Chapter 35: Ranger 7 Lunar Probe
1 August 1964, 0105 hours
"Good morning. As you know and have seen on TV this morning, the Ranger 7 was an unqualified success, for your scientists, engineers, and the rest. We congratulate the men and women involved for the tremendous achievement, a milestone for your science. You will also note that we in no way interfered with the probe, until it was ten feet from the surface, when we picked it up after jamming the transmitters. At the rate of travel, over 5000 mph, this amounted to very little difference anyway; a few thousandths of a second from what would have been its impact time. Therefore, we allowed the maximum number of photos possible under the circumstances.
"Now, the Mare Imbrium bases were caught briefly in your photos, perhaps 4 or 5 of them, as the shot landed in an area away from them. The bases are small ones, since the region is mostly for radio telescopes and monitors. They were caught in the extreme outer edges of the 'A' camera photos, once they became visible at all. By the time they were recognizable as bases, they were out of the 25-degree field of view. We do think, however, that your astronomers will classify them as unknown objects or features.
"In the future, even though you might chance to send a probe into the middle of a base complex, we won't interfere unless it poses a real threat to life and limb. This should give you some real headaches, explaining away the bases as natural phenomena.
"Orii might have given you the impression earlier that the shots taken had some clear, sharp photos of lunar bases. Not so. The extent of your of your photos of installations, NOT Korendian, by the way, is exactly as I said before. Our analysis of the probe itself showed us that the camera fields of view were narrower than we had thought this morning--considerably narrower, in fact. If you had a 45-degree or wider lens, you would have photographed the bases in the area quite clearly. We had assumed your cameras included one of that angle.
"As we said, the 'A' camera, with its 25 degree lens, barely caught the bases. Above a certain height, they were too small to show up on the photos, and below this altitude, they were rapidly moving out of the field of view. Those are the breaks, as you say.
"As far as we are concerned, the 'Hands-off' policy for manned landings on other worlds is cancelled. What harm you can do is of no worry to us. Certainly, you will not have weapons, since, according to your government, we do not exist. Thus, you will not need anything to protect yourselves from us, and it seems to us that we are being unreasonably exclusive in preventing your landings.
"You might be seriously questioning our vacillation between policies. Unfortunately, when dealing with a world such as yours, so brilliant in some ways and so backward in others, there is almost always a strong difference of opinion among those involved, and as new facts are being constantly gained on your people and your planet, the tide of opinion varies between the two factions. We have come to the point where we are almost unanimous in agreeing that you presently pose no threat to anyone of other worlds, and that you might as well be allowed to continue your space programs unhampered.
"So far, even though your military has played an active part in these programs, there has been no militaristic intent in your probes, which were all of a purely scientific nature. We think that you really have found that it would be ridiculous to extend your petty rivalries and tribal disputes into the realms of space, and this is one major factor in your favor. Actually, you would find a space-war so incredibly expensive under your present propulsion techniques, and under your present economic system, that you could not seriously propose such a force even if you were so inclined.
"We have told you that we would delay your Apollo program until we could quietly provide you with the basics of gravity and magnetic power and propulsion. This may still be done, but there is increasing resistance to this in our ranks. We might have a bit more news on this later, also in your favor.
"Again, we congratulate you on your monumental achievement. We admire the great perseverance of your scientists even after 13 successive failures. We honor those who, even with the threat of having their program scrapped by short-sighted politicians hanging over their heads, managed to carry out such a tremendously precise and difficult feat with this great accuracy and success. May you be as successful in the future. You have gained a lot of prestige in the world, and on other worlds. May you one day be a member of the space fraternity. We are all in your corner. Lin-Erri out from Lunar Base TR-7U. "
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved