Race
Man’s Ascent (written in 2030)
It is the end of the bad days...
That time of man’s ascent.
It is 30 years since Afgha...
It isthe year2030. Man’s struggle withManhas finallyended.The Iraq andAfghanistanWarshave
endedinguilt.ItisMan’s guilttowa...
Aboardthe Challenger
Two mensat at the controlsof the ship.Bothwere intheirmid-twenties.Bothwere Americans.Both
wore orang...
Aboardthe YellowStar
Close by,inthe cockpitof the othershipwere twomenboth intheirmid-twenties.Bothwere
Chinese.Theywore r...
Aboardthe Challenger
“AlrightJames,howisthe hyperdrive forthe space-warpingenginesgoing?”CaptainHenryMiles
spoke intothe i...
Aboardthe YellowStar
“Alright,we are reachingthe pointof extraction.Prepare the jumpoutof hyperspace,andthe
transitiontoth...
“Copy,Captain,"repliedChen,takingadeepbreath. There wasnosense of nervousnessinhis
eyes...nowhe hasa plan...
“Affirmative,...
“But the matter isthis...ataboutthe same time youwanteditsprogressreport,the Yellow Starjust
veeredoff course!!!...Imeanth...
Jamessuddenlyspokeintohisintercom.“Heypeople,itappearsthe Chineseare tryingtosenda
message tous!”
Henrylookedlike he wasab...
developingthisship,andwe have flownover50 millionkilometresforyouguys.Thisrace isfor both
nations.A symbol formutual rival...
The dry, rocky surface of Mars stretchedoutinall directions.Since itsdiscoverythousandsof years
ago, mostscientistsbelieve...
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Grant Zhang - Sydney Region - NSW DET

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Grant Zhang - Sydney Region - NSW DET

  1. 1. Race Man’s Ascent (written in 2030) It is the end of the bad days... That time of man’s ascent. It is 30 years since Afghanistan, 20 years since Iraq, 32 years since the economic crisis... Man’s destiny in space is sown With the re ignition... Of the Space Race. Neil Armstrong (mission commander of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing) That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
  2. 2. It isthe year2030. Man’s struggle withManhas finallyended.The Iraq andAfghanistanWarshave endedinguilt.ItisMan’s guilttowardshisownruthlessnessandfanatical ambitions.The leadersof everynationfinallydecidedtoco-operate byratifyingThe IPFANC(The International Peace ForAll Nations’Convention),whichdecreedthe terminationof nuclearweaponsandthe unconditional peace betweenall nations. However,Man’srestlessnessforcompetitionanddominationstill exists. Since the peace,Man has beenlookingtowardsthe stars...andthe endlesspossibilities thatexist beyondEarth... In the bleaknessanddarkvoidof space...noair...nowater...nolife...Itisaplace where almost nothingexists.Yet,itsparkedMan’scuriosity...andhisambitionstorise above hispeers,andreach for the stars... Lookingat Earth from a distance of 5 millionkilometresaway,itlookedquite ordinary.Inarecent surveybyNASA,mostnormal people justsaythatEarth was a dark blue marble withwhite clouds hanginginthe atmosphere.Whenaskedaboutthe extraordinarylifeformsonEarth,most just shooktheirheads,andsaidit wasnormal. But it wasjustat thisexactpoint - 5 millionkilometresawayfromEarth,and60 millionkilometres away fromMars ina straightline,twostreaksof lightzippedthroughthe timelesscarpetof space. The ultra-brightblue lightsemittedbytwoengines,fromtwospaceships, travelledside-by-side like Olympicsprintersrunningonthe tracks. ...The Challengerandthe YellowStar...Onemade bythe Chinese...the otherbythe Americans... Thisis the ultimate competitionforglory.Itssuccessorfailure will forevermarkMan’splace in this universe.Theirobjective:be the firsttoreachMars.
  3. 3. Aboardthe Challenger Two mensat at the controlsof the ship.Bothwere intheirmid-twenties.Bothwere Americans.Both wore orange flight-suits,withnohelmets.The olderof the twohada moustache,andwore a turtleneckunderhissuit.The youngerone wasthin,withshortblackhair.Hiseyeswere brightblue fromwearingcontact lenses. In frontof themwere the controls...rowsandrowsof buttonsandcontrolspannedoutbefore them,makingthemlooklike childrenonaflightsimulator...butthiswasdifferent...thiswasreal... “Oh, no,Henrythisflightsuitistootight aroundthe wrists! Thisisnot helpingthe flow of haemoglobininmyarteries,”criedthe youngerman,takinghishandsoff the controlstoadjustthe plasticstrapson the wrist. “Hands on the controls! Youshouldknow betterthanthis!”orderedthe olderman. Tomas quicklyputhishandsback where theyshouldbe. “Do not letthe shipveeroff course!Thisisa matterof whetherthe USA reachesMars first!” “Copythat, CaptainMiles-“ “Call me Henry,”the oldermaninterjected.He waslookingintentlytowardsthe darknessof space outside the ship’swindshield. Wearemoving closer to Marsevery second.ButI hopethe Chinese lose their enginesbeforewe reach there. Eventhoughhe was not the captain,Tomas hada strange knackfor beingable toguesswhatwas in people’sminds.Thiswasalsoanadditional plustohismathematical genius.Growingupona farmin rural Utah, Tomaseducatedhimself inall subjectstodo withscience andmathematics.He wasa true talent.Afterhe graduatedfromuniversitywhenhe wassixteenwithadoctorate in astrophysics,he wasdiscoveredbyNASA. “You know,Henry.It isonlythe Chinese.Whydoyouholda grudge againstthem?”Tomas asked, tryingto sympathise withHenry. “It’snot simplyamatter of race, Tomas.It is a matterof national pride.Since the peace treaty,the Chinese hadbeenstockingupforthe Space Race. Since challengingAmericainwarfare orthe economyisnotpermittedsince the Treaty,theyare lookingforwardtochallengingusin exploration,”Henrygrittedhisteeth. He wasalwaysquite annoyedthatChinawasone stepbehind the USA. “Those competitiveAsians...alwayswantgloryforthemselves...theywentto the Moon! Isn’tthat enough?” Tomas thoughtaboutthisfor a moment.“NoHenry,I believe the Chinese are explorersasmuchas we are. Theyjustwantto be a part of this...” “I cannot reasonwithyouTomas,but I hope youare right...”
  4. 4. Aboardthe YellowStar Close by,inthe cockpitof the othershipwere twomenboth intheirmid-twenties.Bothwere Chinese.Theywore redandyellowflightsuits,withthe symbolof the Chineseflagonbothof them. The older,muchmore seriouslookingman, wascalledCaptainKyle Zhu.He isthe leaderof this mission.Zhuusedtobe a bricklayerworkinginrural China,until the CSA (Chinese Space Agency) conductedthe NRECE (Neuron ReflexesandEmotionalControl Exam) on200 000 trial participantsto choose pilotsforthe CSA.Kyle’sreflexesandemotional control weresuperb... Sittingbeside Kyle wasadare devil calledChen Sakharov.Half-Russian,half-Chinese,Chenwasone of the bestpilotsinChina.He wasformerlyatest-pilotforRussia’sjetfighters.The jobwasvery dangerous,buthe lovedit... But for now,nothingwasreallyhappening.The shipwasonauto-pilot,andbothof the pilotswere havinglunchthroughtube-like containers.There wasatinyhole atthe topof the cylindrical structureswhere the pastes were squeezedout.Soa meal inspace for the Chinese waslike eating toothpaste...onlymuchmore tastier... “How do youfindthe taste of Chinese space food,Chen?”Kyle lookedathisco-pilot.Asthe captain, Kyle knewbestthathe shouldknowmore about hiscrew first. “Not as tastyas thisship,captain”,repliedthe test-pilot. “The Chinese Governmentmusthave thoughta great deal aboutthismission...Lookatthis – a nuclear-fusionspace-warpingengine, sophisticatedscanningequipment...thisbirdis notcheap...” “It’sall part of the plan,”musedCaptainZhu.He turnedonthe intercominhisflightsuit.“Flight engineerXu.ThisiscaptainZhu.Over.” Chenlookeduncomfortablyathiscaptain. Ihopethis flight engineerguy gotthis right. We cannot fail on this mission.It is theGovernment’stop priority. The intercomon Kyle’sspacesuitcame alive.“Hellocrew.Thisisyourflightengineerspeaking.Since our departure fromEarth,I have beentryingto repaira faultinour space-foldingengines, which manyoverlookedasbeingaminorproblem.Hence,Iamannouncingthatour missionisa go,and we are readyto launch.” “Thank you,Harvey,”Kyle repliedthroughthe intercom, tryingtonotletexcitementoverrunhim. He spoke toChen,“It isMan’s firstjourneytoMars, andI am a part of thisprivilege.Alright,co-pilot, let’srunthroughthe lastdiagnosticsagain...” “No need,Captain,”interjectedHarveythroughhisintercom.“I’vecheckedeverything,andthe Americansare still gettingready.” “Well we are not waitingforthem,”Kyle replied.TurningtoChen,he spoke the wordsfromthe book,2001: A SpaceOdyssey“ “Ignite the space-warpingengines!Let’sgive the Americansasurprise!!!”
  5. 5. Aboardthe Challenger “AlrightJames,howisthe hyperdrive forthe space-warpingenginesgoing?”CaptainHenryMiles spoke intothe intercomstrappedontohisflightsuit.Itwaslinkedtothe maintenance officerof the Challenger,James.A chemical andmechanical engineerfromStanford,Jameswasavery intelligent but quietperson.He hadprovenhismetal time andtime againinspace-missionstothe ISS (InternationalSpace Station).Now,he wasworkinginthe engine compartment,adjustingthe temperature andnuclearenergycontrolsonthe wallsof the gangwayleadingtothe nuclearspace- warpingengines. Checkingthe controlsforthe final time,Jamesgave the control panel afinal lovingpat,andmoved towardsthe cockpit.As he floatedtowardsthe compartmentwhere HenryandTomaswere seated at the controls,he spoke quicklyintohisintercom, “CaptainMiles,Ihave checkedthe energylevel producedinthe fusion.Ihave alsomade sure that the temperature isabove the safety requirements.Levelsof uraniumare stable.” In the cockpit,Henryand Tomas smiledateach other.Theywere clearlypleasedwiththe progress. Of the two,CaptainMileswasthe most excited. “Okay,Tomas. Nowthatwe are readyto jumpintohyper-space,how are the Chinese goingwith theirship?” Tomas ran a heat-signature scanof the surroundings.The Chinese shipwas60 metresaway. However,fromthe scan,it wasnot lookingbeneficial forthe Americans. The co-pilotreplied,“Frommyanalysis,Ibelieve thatthe Chinese are alsoswitchingtotheirspace- warpingengines.They are gettingreadytolaunch!!” Henryshookhisheadwithfrustration.“Thisisnot lookinggood!Lookwhat’sgoingon!!!Yousee! Those Asiansare like flies!Theyneverstopdothey?” Tomas interjected,“Thiswillbe close,Captain,butitwill be oververysoon.Once we jumpinto hyper-space,itwillonlytake 20 secondstoreach the atmosphere of Mars. Afterwe emerge,we have to safelynavigate throughitsatmosphere.Nottoofast,nottooslowly. One false move andwe will burnoutin the descent.” At thismoment,Jamescame backwiththe progressreport.“Everything’sstable,Captain.Let’sgeta move on!Oh no,the Chinese hadalreadyleft!!!!” “Thisis not lookinggood.Alright,Tomas,let’smake the jump!Strapin,James!” Afterrunninga fewsafety diagnostics,the pilotsturnedoff theirnormal space-thrustingengines. Henryand Tomas lookedtoeachother,and grippedthe flightcontrol withtheirhandswhichwill ignite the space-warpingengines.Tomaswithhisright,andHenrywithhisleft. “To humanity,Tomas.” “To the Race,Henry.” Theypulledthe control backtogether...
  6. 6. Aboardthe YellowStar “Alright,we are reachingthe pointof extraction.Prepare the jumpoutof hyperspace,andthe transitiontothe ship’snormal space-thrusters.Chen,pleasebrake hardwithme onmy mark. Prepare forimpactpeople,”CaptainKyle Zhuspoke intothe ship’scommentarymicrophone - justto make sure flightengineerXucanhear himinthe engine compartment. Both pilotsgrippedthe controls.The Yellow Star hastwoof them – one foreach pilottocontrol each thruster. Since eachengine isindependentandverysophisticated,the bestspaceshipproducedby Man hasto be controlledbytwopilots. Eventhen,the space-thrusterscanbe dangerousinthe handsof the unskilledandfearful...butnottoday... “Prepare to brake...”CaptainZhumuttered. “NOW!” At that veryinstant,the planetof Mars appearedtoosuddenlythatitsimage filledalmosttwothirds of the windshieldinamatterof microseconds. The experience waslike havingaball thrownat your face,and seeingituntil itwasonlya fewcentimetresfromyourface. Atthat veryinstant,bothmen pulledbackontheircontrolsina highlysynchronisedmanner,justasthe space-warpingengines transferredtothe normal space-thrustersonthe ship. The YellowStardroppedlike astone towardsthe atmosphere of Mars. Theywere only80 kilometres towardsthe exosphere of Mars...andtheywere headingforthe atmosphere waytooquickly.The brakesseemedtobe uselessinstoppingthe momentum the Space-warpingengineshadgiven them. ...until theirvelocitystartedtodrop...from300km/hto 250 km/h...220km/h...140km/h... Afterreachingthe atmosphere of Mars,theywere still goingtooquickly!!!!!Almost20km/h!!!!! Since the escape velocityof Marsis 5 km/h,the spaceshipwill breakapartandburn inthe descent. The onlyway to escape a verypainful deathwastodropto the escape velocity. “Oh no!It lookslike we cannotmake it.We are alreadyburning!!! We onlyhave a few hundred metrestodrop below5-"flightengineerCSUspoke throughthe microphone. He wasclearlyscared. “Is beatingthe Americansworththis?What’sthe pointof thismissionanyway?” Both Kyle andChenhadto blockout Xu’smoans.While tryingtomaintainhisgripon the shaking controls,Chentriedtopeerthroughthe thickorange carbon dioxide gasinMars’ atmosphere.“Oh no,Kyle,thisisnotgood. There isa jetstreamin the middle atmosphere –a bigone,at least 24km/h, whichwill blowusoff course towardsthe surface...it,canmake the craft verydifficultto control...” However,Kyle sawthisasan opportunity.Withbeadsof sweatdrippingfromhisforeheadontohis carbon fibre controls,he rapidlyoutlinedhisplans toChen, “Thatmightjustbe whatwe needto slowusdown.At thisrate,we are goingat 6.4km/h...andourcraft is heatingup...butwe canuse the drag of the jetstreamto slowusdownbefore ourhull burnsto smithereens...let’sflyheadlonginto it...”
  7. 7. “Copy,Captain,"repliedChen,takingadeepbreath. There wasnosense of nervousnessinhis eyes...nowhe hasa plan... “Affirmative,Captain. Sorryaboutthe stupidremarks,”flightengineerCSUspoke. Lookingat hisvelocitygauge dropping,Kyle Zhu readiedhimselfforthe impossibletaskbefore them. Theirchancesof survival:lessthan10%.He triedto summonhiscommandingvoice,one lasttime, “Prepare the flapsandstabilizerstoslow usdown...Prepare forimpactinSIX...” ChenSakharov turnedonall of the ship’sstabilizers. “...Five...” He grippedhisflightcontrolsfordearlife,knowingthe jetstreams will be hardonthe hydraulics... “...Four...” FlightEngineerCSUstrappedhimself inforimpact... “...Three...” The crew eachofferedaprayerfor humanity... “...Two...” The shipbuckledslightly.... “...ONE...” Witha loudHOOMPH!!!The YellowStarflew straightintothe jetstream!!! Aboardthe Challenger Afterthe shipemergedfromthe jumpintohyperspace,itwastime tobe REALLY careful. HenryMilesspoke intohisship’sintercom.“Thisisgoinggood,people.Slowlynow...we are making great speed...” Tomas made a rough calculationinhishead.“Jeez...weare solucky...we justcame outof hyperspace justsoonenoughtomake a descentinabout20 minutes...” Now,Henryrealizedsomething.He spoke intohisintercom, “Ohno!!!...the Chinese...HeyJames!!! Where are theynow?” There wasno replyfora fewseconds.“Uh,Captain,somethingveryunusual happened.Ihave locatedthe Yellow Staronmy radar 52 secondsago...God...itseemedthattheyare flyingWAYtoo quicklytobe safe-“ “Yes,”interjectedHenrynonchalantly.“Theyneverstop,dothey?”
  8. 8. “But the matter isthis...ataboutthe same time youwanteditsprogressreport,the Yellow Starjust veeredoff course!!!...Imeantheywere headingstraighttowardsthe surface of Mars,but they suddenlychangeddirectionstoadifferentangle- ” “It’sthe jetstreams,James,”Tomasinterjected. “Ireadaboutthemina physicstextbook...my gosh....itlookslike theymighthave all perishedintheirdescent. The chancesforsurvival are less than 10%...about6 actually...” “Yes,Tomas,” repliedJames,obviouslyfrustratedathow hisfellowcrew memberstrytoadd their commentsinhisprogressreport.“Look,Captain.Howeveryoudon’tlike the Chinese,itisnot importantnow.Whateverhappens,itlookslike Americanswill be the firsttolandonMars. Not them...” Withthat, CaptainHenryMileswasreassuredof an Americanvictoryoverthe Chinese. Therewill be nothing to stop us.We will be thefirst to land on Mars!!! Asthe pilotsmannedtheircontrol forthe smoothflighttowardsMars,theythoughtof manythings...Itwas50 yearsago whenMan first landedonthe Moon...50 years!!!...beforeMancould reconciliate hisdifferences,andtake the next leapof faith... The orange,almostserene,gassyatmosphere of Marslaybefore them.The descentwaswell-timed and slow...butsteady.The brightcloudsof Mars’atmosphere gave the softtints of yellow and white...itwasalmostaperfectdescentuntil the cloudpartedtoreveal somethingthe Americans neverwantedtosee... “Oh, GOD!!!Jesus...”CaptainHenryMilesgroaned.Hisexpressionof victorysuddenlyturnedinto one of rage and desperation...because hoveringafew hundredmetresbelowthemwasthe battered Yellow Star! “Oh God, the Chinese have gothere first!”Tomasshoutedthroughhisintercom.“Ithoughttheir shipwasblastedoff course duringtheirdescent!!!” Henrylookedlike he justswallowedaninsect.He wasclearlynotpleased.“Itoldyou!Theyare cheaters!The windactuallycarriedthemintheirdescent!!!The stormhasnotblownthem offcourse...itactuallyhelpedthemsave theirmiserable lives!” “Okay Captain,Iguesswe shouldnotgettoo angry withourselves!!!” The spaceshipslowlydescendedthroughthe orange cloudsof dust.Tomasmannedthe controls, makingsure the velocitywaskeptstable.There wasnopointtomake a runfor it.The Chinese had alreadywon. Theirshipstoodhoveringafew hundredmetres. However,somethingaboutthe wayit hoveredwasunusual... “Hey Captain,lookatthat”, Tomas pointedatthe hoveringship. Henryliftedhiseyesfromself-blame,andlookedthroughthe windshield,atthe small yellow and redcraft undercloudsof orange dust.“What are the Chinese upto?” The Chinese spaceshipseemedtohave stoppedmid-way.Itjuststayedthere!
  9. 9. Jamessuddenlyspokeintohisintercom.“Heypeople,itappearsthe Chineseare tryingtosenda message tous!” Henrylookedlike he wasabouttofall off hisseat. They are so close to victory.Whatare they doing??!! Breakinghistrainof thought,he spoke quicklytoTomas,“Okay,let’shearwhattheyhave to say...” Aboardthe YellowStar “Okay Captain,itlookslike the Americansare readytotalk.We are indirectcontact. But we better tell the ASAP,otherwise,theywillswitchoff!!” CaptainZhu peeredthroughthe orange clouds,andsaw the Americanshipdescendingfromthe heavens.Itseemed tobe freefallingontoitsbase.Itmoved evermorecloser... Zhu hitthe “talk” buttonon the ship’sgammaray transmissionconsole. Itconsisted of amicrophone withrowsof buttons. Kyle shoutedintothe microphone.“Challenger,thisisthe captainof the YellowStar.I wantto talkto CaptainHenryMilles!” He lookedexpectantlydownatthe microphone,waitingforMilestorespond.ThenanAmerican voice came up, “CaptainChu,thisisthe Challenger.Thankyouforplayingfairandsquare.Now,let’s have a race to the surface.ItisbetweenChinaandAmericanow.There will be noquartersgiven!!!” CaptainZhu lookedamusinglyathisfellowastronauts.The aggressionthe Americansshowedwas clearlyquite amusing.Clearinghisvoice,Kylespoke intothe microphone,“CaptainHenryMiles.On behalf of the People’sRepublicof China,Ibringwordfromour President.Us,Chinese,intendto become partnerswithAmericainthe Space Race.We donot intendtobeatyou to Mars. We didthis simplytoshowour commitmenttothe progress.Show let’smake historybylandingonMars TOGETHER.” Aboardthe Challenger There wassilence onboardthe Challenger.NeitherHenrynorTomasspoke.NordidJamesthrough hisintercom.Theyall heardthe conversation. Butthis,this wasnonormal conversation. AmI hearing whatI amreally hearing? thoughtTomas. Are these the Chinese? Oneof the mostambitious nationson Earth? The one who challenged theUSA in economicdomination?Theonewho thought western culture wasalien???!! CaptainZhu’svoice came overthe microphone onthe console.“Are youthere,Challenger?Please respond.” Breakinghistrainof thought,CaptainMilesreplied,“Listen,Yellow Star.Idon’tknow whatyouare tryingto do.But your suggestionsare verysuspicious.” “Alright,Challenger,”the microphone replied.“Toshow our alliance,we will letyoulandfirst,if that suitsyou.But we are honestinourneedforyour alliance.We have spentover3 billiondollars
  10. 10. developingthisship,andwe have flownover50 millionkilometresforyouguys.Thisrace isfor both nations.A symbol formutual rivalrybetweenallies.” Tomas couldnotstop himself anymore. Itistime!!! He lookedtowardsCaptainHenryMiles,waiting for permissiontospeak.Milesshookhishead,andlookedatTomasuncomfortably. Itisthe only way forus to reconciliate ourdifferences.Distrustcan getus nowhere. Slowly...he nodded... Bendingdowntowardsthe intercom,Tomasspoke,“ThisisChallenger.Enough,boys.We have just wasted8 minutesand27 secondstalkingabove the surface of Mars. We all have a commongoal people.Solet’smake historyTOGETHER!!!”
  11. 11. The dry, rocky surface of Mars stretchedoutinall directions.Since itsdiscoverythousandsof years ago, mostscientistsbelievedthatthe surface of Mars hadnot changedfor millionsof years.With rediron oxide dustcoatedontoitssurface,Mars appearedtobe a barrenplanet– devoidof life and useful potential.However,humancuriosityhadchangedthattoday,and,withoutadoubt,it isone of the firstgiantleapsMan musttake to explore the universe.... The two crafts descendedside-bysidefromthe orange clouds.Itisday time,andthe brightyellow tintsof the suncould be seenthroughthe loweratmosphere.The AmericanandChinese crafts loweredthemselveslikeangelicbeingsdescendingfromheaventoblessMarswiththeir visit. However,evenif theywere noangels,theywere the firstterrestrial beingstolandaspace craft on Mars. It was onlyhalf a centuryagosince humanshad setfooton the Moon. Now,free of all itsobstacles, Man’s journeyintospace wascomplete withthe inventionof space-warpingengines.Itwashuman nature to explore andtounderstandthose thatseemmysterioustohim.The landingonMars signalledone idea:humansof all racescouldfinallyrelinquishtheirdifferences,andactas true allies witha commongoal.The Landingon Mars was not only the start of the new Space Race. It marked the start of humanity’strustandrespectinitsdiversitywhichhadalwaysbeenlargelyignoreduntil now....

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