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Mars scratchpad

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    Mars scratchpad

    As I revise the course plots against satellite positions, I realize that the music has stopped. I wonder how long I was drifting like that. Maybe keeping the playlists to an hour or less was a good idea. Time to reach for the bladder and have a bit more cola before running the plots again. Just to be sure. I liked to have a dozen plots. It gave me a shitload of cross points, options for how to get through space without hitting anything AND being able to see something cool along the way. This shift would be the usual shit. But, in 23 shifts, we’d be really close to an asteroid that hadn’t been fully mapped and certainly has never been scanned. It would be 7 more shifts beyond that when I went back into long sleep. After that, I’d go back on shift 10 sols before red world orbit. It would be good to have an additional navigation submission on my flight record.

    Truth be known, I wanted the red world to be my last flight. I was bound for Mars because I believed Hawkings when he said humanity needed a lifeboat. And I wanted my family on that lifeboat. Even if I didn’t have a family yet. It was a gamble, I was not guaranteed a wife. This wasn’t the fucking 19th century. By the numbers a full 10% of us were unlikely to have genes going into another generation. That’s just how it is with human relationships. Some people just can’t make them work. I hedged my bet as well as I could. Being a pilot is a status symbol. All I have to do is survive the landing with my human cargo intact and I’d be a hero. Wall to wall pussy for months, maybe years. Everybody knew the risks. Just waking up for shifts was a hideous reminder of our ultimate mortality.

    I have 3 crewmates that I never see on this shift. There are 9 of us on 3 shifts for 50 Martian sols, and we barely interact because of the workload. Thanks to a fat bribe to my recruiter, I went to pilot training. I knew how to fly on the homeworld already. Propeller planes for the most part, but a couple of jets and a rocket racer during my mid-life crisis. Or was it my second mid-life crisis? Like it matters. I wasn’t changing filters, doing PMs or health checks on the cargo. I sat on my lighter ass and kept the cruiser on point. When the 10 sol mark was passed, we would have 3 shift sets, 27 people awake and getting ready for orbit. And then landing.

    We had backup systems for the landing. The most important was the ground crew on Mars. They would have to get to the escape pods fast if the landing went bad. So they made a circle around the proposed landing area in layers out to 50 km. Even in rough terrain they’d be able to get to any given pod within a few hours. The pods could keep someone alive for days. The pod plan was well rehearsed and had already been necessary on the 5th flight. We were flight number 61. Nobody liked to think about pods because of the odds. Some would surely fail in any number of horrible ways. Releasing too early meant a quick, fireball death before you woke up. Releasing way the fuck off course could have you living out your last days in a subsurface fissure, well away from transponder reception.

    Keeping the landing craft in one piece was the priority. It didn’t matter that most landed just fine. ANY possible error was tested. But then, the test techs, weren’t here. We had drag chutes and balloons. But we all preferred to trust the thrust. It reminded me of my uncles, both were sailors. When they got their own boats, there was a divide in philosophy. Uncle Billy was a purist who believed in sailing, with sails. Uncle Jerry, wanted engines so he could get the hell out when he needed to. There’s something to be said about trusting engines with thousands of miles of dormant time in space on them, over parachutes expected to grasp a 1% atmosphere. Balloons were only 11% more efficient than chutes, but suffered from deployment imbalances. Even after more than a hundred cargo drops. Thrusters, Chutes or Balloons. TCB, Takin Care of Business, thank you very much.
    Last edited by WritersPanic; 12-12-2020, 01:20 AM.

    With such a limited population the crime of murder can’t be tolerated. In later times, this statute came to include anyone who caused permanent sterility in another human. Punishment was simple, you went to prison and worked, slept and ate chained to a machine to pay for the raising of your offspring, unknown to you with a minimum of 3 produced by insemination, to the point they could contribute to society. Then you are executed and converted to fuel.

    In one sequence, a security system detects an intruder and immediately encircles him in light. When the intruder makes a run for it, the system fires a beam weapon that tracks him with each shot and disassembles his body with infrared laser beams as it rolls down the hill. Only the head remains intact, with a very stupid expression.

    Birth defects:
    Every citizen of the red world must reach specific productivity goals to justify the air they breathe and the water they drink. When a child is born with a substantial defect, it is terminated with no discussion by the physician. Parents accept this and are allowed to examine the delivery if desired. If the same pair produces repeated defects, the two will be isolated for attempts with surrogate reproduction so the defect source may be effectively isolated. Any citizen with predictable patterns is sterilized and will receive state subsistence and care during final years unless other family is willing to inherit them.

    As I stepped through the locker I could feel my suit contract as the chill hit it. I stepped out of the shade and it relaxed in the sunlight. The sky was not as hazy, more white pink I guess. Marilyn retracted her panels as I approached her clear cover. I still have to beat the dust off the seat. Even though she’s a vintage methane bike, adding an atmospheric processor and the retractable solar array means I don’t buy fuel. She makes more O2 than I need, so I can go further than Grandslappy could dream of. I could get to any province without hitting a dome, unless I got hungry. If I ever do run her out I still have ten kilometers on battery. I think I bought methane three times last year.


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