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Space Travel is Worth Dreaming About

In 1961 The United States succeeded in landing a human being on the Moon. Prior to that, the Soviet Union had successfully sent human beings into space. Between the two of these "super powers" space travel became a reality because the leaders of these enterprises decided it should be so. By today's standards, Apollo 11 was technologically crude and primitive, and no sane person would consider riding such a device into space today. But it worked and those involved with the project knew the risks and went anyway. Today billions of dollars are spent on our space shuttles and space research that is comparatively safe, but nowhere near as ground breaking. The space shuttle goes up and down from Earth to our only working space station. Nobody considers going to the moon or to Mars because the perceived expense and risk appear too great. That's because we've forgotten the vision that Neil Armstrong and his crew had. Yes, there are risks. We've lost two space shuttles so far, and the families of those killed have every right to grieve for their loss. But accidents happen in every endeavor. The first pilots of aircraft risked death every time they took the controls. Thousands of people risk their lives on our nation's highways traveling in fragile boxes on wheels that are propelled by chemical explosions to travel faster than humans were ever intended to go. So why not go to Mars? It need not be expensive. The Lunar Rover cost millions to make, but a similar contraption could probably have been created in the average garage with parts costing pennies. Big government comes with big price tags. Small inventors can do far more with far less. And it all starts with a dream. Somebody has to have the audacity to demand that we do it. I want to go to Mars even if it means I risk my life doing it. Will I go? Perhaps not, but that doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be done. But NASA probably won't go, at least not until they rekindle the vision that got us to the moon. That vision comes from people like us who write these stories.

Space Travel Will Happen When it Pays

There are resources in space that can be exploited. Space travel can pay for itself and enrich the Earth. Asteroid mining, for example, can yield minerals and valuable metals that might be hard to find on Earth. The mining and processing of such materials can be used to construct space installations far more economically than in mining these materials on Earth and rocketing them into space. The universe I am proposing in my series is based on the idea that Earth is finally using space for profit, and asteroid mining is at the core of this. Sally Buds is first introduced as a doctor working on a Canadian space station, whose purpose is to mine and process cobalt ore for profit. Her faithful friend and pilot, Ian Merryfield, first meets her when running a supply run to this station.

The Economics and Leadership of the Future

In Sally Buds' universe, all of our nations still exist, but with a few changes. First of all, though America still has a place in world leadership, there is the understanding that much of the early 21st century was the stage of and "economic re-structuring." How will America pay its national debt? The assumption here is that, since it can not be done, the dollar was abolished in favor of some form of international currency. In one story, these UN dollars are depicted as blue, when printed on paper. The UN also has much more power and influence as we know it today. Think of it as a union of America, Canada, and Western Europe. Its main office is still located in New York City, however, and its leadership is far from perfect. Opposite the UN are some other entities, many of which are less than friendly to the UN. These include the New Soviet Union. Yes, they did it again, but the assumption is that it was far less bloody than the first time and if there is the hint of a new cold war, it is far from the violent and terrifying conflict that dominated the 20th century. The New Soviets don't have the traditional freedoms of the American Constitution. Party members have great power and influence and Russian heroes and celebrities are closely watched by bureaucrats, but there is no suggestion of an evil secret police, gulags, and massive oppression. Yet. Aside from the New Soviets, the real enemy facing the free world is the Asian Economic Alliance. This is a collection of countries who were slighted in the economic re-shuffling. These nations held great wealth in the old world and still hold titles to massive ancient loans, which they fully intend to collect. Embittered, the AEA continues to seek economic advantage and world domination. The Arab Alliance is mentioned in name only, but with no specifics.

The Folds

All kidding aside, the universe is huge and it would take forever to get from A to B with our existing means of travel. To be fair, the moon isn't very far away, but if you put that much mileage on your car, it would be pretty much done. We got there within a few days. That seems fast, but Mars is 160 times as far away and that's not very far either. It would take years to get to the outer planets going as fast as we can now, and even at the speed of light, the nearest star is still years away. Intergalactic travel would be several orders of magnitude more difficult than that. Maybe that's why space travel seems so futile. Poor Captain Kirk needs his warp drive and we haven't invented it yet. But then there's the idea of the wormhole! Maybe we can't get from A to B the hard way, but what if there was a shortcut? The idea of folded space is that our universe behaves like a two dimensional piece of paper folded in such a way that different places within the universe, though far away if the paper was laid flat, could be close if the paper was folded in such a way that those points touched. In Sally Buds' universe, "folds" appear as invisible stellar phenomena that behave like planets orbiting the sun. They are permanent doorways from place to place, and whether they were created on purpose or exist as natural phenomena, they make it possible to re-invigorate the space program! The funny thing is that these folds can be found anywhere and without warning, and can lead anywhere. It is also unclear whether they lead only to different spaces or to different times as well. Watch out for folds when you travel in space!

Our First Colony

Wouldn't you know it, we have war in space! And a war of independence at that! Just as the great depression had World War II to stimulate the economy, the world as a whole built Baltan City. At 20 miles long by 10 miles wide, this thing is huge! To make matters more interesting, it is populated on both sides, each with its own local gravity. This means that there is an upper and lower city. But the first inhabitants of Baltan took the pioneer spirit further than the UN originally wanted. They felt that Baltan was theirs and ultimately sought the right to determine its destiny. A bloody war resulted. Baltan City couldn't win against Earth, but it could retreat. Equipped with a powerful engine, Baltan was always intended to be able to travel in space. Its governor and chief pilot succeeded in relocating the city beyond the asteroid belt, where they are just outside the range at which the Earth-based military could fight them in an economically sound fashion. The war polarized Earth into Baltan supporters and Baltan haters. In there somewhere was a ruthless group of fanatics known as the Mercy Party. Based on Baltan, they have friends everywhere and are capable of great acts of terror.