TIWIR- SAUCER: Savage Planet by Stephen Coonts

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In this installment of This Is What I Read I present SAUCER: Savage Planet by Stephen Coonts.

I’ve always known Coonts as a military writer and have read several of his books.  This was something I picked up on a random visit to Barnes & Noble.

The Saucer series brings science fiction to the forefront and Savage Planet represents the third book, bringing a conclusion to the series and the primary characters; Rip Cantrell, Charley (Charlotte) Pine and Egg Cantrell.  Coonts uses a near-human alien, Adam Solo, marooned on Earth for over 1,000 years, to bring the primary characters to their respective destinies.

With so many reviews out there for this novel I’ll take a different tack and analyze some of it’s structure.  There is sufficient information on our characters in this novel where it can be a standalone read, which was fortunate since B&N didn’t have the first two titles of the series lol.

Coonts begins with Adam Solo and gradually uses his history on Earth to take our heroes around in one, of two, recovered saucers to secure areas to avoid two selfishly ambitious pharmacy moguls and the US government itself, as Solo waits for a starship with his fellow aliens.

There was much more introspection written into Solo and I found myself far more interested in him than the main characters.  I could see how he was important to the lives of the mains as well as the plot, visitors from outer space meet the President, but somewhat lamented the fact that he was secondary in the storyline.  Solo was the adverb, the pronoun, the conjunction that propelled the story along. (In a blog post Coonts does hint at possible stories with Solo as the main character)

On a related note, and this is something I see in many novels, we don’t get too deep into any of the characters.  Perhaps that happened in the first two novels but again, I’ve seen this in many novels.  Maybe it’s done to fit the book into a word or page count …

An example I can provide off the top of my head is the book Starship Troopers.  It’s just way too short.  You  really start to get into it about 3/4 of the way in …. then it just ends.

Still, Saucer is a good story I give it a rating of 4/5.

If you wonder what I consider deep character development, my personal standard for getting to know a character is Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, but that is a novel where the character we get to see inside of is the main character.

We went into orbit!

Our AMSAT Fox-1A satellite on board NROL55
Our AMSAT Fox-1A satellite on board NROL55

That’s right sports fans.  We went into orbit.

Yep … Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

Our Amateur Radio satellite, Fox-1A (now officially AO-85), hitched a ride on #NROL55 this morning out of Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Anyone with a ham radio license can utilize the transceiver on board the satellite, at least once we complete testing and confirm full functionality.  The satellite is currently transmitting telemetry.

  • FM mode
  • UHF uplink: 435.180 MHz, PL tone 67 Hz
  • VHF downlink: 145.980 MHz.  This is the frequency on which you listen.

Lotsa moar details (PDF): Fox-1A Operating Guide

AMSAT blog posting: Announcement

😀

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Fox-1A satellite has been integrated for orbital launch

It’s done! The Fox-1A CubeSat satellite has been integrated into the Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployer rig (P-POD) with two other CubeSats. The loaded P-POD will be integrated into the rocket payload for subsequent launch in late summer 2015.

Fox-1A was hand delivered in it’s Pelican case to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo for completion of CubeSat Acceptance Checks, then integration.

Representatives from Fox-1, ARC1, and BisonSat CubeSat teams, Cal Poly, Tyvak, NRO/OSL, and NASA were on hand during the integration.

Now we wait. [drums fingers on desk]

The following are photos concerning the integration. Click on each page for larger version (new window)

Fox-1A on the left with the two other CubeSats for this particular P-POD
Fox-1A on the right with the two other CubeSats for this particular P-POD
Fox-1A CubeSat satellite installed in P-POD
Fox-1A CubeSat satellite installed in P-POD
Larger view of the loaded P-POD
Larger view of the loaded P-POD
CubeSat P-POD closed
CubeSat P-POD closed

AMSAT Fox-1A satellite is ready for launch!

We finished!

Ok … we finished THIS flight unit lol. This past week we performed a ‘shake and bake’ on our completed satellite, Fox-1A.

The ‘shake’ is vibration testing based on the launching rocket’s expected frequency responses over the course of it’s flight into orbit.

The satellite is securely attached to the baseplate of the test platform. Then that frequency response profile is input to the testing system which then literally shakes the satellite.

Passed.

Then comes the ‘bake’. This thermal heating occurs in a vacuum chamber. There is just one intent, to ‘boil’ away any liquid related products; uncured glue, fingerprints, water, all kinds of stuff.

This way nothing remains that might off-gas in a vacuum environment and deposit itself in a different location, like the primary payload on the rocket.

Passed 😀

The unit is now wrapped in an anti-static bag and secured for launch. Integration to the payload will happen in 2Q and then launch.