A day in the life of an Explorer

I had just woken up after a reasonable sleep. As I floated weightless in my cocoon bed, I smiled to myself thinking,

"Hmmm,  I am alive and in my ship... no attacks last night, must be doing something right".

It was cold, so cold, I just didn't want to move and loose those warm spots of the cocoon against my flesh. A hot shower and a hot cup of Tea would do the trick, but before making the dash to the cockpit to start powering up the ship, I reached out and adjusted the stat on my cocoon and turned up the temperature. Closing my eyes, I began to drift off sleep, thinking about aliens, being attacked... when abruptly, I awoke to the noise of a slight creaking scraping noise.

"How long had it been?

My cocoon was way too warm and it was beginning to heat the walls of this small tight excuse of a what we used to call a bedroom. The bulkhead was expanding with the heat and making some of the most unusual creaks. Unwrapping the cocoon and now shuddering at the bite of the 7° icy air in the cabin, I made myself towards the pilots cabin and was greeted with a frosty screen.

"Yup, definitely cold. lets get some heat on here."

I flipped on the console, and turned on the scanner. It took about a minute to come up, and I was pleased with what I saw, although I was still shuddering with the cold.

"No ships in sight, this is a good start to the day"

Going through all the modules in quick succession, I resumed all of their functions. It made sense to do this, well at least it did to me. Now that there had been un-identified ships around the bubble and rumours that perhaps the Thargoids or some other alien species were beginning to appear, I didn't want to get caught out. Cold ships were hard to pick up on sensors, so my theory made some sort of sense with the current technology. I began to wonder why didn't I get a black paint job on this ASP? A little more camouflage might just save the day, and years in a pod drifting about in space, or waiting for another commander to pick me up on a planet from a bulletin board posting, didn't appeal to me. But out here?

I went back to the rear of the ship and made myself presentable. It was not really necessary as I was totally alone out here and the chances of meeting up with anyone was very small. But routine was a good habit to get into; a shower to get rid of the smell of the cocoon before climbing into my grav suit made sense to me. That smelt bad enough as it was!

Synthesised coffee was ok-ish, but there was nothing like a good strong cup of Tea to get things going first thing in the morning. Well I say morning, it was to me, but out here there is no sense of time and time runs faster out here than people in the bubble. This thing called "Time Dilatation" I never understood properly. Einstein was way too clever for us mortals. I wonder what he would say, if he knew that we could now travel faster than the speed of light! I think even Stephen Hawking would have had a hard time with that.

I went to my small personal storage space and looked at my current stock of Tea.

"Holy crap, I've been drinking way too much, not much left now and I've only been on my trip for a few days, Have I really drunk so much?"

Dammit, now I would have to try and land on a planet and see if I could find any un-manned ground bases and pick some up. I didn't know if I was too far out of the bubble, but if I wanted my Tea, and it would need to be rationed now, I would have to look for some more. Synthesised coffee today then, maybe some Tea tomorrow.

I floated back to my "Ships Personal Space" and pulled on my grav suit. It was quite ingenious really. Figure hugging and bracing at the same time. Comfortable, and not too restrictive, it did wonders for my shape. The trouble with spending all this time in space without gravity, was that not only did your bones and muscles waste away, but you tended to become a little more bloated. Not something I was completely happy with to say the least!

This suit was essentially a life saver. As I travelled through spaced the G-forces on the body were enough to help with the bone and muscle loss, but hundreds of  G was way too much for any human body to endure and this miraculous grav suit was just the answer. We just couldn't exist without them. After making some final adjustments and switching it on, I checked the gloves and cuffs for the correct light patterns that told me everything was hunky dory.

After adjusting the helmet, I sucked on the small feed tube which provided the various nutrients needed to support human life. I wasn't too keen on it, and I would have killed for a bacon sandwich smothered in brown sauce, but it wasn't to be.

I started to ponder...

"After all these years and so much technology being developed for synthesis, someone should have invented something to provide us with decent food on our ships for these kind of trips."

I had heard rumours that Core Dynamics were considering buying the small and unknown company Grav-Tech Solutions who had designed these suits and were looking at making modifications to the suit to allow short EVA trips. Perhaps this was a long way off, but many pilots had been asking for quite some now. If they completed the deal then who knows what we could accomplish out here. I would have loved to jumped on a small rock with 0.1g and see how far I could get. Maybe even break a few galaxy records!

OK, time to engage and test some new secret technology. The last time I had visited Federation space and docked at the "M. Gorbachev" station in SOL, I had been approached by, what I can only describe as a very discreet person, who shall remain unnamed. He asked me to consider testing out some new technology. He said it was in light of the findings of Starship One. Although they had not finalised anything, they needed someone trustworthy to carry out some tests for them, that may change the whole way we communicate across the galaxy, and may save instances like the incident with Starship One. Apparently a CPO was still regarded as having good technical skills, whereas a commander higher up in the ranks had lost them.

They apparently required a brave commander to test and log the delays and distances when communicating whilst many light years away from the bubble. They knew I was going on an Expedition across the galaxy and so naturally, I volunteered. I suppose now was a good time to see if this worked.

I picked at system from the map so that the bubble was behind the ship, went to the newly installed interface and turned it on. I heard the comms device rise out of one my spare utility points, and hunt for a signal. I had the option to finely tune it, but it required such  minuscule adjustments, I decided that the quantum computer could do the job much better than myself. I was told it operated in the UHF band, but used a new technology to "fold space" to a certain degree so that the transmissions would not take so long especially as the transmissions were still only able to operate at the speed of light. There was a lot of noise on the screen and a few pops and crackles came out of the earpieces embedded in my helmet.

I waited for a while and eventually the comms screen cleared of noise and began to produce what could be thought of as a least some kind of picture. Slightly corrupted, but impressively readable. The images were pretty much corrupted, but this was definitely workable.

"They are breaking new ground here... folding space... I wonder where that could lead... massive jumps through space.. string theory... worm holes... Arghhh, STOP Thinking! now concentrate!"

I read the Galnet reports. Some interesting stuff there. It was great to see that a lot of pilots had found enough wreckage of Starship One for analysis. I wonder if my communication tests will help in the future. The Federation now had the technology, and the money to finance the research, but political will?  Only time will tell.

A new message flashed up. Communications Report generated and sent. Thank you Commander." OK! job done. I think I will test again another 1k light years out and see if that works.

"Probably not,,",  I thought, " they cant even get docking computers to work properly with some of the larger ships so I am not going to hold my breath"

I flicked the switch and turned the device off. I wondered if folding space would have any impact on my ship let alone me! Thank goodness it wasn't active for too long.

"Right. now to find a decent planet and see if I can find some Tea."

I had already explored the system yesterday, so checking the system map, I scanned for a rocky body with about 1G. Nope... only one suitable for landing and that had a gravity of 3G. Ho-humm, lets go.

Entering super cruise, I headed for the rock that was barely visible; the sun was lighting up the other side of this body so it was currently just a black dot. As I entered the glide, I wondered how the thrusters would hold up under this kind of gravitational pull. The most G planet I had landed on was about 0.6G so this was new to me. Crossing my fingers was not an option as I needed both hands to control the ship, but a mental image of tying my fingers into knots entered my mind. I grimaced at the image as it looked painful. Is this what prolonged space flight does to your mental imagery? Shaking my head to clear it, I concentrated on the glide and then opened up the scanner to look for those blue spots that were indicative of something interesting to find.

I was quite impressed with the basic AI of the flight system, It had adjusted the thrusters according to the gravity and landing was just a breeze. I had read reports of this, but never tested it myself. First time for something new again, and those reports had been right!

"Woohoo!" I yelled, here we go! I had started the glide on the dark side of the planet, and managed to end it just across the terminator. Perfect! It was going to be easy to pick out installations as the lights would show up quite nicely at an altitude of 750m. After checking out a few hot spots, which only produced crashed ships and narcotics, I had found what I was looking for. This was going to become a rare thing the further I headed out.

"Amazing, I am feeling very lucky today"

I had no cargo space to speak of on my ship, but 2 tonnes in my Scarab would do the trick. I would just have to limit myself to my favourite drink to the first one of the day, and suffer the synthesised coffee for the rest. But I had some Tea! Brilliant.

Most of the day had been spent on exploration and testing but I was satisfied. I could now fulfil my early morning desires for a good strong cuppa and start days of fresh with just the right amount of caffeine.  This I could handle.

I decided to call it a day and began the routine of shutting down the ship for hopefully another peaceful rest, without any surprises waking me up. After a short hot shower I climbed into my cocoon and drifted off into a peaceful slumber, content with the days work.

As I moved into that twilight zone, my mind wondered...

"I wonder if I will get extra pay for this test work. It is elite work and dangerous, and I really need it!"