Hamstronaut Program

Job opening

Geoff and Gonzo stared at each other, still in disbelief. They were standing in TSOSD hangar 2, where the debris of Rocketship 1 and the empty hamstronaut capsule were stalled out for investigation. How Scruffy managed to get out of his launch suit was still a bit of a mystery. Of course all hamstronaut suits, especially the bulky ones, are equipped with internal controls to allow the hamstronaut to escape, however Scruffy hadn’t used those. There were no markings on the in- or outside of the suit that would indicate tampering.

“I’m happy that Scruffy ejected the capsule from the launchpad when he did, otherwise he would have been hamster roast…” Gonzo muttered, then continued; “But how did he get out of the damned suit and capsule without help? The doors were locked from the inside, except for the safety locks for recovery, again those had not been used. According to this log, the doors were opened from the closest console to the hamstronaut chair. This is what Scruffy could have done while in his launch suit, but then there are no further log entries or signs of opening and closing this turnip of a launch suit…”

“Hmmm,” Geoff walked over to the debris that used to be Rocketship 1’s first stage and walked around it in a large circle before inspecting more closely. “It was definitely not the early uncoupling and ejection from the launch pad by Scruffy’s capsule that caused this RUD. But why, why would he go AWOL?”

Gonzo said nothing, and started to walk slowly to the briefing room. Meanwhile TSOSD personnel had begun to work on the debris, cataloging and investigating while supported by robots for the heavy lifting.

After arriving in the briefing room, Gonzo sat down in one of the comfortable chairs around the table and drifted away into thoughts about the accident and Scruffy’s whereabouts. He didn’t notice Geoff enter a little while later after he’d instructed the investigating crew. The directors sat in silence and deep thought for a good 10 minutes until Gonzo suddenly spoke: “Well, I guess we need a new hamstronaut then…”

“Are you sure we should just get a hamstronaut? Why not recruit a bunch of them? We could use a lot more personnel for the program, maybe some back-up hamstronauts in case another one whimpers out as well…” Geoff replied.

Gerald had snuck into the room a while back and was hiding under the table, listening intently. He had recently met a few new hamster friends in the bunker, some whom might be good candidates. He climbed up the table and squeaked his idea to the directors. “Excellent plan,” Geoff replied and continued: “We’ll set up the registration procedures and training schedules. We can assess their skills during the training, and see which jobs would be suitable for each of them.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Gonzo said, “I’ll sort out the paperwork and registration forms, Geoff, could you look after the training schedules with Gerald?” “Woo, training class!” Geoff replied.

With that it was decided to open Hamstronaut registrations to all hamsters of the bunker (and perhaps a few other bunker critters.)
Does your hamster have what it takes?
Sign it up to the Hamstronaut program right here!

Hamstronaut Registration!
[ Artwork by: Engineer RAD ]

Accident

The Accident

It was time! It was finally time!!! Scruffy was ready, at least he thought he was. He was excited to say the least. The first hamstronaut to go to space! Alright, technically not the first hamster to go to space, but he was the first of the hamsters in the Digital Bunker to go. It has been noted before that hamsters within the bunker are not exactly the same as normal hamsters you get at a pet shop. The continued overlap between the digital and physical world maintained by the QVRESS is not completely without side effects. Scruffy didn’t mind all that. He was going to space!
The rocket stood ready at the launch pad, the small hamster admired it’s size. Of course a lot is needed to actually go to space. Even for a small hamster the rocket had to be powerful enough to launch itself into space. The rocket was being fueled while Scruffy got through the decontamination and suiting procedures. Once he was fully suited, he sat in the waiting room. Through the waiting room window he saw his good friend and mentor Gerald. Scruffy waved at his friend, for as much as waving was possible while in his launch suit.

T-90 minutes to launch.

Scruffy got escorted to the capsule on top of the rocket and suited up for launch.

All strapped in T-70 minutes…

Scruffy sat in his seat, waiting… Outside Gerald scurried around the launch pad for a full systems check before the area was to be cleared of all personnel. Gerald had an ominous feeling something was not quite right…

At the launch control center, Deputy Director Geoff was discussing the nuances of orbital velocities with Director Gonzo. Both of them were not aware of the small red light blinking on the console…

In the capsule, Scruffy was also unaware of any blinking lights. He could barely move, his short paws barely reaching the control panel. “Squeek squeeky squeek squeek.” is what he recorded into his log before the 30 minute countdown started. Scruffy was getting quite nervous now, he suddenly squeaked in fear, something was wrong. Scruffy noticed the blinking red light labelled “Something not quite right, sit tight yo.” Scruffy noted to tell the Director not to have Geoff design labels again…

In the control room Gonzo and Geoff had just become aware of the red blinking light as well. “Oh turnips!” Gonzo exclaimed. “Yes that too,” was Geoff’s reply. “We need to terminate the countdown immediately!” Geoff quickly worked the consoles and looked up at Gonzo. “It’s entered terminal countdown, there’s nothing to stop it…”
Meanwhile in Rocketship 1 Scruffy was unaware of the severity of the situation, there was a red blinking light, it said: “Sit tight,” so he did. Scruffy waited for launch, T-5 minutes…

Suddenly a familiar squeak on the radio, it was Gerald. “Something’s gone wrong, I don’t know if the Directors have found it yet…”

“What?”

“You need to get out of that capsule, Scruff.”

“I can’t.”

“You can make the capsule escape the rocket, I can guide you through…”

*T-3 minutes*

“I think I got it,” squeaked Gerald. He quickly browsed through the manual and instructed Scruffy through the procedure of detaching the capsule.

In the control room the Directors finally noticed there was something going terribly wrong. The alarm bells were ringing while Scruffy with the help of Gerald disabled the locking mechanisms that held the capsule to the rocket.

*T-2 minutes*

“All the locks have been disengaged,” Scruffy squeaked to Gerald over the comm.

“Hit the following commands,” Gerald squeaked; “it should launch the evacuation system: RED BLUE STRAWBERRY BETA ALPHA.” Scruffy entered the commands as instructed…

*T-55 seconds*

The capsule suddenly launched off the rocket, reaching a height of a few hundred meters before deploying parachutes and slowly falling down. The rocket itself was still ready to launch, there was nothing to stop the terminal countdown. Gonzo looked at Geoff in sheer terror…

*T-10 seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6…*

The robot voice counted down…

*Liftoff of Rocketship 1*

The ship lifted off, the launch seemed successful. The rocketship reached its max Q at T+90 seconds and performed perfectly. Everything was going as intended,except that the Hamstronaut was missing… Suddenly when the intended separation of capsule and rocket was planned, the rocket exploded…

Scruffy’s capsule was slowly descending a few hundred meters away from the launch area. Unsure if he just admitted to fear or if he’d really saved his own life, he had not heard the results from HQ yet. He didn’t want to know…

In the control room Gonzo and Geoff were busy ordering robots around to start a search and rescue operation, but it would be too late. Scruffy managed to get himself out of his suit and capsule before anyone reached the landing site.
Scruffy ran and ran, he was doubting his decision to abandon ship, he doubted everything. Would he have gone to space if he wouldn’t have bailed out, or would he have exploded like the rocketship did? He couldn’t face the Directors, he couldn’t live in or near the bunker. They would see him as a coward…

Scruffy ran and hid away, somewhere deep in the forest…

Hamstronaut

O.S.F. #2 – Hamstronaut

Scruffy had never been on a big assignment before.
He thought of himself as a brave hamster, doing his hamster things, gather supplies and working his shift at the wheels of the Digital Bunker’s power generator. Nothing extraordinary ever happened to him. He was just 8 months old, grew up in a normal but crowded hamster family. All was well for Scruffy until that one day, that day he glimpsed at a propaganda poster encouraging hamsters to join the T.S.O.S.D. for Hamstronaut training.

Scruffy had never felt like an adventurer, however he often climbed up one of the bunker’s little entryways to admire the night sky. He could name his fair share of constellations. His favourite spot was quite a climb, but what a view! All the way up on the roof, a safe caged air-vent no worries about predators, and a perfect 360º vision, barely obstructed.  Sometimes an arguing married couple seems to climb up there. Scruffy had seen it happen once. A guy that was illuminating what seemed like the whole roof with his uniform got thrown off. Down to the ground. “Humans are weird.” Scruffy thought.

Hamstronaut training sounded appealing, even if Scruffy didn’t become one to test the T.S.O.S.D. Up-Goers, the education it provided could put him in a position within the Directorate and land himself a nice salary. Scruffy signed up and passed most the subjects with flying colours. He had a little trouble with applied mathematics, but cleared the course with acceptable grades. Scruffy graduated with high praise and was signed up to the Hamstronaut program.

Scruffy is now in the waiting room, right before his first training mission starts. The nerves are starting to get to him. “What if my body can’t take the stress?” Scruffy wondered, “What if one day I’m drifting out in space helplessly?” He shrugged away the bad thoughts and focussed on his training. The T.S.O.S.D. Hamstronaut training was quite thorough on helping him get though the hamster-stress, which is potentially deadly.

The T.S.O.S.D. has set up a new way to train hamsters for microgravity environments by taping a drone to a large hamster ball, of course fitted on the inside with soft materials, so no hamsters will be hurt. Scruffy will be the first hamster to experience simulated microgravity.

Scruffy enters the hamster ball and last preparations are made to launch him safely with the drone. A simulated microgravity is created by making a series of parabolic manoeuvres on the vertical axis makes the hamster experience how it would feel to be in a potential future Utopian Space Station.
After launch Scruffy got used to the feeling quite quickly and he loved to just hang there. After the training Scruffy couldn’t wait to do it more often, maybe space is the right choice for him after all…