Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Deception Point Page 65
Ekstrom felt his muscles stiffen. What the hell is a slide doing directly off the coast of Ellesmere Island without my k in a flashledge? Did you see what direction the aircraft flew aft(prenominal)ward rendezvous?Back toward Thule air base. For connecting transport to the mainland, I assume.Ekstrom verbalise nothing the rest of the musical mode to the PSC. When he entered the cramped darkness, the hoarse articulate on the line had a familiar rasp.Weve got a problem, Tench said, cough out as she verbalize. Its about(predicate) Rachel sacristan.76Senator sexton was not sure how broad he had been staring into space when he heard the pounding. When he recognize the throbbing in his ears was not from the alcohol moreover rather from individual at his apartment door, he got up from the couch, stowed the bottle of Courvoisier, and made his way to the foyer.Who is it? sexton yelled, in no mood for visitors.His bodyguards voice called in with the individuation of Sextons unex pected guest. Sexton sobered instantly. That was fast. Sexton had hoped not to take a leak to engender this discourse until morning.Taking a deep breath and straightening his hair, Sexton chooseableed the door. The reflexion before him was all too familiar-tough and leathery despite the objet darts seventy-something years. Sexton had met with him exactly this morning in the white Ford Windstar minivan in a hotel park garage. Was it only this morning? Sexton wondered. God, how things had changed since then.May I come in? the dark-haired man asked.Sexton stepped aside, allowing the head of the Space Frontier ground to pass.Did the meeting go well? the man asked, as Sexton unsympathetic the door.Did it go well? Sexton wondered if the man lived in a cocoon. Things were horrible until the President came on television.The venerable man nodded, looking displeased. Yes. An incredible victory. It leave hurt our cause greatly.Hurt our cause? Here was an optimist. With NASAs trium ph tonight, this cuckoo would be dead and buried before the Space Frontier tail attained their goals of privatization.For years I have suspected proof was forthcoming, the old man said. I did not know how or when, but originally or later we had to know for sure.Sexton was stunned. Youre not surprised?The math of the cosmos virtually requires other life-forms, the man said, moving toward Sextons den. I am not surprised that this discovery has been made. Intellectually, I am thrilled. Spiritually, I am in awe. Politically, I am deeply disturbed. The timing could not be worse.Sexton wondered why the man had come. It sure as hell wasnt to hold dear him up.As you know, the man said, SFF member companies have spent millions trying to open the frontier of space to private citizens. Recently, much of that money has gone to your campaign.Sexton felt suddenly defensive. I had no control over tonights fiasco. The whitened House baited me to attack NASAYes. The President played the game w ell. And yet, all whitethorn not be lost. There was an odd glint of hope in the old mans look.Hes senile, Sexton decided. All was definitely lost. Every station on television right now was talking about the destruction of the Sexton campaign.The old man showed himself into the den, sat on the couch, and fixed his tired eyes on the senator. Do you recall, the man said, the problems NASA initially had with the anomaly software onboard the PODS major planet?Sexton could not imagine where this was headed. What the hell difference does that make now? PODS found a goddamned meteorite with fossilsIf you remember, the man said. The onboard software did not crop properly at first. You made a big deal of it in the compaction.As I should have Sexton said, sitting down turnaround the man. It was another(prenominal) NASA failureThe man nodded. I agree. But shortly after that, NASA held a press conference announcing they had come up with a work-around-some sort out of patch for the software .Sexton hadnt actually seen the press conference, but hed heard it was short, flat, and just countersignworthy-the PODS project leader plentiful a dull technical explanation of how NASA had overcome a minor glitch in PODSs anomaly-detection software and gotten everything up and running.I have been watching PODS with interest ever since it failed, the man said. He produced a videocassette and walked to Sextons television, putting the video in the VCR. This should interest you.The video began to play. It showed the NASA press means at headquarters in Washington. A well-dressed man was fetching the podium and greeting the audience. The subtitle beneath the podium readCHRIS HARPER, constituent ManagerPolar Orbiting Density Scanner Satellite (PODS)Chris harpist was tall, refined, and spoke with the quiet dignity of a European American who still clung proudly to his roots. His accent was erudite and polished. He was addressing the press with confidence, giving them some hazardous news about PODS.Although the PODS orbiter is in orbit and functioning well, we have a minor setback with the onboard calculating machines. A minor programming erroneous belief for which I take full responsibility. Specifically, the FIR filter has a amiss(p) voxel index, which means the PODSs anomaly-detection software is not functioning properly. Were working on a fix.The crowd sighed, apparently accustomed to NASA letdowns. What does that mean for the current effectiveness of the satellite? someone asked.Harper took it like a pro. Confident and matter-of-fact. Imagine a perfect set of eyes without a functioning brain. Essentially the PODS satellite is seeing twenty-twenty, but it has no idea what its looking at. The purpose of the PODS electric charge is to look for melt pockets in the polar ice cap, but without the computer to analyze the density data PODS receives from its scanners, PODS cannot discern where the points of interest are. We should have the government agency remedied after the next shuttle mission can make an readjustment to the onboard computer.A groan of disappointment rose in the room.The old man glanced over at Sexton. He presents bad news pretty well, doesnt he?Hes from NASA, Sexton grumbled. Thats what they do.The VCR tape went blank for an instant and then switched to another NASA press conference.This second press conference, the old man said to Sexton, was disposed only a few weeks ago. Quite late at night. fewer people saw it. This time Dr. Harper is announcing good news.The footage launched. This time Chris Harper looked disheveled and uneasy. I am pleased to announce, Harper said, sounding anything but pleased, that NASA has found a work-around for the PODS satellites software problem. He fumbled through an explanation of the work-around-something about redirecting the raw data from PODS and sending it through computers here on basis rather than relying on the onboard PODS computer. Everyone seemed impressed. It all soun ded quite feasible and exciting. When Harper was done, the room gave him an enthusiastic round of applause.So we can expect data curtly? someone in the audience asked.Harper nodded, sweating. A couple of weeks. much applause. Hands shot up around the room.Thats all I have for you now, Harper said, looking ill as he packed up his papers. PODS is up and running. Well have data soon. He practically ran off the stage.Sexton scowled. He had to admit, this was odd. Why did Chris Harper look so comfortable giving bad news and so uncomfortable giving good news? It should have been in reverse. Sexton hadnt actually seen this press conference when it aired, although hed read about the software fix. The fix, at the time, seemed an inconsequential NASA salvage the public experience remained unimpressed-PODS was just another NASA project that had malfunctioned and was being awkwardly patched unneurotic with a less than ideal solution.