Interstellar Journey – Part 4




Saga – Going to Light Speed

Narrator The Captain is making a ship-wide announcement.
Captain May I have your attention, please. All department heads are requested to meet in the Pegasus Meeting Room in one hour. I repeat, all department heads are requested to meet in the Pegasus Meeting Room in one hour.
Narrator One hour later in the Pegasus Meeting Room, everyone is milling around chatting with each other as the Captain walks into the room. Upon seeing him enter with a somber look on his face, they all take their seats and wait quietly.
Captain This meeting is convened. Let’s get started. We’ve been lingering in the solar system for a few weeks hoping for a miracle, but all evidence shows that the Earth is dying. We estimate at least half of the 12 billion people are dead. Plant life is dying due to lowering temperatures and lack of sunlight due to the debris suspended in the atmosphere. In other words, there is no hope. The Earth is not going to recover from this catastrophic event.
Navigator Does that mean we’ll be leaving the solar system now, Captain?
Captain Yes. I called this meeting so we can discuss final preparations. Is there anything I should know before we exit this solar system never to return?
Engineer We’ve been doing what tests we can on the engines, sir, but we can only test light-speed operations by actually going to light speed. We’re ready in that regard. We’ll have all our damage-control teams on high alert when we go to light speed in case something, um, untowards, should happen.
Captain Good. That’s all we can do. Sooner or later, we have to take that first step of our “10,000-mile journey”. Navigator, once we exit the solar system and head towards Tau Ceti, are there any known obstructions in our way that we need to know about?
Navigator No, sir. The route is clear. We’re ready to proceed whenever you are.
Captain Other department heads, anything we need to discuss? Any questions or comments?
Dean I’ve been spending the last few days conducting classes and holding seminars on what everyone should expect when we go to light speed. Since we’ve never done it before, it’s kind of difficult to be sure we’re putting out good information but we’re doing the best we can.
Doctor The Med Bay has no critical patients that we need to worry about. Physically, the population is ready for the transition and whatever stresses we might experience, if any.
Artist We’ve been printing articles and carrying headlines for days informing everyone that going to light speed is imminent. There should be no surprises when you make the announcement, sir.
Chef I can have all the dishes and kitchen items secured within two hours, Captain. Just give me that much notice.
Janitor Likewise, Captain. Two hours’ notice should be adequate for us to stow all our cleaning gear so it will be out of the way in case of any emergencies requiring passage through the hallways and corridors.
Geek IT systems are ready, sir.
Sheriff No disciplinary problems, Captain. My department is ready to go at any time.
Ivan Environmental systems are nominal, sir. No problems are anticipated.
XO All ship systems report ready, Captain. We can go to light speed on your order.
Narrator The Captain gets up and walks over to a control panel on the wall and picks up a microphone. He punches a button for “Ship-wide Announcement”.
Captain May I have everyone’s attention. This is the Captain speaking. We will be exiting our solar system in two hours. Everyone should ensure their belongings are stowed securely away somewhere. Just before we go to light speed, we will make one final announcement. That will be everyone’s cue to clear the corridors in case any emergencies need damage-control personnel to move about the ship quickly. Make sure you know where you want to be at that time. This is a matter of ship-wide safety. Anyone not complying with this request may be subject to disciplinary action. That is all.
Narrator The Captain looks at his department heads and then at the XO.
Captain XO, be ready to exit the solar system and take us to light speed in two hours.
XO Aye, Captain. The ship will be ready.
Captain Department heads, make sure your departments are ready to support light speed in two hours. Dismissed!
Narrator The department heads exit the room smartly to begin their final preparations. All spaces in the ship are abuzz with excitement that their journey is about to begin in earnest. The Engineer is sitting in Maneuvering, the command center of the engineering spaces. His brow is furrowed in deep thought as he ponders all the things that could go wrong with the engines when transitioning from sub-light speed to light speed for the first time. These engines have never been tested under actual field conditions in deep space before. He crosses his fingers and prays that the designers were among the best minds on the planet.
Finally, two hours pass.
Captain May I have your attention, please. This is the Captain speaking. If you look out the windows on the port side, you can catch one final glimpse of Jupiter as we pass by it. In one minute I would ask you to please clear the corridors and return to your quarters or go to an approved assembly or observation area. We will be going to light speed in five minutes. This is a historic moment. What we are about to do, no human has ever done before. We are going to gradually accelerate and travel at 90% of the speed of light. We fully expect to encounter some problems. Do not worry. We have damage control and emergency response personnel in standby ready to deal with problems as they arise. If you hear any alarms, please remain calm and stay where you are and listen for further instructions from the Bridge. May I wish Godspeed to all of us. That is all. Captain out.
Narrator The Captain, XO, and Navigator are already on the Bridge. The other department heads are in their department spaces. Five minutes pass. The Captain announces that the ship will be going to light speed.
Captain XO, is the ship ready?
XO Yes, sir, on your command.
Captain Helm, take us to light speed.
Narrator The helm leans over his control panel and makes the necessary adjustments. The ship begins to accelerate, the sound of the engines and the vibrations in the ship’s hull are imperceptible at first but slowly increase in intensity as they strain to change the massive momentum of the ship.
Helm Sir, light speed times 10%. 20%. 30%. 40%. 50%. 60%.
Narrator Suddenly, an alarm klaxon sounds and lights begin flashing on several of the control panels on the Bridge.
Captain Helm, hold at 60% light speed.
Helm Aye, aye, sir. Holding at 60% light speed.
Captain Maneuvering, what’s your status?
Engineer Captain, we have some power conduits overheating from the strain. We request 10 minutes to adjust the cooling systems to redistribute our cooling streams to handle the excess heat.
Captain Very well, Engineer. Let me know when things stabilize so we can continue raising speed.
Engineer Aye, sir.
Narrator After 10 minutes pass, the alarms are quiet and the flashing lights have ceased.
Engineer Bridge, [this is] Maneuvering. We are ready to proceed with acceleration to light speed.
Captain Very well, Maneuvering. Helm, take us to 70% light speed and hold.
Helm Aye, sir. Raising speed… holding at 70% light speed.
Captain Maneuvering, [this is] Bridge. How’s it looking back there, Engineer?
Engineer Surprisingly good, Captain. The engine designers are to be commended! We have green boards and are good to go.
Captain Helm, take us to 80% light speed.
Helm Aye, sir. Raising speed now… holding at 80% light speed.
Captain Maneuvering?
Engineer We have a slight engine imbalance, Captain. Request that we hold here a moment.
Captain Very well, Engineer. Let the Bridge know when you’re ready to proceed.
Narrator The Engineer oversees his technicians reroute power and make several adjustments until once again the engines are humming smoothly and quietly in unison.
Engineer Bridge, Maneuvering, we are ready to continue.
Captain Maneuvering, Bridge. Understood. Helm, proceed to 90% light speed.
Helm Aye, Captain. Proceeding to 90% light speed. Raising speed now. Speed at 90% light speed and holding, Captain!
Captain Maneuvering, Bridge. We are at 90% light speed and holding. How are the engines and power plants?
Engineer Bridge, Maneuvering, everything’s purring like a kitten back here. These engines are amazing! What a feat of engineering those designers pulled off!
Captain May I have your attention, please. This is the Captain speaking. The ship is now proceeding to Tau Ceti at 90% of light speed. All ship systems are stable and operating normally. We are off to an auspicious start. Everyone may return to your normal routines. Please monitor everything closely over the next 24 hours and report any strange noises or other anomalies to the Bridge immediately. Captain out.
Narrator And even from the Bridge, the Bridge crew could hear shouts of joy and triumph resound throughout the ship. History had been made and a new chapter in the “Book of Mankind” had begun.


  1. Why did the Captain call this meeting?
  2. Why did the ship linger in the solar system for a few weeks?
  3. How many problems, if any, were there in going to 90% of light speed?
  4. What does a damage-control team do?
  5. What are Earth’s chances of survival?
  6. What is the Bridge?
  7. What is Maneuvering?
  8. What is the Helm?
  9. What does anomaly mean?
  10. What is a conduit?

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