Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 7: Breaking new ground
Copyright© 2013 by normist
We were assembled in the conference room, back at base. On leaving the White House, we flew Adam Saunders and the now friendly Official from the Patent Office back to their car at Gravelly Park. Then we returned to base.
The next morning, James opened the meeting by thanking us all for our efforts.
"My object in our recent endeavors has been to verify a theory of ultra light-speed travel. This has been demonstrated conclusively in a most dramatic way. I want to thank all you most sincerely for your efforts in making my dream a reality. Therefore, I think that it is about time that I return to academia and that Doctor Axon should lead the group into further adventures." There was an outburst of murmured objections to James news, mine included. He continued, "Well, Bill where do you think the group should go now?"
"Probably in the fairly near future, I think that we should replace the Enterprise with a purpose-built craft. This could mean that we have room for a bigger crew so that our explorations could be more fruitful. It would also leave the Enterprise for experimental development work. James, one theoretical approach that needs to be explored is that of ultra light-speed communications. Radio is just too slow and has too limited a range. Susan, what do you think?"
"I agree Bill. There are just two things that come to mind now. How are we going to pay for it all and secondly, how about getting some smaller craft to be carried by the main one? Like the Shuttle Craft in Star Trek. They would enable a much wider exploration to be carried out. Oh! There's another thing I thought about. Should we consider having a separate accommodation to use as a quarantine area or sick bay if it's needed?"
"Those are both sound ideas. We need more, many more before we design the successor to the Enterprise. How about we invite a group of people to a conference to explore further ideas. In the meantime are there any developments to be considered to improve on the drive."
"There are a couple of things I've discussed with James which might improve drive efficiency."
"Good. Has anyone anything else in mind. Yes, Benson, what is it?"
"I vaguely remember something about a means of communicating faster than light. Can Professor Burton explain?"
"Yes, Benson," James said. "There's a supposition that superluminal communications are possible. I think that four possible theories have been proposed, although I have not gone into any of them. Perhaps I should."
"Good. That should keep James busy. Yes, Steve."
"I thought perhaps I should mention the possibility of going public. Before we're very much older we're going to need more money than I can raise. What do other people think?"
I raised my hand to indicate to the others that I would reply.
"It seems to me that we need more coverage before we go public. I think we shan't want too much in the way of funds until we firm up the design for the next spacecraft. If we wait till then we shall get a much better response."
"That sounds good to me," replied Steve.
I looked at Lieutenant Groves.
"Charles. Is there going to be any problem in keeping you and your crew?"
"No, in fact, I think you may have trouble in getting rid of us. The Pentagon will almost certainly want to start a Space Service. Who better to staff it than the Marines with the experience of deep space?"
That more or less concluded our meeting. James was waving his arms in the air as he explained something to Susan.
Steve approached me and said, "There's something I need to talk about with you and James."
I called to James. Susan went off to experiment on the prototype drive. Charles Groves and all his men save Benson went into the Enterprise to prepare it for another voyage. Benson, I think, had gone off to the Marine base to discuss some developments to our avionics, or should that be space-ionics.
I led James and Steve into my office.
"Now, what is it, Steve?"
"There's something I want to tell you. Adam told me yesterday that the Executive can order the Patent Office to sit on an application, if it's thought that National Security would be compromised by full publication, they could publish the Patent without giving any of the usual constructional details. He thinks that this application might go that way. Do you two think that it would be reasonable or do you think we should publish and be damned while we still can?"
James said, "Steve, have you come across this sort of thing before?"
"Not personally, but I've heard about other instances. It can put a severe crimp in the profitability of any device."
"I wasn't thinking about the money, Steve, although it would be nice. I was thinking more about a trip to Stockholm."
"I think that trip may have to be postponed. What do you think, Bill?"