“I don’t expect you to do much during the launch. Annee and Mentor can cover it if something goes wrong. However, I will expect you to come up to speed with traversing and hub manoeuvres. We’ll have plenty of time to do some simulations after we are free of Earth,” Dukk said as they stood at the back of the cockpit.
“Where will I sit?” replied Marr.
“Your place will be in the co-pilot seat. I’d like Annee in her usual seat in the second row. And mentor in the other seat in that row. The second row is preconfigured for external comms and med systems. That will be where she needs to focus. And, I can transfer flight controls to any other console if needed. Climb in there.”
Marr climbed into the co-pilot seat on the right of the cockpit. Dukk followed her into his seat on the left.
“So, where do we start?” Marr asked as she hovered her hands over the console, bringing it to life.
“You tell me. What is our first step?”
“Ok, so let me think.”
After a moment Marr continued, “Earth flight control will transfer the launch plan to the autopilot once we are cleared for launch. Those instructions will get us into orbit and ensure we avoid any local traffic and obstacles. It will take between twenty and thirty minutes after leaving the pad. Once we are in orbit, we’ll continue to gain height gradually. During this time the DMD will do the complex calculations and then start the countdown to the traverse. That could take up to twelve hours. So, back to your question. Our first step in the flight planning is to put in our first traverse waypoint?”
“Precisely. Though, first let me check your understanding. Why does it take so long after clearing atmosphere before we make the first traverse?”
“There are many factors to take into account. It takes time to reach the right orbit of both our starting place and ending place. Also the DMD needs to ensure we enter and exit the space between space free of any interference. Not forgetting that activating the DMD disrupts the space around it, even if ever so slightly. So, it is best done well clear of other things.”
“Excellent. By interference you mean?”
“Celestial objects, rocks and other craft. Not to mention gravitational flows. And, of course, solar flares.”
“Very good, what happens after the traverse?”
“The traverse takes the rig from safe orbit of one planet like the Earth, to the safe orbit of another planet in the target system. In the new system, a similar process takes place in order to traverse again”.
“Right, and after that?”
“It depends on the destination. We might do a few traverses before having to refuel and resupply at a hub. Then it might be a few more traverses before we reach the destination.”
“Correct. And how long does all this typically take?”
“Each traverse while happening in an instant, will take up to twelve further hours of calculations and orbit adjustments. The stay at the hub is typically twenty four hours to allow for some downtime, and with orbit adjustments and avoiding traffic, the elapse time could be two days. And also when we reach our destination, re-establishing safe orbit and landing takes time too, perhaps a day.”
“Very thorough. We’d be in good hands if something happened to me.”
“So, if our destination is a local system, and we will have six traverses each side of a hub stop, and we’ll also factor in two half days along the way for more thorough inspection and repairs, what’s our ETA?”
“Perhaps eight to nine days?”
“Very good. Now let’s put the draft flight plan into the nav. I am sharing the flight plan on your console. Use the galaxy navigator to check my entries,” Dukk instructed.
Dukk opened up his console, checked his notes and started entering the waypoints.
“First waypoint is Teegarden.”
“3.8 parsecs,” Marr blurted.
“Exactly, now I’ll callout what I’ve entered and you verify that I’ve entered it correctly,” Dukk shared as he smiled to himself.
“She is good. She had found her way around the apps with speed and agility,” he thought to himself.
“The Second waypoint is JR18, 7 parsecs.”
“Check. Doesn’t look like there is much there other than the red dwarf and the odd exoplanet in the hot zone?”
“No, it’s just got an active relay.”
“The relay is a message delivery system. It uses a DMD. Periodically it traverses to and from a neighbouring system. It uploads the messages to another relay and thus messages can move through the galaxy. It is crucial for the flow of information out here and also for getting assistance if needed.”
“The third waypoint, and the potential place for the intermediary inspection, is JK56, 6.2 parsecs.”
“Check. It says the view of the exoplanet from this orbit is spectacular.”
“It is indeed.”
“You said ‘intermediary inspection’, what does that mean?”
“It is good practice to get outside and inspect the exterior after every two or three traverses. Also some systems need to be taken offline briefly to be checked properly. And breakages and damage is the normal run of things out there. So we want to make sure we have time. For that we stay in orbit at that waypoint for an extra 12 hours or so.”
“Next we have JR72, 3.1 parsecs.”
“Next is Maple 12, 8 parsecs.”
“Our hub on this outward journey is a space port orbiting the Maple Tower red dwarf. 2.5 parsecs from Maple 12.”
“Check. The entry has a warning about pirates?”
“Yes, hubs mostly do have warnings about pirates. The broker has put in a good word with the port commissioner. We should be fine.”
“Our next waypoint after Maple Tower is Maple 15, 3.2 parsecs,” Dukk continued.
“Maple 18, 3.2 parsecs again.”
“From there to the next regroup stop Finch 2, 11 parsecs.”
“Finch 12 after that, 4.2 parsecs.”
“Then we have WZR22 in the outer regions of the Atesoughton cluster, 6 parsecs.”
“Check. Atesoughton? Any connection to the family?”
“Yes, the very same. Not uncommon for an elite family to name a cluster after themselves. It isn’t really a cluster under astronomical definition, but at least it helps them justify their colonisation of the systems they define within the region,” Dukk shared without thinking.
“After WZR22, we have a final traverse into the Mayfield system. 3.2 parsecs.”
“Then it is orbit and landing.”
“Sounds like a walk in the park!”
“I like your thinking.”
At that moment a light started flashing on the large doors to the load clearance area. Dukk’s comms sounded. It was the Operator.
“Go ahead,” Dukk answered.
“Your load, components and supplies are now cleared. You can commence loading. Standing by,” came the reply.
“Thank you,” Dukk replied as he disconnected the call.
“Perfect timing,” Dukk shared with Marr.
“The supplies and load has been cleared, Annee and Mentor, will you meet us at the door. Anyone got eyes on the observers?” Dukk said into the crew comms.
“Excellent timing. The observers are with us. On our way,” Annee replied.
(to be continued...)
[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 9 - Loading (Passage 3 of 5)]
All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2021 BJ Allen
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Chapter 1 - A routine descent
Chapter 2 - Perspective
Chapter 3 - Grounding
Chapter 4 - Cause and effect
Chapter 5 - The first meeting
Chapter 6 - Staying goodbye
Chapter 7- Instability
Chapter 8 - Orientation
Rule of Twelve, Double Take - Ch15 (Passage 5/5)
“Hi,” came Luna’s voice as she bounced into the suit locker.
Dukk turned around.
“Are you alright? You are all flushed?”
“Yes, I am fine. I was practicing some yoga in zero-G. I lost track of time. Quite challenging and not what I expected.” Luna replied.
“Yoga?” Marr mouthed silently at Luna from behind Dukk.
Luna smiled cheekily.
Marr held her hands up and looked away as if to say ‘I don't want to know’.
Dukk laughed. He’d been an apprentice too once. He knew what was on his mind the first time he was in zero-g. And, he could tell an intentional lie.
“Are you sure you want to try this now? I can go alone and you can get back to your ‘yoga’?” Dukk asked in gest emphasising the last word.
“Nope, I’m good. Let’s do this.”
Thirty five minutes later, Luna stood at the port outer doorway. She was in awe.
Dukk and Luna had completed the same process Bazzer and Marr had done earlier. Marr, with ...
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