First Orbital Satellite is South African
On the 12th of December, SARSA launched the world's first man made satellite into orbit around the Earth and successfully turned it on. Deep space radio telescopes around the world have reported transmissions from the satellite but have yet to decode the transmissions. A Spokesman from Jodrell Bank is quoted as saying: "We know it's morse code - but the sequence makes no sense at all". South African officials refused to comment on the output of the satellite, but did express satisfaction with the progress of both the one stage rocket (a safety factor of 76%) and the orbital satellite (a safety factor of 96%) programs.
As a consequence of the successful satellite launch, and in line with SARSA's new motto of "Bigger, Faster, Louder", the South African Government has ordered SARSA to launch a second orbital satellite as a matter of urgency. Suggestions that the satellite will be managed by the South African Secret Police has been downplayed by government spokesmen1.
Major Explosion detected near Honolulu
Shocked officials from the Hawaiian island of Oahu have explained that the large explosion on the 13th of December from near the north of the island was from a launch facility owned by SHADO. It appears that an attempted launch encountered problems during the final countdown sequence. Although the initial problem was corrected by the ground base mission control and the countdown resumed, the problem re-occurred only three seconds later. Although the rocket was fully fuelled and ready to go, the rocket failed to ignite as planned and the countdown aborted. However it appears that the explosive bolts which would normally be used to release the rocket for the actual liftoff did not receive the abort command and exploded as planned. This then ignited the fully fuelled rocket without the normal hardware and software controls being in place and the rocket exploded on the pad. Fortunately there was no casualties, but the launch facility was badly damaged in the explosion2.
Late change leaves GOSsiP with two stage rockets
For a while it looked like multiple agencies would be joining ASA in starting their rocket development directly with a two stage rocket. However a late change in plans meant that Smaug Inc. decided against storing their liquid oxygen supplies in the nearby dormant volcano after the volcano showed signs of not being quite so dormant. Smaug Inc has, instead, concentrated on a three person capsule program (raising its safety factor to higher than that of its orbital satellite program at 34%). GOSsiP's new two stage rocket is still at the prototype stage having been estimated at a safety factor of just 11%.
Indian Ocean tensions rise
The Australian government has announced a shift in priorities following on from the successful satellite launch. A bid by the Australian Navy, backed by the Army and Air Force to switch funding from the space agency to their own procurement programs was successful3.
ASA Press release
ASA’s continued commitment to its goals progress with further research into the XL rocket programme (Safety factor 37%) and a related investment in capsules (Safety factor 21%).
Rumours that the alleged spies were taken on a trekking holiday into the outback and abandoned without communications on a remote stretch of highway rumoured to be the hunting ground of the as yet uncaught crazed serial axe killer Dingo Dan are unfounded.
In the meantime, Dr Venus is now reported to have been admitted to the crew and professor Matt has accepted a ground support role. Steve Zodiac may have had an official reprimand after being overheard to say of the appointment “well, at least we will have decent coffee in orbit….”
Smaug Inc. claims location will promote reuse
Smaug Inc. is claiming that its novel use of local seawater supplies will enable its launch facility to provide such a fast turnaround that it may be able to make two launches from the same launch facility. Although Smaug Inc. is still reluctant to reveal the location of the base, sources suggest that it is close to a large body of water, which can be used to dissipate the heat of a launch. Some experts, though, are sceptical of the long term viability of the technique4.
SHADO looks to robots
It looks like, that for the time being at least, SHADO has spurned the use of humans in its space program and has concentrated on expanding the capabilities of its robots by starting both an Interplanetary Satellite (Safety factor 16%) and a Lunar Probe Lander (Safety factor 10%) programs. Both of these programs are still at an early stage of development. This focus on robots has encouraged robotic research across the globe and it is expected that SHADO will be reaping the respect of the many new graduates of courses in robotics5, though maybe not that of the economists in the rest of the Space Habitation Agency who are complaining of the profligacy of the direct operations division.
Norway, Sweden and Denmark pledge continued support
After intense lobbying by SAAB, the Swedish engineering group, the governments have pledged to improve their support of GOSsiP by providing a 50% subsidy to the space agency during 1958. It is expected that as a result of the anticipated hardware purchases, the SAAB will be able to preserve a substantial number of aerospace jobs until the new Saab 35 Draken fighter comes into operation at the end of the decade6.
Only one launch has been planned for 1958, no doubt reflecting the general cautiousness of the space agency or perhaps uncertainty on how to proceed following SARSA's successful orbital satellite mission.
The provisional calendar for launches planned in 1958 (assuming none of the missions are rushed or scrubbed) is as follows:
- 15th Dec
Last updated: December 21, 2021 at 19:38 pm
- SARSA’s next mission must be an orbital satellite. If the mission fails SARSA’s budget will be halved. SARSA may reject this order, but if it does so, SARSA’s 1959 budget will be $67,000,000 instead of $94,000,000 ↩
- SHADO's Oahu launch facility cannot be used until repaired at a cost of $15,000,000 ↩
- ASA budget was reduced by 30%. ↩
- One time only (in a year chosen by Smaug Inc.), one of Smaug Inc.'s launch facilities may make two launches in the same year. The second launch will be on the 31st December of that year. However this launch will still need to planned in advance (unless a rescue mission). ↩
- +1 on every research die purchased during 1958 by SHADO. ↩
- All equipment purchases during 1958 made by GOSsiP are at half price. This does not apply to the cost of starting a program, only to additional hardware. ↩
Note: You need to start an astronaut training program (at a cost of $18,000,000) before having any astronauts. The training program comes with one free astronaut. Additional astronauts after the first cost $2,000,000 to train.
Also note that the agency names in the financial summary are links to pages that summarise for each agency its stock of equipment and the safety factor of each program as at the end of the year. Hopefully that will help everyone to keep track of their agency.