Losing Mars by Peter Cawdron

Losing Mars by Peter Cawdron

Author:Peter Cawdron [Cawdron, Peter]
Language: eng
Format: azw
Published: 2018-09-28T04:00:00+00:00

Huŏxīng Wu

“Think. Think.”

I’m able to breathe, but the current situation isn’t sustainable. I close the hatch, ready to pressurize the cabin, but without power, that’s not happening.

Whatever happened to the Huŏxīng Wu, it didn’t lose all it’s power. It continued transmitting telemetry so at least some of the vital electronic components survived what I can only imagine was some kind of electromagnetic pulse.

Within the Redstone, the flight recorder and core electronics are shielded against solar outbursts and cosmic rays. I hope they survived too. There’s a bunch of circuit breakers to protect the various independent computer systems that act as the brains of the Redstone from being fried during an electrical surge. I only hope that prevented any serious damage. Damn, we went through this exact scenario with the engineers in the days before our launch, but no one thought we’d actually ever need to reboot the entire craft. It was a billion-to-one possibility we skimmed over in the final days before we departed, cramming for the final exam as it were.

First thing I need is light. I rummage through a toolbox and find a flashlight. As it’s got its own battery and was off when the pulse took out the Redstone, I’m hoping its okay. EMPs can damage equipment that’s offline, generating a current that overwhelms components, but since the circuit was broken, I suspect it will still work.

I flick the switch and a beam of light rescues me from the darkness. After bleeding off a little more air, and circulating fresh oxygen, I begin removing panels from the underside of the cockpit. Things would be a helluva lot easier if the cabin was pressurized and I wasn’t wearing a spacesuit. This procedure was clearly never intended for someone wearing thick gloves. I guess the assumption was that as these settings are internal we’d be in our jumpsuits not a cumbersome spacesuit. Working with the tiny nuts is difficult when my fingers are like those of The Incredible Hulk.

The flashlight reveals six circuit breakers all flipped into the off position. There are instructions about isolating the source of any potential short and powering up systems in a specific order, only swapping out circuit breakers if needed. A couple of the breakers have popped loose, something I doubt they were designed to do. I hope they’re not broken. There are only two spares.

My eyes are a blur. I’m being poisoned by CO2. My head hurts. I should stop trying to reboot the craft and rummage around for a lithium dioxide canister, but I’m not thinking clearly. I feel compelled to restart the Redstone.

I’ve got to restore power and get life-support running again. The engineers at NASA in their ever-prescient wisdom knew that if anyone pulled this panel off, they’d be in one helluva state. No one messes with a spacecraft reboot without being in a really bad way, so they labelled everything with big ass numbers and simple, color-coded words. It’s spaceflight for pre-schoolers. I could kiss them.



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