DOWN WITH POWER
Narrated by talk show host, Brian Wilson, “Down With Power” a Libertarian
Manifesto, by L. Neil Smith now downloadable as an audiobook!
L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 1,063, March 22, 2020

The left is flexing everything that
remains of its power to convince the
population that they’re all going to die
and that only government can save them.

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Getting High for Freedom
by Jim Davidson
jim@resilientways.net

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Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

[Continued from Part One,   Part Two,   Part Three,   Part Four,   Part Five,   Part Six,   Part Seven,   Part Eight,   Parts Nine, Ten, & Eleven,   part Twelve,   part Thirteen,   part Fourteen,   part Fifteen,   part Sixteen &Seventeen,   Title and Art Contest,   part Eighteen,   part Nineteen,   part Twenty,   part Twenty-one,   part Twenty-two]

"In a free market, the maverick pioneer just needs to convince one or a few capitalists (out of thousands) to finance his revolutionary project, and then the results will speak for themselves. In contrast, an innovative civil servant at NASA needs to convince his direct superiors before trying anything new. If his bosses happen to dislike the idea, that’s the end of it. ... A system of property rights, and the freely floating prices that accompany the exchange of these rights, is necessary to ensure the best possible use of resources.   This is true in something as mundane as car production, or something as exotic as trips to Mars. The private sector can finance safe and efficient space exploration, but it will only do so in projects where the benefits (including donations from enthusiasts) truly outweigh the costs."
—Robert P. Murphy, A Free Market in Space, 2005

Fire All of Your Guns at Once and Explode into Space

"Doctor Perez," Tyrone said to the screen, "would you please go over what we should expect tonight?"

Juan Perez was a sixth generation Texan.  His family had settled in Texas before it was annexed to the United States.   No one in his immediate family spoke Spanish, which he was quick to mention if the subject came up.  He had PhDs in nuclear engineering and astrophysics and was widely regarded as one of the smartest people in the rebel alliance.

Although each of the twenty teams planning their launches for later that night had used local resources, a variety of designs, and many unique innovations of their own, Juan had consulted remotely with all of them and in person with several.  He had encouraged sharing of open source information about as many of the different strategies and tactics for overcoming communications, propulsion, guidance, navigation, control, and on-orbit operaions as possible.  His teams had been in very high gear for the last eighteen months, and it showed in his weary expression.

Juan lifted a brief smile and said, "We've been tracking everything we can, using our networks of amateur telescope teams, some data we've pulled off the owner networks, and we believe we have the orbital elements for all six of the battle stations.  We were able to confirm the orbits on the three stations that shot sky rods at you.  Based on calculated ballistic coefficients and masses, we think one of those three is crewed, and two of the others.  If we're right, all the rest are automated."

Bill Watson nodded. "So, general Perez, what's the plan?"

"The plan," said Juan, "is to get up there, take possession of all six battle stations, and also take control of the international space station.  We know it is being used as a logistics hub, given the service flights that go from there to the six identified battle stations.  Our team in East Africa has advanced their schedule as well, but it'll still be three more days before our space station launches."

Tyrone nodded. "Do you need anything from us, Juan? "

Juan shook his head briefly. "No, Ty, we're going to be fine with the teams and resources we've got.  There are zero indications of difficulty with owner forces anywhere near our launch sites.   So we should be able to do all twenty launches just under three hours from now, 23:00 eastern time.  Anywhere from six to nine hours later, we should be holding the high ground."

David Bradford spoke up and said, "Thank you, and God bless you all.  We have support teams deployed down range from all of your launch sites in case there are aborts or launch failures that need recovery.  If anyone heads back from orbital altitude, you have our frequencies for rescue."

Juan nodded. "Much appreciated David.  I'll let you know as soon as we meet our objectives."

Tyrone smiled, "Go with God, Juan.  We'll be praying for your success."

There was a general chorus of agreement.  Then Tyrone said, "I think we've got a complete picture of the situation.   Unless anyone else has something further, we should let Wendy go be with her family, and attend to our own situations."  This message, too, received unanimous support.

Eighty Percent Success

Carlos Perez could hear his son finishing up the teleconference with the other militia leaders.  He brought a carefully wrapped package over to the desk where Juan was seated, closing down his computer system.

"Son," Carlos said, "I have something for you.  I've already had one of your tech people attach the scabbard to your flight suit, opposite your handgun."

Juan looked up at his dad, who had encouraged him his entire life.  He smiled, all signs of weariness evaporating from his face.

"Thanks, dad! That looks interesting.  What's in the box?" asked Juan.

Carlos smiled indulgently. "Go ahead and unwrap it.   It's a replica of the knife Jim Bowie favoured.  I thought it would be short enough to stay out of your way during launch, but be useful to you if it gets to hand to hand combat up there."

During this brief description, Juan had unwrapped his present.  Inside a gift box was a gleaming bright Bowie knife.  It's overall length was 18 inches, its handle taking up six of those.  The blade was sharp along its entire length, coming to a sharp point which curved up slightly.  The back edge had a three-inch curve at the tip that was also razor sharp.  The cross guard was a thick strong brass element, and the handle was a dark composite.

Juan set the knife on his desk, stood up, and hugged his dad.  "You're the best, dad," he said.  He stepped back and held his hand out.  Carlos gripped his son's hand firmly.

Looking his son in the eye, Carlos said, "You're welcome, son.  I know you'll do your best up there.  We'll be praying for you."

Ten minutes later Carlos dropped Juan off at the launch site, deep inside a natural cave which had a modified roof.  Carlos headed back to the control room where he'd oversee his son's launch.  Juan scrambled up the access way to join his team in the crew cabin.

The count down clocks at twenty different launch sites made there ways down to zero.  Two of the launch vehicles had holds before launch and ended up delaying for a few minutes each. 

As one of the key consultants for the launch efforts, Carlos had a screen showing all twenty launch vehicles poised on their pads.  These were grouped in four rows of five rectangles each.  As the vehicles made final preparations for liftoff, each view was replaced by a dark nightscape, showing the last vestiges of twilight over the Rockies and Andes.  At 21:00 on the dot, eighteen launch vehicles ignited their main boosters.

Carlos watched his son's launch in the big screen at the front of the control room.  The launch support crew positioned at work stations around the room had all systems go.  They were extremely competent and Carlos knew they could handle everything.  Still, he watched that main screen as the cave roof hinged back and his son's vehicle lifted smoothly and rapidly into the sky.  Juan and his three companions were on their way to orbit.

A bright flash on his desktop monitor attracted Carlos's attention.  Where the launch vehicle rising from a site near Quito, Ecuador should have been there was a large fireball.

Carlos closed his eyes for a moment, thinking a momentary prayer for the souls of the dearly departed.  Then he switched his headset to pick up the voices from the Quito launch team.   Something had happened to the propellant tank pressure, and from the words of the ground crew it was clear that both space travellers were killed in the resulting explosion. 

All twenty vehicles were designed to be single stage to orbit.  They used liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engines.  Carlos's team had used extended propellant tanks and a more powerful engine system to boost four team members.  The Quito team had been constrained by local conditions at their launch site to use a smaller vehicle.  As a result, only two crew were aboard when the vehicle failed about ten seconds after liftoff.

The camera view of Juan's launch vehicle had followed its trajectory upward for about two minutes, at which point it was over forty miles high.  It was becoming hard to see from the ground-based view.  One of the techs in the control room switched the view to a map showing a Mercator projection of North and South America, against which background green lines emerged from each of the twenty launch sites.   Where a green line would have shown emerging from the site near Quito, there was a red X. 

Also shown on the situation map were the orbits of various known space vehicles.  Neither the international space station nor four of the six battle stations was in view, which had been an important factor in choosing this particular launch time.  The two battle stations in their sky had both passed to the east a few minutes before zero hour.  Only one unknown satellite of any size was in the sky, just emerging onto the view from the Western edge of the map.

As Carlos studied the big screen, two more green lines appeared.  Looking back at his desktop display, he could see the two late departures, both looking to be in good order.

Then a tone in his headset indicated a signal on the emergency channel.  His fingers on the keyboard in front of him switched Carlos's earphones so he could listen in.

"Emergency.  Sky Angel Seven, take evasive action.  Angle Seven Control here.  We have a new battle station identified.  Sky rods falling now."  Carlos recognised the voice of Martha Erickson at their facility in northern Arizona.

Again, his technical team showed their competence.  Before Carlos could utter a word, the main screen switched to a view of the situation affecting Sky Angel Seven.  The newly-identified battle station was that unknown satellite.  It had launched three sky rods at the vehicle rising over the Arizona mountains, the only launch within its range.  If only they had launched on time, but, there was no more time for if only.

Carlos sat and watched, grim-faced but calm.  Sky Angel Seven was high enough to shift its trajectory several times, but each time the three sky rods matched course.  From the radar data, it was clear that the first sky rod would be too low to reach its target.   The second rod, however, made contact six minutes after liftoff.  

All signals from Sky Angel Seven were lost.  After a few seconds, one of the techs put a red X at the end of its trajectory.   Three more lives had been lost.

Carlos sighed.  He closed his eyes and thought his prayer for the departed.  Then he checked his status screens, and noted that all of the remaining launches had been successful.  Eighteen teams were now at orbital altitude.  One of the teams assigned to the international space station would need to be diverted to that seventh battle station.

The battle for control of the high ground had begun.

[End part twenty-three, continues in part twenty-four]

 

Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director.  He is the cfo of KanehCN3.com and the vision director of HoustonSpaceSociety.net   You can find him on Twitter.com/planetaryjim as well as Pocket.app and Flote.app also as planetaryjim.  He appreciates any support you can provide as times are very difficult.  See the Paypal link on this page, or Flote.app for crypto options. Or email your humble author to offer other choices.   Please visit Kaneh's IndieGoGo and please help him get to Paradox Colorado with a small gift if you are able.

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