It’s Wednesday already? Yes, see? Right up there, at the top?
Starting yesterday, I began serializing the chapters in all of my CASSIDY novels – Volume One on Tuesdays, The Road to the Stars (Volume Two) on Wednesdays, The Measure of Humanity (Volume Three) on Thursdays, and Volume 4 (title to be announced!) on Fridays.
Today’s Wednesday (see above), and so that means we’re diving into The Road to the Stars (Volume Two) today.
But this volume isn’t quite like the previous one.
See, this book has a prologue.
I know, I know. There are authors out there who hate prologues. There are others who swear at them, and still others who swear by them.
I’m somewhere in the middle. If it helps set the scene, then I think a prologue has a place. If it’s just to pad the word count? Naah.
The Road starts five years after Volume One ended, so there is lots of ground to cover. From that perspective, a prologue might make sense.
Did I do that? Nope.
The prologue for The Road is actually in there because the action in this book pivots from Earth to space, and I need to explain, quickly, how things got going the way they’re going. So I wrote three mock news articles, in the style of the UPI/AP/Reuters. Then I added a fourth one, just because.
So here you go! Enjoy this little bit of ‘future history’!
23 June 2025, Geneva, Switzerland (AP): Today the Artemis Accords were officially ratified. Officials from the previous signatories – the United States, Japan, India, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Ukraine, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand – applauded as Salome Rossi, the recently-elected 58th Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy, added her name to the treaty. First announced by then-President Donald Trump (U.S.) in 2020, the Artemis Accords aim to allow for Lunar mining by private concerns.
China and Russia, notably excluded from the Accords, jointly renewed their opposition, and called for a “free moon, freely available to all.”
The United States space agency, NASA, plans to launch its long-delayed Artemis IV mission to the moon on July 16 to coincide with the 56th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, the first successful mission to land a man on the moon and return them to Earth. Artemis IV will carry six astronauts – four men and two women – to the moon, remain on the surface until pre-landed habitat sections are erected and deemed functional, and then return two astronauts to Earth. The four who remain will be the first official residents of the moon.
“The Accords will allow for the establishment of permanent colonies on the Lunar soil,” said Dr. Curtis Philips, Director of Operations at NASA. “If we had to rely on raw materials from Earth, the colonization of the moon would take decades, if possible at all. The ability to extract minerals, metals, and gases from the moon itself will speed the process immensely.”
When asked about other nations presence on the moon, Dr. Philips said, “We welcome the participation of all the signatories of the Accords in the effort to establish a permanent, human presence on the moon.”
The joint Sino-Russian lunar program, Yue Liang, has so far failed to match the success of the NASA program, but Dr. Gao Ling, Minister for Space Affairs for China, insisted through a translator that they were on track. “We are proceeding according to plan and expect to report a successful launch and Lunar orbit of a manned Siyayutsaya Luna spacecraft within the month.” When pressed for further details, the Minister declined to comment.
The widow of the former President, Melania Musk (Trump), attending the ceremony in his honor with her current husband Elon Musk, said, “It proud would have made him, seeing the world being best together to exploit the moon.”
4 April 2032, Houston, TX (UPI): Today NASA announced that the nascent Lunar colony, named by some “Luna City”, has achieved self-sufficiency in three of the four major categories.
“We have long been energy-independent, due to the abundant sunshine available on the surface,” said Dr. Danna Gomez, Director of the Artemis Project at NASA. “In addition, the Lunar rocks contain a higher-than-normal percentage of Helium 3 (He3), which is an ideal fuel for fusion reactors. By utilizing that energy, we have been able to unlock sufficient quantities of Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen. With these, we are not only able to manufacture a sustainable atmosphere, but also provide the nutrients needed for successful farming. The plants grown in farming further reinforce the sustainability.”
When asked about the fourth category, metals and other minerals used in manufacturing, Dr. Gomez admitted, “We have run into difficulties extracting adequate quantities of exotic metals from the regolith. Silicon and iron are plentiful, which has allowed for the rapid construction of the Artemis Colony buildings and the dome, but more advanced metallurgy is so far eluding our best efforts.”
The dome Dr. Gomez refers to is the double-walled atmospheric shield over the nascent colony. The outer surface is composed of high-iron glass, which gives it a greenish tinge, and is approximately 5cm thick. There is a lattice of carbon fiber beams in the two meters between the outer dome and the inner dome. Scattered across that lattice are canisters of rapid-expand sealant which are primed to rupture in case of a pressure drop. The inner dome is aluminum oxynitride, commonly called transparent aluminum, coated on the outer side with low-iron glass and 3cm thick. These domes allow for maintenance of Earth-breathable atmosphere without the need for pressure suits and cover an area of nearly an acre.
Self-sufficiency is the stated goal of the Artemis Project. Dr. Gomez estimated that, with improved refinement techniques, metallurgy of the metals required to maintain a high-tech colony will be feasible within five years.
18 October 2039 (AP): Today the former head of the Sino-Russian space program, Dr. Gao Ling, was executed for crimes against the state. Informed observers suggest that this was punishment for the consistent failures Dr. Gao encountered in his twelve-year career as head of Yue Liang.
Although Dr. Gao has claimed twice to have landed a crew of Chinese and Russian cosmonauts on the far side of the moon, no proof has ever emerged. The first mission, Siyayutsaya Luna Six, was only the second successful launch of the Siyayutsaya Luna craft. Siyayutsaya Luna Six was reported to have lost contact while on the moon due to a catastrophic loss of pressure in the vehicle.
After the aborted Siyayutsaya Luna Seven in 2031 and the explosion on the pad of Siyayutsaya Luna Eight in early 2032 that forced a rebuilding of the launch facilities, no outside observers were allowed to view any Yue Liang proceedings. It was reported that Siyayutsaya Luna Eleven had landed on the moon and returned to Earth; however, none of the cosmonauts were named or allowed to speak to anyone in the press. It was widely speculated that the spectacular fireball seen by inhabitants of the Australian outback on the night of February 15, 2034 was in fact the Siyayutsaya Luna Eleven burning up on re-entry.
The Yue Liang program is reported to be suspended, though there has been no official confirmation.
3 August, 2045, Artemis City, Luna (Reuters): Representatives from each of the nations of the Artemis Accords held a historic meeting today at the Colony Center in Artemis City, the first such meeting on Luna since their signing two decades ago, to announce an amendment to the Accords.
“In light of the continuing inability to refine sufficient materials to maintain and advance the development of the Artemis Colony, the nations of the Accords have therefore come to the following agreements. First, to expand the reach of the Artemis Accords to include all non-planetary bodies in the Solar System, including, but not limited to, asteroids, comets, Kuiper Belt objects, and others. Second, to devote increased planetary resources to the exploration and exploitation of said non-planetary bodies with an eye specifically to discovering off-planet sources of materials required for the continued survival and expansion of humanity’s presence in the Solar System. Third, to jointly build the ships needed to do such exploration and, if desired, establishment of other colonies. And fourth, to support the Artemis Colony in every possible manner, including zero-cost shipments of all needed minerals and rare-earth metals, until such time as alternate sources are available.”
No questions were taken after the announcement, but Dr. Danna Gomez, former Director of the Artemis Project, commented.
“These steps should prove to be highly limited in scope and duration,” she said. “There continues to be evidence that harvestable quantities of rare-earth metals are within reach of the Lunar colony.” Dr. Gomez was removed from her post in 2043 after failing to achieve success in the mining of those metals, necessary in most high-tech applications.
Exceptions to the materials export order are expected to include basic infrastructure needs, with an emphasis on transportation and agriculture. Additionally, countries which are not signatories to the Accords are not bound by them.