Part 7: the Mission to Jupiter
from Heroes of the Solar Rangers by G.H. Wells,
...the Jupship was ready for testing. Lt Tordenskjold was not
allowed to board the craft until after a manned flight was
The Jupship was designed for a crew of two, a man and a woman, so
the flight was performed by Lt Cdr Toshiro Yamahonda and Major
Isabelle Deneuve, who took it around the sun, cutting in closer
to our star than any manned flight before, actually into the
corona, where the stresses of heat and gravitation would tear any
ship apart instantly, with no effect at all upon them. The
flight took four days, fast by standard MEST performance,
although they had not tried for a full speed run.
The Jupship deemed safe, Niels and Marucia were allowed to take
command of the vessel. Their first training flight was to Mars,
where they landed at Base Burroughs, to much ceremony and media
coverage. They returned to SpaceCity after a tour of the
outposted planets: the Jupship worked very well, crossing great
chunks of space instantly, dipping in and out of the sun,
"We're ready. We could go right now," Niels said,
but the designated date was March 15, 2166, and they waited.
Three days before that date they flew from SpaceCity to Callisto,
second largest of Jupiter's moons.
Callisto Base had
been built as a facility for monitoring and observing Jupiter,
not a convention center, and now the population of that moon had
grown by several thousand scientists and politicians and media
teams. Everyone had to live in their own ships, and had to take
turns coming into the base for authorized meetings. Many
meetings were videxed, and via virtual 3V media coverage, the
population of almost the entire planet Earth was also on Callisto
The Jupship was checked one last time. So were Niels and
Marucia. Then they waited for the signal which the Jupiterans
Exactly at the designated time, there was a bright light shining
out of Jupiter, like the sun itself, from the equatorial band
just north of the Great Red Spot. A beacon, to lead them in. It
was time to go.
The "Cosmic Couple" waved farewell and went into the Jupship,
sealed the hatch. The gravwarp engines pulsed and the ship
lifted, twirled, and flew gracefully off toward Jupiter.
We all watched this event, almost every one of us in the Solar
System, via the cameras mounted on the Jupship: the spectacular
planet Jupiter filled our 3V screens, the eternal storms clearly
seen now, the red spot swirling and twisting itself backwards
against the parallel bands of wind, the colors separating as the
Jupship penetrated the atmosphere of the gas giant. Beneath the
ship, the beacon light grew larger, brighter.
"We're reading 1 atmospheric pressure now," Niels reported,
"clouds of fine ammonia ice crystal at this level, the beacon
seems to be very close, it must be in the upper
"What..? We're going to...HIT it!!"
They passed through the beacon itself, which was simply an
atmospheric phenomenon, a vast swirling disk of ice crystals
acting as a mirror to reflect the light of the sun back to Earth
and Callisto, and as they passed it shattered and scattered into
a mist that was blazed away in the storm, and the light was no
"We've lost the beacon!" Marucia called, "We don't know where to
Niels cut in, "We're continuing the descent. I'm sure we'll get
further signs, this atmosphere is clearly too thick for a light
to penetrate all the way through from the surface."
On the monitors we could all see the sky growing yellow, brown,
ammonia becoming a wet mist now, darker...
They were lost to radio contact 35,000 km in. The last words we
received were Niels and Maru talking to each other. "Are you
scared?" He asked her. "Not now. We've survived the Sun. How
can Jupiter be worse that THAT?"she replied. Then the static
covered their signal.
And has ever since. They have not been heard from or seen
Nor have the Jupiterians sent us any messages, there is only the
static. At the time of this writing, 24 years have passed since
21 March 2166. Are Niels and Maru dead? Are they prisoners?
Or are they living happily ever after in a Jupiterian Eden?