Age of Cosmic Exploration
Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_
Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas
Chapter 66: Bon Voyage
After the Academy’s deliberation and testing, which lasted ten days, it was finally confirmed that the alloy created by the plants was a type of never-before-seen superconductor; it was a metal that was unfamiliar to man.
If the Hope’s energy circuit were updated with this metal, not only would it withstand the output from three nuclear reactors, it would also withstand the added energy from the crystal reactors. Even the total output compiled from all of these reactors was still way below its support limit.
This solved some of the Hope’s biggest problems, which were the risks and negative effects undertaken during warp. Simultaneously, this meant that the Hope could afford to support a greater load during warp.
With this discovery, man’s chance of survival in space had made a flying leap. Estimates put the longest man could spend in space without landing at about ten years, and with a maximum storage of fuel, the number of possible space-warps at about a few hundred times.
Yao Yuan was immensely delighted at the news but calmly, he asked, "How much of these alloys will the plant produce? How much metal do they need to consume to create these alloys? Also, how much of these alloys do we need to upgrade the Hope’s energy circuit? Most importantly, how vulnerable will we be during the upgrade?"
The scientists looked at each other blankly before turning to the small group of statisticians that had joined them in the room. The statisticians nodded subtly. They were glad that their leader was astute enough to consider matters such as these.
One of them immediately handed Yao Yuan a report. "Major, regarding your question, the Hall of Communications has collected some data for clarification. First, the issue of alloys… Regretfully, its composition is still unknown, and we have no idea what happens during the plant’s crystallization process. However, based on experiments so far, the plants will create three to four grams of alloy after consuming one ton of asteroid pieces."
The conversion rate had Yao Yuan stunned, and it wasn’t hard to see why.
With the Hope’s current fleet of 300 mining airships, they charted a harvest of 1,200 to 1,500 tons worth of minerals daily. After removing the waste materials, they were left with about 50 tons of useful minerals.
The numbers simply wouldn’t add up! The plants would exhaust the whole meteorite cluster before they could produce enough alloy to upgrade the Hope!
Noticing Yao Yuan’s flummoxed expression, a scientist quickly offered, "Major, you might think that the conversion rate is incredibly stingy, but don’t forget that we’re in space; there are deposits of minerals literally floating all around us. Even if we exhaust the several billion tons of minerals that makes up this cluster of meteorites, we still have that forming terrestrial planet to fall back on. The forming planet has asteroid pieces that are bigger than the Hope; just imagine how many minerals it contains!
"Furthermore, the plant has a strong constitution and can spread very fast. If we drop it on one of the big asteroids and let it do its work, we will have more than enough alloy on our hands when it’s finished. So please don’t worry."
After giving it some thought, Yao Yuan concurred. "Alright, let’s move on then. How much of this alloy does the Hope need… Never mind, we can skip that. If we end up with more than enough alloy, then we won’t need to worry about that anymore. So the next question is: how safe will we be during the upgrade?"
The statistician who previously spoke answered, "Of course, Major, the report has data on that as well. This is going to be an immense upgrade that will involve most of the Hope’s structure, especially parts that are related to the reactors, so within this period, the Hope can only idle, and of course, it can’t commit to space-warping. Regarding the danger, I suspect there will be none coming from within, but from outside… that is an unknown.
"After all, this solar system is a new system, so there might be stray asteroids. If one such asteroid heads towards us while we’re in the middle of upgrading, that might be a problem."
An engineer picked up the thread of conversation. "Also, within this period, energy to most of the area within the Hope will be cut off. In fact, the upgrade would be much faster if the Hope’s energy was completely shut down."
"A complete shutdown?" Yao Yuan frowned as he addressed the engineer. "But we’re in space. Without energy going to life support, all 120000 people on board could die!"
The engineer smiled indulgently as Silewei explained, "Of course, Major, we’ve thought of that. But if we are to upgrade the Hope section by section, it will take years to finish upgrading a ship of this size. However, if we land on some planet and then transplant parts of the Hope’s anti-gravitational system and life support onto that planet, the upgrade would take at most two weeks. In fact, here is the plan that we’ve drafted.
"We will carve out a temporary underground base, fit it with the necessary systems, and relocate the people there while work is being done to the Hope. It will take, as I’ve mentioned, two weeks to upgrade the more important parts of the circuit. Simultaneously, with the Hope safely landed, we can avoid collision with stray asteroids."
After weighing all the possible variables, Yao Yuan asked, "But where would we land in this solar system? The planet isn’t fully formed yet. Also, won’t the forming planet be prone to geological disasters, like earthquakes, due to its rapid seismic movements?"
"Even though we’ve mentioned planet, it needn’t be one. What we have in mind is the core of the forming terrestrial planet. It has enough mass to make our plan possible. Furthermore, based on our observations, it has about one twelfth of Earth’s gravity, and that can only aid our effort. Also, it is still too young to have a layered crust formation, so we needn’t be worried about earthquakes.
"Of course, we can’t possibly erase the possibility of it colliding with other asteroids within the cluster, but since they move so slowly, it would take years before any collision would happen. With only a maximum of two months of working period, we will be gone before those disasters occur," explained Silewei.
Yao Yuan dithered over the option. He took a long time before standing up and declaring, "Okay, everyone, the Hope is going to sail towards that forming planet. It will take two months to get there. Within these two months, I want everyone to revise and reevaluate their calculations and analyses.
"120000 people’s lives are on the line here! The margin of error must be kept to its minimum!
"We will depart for the terrestrial planet early tomorrow!"