Satellite control center.
A group of people stood in front of the control console. Among them were NASA engineers, officials from the United States Congress and White House, and professionals from Space-X and Blue Origin, as well as other aerospace company representatives.
The atmosphere was quite depressing, everyones eyes focused on a single point on the large console screen.
Everyone was looking at the same place, waiting for the same result.
Three days ago, Chinas Skyglow successfully took off while carrying the Moon Palace core module. It broke through the atmosphere and was entering low-Earth orbit.
The entire aerospace industry was focused on this aerospaceplane.
If this launch proved to be successful, China would become the first country in the world to put a space station in lunar orbit. It would also become the only country in the world to have lunar construction capabilities.
This was obviously bad news for America.
If everything were to go according to plan, their "Lunar Gateway" lunar orbit space station wouldnt launch until next year. Even though the success of the Ares program placed them at the forefront of Mars colonization, it seemed like they had lost the Moon race.
Three days ago, NASA pointed their satellites toward the Earth-Moon transfer orbit as they waited for the spacecraft to appear in their lenses.
Today should be the day Skyglow arrived in lunar orbit
Director Carson stared at the large console screen. He suddenly looked at his watch and asked impatiently, "Is it not there yet?"
Bill was standing next to Director Carson. He opened the document in his hand and quickly replied, "According to our calculations, they will reach lunar orbit in around ten minutes Of course, there is the possibility that they are not using the traditional Earth-Moon transfer orbit path."
Bill looked at Director Carson and added, " If that is the case, then we would need more accurate data in order to observe their spacecraft."
Director Carson replied, "Maybe you can call the China National Space Administration, theyll be happy to give you that data."
Director of the satellite control center, Bill, had an awkward smile on his face. He stared at his watch and said, "We cant wait here all day, maybe next time you can give us a more accurate estimate."
Director Carson: "Dont worry, my friend, in two hours, we will see the results."
Of course, he hoped that the damn aerospaceplane never appeared in the satellites lens. It would be great if Skyglow could disappear like a comet, flying away from the Earth-Moon system
NASA needed an opponent who was behind them, not someone who was ahead of them. NASA had to be the best at everything they do. It was not only about honor, but it was also about political governance.
However, Carson knew that his dreams wouldnt come true.
Given that the Skyglow had already successfully landed on the Moon, delivering a module was a piece of cake.
Sure enough, just like he had guessed, there was a commotion in the console room.
A NASA engineer suddenly pointed at the screen and yelled, "Its Skyglow! I see it!"
Director Carson looked at the direction the engineer pointed at, and his pupils shrank.
A bright arc of light swept across the dark moon skies.
A bright silver aerospaceplane smoothly completed the orbital switch, slowly marching into the 127-minute orbit.
All of this was smoothly done in one go.
Nie Yun, who was sitting in the drivers seat, stared at the rough moon surface. His mind racing a million miles a second.
Back here again
Last time I was here was three months ago.
He couldnt help but feel enchanted by the beautiful scenery.
Unfortunately, this time, he didnt get to place his feet on the moon rocks.
But he knew that one day in the near future, a trip to the Moon would be as common as a flight across the ocean.
Nie Yun reached out and pressed his helmet. He then said in a clear voice, "This is Skyglow, we have successfully entered orbit."
After a while, a voice traveled through the communication channel.
"This is the ground command center. Happy to hear that. Youve already completed half of your mission Please immediately head toward the designated airspace and prepare for the next stage."
Nie Yun reached out and pressed the control panel. He switched the flight mode from orbital transfer mode to automatic cruise mode. He then skillfully turned on the cabin pressure measurement system.
Nie Yan was sitting in the co-pilot seat. She looked at the rangefinder data while she spoke.
"Altitude is normal, approaching the target area Maybe we can move a little faster, if everything goes well, we might be able to test the Starlight flight."
Nie Yun smiled and said, "Forget about it, the pilots have already been chosen. Theyre two guys from the Astronaut Corps."
Nie Yan sighed and said, "Really? Thats unfortunate."
Starlight had a dual-wing design, while four of the five engines could rotate to any angles. This new type of aircraft would be able to complete the flight from Earth to low-Earth orbit in a safer and more efficient manner.
An aircraft like that was more interesting to operate than Skyglow.
Nie Yun said, "Nothing unfortunate, we still have other test flights to do, Im sure theyll be interesting."
Nie Yan: "What kind of test flights?"
Nie Yun smiled and said, "Your favorite, transport aircraft Flying between geosynchronous and lunar transfer orbit."
A while ago, he heard that Star Sky Technology was planning on using the Skyglow ion thruster propulsion system to develop an interplanetary electric propulsion shuttle that could fly from the Earth to Moon repeatedly.
If this project was successful, then it wouldnt be long until Skyglow could be retired.
It would at least retire from regular launches.
Nie Yan rolled her eyes and said, "I would rather fly Skyglow. I applied for this role because I was tired of flying transport planes."
Nie Yun jokingly said, "Not because you wanted to fly higher?"
Nie Yan: "A bit of both Were here!"
The two reached their target area.
The flight path gradually deviated from the 127-minute orbit, entering an elliptical orbit.
This was the best place to place a moon satellite. Due to the combined gravitational effect of the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon, the core module could maintain a stable orbit for up to 36 months without the need for external propulsion.
With a propulsion system and a small amount of working fluid, the space station could remain in orbit for decades
After confirming the orbital parameters, Nie Yun calmed himself down and took a deep breath. He placed his hand on the side of his helmet and spoke in a steady voice.
"This is Skyglow, we have reached lunar space station orbit."
Soon after, orders came from the ground command center.
"Roger that," Nie Yan said. She then reached out, released the cargo safety lock, and pressed the bright red button.
A muffled rumbling sound was heard, and a silver-white cylindrical module was thrown into space, left behind by Skyglow
Nie Yun stared at the [Unloading Successful] line on the screen, and he spoke with excitement.
"Moon Palace has successfully entered designated orbit!
"We did it!"