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Friday, August 29, 2014

F3 The First Signal

            The mood in ground control had gone from placid to frenetic in a matter of minutes. Carl Jensen had been the first one to notice the signal, and after double-checking it, began to wake up every engineer and supervisor in JPL. Of course, the word spread far beyond those people like wildfire.
            The news surpassed everything. The moon and Mars landings were nothing. Ganymede Station was a paltry feat of assembly and positioning. And while the specifics of Argo’s engineering were not as technical as the Olympus Mons colony, the signal from Argo was more exciting.
            Over the last few hours, images from Argo’s cameras came in steady bursts before it began repeating what it had sent. The repetition was necessary due to signal interference and the distance. The repetition allowed the engineers to fill in the gaps and recreate missing pieces until they had pictures as accurate as what Voyager had sent back over a century before. By pairing the pictures of the stars along with the factoring in the time it had taken the signal to reach them, they could locate Argo’s exact position.
            Argo’s mission was simple, travel outside the heliopause and deploy the sail-kite. After ten minutes, cut the sail free, and begin transmitting back to Earth. And now, after almost three months, they received a signal. Jensen ran the images against the star charts one more time, confirming his finding before passing it off to the director, whose grin enveloped his face.
            Director Michaels silenced the room with taps to his lapel mike. “Ladies and gentlemen, congratulations are in order. We have confirmation that Argo, in its ten minute sail-powered flight, covered a distance of .3 light years.”
            Excited murmurs filled the control room, along with gasps of anticipation as the Director continued.
            “Mankind has a way to travel faster than light.”

            The room erupted in cheers, applause, and tears of joy.
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