Ch 13 Mars and Beyond

An auditorium on Frontier
Connected to the Lawrence House at the Macphater Retreat
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Wednesday, September 15, 1999

Sol and Mei-lei White had ridden to Townsville with NASA Astronauts Jerome and Gloria Schmitt on one of the new shuttle spacecraft.  The technology that the Glazen and Swizz had supplied had advanced the space program beyond the constraint of rockets.  The Whites had gotten a look at the work going on at the International Space Station as they dropped off a cargo load and a construction team for the expansion going on there.  On the return trip, they would have cargo from Macphater Mining Equipment.  The four Americans were the only ones that had travelled to attend the meeting.

John Harvey looked at the diverse group that had gathered to discuss the first expedition to Mars.  Members of all four races from the first three Australian action teams made up the bulk of the attendees.  Except for the two NASA astronauts, the rest were mostly former members of the teams that had chosen to leave the exploring and possible combat to the younger family members.  That was what the three teams had become, a big family that even included the Glazen, Swizz, and especially the Kin.  “Jerome and Gloria, do you have any problem if we conduct the meeting using mental communication?”

“No, in fact we were looking forward to participating in a meeting with all four species.  We have spoken individually to members of each species but not all four together.”  Gloria Schmitt’s smile reflected her feelings about working with the others.

“I am looking forward to working directly with the Teams.  Rob, the help you and your boys gave us in clearing the junk out of near earth orbit and repositioning satellites was a tremendous boost to our work in space.”  Jerome Schmitt had piloted one of the three shuttles that had been used for the housekeeping around the planet.

#####

AU Team Coverage – September 12, 1999 – Viola and Karl Keufer
NASA astronauts along with crewmembers from Russia and ESA, flying three of the new space shuttles, cleared NEO (Near Earth Orbit) of debris and dead satellites.  Additionally eleven satellites were repositioned in orbit and three were brought back to Earth for repair.  This work is in preparation for the newly planned expansion of the International Space Station (ISS) and the construction of space ship yards to build the spacecraft that are needed to defend Earth from the Qoof and the Nartak.  This work will be undertaken by a truly international effort to develop Earth space industry. 
 
The construction of the new space shuttles is an example of the expanded international involvement in the space industry.  Seventeen countries with aircraft manufacturing capabilities had committed to building the new space shuttles.  NASA has supplied full documentation on the new space shuttle’s design that is based on the Glazen shuttle.  Modification of the Glazen design was led by A&B Engineering of Queensland, Australia.  The new design makes use of existing Earth technology except in a few critical areas.  Re-entry protection from heat is provided by a Swizz spray on coating that is being produced by Corning.  Replacing the Glazen propulsion system is the Stanley propulsion unit, which combines Glazen and Swizz technology.  Power is provide by AJ Power Generators.  Air scrubbers are modified from NASA space shuttle and US Navy submarine designs.
 
Locating the space debris and satellites and providing navigation directions to them was performed by Rob, Jerome and Eric Reynolds of the AU-1 Action Team.  …

#####

Rob smiled.  More than the three of them had participated in the effort but they had been the front men.  All of the members of the three teams including the apprentices and students no matter which species had lent a hand.  The work had been used as a training exercise with Eric and Jerome double-checking the sensing of locations of the satellites and junk.

Would you start off in giving us a status on the US shuttle construction program?  The availability of sufficient  shuttles to allow us to take at least a dozen of them for a couple of weeks on the Mars expedition without causing a major impact on the space construction program is what determines when we will go to Mars .  John Harvey restated the question that had been asked of NASA.

Well our shortage is in trained crew.  Building the shuttles has actually turned out to be faster than training flight crews.  The design is straightforward and we have over a dozen countries building shuttles.  Per President’s Clarke’s orders, NASA is to free up a dozen shuttles for the Mars Expedition.  You are to be supplying the details on the expedition at this meeting.  Jerome Schmitt was curious about what the plans were.

Actually, we will need fifteen shuttles from NASA to go with the ten that Australia and the six that Britain will be supplying.  We have just got funding to set up a permanent base on Mars.  Claire passes on the message that her father had sent her just before the meeting.  Five shuttles will remain on Mars to support the base.  Three from NASA and one each from Australia and Britain.  We will need an extra couple of weeks to get the base personal trained and two more cargo trailers built and supplied.

A base on Mars!  Gloria Schmitt was surprised at the addition.  How does a base on Mars help with the spacecraft development that is necessary to defend ourselves?
 
We will need to mine the asteroids.  Mars will often be the closest R&R spot.  Eventually we will move the major orbital fabrication facilities there.  Willy explained why the base was the start to a more extensive development on Mars.  It will be safer to have the in-orbit spacecraft construction there so that if it is attacked, we don’t have debris falling down to Earth.
 
Of course, that isn’t the main reason for the Mars Expedition at this time.  Alyca explained.  We already have Teams checking out worlds adjacent to Earth.  We plan to set up windows on Mars to visit planets adjacent to Mars.  With the information that we learn, Marie will have data that will help with further improvements to the Adjacent World Theory.

Of course, we will also have additional planets that we can use in the conflict with the Nartak and Qoof.
Robert adds.  O-dof says that one of the Glazen star systems has a planet with an orbit similar to Mars.  We may have a quicker way to make contact with them.

The Schmitt’s were as much surprised at the Team leads very active participation as by the scope of the plans behind the Mars Expedition.  They had expected Doctor White and John Harvey Lawrence to explain things to them.  The Team leads very active participation was to be expected from everything they had heard about them but not such a major part of the briefing.  The idea of developing Mars was something that had been discussed since before man’s first step into space, but what was a cargo trailer?  What is a cargo trailer?
 
 You don’t need to carry everything in space inside a shuttle.  With AJ Power Generators, you have essentially unlimited power.  The Stanley propulsion modules that we are using are simple to make and can be ganged together for anything from an air scooter to the major spacecraft we plan to build.  Yes, the bigger spacecraft will use larger propulsion modules but for the cargo trailer we just used more of the modules that we use on the shuttles.  We just modified the control program to take into consideration the cargo trailer.  The test flight Tuesday had no problems so we need to assemble two more cargo trailers and check them out.  Alyca presentation left the Schmitt’s with their mouths hanging open.
 
We will be taking a new spacecraft design that was just checked out on Tuesday to Mars in a couple of weeks.  How long did it take you to design the cargo trailer?  How did you assemble a team to do such a major design?  Who reviewed the design?  Jerome Schmitt had been consulted in the design of the shuttles, which hadn’t been much more than changing the Glazen design into something that could be build with current Human technology.

Jess laughed.  Alyca has never worked the way that NASA and most major companies do.  She started learning design helping me around the shop.  Soon, I was able to give her part of a job and let her do the design and prototyping.  She was about twelve at the time.  After the first half dozen jobs, I only reviewed the design before she built the prototypes.  The last few years, my reviews just allowed me to learn the new ideas that she had incorporated in her projects.  Since she met Bruce, there is a Life-Mate team instead of an individual to develop the designs.  My review of the cargo trailer, found nothing that needed changing and only a few ideas of possible improvements.  Of those, only one was something they had not considered, but I did get to add something to the design.  As to how long the design took, it was about three days, but much of that was everyone having an input in the design requirements.  Alyca and Bruce probably started on the design as soon as we decided that we needed a means to haul around large volumes of cargo well before we have a spacecraft with large cargo capacity since the estimates for that design is over a year for the first new spacecraft design.

We actually started considering what we could do when the idea first came up, but it was well down on the list of things to do.  Bruce added.  The next question that you are going to ask is how we get a shuttle with a cargo trailer into space.  Elevator mode.  I know you like the fact that the shuttle can do Mach 4.5 in atmosphere to get into space, but you do not have to go that fast to get into space.  Going straight up with the propulsion system we have is no problem whether you go mach 4.5 or 30 miles per hour.  Going straight up at thirty miles per hour gets you into space in less than an hour and you have a wonderful view to enjoy as you do it.  You also don’t have all the same worries about airspace control that you have at the faster speeds.
 
So we over designed the shuttle?
 
No, it is great for moving people and a limited amount of cargo around in space but you don’t need to use its acceleration or speed to get clear of Earth.  The construction crews that you take back and forth to the space construction area don’t want a long ride time twice a day so the shuttles are what you need.  For cargo, you don’t have that much of a reason to go supersonic in atmosphere.  Going subsonic straight up will get you into space in a few minutes and then you can go at high speed in space.
 
Bruce’s explanation stunned Jerome Schmitt, but Gloria saw the personal significance.  I don’t have to give up space when I get pregnant.
 
I would hope not, I intent to go on the Mars expedition.  Alyca announcement of her pregnancy interrupts the meeting as the family surrounds her and Bruce and offers their congratulations.

Nancy Tohe went over to where Kim and Rob Reynolds are staring into each other’s eyes and having an intense mental conversation.  “Kim and Rob”

The verbal interruption was unexpected.  They hadn’t noticed Nancy before she spoke.  “Conceived on Mars is the choice you want.  I saw you conversing and had another hunch.  The twins this time will be a boy and a girl.”

Kim and Rob break into smiles and their faces turn red even though they knew that Nancy and her life- mates hadn’t read their thoughts since they were conversing under their best thought shield.  “Thanks”   They both said.

No, we did not listen into your thoughts.  We would not want to bring our Kin bond mates into your private discussion.  Nancy thought to herself.  Her smile grew as she turned around to rejoin her Life-Mates.

Did she just read our minds or was that part of her hunch.  Rob asked Kim.

Well, we made no secret that we wanted more kids.  It was not that far to go to figure out what we were discussing after Alyca’s announcement.  That combined with her hunch ability, could account for it except for the smile as she turned away. 

Marie had overheard what Nancy had said to her sister and brother-in-law, but she had been in a better location to see Nancy’s face.  She is looking forward to when she would have children with Robert.  Probably she also is looking forward to when Claire has Robert’s children.  They are a triple and not a couple and they have grown very comfortable together.  John, get the meeting back on track.
 
Jerome, when do you think that NASA can have fifteen shuttles available including three that will stay at Mars?  John Harvey had also heard what Nancy said.  He and Marie would have a long talk later about their plans for more children.

Get us a cargo trailer in two weeks and we could free up the shuttles at that time.  I know that most of the flight crews would be fighting for the chance to go.  We will need extra crews since we will be operating continually for weeks.  Finding the qualified crews may be a problem.  Can I assume that Gloria and I would be going?
 
Of course the two of you will be going.  John Harvey could see how NASA might have problems with who would not be going.  As to the other crews, we want you to assign a second flight crew to each shuttle but we will also be assigning a squad from one of these three Action Teams to most of the shuttles.  That would be the human Life-Mates, apprentices and students and their Kin partners for most of the squads, but for the lead squads that also includes Glazen and Swizz Life-Mates in the Australian shuttles.
 
Don’t forget our embedded reporters.  We have eight reporters that will be traveling with us but they will be with the lead squads and squad AU-2F.  Bruce Jensen reminds John Harvey.
 
You are sending all three teams.  Jerome Schmitt wondered what they were expecting to run into since he had heard all the stories about the work that the teams had been doing.  Most of the time, they had operated in small groups.
 
To Robert and his two Life-Mates, Jerome’s unvoiced question in his thoughts was as plain as if he had spoken it aloud.  We do not know what we will find.  When we open the window to the other worlds adjacent to Mars, we may run into anything.  The main reason though is this will also be an extended training mission for us.  On the flight out, we would like the qualified flight crews to train the Life-Mates in each squad in operating a shuttle.  We will also be setting up some training exercises.  This will include rescue, repair, construction, and space combat.  Everyone will be involved.

But we will be travelling at very high speeds.  Gloria could not imagine doing the training at the speeds that they would be travelling.

We will use an acceleration of about ten G with the internal compensators set for one G of apparent gravity, which will get us to Mars in less than two days even with the training.  Our speed is relative so it is not of consequence.  When we train, we will stop our acceleration toward Mars and perform the training exercise then we will continue.  Marie had enjoyed figuring out the calculations for recalculating possible flight paths during the trip.  She also had her two Life-Mate pairs of apprentices to do the work independently.  It would be a good training exercise especially having Sherry and Jane go over Sheila and Tom’s calculation with them.  Teaching was the best way to really learn a subject.

Internal compensators set for one G!  We don’t have to stay in free fall the entire way.  Gloria was surprised since the shuttles always had the compensators set to cancel all acceleration.

Yes, you can do that if you maintain the acceleration in the up direction relative to the cabin.  If you go making turns and other maneuvers, you want them to be on full.  If you don’t the one G will change direction and someone could get hurt.  Tim and Jo designed the Stanley propulsion units so that they could provide acceleration in any direction.  The compensator is part of the units.  Alyca had not previously assisted anyone in a design except her Uncle Jess.  She was always the one that had others assisting her, but the Stanley’s were NASA’s top propulsion experts so they had been the leads for the design.  The control circuitry will switch back to full compensation if you switch acceleration directions so that you can speedily maneuver when there is a need.  Of course, this is the first production design so we need feedback from any of the astronauts that have any ideas for changes.

Marie saw confusion on the astronauts’ faces.  Alyca hasn’t found anything that she won’t try to improve, but we will try and keep her from making too many changes while we are on the trip.  Marie’s comment changed confusion to concern on their faces.

Mertt, a Swizz mining engineer on AU Team 3, hadn’t read the facial expressions but the Schmitts didn’t have good control over their thoughts, which he and everyone else in the room could read.  Do not fear.  Alyca and Bruce have designed many changes for the Mirrraaattee.  None of the ship engineers found any problems.  They have updated the Mirrraaattee more than we have our spacecrafts in over a hundred of your years.  The designs for our new spacecrafts will be even more advanced.

You are A&B Engineering?  Jerome Schmitt had heard about the new designs coming out of an unknown engineering firm in Queensland.  He had planned to find out more about them while he was here.

No, Alyca and I are just the lead engineers.  Bruce answered.  Everyone on the three teams is contributing.  We are using the work to teach engineering.
 
I think that we will learn a lot on this trip.  Gloria was smiling.  You appear to treat everything as a learning experience.

Claire and Nancy’s Room at the Reynolds’s House
Queensland, Australia, Earth
Thursday, September 23, 1999

The three Life-Mates were studying in the girl’s room.  The door was shut but that was more to keep down the noise of the young children.  Privacy when everyone nearby can sense the area for miles around them was not by physical isolation but by private mental communication.

Rob had been into Townsville to do some work and had just returned.  He came up to the room and knocked on the door, which Robert had already got up to answer.

“Claire, you have a piece of mail from your mother.”  Rob handed the envelope to Robert and went downstairs.

Robert handed the envelope to Claire.

Claire was surprised by the envelope from her mother.  They mentally communicated daily so what had she sent in the large envelope.  When she opened it, there was a note and another envelope addressed to her, Nancy, and Robert.  She read her mother’s note first.

Claire, Nancy and Robert,
 
If you plan to attend, bring Tommy and come for Thanksgiving dinner.
 
Love,
Mom

Attend?  Claire opened the other envelope, which only had her, Nancy and Robert’s name on it.  Inside was a handwritten invitation in three languages, English, Swizz, and Glazen.  At the bottom were four signatures, Jenni Wavi, E-fet, RRiizzaaavv, and Maria.  It was from the vocal group Hand.  They had a concert at the Kennedy Center the day after Thanksgiving.  Hand wanted the three of them to come to the concert and sing a song with them.

Claire remembered when they had met both E-fet and RRiizzaaavv.  The night after meeting the Glazen, they were camped out by the Glazen village.  E-fet had heard them singing around the campfire.  She had asked if she could join them.  They had taught each other several songs.  Rriizzaaavv had been one of the assistants to the cook on the Mirrraaattee.  She had gotten the position more through her singing that what she knew about cooking on a spacecraft.  She had come to their attention as they had toured the spacecraft after it was brought to the British compound on Friendship.  She had been singing while helping to prepare a meal.  They had realized how her voice would complement E-fet.  When they spoke to her about E-fet, she was all excited to meet her.  While they were talking about what could be done to arrange this Nancy had one of her hunches.  She said that Rriizzaaavv and E-fet would join with females of the other three species and form a singing group.  That their songs would help in joining the five species together.  Nancy knew the human woman, Jenni Wavi a friend of her sister Linda, who should join them.  She told them that the Kin who would join the group would hear Rriizzaaavv singing and would make herself known in the next few days.  Maria had arrived a few days later.  She was a roving storyteller who sang when mentally telling her stories.  Within a week, E-fet and Jenni had joined Rriizzaaavv and Maria on Friendship.  They had hit it off immediately.  To most everyone else’s surprise, their voices melded together wonderfully.  When Maria had heard Jenni sing Maria from West Side Story, she had changed her name to Maria.  Why Jenni had felt the need to sing that song had never been explained?  The only reason that anyone could come up with was E-fet when she said that the name fit Maria so well that the change had to be made.

Hand wants us to sing a song with them on stage at the Kennedy Center on the day after Thanksgiving!  Claire tells her Life-Mates.

“Wow!”  Nancy’s excitement matched Claire’s.

We could combine that with a trip to visit Mossly, but we should take the whole squad.  Robert was unsure of singing on stage in front of an audience but he saw how excited the girls were.
They spend almost a half hour discussing what they would do and what arrangement they would have to make.

 
Claire and Nancy’s Room at the Reynolds’s House
Queensland, Australia, Earth
Thursday, October 7, 1999
 
Claire and Nancy were packing their bags for the trip to Mars.  The special equipment for working on Mars had been packed after they practiced using it yesterday.  The clothes for working indoors on the shuttle or one of the building that they were setting up as well as clothes for working on a range of planets from hot to cold and from dry to wet.  The necessary clothing was all packed.  They were now deciding upon which of the more important things to take such as makeup and jewelry.

“Let’s take one dressy dress for each of us.  We may find a Swizz or Glazen world and have a reception to attend.”  Claire tells Nancy.

“It doesn’t hurt to have that covered.”  Nancy switches to mental communication to ensure Robert had clothes to go with what they were taking.  Robert, you should take a suit.

Do you sense a reason to do that?  Robert wonders if Nancy had had one of her hunches.

No, we should just be prepared.
 
It is not that we have tight restrictions on weight.  I will pass on the suggestion.  We want everyone to be prepared.  Robert sends the suggestion.

Liz just reported that the Qoof have launched an attack in the Mossly system.  The watch squad reported twenty-seven spacecraft that they believe are from one of the subservient species.  They have not located any Qoof spacecraft.  They are requesting that we take a look.  Patty Douglas was excited.

They had been expecting attacks on the Clar in the Mossly system and this was the first one since they had set up mental observers.  The west coast Teams squads were taking turns as observers.  Human and Kin working together could cover the entire system but they were not up to what the Australian team could do.

Tell them that we have only time for a short look.  Claire was changing for their trip to Mossly.  They would have to fly to the location of the local window for Mossly so they could crossing over to the planet.

Squads A, B, & C.  Head for your shuttles.  We need to make a short trip to Mossly to observe a Qoof attack.  Nancy sent a personal message to the two housemothers.  Kim & Marie, we will only stay long enough for a short look.  The kids will be back in time to get a full night sleep before they leave.

It will be good for them.  I was afraid that they would not be able to sleep.  Kim replied.

Do you want us to take all of them?  Nancy had wondered how well she would sleep tonight.

Yes, you might want to make it a general call to all three Teams.  Marie saw where the teens as well as the kids could use the short trip to break the tension of the long anticipated trip to Mars.

All squads.  Anyone that wants to come with us is welcome as long as it does not interfere with the preparations for the Mars expedition.  Nancy was not surprised that the parents were willing to get the kids and teens out of the house for a short while.

Mars Exploration Fleet
Synchronous Orbit above Earth
Friday, October 8, 1999
 
It had taken over three weeks to prepare for the voyage after the meeting.  When word had gotten out that a permanent base on Mars was to be set up, everyone wanted to be included.  They had managed to limit who would be going with the first expedition by simply requiring that any country that would have people stationed on Mars had to supply a shuttle to stay at Mars.  The Mars Exploration Fleet had expanded from thirty-one to fifty-three shuttles.  They had to add four more cargo trailers to the fleet and three more to help in moving cargo into earth orbit because of all the shuttles being pulled out of the work around Earth.

The next problem had been who was to be in command of the fleet.  When the other governments had been told that the leads of the three Australian Action Teams would be in command, they had said that someone with more experience needed to be in charge.  Each country had their own candidate.  Claire had solved that problem by asking O-dof if he would come along.  He had been in charge of the Glazen expedition and colony to Kartan so he had the necessary experience and his rank among the Glazen made him at least as high as the ruler of any country.  Of course, he intended to be just a figurehead and advise the team leads.

The two Brazilian shuttles are the last ones.  They are pulling into position with the rear squadron.  Teresa told O-dof.  She had decided to fill the position of O-dof aide, though he had not known that he needed such help.  They had grown quite fond of each other over the past two months.  She enjoyed hearing stories about the Glazen, while he missed having children around.  The Glazen had refrained from reproducing when they found themselves stranded on Kartan.  It had been almost fifty years that they had gone childless.

Teresa, give the order to proceed.  O-dof thoughts were heard by everyone in the fleet.

Squadron 1 may proceed.  The cargo squadron, squadron 6, will follow and maintain a hundred kilometer distance from squadron 1.  Squadrons 2, 3 and 4 will stay with the cargo squadron but stay a hundred kilometers away.  Squadron 5 will be last and stay a hundred kilometers to the rear.

Nancy and Claire were having a hard time keeping from laughing.  O-dof knew as well as Teresa that her orders were unnecessary.  He was just giving Teresa the opportunity to start their adventure.

Teresa.  Robert mind spoke to her but allowed everyone on the shuttle to hear especially the pilots.  You do not have to tell them again about the orders.  Just say ‘You may proceed as per orders.  The pilots all remember them and have the printed copies to which to refer.  You should tell them to report when they have reached their station.  You should not repeat things unnecessarily; it makes your people feel that you do not trust them.  He was not going to have this mess up her training.  She and Jason would have their own team to lead in a few years and he was going to do as good of a job in their training as his dad had for him and his siblings.

Our squadron is at one hundred kilometers.  All squadrons except squadron 5 are now in motion.  Squadron spacing is good.  Jason reported.

Eric, do we have clear space ahead.  He and his twin Jerome had switched squads to be together and with their parents, Kim and Rob, in shuttle 1G.  With them and their Kin companions together, they easily had the ability to monitor space for objects to avoid.  Rob was monitoring them to see that they did not get distracted.  They were to check out in front of them for the distance that they would travel for the next eight hours then they were to go to sleep.  When the fleet reached maximum speed just before turn around, their range for sensing objects would be more important.

Nothing that Karen and Matt cannot handle.  They could handle it all the way to Mars but they would be tired.  Mom is ready to tuck us in.  Wake us if anything happens.  Karen Maclaren, Bruce Maclaren’s daughter, and Matt Stanley were both nine years old.  Though they were not Life-Mates, they worked well together as the second team assigned the duty to scan the space ahead of the fleet.

*******

The next ten hours passed uneventfully.  The squadrons crewed by the other two Australian teams had taken their turns as lead squadron, which allowed each of the teams to get some rest.  The training had continued with a number of shuttle training exercises being performed when they traded lead squadron.  Overall, without the training, the trip would have been very boring.  They were able to sense any object that might be a hazard and change the shuttles vector ahead of time.  This turned out to be easier than avoiding trees when walking in a forest.  The next few hours would be more exciting as they approached their maximum velocity for the trip.  Still it would not be harder than briskly walking in a forest.  The problem was that every time they changed direction to avoid an object, the compensators put the crews and passengers in free fall.

Why can’t we clean up all this junk so we do not have to be dodging all the time?  Fran Fusco was space sick every time they went to free fall when avoiding another space rock.  The repeated switching between one G gravity and free fall every time they maneuvered was not allowing her to recover.  She and her Life-Mate Dave White were the squad leaders for shuttle 1D.

There is too much space out here to do that.  We won’t follow the same path every time so it does no good to clean up as we go along.  Even if we did clean a path, the way the rocks move around it would be messed up before we tried to go the same way again.  Tom Brown and his Life-Mate, Sheila Hunt, had been sharing the duties of course recalculations with Sherry Johnston and Jane Hardesty.

Why are we flying the squadrons in formation?  If we stacked the shuttles like we pulled the trailers we would not have to dodge so often.  Dave had been unhappy that Fran had been repeatedly upset by the weightlessness.

Sounds like a good idea to me.  We have had plenty of maneuvering practice.  Claire knew who to go to implement the idea.  Alyca, is there any way that we can implement links between shuttles before we reach Mars?  It would make the next stretch at high speed a lot easier.

No, the design is simple but I don’t want to be outside the shuttle making the change while we are changing direction to avoid rocks.  The compensator wouldn’t cover you adequately outside the shuttle.  We can make up what we need easily enough and installation will be simple once we are on Mars.  Alyca was thinking more about how to modify the compensator to cover someone working outside the shuttle.  Bruce, what if a person wore one of the Stanley propulsion modules and had it linked into the shuttles system with RF signals.  She paused for four seconds as she thought through a new idea.  We could do the same thing for the shuttles or even make a pseudo super ship doing that.  Bruce, we will need to redesign all of the spacecraft.

Yes, I was following your thoughts.  That will give us a virtual big ship.  In fact, we might want to consider building some that way.  There would be no need to build all the pieces together.  Just tie them together with control and data signals, but that means we can do it without going outside the shuttles.  We just connect them together with signals.  We need to have at least a triple redundant circuitry but the control software is not much different from the internal control software.  It can be done with the spare parts we have on each shuttle.  It should take no longer that an hour if we can get each shuttle to build their units.  O-dof, would you give the command for acceleration to stop.  We will have the design and instructions on how to build the attachment circuitry in ten minutes.
 
You humans are amazing.  I followed what you were thinking.  Your ideas for changing ship design are what we have been looking for.  O-dof had never been there, well in this case mentally there not physically there since they were over one hundred kilometers apart, when Alyca and Bruce had worked through a major design.  U-tet and I-ver, who were on AU 2 Team squad 1, had tried to explain but it was something that must be experienced.  He considered how the Glazen were very lucky to have joined with the humans, but it was more than the humans’ abilities.  The Glazen, the Swizz, and the Kin had all experienced major changes in themselves.  He could now communicate mentally, something that the Glazen had found that some other species could do when they had encountered their third alien species the Horts.  All shuttles, slow to 1 G acceleration.  O-dof had decided to maintain enough acceleration to keep one gravity for the compartments.  We have identified a change to make our trip safer and more comfortable.  Instructions will be available in ten minutes.  Get out your tools.  Each shuttle will build its own equipment using spare parts.
 
Within thirty minutes, the hardware and software changes had been made and checked out.  It took longer to implement since they practiced making the connection and separating the spacecraft a number of times.  The new setup worked by the lead spacecraft setting the acceleration vector and the other spacecraft automatically matching it.  The placement of the squadrons was changed to three squadrons in line in front of the cargo squadron and the remaining two squadrons trailing.  Spacing between shuttles was set at thirty meters.

This configuration for the fleet will cut down on our needing to change direction so much.  We have a smaller volume for the spacecrafts so we do not have to move about as much.  Marie was in charge of navigation, which include watching for space rocks and calculating course changes.  The change in the acceleration software control will actually do us even more good in reducing the number of times that we switch to weightless.  We will maintain the 1 G of apparent weight even when we are a couple of degrees off of directly up in our acceleration.  We can make gradual changes that will not trigger weightlessness.

Marie, you should change you technique for watching for rocks.  The twins should do long range scanning for rocks.  They should pass along anything that they find coming our way to the next level of the watch.  That group will confirm whether we have to make a course correction as well as keeping an eye out for nearer objects.  The last group will calculate the course change and monitor space close to the fleet.  Linda Steele suggested.
 
Brilliant!  Linda, that will give us a better reaction time.  I suggest that we continue the acceleration towards Mars past halfway.  We will then start decelerating at 10 G and slowly increase the deceleration, as we get closer to Mars.  Our original plan for doing no more than 10 G was based on limiting our maximum velocity as well as making sure the shuttles had no problem at sustained acceleration.  The changes allow us to improve our ability to avoid rocks and the shuttles have shown no problems.  We will have to recalculate our course but we have had to do that with many of the avoidance changes we made.
 
Let us not change our maximum velocity that much.  We do not need the higher velocity that much as we just need to maintain the maximum velocity longer.  So let us switch to 1 G of acceleration near mid-point.  Once we start to decelerate, we can go to higher acceleration.  Alyca was not sure how traveling at near three percent of the speed of light would affect the shuttles.  She wanted to go over the data that they were collecting on them before going even faster.       

They discussed it for a few minutes but no one found a reason to push things too fast so they agreed on Alyca’s suggestion.

Mars Exploration Fleet
Between Earth and Mars
Saturday, October 9, 1999

Patty and David, the attack is over.  The Clar destroyed all of the attacking ships.  They showed no indication of having noticed the Qoof ship on the edge of the system.  Liz Thorenson and Dray Berger reported on the attack on the Mossly star system.

Let us join with the Australian Teams then you can pass on the full report.  Patty Douglas invited the three Teams to join them.

The report lasted about twenty minutes including a number of questions.

Thanks Liz and Dray.  Let the watchers know that their report was very important and we really appreciate the work they are doing.  We do not know when another attack will occur so they need to stay alert.  Thank them for us.  Robert broke the connection with them.

*******

That was definitely not a serious attack.  Aboard shuttle AU-1F, Eric Lawson sat holding his daughter Lois as she napped.

No, the spacecraft didn’t co-ordinate their attacks and they were poorly handled.  Al Wentworth sat beside his new wife Jane on shuttle AU-3E.

It’s what the Revolutionary Guard did with the boys.  Keyvan saw the similarity to what he had experienced.

It is a diversion.  They are getting the Clar to move more of their spacecraft to the Mossly system.  They will probably be attacking another system soon.  Elvis Tohe was monitoring the RF sensor system on shuttle AU-1H.

I wonder if the Clar know what the Qoof are trying to do?  Jamie West aboard shuttle AU-2E watched his wife Karen going over their niece Lynn’s math work.

I expect not.  They probably have not engaged in major conflicts since they took to space.  Charlie Richie, who had remained on Earth with his new command, replied to his brother-in-law.

The Kartan system.  Robert saw the connections between the attack and what they were doing.  The Qoof will be attacking the Kartan system and we are to help stop them from taking it.

The military men saw that what Robert has said made sense given how things had happened over the past few months.

Mars Exploration Fleet
Approaching Mars
Sunday, October 10, 1999

O-dof, we are ready to go ahead and sweep the planet.  Would you order the squadrons to change from trailer flight formation to independent flight.  The survey shuttles will slow deceleration to pull ahead then we will use high deceleration to slow down for the sweeps around Mars.  Robert informs him.

Do you want the fleet to increase deceleration so that you don’t have to perform a high deceleration?  O-dof was more conservative in his approach to things.  Some of the humans especially the human team member liked to do things that he considered risky.

No, Kevin is looking forward to making a red-hot approach.  We will be monitoring the shuttles so we will know if any problems start.  It will be a while before I am good enough to make this type of maneuver but Kevin may have been born to be a shuttle pilot.  Robert was laughing.

There may be something to what you say.  Your cousin Kevin had done remarkably well in learning to fly the new shuttle.  O-dof in his past lives had flown a shuttle a number of times, but for him it was only a means to getting somewhere.  Kevin enjoyed finding the extremes at which the shuttle would perform.

The shuttles carrying the lead squads of the three Australian teams linked up in trailer mode and pulled ahead of the fleet.  Shuttle 1G pulled ahead but not as quickly.  Rob Reynolds was directing his twin sons in surveying the minerals of Mars.  They were looking for any rich deposits that would be worth mining on the planet surface rather than mining asteroids.

Closer to Mars, the three shuttles took separate courses as they spiraled around the planet.  They each did three loops though most of the information about the planets adjacent to Mars was discovered well before the first loop.  There were fifteen planets closely associated with Mars.  They were near the same size and they all had thicker atmospheres than Mars.  Even more interesting, there were another sixteen planets slightly larger than Mars that would be able to be reached through a window from Mars.

It looks like we will have to set up a base on Olympus Mons to give us easy access to the second group of worlds.  Willy commented from where shuttle 3A hovered inside the caldera complex atop Mars highest mountain.

Does anyone else have the feeling that this huge mountain was put there just so we could do that?  Patty Douglas said in awe from shuttle 1A where she and David Meir her Life-Mate rode with Team AU-1’s lead squad.

“No you are starting to think just like the rest of us.”  Claire said from where she sat near Patty in the passenger compartment of the shuttle.

Yes, both sets of adjacent worlds have life, but the larger worlds that we have to access from the mountaintop are more interesting.  O-dof, we have confirmed Glazen on one of those worlds.  Nancy announced.  I think that setting up on the mountaintop takes priority.
 
Yes, I need to go and talk with them.  They must be told about the alliance.  O-dof looked forward to seeing the Glazen home world which he had so many memories of from his former lives.  He paused.  Why are they living on Lotatt?  Stroven should still have plenty of room for expansion.

They are not there to colonize.  These are military bases.  There are several million of your warriors here.  You are not the only one of the Glazen that has dreams.  Nancy reminded him.

Chapter 14 – Helping a Friend

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