hopefully, that planet will be our source of crude oil which is in short supply on Earth. That’s the gist of our mission. For you amateur astronomers in the group, the nearest star is approximately four and a half light years from our solar system. That planet is one hundred and three light-years from Earth.” He waited for the buzz of awe to die down, “We are not about to waste the several thousand years it would take at normal sub light velocity. That would obviously require some sort of suspended animation or none of us would be alive to reach our destination. That length of time is unacceptable. We are planning to accelerate constantly to the half-way point then reverse the engines to decelerate at approximately the same rate until reaching O-2113. Doctor Dorn, our science officer estimates we will reach at least Warp 35, and maybe slightly higher velocity. We are following a manned pioneer probe launched several years ago which will break new ground and send progress reports regularly. The last message indicated they were at Warp 2.1 and accelerating rapidly. Long before we reach Warp 35, we should receive confirmation that it is completely safe to do so.” Warren took his place behind the podium. He looked out at his eager audience and began, “We have been involved experimentally in suspended physical states or deep sleep states for some time and have a lot of data pertaining to laboratory animals, but little research has been done with humans except for short periods. If you are willing to take the risk, this may be the course you want to follow. We think it will be relatively safe and the rewards may be of value for many of you. The choice is yours. If you are interested in the suspended state or deep sleep mode, we will begin that immediately for those personnel not needed for the rendezvous at Juliet.” David stepped back to the podium, “The voyage to the edge of the solar system will be our shakedown cruise which will involve normal speeds. It will take a couple of months to arrive at Juliet so you will have at least that much time to make up your minds. Some of our starfighter pilots will be on alert for encounters with space pirates, and will remain that way until we leave the Solar System or until just prior to reaching Warp One. After that, we’re on our own.
CHAPTER 8 The executive council met regularly, at first every morning, then more irregularly, but at least once a week. A couple of weeks after passing the planet Mars, Tom handed the council a message received from the Pathfinder. David read it aloud, “We are at Warp 2.5 and accelerating more rapidly than planned. The Pathfinder was turned broadside and the acceleration forces have been increased significantly without adverse effect on the crew and passengers. By turning broadside, we are now using acceleration forces in place of artificial gravity. The forces are only slightly higher than on the earth’s surface and the artificial gravity simulator is no longer needed freeing more power for the propulsion units.” Tom turned to Roger, “What do you think Roger? Will that work for us?” “It should work.” Roger’s mind was rapidly recalculating time and distance scenarios. David expressed his impatience and disappointment, “I thought they would be that fast by now anyway. Why are they accelerating so slowly?” Roger laughed, “They are accelerating faster than you think, but at that speed, it will be a long time before we know it. If their approach is practical for us, then we should cut our time en route dramatically. Maybe in half. The solution is simple; why didn’t we consider it before. Obviously we think in terms of Earth’s atmosphere and aerodynamic force components. Those don’t apply. The probability of collision with space junk or maverick asteroids will increase, but not significantly, although I’ll have to run that model through the computer.” “Okay, we have plenty of time before we reach light