Age of Cosmic Exploration


Age of Cosmic Exploration Chapter 221

The Observer Operation was deceptively simple, which was to use a high-mobility spaceship to speed towards the neutron star fragment and back. It was to check the validity of the fragment threat through the use of close-range surveillance equipment or with one’s naked eye. Simultaneously, this would be the first time mankind could confirm the physical presence of a neutron star and not only through scientific theories and hypotheses.

With the Seeker’s power, not even the smallest anomaly would escape one's eyes. The Seeker was more powerful than mankind’s strongest surveillance machine. If there was any weakness mankind could exploit, it was certain that Ying would find it.

There were two difficulties to this plan. The first one was time. The neutron star fragment was set to collide with the sun within the next three years, but with mankind’s current technological level and production power, to create a high-mobility Observer was a hard task. The multiple scientific conundrums and simulations were not things that could be skipped.

The second was distance, which had something to do with time. Even though the fragment would hit the sun in three years, its actual distance was still pretty far away. It would be accelerating as time went by, closing the distance. Therefore, to have the Observer leave the new planet, reach the fragment, then return to the planet, and still give time for humanity to come up with a solution would cover too much distance.

Therefore, it was truly a race against time!

Yao Yuan and a team of ‘natural disaster’ scientists descended the transport shuttle. Before them was a concrete wall about 180 meters tall. The outer layer of the wall was connected to a high-voltage circuit and could withstand the attack of any native animals on this planet, six-legged Black Dragon included.

The wall surrounded the Industrial City mankind had built on the new planet. Its permanent residence was about 6,000 people, among them 500 Defense Unit soldiers and 20 Black Star Troopers. The rest were technicians, engineers, a small amount of scientists, and their respective families.

This Industrial City took about eight months to complete. It exhausted many materials and resources. It had used almost 70 percent of the Hope’s construction robots in its construction… Of course, the finished product was worth it.

The new planet was rich with mineral resources. The Industrial City sat around mines of coal, gas, copper, zinc, and other rare minerals. A large river cut through the city as it sped towards the delta near the capital. By all intentions, this was to be mankind’s most important heavy industrialization area in the future. Therefore, buildings like smitheries, factories, and most importantly, the building platforms for the space combat jets were located here.

Using inspection as the reason, Yao Yuan led the scientists to Industrial City to check out the 70 percent completed defense-grade space combat jet. Yao Yuan wanted to know whether the jet could be modified to become the Observer.

The whole inspection process was rather tedious. It was heavy with political socialization, which Yao Yuan despised. That was why Yao Yuan had only visited the place twice after the construction of the place was complete. This would be his second time. He hoped the next time he was there, he could give his orders and leave. He didn’t want to waste time participating in political drama.

The inspection didn’t last for too long. Yao Yuan and the team of scientists left before noon. On the shuttle, after Yao Yuan waved the unauthorized personnel away, he immediately asked the few engineers and scientists, "So, how was it? Can we modify the defense-grade combat jet to the Observer?"

The leading engineer replied immediately, "Yes, Chancellor, the modification is entirely possible. The jet has more than enough space to support the livelihood of several hundred people for an extended period of time. Furthermore, it is already equipped with polymerized reactors that could be used to power particle accelerators. After our discussion, all of us unanimously agreed the modification is possible."

Yao Yuan sighed in relief, and he added quickly, "Then how long will it take, including both the completion of the jet and the modification?"

The engineer replied with some difficulty, "Chancellor, after our calculations… preliminary estimation puts us at six to eight months."

"Six to eight months, huh?" Yao Yuan started thinking. His initial plan also set about that long for the modification. He wouldn’t be surprised if it took a year to complete. After all, they were not building a toy but a 1,700 meters long, 650 meters wide, and 400 meters tall monstrosity. The spaceship was the product of all 4th revolution technologies. It was with the use of construction robots that a spaceship of this scale could be completed so fast. If built using manual manpower, it would take upwards of eight years to complete.

Yao Yuan finally nodded and said, "Then I shall leave this in your hands. If you need manpower, do not hesitate to file a report to the government. We will have things arranged as fast as we can."

Just like that, the Observer Operation started in earnest. While the modification was underway, multiple groups of scientists started focusing their research on a high-power particle propulsion system. This was to be the research that was done on the propulsion device that was used to shove the mother nest into the sun. Naturally, the leading expert on this issue was Bo Li, the Whisperer in the field of physics.

Yao Yuan and Bo Li hadn’t seen each other after that fateful day. In fact, Yao Yuan had dropped by the physics lab using different reasons ever since, but every time he was there, Bo Li would be absent as if she could sense that he was coming. After this happened several times, Yao Yuan stopped visiting the lab and stopped attempting to approach the girl he once planned to marry.

However, after the Observer modification started, things changed. Bo Li started appearing before him to discuss with him details of the modification blueprint. Of course, she had reverted back to her previous indifferent self. There was no smile and she was always formal. This pricked Yao Yuan with guilt, and he was extra gentle around her.

But then…

"I want to be in the Observer." Bo Li sat down on the chair across from Yao Yuan.

Yao Yuan was taken by surprise. He was reading the report handed to him by Bo Li on the progress of the giant particle propulsion system. This latest upgrade had fixed the system’s original weaknesses, which were instability and high energy consumption. The latest upgrade lowered the system’s propulsion force to the previous variation’s 80 percent, but it could run for a longer time and exhaust much less energy. Overall, this latest variation was a qualified and usable propulsion system. Other than the Observer, the Hope’s propulsion system could also benefit from this upgrade. Its actual value was hard to gauge. According to the review by the Academy, this technology was at least the standard of the middle of the 4th revolution. It was unbelievable that Bo Li could come up with it.

Before Yao Yuan could rejoice in that fact, Bo Li said something that completely ruined his mood. He replied instantly, "Impossible! Do you know how dangerous this operation is? No one knows what this neutron star fragment is. No one knows what will happen from too close a contact to it. I will not allow you to join this operation!"

Bo Li said matter-of-factly, "I’m not begging you to let me join. You have to understand that this high-power particle propulsion system is entirely my project. Also, more than a handful of the technologies inside the Observer are from me, so I’m the one most familiar with their usage…"

"You’re bargaining with me?" Yao Yuan narrowed his eyes. He suppressed his anger and said gently, "The Observer Operation is really very dangerous. Even I won’t be a part of it. We have to be responsible to the human society at large. You’re a Whisperer and the leading expert on everything physics. If anything were to happen to you…"

Bo Li was unfazed. She shook her head and retorted, "Our responsibility to human society… If that’s the case, you should definitely let me join. If we find any machinery on the fragment, then my Whisperer power would come to good use. And I said I’m not begging you for me to join, I’m merely informing you. By the way, I forgot to tell you. The core of this improved propulsion system is not included in the report. If you want to have the technology, take this experimental one. Without the core technology, you’ll have to be satisfied with the old, unimproved propulsion system."

After she said so, Bo Li stood up and turned to leave.

Yao Yuan was angry beyond words. He slammed down so heavily on the table that the smaller stationeries stumbled over the edge and scattered to the floor. Two soldiers that were stationed outside his room rushed in. They scanned the room curiously and they finally left after Yao Yuan waved them out.

Bo Li turned around and stared at Yao Yuan coldly. "What, you’re going to slap me again? Or send me to prison? Either way, do you as wish. The point is that the technology is in my head. See if you can crack it open and take it out."

Yao Yuan stood up and met Bo Li’s gaze. Slowly but surely, the fire in his eyes softened. He slumped back down on his chair, defeated, and uttered weakly, "… I’ll have Ying watch over you so you won’t attempt anything dangerous.

"…Go, I’ll allow you to join the Observer."