Thursday, July 24, 2014

A discussion on the 2nd amendment

This is the start of a discussion on the 2nd amendment that I was assigned for my Humanities class:

I am a big fan of the 2nd amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  I am a supporter of the Constitution itself ( ), with the exception of the 16th amendment which I do follow but also strongly believe should be repealed.  I have spent a lot of time studying the Constitution and the founders writings including, but not limited to, the Federalist Papers ( ), the Anti-Federalist  Papers( ), and James Madison’s notes from the convention ( ).  Contrary to the claims of many the 2nd amendment is not about hunting, it is about defense:  defense of self; defense of family; defense of community; defense of country.  In all of the history of mankind there have only been two outcomes from disarming the populace:  1) innocent people are slaughtered wholesale; 2) the populace is enslaved by government.  These are the only two outcomes from disarmament and, as such, are the only two possible motivations for disarmament.  Anyone that is trying to disarm the people is either: a) trying to get millions of innocent people killed, or b) trying to enslave the people.

Gun bans do not make people safer.  Australia passed a near total gun ban in 1997 and crime rates skyrocketed ( ) ( ).  Great Britain has had tight firearm controls since WW2 and in 1997 banned handguns with predictably bad results ( ) and now has people being carved up in the streets with butcher knives ( ).  Chicago has some of the strictest firearm restrictions and a violent crime rate that is nearly double the national average ( ) and Washington DC with similarly restrictive gun laws is not much better ( ).  Compare this to Kennesaw, GA that passed a (ridiculous and totally unenforceable) law in 1982 that required every home to have a gun in it and it has a violent crime rate less than half the national average ( ).  In fact, Kennesaw technically has a lower crime rate than the town I live in, but then I live in a town of 450 people and we have one family that likes to beat each other up, occasionally shoot each other, and has some rather unsavory associates.  

Many people claim that private citizens have no need to be armed because the police will protect them.  This is a fallacy.  The Supreme Court and lower courts have made multiple rulings that state the police have no obligation whatsoever to protect people ( ) and ( ).  In fact an innocent person is by far more likely to be killed by a police officer than to be protected by one ( ).

Another fallacy is that gun free zones make people safer.  The Gun Free School Zones Act was passed in 1990 originally as part of the Crime Control Act of 1990 ( ) and the results have been predictably disastrous.  Just a brief look at mass shootings since 1999  ( ) shows that there were 30 mass shootings of which 7 were in schools and 11 were in other “Gun Free Zones” (churches, government buildings and private facilities clearly marked as Gun Free Zones).  There is no mention of intended mass shootings that were thwarted by an armed private citizen.  Gun Free Zones were clearly created to get innocent people killed ( ).  From the near orgasmic responses of Senator Diane Feinstein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the bulk of the news media after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it is quite clear that this is true.  These “progressives” spun themselves like whirling dervishes into a frothing frenzy counting the dead bodies, celebrating the perpetrator, and exploiting the victims and their families.  The media response was even more revolting than the slaughter of those innocent children, if you can imagine that being possible.

One completely misguided argument I often hear is that the founders had no way of imagining modern firearms.  This may be true from the straight technology standpoint, but only in the same sense they could not imagine computers, vaccinations, antibiotics, or the light bulb.  In the founder’s day private citizens owned cannons and there were some multi-barrel gun carriages that could fire as rapidly as any modern sporting rifle.  In the Revolutionary War the assault rifle of choice was the Brown Bess ( ), which was not actually a “rifle” per-se because it was a smoothbore (like a shotgun) and had no rifling in the barrel.  Hunting rifles of the day were 32 to 50 caliber (.32” to .50” ball) with rifled barrels, mostly leaning to the smaller size, and took 2 minutes or so to load per shot.  The Brown Bess is a 75 caliber (.75” ball) musket that could be loaded 2, 3 or more times per minute in the hands of a skilled shooter.  This is a fourfold increase in rate of fire with a ball that weighs 2 to 4 times as much as the hunting rifle projectile.  These things were devastating in battle and every male between the age of 18 and 60 was expected to either have one or access to one.  The founders had certainly seen the improvements of many machines and the older ones had seen the introduction of the Brown Bess as an improvement over its predecessor, so they certainly anticipated great improvements to firearms in the future, even if they didn’t know exactly what those improvements would be.

I am an avid shooter, a firearms instructor, a range safety officer, and a gunsmith.  I haven’t hunted since I was 18 although I fully support those who do, I just find it to be a pain in the posterior and have better things to do with my time.  As an engineer I am fascinated by firearms for the machines they are.  I also recognize that as machines they have no soul and no will of their own.  They are tools that can be used for good, evil or no moral purpose at all, as in the case of target shooting.  How the tool is used entirely up to the person wielding the tool and what their intent is.  In one of the killings in the above listed article a hammer was used to kill and in two others knives were used as well.  It is entirely up to the person as to what they will do with any given implement.

While I oppose virtually all gun control legislation, I am all in favor of the National Instant Check System (NICS) that was instituted as part of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 ( ).  This is the “background check” system that is used when private citizens purchase firearms from licensed dealers.  We do have a serious problem with mental health in this country and I would like that information to be included in the NICS system.  There is a provision for it, but it is optional and many states simply do not submit the information.  There is a large call for this check to be expanded to all gun sales, but in order for that to actually be functional would require gun registration.  That worked out oh so well for Germany in the 1930’s now didn’t it.  Any information the government has will be misused for political purposes, look no further than the NSA ( ) and IRS ( ) scandals for proof.  I would however like to see the NICS system to be opened up so private citizens could optionally use the system when they sell a firearm, although I’m not certain how to make that work and still protect privacy.  I personally have only sold 4 firearms and I sold them to people I knew and knew were of no danger to anyone.

I am in favor of expanding the number of people that are legally carrying concealed pistols.  I also believe that this responsibility requires some training on an ongoing basis.  There is no such thing as too much training and I consider it to be the responsible thing to do.  I personally legally carry a pistol wherever it is not prohibited and I make it a point to get at least one professional training class per year, sometimes more, as part of my obligation of concealed carry.  I also teach classes for this purpose.

Some people claim that the 2nd amendment is old, outdated and no longer relevant.  Many of those same people say the same thing about the entire Constitution.  I disagree.  I believe the 2nd amendment, and the entire Constitution for that matter, is as relevant, if not more, than the day the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were ratified.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 72:

Tim and Sam entered the bridge of the Albatross from the airlock.  Almost nobody noticed until Ensign Zhou spotted the admirals’ dress uniforms.  “Admirals on deck!” he announced loudly and nervously.

“As you were!” Tim announced.

“Commander Johnson!” Sam addressed the commander.

“Yes Ma’am.” He looked around to both of them “Sir.  Ma’am.  Sir.  Ma’am?” he was very confused.

“Take it easy sailor.” Sam addressed the commander “You haven’t ever seen us in uniform.”

“And there is a reason for that.” Tim added.  “But that is not why we are here now.”

“I don’t understand.” He looked really lost.

“You don’t have to.” Sam looked squarely at him and extended a small box. “Captain Calhoun is going home and this station needs a new captain.”

“Congratulations Captain Johnson!” Tim extended his hand “On your promotion and your new command.”

Sam opened the box to reveal the eagles to the new captain with a big smile.

The new captain looked down to the box and smiled.  He looked back up to Sam “Thank you Ma’am!” and then looked to Tim “Sir!”

Tim took one of the eagles out of the box, pulled the oak cluster from the new captain’s left collar and punched the eagle into that collar.  Sam took the other oak cluster from the new captain’s right collar and replaced it with the other eagle.  Simultaneously Tim and Sam punched down on the eagles to press them into the captain’s uniform and make sure he knew the responsibilities he now had.

Tim and Sam both saluted the new captain.

“Congratulations Captain.” Tim stated with a smile.

“Take care of your station and your crew.” Sam looked directly at him.

“I will indeed, Ma’am.” He looked to Tim “Sir.”

“Very Well.” Tim released his salute. “We need to get going.”

“And don’t tell the Reykjavik quite yet.” Sam winked at Captain Johnson “We have a surprise for them too.”

“Yes Ma’am.” He was still processing his promotion. He turned around to his staff “Ok people, let’s get this station back to operational status.”


Tim and Sam entered the Reykjavik from the airlock in their space suits dragging their bags with them.  The yeoman led them to their quarters without checking much else.  The pair just trudged along to the compartment and went in.  They stowed their bags quickly and climbed out of their space suits.  They checked each other and squared their uniforms, and then exited the compartment.  The yeoman froze a moment since she had no idea they were admirals “Admiral … s.” She muttered hesitantly.

“Yes yeoman.” Tim tried to sound reassuring.

“Don’t worry,” Sam chimed in “We don’t bite.” She smiled.

“We need to go to the bridge.” Tim looked at the stunned yeoman.

“Of course,” she slowly got back to business “right this way Sir, Ma’am.” She turned and launched down the zero G passageway.  Tim and Sam followed her to the bridge and stopped at the airlock.

“We can take it from here yeoman.” Sam grabbed the airlock handle “You’re dismissed.”

“Yes Ma’am, Sir.” She spun around and drifted back down the passageway as Tim and Sam entered the airlock.

They scanned the bridge as they were entering it, checking the operations and how well the crew worked together.  Gwen and Kim were talking to Commander Dunst at the navigating station.  Gwen looked up and saw Tim and Sam in full dress uniforms.  She announced “Admirals on deck!” and saluted.  Everyone in the compartment turned to look and saluted.

“As you were.” Tim announced as they both finished their return salutes.

“Commander Dunst.” Sam addressed the commander. “This ship is down one captain and will be for some time.”

“That is not a workable situation,” Tim added “As you are no doubt aware.”

“Yes Sir, Ma’am.” The commander responded.

Sam took a box out of her pocket and opened it to reveal the shiny eagles inside.  “Congratulations

 Captain,” She smiled “On your promotion and new command.” She picked up one of the eagles.

“We expect you will be able to run this ship as tight as Captain Grind did.” He picked up the other eagle and the two of them removed the oak clusters from the new captain’s collar, replaced them with the eagles they then punched down just hard enough that the pin tips just tapped his skin.  Some naval traditions will never die.

“Alright Captain,” Tim pointed out the forward observation port “Let’s get this beast underway.”

“We’re going to need a compartment to work in.” Sam pointed out “But first we need to get out of these uniforms.”

“Of course.  I’ll get one allocated.” He turned to his lieutenant “set aside one of the conference rooms with an observation port on the same side as our unusual cargo.” He turned back to the admirals “I’ll send you the compartment number to your quarters.  You probably want to grab a quick shower on your way.”

“That we will.” Sam smiled.

“Gwen, Kim, we will meet you in there and get our strategy figured out.” Tim looked slightly serious.

“Yes sir.” Gwen responded.

“Very well,” Tim saluted the new captain “Carry on.” Sam saluted as well.  They both spun around and left through the airlock.

As they drifted down the passage way Sam asked “Do you think they will mind if we take a little extra time getting there?”

“They are going to have to.” And they both laughed a little.


The Reykjavik slowly accelerated away from Albatross station towing the unusual cargo.  The shuttle was towing from the opposite side to balance the thrust and keep the asteroid clear of the thrusters of both ships.  They headed off on the 8 month journey to get back to earth quietly in the dark emptiness of space.

Beginning of Story

Friday, April 25, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 71:

“We’re gonna’ do WHAT?”  Commander Dunst shouted into the radio.

“The orders and plans are clear and there is no real danger.”  Commander Venkataraman tried to reassure Commander Dunst.

“What do you mean ‘no real danger’?” He demanded.

“Nothing happened until we started fiddling with the first one.” She insisted.

“So we are going to drag this one back home?” He really couldn’t believe what he was being told.



“It is all in the detailed orders I just sent you, but basically you hook up the cables to the ships and guide it back.  The experts will take it from there.” Her tone was almost condescending.

“Alright, we’ll get rigged up for it.” The commander got back to a professional attitude. “Who is going to connect things up?”

“Our crew will take care of it.” Commander Venkataraman checked the progress “They’ll be hooking things up in about 15 minutes.”

“Alright, we’ll be ready.” He was a bit uneasy but figured they would handle the connection “What about the trip back?  Do we have enough data and instructions?”

“The rigging crew is going back with you, and so are our experts on the subject so you will be well staffed in case of problems.”

“Is that the same team that launched the first one through the station?” He sounded a bit sarcastic.

“The very ones.” She tried to play with the other commander “At least they know what not to do.”

“Well then at least we have that going for us.” He wasn’t very confident. “We’ll contact back when the ships are rigged.”

“Acknowledged Reykjavik.  Albatross out.”


Sam was back outside, standing at the very aft end of the shuttle watching the approach to the Reykjavik.  She wasn’t even completely dry but was thankful for the shower and being able to clean her space suit.  After 6 hours the suits get pretty rank and she was going to have to spend several more hours in her suit to get the cargo hooked up for transport back to base.

“Alright Tim, that looks about right.” She was checking the distances and the orientation between the ships. “Bring the probe up close to the back of the Reykjavik so I don’t have to haul the cables too far.”

“Will do.” He started maneuvering the probe “I’m going to drift the shuttle a little closer to close the distance you have to travel.”

“I appreciate it.” She raised the camera and focused on the probe “Don’t get too close.  If you crash it that will make things difficult.”

“I won’t crash it.” He was slightly annoyed “I want you back inside as quickly as possible.”

“Don’t forget you need to top off the fuel tanks.”

“Oh yeah, I had almost forgotten” He quickly checked the cable orientations and the location of fueling connections on the ship.  He had to plot carefully to avoid tangling the tow cables and shredding Sam.

“I’ll get that done while you are hooking up the tow lines.”

“I thought you might need the reminder.” She smiled to herself as she launched off the shuttle toward the probe.  “Let’s get this done and get underway.”

The shuttle passed the asteroid and the two waved at each other as they set about their tasks.

“I’ll see you on the Albatross.” Tim blew a kiss to Sam through the observation port.

“That’s right, we have to stop there next.”  She blew a kiss back.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 70:

“Reykjavik, this is Albatross.” Commander Venkataraman called the ship.

“Go ahead, Albatross” Lieutenant Trace responded.

“We are preparing to send your captain back to you.”  She punched some buttons to send them critical information “You need to have proper medical facilities available.  And you need to have them for our captain too.”

“What do you mean ‘for your captain too’?” the Lieutenant was a bit confused.

“Both of them are in medically induced comas.” The station commander quelled her emotions “And will likely need to be for the trip back to base.” She paused “You will also need to make accommodations for our captain’s wife and the admiral.”

“Will do Albatross.  When will they be transferred?”  Lt Trace started calling up berthing assignments.

“The captains are being loaded into the transport now, so expect them in 20 minutes.  We are still hunting down the admiral but it should be within the hour.”

“You lost the admiral?” the lieutenant was confused now.

“You will understand shortly.” The commander jested.

“Lieutenant!” the navigator panicked and shouted “That other one is moving!”

“What?” the lieutenant looked at the monitor “Put it on the big screen!” he activated the radio “Commander, take a look at that thing.”

“Will do Reykjavik, Albatross out.” The commander almost lost her cool.


Sam entered the shuttle cabin from the airlock and closed the door behind her.  She took off her helmet and shook her head around to free up her hair.

“Help me get out of this thing.” She announced to Tim “I need a shower!”

“Just a minute.” He fiddled with his console, plotting the path to the ship. “It sounds like somebody figured out we’re doing something out here.”

“Alright, just don’t take too long, I’m itchy!” She was grumpy as she started opening up her space suit.

“Albatross, this is shuttle 2.” Tim announced into the radio.

“Go ahead shuttle 2, and make it brief we have a situation here.” The voice was near panic.

“We are moving the second asteroid to be towed back to base by the Reykjavik.” Tim calmly stated.

“YOU’RE WHAT?” the voice was clearly in disbelief.

“The orders have been entered into the log.” Tim gave the operator a minute to get a grasp on reality. “We are moving slowly and will get configured for towing.  The flight plan is linked in the log, just keep everyone calm and this will go smoothly.”

“Does the Reykjavik know about this?” the junior officer really didn’t know what to do.

“They will when you tell them.” Tim paused just to make the poor girl sweat a bit. “All of the orders are linked in the log.” He was being reassuring now “Forward the flight plan and the order, and let both crews know quickly to minimize the panic.  The Admiral’s full orders are attached in the log.”

“Acknowledged.” The officer regrouped herself “We will get that forwarded and the message disseminated.”

“Very well, we will see you in 30 minutes.  Shuttle 2 out.”  He breathed a sigh of relief as he unlocked himself from the console and tumbled toward Sam.  “Ok Sam, let’s get you out of that suit.”

“You’re going to have to help me get clean too.” She smiled at him.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He grabbed her and kissed her lightly on the nose.

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Beginning of Story

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 69:

“Albatross, this is Reykjavik.” Commander Dunst signaled the station.

“Go ahead Reykjavik.” Commander Johnson replied.

“Let’s not try that again anytime soon.”  The commander on the ship suggested.

“Agreed.” The commander on the station got a bit of relief.

“How long until that shuttle can bring us our captain?” Commander  Dunst wanted to have everything prepared.

“That’s not the limiting factor.” Commander Johnson hesitated “Both of our captains are in surgery right now, and we have been told that we have to wait.”

“Wait for what?”

“Wait for what is indeed what we are waiting for.”

“Well that is about the best I can expect.”  Commander Dunst resigned himself to the realities of the situation “I’m going to get some rest, I’m sure my crew can handle things for a while.”

“That is what I keep telling myself.” Commander Johnson was trying to reassure himself as much as everyone else “I’m going to get some rest myself.  Talk to you in 4 hours.”

“That’s a date.” The ship commander lightened up “Just don’t tell my wife…”

They both laughed.

Shuttle 2 slowly departed docking bay 5.  With all of the commotion on the station, very few people took notice or even cared.  The shuttle looped around the station in a slow, lazy arc and headed toward the newly arrived block of “who knows what” and accelerated toward it.  The probe that was still attached to the asteroid activated and started moving around to a pulling position.

The slow dance of two small craft docking in the vastness of space can be breathtaking.  For all of the strength built in to space faring vessels, they are incredibly fragile when the velocity and energy levels involved are considered.

The shuttle gently pulled next to the probe and came to a relative stop.

“Go for it,” Tim told Sam “Get that probe refueled!”

Sam launched herself off the shuttle with the fueling hoses in hand.  She hadn’t done this in a long time so she was running the checklist like a rookie.  She assumed the right stance and had the hoses in the right position, sweated the entire transition and even relieved herself along the way.  Her contact with the probe was nearly perfect, the connection of the fueling lines was textbook.

“Fill ‘er up!” Sam announced.

“Topping off with premium.” Tim played back.

“How long do you think it will take for anyone to notice what we are doing out here?” Sam pondered as she looked toward the station.

“Probably not until we are connecting the cables to the Reykjavik.” They both laughed.

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Beginning of Story

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 68:

The Reykjavik slowly approached the station while rotating around to point back toward Earth and to align the docking arms.  Albatross was not quite stabilized yet but the process was working.  Unfortunately stabilizing the station for docking and finishing the cargo transfer was consuming a lot of fuel, although the time saved to complete the resupply would be well worth it in the long run.

Transports buzzed around the station collecting cargo containers and searching for survivors or at least bodies.

The large ship slowly maneuvered into position along side the crippled station.  The station had a slight wobble due to the imbalance caused by a missing section of one of the rings, but it wasn’t too bad. The ship extended her docking arms and slowly moved them in between the rings toward the docking ports on the main hull of the station.
Station personnel watched the operation from every viewport that could see it and monitored very closely on their computer consoles from the cameras available.  The ship had personnel watching from every possible place including several people in space suits standing on the hull outside.  Each docking arm had a couple of people standing at the end of the fixes section of the docking arms and another pair at the end of the telescoping section.  Transport craft were stationed at critical observation positions between the ship and the station.  Nobody was taking any chances and all operations were going slowly.

The two craft slowly intermeshed with the docking arms of the supply ship moving between the rotating rings of the station.  Personnel on both vessels tried to behave as if this was a routine operation but there wasn’t a single person that actually believed it.  As the docking arms approached the docking ports the observing operators waved hand signals to each other indicating their observations of the approach.  Communications channels between the two craft were saturated almost to the point of being unusable so hand signals between the crew members was the best method.

The docking arms finally latched to their corresponding ports.  The crew of both vessels breathed a collective sigh of relief as resupply operations finally resumed.

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Beginning of Story

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 67:

“Shuttle 2 is docking now.” Kim looked across the compartment “And they have our wayward captains.”

“How are they?” Gwen didn’t look up and was trying to keep calm.

“They’re both unconscious, and apparently are pretty beat up.” Kim looked back down to her console “I have a medical team waiting for them.”

“Good.”  Gwen looked up for a moment “How many are still missing?”

“We only have two unaccounted for.” Kim quickly checked another list “The bad part is we have 6 dead.”

“That’s not bad considering we were hit by a large missile.  How much of the ring is gone?”

“The spokes look to be undamaged but the section between them is completely destroyed.”

“Lab 4, Bridge.” The intercom lit up.

“Go ahead bridge.” Kim switched the hologram to show the station in its current damaged form.

“We have a possible solution to stabilizing the station and we want you to run some numbers for us.” Commander Johnson was a bit anxious “We really need to get the Reykjavik docked to finish the resupply.”

“Send us the data.” Kim cleared her console for some new calculations “We’ll get right on it.”

“How long before we can get the transports back outside?”

“They are being refueled and the new crews are briefing now.” Kim quickly sent him the schedule and the assignments “I’m sending the schedule now.  The first transport will launch in 20 minutes.”

“Very good.” Commander Johnson hesitated for a minute “How long before the shuttle can launch again?”

“The crew is assisting the medical team move the victims to sick bay.”  She looked at the progress report “And then the crew needs at least 4 hours rest before they launch again.”

“That works.  Let us know when you have your assessment of our solution.  The Reykjavik will be in position in less than an hour.”

“Will do Bridge.  Lab 4 out.”

Gwen looked across the compartment “He really doesn’t want to complete the resupply by transport, does he?”

“No.” Kim looked back “Neither do I, and you shouldn’t either.”

“I don’t.”  Gwen looked back to her console “I’m plotting the tow plan to hook up that other asteroid for towing by the Reykjavik.  Well take it back to base where we will have better facilities to deal with it.”

“What do you mean ‘we’?” Kim sounded suspicious.

“You’re coming with us.” Gwen kept working on her console “We need your help and your knowledge with this.”

“But my place is here!” Kim was slightly miffed.

“Admirals’ orders.”

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Beginning of Story

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 66:

The Reykjavik looped around and headed back toward Albatross station.  The station itself was shaking with an odd wobble caused by the missing ring section as the thrusters fought to stabilize it.  Shuttle 2 lead the train of craft from the errant asteroids prior location toward the station.  Every ship was actively searching for survivors in the path left by the activated missile and the crippled station.  The ships fanned out to form a search grid for maximum coverage of the area.  This was a normal procedure that all of the pilots and commanders involved needed very little coordination to make it happen.  It was very good that coordination from the station because the station personnel were completely occupied with stabilizing the station and locating those that were missing within it.

“Shuttle 2, this is Reykjavik.” Commander Dunst wanted to synchronize with the other ships.

“Go ahead Reykjavik.” Tim was slowing the shuttle to make it easier for all of the observers to scan the area.

“We will not be able to dock with the station unless they can stabilize it.” The commander sounded worried “And our schedule is getting tight.”

“That much is obvious.” Tim sounded confident “We’ll get a schedule figured out for the transports to handle the remaining cargo.  The real problem is the fuel and oxidizer.”

“We don’t have to fully dock to hook up the hoses.” He was not confident “It is very risky but I think we can get it done.”

“Very well.” Tim was maneuvering the shuttle around toward one of the survivors “We’re going to finish the sweep and dock ourselves.  We’ll contact you when we are ready for the next phase.”

“Alright, we’ll discuss it then.  Reykjavik out.”

“Ok Sam.” Tim rolled the shuttle over to give her a better view and a shorter distance to travel “Get you lasso ready, we’re coming up on a survivor.”

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Beginning of Story

Monday, April 7, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 65:

Captain Calhoun looked up from his workstation out toward the incoming asteroid.  That was the moment he realized where it was going to impact the station: The very conference room he was sitting in.  That impact was going to be very, very soon.

“Captain,” Captain Calhoun was remarkably calm “The universe is about to go pear shaped on us.”

Captain Grind looked up just in time to see the asteroid impact the station directly below their feet.


The icy missile impacted the station on the outer edge of the forward spinning ring, almost perfectly centered on the conference room the two captains were settled in.  The station was moving away from the path but didn’t move fast enough.  The impact caused a yaw to the station making it spin away from the trajectory of the asteroid and saved the second, larger ring while devastating the section of the first ring.  This section was mostly conference rooms and storage that were currently unoccupied except for the one where the captains were located. 

The segment between the spokes disintegrated in a cloud of debris.  Chunks of hull and various supplies plumed around as the station rotated out of the path of the asteroid accelerating along its undetermined path.  The station held together but the people on board were jolted around and beat up inside.

The asteroid continued to accelerate toward the center of the solar system as if nothing was in its way leaving a trail of ice and station debris.


 “Sam!” Tim shouted into the radio “Who are we looking for?”

“I’ve got four people in space suits drifting away from that mess.” She made a quick scan without the camera “When do we get the last of the miners on board?”

“The last one just entered the airlock.” Tim tried to calm down “So hang on, we are headed for the station.”

“I’m strapped down.” Sam wanted to be reassuring “So just hit it and I’ll be with you!”

“Albatross Station this is Shuttle 2.” Tim announced on the radio “We have picked up 7 miners, we are currently tracking 4 suits in the station debris field and we are heading in.  Have we missed anyone?”

Commander Johnson replied to the shuttle “Shuttle 2, Albatross station.” He was rattled and nervous, but he projected the command confidence “We are working to stabilize the station so be warned we may be a bit unpredictable.  We show four people confirmed outside of the station and 10 un-accounted for at this time.”

“Acknowledged, Albatross.” Tim set the cameras to scan the affected area “We will keep our eyes open for anyone floating around.”

“Shuttle 2, be advised.” Commander Johnson was a bit hesitant “Captain Calhoun and Captain Grind were in the compartment that was hit.”

“Acknowledged, Albatross.” Tim had to pause a minute “We will keep that in mind as we sweep for survivors.”

 Previous     Next
Beginning of Story

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 64:

Sam stood at the edge of the aft end of the shuttle hull.  Her magnetic boots were firmly locked to clean pads on the hull.  She had two safety lines connected:  a long one attached at the airlock and a shorter one secured to a structural beam a couple of meters behind her.  She looked out over the glow of the thrusters slowing the ship and its cargo to gaze toward the station and the missile headed straight for it.  She positioned the camera to zoom in on the region between the station and the Reykjavik.

“The Reykjavik is clear and away,” Sam told Tim “She should be safe now.”

“That’s good to hear.” Tim idly responded since he was quite busy with the deceleration procedure “How long do you expect before impact?”

“No more than 5 minutes.” She shifted the camera back to the station “It is only going to hit the rings, the main body is safe for now.”

“There are more people in the rings than the main body most of the time.” Tim was clearly only partially thinking about that.

“I am aware of that,” Sam sounded a bit annoyed “I expect the captain has figured that out too.”

“I’m sure he has.”

“How long until we can cut loose from this thing?” Sam wanted to get into the rescue effort as soon as they could.

“We just did.” Tim was relieved in one sense but tense in another “Watch for the cables as I reel them in and get us spun around.”  He paused for a moment “You know we have to rescue the miners first, right?”

“Yes, I know.” Sam was worried about the station “So let’s go get them while I record the station.”

“I’m going to need your help in finding those people.” Tim insisted.

“Then let me know when we get close and I’ll help out.” She was annoyed.

“Ok.” Tim went back to pilot mode “We’re coming around so hang on.”

“Will do.” Sam looked around and adjusted as the ship changed attitude.

The shuttle swung around toward the ice cloud left by the asteroid as the tow cables were retracted.  Beacon strobes signaled in front of the shuttle as the craft carefully navigated through the debris.
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Saturday, April 5, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 63:

“Commander Johnson,” Ensign Zhou announced “The Reykjavik has just cleared the station.”

“Very well, Ensign.” The commander checked his console and activated the radio “Reykjavik, we show you clear of the station, retract those docking arms and maneuver clear.”

“Acknowledged, Albatross.”  Commander Dunst nervously replied “We will clear and stand by.”

“Alright people,” Commander Johnson announced in his best command voice “We are about to be hit by a very large object.” He scanned the compartment “That means we need to be ready for every possible problem that it could cause.  We don’t know exactly where we are going to be hit, or how big that impact will be, so we need everyone on this station ready for the worst.  Check and double check every airlock, line-lock, safety bulkhead, space suit, and anything else you can think of.  Keep your heads and work the problem.”

The murmur in the compartment settled into a controlled cadence of status requests and acknowledgements, control checks and responses, checklist verifications and clarifications.  It was the finely tuned controlled chaos the space corps was known for.

“Bridge, this is the captain.” The intercom announced.

“Go ahead, captain.” Commander Johnson switched his attention.

“I would like the latest feed from our intrepid travelers on Shuttle 2.” The captain knew the stress the commander was under.

“Feeding that through to you now, captain.” The commander quickly entered the commands to feed the information to the captain. “Is there anything you would like to request for your meals?  I want to get everything staged up.”

“Now that you mention it,” the captain responded lightly “We would like the lobster for the next meal with a light chardonnay and the Fillet Mignon with a hearty zinfandel after that.”

“Acknowledged,” the commander confirmed “E-Rats meals 5 and 6 are on their way.” He held back a laugh.

“Very well, commander.” The captain went back to business “Get every compartment supplied and the station sealed up.  We have 20 minutes at most.  That thing is still accelerating, so get this station ready for ‘God knows what’.”

“Aye, Sir!” the commander sounded confident but was shaking in his suit.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 62:

The docking clamps connecting the Reykjavik’s docking arms to the station released.  The arms started to retract.  Fuel and oxidizer lines released and sprayed a small amount of their precious fluids out in to space.  The thrusters on the Reykjavik fired off to full thrust directly away from the station.  The station’s thrusters fired to push directly away from the ship.  The two vessels slowly started to drift apart.

Cargo containers drifted out of both the station and the docking arms as they retracted.  The empty cargo containers in the forward arm were already heading for the ship and the direction of the conveyors on the aft arm were reversed, but emergency retraction of the arms was faster than the conveyors so some of the containers would be lost.  This is a calculated loss for serious situations.

The ship had substantially lower mass and much more thrust available so it was accelerating away from the station much faster than the station could move. 

Observers on both vessels watched as the arms disengaged from the gaps between the rotating sections of the station.  Everyone watched the critical distances between the moving objects for the slightest movement toward each other.  This wasn’t a routine docking operation, it was an emergency separation to move out of the way of a dangerous object accelerating in their path and the possibility of error was high. 


The asteroid continued to accelerate toward the station, shedding ice, miners and transports along the way.  The ice formed a cloud around the path in its wake and the glow from the back end lit the cloud up like a nebulae.  It was a breathtaking sight for anyone not in immediate danger from an uncontrolled missile of unknown origin.  Unfortunately the miners and the transport pilots did not have the luxury of being able to appreciate this magnificent sight, they were too busy trying to stay alive and find each other.  The cloud was thick with mostly fine particles, so there wasn’t a collision hazard as much as there was almost no visibility.  Beacons and radio contacts were all they had to go by.

The lights from the transport craft and the space suit emergency beacons added to the nebulae look of the ice cloud.


Tim and Sam watched the spectacle on their monitors.  The shuttle was pointed away from the station in braking configuration to slow down their alien cargo.  It was very clear the asteroid was headed straight for the station and there was no way the station would get out of the way in time.

Tim looked to Sam “Get out there and record this.” He was serious.

“We’ve got 3 cameras on it already.” She was hesitant.

“But you’ll be faster with a handheld camera, and we don’t know what is going to happen.” He looked straight into her eyes. “Or who we’re going to have to find.”

Sam gulped and launched herself toward the airlock.  She understood the urgency and was, for once, actually thankful they were already suited up.

“And hang on while you are out there.” Tim was clearly concerned “It is likely to get bumpy from here in.”

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 61:

Captain Calhoun and Captain Grind were relaxing on either side of the conference table, looking out of the viewport toward the front of the station observing operations on the asteroid while sipping some scotch from Captain Calhoun’s private selection.  The chit chat was light as the two captains let off some steam and had a few laughs with their feet kicked up on the table.  This was a luxury neither man got very often due to the responsibilities of command.

They both saw the cloud of ice erupt from the far end of the asteroid.

“What the hell was that?” Captain Grind was startled.
“Not good.” Captain Calhoun sat up in his chair and looked around toward the information console on the rear wall.

The klaxons and emergency lights kicked in.

“Oh Shit!” Captain Calhoun jumped up and bounded to the space suit locker followed very closely by Captain Grind. 

The two quickly donned their suits, activated their enviro-packs and ran through the safety checks on each other’s suits with quiet, smooth precision.  These two were so incredibly familiar with this procedure they could do it in their sleep and not miss a step.  In this case they were far from asleep since they both saw the threat, but that didn’t hinder them in the least as they were absolute professionals.

“Alright Captain,” Captain Grind spoke up “What next?”

“We can’t risk moving through the station right now.” Captain Calhoun moved to the conference table. “So this compartment just became a command deck.” He pressed a button and two command consoles opened up on the conference table.

“Has my ship undocked yet?” Captain Grind moved to one of the consoles and strapped into the chair.

“That would have been the second step after hitting the panic button.” Captain Calhoun strapped down into the chair at the other console. “So I expect you will be our guest for a while.”

The two captains frantically started checking status of their respective commands and the projected trajectories of all of the vessels in motion.

“This isn’t looking good.” Captain Grind looked up “I think my ship will get out of the way but I’m not sure about this station.”

“That is what I am afraid of.” Captain Calhoun didn’t bother looking up, he just kept watching status reports from every department.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What happened to my Asteroid? Section 60:

Transport 2 slowed to a relative stop over the contact pad on the asteroid.  The cargo door opened and the maintenance bot drifted out.

“Bot is away Albatross.” The pilot announced to the station.

“Acknowledged, Transport 2.” Commander Dickerson responded. “We’ll take it from here.  Move to your assigned observation position and link up.”

“Aye, Aye, Albatross.” The pilot moved the transport to a higher altitude and off center to afford a better camera angle.

The bot descended toward the contact pad.  A grappling arm extended in the middle and three landing legs stretched out from the sides as it rotated around.  It slowed its approach as it neared the target.  The grappling arm grabbed to the mount point as the little craft rotated to place the landing legs outside the contact pads and located between them as it touched down.


“Bot is down.” Kim looked over to Gwen “Ready for the first set of tests.”

“Alright,” Gwen started punching buttons “Starting initial voltage tests between the pads, star pattern.”

She concentrated as the readings were displayed on the console for a few moments. “Kim, come take a look at this.”

Kim left her console and floated across the compartment and stopped behind Gwen.  “What have you got?”

“Look at these readings.” Gwen pointed to a couple of pairs. “Voltage and frequency appears to be going up as impedance goes down across these sets of pads.”

“It is not consistent across all of those pairs.” Kim pointed to one set “This one seems to have the greatest change.  What impedance range did you use?”

“I started at a gig ohm and brought it down to a mega ohm.” Gwen had the display order by the amount of change and display the correspondence values.

“Alright, let’s run this pair again and slowly run it down to 100 kilo ohms, and watch out for dangerous voltages.” Kim gestured down the list that showed no change. “And then check this set again.” She headed back across the compartment.

“Alright my little friend,” Gwen started programming in the test process “Let’s see what you are up to.”

 Kim strapped back down in front of her console and called up the video feed from the observing transport.

“Albatross station, Shuttle 2.” Sam’s voice sounded slightly nervous.

“Go ahead Shuttle 2.  What have you got?” Kim was focusing on the bot, looking for anomalies.

“This end of your asteroid is starting to glow.” Sam was definitely concerned.

“Did you just say it is glowing?” Kim was startled.  Gwen looked across the compartment.

“Yes I did.  Here is the video feed.”

Kim quickly punched up the feed to see the slightly blue tinted glow emanating from the end of the object.  It was slowly growing in intensity.  “Gwen where are you in your measurements?”

“Impedance is 500 mega ohms, voltage is 90 volts and frequency is 125 hertz.” Gwen checked the other pads “And pad 3 to pad 5 is showing 10 volts DC, no AC.”

“Ok, knock it down another 100 mega ohms and re check the other pads.”  Kim set the screen to show both video feeds.

The ice on the far end of the asteroid erupted in a cloud blasting away and out from the body.

“Did you see that?” Sam shouted through the radio.

“Albatross, that thing is moving!” The transport pilot was near panic.

Kim looked up and remembered the asteroid was lengthwise pointed directly at the station. “Gwen…” Kim was very nervous now.

Gwen cut her off by punching the panic button for the station.  The klaxons and emergency lights lit up.  “Suit up Kimmie!  And DO IT NOW!” Gwen shouted and then turned to the radio “Reykjavik, Emergency Undock!  Unlock and blast clear of the station.  Code Blue 5.  This is not a drill.”  She paused “Repeat.   Emergency Undock!  Unlock and blast clear of the station.  Code Blue 5.  This is not a drill.”

Gwen quickly punched the command for the bot to disconnect then unstrapped and launched herself toward her space suit.

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