Dead astronaut – excerpt chapter 1 he would not have general after this fiasco. colonel rex stone watched the horizon swallow glowing asteroid. he would be the dark side of the planet; his instruments would only miss the event Stokerized Stabilizer of the millennium. for months, the world has watched the strange object hurtling out of the southern sky. within an hour, it would be ?? thread the needle between the earth and the moon. closest approach will occur on the other side of the planet. during his international space station swung around again, the foreign object will be half back to the moon.
Lesser instrument in better positions on-line waiting for the asteroid. army flying telescope will film from the peak altitude; navy radar was staring straight up. they want to get the best data; the air force gets residue left behind. the wall Stokerized Stabilizer monitor taunted him. space station display is blank; his premier instrument will not. rex shook his head. this does not happen with modern space force one ready to deploy anywhere at any time. live television feeds on the upper left screen still showed rex command console. clean cut, crew cut he approved. he is the image of his boyhood idol, john glenn, the astronaut / senator appointed to the air force academy.
Stokerized Stabilizer – Dead Astronauts – Constellations [Full Album]
The piercing brown eyes of a younger fighter pilot screamed his intelligence. thank god for botox! here is the picture of a charismatic leader. if the mission is successful, they had to make him a general, the first general of the new space force. a dot, like blue natural gas flame, jittered at the center of several monitors. live coverage shifted to a split screen. white stars streaked across the black background as the camera tracked the asteroid. finally, the hubble telescope display lit up. a couple of hours of viewing time for hubble’s mission took rex congressional intervention.
Nasa had negotiated a package deal: dawn thomas and their telescopes. she is the mother hubble. officer, dr. dawn thomas Stokerized Stabilizer the hubble chief scientist; insatiable anything with his telescope without his approval. rumor has it that he’d replied, “especially not in some over-the-hill fighter jock …” the mission’s proposal rex. she’d rather do it himself. his hubble telescope mission is the only item that is not under his direct command. dawn was sitting there beside him withholding his instrument until the last possible second, allegedly to save on cooling. he claimed the telescope had problems looking for close to the sun.
A three-lobed fuzzy clump filled with the image before it flashed white. “oh great!” rex slapped the hubble monitor. it did not respond. after all that, dawn must teach the damn thing under the sun, he thought. then he noticed the other screens: they are also white. “must have exploded again, and we missed it,” he grumbled. this happened a few times out there in deep space. when the object affected by something, the xenon plasma sheath has erupted. with all the clutter of near space, he warned them of another collision is inevitable. they should be prepared. “let me take a look.
” dawn pushed off and floated closer to glance at the yellow numbers scrolling across white images. “i think my people are out for the duration.” he thumped screen hubble. “how long before you recover, colonel?” “who knows?” rex shrugged. “these birds army.” “army! air force! who cares?” he threw up his hands. “they can get anything?” “seeing camera last minute add-on to airborne surveillance testbed,” he says, “the ast technician probably unfamiliar with new equipment yet. we may have to wait for our guys downrange. maybe they can get some pictures after ast hands off them.
“dawn pointed to the bottom row of the screen. “radar is still getting something.” “. just one big blob, all the plasma bubble got bigger when the target exploded ;. they still see inside” “you can blow up the radar image?” he asked. “of course.” rex bent over her console and clicked his way through the radar image control panel. dawn studied lumpy cloud filling half the screen. “it looked like a valentine. can you bring us tighter?” cloud rolled to the right. “better not, i’m losing it.” rex switch back to the broader view; the drops are more vague and drifting off-center.
“they sluing very quickly.” radar went blank. more monitors switched. baton is passed; the second tier is seeking observer. white dots traced arcs Stokerized Stabilizer on black background. the entire wall displays an empty sky. “colonel stone,” a thick accent in his earphones intruded, “moscow is control ground facilities lose your target.” “we noticed,” he muttered. “they are trying to reacquire-” “the station will be in a position to support the search for forty minutes. request permission to-” “you are authorized to proceed at your own discretion.” moscow transmission ended. dawn’s derision echoed attitude rex.
“how can you lose something that big?” “i do not know. it veered off the trajectory i calculated.” “how can it? it undergraduate orbital mechanics.” “it’s not that simple. the matter falls up.” he turned and looked at him like something that had just crawled out of her salad. “huh?” “there are more than simple gravity going on out there. when the asteroid decelerated in the sun, it is falling up. besides, it must have hit something out there, something big.” “can it be broken?” he suggested. “we may never know. with space station on the wrong side of the planet, we have to put the second string.
If we’d had the space plane, would we put the right equipment in the right place at the right time.” rex watched dawn push off the ceiling and drift back to his console. “whatever,” he mumbled. he bent over the keyboard redirect his instrument to scan for lost body. asteroid increase is minutes away. if the target followed the predicted trajectory, it should appear in the northern sky as they circle the earth. if the explosion had knocked it off course, it would still be somewhere in the neighborhood. how far can wander for forty-five minutes? he wanted to find it.
Rex had commandeered every instrument can be to look above the horizon. the mission to planet earth must surrender; this is an all-day astronomy. station five geologists will be reachable on their data, or in their sleep, or their housework. dawn and she is in charge. the asteroid will be shocked a few glowing violet and ultraviolet wavelengths. rex would have liked to scan the sky to see the colors and the distinctive glow of asteroids against a vanilla background. the hyperspectral telescope was not user-friendly. they are programmed to keep finding breast a hundred wavelengths. the asteroid will be gone blurry, moving fast, and shining through the skies, he’d find it that way, to take too many photons.
Too many photons have taken too much time. she broadband program sky survey. the asteroid, or whatever remains of it had to be somewhere in a narrow footprint around its original trajectory. any glimmer glow or not in the database nasa may be the target; he would house here and grab all the data he had. monitor on as soon as the end of the target area to rise above the horizon. instruments painted an arc of white dots on a black background. no flashing red circle-no unidentified objects anywhere. rex widened the search area.
A wall of white flecks mocked him. the only red spot he could see in gordian wire bundle at the back of the monitor. astronomy control center kluged together for xenon asteroid mission. monitor is bolted to the lab racks along one wall and wire duct tape along the path from the regular labs instrument. it is unprofessional; it is a violation of safety; but it is temporary. rex dawn and focused on the screen and waited. nothing happened. month tracking asteroid only to miss his ten minutes of glory-he’d blown it. forty-five minutes earlier or forty-five minutes later, the space station would have grabbed a ton of data and he’d been a hero.
But it is not. the station was back on the ground when things passed; got his back up skunked, and nobody got anything. it happened on his watch; it was her fault. with the proper equipment, he accomplished the mission. the space station can only be in one place at one time, and that turned out to be the wrong place. expanded coverage space is limited, response times are in years and some are hard to reach orbit. shuttle was fine when spiro agnew’s team conceived, but the space program has outgrown it.
The orion capsule is a step backward when bush proposed it. even worse after it was crushed in a budget-cut one. this is just an overgrown apollo capsule. several times he preached that the pentagon needed the flexibility of a space plane operated from airfields normal? with it, a us space force will be deployed in the right place at the right time at any time. they do not want to make him a general for the i-told-you-so. generals won. they ran great program that got big results. rex stone is coming home empty handed. he broadened the footprint more. asteroid had to be there somewhere.
Every minute he was gone, it flew a few thousand miles away bringing priceless data on it. still every computer recognizes the flash Stokerized Stabilizer on the screen. the faint shadow crawling up the monitor to the ground; footprint asteroid is setting. chapter 2 rex glanced at dawn. it is rumored that she is a woman, but he hid it well. five to seven its height is gender neutral. beige blonde hair pulled tight into a ponytail is not noticeable to a lot of nasa nasa nerds wore their hair that way. his tan one-size fits all jumpsuit offered no clue about the body inside.
You can keep a skank or a supermodel in there, but rex doubted he had. no jewelry, no makeup, no nail polish, but somehow feminine. her skin is soft and smooth in the first line of forty-something in the corner of his eye. if his body fulfilled the promise of his face, rex would be predicted on the plus side of the slender with a slight figure. he would probably clean up pretty well, maybe a seven. it’s going to be a long six months-she’d be a ten to its end. dawn is concentrating programming hubble to take a last look when it rounded the ground again.
Her big blue eyes locked on the screen, his lips moved as his fingers raced across the keyboard. the noise of the compressors hammered rex when he took off his headset. his head throbbed. he could use a beer, a beer and a cigarette-about that. space station what is really needed is a bar, he thought. he slipped on a pair of earplugs and closed his eyes. that is as good as it’s going to get until he got home. a jab with his arm roused him. dawn pointed to his earphones and lip-sync “this is for you, colonel.
” he nodded. he hoped it was not some two-star calling to cover his own ass. oh what the hell. he slipped his headset back on and took the call. “stone, here.” “mission control houston, colonel,” a familiar drawl congratulate him. “we have a possible sighting of your target.” “what have you got?” “it has been seen over the north pole by-” “being pulled by eight tiny reindeer, no doubt,” rex interrupted. “asteroid may not be that far off track.” “no, colonel. this one looks fantastic.” “okay, houston,” rex said as he motioned for dawn to listen to. “an army scout rocket took a beam of blue plasma by aurora borealis.
Aboard spectrometer identified xenon lines superimposed. an alert operator called norad.” “what did norad say about it?” “their radar will not find anything that comes on top of the pole, so they called us.” “can you give us a vector of scout sighting, houston?” “affirmative,” mason dixon, the voice from mission control, paused, “we get the geometry on your computer. pretty rough, colonel. scout optics with a wide field of view.” a black-and-white line sketch popped up at rex’s monitor. the globe with an arrow through it represented the earth. a cone as a megaphone comes from the north pole bounded suspicious sighting.
“that’s a big chunk of real estate, you can pin it down any, houston?” “norad radar did not find anything below one-hundred-and-eighty miles. they are seeking higher.” “thank you, houston, let us know what they see. we’ll take another look when we come around the bend again. by the way, did the army will tell you how fast things are moving?” “negative,” dixon replied, “it is not a good spectrometer.” thanks a lot, rex thought. army! if each highway police in the world can read the speed, why not a tech army? “thank you, houston, we’ll keep searching.” rex looked over at dawn; he did the same cartoon on his screen.
“what do you think of all that?” she asked him. “i do not know.” she shrugged. “what is the army doing in aurora anyways?” “trying to figure out what happens to the environment when they are hit with radiation. with the solar wind, lighting up the sky up there, it has been with the north pole as a giant radiation chemistry lab since eisenhower was in office.” “and they still do not know?” “old soldiers never die, you know.” “i guess … anyways, your original trajectory puts things out here where i’m scanning.
” he poked in the air above his monitor. “it must have slowed way down to be still anywhere back here.” her fingers dropped back to his sketch on the screen. “i do not think i believe a hard collision, but-” “it’s a long shot, but it is our best shot. is your people are willing to look for it?” “it’s twenty minutes at a safe angle look to close in. before that, earthshine was blind to me.” “can you drift south while we’re waiting?” he nodded. “i’ll make some geometry sighting in alaska and spread it forward in time. if we are lucky, we will find the target with when we are over the hill.
” a new shape flashed on their screen, a truncated cone, wider than the first and a planet-length north. monitor on target as volume rose to view. rex watched and hope as his instruments mapped emptiness. white sparks peppered black background, all objects recognized by the computer. no red marks signaled anything unusual there. distance slowed the search radar. signal to noise ratio is down; dwell times are longer. space station radar is maxed out. blank screen mapped vacuum. in twenty minutes, they will be able to see the entire zone. rex wrung his hands while he waited.
This is the last chance of the space station; after the revolution, the xenon asteroid belongs to astronomers. “yes!” rex pointed to a smudge on hubble monitor. “you found it!” “fear not,” dawn shook her head. “i’m down to the geosynchronous altitude, that’s one of the global positioning satellite only.” “why so vague?” “that’s the best i can do at close range. hubble is far-sighted, you know.” rex slumped in his chair and watched emptiness unfold across the wall of monitors. target is not there. “i do not see it,” he admitted. “we’d better look farther north.” dawn smirked and returned hubble finding his way.
The horizon arose, and ate the target zone; xenon asteroid was not there. how could he lose it? could it skipped off the atmosphere? … or vaporized in a collision? he just does not know. asteroid is long gone; it is time that the space station is back to normal. “colonel stone here,” he announced to the crew, “we appreciate the loan of your instrument. the astronomy mission is now complete. the space station will be able to resume his regular activities.” for rex, regular pilot duty is duty. station driving is as dull as driving a military transport.
It roared like a turboprop hurricane. it is handled like an iceberg. with just a few small thrusters, there was not much he could do; on autopilot, had even less to do. it will be a long six months, but it will earn astronaut merit badge he’d need another day. “hubble still did not find anything,” dawn interrupted him. “i am releasing it.” “might as well, nothing to look around here.” “rotten luck: all hubble got a frame before things erupted, and it is no great shakes.” “that … and ast can not think of a few long shots from analysis taking long.
Let’s get started.” “it’s a drop can spoil the rest of the afternoon here enable images to all the image enhancement software in the world; .. in the end, it’s still a drop.” “you never know ’til you try.” “you go ahead. i have a telescope to run. that’s what i signed on for six months of real science that no phone, no committees, no meetings. the xenon asteroid is a bonus, but the my plate is full. without it we put some fascinating observations on hold, i need to put the hubble back into line and catch them.
” rex hubble studied frame by itself. a three-lobed cloud masked anything inside. background is familiar from his thesis in arizona four years searching the sky for brown dwarfs. even with the contrast turned up, he saw no stranger there. whatever had hit the asteroid is too faint for the human eye to see; maybe the computer can find it. hubble has looked back in time. halfway across the universe five billion years ago, a young star system sawed through another. the images of carnage flickered dawn’s monitor. ghost galaxies collide; star which exploded rip one another. the photos are underexposed. he reprogrammed her telescope to gaze assemble light-shutter open for another hour.
A parasite is siphon off lights for an autopsy spectroscopic young stars cracks. “i’m going to grab some lunch. do you want anything?” he offered. “well why not?” rex grimaced. nasa food was worse than airline food. cafeteria has a microwave; pantry is a locker bolted between two aluminum i-beams in the room. “chicken, beef, or fish?” dawn summarized the plastic pouches on the shelf. “scare me.” salt-free, the texture-free warm paste in his mouth tasted like chalk on a protein shake. that taste is the worst part of bulking up for football in the academy; rex still hated it.
“okay, which one is it?” he asked. “does it matter?” “you’re right, it was that kind of day.” “it’s really hard to asteroid, you manage to get anything out of hubble images?” “no, i fiddled with it, then i fed it to a pair of image enhancement code. i tried your software without nasa. the cia did no better package” dawn shook her head. “it should not have, the math is pretty much the same in both of them.” “that makes sense, i guess. i never thought about it.” rex squirted his water bottle to his mouth to chase the aftertaste of lunch.
“i had no better luck calling home this morning it’s 9:30 and i forgot the girls had their first class at 10:00 o’clock ten college is not what Stokerized Stabilizer it used to be ;. .! reveille in oh- six-way back to air force: salin “” and you walked barefoot through the snow in class too, i bet. ” “okay okay!” he raised his arms in mock surrender. “how about you? day to the west coast. are you going to squeeze in a call home between the observations?” “my cat does not expect me to call, my ex would rather i did not.
” the call-waiting icon flashed on their computer screens. “then it was not for you,” rex said. “i do not give anyone my work number. this is probably your wife.” rex toggle the button off privacy and answer a call. “colonel stone,” an eastern accent addressed to him. “this is the moscow control. an unidentified object sighted over the pacific can cause navigation dangerous space station. initial reports indicate there is a potential for collision during your next pass over atlantic. mission control recommends you continue your navigation radar in long range mode. “rex hated nebulous threat briefings. “you have more specific information, like moscow?” “no, sir, the new reports are unreliable and ground monitoring stations that have not yet got it.
It was visible to the naked eye, and the track of sightings are consistent with the polar orbit. worst case situation is a large object passing over antarctica and comes to you out of the south. “” roger that, “rex acknowledged. “bandits at 03:00.” “please forgive me.” “never mind that. who are these guys?” “the origin is unknown, colonel. satellite surveillance has taken no unexplained launching. we blocked any shipments from the thing. we do not know what it is. we do not know where it is. we’re not even certain that it is.
To be safe, mission control suggests you run your radar wide open. “” how long before you can refine the trajectory? ” “ninety minutes, sir. projections put it over the atlantic and out of range of the assets of this land to pass. we estimate the first access to siberian radar fifty to sixty minutes as it comes on top of the pole.” pull over thirty minutes, ninety minutes will be too late; he needed data for fifteen. “i have aegis radar units returning from the xenon asteroid mission in the south atlantic. let me try it.” “very good, sir. please let us know of their results so that we can refine our search parameters.
” “thank you, moscow control,” rex signed off. he switched to internal communication and announced, “rig for evasive maneuvers.” dawn cinched her seat belt tighter. he turned to ask why. rex ignored him. he hailed ticonderoga on military lines for project xenon and ordered the executive officer to wake up the captain. “ticonderoga, here,” a half-awake voice answered. “this is the captain speaking.” “captain yengst, it usaf colonel stone piloting the space station. we have an emergency and request assistance of ticonderoga.” dawn tensed when he overheard the word emergency. he flipped a switch to eavesdrop on conversations.
“an unidentified object was reported on a collision course with the station. we need detailed radar data as soon as possible to take evasive maneuvers. you can take over the south atlantic and send information over the line xenon project , sir? ” “what is it, colonel, some kind of interceptor? whose?” “do not know, sir. can you do it?” “we can.” “one more thing, captain,” rex yengst interrupted before he could hang up. “yes?” “be aware that your data is fed unfiltered into russian.” “thank you, colonel, we will bear that in mind when we process the data we’ll get back to you from the control room when we’re on-line .
.” rex switch back to local communication. “i’d better go up front and drive the bus,” he excused himself. “i’ll watch the screen while you’re gone,” he replied. his eyes fixed on the wall of comatose monitor. he looked up. the navy radar screen flickered to life as he left the room. a cramped space with a joystick and a bank of levers, the space station cockpit seems to be out of a mercury capsule. the windows are larger, but the pilot is still spam in a can. the old-time range and gauges are transferred to the computer screen; a touch screen and keyboard has been added.
Rex screwed his six-foot frame chairs. beware of the joystick, he reminded himself. one touch will disengage the autopilot and control him; he’d be busy as a sinner in a revival meeting to air it again. he toggle radar to extensive search mode; an oblong rectangle stretched across the top of the cockpit screen. nothing has appeared yet. “colonel stone, this is captain yengst,” the voice in his ear said. “ticonderoga is scanning, but has not yet found you or your interceptor. can you provide more information?” “yes, sir,” rex answered. “we should be the biggest thing in the sky when we go out to the northeast of you.
Boogie is reported that in the polar orbit rising out of the south.” “okay, my people have something. let me see. “muted voice filled the silence.” no, it’s just you. “rex watched and waited. she saw nothing on the horizon, but that can change quickly closing five miles a second. “stone, yengst here, we have something that rises over antarctica.” “i see it on the screen,” dawn’s voice interrupted. “houston control here, captain yengst, the space station is in danger?” “not yet we know, houston. what? moments. “the navy connection is dropped off.
Yengst captain came back on the air.” i ordered my men to double-check their findings. preliminary s indicate a large body or body traveling at orbital speed …. just a minute …. yes, they confirm there are multiple large bodies- “” how big is big, captain, “mason dixon asked from houston mission control. “two to ten times the size of your space station, houston,” he replied. “we see them at 5:56 today doppler radar can not distinguish their speed ;. they were flying in tight formation. “dodging a swarm that big could take more than divert capacity than the station had. did rex wanted to jam on the brakes and swerve to miss it, but in what direction? “at what altitude, captain?” he demanded.
“they were fifty miles above your orbit for now, colonel.” “thank you sir!” rex breathed a sigh of relief. “nothing. oh, by the way, colonel, it’s not natural things. they are smooth and geometric. “woodrow wilson is a caltech phd with over thirty years of experience in research and development for the military and intelligence community. he explored space and other exotic environments in the laboratory and computer. he contributed to the design and testing of space-based and ground-based anti-ballistic missile defenses. he studied chemistry at 10,000f, 30,000 mph collision, plus fire and explosion in zero gravity, the aurora borealis, and more.
Neither wilson work on military applications of space puts the science in this difficult science fiction work dead astronaut. his interests were eclectic. he published the champagne taste / beer budget cookbook offers restaurant quality food without the price quality restaurant. he is a distinguished toastmaster, and an announcer district executive. he has addressed scientific conference in russia and germany, and throughout hila gang america. general audience he addresses technical and historical topics. wilson lives in northern san diego county with his wife and their two yellow labs. his two sons and four grandchildren live nearby. he is working on his next novel, the utah flu, a medical fiction piece.