Brown, Dale - Independent 01

Brown, Dale - Independent 01 by Silver Tower (v1.1)

Book: Brown, Dale - Independent 01 by Silver Tower (v1.1) Read Free Book Online
Authors: Silver Tower (v1.1)
what’s got us really excited. If you’re correct
in your prediction that a one-minute laser barrage will have the power to destroy
hundreds of missiles, we may have the ability to neutralize the whole Soviet
nuclear arsenal.”
                “If it works, Colonel,” Ann said. ‘The
problems we need to overcome are still pretty huge.. . , For now. I’d put my
money on the Thor missiles.”
                Walker accepted that with a shrug, then led the way to the
next module, which was like the command module except a bit less organized.
Again, four technicians manned the module, two of them positioned in front of
large banks of equipment.
                ‘This is
the experimentation module,” Walker said. “Personnel and equipment are moved in and out of this area on a weekly
basis. Some weeks it’s bacteria—others it’s transformers or superconductive
circuits. All of the equipment bays are temporary—we can remodel this entire
module in half a day. Dr. Baker, this will be your office.” “Great, it’s bigger
than my lab at Los Alamos .”
                Walker led them through the side hatch into a long glass-lined connecting tunnel,
'This leads to the second parallel column of modules. We’ve built each of these
connecting tunnels with thick Plexiglas so that it can double as a sort of
observation deck. The view is.., well, see for
yourself.”
                The view
was breathtaking. The entire space station was spread out before them, a
science fiction movie come to life.
                Far below
them the center open-framed keel stretched far out into space, almost out of
sight. Nearly a thousand feet long and fifty feet square, the keel held large
silverized fuel tanks, mounting and equipment housings for a variety of
antennas, and miles of pipes and tubes snaking throughout. Beneath the keel
were mounted the huge curved space-based, phased-array radars, their
football-field-sized electromagnetic eyes continuously scanning planet earth
beneath them. At the very ends of the keel were four solar energy collectors,
each twice as large as the radars—massive, delicate, incredibly thin-looking
sheets of glass aimed at the sun.
                “On earth
those collectors would weigh eighty tons apiece,” Walker said. “Up here, of course, nothing. We use a tiny, fifty-horsepower electric
motor to keep them pointed at the sun. They supply enough power for two
stations. While the station is in sunlight they provide direct energy. We also
use them to recharge a bank of cobalt-hydroxide batteries for emergency use and
to break down waste water to produce hydrogen and oxygen for our fuel cells and
station thrusters.”
                “Is that
what you’ll use to power Ann’s laser?” Baker asked him.
                “Unfortunately,
no,” Ann answered for him. “We need ten times more collectors for just one
burst. We’ll use a small nuclear MHD reactor to power the laser.”
                Baker
pointed toward the very ends of the keel. “The station thrusters are also out
there on the keel?”
                “Right,” Walker said. “Five small hydrogen rocket engines on each end of the keel. They fire automatically about two dozen times a day to correct the station’s
altitude, attitude, alignment and orbit. They’re also used to move the station
if necessary.”
                “And you
get the fuel for that from water?”
                “Right
again. We use electrolysis chambers powered by the sun to crack waste water
into hydrogen and oxygen gas that’s collected and stored in those tanks out
there. We bring up a shuttle full of water about once every two months, and we
also get water from the fuel cells, where we recombine hydrogen and oxygen to
produce electrical power and water. In an emergency a full complement of twenty
crewmen can survive up here for six months

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