Pilot of the Future
15 April 2012
PLUTO EXPEDITION ATTACKED
Senator Peters from Auckland NZ lashed out yesterday at the cost of the expedition to Pluto.
"I think SF has got its priorities wrong", the Senator stated on his web site, well known for its controversial opinions. "This mission is going to cost a lot of resources at a time when SF needs to be rebuilding its military capabilities."
The Senator is not the only person who has expressed concern. It is thought that several members of the new Government are unhappy with the project, but didn't want to argue against a project which is felt to be the brainchild of SF hero and supremo, Dan Dare. Given the need to improve our defenses after the Treen Occupation, and with the uncertain situation in Numidol, it is felt in many quarters that any investigation of Pluto can wait.
It has been argued, however, that such an expedition is an ideal test for the ion drive system and for our deep space capability, pending any further break through in the ftl field. There was no-one available for comment at SFHQ last night.
The rise of the Senator from Auckland.
New Zealand escaped relatively lightly from the Occupation. The Mekon realised the country's capacity for agriculture, and directed labour that way, in order to provide food for many of his insane and callous projects. It is therefore all the more surprising that the country should produce a politician who is so fiercely in favour of rebuilding Earth's defenses at almost any cost. It is certainly a populist approach that has done the Senator no harm electorally, altho he is now in danger of becoming a "single issue" politician. If he wants to be taken more seriously on the world stage, he needs to extend his policy range.
The Military Background.
Senator Peters' call comes at a time when we are attempting to rebuild our military capablity after the Occupation. Altho it may seen, after the defeat of the Treens and the Mekon, that we are now safe, this is not the case for several reasons.
Altho the Mekon is apparently dead [a matter disputed by many], the Treens themselves are in a surly mood. To make sure that they cannot rebuild their military capabilty means that we have to keep a close eye on them, and that is resented.
The Therons are in a position similar to ours, and are in no position to come to our aid if we had to call on them. It is clear that we will have to be self sufficient for at least the next five years.
The position here is very obscure, but one thing is certain : Tharl is not in control. While this civil war continues on our boundaries, we must be vigilant.
While both Sir Hubert Guest and now Controller Dare have worked wonders, we are sadly lacking in both offensive and defensive capabilities. We can probably now produce spacecraft faster than we can man them, but with the increasing use of automatic computer systems, this is becoming less of a problem.
Senator Peters' point is a good one, however : should we be risking some of our most essential SpaceFleet personnel and our lastest technology is an attempt to reach a planet whose surface temperature never rises about 70K? He thinks not, and you can see why.
The shuttle Hawke blasted off from Formby to UN3 at midnight last night in a textbook launch. Hawke was piloted by Capt. Spry, who is one of the four man crew of ARGO. The other crew members were Prof Jocelyn Peabody and Lt. Hugo Guest. The fourth crew member, ARGO's designer, Prof. Chuang, is already on board.
New HAWKE class shuttle are proving their worth.
Report from Formby by Charles Hill
The new class of monatomic hydrogen powered shuttle craft, of the which the Hawke was the prototype, are entering service fast, and are rapidly proving to be highly successful. Primarily designed for transfer between Earth and low Earth orbit, they are also being pressed into service on the Earth/Luna run. The Howard is also being used for trial runs between Earth and Mars, and Earth and Venus.
New Design Features
There are several factors which have come together in the design of this craft to make it such a success. Professor Bowring was just finishing his work on the computer stabilization of MH using the lockwaves discovered by the elder Blasco when the Treen invasion began. This work was hidden from the Mekon, who displayed little interest in MH drive anyway.
It was also designed from the start to take advantage of the induction loop airlock design, one of the few good things to have come out of the Occupation. Earth and Treen scientists perfected a technique whereby once the spacecraft was lined up on approach, then magnetic loops, at which the treens were such experts, guided the craft in automatically. What is more impressive is the adaption of the technique for use on the Moon, and the first few of these were being fitted when the Cryptos team arrived back on earth to begin the Liberation.
The explosion in computing power in the last three years has meant that many more of the systems have become automatic, thus reducing the crew's workload. Given the lack of qualified personel after Black Sunday and the privations of the Aden prison camp, this is another important feature. They are routinely used for pilot training at Astral College, which has such high priority that another 10 shuttles are currently being built simply for training purposes.
If the Hawke class has any limitations, it is that they are probably too small. Their mass is of the order of 100 tonnes, and they can carry up to 8 crew, and deliver a useful payload of 20 tonnes to low earth orbit. A much larger version is currently under testing in America, and it is envisaged that the Saratoga will be test flown in around 3 months time. These craft are the maximum size for the inductive loop landing sites, yet should have an impressive cargo carrying capacity, or, equally significantly, carry an impressive armaments payload.