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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 001, Sur Two, Saturday, Sol 17 (001.2.17)  04:38 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Monday, 21 March 2016  2:00 PM PDT
  • Distance traveled:  87,418,728 kilometers   Time Delay:  3 mins 36 secs
  • Distance to Mars Rendezvous:  304,991,024 kilometers

Megan stood behind a plexiglass lectern and faced the sixty reporters that had been given credentials for the press conference. She was not accustomed to making formal press statements, but she was always close by her former boss when he did, and she had advised him on what questions might be asked, and how to answer them.

However, being the person with the camera lens focused on them, was different from supporting the person with the camera lens focused on them. The room had been noisy when she walked in, but now there it was silent. She began,

“As you know from our first news conference last night, we lost signal with the ESS Sagan at 5:48 AM Nippon Standard Time, 1:48 PM Pacific Daylight Time or 5:04 AM Noctis Standard Time. The Sagan had traveled approximately 83.8 million kilometers.

As we said last night, we have visual confirmation that the ship is intact; however, we cannot see enough detail on the ship to determine any physical damage to the ship.

Our engineers have gone over the possible scenarios that would cause a loss of signal with the ship, and the two most likely scenarios are an explosion on the ship, or a strike by a small meteoroid. Almost any explosion would cause the ship to spin and/or deviate from course, which has not happened.

We believe that a meteoroid strike is to most likely explanation for the loss of signal. Specifically, a meteoroid strike in the ship’s Communications or Comm section would be able to disable all the communication temporarily; however, the Sagan has two Comm Sections. The one in use was the section that was originally part of the ESS Queen Elizabeth II. The Sagan originally had a smaller Comm system that was used prior to the merge of the two ships. It is located in front of the QE II’s original Comm section. It is possible that both were damaged, or for some reason, the crew is not able to access either Comm sections. 

Two hours ago we sent a chase ship after the Sagan. This ship, designated Charlie One, consists of a Comm Section, an ICP drive section, a fuel storage section, one Hab section with four, seven-section Quills and eight cargo Quills each with four sections. It is coming up to velocity, which will be just over 300,000 kilometers per hour, or twice the speed of the Sagan.

However, because Earth has been moving in the same relative direction as the Sagan, the distance between them is only 43 million kilometers. It will take nine days for Charlie One to overtake the Sagan, which will be sometime on March 30th or Sol 25 of Sur Two. It has a crew of 18 on board. 

I’ll now take questions.”

“What possible reasons might prevent the crew from reaching the Communication sections?”

“To your question, if this was a meteoroid strike, the section would be sealed to prevent the loss of atmosphere. They would have to repair the damage to the section to repressurize it, before they could enter it and begin work of repairing or switching to the other Comm Section. There is also the possibility that the damage is to both sections. We should face the possibility that we may not have contact with them until Charlie One reaches them.”

“Elon Musk has said that ESEP has moved too fast and that this situation is a direct result of ESEP ignoring the safety concerns of several engineers and the former Director of Security, who committed suicide because of his despondency over the situation.”

“First, Elon Musk has no capability of getting out of low Earth orbit, let alone to catch up with our ship, so he cannot know the cause of this situation. Second, the people he is referring to were all involved in the criminal takeover of ESEP in attempt to create a dictatorial-style management over our space program. They used the tragedy of the loss of our Director and several others to kidnap and lock out the people who were the decision-making authority and they illegally took command of the Mars mission and attempted to end it. The Director of Security was the leader of this group and his suicide occurred after he was arrested for multiple felonies associated with his actions.”

The room erupted in reporters asking questions, but Megan’s focus was on one person. The Mission Director had walked into the room and was now coming up to whisper something to her. She listened and then held up her hand to silence the unruly behavior of the journalists. She turned back to the lectern and said,

“We have contact with Director Wade. The crew is safe. We will have another press conference later today after we have had a chance to talk with her.”

Megan then left the room as the journalists erupted into an even louder outburst of questions, none of which were intelligible. None of that mattered. Everyone was alive.