A Message Home
A Message Home
When we were setting off on this one-way trip, I asked Al about why she was laughing over the flight manual. I mean, flight manuals are not exactly a prime source of comic relief, are they? And one for a one-way trip to Proxima is even shorter on punch-lines. Well, on ones that are not made up of ‘And then you die.’
So I got her to explain. I still don’t get it, so maybe one of you folks back home can tell me what was so damn funny that she still laughs when we get a boost from the laser.
As you all know, this is a solar sail ship, because accelerating fuel just takes more fuel. so we left it all behind. Instead, we got ourselves a really big fuel-tank: The Sun. Only the Sun’s usefulness drops off really fast - the old distance/square rule really sucks that way.
So we built a collector and solar-pumped laser system just like that old SF story had. You do it right, and it works really well. Only problem is that it costs a lot of energy to get to the laser system, and you need a short reaction time to fix things. Which means a crew. But you don’t want too many people there, because then you have to ship them, and supplies for all of them, which takes a lot of fuel - you get the idea.
Instead, they decided it would be like a lighthouse. Only one man, but they put it into an orbit so that he could take breaks, which is why we get a boost every couple of days. He gets to go home - although it is a five-year shift. Which is a bit sucky, but better than we get.
He also gets entertainment channels beamed to him on his downtimes, so it is not so bad, really.
Of course he cannot be everywhere and do everything, so he has a bunch of robots to do all the actual work.
And that is where Al lost it. All she ever says is that she wonders how bad the entertainment channels are, and if Mission Control keep track of his mental state on the Solar Orbiting Laser.
So, Sirs, what do you think?