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Potential, Simulated

Posted on Fri Aug 18th, 2023 @ 3:09am by Ensign Kate Kono

Mission: Damn Dirty Apes
Location: Holodeck
Timeline: After leaving Sickbay

It was a far cry from the F-16 Simulator in her previous simulation. Instead of coasting high above the Nevada Testing and Training Range, she was in something way more advanced by comparison; a Type Six Shuttle-craft. The greatest thing about a planet with an EM field is that they can only extend so far, and with the ship she was on already surfing the outer extent of the orbit at which the field extended to, she knew her outer radius of the field. Despite the captain telling her that it would be impossible, she was simply curious if it could be done.

Kate sat in the pilots chair of the Shuttle-craft and left the shuttle-bay. Dressed in a full EVA suit and helmet, she brought the shuttle-craft around in the opposite facing direction, with the planet far over her head while activating the thrusters. The altitude at which she kept from the planet would have to remain fixed, while dropping out of orbit. There were a lot of officers and crew members aboard the Washington that specialized in other elements of space exploration that had nothing to do with piloting, so, it made sense that not many people would understand the mechanics of an orbit versus distance, and distance inverse to gravity.

Shuttle-craft very rarely operated outside of an orbit unless already in a planets atmosphere. However, in order to escape the Electro-Magnetic field while still being able to deliver critical components to the crew while not violating the prime directive, she came up with a plan that, just out of curiosity alone and nothing more, she wanted to see would work or not.

Kate had the thrusters acting at full thrust, but at the distance from the planet, that meant that she’d have to bleed more speed to bring the orbital velocity to zero while maintaining the exact same distance from the planet in space. The more orbital velocity decreased, the more reliant on the engines of her vessel would be required to maintain separation from the forces of gravity. Kate had time in order for those de-orbit burns to take gradual effect. Kate unstrapped herself from the seat of the cockpit and walked to the back where three packets connected to a device that would fan out and control their descent into the planet once they finally hit the atmosphere would spread out in the half-hour it would take for them to fall from space to the stratosphere at her distance.

She strapped the cargo onto the deck by one strap each to the top of each package and then, Kate strapped herself from the center console of the shuttle-craft to the belt on her EVA suit. From there, she returned to the cockpit to watch the speed drop.

“Computer, change all metrics to twenty-first Century American.” Being from that era, and despite the fact she understood the Metric System, she was still faster on her feet with the old system — especially when it came to orbital mechanics. “Call out engine status, speed, orbital break time, and Delta-V at minute intervals.”

‘Speed decreasing from 21,000 Miles Per Hour and continuing to decrease. Orbital Break in three minutes. Thruster angle compensating the maintaining of distance from planet at the orbital path of the USS Washington — USS Washington will return to current position in One Hour, Twenty Minutes.’

Kate took out a PADD and inserted 21,000 into the pad.
“Computer, adjust decrease in speed to coincide with a continually computed arrival point of cargo closest to Ayana and Grayson’s position.”

The computer paused a moment as it made the calculations. Meanwhile, Kate strapped self-destruct mechanisms to the pattern enhancers just in case they are never found, or, found by the wrong people. She waited for an idea of an input code when the computer gave her an answer. Meanwhile, she felt an additional source of gravity slowly overtake the artificial gravity of the shuttle. It was a very slight pull aft. She looked up toward the cockpit to see that the horizon of the planet turned to be on the opposite spot. Kate pressed a panel to open the rear door to space.

As the back door opened, she could see the stars and a very slight sliver of the planet peaking just below the lip of the open back door. The computer replied inside her helmet now that there was no atmosphere outside of her faceplate.

‘One Hour and Eighteen minutes until CCAP, Ninety Minutes to Max Thrust, Speed is Now at 19,760 Miles Per Hour. Orbital Break in Sixty Seconds./

As the hour went by, the planet started dawning over the edge of the black abyss of the rear of her shuttle-craft and the hum of the engines that kept her altitude stable without falling the remaining four thousand miles into the planet, gradually taxed the thrusters. The packages started sliding backward toward the open door, as did Kate. The planets gravity overtook the shuttle-crafts artificial gravity when the speed of their orbital decay dipped significantly under the horizon of the planet.

‘Speed Approaching 7,237 Miles Per Hour. Stationary hover in 5 minutes.’ The computer stated. At this point, Kate was dangling and the planets distant globe was directly covering the door despite being a steady 4,000 miles up. Instead of the usual speed of 21,000 miles per hour to fall around the planet with little assistance of the engines, the Engines were now solely responsible for keeping the altitude.

Kate re-wrote the math into her PADD as she swung off the straps next to the cargo and decided that, it would take, at 35 feet, per-second, every second, and divide that into 21,120,000 feet to get an answer of 225,308,160 m/s~2.

“Twelve and a half minutes, minus the thickness of the atmosphere, chute time….” She guesstimated the rest considering the crew members would have to spend time looking for the signal on their tricorders. “… One Hour Even.” Kate decided was the best round number. It would give the crew members on the planet thirty-three minutes to find the technology before it self destructed after it landed. She insert sixty minutes into the self-destruct panel on the package containing the transporter enhancers.

“Time to Release in 3, 2, 1,” Kate felt the straps taught on both herself and the packages as the thrusters were finally sending the shuttle pointing straight away from the planet as the craft held a steady hang four thousand miles over the place she was originally stuck in the mud. She released the straps. The heat shields deployed on all three containers to protect it from 48,000 miles per hour velocities prior to the extension of the tungsten carbide fins. Losing sight of the packages so quickly as they started their long fall to the planet caused Kate to gasp in surprise as they were seemingly swallowed up by the gravity-well.

It was going to be a fast re-entry but it was a far-cry away from what it would have been if they had tried it from near stable orbit.” Kate climbed up her own strap until she grabbed hold of the chair in the cockpit and pulled herself into it in order to try and re-direct the speed laterally. She strapped into the seat to see a console filled with blinking red lights indicated engines overheating, systems overheating, stabilization malfunctions, and imminent failure of the craft in general.

She looked to her left as her body kept pulling toward the back of the seat under influence of the planets gravity, to see what first looked like a star getting brighter. It was the true sense of the idea that if you throw something hard enough, it’ll come right back to you where you started — essentially the best explanation of an orbit. The craft,and herself dematerialized only to be re-materialized back in the bay. Now that an atmosphere filled the craft, so did the smoke, and the sounds that the computer couldn’t tell her due to lack of noise in space.

Alarms, klaxon's, fires spread throughout the engines now that oxygen could fuel it, and the cracking of metals under tension could be heard as Starfleet personnel rushed to salvage what was left of the overtaxed shuttle. The consoles faded to gray in front of her as the smoke billowed in from the multitude of fried systems and the smoldering of the impulse coils that vented in through the open back door of the shuttle. Kate unstrapped herself and pulled the clip of her tether off of her belt as she ran through the smoke to safety.

The internal force-fields shot down from the ceiling and brought the craft once again into a total vacuum to control the orange and red flames that danced inside the black grated thrusters attached to the side of the craft.

Kate giggled to herself as she pulled the helmet off of her head.

“Computer — End program.”

She walked out of the Holodeck smiling. She’d keep her accomplishment to herself just like she always did her personal track times. If she told the Captain or anyone that this could be done, she’d look like a snot-nosed little kid that was trying to buck authority when in all actuality, it was simply in her nature to test herself while accepting her failures, and smiling at the triumphs.

The smile soon faded before she even got half way to her quarters though. She was genuinely worried about her crew mates. Part of her wanted to pitch the Idea again, if just to do something but she was good at following orders and wasn’t going to stop now. Just because her plan could have worked doesn’t mean that there were a million other plans that a seasoned Starfleet Officer like Shran could accomplish. That’s what Starfleet was all about, trusting each other and evaluating possibilities while exploring new frontiers. The simulation simply served as a way to keep her mind fresh and focused while she waited for new orders and hoped for the best.


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