by H.E. Taylor
|Chapter 54||Table of Contents||Chapter 56|
Spacemen, September 11, 2057
From my vantage point in UNGETF, I was able to monitor the activities of the various groups. All year, I heard about rocket launches, mostly by the Swiss-German consortium Brahmaputra, but the odd one was by the L1 construction group Carillon. The Group 6 cloudmakers had their first batch of ships sailing for Antarctica. More of the old tankers were being refurbished weekly. The target number of vessels for north and south had been raised to 600. Sometimes when things don’t work as planned, humans will do more of the same. The Group 10 albedo modification folks had come up with strains of wheat and barley that were noticeably lighter in colour, the idea being to reflect more light back into space. Unfortunately these strains did not react well to water stress and farmers were reluctant to use them.
As for Group 5, the interplanetary ship Daedalus was nearing its asteroid. Reports came in regularly from them. They appeared to be doing well.
The Daedalus didn’t get much media coverage and when it did it was oddly stilted. The turnaround time to communicate with them was almost an hour, so reporters would send them a string of questions. When the answers arrived an hour later, some of the questions would be mysteriously skipped. The reporter’s frustration was palpable.
The space elevator folks were not making progress. Their main problem was, strangely enough, a legal one. It was feared that a functioning spacehook would disrupt signals to and from nearby geostationary satellites and the nearby leaseholders were being difficult. Rosen, O’Hara and Gupta Inc. had the rights to one geostationary slot and they had launched a couple of rockets with assembly robots and tons of nanofilament, but they were stopped dead by simultaneous lawsuits in North America, Europe and Brazil.
At the L1 point, Carillon was assembling a central command and control station from rocket casings and prefab modules. Its purpose was to manage the construction and operation of the sun shield. Launches of the spidery sunshade robots were underway, but few humans would arrive until the sunshield modules were due.
The moon colonists were immediately famous. 17 men and women, one child. The Chromartys, Thiessens and Johnsons, the Singhs and Tarnapolskis — the five families became celebrities — working on the moon to save the earth. The Thiessens’ son Ryan was the famous Moonchild. He was seven years old.
They landed in five ships in the Hipparcus crater near the moon’s equator. The turnaround time to the moon was only about 3 seconds, so communicating with the colonists was almost normal. Brahmaputra Corp., commonly called BPC, expanded the web video feeds which had been monitoring the robots and just let them run. Millions of people on earth followed the colonists’ every move. Ryan was a video star. I monitored their progress, but did not have time to follow their day to day activities the way some did. I didn’t envy them. Working under extreme conditions while being watched all the time could not have been easy.
First the habitats were completed. Then the solar arrays were set up. A supply ship was lost in transit and for a while they had to make do with 40% power. The manufactory and smelter were assembled from parts built on earth.
The railgun, except for the magnets, was to be a product of the moon. The earth built robot RG7, designed to patrol and inspect the rail gun between operations, had its own fan club.
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
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Last modified August 27, 2013