Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Snapshots: History of Alverez Station

From Fegbottom's Guide to Alverez Station:

History of the Fomalhaut System:

In 2021 Fomalhaut became one of the first stars put under the scrutiny of the Terrestrial Planet Finder telescope array. 12 planets were observed in orbit about the star, 8 within the 20 AU "doughnut" hole in the circumstellar dust disk that surrounded Fomalhaut. Each planet was given designations of Fomalhaut I, Fomalhaut II, etc. In the dust disk itself are four, still accreting, gas giants.

At the edge of the hole is Fomalhaut VIII, a massive, (2.3 Jupiter masses) gas giant, large enough to warp the dust ring with its gravity.

Fomalhaut I, II, and III are small rocky worlds, varying between Mercury and Mars in size. Fomalhaut IV is a large, Earth size world, without a moon. Fomalhaut V also was approximately Earth size, and had three moons.

Fomalhaut VI and VII are both small gas giants, Neptune sized. Unfortunately Fomalhaut VII is being perturb by Fomalhaut VIII and according to most simulations will be ejected from the system in about another million years. This is expected to alter the orbits of the inner worlds, so climatic changes are expected to occur.

In 2100, a modified Port Huron class exploration ship, the ISCO Cape Canaveral, captained by Juan Alverez, arrived in system. Son of the Tech baron Jorge Alverez, he was examining the viability of the two habitable worlds for colonization for the Alverez corporation. He explored the system for two years before returning to Earth.

In the process of exploring and deploying system buoys, (Automated satellites that provided navigation data and solar conditions for ships in system), Alverez named each of the worlds.

The three, small, inner worlds he named after his children, Lupe, Pedro, and Juan. Fomalhaut IV was named after his ex-wife, Dorsey. Fomalhaut V he named New America, while the three moons were named Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson.

The two small gas giants he named Romulus and Remus. The massive gas giant Fomalhaut IIIV, he named Gojira. The four still accreting gas giants, he collectively named "Los Ninos" because they were still "in the womb" and not born yet.

Fomalhaut was earmarked for colonization and ISCO was partly funding this mission. Both Alverezs were under the impression that because they were exploring the system, they'd get first rights on the worlds there. Unbeknownst to them, ISCO was assembling eight colony ships, destined for Fomalhaut V.

Returning to Earth in 2104, he and his father sunk the family fortunes into a colony project. It was then that they found about the ISCO funded colony to New America. Dorsey was not suitable, having entered a period of intense wobble, its axis wavering between 40° and 30° inclination.

So Alverez Technologies liquidated itself and created Alverez Colonial Corporation (ACC). Two Homesteader class colony ships were available and where purchased with money ACC didn't have. They weren't able to leave until 2106, two years after the ISCO colony had arrived at New America.

When the ISCO Death Valley and the ISCO Donner Pass arrived in 2108, the ISCO colony was firmly entrenched. The ISCO colony consisted of Amish and Mongols, seeking a world of their own, so that they could maintain their ways of life without any influence from the other cultures. When the ACC shuttlecraft landed, they were met by armed Mongols and Amish armed with bibles, tar, and feathers.

After some discussion, temporary housing was established, while ACC regrouped and considered its options.

The three ships, the ISCO Cape Canaveral, ISCO Death Valley and the ISCO Donner Pass, were in orbit. The six colonial shuttles were ferrying colonists back and forth between the surface and the two colony ships. This was so that no one would suffer too much bone loss, and other zero-G maladies. Food was needed, as the ship's stores were not sufficient for a prolonged stay in orbit.

The Cape Canaveral was reverted back to its original mining configuration and headed out into the target rich environment of Fomalhaut to mine for ore, since the Amish and Mongols refuse to recognize ISCO dollars as legitimate legal tender.

On top of all their other worries, half of the some nine thousand colonists were about to have their contraception implants expire. The prospect of four thousand colonists of child bearing age on board ships that were already at near capacity, finally spurred the Alverez Colonial Corporation to make a decision... They would stay in space in orbit around America and build a space colony.

A small group of colonists, about one thousand or so individuals, disagreed with that decision and petitioned ACC for the rights to settle on Dorsey. Despite the current climatic upheavals on that world, thanks to its increased wobble, they were willing to give it a try. They pooled what money they had to buy the heavy farm machinery from ACC, and demanded their fair share of the seed catalog and embryo banks.

Jorge Alverez decide to bless their attempt, with agreement that if the space colony had relocate, it could do so to the Dorsey colony. The Dorsey colonists agreed and they were shuttled to Dorsey aboard the Donner Pass and landed on the only suitable piece of land on a world that was nearly 85% water. The life that they made for themselves there would become the stuff of legend.

When the Donner Pass returned to New America, with heavy heart, Jorge ordered the Donner Pass and the Death Valley disassembled into viable life system sections. Cargo holds were made air tight, the power plants from both ships were moved to the automated station. Empty cargo containers were either converted into zero-g office/lab/work modules, or packed full of asteroidal slag from the solar refinery and used for radiation shielding.

The fusion drive from the Donner Pass was turned into large superconducting hub for a cable suspended habitat rotation system. Twenty years later, the Death Valley's drive was turned into a hub for a second, counter rotating cable suspended farming habs.

Hanging off of each end of the massive arrays of single crystal iron cables were the refurbished lifesystems of the two colony ships, spinning about the small station like some giant's bolo. Initially it wobbled and took some fine tuning with weights suspended on the cables to balance out the loads. But in the end, Alverez Station was officially declared open for business in 2116.

And it was just in time. In 2117 an ISCO ship arrived with a court order for restitution to the banks and businesses that had invested in ACC. Luckily, they had mined sufficient quantities of iron, copper, titanium, cometary organics, and other valuable minerals and chemicals that they could pay off their creditors.

When word of the new station and the riches of the Fomalhaut system got back to Earth, at least three major mining companies moved operations to the quickly growing stack of zero-g modules off of the small automated station. Over the years this stack of modules, work pods, industrial habs, and other units grew into a chaotic hodgepodge, that later earned the nickname "The Hodgepodge" or simply, the "Hodge".

The original colony stayed operational and was expanded six times until finally the original habs were shut down and detached from the original hub in 2336, when the new, far more massive Alverez Habitat, a cylinder 5 kilometers long by 1.5 kilometers in diameter, was officially opened. The bridge units had been left attached to both habs and now reside in the Martian Air and Space Museum.

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