Bill Hammons: Writing and Running in Boulder, Colorado

BILL HAMMONS: WRITING AND RUNNING IN BOULDER, COLORADO
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42


Goddard straightened his sitting position, and everyone else suppressed their smirks as Detrick jabbed a button on a remote control in his hand to create a floating hologram in the center of the hall, above the four hundred attentive-yet-bored pairs of eyes. "One last time, then you brats can get on your buses for your last night in Daytona Beach."

"On Sunday at Oh Six Hundred Hours, you take off from Cape Canaveral in the U.S.S. John Glenn." A three-dimensional image of the enormous triangular single-wing aircraft rotated in the space which Detrick slowly circled. A push of a button, and the image was replaced by a diagram of Earth in the head of a giant comet-like tail. "Almost as I speak to you right now, a magnetosail riding the solar wind from the sunward side of Earth will collide, as gently as we can manage, with the Earth's magnetosphere." A small cylinder of a ship sporting solar panels that powered the creation of a magnetic field, a field which was used as a sail to capture the charged particles known as the solar wind and which was discernible only by the aurora that danced on one side of it, approached the diagram of the magnetosphere.

"The sail itself will remain balanced against the magnetosphere, hovering directly above the equator, but three separate titanium cables will be carried to the Earth eight thousand miles below by inertia and gravity." Once the red line of cable in the diagram reached the blue sphere of Earth, the diagram was replaced by the image of the John Glenn. "With the aid of thrusters attached to the ends of these cables and with the skill of a few well-trained pilots," Detrick allowed himself a rare smile at the designated pilot and co-pilot of the craft, who both sat in the front row, "these cables will connect with three different points of the John Glenn." The ends of the cables inserted themselves near the three corners of the triangle that was the spaceship. "Then, the magnetosail will use its main thrusters to nudge itself off its balancing point, and ride the solar wind along the surface of the magnetosphere to your next destination, pulling you and the U.S.S. John Glenn along behind it."

A short video clip of the glowing disc-shaped magnetic field zipping above and past Earth and ripping the Colonists' ship out of that planet's atmosphere was replaced by a three-dimensional representation of the moon. "And your next destination, ladies and gentlemen, is Luna Twelve, where the Mayflower awaits you." A red dot that had appeared in the satellite's southern hemisphere was now replaced by a horizontal view of a vast lunar complex of steel-and-brick buildings. A spacecraft shaped like a bullet with a missing tip sat atop a detachable rocket and next to a collapsing tower, Apollo Program-style, ready for launch into the same solar wind that had helped carry a holographic John Glenn to a landing position beside it.





































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