They travel peacefully on the hundred and eighty-sixth day of their journey. Finished his breakfast Ragnar place his dishes in the dishwasher when Agneta glides in kitchen sleepy and dreary.
– Good morning, sis! How sleeping? –
– Thanks, pretty bad. It’s hard for me to fall asleep there, and when I do sleep is frail. Looks like every vessel’s vibration wake me up. –
– Might some more rest time support? –
– Might. I will run some tests immediately after breakfast and will try to ascertain the reason. Although I’m no sleep disorder specialist I might find some useful information in research. –
– Say if you need help. We will do anything in our capacity. At the end of the day, we need operational medic! –
Said that Ragnar glides towards the pilot cabin where he takes over shift form Thorsten who then heads to the kitchen for lunch and to daily exercise after. Meanwhile, Kristine is taking care of greenhouse plants and reap some vegetables. Tomas has finished his daily tasks and is going to sleep. Latest celestial measurements displayed by navigation screen in the front panel update their position, direction and velocity.
Suddenly vessel shudders and starts to turn somersaults, indicators in front panel starts to flicker like lights in Christmas tree. Ragnar immediately switches off the main engine and turn his attention to indicators most important for their survival.
“Air pressure falls rapidly!”
After brief warning in radio, Ragnar lock closed all hatches and stops air and water circulation between modules. Indicator of air pressure in one of the cargo modules keep blinking. Then he uses reaction control thrusters to stop the vessel’s somersaults.
– Everyone everything alright? –
Everyone responds one by one confirming everything is alright, to say nothing about fright and a couple of bruises. Everyone except Agneta.
– Agneta? Agneta?! – Ragnar calls repeatedly.
– I am in the kitchen. – she finally responds when all the worst possible scenarios have run through all minds. Grinding of pain, she continues:
– I have a pain in my side. Will need help to get to sickbay. –
– Thorsten, Kristine? –
– Coming. – the deep voice reply.
– Tomas, we need to determine what happened to the vessel. –
Following control unit carefully operated by Tomas a drone moved by pneumatic thrusters fly out of a small hatch and slowly fly along vessel’s hull, transmitting camera view to the screen in front of Tomas.
– Wow! Have a look, Ragnar! – Tomas says detaching tablet from magnetic clips and handing it to Ragnar. On the screen large and irregularly shaped hole in the hull of one of the cargo modules is visible.
– Looks like several separate holes have been made first and then outflowing air has thorn anything else out. –
– This is the side of the Sun? –
– Yes. And solar arrays there are all severely damaged. –
– That explains why we are getting less electricity than we consume. –
Carefully operating with RCTs Ragnar wheel vessel around its rotational axis and turns functional solar arrays towards Sun.
– That’s better! But we still consume more electricity than we get. –
– Then we need to reduce consumption by switching off systems not critical for survival. –
Ragnar is then carefully examining switches and indicators on the panel and ship’s command manuals and switch off several switches one by one.
– This is not needed. This also not. –
In the end, only life-support, communication and navigation systems are left working.
– These systems we need if we are going to survive and get help. But we still consume more electricity as we get! Not by much, but it still will drain batteries eventually, and that will be the end. –
– Do we need a navigation system? – Tomas asks after looking at electricity consumption graph.
– If we want to know where we are and be able to inform rescue, then yes, we need it. –
– But do we need it all the time? What if we adjust data of our location and direction now and then set longer intervals between automatic measurements, let’s say, forty-eight to seventy-two hours, that could balance our electricity budget. –
Ragnar orders computer to take navigational measurements, and in few seconds they have actual data of their location, direction and velocity. Tomas takes data on the difference in electric energy levels in batteries and calculates electricity consumption.
– There! If we would take navigational measurements once in seventy-two hours, our electricity intake and consumption would be in balance. –
– Alright, then let’s do so. – Ragnar reply.
This story is a part of my new novel which will be available staring with next Martian New Year. I would appreciate feedback very much!