500 Tons to Europa

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500 Tons to Europa

Five nights ago our captain signed a shipping contract with a quarry master, who was also the local 'Lord', on Ganymede. He then got drunk, and we didn't hear from him until the next day. Two years earlier I, and likewise the rest of the crew, would have been so on edge our spacesuits would have shook apart. He came back and delivered us the news, pausing between some sentences. We wouldn't leave until after our cargo bay had been filled with enormous blocks of metallic iron. Our captain never put a number on how much we'd be paid, just that it would be enough for each of us to retire. He was like a mercenary in that way, always looking for his big break. And this job was supposed to be easy, 500 tons of metallic iron from Ganymede to the Europa Spaceport. So on our last day on Ganymede we double checked the cargo ledger, topped off the fuel, and bought enough provisions for the haul. "A small price to pay for such a large payoff, just wait until you see your accounts when we get to Europa!" our captain said.
500 tons of iron is quite a lot. It's not as dense as say, copper or silver or gold. But Ganymede was lacking in those elements, but had an over abundance of iron. The number was usually large enough to dissuade most crews from accepting a contract. But it was the forges and smelters on Ganymede that produced that coffin. Low gravity makes for the perfect industrial atmosphere, and Ganymede didn't have an atmosphere. Even better. Ganymede was a production powerhouse, with the very unique flaw of producing to much to reasonably transport.
Getting into orbit was a simple enough task. We achieved it as we had planned, no bumps in our ride until the Europa transfer. Something had busted, or bent out of shape. Perhaps our ship was over loaded with metal, or perhaps it had been in need of maintenance for longer than I had been in thee crew. The captain had always assured us that the maintenance requirements weren't as bad as they seemed. Until then he had been right. Peeling paint was ugly, sure, but hardly contributed to structural integrity. And so what if there where small scratches and bumps on the outside? It was space, micro collisions happened.
It wasn't too long until we traced the problem to a coolant pump valve. It refused to open, and so long as it didn't the coolant couldn't be jetted out into space. We'd be able to rely on our radiator panels until repairs could be done. It would be a slow journey the Europa. And, in some spots, it would be a warm journey to Europa.
Our radiators did their job as best they could, but lacked the surface area to really cool off the ship. The process of radiating off heat is slow, much slower than any means in an atmosphere. In atmosphere, you could use convection to best get rid of excess heat. But there's no atmosphere in space. So for the time being, we had to let our radiators do their job, and patiently wait for repairs on the coolant system. But we couldn't risk rushing the repairs. The coolant could save us, but God helps us if it got into the crewed areas. Some people use special coolants, coolants that are extremely toxic to humans, and life in general. But we used water. It was abundant and cheap almost everywhere we went. But drowning in space... Or risking electrical malfunctions. If any water got onto the navigation controls, we'd float randomly, and endlessly, in space.

And with that, 500 Tons to Europa. This is honestly how I could see a run in the Space Prototype game ending. Biting off more than you can chew.

Rar! Rar rar rar! Thanks for reading :)