I found this last week, after reading the r/space subreddit. I frankly loved every moment of it and felt the need to share it with all of you. It’s seven minutes long but it’s a stunning seven minute look at our Galaxy.
“We are approaching Point Zankathie. Everyone get ready for customs,” William announced over the intercom. The merchant vessel, Bread Basket, Was in a way a large cylinder with rockets on the back and a cockpit on the front from the outside. The center of the ship however rotated, providing a gravity effect for everyone and thing within the vessel. Bread Basket was an Earth vessel, one of many privately owned merchant ships within the Terran Fleet. The news spoke most often of pirates and smugglers, enough so you would be understandably under the impression that that was the only type of ship Earth sent out aside from military cruisers and transports to hunt them. It did not talk about the families and groups who crossed the stars engaging in free trade and commerce, the simple folk who wanted nothing more than to make an honest living for themselves and their families.
There was nothing sexy about a flying farmers market. Bread Basket wasn’t even the only ship of its type. The interior cylinder of the Bread Basket was covered in hydroponic crops and trees. The oxygen produced by the various plants within the main ship made life support less of a worry. It helped that the entire ships systems were based around the farming area. It was only at most a mile long including the expanse of the engines propelling them through space and the control area up front. Due to the design, based off an O’Neil Cylinder, there was a modest sized farm carried in the ship.
Fresh fruits and vegetables were considered luxury items in most space stations due to how they were designed. Life support, docks for incoming and outgoing ships, equipment to relay signals across the known galaxy, and efficient quarters for personnel and their families had been considered more important.
They sold staples, but the thing that made most ships like Bread Basket so treasured to the various stations both of Human and Xenomorphic personnel were the more pleasant items. Fresh fruits, sweets, natural flowers, things of that nature. The chance for a walk through the interior of the ship was something wonderful for those who only saw the dull metal walls of a station. A self-contained world where one could almost be tricked into thinking they had set foot on a habitable planet. After months in space with nothing but the site of stars and bulkheads to fill ones time a walk through a beautiful park.
Considering how long most people were on these stations it was no wonder that you had children, teenagers, families there just for support. So the arrival of a ship like Bread Basket was also a time for couples to spend with each other in pleasant surroundings. It wasn’t unusual for the ship to make a little extra money with more recreational areas on their inner hull. It wasn’t too difficult to create a good sized lake with a small beach. Most of the ships water had to be reclaimed, and once it was purified from whatever it had been used from it was as safe as anything else. In space you recycled everything.
So while Bread Basket was docked at Point Zankathie there would be a constant stream of beings going back and forth, either for recreation or commerce. There was even a Wedding that had been scheduled for the stopover this time in the Forest. It wasn’t unusual, and Bread Basket had an Ordained Minister on board for just such an occasion.
Ships like her were a piece of the world flying through the night, providing more than just supplies and cargo. They provided moments of peace, moments of joy, and moments of happiness. While the Destroyers and Carriers of the Terran Starfleet were the giants of the Galaxy, vessels like Bread Basket were its soul.
“You know, you are wasting oxygen.”
It was an interesting thing, weightlessness. When you just hang there in the vastness watching the whole of the universe as you slowly drift. The cargo vessel U.S.S. Bounty was drifting through space near the Carina Nebula, almost ten-thousand light-years from Earth. The outer colonies this far out needed cargo haulers to almost constantly move needed goods from planet to planet, mostly medicines and food. The occasional super-carrier or Military convoy would come out with newer technology and terraforming equipment for the colonies.
But at the moment, Bill was just drifting next to the ship, an umbilical cable feeding him power and air the only thing keeping him from floating out into the eternal black. He had been working on a drive plate, ensuring it as properly secured. He had just finished putting his tools up and rotating in the zero gravity in order to return to the safety of the ship when he caught the view.
“You should come in now, we don’t have any other work to be done out there.”
Bill just sighed as he took in the sight. The sound of Officer Hastings voice grating on his nerves. Alec Hastings was not very interested in the universe around him. All he cared about was getting to their next destination, unloaded, then back on course for wherever was next. No time to take in the grandeur of the Universe they passed through.
“Just taking a moment to admire the scenery,” Bill said, slowly starting to make his way to the airlock along his umbilical line.
“There is no scenery, just dust and rock.”
Bill just shook his head. Hastings just couldn’t appreciate the true beauty of the expanse of space. Everything was just dust, rock, or maybe ice if you had a comet. How someone like that could end up on a long haul freight like this and not be able to appreciate the natural wonder puzzled him.
He was just reaching the airlock when he turned and took one last look. It was just as he turn that he saw it. A once in a lifetime occurrence. All of the sudden, in the dust of the nebula a new point of light emerged. IT was dim at first, but slowly grew brighter and brighter until Bill could see it very clearly, illuminating the nebula from within.
The birth of a new star. Maybe one day a new sun.
The event was so moving, so astounding that Bill couldn’t even think of how to put it into words. The Spark of new light in the darkness was such an event, never before witnessed but known to occur. Bill shed a single tear at the beauty of what had occurred before him.
“Get in, I want to increase speed by ten percent. Maybe cut some time off our trip.”
And of course Hastings had to ruin the moment. Back to the grindstone.
Yesterday I caught a link to an article summarizing a forum discussion on NASASpaceFlight.com that indicates that NASA may have accidentally created a warp drive. For those of you who HAVEN’T ever seen Star Trek or anything like that, a Warp Drive in Fiction is a method of Faster than Light travel where an engine generates a field around a star ship. This field allows the ship to move faster than light without time dilation effect, getting around General Relativity.
This brings the possibility of Space Flight to others stars, not just planets within our own star system to potentially being within our lifetimes if it can be replicated and scaled. We need to work on the engineering and science, but it’s possible.
I had an interesting discussion on Facebook about this in the Star Trek group and it brings to light a wonderful idea of new possibilities. Lets get to building the U.S.S. Enterprise.