The moons hung low on the horizon like children suckling their mother and the air cool and exciting with a freshness unmatched on many worlds. It was a common chill and many would embrace this twilight. In the dim light stood a lone shelter far from the busy urban complex of Utopia and deep in the plains of Moab and Edom. This is where the boy rose to manhood. A simple life working the vast fields that fed the planet. His father taught him of the waters that pour from the well at Protonitus, discovered by the original colonists of the 22nd century, provided rebirth to the long deceased martian landscape. He was an attentive child and respected his parents though they were essentially dirt poor and struggled with a day to day survival. But Rosetto dreamed of the stars at night and as a teen he left home and journeyed to Tharsis in search of the knowledge of the Worlds afar. He saw himself with a higher purpose and set out to find it.

In Utopia, Rosetto found many things and began to make friends who eventually got him focused on a path forward. He found that Star Fleet and the Federation were important for both Mars and mankind’s advancement. He decided that within Star Fleet he could gain a clearer understanding of the worlds at large. He was very young and inexperienced and would sometimes come off as overly eager but he was steadily gaining some respect from the Star Fleet members that he had met. They urged him to join the Academy after finishing his O-Levels at Utopia University. In two years he found himself on Earth and in San Fransisco with his eyes opened wide. The Academy was very different from what he had experienced in college and there was a level of politics that he had difficulties completely understanding but he was determined that he would find his future here.

The First Year Cadet

[for GM & Counsel] Although I found SOPs for active crew members creating logs, I found none for cadets. Perhaps I missed them. However, since there is a variety of era’s represented here in the Advanced SIMs and the era depicted but not officially stated in SFA is TNG, I figured it best to leave a STARDATE off of this record.

Sitting quietly in his dorm, rosetto closes his eyes and remembers. He had not spoken with his parents in several months; not since he had left Utopia. How his mother would marvel at San Francisco; the abundance of water and the warmth of the sun. But they would never leave Mars, their home that they built, the only world they knew. They had only visited him once in Utopia and his father absolutely hated it. The technology was too much for him to keep track and the people, well, that’s why he had gone to Mars in the first place. In his day it was the new frontier; the wide open spaces where a man could find peace in the work he accomplished. These thoughts were deeply impressed into rosetto’s memories and sometimes he felt the same way as his father, longing for solitude where he commanded the world.

There was a time, he recalled, exploring with his father, some of the many early dwellings that lined the Syrtis Mountains. And one mountain in particular he would never forget that bore what his father said was a heretical coat of arms, a placard shape that wore a fanciful lion carved into the rock. It was larger than a house and decorated with contrasting colored minerals and wiry vines that seemed to crawl from behind. Above the lion was a silvery chevron like mask with a plume of yellow and blue rising upward. And on the chest of the lion was a bold red letter ‘P’. His father told him that this was placed there by one of the founding pioneers. Its bright colors could be seen for miles and had helped guide many travelers to find their way into the Moab.

It had been too long since rosetto had had a night on the town. His studies were much too important to him now. This was his future, his ONLY future, and he had to make it the best that he could. The two classes and short visit to the SIM were quite enough interaction for him and he resigned to the solitude of his dorm room. His roommate had brought home a friend and her constant chattering had made it almost impossible for him to read. But rosetto was raised a gentleman and so he too kept this young cadet entertained with his wit and charm. He showed off his drawings and designs and shared some stories about life on Mars. By comparison, it was a very rural existence. This cadet knew nothing about botany or hydroponics but she was eager to learn as he continued his short lesson.

“Where’s John with that pizza?”, he asked quaintly. She fiddled with her personal communicator and paged him. He was only a block away, standing in a line admiring a local acting troupe who were performing on the plaza. You could hear the syncopathic music though tinny and narrow echoing from her hand-held. It wasn’t unpleasant but rosetto was hungry as he made an audible sigh…

“He’s on his way. Canadian Bacon, Right?” She asked and rosetto gave her a quick nod. “So what is it that you’re studying, rosetto?”

“The text is from my general History class”, he replied as he returned to his desk chair, leaned back in it and put his feet up. “I have many aspirations but haven’t really decided on a Senior Thesis.”

“Well, mine is going to be on the mating rituals of the Denebian Slime Devils. I have always been fascinated by their ability to mate in the midst of battle. It’s like they’re doing it out of sheer desperation of survival and yet there is a level of passion that rises between them that is almost beautiful. They have these cute little…”

He listened to the cadet chatter as if he was actually interested and nodded when appropriate but his mind was elsewhere.

Year Two, Time for Study

Rosetto recalls the hoopla at his graduation knowing that his performance was LESS than perfect and wonders what the Captain must think of him as an engineer. He had been contemplating a career in engineering but was now questioning his abilities under pressure. There was a lot going on, he recalls, as he pulls up a record of the SIM operations. There were unusual fluctuations in the power consumption and he couldn’t quite wrap his head around why these fluctuations seemed random and sporatic thoughout different systems. It was as if something of great mass had pass through without ever coming into direct contact. The continuum profile of the engineering deck records during the SIM indicated a distortion consistent of a mass that was greater than 10 Mars’ occupying a 3 dimensional space the size of a pea. This couldn’t have been due to a misaligned matter injector because it was not localized in the reactor core. It must have been from an external source. He pondered as to what this could have possibly been. Perhaps the records of the Science Panels would help isolate what was really going on.

But THAT was against the rules, the code. You cannot cheat death. What ever this was had to be discovered from his own perspective, by his own wit. That was the puzzle that toyed with his mind. That was the game and the game was on. If rosetto was going to be a Star Fleet engineer then he would have to turn these schematics inside out. He would have to breath every etched note and recite every last line on the page. And while these systems pulsed and surged, he would have to feel the power that rose within them. Only then would he understand those things beyond this three dimensional echo in time that everyone thought of as reality. These systems worked in a realm just out of one’s grasp and our visions into them were merely shadows stretched across our existence.

He closed his eyes and remembered the cave. It was dark and cold and only a small sound touched the wind. He had spent many nights there pondering his lifeblood for he was not yet a man, just a boy and his dreams. A snack was usually found tucked in his nap pack placed their by his all knowing mother. A boy on an adventure can’t be expected to remember everything. His father insured that he also had a hand phaser tool so that he might warm some rocks enough to keep him from freezing in the cold martian night. In that cave he had visions of worlds he only imagined. Of Structures and machines that would light up any young lad’s eyes. This was why he knew that he would not find what he was looking for there. It wasn’t to be found sketched in the cliffs. As rosetto remembered dreams overpowered his consciousness and sleep was upon him.

Under the reading lamp in his dorm room, rosetto studies his text books thinking that after last night’s Academy, he will need to understand a lot more about the inner workings of the Space-Time Continuum:

..Transition occur in an explosive event accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful phenomena known as the Chromatic Detonation; an optical analog of a sonic boom. In the next micro-instant, the objcet is on “the other side”, traveling through the warp continuum at 1.31 x C. An object is never observed at speeds 0.763 < V < 1.31 under normal conditions. It should be noted however, that the boundary layer of the warp field effect creates an envelope of 4 dimensional Einsteinian space-time within which an object travels and their physical laws still apply within the envelope. From the outside, it appears as though a space-time anomaly were manifested sequentially along a linear path. Fleeting, multiple images of the object in the center of the anomaly are created at widely spaced intervals which grow more distant at higher warp factors. Light coming from within the envelope gathers at the boundary layer until it reaches optical crossover threshold, at which point it “pulses” through, thus re-entering normal space-time to project the image of the object.

He had always enjoyed History in school and thought that this course on the Origins of the Cochrane Coil Theory was absolutely fascinating. He continues to read:

While current attempts to build ever larger particle accelerators lead to the unification of the strong nuclear force with the electro-weak force but this approach was not be successful with gravity. The reason is that while accelerators of sufficient power approximate the fantastic extremes of temperature and pressure found during the era immediately following the Big Bang, it was not these aspects of the early universe but rather the extreme curvature of space-time then in force which wedded gravity to the other forces. As space-time expanded, or flattened, gravity was the first force to de-couple from the others. Newton’s mechanics were based upon the Euclidean model of geometry, and Einstein’s was grounded in 19th century alternatives such as that of Riemann. Cochrane found the mathematical tools he needed to join the probability functions of quantum physics to the structures defined by distortions of space-time in the “strange attractors” of Fractal Geometry’s framework for the study of “chaos”.

The warp effect itself derives from Cochrane’s advanced concepts of gravitation under which the interaction between the mass of a physical body and the surrounding space/time matrix defines a complex mathematical field known as a continuum profile. On a purely theoretical level, Cochrane was able to establish a new understanding of the term velocity by demonstrating an intriguing difference in the continuum profiles of moving objects versus those stationary relative to the observer. All objects having mass distort the space/time continuum around them, but when an object is in motion relative to the observer, the pattern of the this distortion, known as the continuum profile, becomes skewed along the direction of travel.

Space/time is not infinitely malleable, it takes a minute but finite interval for gravitational distortions to be fully manifested upon newly encountered regions. Because of this propagation-time factor, the region of space/time in front of a moving object at a given instant is not as distorted as it would be had the object in question been exerting its gravitational influence on it for an arbitrarily long period, and the region behind the traveling body shows excess distortion because of the time it takes to flatten back to its undisturbed state. The concept of relative motion remains in force, for the skewing of the continuum profiles of all objects in the universe is measured from the vantage point of the observer’s own comparably skewed line of travel. In measuring the velocity relative to himself, the observer is actually noting the degree of continuum profile skewing relative to his own, and an inertial frame of reference becomes one with a constant degree of skew.

In astrophysics, this effect is largely muted by the ability of space/time to “remember” repeated transits, so that all cyclic motions, such as the orbits of planets, literally “groove” their paths into the very fabric of the continuum, diminishing the skewing effect to almost vanishing levels. Also, such circular motions involve the interaction of mutually influencing bodies, so that each experience far more change in the direction of its skewing factor than in its absolute magnitude.

But for non-cyclic motions, such as that of spacecraft executing huge linear translations thru the continuum, the effect is sufficiently pronounced to impact observations made from onboard instruments.”

Before his eyes drift off into slumber, rosetto quickly flips to the back of the book in his hand to determine the author of the text he was reading. It was actually based on a Grad Student’s Senior Thesis, a young engineer from England named Leon Myerson.

It was BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY for rosetto tonite but he knew that the practical ‘graduation’ was merely a part of his duty as a Star Fleet Cadet. Although it did grant him privilege to use the rank of Ensign, his academic grades weighed heavily on his mind. They constituted nearly 45% of his overall accreditation and his senior thesis would bear another 20%. Without these, placement, especially on an active duty starship, was highly unlikely.

He continued to read:
In creating his unified field theory, Cochrane opened the door to full-scale interaction/exchange between the primal forces of nature. Using the analytic tools of his carefully derived Impulsor Calculus, he has able to map out complex yet stable forms of interwoven electro-magnetic fields which would cross “the line” by manifesting part of their effect in the form of gravitational phenomena. He was then able to follow the conceptual trail back to the actual design and construction of field generating coils that could transform his theories into useful technology. In his first great practical success, he proved that if his coil systems were used to reconfigure the continuum profile of a “stationary” object so that it acquired the relative “skew” of a moving one, it moved accordingly.

He feared the math involved as Calculus was never his strong subject but he was up for the challenge. It was just a matter of focus, forgetting all of the other distractions and visualizing the numbers as they moved on the page and formed such alien landscapes as those found in the Orion Cascades.

This led first to the development of the long wished-for “jetless” space drive, ultimately called “Impulse drive”, in which designers no longer needed to bother about reaction mass carried onboard only to serve as kinetic exhaust. Later studies revealed that the application of sufficient power to the skewing field would produce a degree of skew effect so highly pronounced as to be insupportable by the familiar Einsteinian continuum. Attaining this “threshold” level would so stress the ordinary continuum that a vessel and its surrounding field envelope would literally be ejected into a higher order continuum in which the speed of light was no longer relevant as a limiting factor. Cochrane himself visualized our familiar continuum as “floating” above the larger realm, and so described the transition process as “dropping into sub-space”.

‘WOW! I made it! I cannot believe that two of the toughest commanders graduated me!’ He was still trembling as he tried to study. Where would he be in another year’s age? What new wonders would pass his eyes? He looked despairingly at himself in the mirror. How many times would he blow up the ship for real! He read on:

Just as the 20th century’s mastery of undreamed of natural forces such as electricity produces technological wonders inconceivable to 17th century minds, so did Cochrane’s breakthrough set the stage for a vast family of related discoveries and devices that seem almost magical to residents of his time. In the decades following the construction of the first “impulsor drives”, further experimentation and theoretical studies led to totally different, often unexpected, applications of the basic Cochrane coil system. The coil itself would become as basic a concept to an entire branch of technology as the “circuit” is to the field of electrical engineering.

Physicist Alicia Chalmbers interwove two coils. One was wound clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. She then sent twin currents thru them in opposite directions. The “Chalmbers” coil did not move, as its external effect upon the continuum was balanced between opposite and equal influences, but within the dual-coil itself a profound disruption of space/time took place. Wave like patterns of variation in the “topological gradient” or distort ability of space/time, went out equally in all directions. A second Chalmbers coil, though unenergized, reacted to the distortion pattern by converting part of its energy content back into electricity. Of course, modulations in the current flow to the first Chalmbers coil were echoed analog fashion in the current output of the second “receiving” coil, giving birth to sub-space radio. The effect propagates at the theoretical limit of the warp effect, Warp 10, the actual speed depending on whether the Chalmbers coils are of the Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary variety. All StarFleet, and virtually all modern civilian vessels, use Tertiary Chalmbers systems, allowing communications at 131792.79 x C. Passive listening for natural occurrences of this phenomena, and the active use of a form of sub-space radio in “radar” mode, constitute much of the sensor technology of Starships.

His head bubbled with enlightenment as he slowly fell into sleep. “Computer. Lights Off…”

It seemed to be another of history’s ill-fated contradictions as our martian pored over his studies of the Impulse Drives in current operation and Impulsor Calculus class that he had taken as a sophomore.

Excerpt from Impulsor Calculus Studies:

A reactionless drive is any form of propulsion not based around expulsion of fuel or reaction mass. This is exactly what Cochrane proposed with his impulsor coils. The underlying problem with reactionless drives is that breaking the law of conservation of momentum shatters the entire mathematical framework of physics. However, what is learned from Cochrane’s Impulsor calculus is that a mass can have (and be ‘given’) velocity without the necessity of acceleration. Impulsor calculus doesn’t shatter these mathematical concepts. They remain true within the relativistic view of the space-time continuum. The impulsor coils and therefore the math explaining them, punch through these definitions when these reactions cross the boundary of sub-space.

Excerpt from Memory Alpha Data banks:

The impulse drive is a propulsion system used for sublight speeds. In Federation starships, the impulse drive is essentially an augmented fusion rocket, usually consisting of one or more fusion reactors, an accelerator-generator, a driver coil assembly and a vectored thrust nozzle to direct the plasma exhaust. The fusion reaction generates a highly energized plasma. This plasma, (“electro-plasma”) can be employed for propulsion, or can be diverted through the EPS to the power transfer grid, via EPS conduits, so as to supply other systems. The accelerated plasma is passed through the driver coils, thereby generating a subspace field which improves the propulsive effect.

The confused student stared at the two excerpts he had retrieved attempting to rationalize what seemed to be contradictions in definitions. And then it finally dawned on him. The Impulse Drive units were BOTH a reaction and reactionless system. These drives were not a closed system and even though the plasma energy was accelerated and used to excite the drive coils, it was expelled from the system when used for the purpose of propulsion. There was not a contradiction!

It was onto the Warp Drive systems! Rosetto was elated that he could finally move forward with his studies…

He was as cheerful as the next, yet not found his direction. His thoughts were all out of focus and smeared about the page. The engineering curriculum was rigorous and required every bit of his concentration. It didn’t leave much time for FUN and he would rarely be found off campus. Back on Mars he would augment his class schedule with exploits of the fairer sex. But, then again, the Principles of Microeconomics, Agri-Management and Accounting Principles didn’t require any higher brain functions. Here he was challenged with Power Plant Engineering, Structural Design of Low Gravity Systems, SubSpace Physics, EPS Engineering (whatever that was), Transporter Systems Technology and Environmental Control Systems. If that weren’t enough, he also had the general course studies that all cadets were required to take (The History of Star Fleet, Chain of Command, General Operations, Vessel and Starbase Layout, Emergency and Evacuation Procedures). It made for a busy day indeed and it was a wonder that he had any free time at all. Still, here he was, casually walking the Quad with nothing to do for the rest of the morning.

As he returns to his studies he is consumed in the concepts of faster-than-light travel. Pushing power into an unseen dimension, the highly excited Cochrane impulsor coils resonate and expand until the entire vessel is enveloped in a multi-dimensional bubble-like structure. The forces at work rise like unpenitrable walls protecting the vessel from the torrents surrounding it; the twisting of space and time itelf. These forces were only surpassed by that of a black hole, that mysterious void that punches through the continuum like a knife through butter. And then as the plasma injector frequencies are modulated to skew the continuum of the contained environment, the whole structure wisps rapidly away, disappearing altogether from the local reality and speeding toward its distant target.

The source of this energy was from the Matter/Anti-Matter Reaction Assembly. A delicate balance of the matter and anti-matter streams coming to an explosive meeting inside the dilithium crystals, a perpendicular stream of hyper-energy plasma pours out of the chamber and is captured and contained by the power transfer conduit assemblies. These plasma rich vessels route this liquid-like energy toward the awaiting warp coils.

He was like a child on a high from a sugar-coated strawberry. These systems excited him and he could hardly wait to get into the Warp Core SIMs to test some of the theories that were rushing through his synapses.

There were many opportunities for young Rosetto to experience the thrills of flight, both powered and unpowered, on Mars. Wind surfing is a very popular sport there and with much of the landscape untouched there are many places available for the enthusiasts. That was where Rosetto got his first taste learning to bend his body and become one with the board and sail. It was best done on smoother surfaces which were found mostly on the Northern plains. While in school in Utopia, he had joined a close knit group who planned outings on a periodic basis.

Powered flight was a much different experience all together. He could not decide which he preferred and so he didn’t. However, every opportunity that was presented to him the young student could be found learning more about the cockpits. The busy Martian society teemed with ultra-light personal crafts and in the city in was a practically a necessity. His father had even used one for monitoring the vast acreage of which was charged. But this too was different from the explosive speeds attained in the scooters and shuttles.

This is why he was interested in the Navigational Sciences and what had ultimately brought him to take the Flight Training courses offered at the Academy. Today was his first day in one of their simulators. He imagined that it would be more realistic than the brief actvities on the General Training Holodeck. He was not disappointed.

Senior Year

Academy, Flight Training Lab

The lab was fairly quiet for a Sunday afternoon as Rosetto reviewed his PADD waiting for his turn. His first flight would be in a Hopper. It was the workhorse of StarFleet. He had seen many of them porting the Shipyards of Utopia Planitia. Although it was only a sub-light vessel the enhanced impulse drive system included a compact space-time driver coil to increase drive acceleration and fusion power efficiency giving the craft unprecedented flexibility in speed, acceleration and sheer lifting power.

In this first run he would merely be part of the six-man crew and he looked around for familiar faces in the prep room and found none. A Nubian woman caught his eye though. She sat three seats down and across from him. As they exchanged glances he noted that there was a seat next to her unoccupied and motioned a request to join her in conversation. She smiled and nodded and Rosetto gathered his PADD and stepped over to introduced himself. She said her name was “Nashwa” and that she’d been studying navigational computer systems. She was a single parent of two girls who occupied most of her off duty time.

“So what’s that mean?”, he queried her.

“What’s that?”

“Your name…. Nashwa… It sounds, er, Nubian?”

“Very astute there Mr. Rocket Jockey.” She smiled wide while she said it and her eyes welcomed a witty comeback. He returned a smirk as she continued. “It means ‘wonderful feeling’ but don’t get any ideas.”

They both laughed aloud as he took a seat. He soon learned that she was also into the lost art of still photography and she shared some of her recent works taken around campus. It was quite good.

“You have an uncanny ability to capture moments.”

“Thank you.”

The SIM doors opened and a young lieutenant with a large PADD exited, stood in front of the group and started calling out names.

“McKinley, Patterson, Beck, Cloverdale, and Rosetto”

“That’s me!” He got up to excuse himself and she packed away her PADD retorting, “Me too… Cloverdale.”

Always the gentleman, he motioned and allowed her to pass first following close behind. They entered the SIM lab, the familiar black grid room that contained a single Hopper Class Shuttle which was about 23 meters in length. They entered through the rear hatch and there were passengers seated on either wall as they walked forward. The lieutenant continued.

“Pay attention cadets. This is a simple transport mission. Our simulated marines here are to be deployed at an LZ on Europa. Rosetto, Cloverdale, you have the front seats.”

“Rosetto. Stow that PADD Mister. Let’s get the prep checks complete and coordinate through the Dock Master for your clearance. Cloverdale. Bring up your flight plan and enter it into your SINS computer. I want an ETA on the LZ and situation status from the ground station. Patterson, Preflight checks on the cargo holds. Beck, you’re with me…”

The lieutenant continued to bark out instructions and Rosetto was too busy to notice what the other crew members were doing behind him. Nashwa, however, was feverously tapping displays looking up periodically to beam a confident smile his way. The view through the front portal was much different than the cold holodeck grid room. It revealed a fully active shuttle bay with personnel moving in nearly every direction. He finished his check list and signaled to the Dock Master that they were ready for departure. Nashwa reached over and tapped him gently and looked at the panel in front of him. ‘Departure Lights’, he thought, ‘Oops…’ He tapped them on and then turned around to signal to the lieutenant that they were ready for departure. She nodded.

As he had expected, this was nothing like the General Training SIMs. There was no time to look up references on his PADD. He had to do everything from memory but these vessels were very sophisticated and practically flew themselves.

“Shuttle bay thrusters. Engage.” She commanded.

“Aye, sir”, Rosetto tapped the thruster control panel and the shuttle lifted and moved forward slowly. The busied personnel scattered before him seeking air-locked compartments as he turned toward the shuttle bay doors that were flashing and alerting the dock crews of a pending launch. They opened and in seconds they were through and in open space. The acceleration was thrilling and he couldn’t remember a time when he smiled this widely. Nashwa looked at him admiring his posture as he cross referenced the flight plan and engaged the plotting sequencer.

“Cloverdale. ETA at standard sub-light?”

“Twenty minutes, ma’am. The LZ is clear and the navigational deflectors are on-line.” Replied Nashwa as she nodded to her pilot.

“The ship is yours, Mr. Rosetto. Increase to 1/2 Impulse at your discretion.”

Rosetto looked over at the Impulse controls, tapped on the panel three times with his right hand and the vessel effortlessly zipped away following the trajectory laid in by his co-pilot moments ago. He looked to the left to check his fuel gauges and reactor status and then to the astrogator display which projected his course. There he saw massive Jupiter looming just 600,000 km port. It was the largest object in the area. Europa, in the distance, was nearly half the size of Mars and visible on the display as well as through the forward portal. He had been shuttles and even on interplanetary flights but never had he seen Jupiter this close. He switched to a tactical display on his monitor and it showed the vessels and orbital platforms in his immediate space. Their flight would take them by the Kingsley Sensor Relay Station and then onto Europa.

It was an uneventful flight and landing was much easier than he thought it would be. They were on the surface only long enough to deploy the marines and then they were on their way back to the space port. It was a nice hour and he got to know Nashwa a little better. They had planned to share lunch after this was over. He liked Italian food and she wasn’t totally discouraged by this.

After three days of flying Hoppers and Worker Bees, Rosetto grew anxious for a more challenging flight. If he was to pass this course then he would have to demonstrate to his instructors that he could handle more than simple courier missions. Today’s mission was one such opportunity, Search & Rescue.

He had retrieved the mission plans on his PADD the night before from Instructor Lopez and was briefed that he would be in the front seat again with Cadet Cloverdale at Nav. He had not spoken with Nashwa in two days; ‘drawn away by other concerns’ he thought; and wondered if her presence would keep him at ease as it had before. It was passing 0700 hours and she was no where to be found. Assured that Lopez would find a suitable substitute, Rosetto continued to study the mission at hand.

The vessel he was to fly was a some what larger one this time; a Class J Merchantman! This vessel was 150 meters long and consumed most of the Holodeck as they entered to start this mission.

As this was a space-born vessel, they would enter via a transporter pad that was situated at the far end of the room. The lieutenant, however, wanted them to do (and get used to doing) a walk-about visual inspection and familiarize themselves with the modifications to this classical freighter vessel. The ship was suspended mid-air which provided a full 360 by 360 view for them. The lieutenant explained that there were four decks and the first cargo deck, the one directly beneath the main deck had been converted to a medical section. The other two were set up for disaster recovery facilities and could transport a thousand refugees to safety if necessary. As their mission was one of flight training, they would not have to concern themselves with the details of these operations but only familiarize themselves with the general layout.

As Lopez continued to lecture a late-comer had arrived and tugged slightly on Rosetto’s tunic. It was Nashwa and he smiled; happy that she could make it. She seemed a little out of sorts and played catch-up on her PADD while the Lieutenant stepped over to the Holodeck Arch and tapped on its keyboard. The vessel was instantly split in two exposing the interior details.

“As you can now see, cadets”, she continued pointing with a hand laser, “This vessel is much larger than it appears to be and there is much to consider when maneuvering her during rescue operations. The lowest deck has been fitted with a tractor beam and retractable cargo bay doors that can be utilized for surface extractions where the use of transporters is not feasible.”

Nashwa quietly explained that Kenya, her youngest, had taken ill and that she was still a bit worried about her condition. It was a simple flu bug but Kenya was only 2. Rosetto shared his concern while listening to Lopez detail the transporter pads on deck three. He assured her that Kenya would be just fine and they smiled and turned back to the briefing.

“Okay cadets. Our mission is to rescue a small group of 20 sight-seers on a class-M planet that is experiencing some unexpected tectonic shifting. Cloverdale. Glad to see you with us. You will be coordinating efforts with the rescue specialists on deck 3 while we are hovering above the site. They will manage all surface contact from their position. Rosetto. You will need to familiarize yourself with the surrounding areas; appendix C of your mission plan. Beck and Johnson. You two will be with me on the sensor panels. Any questions? Save them! We’re on a timeline people. Lives are at stake so stow it and get your butts on the transporter pads!”

Rosetto quickly paged to appendix C and took some quick glances. There was a hillside, some cliffs, a large lake and several small clearings but none looked larger than 60 meters in diameter. He slipped his PADD into his pouch just as they shimmered off the transport pad. They materialized on the bridge and the three seats of the helm control were ten meters ahead of them. Nashwa darted to the left seat and Rosetto took the right and he began to check the onboard system status boards.

“Rosetto, you will note that we are enroute to the planet with an ETA of 10 minutes. Cloverdale will have the site locations keyed in. I want to hover fifty meters above and attempt a beam out operation”, barked the lieutenant as she busied the other two cadets with configuring the navigational sensors.

He busied himself with getting the vessel prepared for a standard orbit entry. This was SOP for all planetary flights and he needed to get the vessel there at the correct time so that they could descend into the atmosphere proxima to the site entered. Nashwa had a little concerned in her eyes as she quickly called up the planetary details and zeroed in on the evac site. It was worse than they’d been told. The site was dense with trees reaching 30 meters in height and the refugee camp was reported as being 250 meters from the lake shore beneath the natural canopy.

“Beck, I’m gonna need your numbers as soon as you get them,” she called out as Beck was initializing and configuring the forward scanners for lifesigns. These numbers were critical for her calculations and coordination efforts with the transport chief on the deck below. Rosetto looked at her with a smile and a silent horizontal palm that she understood as a calming gesture. There was a confirming nod as she returned a half-smile He knew that panic was the enemy of mission objectives and more often than not it proliferated chaos and confusion. Focusing his attention on the vessel’s controls he called up the flight ops for standard orbits and entered his specifics. The system quickly returned the suggested trajectory and he enabled the program.

“Leaving standard orbit. ETA, 4 minutes ma’am”, he called to the Instructor who had braced herself on a bulk head watching Johnson & Beck tapping away at the sensor panels. The vessel surged and banked as it slipped through the atmospheric boundary. There was slight turbulence and Rosetto gripped the main controls keeping his eye on the bead. His entry was far from perfect and was received with a stern glance from Lopez who took notice to a glass that had tumbled off a shelf and onto the deck. When they entered the cloud bank she stepped over and retrieved it but Rosetto didn’t see this. He was far too occupied with his maneuvers. They were now 125 kilometers away according to the display in front of him. He banked left and brought the forward thrusters on line that helped slow their descent.

The wind was blowing viciously and it was everything he could do to keep the vessel righted. This required continuous heading adjustments and minor pitch corrections but they were there, 50 meters over the site and he could hear Nashwa coordinating the beam-out of the campers. He had no time to even look over at her and hoped that she was doing okay. He just waited for the signal that all were aboard so he could get back into orbit. In the back of his mind he remembered that THIS was all a simulated situation; none of this was real, but he didn’t have time to let that surface.

“I’m only picking up 16, lieutenant”, reported Beck. “I have no idea where the other 4 people are.”

She looked disgusted at him and replied, “Keep looking, Ensign.” And then on the com she continued, “Chief? Let me speak to someone in charge…”

From Nashwa, Rosetto received a secondary location. It was near the mountains about 5 kilometers away. Their sensors couldn’t pick up any life signs, however, it was reported that four teenagers were possibly in the caves there. He pulled the ship up and headed for the new site. When they arrived Nashwa told him that the chief and the doctor were beaming down to locate the others. He was to hover here until further notice.

The turbulence wasn’t much better here but at least he didn’t have to continually spin. The chaos seemed to ebb as they all waited for word from below. Rosetto even got a chance to look at Nashwa and see how she was handling all of this. She smiled at him, hold onto the console with one hand while tapping in some commands with the other. The old adage ‘careful what you ask for’ kept filling his mind as he continued to make minor pitch corrections to keep the vessel level.

“Yes. Aye, sir”, replied Nashwa to an incoming com. “They’re aboard! Let’s get out of here!”

With that the pilot pitched up the vessel and thrusted into the clouds. He recalled the Standard Orbit Entry procedures and laid in the program. They would be in orbit again in less than 2 minutes. He waited patiently for the autopilot to engage and when it did he sat back and relaxed in his chair. There was a huge smile on his face and Nashwa had one as well. They did it!

‘What a wonderful day that was in Flight School’, he thought as the sleep fell from his eyes and the smell of coffee filled the dorm room. Alas, he had a lot to learn about teamwork and his general studies were now lacking. Picking up his PADD, Rosetto reviewed his class schedule for the week. Monday…History 125: The History of Starfleet, Tuesday…Math 205: Impulsor Calculus. Hmm… He’d have to con Mr. Surran into helping him with that stuff. Wednesday…Astrophysics and then Operations Management….Thursday…Advanced Sensor Technology…Friday…Flight Training again! Yeah, a busy schedule… He wondered if he’d have time for a social life at all. Nashwa had left him with contact information but he knew that her schedule was as tight as his. He probably wouldn’t see her again until Friday. That was disappointing to him because he really enjoyed her company.

Tapping away, he called up his notes on the History of Starfleet. There was a test tonite and he would have to study.

Buried in his studies, Rosetto was presented with an essay question in his Impulsor Calculus text on his PADD. He hoped that he understood because the theory was explained in so many different ways that it made it difficult to visualize. The question posed was:

Explain in your own words how a transporter system works.

He typed into his PADD:

The refined process used today actually passes though many stages quantum manipulation enabling objects to literally move to their designed destination in tact. The first stage is the molecular imaging scanner in which the continuum profile is mapped in real time. This mapping is sent to the pattern buffer and biofilter assemblies. The pattern buffer acts as a short delay line in the transport process. This copy of the continuum profile is then placed at the desired destination via the ACB. The act of placement is actually a discrete characteristic of a profile similar to how a warp field affects the velocity of an object. At this point absolutely no matter has been affected; the object to be transported is still on the transport pad. Now, when the feed-back looping occurs and the quantum level gateway is opened, the Heisenberg compensator is activated and the simultaneous flattening and inflating of the source and destination profiles, respectfully, cause the actual sub-atomic particles to ‘blink’ from one location to the other. Since this is not an instantaneous process, it is believed that the massive components actually travel down the confinement beam, however, this has never been observed.

“Okay cadets! Listen up! Today’s lesson is going to be quite different”, shouted the lieutenant as Rosetto and Cloverdale met each other walking into the SIM lab. They were all on a deck of a huge vessel and there were more than the usual four. The lieutenant guided each member to a separate helm control that lined the interior wall and all were handed specialized visors and seated into their positions. As she continued to explain the mission all eyes were attended. “There are times when sending personnel into an area or onto a vessel may be too hazardous. In these times we send drones and tonite, each of you will be piloting one.”

She continued to explain the details of the drone interface and flying in formation. She would take ‘point’ in this maneuver. Their task was a simple mission of salvage. There was a derelict vessel whose orbit was decaying. Part of the group would be attempting to correct this in larger drones equipped with tractor beams. The others would be piloting much smaller craft and exploring and scanning the interiors.

“Any questions?”

Rosetto donned his visor unit and noted that it provided a holographic view of the control panel in front of him and a much finer view of open space. He quickly assessed that the target vessel was at 136 degrees mark 17; 400,000 kilometers away. The lieutenant explained that they would launch and fly in a “Y” formation until they were on target and then split off into their functional groups. Nashwa and he would be piloting smaller investigators. He was very excited because the target vessel was an antique tanker/transport of the late 21st century, one that may have been used in the colonization of Mars.

The rest of the class donned their visors as the instructor took her position at a centralized control panel. “Computer? Begin Simulation”, she commanded

As she did the aural sensations of the holodeck changed. He could now only hear her voice over his comms and all other sounds echoed on the drone control deck. He listened for the dock master’s signaling as he checked the status of his drone. His view was tunnel-like and dark now. In the upper left of his field, he could see the small indicators light up one by one as the other drones came on line and chimed in their status. The mission clock was also visible and counting. T -00:00:17, 16, 15…

They were launched and flying formation as instructed. Nashwa was on his port side trailing him by only 100 meters and there was a tractor drone ahead and to the right at about the same distance. Seven vessels in all; they followed the lead craft being piloted by the lieutenant.

With drones there were no preprogrammed flight plans and navigational deflectors were all manually controlled. All that was available was a proximity alert service which was pretty much useless while they flew in tight formation. Rosetto, as did many others, muted his.

Once everyone was in position and we had distanced ourselves from the mothership, the lieutenant instructed us to increase speed to 1/2 Impulse Power. That was the top speed of these craft however, due to their size it seemed to be very fast. They all increased our speeds gradually trying to keep our formation and distance relatively constant. There were only a couple minor slips and briefly they looked more like a sigma shape rather than a ‘Y’ but it didn’t last long. The lieutenant had never expected perfection, simply consistency. They were on sight in twenty minutes and the lieutenant split the tractors off giving them separate instructions on a different comm. Channel.

The vessel was an elongated cylindrical shape; bow to stern approximately 300 meters with a diameter of scarcely 3 meters over the majority of its length. This main corridor section of rigid frame construction was used to separate the C&C and propulsion sections as well as serve to facilitate cargo and/or passenger holds of various sizes and shapes. This particular derelict did have one cargo hold still attached. The investigator team was instructed to split as well; two entering the command & control module and the other two scanning the propulsion sections.

Maneuvering inside the ghostly silent vessel had proved to be quite interesting for Rosetto. There was no power anywhere and so objects not affixed were in freefall and everything seemed to move in slow motion. Rooms and passageways were very dark and the external lighting of the drones created deep shadows and high contrasts. This made it difficult for Rosetto to see his holographic displays. His biggest concern had been keeping tabs on the location of the other drones but he also had other monitors that he could recall, system status, fuel consumption, navigation, etc.

Nashwa’s drone, also assigned to the investigator team, was two decks up using a tricorder device to scan the main control center for historical records. Rosetto had been tasked with recovering the flightlog records from the primary computer core. As the storage media differed dramatically from Federation standards these records had to be physically extracted. The hardest part of this task was lining up the interface adapter. It required slow and precise positioning even with the facility of a retractable arm. It ‘clicked’ into position and the LOCK indicator flashed on his display. He was quite pleased that it had only taken three tries.

The Rosetto’s displays started to shake violently. Not physically there made it difficult to determine exactly what was going on and he flipped through his monitor modes as his main view jittered back and forth. Stopping on the navigation monitor he noticed that the orbit was suddenly decaying very rapidly. His comm. Channel lit up and the lieutenant was barking at the tractor pilots who had apparently misgauged their assessment and slowed the vessel down considerably. Everyone was instructed to pull out immediately. He hardly hesitated however his interface adapter did not want to cooperate. Rosetto decided it was best to save the drone and ‘to hell’ with the adapter and data. He spun the drone around on its axis, located the nearest open portal and applied a jolting thrust that literally ripped the retractable arm off of the drone as it exited the vessel.

No drones were lost however the vessel burned in the atmosphere within a matter of seconds. It was a long trip back with the lieutenant rehashing the mission over and over again.

The Quads were busy and it was unusually warm for San Francisco in the spring. The young ensign made his way through the passers-by on his way to yet another session of flight training. Although he had enjoyed his training he’d hoped also that soon he would finish the academics, take some personal leave and await his first assignment.

Life had been much different for him here, here among the masses. Here on Earth where the cities were tens and hundreds the size of those on Mars. Due to the low gravity and atmosphere, Martian settlements had never grown large. Olympia City which lies on the northern edge of the Amazonis Planitia where Gordii Dorsium meets the Amazonis Mesa was the largest settlement and maintained a mere 500,000 people. Most settlements were 10,000 or less.

He walked into the training lab with his PADD in hand. There were only two other cadets present and there was no sign of Nashwa at all. The instructor directed them to their cockpits and gave them the mission brief which was liken to a combat sortie. They were to fly in, take out the ‘enemy’ targets and secure the area. It wouldn’t take long. The flight plan read 10 minute flight time.

The SIM began and they all took off in formation. He was the port wingman and as soon as they were set they flew to the site without incident. When they arrived, however, his board lit up with several ‘enemy’ vessels. Most were smaller scout class ships but they packed pretty heavy weapons he learned. After only two short engagements his shield power was down 30% and many systems were already switched to their redundants. It was fast action and he learned quickly just what his scout shuttle could do and what it couldn’t do.

Rosetto targeted the nondescript enemy using the targeting computer and its coordinates illuminated as the icon became encircled in red. As he reached for the FIRE button his mind went suddenly blank and his surroundings seemed to disolve. Immediately he thought that the instructor had aborted his simulation and he became quite discontented. What was strange was that the standard holodeck grid did not appear. He found himself seated at an open-air concession in bright afternoon sunlight. The bill of fare read “Apri il tuo Limonata”. In spite of his Italian namesake, Rosetto knew very little of his ancestrial language. He looked around and sipped the drink that had appeared in his hand. It was lemonade and a very SPIKED one. Very confused, he decided that it was best to just go with it and wait until an explanation presented itself.

The plaza was lined with quaint little shops and there was a centralized billboard gently flashing “Quadrilatero d’Oro”. He knew from his literature classes in college that “Oro” meant gold so he deduced that he was in “The Golden Plaza” or something like that. He continued to pan his surroundings, slowly spinning on his seat and as he turned back around he couldn’t help but notice this woman with engaging brown eyes seated right next to him.

“Buon pomeriggio, bella giornata?” She said. He just looked at her silently as if to say, “Excuse me?” “Ah Ha ha”, she exclaimed, “You don’t speak Italiano. I should have known. Welcome to Milano. This is my home. My name is Maria Bella Scintilla. I hope you like your limonata a spillo. Not too strong?”

“Who, uh…w—what? Who are you?”

She pointed to her tunic with a short smile. It was yellow and bore a familar Starfleet emblem. “You’re probably wondering what’s going on, huh? Well, I really must apologize. It seems that my little experiment has gone kerbluey! You see, ‘YOU’ were not supposed to go anywhere, just your imagine. COMPUTER, Freeze program.”

Everything stopped in mid-stride; everything but Rosetto and this unusual but attractive woman. ‘It WAS the holodeck’, he thought, ‘but WHO was this woman and where was the flight instructor?’

“Okay, well the cat’s out so I guess I will have to come forward”, she continued. “I am a fellow cadet at Starfleet, Engineering major and minoring in Transporter Technology. I am working with a small group of classmates on an experiment mixing transporter imagine scanning technology with the holo-emitters. I had seen you around campus and was using your imagine for my experiments. I know I should have asked permission first. I–I–I don’t know what more to say…” She looked sheepishly at him and he could hardly scold her. Besides, it was a lovely afternoon and the lemonade and his company were QUITE nice.

“Well, at the risk of sounding cavalier, thank you for a refreshing change. I have to admit you’ve caught me by complete surprise!” He chuckled and sipped his drink. “And this? It’s perfect!”

“I hope that you’re not offended. I–I–I have never done anything like this before.”

“Relax M-, Maria, right?” He smiled. “I don’t think they’ll fail me for inadvertantly disappearing from flight school.”

She giggled softly and got up to attend her experiment. “Wait! We might as well have lunch, eh?”

She stopped, froze for a moment, snapped around and sat back down. “COMPUTER. Resume program.”

“So what was your name?” He asked and she returned ‘Maria Bella Scintilla’ which he found out meant ‘beautiful sparkler’.

They sat and chatted for what seemed like several hours. He learned that she was the junior member of her group and had another two years to go at the Academy. She had not been lying. She was born and grew up in Milan. She said that it was the engine room of the country’s economy and home of its stock exchange. She also corrected him. They were seated in the “Golden Quad” and surrounded by fashion boutiques. As the afternoon pressed on they strolled down the plaza and he bought her some treats at the gelaterie. This was the famous aperitivi scene; an extended happy-hour with platters and platters of appetizers everywhere. It was exactly what Rosetto had needed; a quick vacation from the norm.

It was Thursday night and our young cadet teemed with excitement and anticipation of his up and coming Flight School session. Faster than light travel was common place technology and yet he had only a brief experience of it when he traveled from Mars to Earth. Most of that flight was in preparation of the FTL displacement. This was because the jump would take a mere 2-3 seconds but the accuracy had to be within 4 millionths of one degree. It was virtually instantaneous and that was only Warp 1, 1.3 times the speed of light. All of these FTL displacements were done on a very tight schedule and were spaced 100 stardates apart which meant if you missed your flight then you’d have to wait over three months on Earth for the next one. This whole transit process was fairly new because it had been impractical to implement an FTL service from the cities on Luna. But that was four years ago and remembering 3 seconds of flight after four years was nearly impossible.

Tomorrow, although simulated, Rosetto would get the chance to fly and navigate at several warp speeds. Though it was considered ‘open space’, the void into which he would be traveling would be hardly empty. There existed large invisible rifts of interstellar gases which due to their mass would alter and distort the warp fields. The vessel he would be flying had deflector systems that would manage these interactions but that didn’t mean the pilot could simply ignore them. Any object with an appreciable amount of mass that would fall into the proposed flight path would have to be charted and categorized. He would be ‘burning the candle’ tonight getting all of his prep work accomplished if he expected to pass this evaluation.

Running through the numbers on his console in his dorm his mind drifted from subject to subject. He was feeling quite lonely even though there were more people in this city than were on the majority of Mars. He thought it was peculiar that someone could be alone in a crowd but there he was, only his wits to guide him. He wanted to go out and socialize as he’d done so many times back in college on Mars but this was a lot harder. He HAD to study for tests; not something he was used to doing at all. Still, his mind drifted, first to Nashwa and Maria, then to the love that he had left behind on Mars. He wondered if he’d ever see sweet Brandy again. Like ships in the night their lives were simply going in different directions. He had toyed with a future with her in it, staying on Mars and raising children. He could have always found work in Utopia or perhaps even Olympia but that would mean he would never venture into the stars. It was a tough decision but one that had to be made.

The Warp SIM had been broken into three 6-hour sessions where we were ‘on duty’ and all of the systems required detailed monitoring and updating. Even at the insane velocity of warp 7 which is about 5000 times the speed of light, the trip to Vulcan space would still take over 28 Earth hours. If this had been for real, the interval would increase to 42 hours due to the time dilation when crossing the warp boundaries.

What was even more amazing and yet completely logical was the raw view of forward sensors while the vessel was at warp. There seemed to be very little sense of motion present. Perhaps it had something to do with peering through the forward distortion of the warp envelope but what was becoming more obvious to him was the sheer vastness of space and the distances being travelled.

During the first session, Rosetto was to take the vessel out past Jupiter at sublight speed and then lay in his course to 40 Eridani A. His research from the night before revealed three major masses of hydrogen as well as the two companion stars that lay 400 AUs from the system. These gravity wells were fairly minor and easily avoided. Still, this was a test and he had to calculate the course corrections ‘long hand’ as they would be checked by both the vessel’s onboard SINS as well as by the instructors. He was very nervous as Instructor Lopez pored over his data. She had noticed that the cadet had used a chi-squared distribution on the wells created by the first two gaseous accumulations. It was a short cut but accurate enough for the given levels of subspace distortion. Once the course was laid in and they were underway, Rosetto could sit back and relax for a while. He took his first break with the cadet who had been manning the OPS.

Rosetto had never met Mr. Wilson, a bright young cadet out of Alpha Centauri Prime. They rode the lift down to the officer’s mess and he commented on Rosetto’s attention to detail. He had appreciated all of the prep work because it made his job so much easier. Wilson had blonde-white hair and a fairly dark complexion which contrasted with his maroon uniform. He was a friendly sort and smiled a lot and Rosetto did not know whether this was real admiration or whether he was just being shined on.

The second session was pretty much routine and Rosetto was able to spend some time reviewing the comments added to his flight plans by the instructors. Lopez was at the Conn during this period and he initiated several casual conversations with her. She had noticed his attraction to Nashwa and assured him that it was not intentional that the schedule had split them up.

It was during the third and final session where things would heat up. Rosetto had miscalculated the distortions added by the companion system and it was not noticed until they came out of warp and found themselves 45 AUs off course. Colonel Peters was not pleased as this would add 20 minutes to the simulation while Rosetto got the vessel back into Vulcan space.

T’Khul was the primary that orbited 40 Eridani A. At twice the size of Earth, it was a very violent world devoid of life with torrent winds reaching 300 kph. Vulcan resides in a high elliptical orbit and T’Khul grows over two and a half times during four sunrises on Vulcan. It is shadowed by three other minor moons, tiny T’Hyla racing around so quickly that one can almost see it move. Sovhelk and S’toral both have their own stories to tell. The whole scene was quite alien to Rosetto but the beauty was unmatched even by the rise of Io on Europa with massive Jupiter looming overhead. But, then again, he had actually never been on Europa. He was only told by his test pilot friends back on Mars, Utopia that it was an overwhelming sight.

Rosetto maneuvered by the complex system of moons and executed a standard orbit around Vulcan. The test was over and he was relieved. It had been a very long process and he hoped that his performance was up to par. Lopez entered the bridge from the lift and terminated the simulation. She was always stern and official but he could see a slight smile in her eyes as she dismissed the crew and the sim-lab doors opened. Rosetto was just tired and he walked back to his dorm and fell into his bunk fully clothed. He was asleep within minutes.

Rosetto arrived early in the SIM Lab and found Lt. Lopez sitting at her desk. She invited him to sit and they began to discuss the mission that would be presented. It was a test of both navigational and analytical skills, she explained. Most cadets do not pass and the test’s purpose is to observe ‘how’ the cadet fails. She told him, however, that she had been watching his progress closely and expected him to pass. She continued to explain the system in detail as she had actually been there and had personally written the Holodeck program.

“The Rigel System is as unique as it is large. The two Outer Worlds, identified as I & II are huge frozen gaseous giants with several natural satellites that could support life in contained dome systems. Three currently have mining camps established. The systems are mostly automated however the camps must be manned to support and maintain the operating systems. These are usually manned by a small crew of no more than 5 men. Because they are so far away from the primary star there is little change from the frigid cold.”

Rosetto’s eyes were wide as he listened intently. She went on…

“Rigel is a class B8 blue-white star 40,000 times brighter than our sun. Because of this, the two inner planets are essentially molten rock, class-C, D. The inner-most planet is liquid metal and has a large magnetic field about it. Neither planet is not nor ever will be inhabitable.”

“Between these two sets of shepherding planets are situated three planets of similar mass who share an orbit. Even though this orbit is almost 200 times that of the Earth, the planets are quite temperate and flourish with life. The surface gravity on these worlds is very similar to Earth’s however the density is only about 1/10th, liquid terrains. The floating continental island plates are in constant motion.”

Lopez stopped and looked down at her display. “Well, we have spent all of our prep time chatting”, she added. “We should head over to the lab.”

Rosetto looked at her and nodded and rose toward the door. She followed close behind. They walked across the hall and entered the SIM Lab where the rest of the crew waited. Again, they were all strangers to him but he was ready visit this strange new world.

Navigating Starfleet

Starfleet Academy, SF, Earth

School of Navigation

Senior Thesis

14 JUN 2396

Ensign Sal Rosetto

Mentors: (NPC) Lieutenant Maria Lopez, Cmdr. Samantha Kent, Admr. Atragon, Cmdr. Jami Farrington, Dr. Sorehl


This paper concerns the understanding and operation of the navigational systems of interstellar spacecraft, the importance of accurate and reliable subspace data streams and why following established procedures save time, effort and can save lives.

What I have learned is that an even temperament and level head is always required while navigating a space vehicle regardless of the immediate circumstances. There are flight rules and communication protocol so that all concerned are aware of your actions and can compensate their own based on these actions.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



This paper discusses my experiences at Starfleet Academy’s School of Navigation in San Francisco, Earth. Its purpose is meant to reflect my personal appreciation to those members of the Academy who saw fit to push me in the direction of this career. I have personally enjoyed almost every class session presented to me and have made many friends in the process. Some I hope to see again later in my career while there are others with which our paths will probably never cross again. This saddens me but also pushes me forward into the Undiscovered Country.


It is highly recommended that one has a good sense of spatial displacement in both the 3 and 4 dimensional realms, a clear understanding of basic astronomical phenomenon and the physics defining them, hand-eye coordination and agility, and in good physical and mental health prior to beginning these studies.

Much of this can be accomplished even without achieving one’s ‘O’ levels by self-perseverance and focus on the scientific studies provided by most any Federation Scholastic Library. This is the path that I took and this analysis shall prove it a true course.

Yes, it is true that I use many of the values handed to me from my father, yet don’t we all. It is what we know and can trust for it is advised given free of judgment or profit. The one thing that we learn is that it’s not the advice at all but how we use it to our own advantage.

I have also utilized many of the resources and facilities that are readily available to any aspiring cadet in pursuit of their dream. I have exercised the privileges afforded me to take full advantage of knowledge found on this campus. And that knowledge comes from both tutor and student as it is freely exchanged by all.

The flight simulation lab here on site has seemingly limitless possibilities and can be programmed and reconfigured to present and scenario that one can imagine and yet with all things there are limitations. The blade has no edge and so there is no reason to raise concern over blood loss, because there can be none. It is that sharpened edge that we must carry with us. That is what keeps us striving forward to exceed beyond those who passed before us.

Complete methods and procedures for the purpose of navigating space may be found in several of the reference documents provided below. These are tried & true methods developed over a millennium or more of historical record where we have ventured beyond the horizon and into the unknown. Yet these tools have kept the wind in our sails so that we can stretch our knowledge and experience further into the future.


Navigation on a starship consists primarily of two major sections, Cartography and Guidance. Put simply, there are a system of maps and tools to use those maps.

Cartography pertains to the mapping of space bodies using a universal coordinate system that’s scaling are in parsecs (PC), astronomical units (AU) and kilometers (KM). Because the universe is an active map (always changing), STARDATE was established to provide the fourth term in the location of any space body. Thus, a space body is mapped relative to the center of the Milky Way galaxy at a specific STARDATE. Although the galaxy itself is also moving, it is a negligible amount relative to the stellar motions within the galaxy. The four terms are degrees (0 to 360) about the X-Y plane of the galaxy, mark (-90 to +90) relative to the Z plane, range in parsecs (0 to 50000) from the galactic core and stardate (0 to 750,000,000) which is approximately one revolution of the galaxy (238,311,602 Earth years).

Due to internal political configurations, however, the galaxy has also been divided into four quadrants and a number of sectors defined within said quadrant. These quadrants and sectors move along with the galactic spin and so their exact positions change with the passage of time. Further, these borders change in shape as stars have differing velocities and the political boundary definition is one of a sphere of influence more than an exact physical line drawn.

The specific details of these dynamic charts and maps are continually updated via sub-space transmission as mapping tasks are completed by various exploratory vessels. At present, the Federation alone has mapped about one sixth of the galaxy. Through treaty agreements they have attained a broader expanse which includes nearly all of alpha quadrant. This mapping includes all natural bodies orbiting a star or star-system. The details of these bodies vary dependent upon their significance in the system. All artificial satellite facilities in fixed orbits as well as permanent civil ports are also charted. Further details may be attained through other services, however, they are not updated at the same frequency.

The astrogator is a vital tool for any navigator in space. It provides immediate situation awareness so that specific navigational tasks may be accomplished. The astrogator is provided with data from several key areas of the vessel. The cartographic input is a major one however the ship’s sensors as well as the Star Fleet Mission database help to provide those dynamic details such as vessels in the area or uncharted anomalies. The astrogator is used to plot complex course maneuvers through any situation presented. Its real-time display ranks high on ship priority for data stream updates from the computer core as well as the main navigation computer.

The majority of the navigational functionality is taken directly from the navigation console. This console is sometimes located directly on the main bridge while is other cases where astrophysics and mapping are supplementary to the main operation of the vessel, these consoles remain on lower decks in departmental laboratories. The definition and customization of orbital maneuvers, stellar system schematic analysis tools, thruster control programs navigational deflector subroutines can all be accessed and managed via these main control consoles.


From the education that I have gathered, the flight school is well organized and provides a good environment from which to explore one’s interests. I found the variety of space craft utilized was very beneficial in determining a career direction.

Unlike other schools which I had reviewed, the Academy enabled the cadet to get a feel for multiple classes of vessels. I particularly enjoyed the Search & Rescue mission where I flew a Class-J Merchantman vessel. It was the largest to date that I had flown and I felt at home behind the controls.

As an ensign pilot one must realize that they may be tasked with many such diverse situations. What I have found is that preparation is a must. On every flight, study the vehicle and determine all of its uniqueness. Where possible, the traditional ‘walk about’ is also a good rule of thumb. There may be things overlooked in briefings and flight-prep procedures. None of this is valuable, however, unless the cadet has a clear understanding of their surroundings, situation awareness, meaning that the navigational knowledge-base plays a key role in one’s ability to perform as a Starfleet pilot. By no means was my education taken lightly even though my spirit and flamboyancy has raised a few eyebrows of those in command. But I had always proven to them that behind the laughter were a wealth of knowledge and a will to work within a team.

As my major study was navigation, I guess I should touch on this subject a bit. Although there are many similarities between navigating a vessel on surface water and in deep space, there are as many differences as well. The currents and undertows one’s experiences in space are invisible to the naked eye and some don’t even have physical form in our 3D existence. So to master a vessel in space one must have full understanding of what’s out there and all of the systems involved in displaying that information to the navigator.

On that note, there’s sub-space. This is a term that so often gets misused and misunderstood. Sub-space is not a ‘place’ perse’. It is a dimension; a physical dimension that is not visible any more than a shadow on the pavement could have depth. It is by utilizing this dimension however, that warp coils can place vessels at super-luminal velocities. This dimension is not restricted by the laws of the Einsteinian Space/Time. By travelling in this direction one can actually shorten the interval between two points of Space/Time. So, every object has this ‘extra’ dimension and can be affected by it. Sub-space distortions appear like (I’ll reused the analogy) stretched out shadows in three dimensions. Extreme distortions, one’s visible to the naked eye, are quite rare as they only occur at the threshold boundaries of warp bubbles as particles exist simultaneously on both sides.


To anyone considering Starfleet as a possible career choice all I can say is it’s definitely a military intelligence and one must learn to work within a team. Given that, Starfleet can provide a wealth of resources to advance one’s personal knowledge and abilities. Sounds like a recruiter, huh?

The School of Navigation is probably one of the most challenging career moves that I have made however it has given me much pride and many rewards. The only persons who know more about a vessel are the engineers who build and maintain them. Sure, there are rigorous procedures and ‘red-tape’ that must be memorized but these type items exist in any field of study. I must say, though, that was the toughest part for me to complete. Usually these items are not considered ‘fun’ and there can be no deviation from the ‘right’ answer.


I would strongly recommend that any person pursuing a career in navigation that they do plenty of research to determine what Navigation is all about. If you are simply wanting to fly then there are many programs in the Star Fleet Marine Corps that could provide you with wings. This is not meant as a mar on the Corps or its schools. Just that the School of Navigation is focused on physics and science and not necessarily on tactics and weapons systems.


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June 2018
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