by H.E. Taylor
|Chapter 42||Table of Contents||Chapter 44|
Group 5, July 12, 2056
No announcement of Group 5 commencement was made. I heard one day that a rocket had been launched from Whitesands. A week later there was another and I wondered. I remembered Rhamaposa’s call in March. I checked UNGETF’s Group 5 website and saw that launches had been happening for a month and a half. Project Daedalus was going ahead.
Group 5 was subdivided into four subgroups. At the heart of it was the L1 construction group. They were responsible for building the actual sun shield. The other three subgroups were the asteroid capture, the moon factory and the space elevator groups, which were competing to get shield material to the L1 point. Launching from earth the tonnes of material required for an effective sunshield was not practical.
A contract for the space elevator had been awarded and the corporation, Rosen, O’Hara and Gupta Inc., was searching equatorial countries for a suitable building site. What they would consider suitable was not specified.
The contract for the L1 construction group had been awarded to Carillon, but there was little they could do as of yet, except plan.
The moon factory contract was still open.
It was the contractor for the asteroid subgroup, Carson Tyler, which had gone ahead and started launching the components of the interplanetary craft, the Daedalus, to be assembled in near earth orbit. The plan was to fly out to the asteroid belt, snag an asteroid and nudge it into the L1 point to use as construction material.
I wondered when the public relations campaign would begin and put it out of my mind.
That night, I was in the library going over my membrane design for the ten thousandth time. In the field test, the membrane had curled into a ropey tendrils. Something in the epigenetics was eluding me. I pulled up the broad leafed acacia genome to study and the phone rang.
It was Peter Rhamaposa. He had a slightly dishevelled look, giving the impression he had just stepped out of a party.
“Okay. I’m just trying to figure out why this damned genome doesn’t work the way I want.”
“Group 5 is getting major funding.”
“I noticed the launches.”
“The moon contract has gone to a Swiss-German consortium called Brahmaputra.”
“Nothing else is having any effect.”
“Yeah well, that’s true enough.”
“The Carillon Group is still getting the lion’s share of the money.”
“What kind of money are we talking about?”
“Is this what you are recommending?”
“I don’t have any choice. This came top-down. Somebody is getting desperate.”
“Like maybe all of us.”
Somewhere out of sight beside Peter, a door opened and I could hear music.
“Well I have to go,” said Peter.
“See you next week.”
Peter signed off looking deflated. I stared at the broad leafed acacia genome for 10 minutes before going to bed. My mind had turned to putty.
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
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Last modified June 4, 2013