A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

There are no beautiful surfaces without a terrible depth.
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

The Admiral was off duty, was either sleeping – or up in the observatory, gazing at the big banded marble. The First Watch Officer, Kapitän zur See Kastenmüller, had taken his seat. Kastenmüller was a sharp fellow. Hence one better kept silent and refrained from silly jests. Jochen Zeislitz was studying the screens in front of him – or was at least pretending to do so. There was nothing special to be seen. “Elsa” and “Brünhild” were on station; the “Fidelio” crew was resting.

They had completed their first foray and returned to the boat with boxes filled with samples. Winfried Bremer was still manning the bridge. He had been talking with Kastenmüller, but that conversation just seemed to have ended. Okay, down there they now had a heap of boxes full of grimy ice, great. Obviously, nothing was alive on the surface of Ganymede. If there were – at all – any little green men on this orb, they were little green tadpoles swimming in the ocean below the ice crust.

Well, on the next sally, they were going to plant the explosive charges and the measuring instruments. The charges weren’t large. One wouldn’t be able to see the explosions from the Hammer. But for placing the instruments, the chaps would have to jog quite some distances. The pilots were trained kosmonauts; they could surely handle the task. But what about the scientists? They had been dealt a quick pass-through kosmonaut training, yet were lacking all experience.

The surface was anything but flush. You could easily get lost between those boulders, grooves and warps. But Theo Osterhage certainly had a plan how to organise the manoeuvre.
ıThe last update made me wonder. What is the proper terminology used for space-faring folk? Raumfahrer? Kosmonaut? Astronaut? Taikonaut?
The term 'kosmonaut' coined by General Tikhonravov, the NASA chief, has been widely adopted. RRA use it throughout. The Ottomans use 'Uzaylı/ Uzaylılar' though, which has the connotation of extraterrestrial.
It is the patriotic duty of every man to lie for his country.
(Alfred Adler)

Sifting through the material on her desk Helga von Tschirschwitz heaved a sigh. The pictures were lousy and the story was uninspiring. How was she supposed to sell this baloney to the little guys on main street? Public support was important. The politicians were indifferent; they wanted to be reelected. If flying to Jupiter helped this purpose, they would support it. If not, the money would be spent for something else – high speed monorail, nuclear powered aircraft, freight bicycles, you name it…

You couldn’t stop the politicians from tossing the money out of the window. You could only try to influence in which direction it was thrown. The Hammer’s journey had to be popular. The trip to Mars had been, not least because of the “Wolpertinger” tragedy. And because it had been a short-time affair. – The Jupiter adventure had removed the Hammer from view. Long absent, soon forgotten…

One should have set up a phony Hammer – and have employed actors to pose as Hammer crew. That would have made it possible to let the little guys take part in the gest. – Okay, chance missed, what was past was past. But Helga had already come upon another idea: what about a kamal? There had been this famous – or infamous – Russian kamal featuring Viktor the Kosmonaut. Viktor Krylenko, Russia’s first man on the Moon had served as – involuntary – model.

Even Helga herself had been in the plot – as first sex partner of said Viktor. Well, her face had been. The body had been that of a fantastic sexpot. The kamal had been immensely successful in Russia. Helga had collected the series. It had been pretty filthy, if not outright pornographic, but also absolutely hilarious. Could one create something in this vein? Without porn, of course…

Kamals were well known in Germany. The tabloids were regularly making good use of them. Hence, this would be a splendid opportunity to reach the little guys, wouldn’t it?
There is no genius where there is not simplicity.
(Leo Tolstoy)

Was it the rude rebuff incurred in the Kazakh Republic? Or what else had caused Moscow to see reason? Anatoly Alekseyevich Dorodnitsyn could only wonder. Three more NPP ships had been ordered – without that Indrik Zver had flown once yet. But, of course, the Nyemtsi ship was orbiting Jupiter. What other proof was needed to demonstrate the usefulness of the design?

And a working group had been bid to evaluate the possibility of building a spaceship with fusion drive. Dorodnitsyn was a member, and Andrei D. Sakharov had been nominated scientific director. An initial meeting was scheduled for next month. Dorodnitsyn thought his letters had started this development, but he wasn’t expecting to be overly engaged. His job was to complete Indrik Zver and to build the other three ships.

Shishmarevo had to be enlarged. That wasn’t difficult in principle; there was room enough. The steel plant was good in its present form. It could produce the pusher plates one at a time. Three new builder’s yards were required in the proximity of the steel plant. That was the part not easy to implement – and would most probably require the deletion of Indrik Zver’s yard, which was only doable after the big bird had taken off.

Creating more accommodations for the enhanced staff, additional stores and so on was not a problem. It all could be done while Indrik Zver was repaired and completed. The latter task would be accomplished in April 1964, perhaps already in March, but not earlier.
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It is not the path which is the difficulty; rather, it is the difficulty which is the path.
(Søren Kierkegaard)

Setting up the explosive charges and the measuring instruments hadn’t been unduly difficult. They were to be connected to “Fidelio” by wire, hence one had had at hand reliable spinning threads. And, of course, the kosmonauts had done the work. The scientists had been busy setting up their gaging station inside the boat. That had kept them safe – and everybody else as well.

The explosions hadn’t been spectacular. One had felt and seen nothing. But the scientists had been content. It had been sufficient for gauging their instruments. Now, the real charges had to be placed. Helmut and Winfried were outside for that purpose. Theo Osterhage was monitoring the procedure from the cockpit. It was awkward, because he had to wear his spacesuit. In case of trouble he had to retrieve the two – or at least try…

Pasetti and Bohlen were fiddling at their gaging station. Helmut was talking to Theo, was describing what they were doing. They had reached the spot where the first charge was to be installed. A hole had to be drilled; that was the most complicated part of the task. The drill equipment was more unwieldy than the charge. It was a large manual gimlet in a trestle. The lads had to assemble it in place.

Okay, this was going to take some time. Theo switched to the Hammer frequency and reported. They were overhearing anyway, but some explanations from time to time were always welcome. Kapitän Kastenmüller was at the phone. Yes, one would be able to place both charges during this watch period. The detonations were going to be ignited ‘tomorrow’. Once the scientists had their data, one was going to depart. Batteries were approaching the critical margin.
What people commonly call fate is mostly their own stupidity.
(Arthur Schopenhauer)

Okay, the emergency had passed. Aruwimi was under control. But the damage inflicted on the economy was stupefying. Paralysing rail transport for a whole fortnight was like starting a civil war. Max Sikuku, who was heavily engaged in the transport business, had only gaped at the figures revealing his losses. This mustn’t happen again! The frigging tropical diseases would pop up again and again; that couldn’t be helped – as long as the jungle – and the wilderness – existed.

Hence, something had to be done to the way the nation fought such diseases. A general lockdown was toxic for commerce and industry. The process had to become target-oriented. Grab those infected and isolate them, but leave the healthy folks alone. He had already arranged a meeting with Professor von Misuku. These academic characters were always looking for funds. He was certain the bloke would come up with some useful suggestions.

His industrial peers were only just starting to realise how they had been damnified. Once they had counted their remaining fingers, they surely were going to support his initiative. The landowners would certainly join in, although their losses had been manageable, even if their warehouses had been overflowing. – The working men – and their political representation – ought to be the problem.

The frigging workers had lost pay, sure, but they had gained extra holidays – and the darned labour unions were compensating a part of the financial loss by dispensing with membership fees for two months. Seppel Mobutu was behind that scheme. The fellow wanted his StaPo to be in charge of future ‘national emergencies’. Therefore, he was fighting any solutions which might leave the state out in the cold.

Yeah, the ruddy socialists didn’t care if industrious peeps were losing fortunes, as long as they were able to patronise society and lead the citizens on a merry chase.
Tomorrow morning before we depart, I intend to land and see what can be found in the neighbourhood.
(Christopher Columbus)

122 kilometres! That was the thickness of the Ganymedian ice crust at the landing site of ‘Fidelio`. Below that mighty crust was an immense ocean of 103 kilometres deepness. However, this vast ocean seemed to be resting on another – still thicker – ice crust that was surrounding the solid core of rock and iron. Jochen Zeislitz could hardly believe these figures. On the Moon, the lads were toiling hard to collect some crumbs that contained traces of water ice. And here you had gigatons of the stuff, ready to take away.

However, the thickness of the crust meant no light ever reached the ocean. And that in turn meant life as one knew it from Earth couldn’t exist in this ocean. It didn’t mean, the scientists had explained, that there was no life, but if there was, it would be quite different from everything one knew. Okay, one wouldn’t know anyway – at least not in Jochen’s generation. Working through 122 km of ice would require more effort than any simple space expedition could carry hither.

‘Fidelio’ was back. The Ganymede job was finished. One was preparing the move to Europa. The Admiral had decided to use the opportunity for dropping four probes on Jupiter. That implied getting near Jupiter’s gravity well. Jochen and his two assistants had studied the problem. It wasn’t a problem for the Hammer, even when one had to go slow for rceiving the full set of signals from the probes. The ship was strong enough; one might in fact dive through the outer layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere without being caught by the giant’s gravity.

But the Admiral was averse to such spectacular gimmicks. One was going to play it safe. That was okay for Jochen – although cruising through the big banded marble’s outer atmosphere certainly would be unbeatable as a lifetime’s adventure. Well, you can’t have everything. But wasn’t the Admiral perpetually gazing at Jupiter? Strange… – Europa was going to be a repetition of Ganymede; just more of the same, only a little bit closer to Jupiter. This journey was not scintillating with bright moments for kosmonauts…
Today every invention is received with a cry of triumph which soon turns into a cry of fear.
(Bertolt Brecht)

Design of the model was almost complete. The RRA folks had done a marvelous job. You actually could tell that experience was making all the difference. After conceiving the Hammer and the Feuerdrache the lads were truly proficient in composing the elements of a spaceship. The reactor was a second generation Siemens-Schuckert UBR pressurised water reactor of 150 MW output, which one could cheaply acquire from the stocks of the Kaiserliche Marine.

Klaus Fuchs had advised the design team on the field generators and the fusion trigger, of course. The knowledge concerning remote control elements had been contributed by DELAG, who had also pledged to supply the hardware. In principle, one could start construction. But Director Kammler had put it on hold. The Feuerdrache wasn’t ready yet – and once it had been completed it would be required to hoist the heavy stuff for Mondstadt up to the Moon.

Only after this had been accomplished one could turn to the FD model, hence about in mid-1964. RRA’s funds for 1963 were spent; the Feuerdrache was much more expensive than anticipated. Hence, one had to wait until the 1964 funds were available, which would be the case in March 1964. According to the engineers, construction of the elements was going to take about six months. That put assembly of the model to October 1964. Fuchs didn’t mind. It would give him a full academic year for conducting research.
Therefore, the causes assigned to natural effects of the same kind must be, so far as possible, the same.
(Isaac Newton)

Yep, Europa was Ganymede encore – only a skosh smaller and quite brighter. If Ganymede looked like a football irregularly stitched together from pale and from grimy leather patches, Europa looked like a tangerine glass marble that someone had scratched thoroughly all over. On the way, one had dropped four probes on Jupiter. One of them had been a dud, but the other three had transmitted a lot of data.

Of course, the scientists were busy evaluating the data. But there weren’t enough of them for more than a cursory analysis; thorough screening would have to happen back on Earth. Pasetti and Bohlen, the only two geologists of the expedition, had to prepare for the landing on Europa anyway. This time, “Elsa” had been selected for the landfall. They would perform the same programme as on Ganymede: collect samples and measure the thickness of the individual elements of the moon’s inner structure.

Jochen Zeislitz was fairly ho-hum. This journey was dull. One was skimming through the void for months on end – for then looking down on some frozen balls – and finally darting back home for months on end. The most thrilling events, so far, had been the meteorite hits. Okay, he would be mentioned – perhaps – in the history books for piloting the Hammer, but he would be in the books anyway because of the Raumkobold-33 moon landing.

What would this journey do to his health? He was spending four hours in the gym each day, only to keep his body from reducing muscles and connective tissue. But this didn’t account for what radioactivity might wreak. The Hammer would be done after this voyage, would be discarded because of radioactive contamination. Captain Patock, the chief engineering officer, said the gun section was already starting to radiate. The manoeuvring in the Jovian system was adding considerably to the load.
Each dog barks in his own yard!
(Rudyard Kipling)

Nominating Harry Julian Allen, generally called Harvey Allen, as head of Project Hercules had been a masterstroke, technically speaking. Allen had an excellent grasp of the problems involved – and bright ideas how to solve them. However, he was a scientist, not a manager – and not a born leader of men. Therefore, Lieutenant General John D. Ryan had been appointed Allen’s deputy. Internally, the pair of them was getting along just about, but to the outside world, they represented a convincing force.

Together, they had identified and enforced a place named Rebel Creek in northern Nevada as the site where Hercules was going to be built. And they had wheedled US Steel into erecting a steel plant – on their own expense – just there. The steel bosses knew that Krupp were reaping in tremendous profits from their steel plant in Ireland, hence they had needed very little persuasion.

As the news of the German spaceship’s arrival in the Jovian system was dominating the headlines, construction of the rail line from Winnemucca, where it was to be linked to the Central Pacific Railroad, to Rebel Creek had begun. Allen thought Hercules might be ready in four years, in mid-1967, if one was lucky – and Washington kept their promises of funding the project.

The FSO had procured tons of information about the German and the Russian NPP ships. One knew what had to be done. What was worrying Allen was the lack of all experience in mission control. The US had never advanced to manned space flight. How could that deficiency be overcome?
The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.

“Elsa” was down; scientists and crew were out to take samples. Landfall had happened smoothly. Europa’s surface was much more level than Ganymede’s. “Fidelio” and “Brünhild” had been detached for providing total coverage. Everything seemed to be proceeding according to schedule.

Why then was he so uneasy? Konteradmiral Carl Emmermann felt distraught without knowing why. Was it the warning of sabotage? – If “Wolpertinger” had been sabotaged at all. And if the power – or organisation – behind the supposed sabotage had managed to plant a new miscreant on this voyage.

Or was it just because of the general situation? The Hammer was out on a limb. No help would ever come forth if something fatal should happen. That, however, had been evident from the outset. But here, where the Sun looked just like an ordinary star, the danger became imminent.

The reactor was working without glitches. Patock said there was no reason to worry. Radioactive contamination was spreading slowly upwards from the pusher plate, but that had been anticipated – and again was no reason to worry. The meteorite impacts had shown how resilient the ship was; none of them had done serious damage that couldn’t immediately be repaired.

Boredom certainly was a danger not to be underestimated. The kosmonauts were unchallenged – most of the time. While the ship was travelling at high speed, the lander crews could do nothing regarding their trade. And even Zeislitz, Aßmann and Meyer were frequently bored. Okay, they were professionals who should be able to deal with it. But…

One would move on to Io after the Europa mission had been completed. The scientists said Io was different from the other Galilean moons. There seemed to be volcanoes at work. One thought one had observed two eruptions already – in the short time after arrival in the Jovian system. Yes, the scientists were not bored; they were overenthusiastic. That was another peril…
The dog is very smart. He feels sorry for me because I receive so much mail; that’s why he tries to bite the mailman.
(Albert von Einstein)

Yes, the Little Man had endorsed the retrieval of Dzungaria! Field Marshal Dang Gangjun had immediately issued orders. Of course, the operation had been prepared right down to the last detail. A parachute regiment had seized Dihua, the capital. And an armoured column had relieved them. Film teams had taken many takes of rejoicing Dzungars happy to be rescued by the Great Qing.

A certain Sayin Dhondup had come forward and claimed to be the chosen leader of the Dzungars, their Qong Tayiji. Dang had him swear allegiance to Emperor Xīn–mìnglìng Dì – and had introduced him to the Honourable Wu Han, the Little Man’s special envoy to Dihua. The obsolete names Xīnjiāng and Uyghurstan had not been cited once. One had recovered Dzungaria, the land of the Dzungars, an ancient liege of the Great Qing.

International reaction had been muted. The Russians had protested against the presence of Qing troops in Dzungaria, but had not questioned the existence of the country. The Pan-Turans had breathed fire and brimstone as anticipated, but could do nothing. Their precious Uyghurs weren’t even living in Dzungaria. The Indian Federation had duly taken note of events, but had refrained from commenting.

Dang had ordered the extension of the rail line to Dihua. His engineers were already at work. – The borders of Dzungaria still had to be defined. Because Fēilóng had remodelled the landscape, this wasn’t a task that could be accomplished on the fly. Dang aimed at pocketing at least half of the Taklamakan Desert in the process. Nobody was living there; hence nobody else could claim it.

What to do with the rest – the western corner of the desert and the mountain fringe, one could decide later. There was no reason to hurry.
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The squares of the periodic times are proportional to the cubes of the mean distances from the sun.
(Johannes Kepler)

The circus had moved on to Io. The innermost Galilean moon looked like a giant foul mirabelle, yellow, green, brown and greyish. This was not an ice moon; this was a hard and rocky ball. One clearly could see a host of active calderas and volcanoes. The dominant yellow colour came from sulphur, which seemed to be ubiquitous. There were even lakes full of molten sulphur, said the boffins.

Jochen Zeislitz was in the gym. This was his pre-shift two hours workout. There was a screen where you could watch the surface of the mirabelle as the Hammer circled around it. It was a projection and not very distinct, but still better than the German landscapes that had been shown during the journey. “Brünhild” had gone down this time. Bohlen and Pasetti were rattling off the standard programme with the assistance of the kosmonauts.

Next, one would move out to Callisto – and from there back home. Another five months of absolute boredom. Good grief, somehow he had imagined it would be a rivetting journey. But it wasn’t. It was dull. The void was just void. Not even a solar storm had reached out to them. Although riding through charged particles wasn’t a cool idea. Yet, most of them weren’t strong enough to be dangerous out here.

No, passing the Jovian dirt zone would be the most exciting event. Thereafter, one would trundle back to Earth – and duly be put in Jupiter bug quarantine. And then, only then, would the thrilling part commence: receptions, parades, lectures, festivities…
The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
(Sun Tzu)

He’s an old man, thought Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchov, when being led into the office of Generál Ivan Stepanovich Konev, the commander-in-chief of the Russian group of troops in Mongolia. Konev rose to greet the emissary of the Kremlin. They shook hands – and Konev beckoned his visitor to sit down with him on the suite by the window. Konev was an abundantly decorated veteran of the Far East War, a distinguished leader of men – and due for retirement by the end of the year.

An orderly served tea and cognac. Konev was well-known for spurning vodka.
“All right, gospodin, what leads you here?” the general finally asked, after the civilities had been exchanged.
Kryuchov sighed. “The Chinese advance into what they now call Dzungaria.”
Konev barked a laugh. “Yeah, Dang, that old son of a bitch, has been poised to jump in since months. We knew what he was up to, but in fact he waited dutifully until Nanking showed him green light.”

“Indeed, Sir, it’s quite an astute operation the Zhyoltozhopi have pulled off, a clever idea to invent Dzungaria, but one that may backfire…”
“How come?”
“The Qing massacred the Dzungars in the eighteenth century. It was a veritable genocide. The Dzungars should not have forgotten that carnage. – It must have been a miserable life down there, after GQDD. So, they embraced the first party to arrive.”

“The surviving Uyghurs fled to the west, where the support of their Pam-Turan allies could easily reach them. The Dzungars could have come to us – and their Mongolian brethren, but they chose to stay put.”
“Without spare parts, modern medicines and all other amenities. It must have been very hard. And not many Dzungars made it. – However, once the Zhyoltozhopi arrived, the plight of the Dzungars could end – if they cooperated.”

“In fact, we know, they sent a delegation to Dang, begging to be retrieved.”
“Yes. However, once their living improves, they should start thinking twice. After the Qing have bagged Dzungaria, what does hinder them to dispose of the Dzungars? Making some ten thousand individuals disappear in this wilderness is no rocket science… We would assuredly treat the Dzungars well. I think the Mongols here could testify that…”

“Well, yes, the dudes owe their survival to us. And they make a lot of roubles by stewarding our facilities. One certainly could find some characters prepared to spread the good news in Dzungaria…”
“Exactly, Sir, that’s the idea. It should happen on the stealth – by word-of-mouth communication. The Dzungars must know we’re their friends and ready to help them…”
In space there are countless constellations, suns and planets; we only see the suns because they give light; the planets remain invisible, for they are small and dark.
(Giordano Bruno)

Callisto was another ice moon. It had a dark, brown and blue, surface with many bright craters. The scientists said the dark colour came from cosmic dirt. This ice crust had to be there since eons, without any seismic movements. “Fidelio” had been down; the standard programme had been reeled off. The ice crust had a thickness of 210 kilometres, below it there was a saltwater ocean of 12 km depth, below which more ice was stored; heavy ice with a thickness of 85 km.

Okay, so you had three ice moons. Europa with an ice crust of only 19 km; Ganymede with 122 km; and Callisto with 210 km. There might be life in the oceans below these crusts, but one couldn’t access the oceans. Hence, one didn’t know. Io, the innermost large moon, was dead. That was sure. The scientists had gathered so many samples and data it was going to take them years to make sense of them.

It was time to go home. Jochen Zeislitz, Werner Aßmann and Fritz Meyer were plotting the sequence of leaving the Jovian system. There was no purpose in trundling through the dirt zone. One had to get through it as fast as possible. Therefore, one was going to accelerate in the zone of the large moons – and then dash through the dirt zone as fast as possible. The velocity gained wouldn’t get lost, making for a quicker journey home. One had enough ammo to do it.

Sure, the Hammer might still be hit, but hopefully only once. Most of the dirt was just that, minute stuff. And one was aiming at a quadrant where not much of it ought to fly about. Much later, when at the latitude of the asteroid belt, one would have to steer a little bit to coax the Hammer back on a course to Earth. That was going to be the most interesting part for the pilots.