2016, astronauts, communications, Earth, Earth Space Exploration Program, Elon Musk, engineering, ESEP, ESS Carl Sagan, LOS, loss of signal, Mars, Mars Mission 2016, Mars time, Megan DeLuca, Noctis Labyrinthus, Noctis Standard Time, NST, science, space, space travel, spacecraft, spacecraft design
- Mars Date/Time: Year 001, Sur Two, Friday, Sol 16 (001.2.16) 05:16 NST
- Earth Date/Time: Sunday, 20 March 2016 2:00 PM PDT
- Distance traveled: 83,813,832 kilometers Time Delay: 3 mins 36 secs
- Distance to Mars Rendezvous: 308,595,920 kilometers
Megan was not happy. She wanted to be up by 3:00 AM NST, so that she could put together her morning briefing for the Director and her team. But because she spent a late night working on the Musk issue, her personal assistant thought she should sleep in an hour. She had a few critical words with her assistant and then stormed out to the SUV waiting for her.
Upon arrival at the ESEP Center in Nippon she was met by her administrative assistant,
“We’ve lost signal with the Sagan,” was all she said. Megan walked past her office and into the Comm Center. Megan said in a loud voice, “Give me the rundown.”
The on duty Mission Director came over to her and said, “Twelve minutes ago we lost signal with the Sagan. There was no forewarning, and there has been no contact since. Our last data indicates a loss of pressure in the core section and the hatches were sent a command by the computer to seal all sections. We only have about two seconds of data following the first indication of trouble. Whatever happened, it took out the communications, including the redundant systems. We’re trying to figure out how that can happen, short of a catastrophic event on the ship.”
Megan had been looking the Mission Director in the eye as he explained the situation. She knew what he feared. Loss of signal, meant loss of ship. She looked around the room and then looked back at the Director and said, “Call it.” The Director nodded and walked back to his workstation. He opened a flap and pushed the button under it. Instantly every screen read,
CHARLIE ECHO PAPA….CHARLIE ECHO PAPA….CHARLIE ECHO PAPA…
The code stood for Crisis Event Protocols and put into place a set of procedures that canceled normal duties. The protocols required that the Council members be informed of the crisis and confirm that the event is a legitimate crisis and gives the Director certain authority to act on behalf of ESEP. There was a contingency that if the Director was not able to perform his or her duties, that the Council would name an Interim Director.
Megan turned and left the Comm Center to go back to her office. At her workstation she contacted Claude Dubois on Earth Prime. Claude was one of the Council members, but she needed to put some tasks into motion before she talked with the rest of the Council. Claude responded, “Megan, we’ve lost signal also.” As Earth’s orbiting spaceport, they maintained contact with every ship and the Commodore knew the nature of the crisis before Megan contacted him.
Megan said, “Do you have a visual on them?” Claude replied, “We still have the ship, but they are over 80 million kilometers away. We have no detail.” Megan said, “I’m calling a Council meeting in six minutes. Give us whatever you can.”
The next hour became a blur. ESEP sprang into action with predetermined teams following a set of protocols that had been devised and revised many times. Most important was a message sent to every ESEP employee. It said,
CONFIDENTIAL – FOR ESEP PERSONNEL ONLY
At 5:04 AM NST, all contact was lost with the ESS Sagan. We have a visual on the ship and we know it is not a catastrophic failure; however, all efforts are to be made to identify the cause of the LOS and how to restore contact.
The Council has met and has confirmed the CEP. Crisis Event Protocols are now in place. In addition, Megan DeLuca shall be the Interim Director until we have regained contact with Director Wade and/or the crew of the ESS Sagan.
Earth Prime is directed to configure and launch a chase ship within twenty-four hours if we have not had contact. If your department is not directly involved in the event activities, you are directed to continue to maintain the current duty schedule.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.