Rescue at Pallas Base

With his new long lifespan, Theobold had been wondering what to do with his life. A job posting to deliver cargo and water to outposts in the asteroid belt and the outer planets had captured his interest. He had hoped space travel would be well developed when he woke, but was surprised just how developed it was. Tourists were routinely going to Mars and parts of the outer solar system and needed water and food delivered from earth.

“First time on a spaceship? Don’t worry you’ll get used to it,” said Ella, Theobold’s crewmate. “Captain Quinn is one of the best pilots at Skylyx.” Getting the job had been remarkably easy. Most people were engaged in leisure activities, so anyone who wanted a job could have one.

The ship’s first stop was to be Pallas Base, a former mining operation and now tourist destination. The base was located on its namesake asteroid Pallas.The journey had been smooth and uneventful, but three hundred miles from Pallas Base, the ship shook violently.

“What was that?” exclaimed Theobold. 

“Probably an errant asteroid. It’s pretty rare to be hit by such a rock, but the ship is supposed to be able to handle such collisions,” explained Ella.

However, the worried look on Captain Quinn’s face and the flashing red lights in the cockpit did not reassure either Ella or Theobold.

After about an hour, Captain Quinn solemnly announced that the ship’s communications had been disabled and the ship was unable to move on its own power. Remarkably, it had entered a stable almost circular orbit around Pallas with a radius of 200 miles. 

“We’re an arm’s length from safety, but there’s no way to get there and no way to tell Pallas Base we are here,” said Captain Quinn. The ship had no way of sending a radio signal or even flashing a light to indicate to Pallas Base where they were.

“I was just given a 1000 year lifespan only for it to be taken away in an accident!?” thought Theobold.

“Let me check what supplies to see how long we can survive while we wait for rescue.” said Theobold. They had seven days of oxygen, but because they were transporting water and food to outer bases, they had almost a year’s supply of each.

“We could have multiple feasts and drink ourselves to death before we die of asphyxiation,” lamented Captain Quinn. “No one is going to be able to find us up here when we can't emit or reflect any electromagnetic waves.” 

Theobold knew they could stretch their oxygen supply if they lowered their metabolism by eating and moving less, but Ella was frantically pacing throughout the cabin. “Will you please stop pacing?”, asked Theobold to Ella. “We have a limited supply of oxygen and you’ll use it faster if you don’t sit still.” 

“Theobold, I have an idea!” exclaimed Ella.

Ella rushed to the airlock, donned a space suit and went to the outside of the spaceship. The water they were going to deliver to Pallas Base among others was stored in a tank that was adjacent to the exterior of the ship. Ella drew out her welder and while holding onto the ship, carefully punctured a hole in the wall adjacent to the tank. Water started rushing out.

“It’s Newton’s Third law,” explained Ella. “As the water rushes out, it causes a force in the opposite direction on the spaceship. Now we can get out of our marooned orbit and make our way to Pallas base. We can even control the spaceship by changing the direction of the water spray.

The ship slowly started moving towards Pallas Base and it seemed like the crew of the “The world is still full of dangers and excitement,” thought Theobold to himself.