Mytholder (mytholder) wrote,
Mytholder
mytholder

Now We Are Here, General Transmission 4

It begins with the faintest sound of whistling.

For more than two hundred years, there has been no unfamiliar sounds on board the
St. Andrew. The noise of every engine part or atmosphere pump is a familiar, comforting one, as constant as one's own heartbeat. Now, there's a thin, high-pitched, eerie whistling coming from the outer decks.

The sound deepens and swells, and the ship begins to shake.

Prospero chants a litany of figures and status reports. It's not especially comforting - or, when the shaking and noise increases, especially audible. The display boards are still a solid, shining green, though, and you cling to that display.

Then there's a BANG that sounds like it came from inside your skull. The pitch of the wind changes sharply, and almost instantly there's a series of secondary crashes (explosions?). The display board flickers into a constellation of reds and ambers, and your c-links start dumping information straight into your brains:


>C-link engaged
>PROSPERO network open/general/secpro: null/xprospero
>SUBJECT: EMERGENCY
Heat shield failure!
Initiating emergency procedures and assessing damage!
Please stand by...

The ship groans and kicks as Prospero fires the thrusters. A few moments later, the noise fades back down to a bearable level. A few of the lights switch back to green, but the board still looks like a blood spatter across a schematic of the St. Andrew.

>C-link engaged
>PROSPERO network open/general/secpro: null/xprospero
>SUBJECT: EMERGENCY
Well, we're still here. It was touch and go there for a moment.

The heat shield physically collapsed in one section. We were amazingly lucky - the collapse took out several modules, including one of the shuttle fuel tanks. I had to jettison that tank and two dozen cargo and habitat modules to avoid an explosion. I also pulled us out of the aerobraking early, but within an acceptable approach profile.

We've now got four days to make repairs and preparations before phase two of aerobraking.

While I believe we can repair the heat shield and complete this stage of the mission as originally planned, it will be considerably more risky. Therefore, I would like your consensus on the following options:

The Core Lander Module is a deployable base, the initial centre of our new colony. It contains factories and processing facilities that will be of vital importance in the precarious early days of settlement. It's also a very big and heavy piece of machinery that is a pain to work around.

The original plan is to complete aerobraking before launching the CLM. However, I worry that if we attempt to aerobrake with the CLM still attached in our current condition, the results could be... unfortunate. I would estimate a 20% chance of a catastrophe.

We could launch the CLM slightly early, before the danger zone. This is riskier for the CLM, but safer for the St. Andrew.

The other concern is the cargo - do we pack the CLM with every bit of equipment we can before launching it, to give the colony the best chance of survival if the worst happens to the ship, or do we lighten it as much as possible (giving it the best chance of landing safely)?

Alternatively, the cargo modules can theoretically survive re-entry (well, there's a chance they could). We could launch them at the same time as the CLM, which would maximise the survival chances of both ship and CLM, but scatter our supplies across a whole continent.

Poll #1071055 What do we do now?

How do we approach the second period of aerobraking?

Continue as originally planned - the Core Lander Module stays with the ship until after aerobraking
5(11.4%)
Launch the Core Lander module early, leave most cargo on the ship
8(18.2%)
Launch the Core Lander Module early, move as much cargo as possible to the CLM
11(25.0%)
Launch the CLM early, jettison non-essential cargo
18(40.9%)
Other (see comments)
2(4.5%)


None of these options are especially appealing, I know - but having come this far, I absolutely refuse to fall at this last hurdle.
Tags: now we are here
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  • Blog a Penguin Classic

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