Today, the good ship High Jinks docked with a fresh load of supernumeries - the fifth. Our ship, even with newly-expanded quarters, is started to feel crowded, her usual complement of twenty or so now increased to one hundred and fifty, which number includes many couples and families. The parents have their hands full: put a toddler in zero gravity, and you've got a cute little giggling missile richocheting all over the ship.
Which leads neatly to the question of what these toddlers and their parents are doing on a fab in the asteroid belt: Project Stella. What we have here is the very first privately owned ship capable of interstellar travel, the Cornucopia (now attached to a star drive recently given its first trials attached to the yacht High Jinks). The primary goals of the project are:
- Exploration - to seek out new habitable worlds, new life-forms; to see the galaxy
- Economic - to harvest the resources of new systems with self-repping (Von Neumann) fabs
- Colonisation - to find new homes, and build freer, more prosperous lives
Now, we are in the final minutes of preparing for departure, freeing our ship of its camouflage - and what camouflage! We've spend the last few months hidden inside a massive cavern cut into an asteroid, using the bulk of the rock around us to soak up the emissions that would have led the IPTO straight to our door. At last, the stars are moving past our 'ports again as we glide back into open space. 40 minutes or so to get well clear; and then we'll be safely among the stars, even our vast bulk lost in the immensity of this great galaxy, moving further in an hour than light can in years.