Mars Endeavour had been under construction for ten years. It was a ‘city’ one mile in diameter and one hundred feet in height. The most interesting thing about Mars Endeavour was that it was built in a one thousand mile orbit above the Earth. Its mission was to fly to Mars as part of a major project that NASA had been engaged in for twenty years – to colonise the red planet, Mars. From 2034 to 2054, NASA had been sending spacecraft to Mars with materials and supplies necessary for human beings to live there.
It all turned out to be an amazing feat of technology. Along with the supplies, armies of robots were released onto the surface of the red planet. They had been pre-programmed to assemble the materials into one huge city. Their actions were controlled by NASA scientists and computers on Earth. The site chosen was close to the Vallis Marineris, a huge “Grand Canyon” type structure running for 2,485 miles along the Martian equator. Vast deposits of underground water had been discovered in the Vallis Marineris, so this essential resource would be a major boost for future colonists of Mars.
The Robots had laid the basis of the model city upon which all future Martian cities would be constructed. The city measured three miles by three miles. Outside of it was a huge nuclear generator for the supply of energy to the city – namely light and heat. It was planned that the city would be home to eventually 1000 people, mainly scientists, looking for a bit of adventure, young people willing to ‘tough it out’ on the red planet for at least a couple of decades of their lives. Some might even want to make Mars their permanent home. The city consisted of houses and streets, parks and play areas, gymnasia, cinemas, theatres – well almost anything you would find in a terrestrial city. But it was all under a dome, a massive dome to protect its inhabitants from the severe cold of Mars, dangerous radiation ( Mars has no magnetic field and only a thin atmosphere ) from outer space, and possible meteor strikes. The model Martian city, considering the massive dome covering it, was aptly named Dome City.
One of the major problems for the Mars city planners had been from where to obtain the cities’ oxygen supplies. However, during a school trip to NASA, one smart girl mentioned a book she had read concerning that. The book was titled Peril on Mars. It had been written as far back as 1958 by Sir Patrick Moore. Moore had envisioned growing on Mars forests of oxygen yielding plants. These plants, when plucked, would be taken inside a dome type structure where their oxygen would be released.
Although the girl’s suggestion was initially dismissed by the scientists, one bio-engineer, Dr. Jeremy Flockston, who had just finished his doctoral studies, was stimulated by what he had heard from the young girl. He got hold of Moore’s Peril on Mars, and, after reading it, was further motivated into using Sir Patrick Moore’s basic idea, and painstakingly got down to work on genetically modifying plants which could perform the function of giving off copious amounts of oxygen. In co-operation with NASA’s planetary engineers, Flockston designed an industrial process to channel the oxygen from a power producing factory to the city. “Moore’s Plants,” as they eventually came to be known, when fully grown, were to be plucked and taken from the forests to the factory where, when undergoing a crushing process, would release their stores of oxygen. This oxygen would then be released through a series of funnels to the city. A full-scale model of this industrial process had shown its complete workability. Further research and development carried out by Dr. Flockston and his team had created an improved sub-species of the plant which enabled it to reproduce and grow rapidly – such rapid reproduction and growth being essential to meet the oxygen demands of an expanding Marian population.
Near the Vallis Marineris, the robots had constructed machinery to drill down to the water deposits. Massive pumps would be used to bring the water to the surface and store it in large water tanks from where it would be distributed to the ‘Martians’ living in Dome City.
The purpose of Mars Endeavour in all of this was to fly to Mars with six crew members who were to activate the life support systems of Dome City. They were to implement the finishing touches to the nuclear generator, the plant crushing equipment, and the water pumping machinery. It would take about a year to have all the machinery in motion and thus Dome City to be fully habitable. During this time, Mars Endeavour would be home to the six crew members. Once Dome City was fully functional, Mars Endeavour would be incorporated into it as a ‘suburb.’
Maurice Cuthbertson, the NASA Administrator, was giving a final briefing to the crew prior to their departure:“Well,” said Cuthbertson, “everything seems to be just tickety boo. We’ve checked the robots and they are all in good working order. According to the system we have set up, they will be controlled by you guys, but with backup from Mission Control here at NASA if required. Tomorrow morning, the Shuttle will take you to Mars Endeavour and three hours later you will activate all systems and be on your way to Mars. Anyway, the press are here. Let’s all go out to the press briefing hall and answer some of their questions.”
Cuthbertson and the six crew members made their way from the Administrator’s plush office to the press briefing hall which was al abuzz with reporters eager for information about the grand finale to this amazing Mars project.
“Hi! I’m Stan Brookson from the New York Times. I’d like to ask the Captain of Mars Endeavour how long he and his crew will be away from Earth for.”