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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Sunday, Sol 57 (1.1.57)  18:27 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Tuesday, 1 March 2016  2:00 PM PST
  • Distance traveled:  15,320,808 kilometers   Time Delay:  48 secs
  • Distance to Mars Rendezvous:  377,088,944 kilometers

Jenna tapped the blinking icon on her workstation on the Command deck. It was the Comm Center. “Is it the Director?,” Jenna asked. Naomi said, “Yes. The message just came in.” Jenna asked, “Are you ready?” Naomi again said, “Yes.” Jenna looked over at Ken and he nodded to her. Jenna looked back at Naomi’s image on her monitor, “Okay, let’s do this. Run the Director’s first message and then set us up for concurrent transmission.”

The ESS Queen Elizabeth II and the ESS Carl Sagan had rendezvoused last night and the crew had moved the rotating hab sections over from QE II and merged them into the Sagan forward of the its rotating hab section. It had gone smoothly and within an hour the merge was secure. This left the QE II in two sections alongside the Sagan. Her Core Command section was about one hundred meters in front of the cargo and ICP drive sections.

The next step was to merge the rest of the QE II to the Sagan. As of last night the plan was to do it all today, which was considered to be a week’s worth of work. The Ken and Jenna had planned to begin again this morning, but instead after some discussion the plan was changed. The crew spent the day working out the details of the plan and now they were about to do something that had never been done before…and ESEP had no clue about the change.

The engineers at ESEP were already in opposition to the plan to do the rest of the merger of the ships in one day, but they could only advise, not make demands or restrict the crew or its command. In addition, the two ships had traveled almost 15 million kilometers in less than a week and the time delay in radio signal transmission was 48 seconds one way. The authority of the Admiral and Commodore were absolute by right and by reason.

Jenna could see Naomi tap her console and instantly Nick’s image was up at her secondary monitor. Nick said,

“Good evening, Jenna. I hope you got some rest today. Congratulations again on merging the QE II hab section with the Sagan. Our engineering team down here is reluctantly praising how quickly and smoothly it went. That said, they would like to see a formal plan of the rest of the assimilation, and they would like to advise a less ambitious schedule than trying to finish the job in one day. I’m assuming that you intended to begin tomorrow, but if you need another day of rest, that would be fine with everyone here. They have reminded me that you have three and a half months before you get to Mars. Also, the Counseling team is concerned about any mishap that might occur in a rushed schedule. They feel it might impact crew morale. As for me, do whatever you think is best and I’ll work it out with the people down here. I trust your judgement. It would help me if you send a plan so I can occupy them with something. Thanks!”

Nick’s image was replaced by a “Ready for concurrent transmission – time delay: 48 seconds,” which meant that she had an open channel to ESEP on Earth but the delay would be 48 seconds between her transmission and its arrival to Earth, plus the time it took for them to respond, plus the 50 seconds for their signal to reach her.

Jenna began to send her response to Nick,

“Good morning, Nick. We did sleep, but we’ve had a very busy day. As far as our formal plan of assimilation, Naomi is sending that to you now. It is a complete step-by-step process and has been reviewed and approved by the Command team. As for the ground Counseling team’s concern of our crew’s emotional state I asked Wendy and Dr. Summers to perform a crew readiness evaluation today and their reports are also being transmitted as I speak. You asked me to forewarn you when we might endanger the health of your engineering team, so please consider this your warning. In the report you have received you will learn that today the crew banded together to put into motion a different plan for the ship merger. As soon as I’m finished here we will announce a Code Alert for our ships and ESEP divisions concerned with the ship operations. We will then begin a continuous feed until the assimilation is complete. Our entire crew will be dedicated to this effort, so we have assigned Ms. Pierce as ESEP liaison. She will monitor and control all communications with ESEP. We are now on Priority Comm protocols. With that, Naomi, a Code Alert please.”

Naomi announced, “All stations, all hands, CODE ALERT from Rear Admiral Wade.”