Friday Fictioneers – Reaching for the Stars

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © DAVID STEWART

Reaching for the stars

It’s a long way to the stars. Even the nearest is more than 23,000,000,000,000 miles away. Out of reach?

They fired the rocket towards the sun, tracking it meticulously. It gained speed like a slingshot as gravity swung it round the blazing orb.

In Mission Control, student John Batchelor and the other scientists heard the AI announce, “Satellites deployed”. They cheered when the monitor showed an armada of craft, their sails stealing momentum from the sun’s light, each bound starwards.

Many years later, silver-haired Professor Batchelor watched enrapt as the craft beamed back their first image from an alien sun.

Inlinkz – click here to join in the fun!

46 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Reaching for the Stars

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Bringing the story full circle in Batchelor’s lifetime was a way of emphasising just how distant the stars are – he’s gone from young to old in the time it’s taken the satellites to reach the nearest star. It also shows just how ambitious we can be in planning our journeys of discovery.
      Shalom
      Penny

      Like

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Plaridel. I, too, am glad that he lived to see it for himself. Among other things, it implies that our technological civilisation is still flourishing – a state of affairs that is by no means guaranteed…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Brenda.
      Bringing the story full circle in Batchelor’s lifetime was a way of emphasising just how distant the stars are – he’s gone from young to old in the time it’s taken the satellites to reach the nearest star. It also implies that our technological civilisation is still flourishing – a state of affairs that is by no means guaranteed…

      Like

  1. I was a teen when the voyager probes were launched. And now I’m getting old and they’ve ony recently left the solar system. It’s time that we get better drives. A great story, Penny. It fires the imagination on so many levels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for such a nice comment, Gabi. I’m a bit older than you (erm, I remember Sputnik launching…) and I don’t suppose we’ll despatch the star mission in my lifetime. But it’s still thrilling. You mention better drives. There are at least two under development. One is to use nuclear power to expel ionised gas at very high speeds. This has the same limitation as chemical propellants, in that eventually you run out of gas to ionise – but it takes longer and the gas is expelled at a higher exhaust velocity. The other is solar sails, where light pressure from the sun’s light accelerates the spacecraft. The acceleration is modest, but it goes on and on and on. I believe they hope to reach a significant fraction of lightspeed eventually, which is where my story starts.

      Like

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Dora.
      Yes, the universe is truly vast – way beyond anything we can properly imagine. I find it wonderful that we can infer so much about its nature from the limited measurements we can make. It’s astonishing how consistent it is.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment. The solar sails described in the story are already under development and I believe they are expected to reach a significant fraction of the speed of light.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s