The Plasket Story
John Plasket was the safety tester of this new thing called the Bussard drive. He had tested many mini-size models in hydrogen chambers and tried their brakes, which at first had the problem of disabling the shield but could soon be fixed. However, the one thing that he forgot to test for was the steering mechanisms.
“So who wants to visit Alpha Centauri?” In the end the crew consisted of Plasket, Alex Jones, and Charlie McDonald. Alex and Charlie had come to see it in action but they couldn’t resist an offer to be travelling inside this new spaceship.
So the SS Plasket was launched. It looked like a giant horn but had some chemical rockets to get it off the ground and nuclear fuel sources to get it to a hydrogen cloud. The nuclear fuel was always being renewed by the Bussard drive, which also contributed a magnetic shield. This was the fastest fuel source they could ever imagine. Within a day they were in a hydrogen cloud. Here’s the dialogue that follows.
Plasket: This should take us five days, although it will seem like ten years back at home. However, our anti-ageing formula is now spreading about the Solar System. This causes it as a whole to accelerate so fast that only five days will pass for them too. It too uses a form of Bussard drive, combined with nuclear fuel pellets. It will run out once the five days have passed.
Alex: Interesting... What happens if we hit a black hole?
Plasket: We can just turn. It’s just as well since another fuel processing method can create black holes that fly directly in front of us. They only become black holes days later, and are very short lived; they usually only last a day. Even if we just miss the event horizon, we are going so fast that we will escape intact.
Charlie: But what if we just brush past the event horizon?
Plasket: Then only the part that entered the event horizon will be lost. If only we could keep an atomic backup of ourselves then it would be fine.
Alex: Castleran should be able to do that.
(They boot up Castleran and it starts scanning Alex, Charlie, and Plasket)
Castleran: Atomic backup complete.
Now it travelled until the third day, when they were scheduled to reach Alpha Centauri. Suddenly they see a black hole.
Plasket: Just fire the right thruster and we will be OK.
(Charlie fires the right thruster and it malfunctions)
Plasket: In that case the left thruster should work.
(Charlie fires the left thruster and it works fine, until an asteroid collides and destroys it)
Plasket: Then only the right thruster is left. I’ll be in the maintenance module repairing it.
Alex: Looks like we’re heading straight for the black hole!
(Suddenly a deafening crash is heard as the maintenance module is torn from the spaceship. The spaceship then swings around the black hole until it is heading towards Earth)
Charlie: IT SEEMS THAT WE HAVE LOST PLASKET.
Castleran: In that case we will need to get him out using Hawking radiation. In fact, I can make a special frequency that will cause the black hole to emit all its Hawking radiation in our direction. Then I can use the atomic backup to restore him.
(They watch as a large pile of various atoms is assembled and takes the shape of Plasket)
Alex: You were in the maintenance module. It seems that Castleran took a backup of that too. Now there is no need to fire the right thruster as we are heading toward Earth.
Soon it reached the vicinity of the Solar System. It slowed down using first the nuclear brakes and then the chemical brakes until it landed.