PLUTO - THE ENIGMATIC PLANET
The loss of the signal from ARGO is the latest in many attempts to probe the mysteries of the ninth planet.
Discovered in 1930, it has always been too far from Earth to be seen clearly even by space based telescopes, and Spacefleet has always had too many other demands on its resources to investigate the planet.
This latest mission was designed both to explore the system and to test the new ion drive. It is possible that the problem lies in the new drive. Even the recently restored NIMBUS scouts would have problems trying to effect a rescue mission.
NIMBUS class spacecraft
Research on the NIMBUS drive began in 1998, but during the Occupation work proceeded slowly, with many acts of sabotage, as no-one in Spacefleet wanted to hand such a valuable piece of technology to the Mekon. There are now several small NIMBUS scout craft, all named after early astronauts, and one major Fleet unit, the Churchill, currently Spacefleet flagship.
The Churchill is currently visiting Mercury to re-establish diplomatic relations with the planet, and also to carry out high energy testing close to the Sun.
The new ion drive is seen as complementary to the Nimbus design, and not as a competitor.