Mars or Bust!
Chapter 9: Wannabee Motor Homes
Copyright© 2021 by GT Dodge
I know all about that now. Wannabee Motor Homes hired me away from the Foundation with a raise and a title! Sharmaine Lincoln, Coordinating Producer: Project Habitat! At first, I sold sponsorships (you got it: bumper sticker space and choice visibility for corporate logos. Johnny provided the bumper stickers and logo decals from le Foundation.)
But then I wondered what there is to do? What can you see from inside the Habitat for four weeks? Star-gazing! I was the one who dreamed up mailing out the constellation charts to the kids. We already had lists of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Johnny told me all about custom printing. The star guides looked just like the ones I found at the planetarium but they had to be custom printed, what with the Wannabee Motor Homes logo placed strategically on the margin. Johnny even knew someone who could do it cheap and fast.
Overnight success on that project got me my own office. With a door! Behind that door I finished my second project, taste testing samples of durable shelf life food. I personally vetoed the Cajun line. Onions give Linc heartburn and gas.
I was the one who brought the PerpetualSnacks brand name on board. It was more or less an accident but Johnny wouldn’t take the credit. See, the bigwigs planned this big ceremony to unveil the Habitat Mockup and the new Wannabee Planet Master (tm) RV line and Johnny said if PerpetualSnacks wanted real name brand recognition then they should send around a truck full of goodies. He’s always looking for a free lunch.
Anyway, the Habitat is BIG. Big enough to hold a PerpetualSnacks delivery truck and then some. Instead, Johnny and the truck driver jockeyed the truck to just in front – like they were making a delivery. The truck driver stood just like they told him with an overloaded hand truck, every box right-side up so you could read PerpetualSnacks. Big smile. All the bigwigs liked the pics where he’d got tired of smiling, they said he looked like he meant business. I picked the one where his mouth had dropped open at the size of the Habitat. That’s what you pay a Co-Producer for.
Yes, the Habitat dwarfed the PerpetualSnacks truck. You’ve heard that the Habitat collapses so they can launch it into space? That’s not quite true. An umbrella collapses. The Habitat folds, some. Two accordion joints let it shrink to about half its overall length. China (the big one) contracted to launch it in one piece. See, if it doesn’t come in pieces small enough to fit inside the revamped Space Shuttle, NASA can’t touch it. And all the privates, up ‘til then, had doors sized to match the Shuttle.
But China (the big one) has big plans. Their satellite worlds, Shield Moons, will hold a million people, each. Zing explained to me this way, “We can’t have a tube one person wide from our JumpTruck into the Shield Moon. We can’t line them up and send them thru one at a time. The ones at the back of the line would starve to death.
“A thousand thousand people crossing in one umbilical pushing 1000 people across in one minute would take 17 hours. Do the same crossing in ten umbilicals: less than 2 hours. Even at that, lots of radiation. Sure, each volunteer, one minute’s exposure.
“But in harsh honesty, one cosmonaut endures as much cosmic radiation in one week on any of the MIRs as they would have experienced in one year on the launch slopes on Khan Tengri. Or 30 years in Beijing.
“The secret is time spent unprotected in cosmic radiation. There is no personal protection from gamma rays or from galactic-speed nuclei. We expect to lift 10,000 volunteers with minimal, MIR-level, shielding direct to docking at the Shield Moon where the umbilical drops them inside the outermost shielded level. Earth sea-level shielding.” That’s what their literature says.
“Our colonists will walk in through the front door with fewer than 10 hours radiation exposure,” Zing continued, proudly. “The umbilical will be a meter long and seal the JumpTruck directly to the Satellite. They will move inward to their homes, by the nature of the ship, each level inward provides additional shielding. Women and girls will remain in the inner levels.
“Men will –” I lost it. Everyone had seen the lead codpieces. Olgu lost it!
Losing it again, right now!
Where was I?
Forget the lead codpieces.
China had a prototype JumpTruck. It wouldn’t hold the Habitat. But, think outside the box Sharmaine! The Habitat is its own JumpTruck.
Launch was rocket-free. China had built a series of energizing stages up the side of Khan Tengri, the third tallest mountain in China. (Something about the tallest mountain inside mainland China. The other sites were too close to a border with unfriendly states.) The secret was that each stage can propel any load that will fit inside its scope. The propelling energy moves the gestalt of the load. Which sounds highly technical but is really the opposite: It means that each stage grabs all of the load at the molecular level and throws it to the next stage. (Without telling us just how the load is grabbed. Gestalt means ‘the idea of the thing’, dontcha know. So, in plain English, ‘The propelling energy grabs the idea of whatever is passed to it.’ Magic.) I only talk technical, not magic! Whoever designed those energizing stages took an entire education through post-graduate just to talk ‘energizing stages’ technical talk. To walk the ‘energizing stages’ walk, they began with traps in the fabric of the molecular surfaces which gave them a real-time edge on which to apply force. Trust me from here on out, there be dragons because the logic falls off the edge of the world.
Think of it as magic. Enough magic to fling the Habitat faster and faster from stage to stage to the top of the mountain and into Low Earth Orbit. Where it can be teased and pulled to the top of a massive array of nuclear rockets.
Olgu was waiting for that line. Breaking in, Olgu asked, “Nuclear rockets? Aren’t they outlawed by the U.N.?”
I knew she got a reasonable answer to this when she interviewed Zing. Why she put my reply into the Special is anybody’s guess.
“Well, yes and no. The United Nations got it right, radioactive exhaust cannot be permitted on Earth. Or on the moon. But, so long as the exhaust does not point at Earth or Luna, the U.N. really has no say.
“Transport solved. The ring of rockets blasts the Habitat to Mars. A four week burn headed up, towards where Mars is gonna be in four weeks. Flip so the rockets point away from the starting point. Then the four week burn down. Mars orbit achieved!”
What else could I tell the people at home about my job?