downtoearthCh.4

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As Science Fiction adventures


"It's Down to Earth" 

By James E. D. Cline


Chapter 4


Entering the still unused Mars Project's lab, they found it was mostly a group of workstations and stacks of materials, a facility that had been prepared but never put to use. Desks and computers never set up and put to use; chairs never sat upon. It had been intended for a project to put a self-sustaining colony on Mars, using the mammoth spacecraft assembly facilities here at the high spaceports in GEO, an adventure impossible in scale if considered only being launched from the Earth's surface. Constructing and launching from GEO, instead of a handful of people heading to Mars in a ground-launched system barely waystationed in LEO, this project built and launched already high up in GEO would have put a thousand person rotating space station into Mars orbit, and 300 more people living on the surface itself, enough to do what would be needed for probable survival there long term, no matter what. It was partly conceived as a project to keep the people of the Clarke Belt City Ring busy doing, during the many years wait while the environmental engineers finished the jump-start of earth's ecosystem, as well as bring Mars into useful linkage with human civilization's expansion. Even after the majority of the 7 billion people in the Clarke Belt Cities returned down to their homes in the jump-started and re-grown newly thriving earth surface ecosystem, there would always be many who would choose to stay up here in orbit, and some of them would have continued to support the Mars Project. But of course, all those dreams were stopped when the sudden takeover of the earth was done by the greedy elitist pirates. From then on, no resources could be used up here except those for direct long term survival. Thoughts of going to Mars quickly faded from peoples' attention. 


Now some of the technology for that adventure was needed to return to the Earth surface, instead of that of Mars. 


The Mars atmospheric entry system would have used a heat shield for most of the descent energy dissipation; then a winged vehicle would unfold to finish the journey to the Mars surface, an aircraft useful for other travels later. Its huge unfurled wings, needed at first landing to support the heavy cargo, would later be useful for efficient exploration in the thin atmosphere around the planet. The wings could be furled back in, like a bird does, to hunker down in the severe Mars windstorm times. The use of the technology now would not need to have wings that would close back up; but would still need a winged craft for the final landing in Malasia; and the winged craft would likely be needed again later during the capture of the thin KESTS and somehow get it into the ground terminal. The plan was developing in their minds, sometimes retracing steps, but becoming more confident when finding they had come back to an earlier conclusion, multiple paths coming to the same conclusions.


Their first efforts in the Mars Project lab was to bring all of it into the Holoterminal consciousness system. From then on, they would need to go to the lab physically only for some of the construction tasks to build the actual vehicle. Much of the manufacturing and assembly of the Mars Project vehicles and ground equipment had been intended to be done robotically, as were most of the Cities built up here; and so surely the design could be altered to do an earthward descent, yet still be built robotically by the Mars Project's lab, being guided through the Holoterminal located at home, thousands of miles around the GEO orbital perimeter from the lab. So, several days were spent applying the unique HoloPaint to the parts of the lab which had not been pre-built with the Paint as part of it. Then, the local Holoterminal was activated, and they merged their consciousness with the vast knowledge base of the Mars Project designers, as well as with all the equipment and materials of the lab and manufacturing facilities. Since the Paint was an Omnipresence unifying substance, from a Holoterminal even the performance of equipment landing on Mars could be felt as if there themselves in minute detail. It would work just as well during the adventure of creating a new KESTS linking them with the earth's surface.


First they were going to have a test lander built, and learn from experiencing what it does in an initial attempt to land in Malasia. A pair of lenses focused on apair of HoloPainted surfaces effectively formed a stereo remote camera, so they would be able to watch the landing, and then the surrounding terrain once down. Their plans got more vague beyond that, awaiting some reality-testing's data. 


Preparation done in the lab, it now up and running semi-autonomously, they headed for the local City's hub, where they entered an inter-city capsule, locked it onto one of the cables that ever rotated around the Clarke Belt, going past every City's hub. It did not go very fast, and so the vehicles all were sleepers with food facilities, and soon they were fed and snuggled together in sleep as the cable towed them around the perimeter of the Clarke Belt City Ring, thousands of miles to go before reaching their newly adopted home City.


Go to Ch.5

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