Kapteyn

Kapteyn-b-2

PART 1

Prologue

She is as strong as steel, never faltering, always moving steadily forward. She has been there for us for ages, through the good and the bad. She has survived the relentless nature of our universe and has emerged even stronger. We are lucky to receive her love, because we hardly ever return the favor. We are infatuated by her beauty, and despite how busy she is, she can make us feel alive like she has nothing else in the world to do. She is mother to us all … and her name is Earth.

Earth – March 17, 2104

The room was a light-show of camera flashes. A young man slowly centered himself in front of the podium, his face moist with sweat. He paused a moment — recalling the importance of this announcement.

My name is Nathan Owens, I am the Venture Flight Director — here representing NASA. 

Humankind has come to a crossroads. Every person at some point in their life must make a life-changing decision. It seems it is no different for a species. Despite all of our technological advancements, we are unable to restore our symbiosis with nature. Conservation movements have been attempted and failed, and our planet is no longer able to support its population. I believe our species has a decision to make right now. Do we actually attempt to reverse the damage caused to our planet? Or do we start searching for a new home? Those are the only two options we have left ourselves…

Our world is now a desolate place and yet overpopulated at the same time. What used to be mostly lush green land is now a sea of concrete.

Venture Crew

Commander Andrew Stark

Pilot Louis Clayton

Comms Officer Sarah Campbell

Biologist Michelle Lawrence

Dr. Lyle Kapka

Engineer Adrian Mayberry

Interstellar Space – Year 2124

Crew Log 1 – Louis Clayton

Hah … I don’t even know where to start. I’d be lying if I said i’m not thinking holy shit right now. We are 18 years away from potentially discovering our new home: an earth-like planet called Kapteyn-b (we will have to come up with a better and more appropriate name later). Kapteyn-b is our best chance to find a planet capable of supporting human life. It is about 5 times the size of Earth and orbits its sun every 48 days. The star, Kapteyn, is a halo red dwarf that is about a third the mass of our sun. Because it gives off less energy than a G-type main sequence star, the habitable zone for its planets sits a lot closer to its surface. Kapteyn-b sits on the inner edge of that zone, and Kapteyn-c is just outside the outer edge. Two potentially habitable planets in one system sounds like good odds to me.

It’s still a huge gamble though. Astronomers only have information that was sent from the Voyager 3 probe. From what we gathered, Kapteyn-b has a similar atmosphere composition to Earth’s. It has also been confirmed that Kapteyn-b has liquid water on its surface, nitrogen and oxygen in its atmosphere, carbon for supporting molecules used in biology, and receives the right amount of energy from its star. Even with everything we have received from our deep space probe, there are still a lot of unknowns. Without getting down to the surface we really can’t determine too much. Other than the fact that there is liquid water on its surface, mostly everything else is speculation. We won’t know any more until we send an expedition down to its surface … So that’s where we come in.

Here is the really cool part, and probably the main reason why I was able to accept the mission without any doubts. Kapteyn-b is the oldest habitable planet that we know of: 2.5 times older than Earth and only 2 billion years younger than the universe itself. That’s a lot of time for a lot of things to happen. For all we know, there could already be life in the Kapteyn system that has existed for billions of years. We may be sharing this planet with other intelligent lifeforms (if they don’t mind my bad jokes and my snoring). Imagine that, if this mission is a success — and that’s one big if– we will have gone from destroying our own planet and nearly killing off the human race to expanding our horizons farther than ever thought possible. The human race would be saved and we would be heroes.

I probably shouldn’t focus so much on the what if’s and concentrate on getting our ship to its destination. For most of us this is our first time spending more than a couple of weeks out in space. Our training for this mission was pretty much non-existent because we had to save every day we could preparing the ship and the crew… so they sent a bunch of manuals up with us for operating everything on the ship. The ship is always in autopilot during cruising so I get to spend most of my day either pulling on elastic bands that are attached to the floor (working out) or reading up on manuals and mission details. The variety is awesome, I know.

It’s quiet on board the Venture. I think a lot of us notice that so we tend to compensate by talking a lot … especially Adrian. Some days we play music throughout the ship to cope with that. It takes more energy but, what the hell, Commander says we will be more than fine on power until we reach Sirius to recharge. When there is no music and no talking, there is a spectral feeling about this vessel — silently gliding through a sea of stars. Imagine that feeling you get out on the open ocean on Earth and multiply that by 10. We are billions of miles away from civilization, and the farther we get from our sun, the more we can see of our own galaxy and distant galaxies beyond. 

Every day we are reminded why we long to be explorers.

Section 2

The projector hummed as it came to life. Louis gathered his mission data while glowing dots filled the room.

“So this is our location?” Sarah gestured towards the one that was blinking.

“Makes you feel small, doesn’t it? Check this out,” Louis fidgeted with some controls near the nav panel. The room brightened as the small blinking light enlarged, revealing a 3D projection of earth the size of a basketball.

Louis took a few steps back until he was directly under the location of the Venture. “This is how far we’ve gone in two weeks. That’s it … Do you see that?” he pointed towards Sarah’s communications panel.

“Are you trying to tell me I need to get to work?” Sarah laughed.

“That’s our destination way over there. Eighteen years of space travel.” Louis scrolled through his notes. “Luckily for us we will be in cryo-sleep in less than a week.”

“That still freaks me out. I mean … I know it’s perfectly safe and it’s been tested, but it will be weird being in a dream state for 14 days at a time,” Sarah glanced over at her work space, “That reminds me, I’m taking the first shift. I probably need to get my report ready to send back home before the nap.”

“Ok. See you at dinner.” Louis mumbled as he shut off the projector.

He went over the mission overview again.

2124- Departure- Crew trains for one year while aboard the Venture before stasis.

2125- Venture leaves the Heliosphere and enters interstellar space. Crew sends one final status update to earth before beginning cryo-sleep. Each crew member sleeps 14 days and attends regular duties for 3 days. One crew member must be awake at all times to ensure proper function of spacecraft and stasis habitat. Communication with Earth at 3 month intervals.

2129- Venture reaches the star, Sirius. Crew executes fly by maneuver as it replenishes fuel from the star’s energy.

2133- Halfway mark reached. Maximum speed reached. Ion engines begin counter-thrust for slow deceleration.

2134- Crew passes Voyager 3. 

2138- Venture passes Epsilon Eridani. One last fuel scoop before approach to Kapteyn.

2141- Venture enters Kapteyn system. All crew wake from hibernation and re-purpose stasis habitat into a research lab. Crew begins surveying planet, looking for evidence of water and atmosphere content.

2142- Crew begins approach procedures. Once in orbit, the crew will take both Kapteyn landers down to the surface and begin to set up the portable habitat. 

2143- First year on Kapteyn. Crew does regular tests to determine if planet is able to sustain human life.

Please see attached for detailed breakdown of each stage of the mission.

“80 pages? Yeah I’ll start that after dinner.”

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