordeal?

Before a waiting and wondering while, the McKinneys lose all control contact with the SLAV ship and as well as each other. Before they lapse into whatever fate awaits them, they reach across and bump their fists; someone had to do it and this is what we signed up for.


THE RETURN TRIP

Time distortion

Episode 238


page 280

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 237

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 237

…“Altitude 224.62, engaging vacuum induction, increasing isotope mixture to .759…

The final moments before the SLAV whisks the Stellar Explorer away pass quickly and is “put up or shut up” time. Fifteen years of R&D has dwindled to fifteen minutes of checklists. Nearly one-third of Deke & Gus’ lives have been spent in anticipation of this moment, now only a short ride to the outer atmosphere away.

Polite hand clapping grows into rousing cheers as the two deep-space pioneers climb the twenty stairs to enter the Stellar Explorer through the small side hatch. It is sleekly designed, more a side-effect of the speed it achieves, than the need for aerodynamics {no atmosphere – no friction}, but it can hold more than just the two pilots and makes less noise than an elevator door.

In contrast to that whoosh, the turbines of the generic SLAV will kick up its share of earthly dust, requiring hands over ears and on top of hats. It consumes every yard of runway one-niner to get airborne, much to the chagrin of the assembled, but not those of the informed.

All is calm in the control cabin of the Stellar Explorer, with no reason not to be, for if things go as planned, the jaunt to the edge of Solar System carries better odds than the favorite at The US Open tennis tournament. Las Vegas odds makers are taking bets that they will not re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in the predicted 30 minute window.

“I had Mindy put down a grand on at 9-2 odds,” Gus admits.

“Now how stupid was that? You are betting we have a headwind in both directions.”

“Not exactly. All we have to do is take our sweet time on the return trip.”

“I’m not sure they’ll pay off on that  Gus, when they find out who made the bet.”

“You can’t win if you don’t spin.”

“Enough of that nonsense, it’s almost time to light the fuse!” Games faces on, “Altitude 244.62, engaging vacuum induction, increasing isotope mixture to .759.”

“Five minutes to peak fusion, star drive ready,” Gus adds as he had done in the innumerable dry runs, “phase modes aligning, emergency decelerator on standby.”

Unlike the Enola Gay after it dropped its payload, the unnamed SLAV crew slows to an orbital stop to witness this milestone achievement in person. The Stellar Explorer is only visible for a blink-of-an-eye. —


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 237


page 280

Contents TRT