SO FAR FROM HOME: Act One

“Ship’s Log: Earth Day 665. 

 

This is Captain Diana Lewis of the Outer Rim Explorer Kuiper.  This will be my last entry until I awake from hyper stasis in about three months – I hope 

 

I have never cared for hyper stasis, even when this vessel was still in lunar orbit.  For 665 earth days I have avoided the dreaded reality, but my first officer, Lieutenant Michelle Hill, insists it is perfectly safe.  However, she has been awake for a week, and she still doesn’t have her space legs. She was able to prepare her famous Jamaican Jambalaya for supper last night.  She is a mystery.  How she could leave her home in Jamaica to sign on for an endless voyage to the regions beyond our solar system is incomprehensible.  You know, the same could be said about me.  

 

I’m the Captain of the first deep probe beyond our solar system.  I grew up on a farm in southwest Michigan, ten miles from the great lake.  Youngest of four children by ten years.  Picking blueberries and apricots in the summer.  Apples and pumpkins in the Fall.  Shoveling snow and knocking down icicles during Winter.  Spring.  O, how I loved Spring in Michigan.  Winter was receding, and life was returning, especially the birds.  Well, enough about my bucolic childhood.

 

Since it has been several weeks since my last log entry,  I need to relate what happened when we encountered the Kuiper Belt.  The crew of sixty-two was fully awake when we first entered the belt. 

 

Quaoar and Pluto are not unique.  Our sensors detected thousands of fragments and planetesimals.  Some, many, were bigger than Pluto.  The crew was excited.  We were sending the data stream back to our communication relay station that we had placed in orbit around Charon when we hit ‘it’. 

 

Ensign Terry Allen, our astrophysics expert, classified ‘it’ –  as a magnetic ribbon created by the gravity of two gas clouds in Kuiper.  He was excited to say the least, but his magnetic ribbon knocked out our communication  and navigation systems.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to repair the damaged components. 

 

The second major event is this – Ensign Allen told me two days ago that we had left the heliopause.  Our solar system is behind us. Present Heading: Unknown, except deep space.

 

All other ship systems are working.  When we deploy a communication satellite,  we always leave a communication stream with status updates.  My hope is that Outer Rim Explorer Sagan  will be able to track  us.  They were scheduled to launch one year after us.  Hopefully, it was sooner. 

 

Knowing Roger Widner, he probably had his ship on course six months after us.  He promised to catch us since  Sagan had a new engine design which was supposed to come closer to light speed. The Kuiper was the prototype.  It was six years old when we launched.  I hope Roger does.  Some crew members  are depressed.  For them hyper stasis is a blessing.  Presently, half of the crew is in this mode.

 

It’s strange.  Even at extreme magnification our sun is barely a speck. We are so far from home.

 

Fifteen billion kilometers and counting if Ensign Allen ‘s calculations are correct.  For one so young he is so full of himself.”   My reverie was broken by the door chimes.  “Enter.”

To Be Continued….  

G. D. Williams       © 2011

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