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Thread: The Void Beyond

  1. #1

    The Void Beyond

    There’s nothing out there. Not for a long way anyway. Ahead is nothing but blackness. As I transmit these words I believe I am the furthest any human has ever traveled from Sol.

    This is the story of the Void Beyond project. It’s goal is simple: Send a human made object out into the emptiness of intergalactic space to drift ever onward.



    I’ve been obsessed with the idea of visiting Beagle Point and the systems beyond since before I joined the Pilot’s Federation just over a year ago. It’s probably the reason why I joined. I think it was the expedition to help rescue and resupply Jacques station that made me finally sign up.

    I knew it was not a trip to take lightly, so I’ve always found reasons to put it off. But it’s not like I was idle, I just wanted to be sure I was ready. Working my way up from that first sidewinder to the venerable Asp Explorer seems like so long ago now. I don’t even remember what ships I had in between. But with that ship I had something that could really go places. So I jumped and hopped my way around the bubble. Sought out every engineer I could find to squeeze every last drop of performance out of her. I even compromised my principles to gain access to Achenar and Tiana Fortune. God I hate slavery.

    I’ll admit Siderea Balneus is an odd name for a ship. It’s supposed to be Latin for ‘Space Bathtub’, but it’s probably not, as I don’t actually know Latin. A friendly CMDR who helped show me the ropes wasn’t a huge fan of the AspX. Claimed it maneuvered like a bathtub. I couldn’t help but agree, hence the name. But after visiting all those engineers, she’s one fast bathtub. Jump range of over 50Ly and a boost speed of 515 m/s.

    My first journey out to Colonia was right around the time when the neutron assisted jumps became possible. I made it out the conventional way, although I did stop in at Sacaqawea Spaceport, which was still in the process of coming on line. But on my way back I was one of the first to try out the neutron highway. I even had a couple of cargo missions to destinations in the bubble. Earned a pretty penny from them too. Would have been more except that I hadn’t noticed that they had 24 hour deadlines. I was only 3 KLY out when one expired so at that point I stopped honking and just jumped back as fast as my bathtub could manage. I missed out on one more, but completed two others with just minutes to spare.

    The second time out to Colonia I was much more meticulous. This was before the route plotting could handle neutron boosts, so I carefully plotted a route, bookmarking every neutron star so that I would could follow the trail of breadcrumbs back home. I knew I wasn’t going to set any records - between the 50 year jump range and my less than speedy piloting skills there was just no way. Before too long I was swearing at my nav computer though - stupid thing can only remember around 120 bookmarks. In the end I had to cannibalize all my other ones just to make it work. But it paid off: On the way home I made it from Colonia to Sol in just under 4 hours.



    That journey also meant I was finally Explorer Elite and so now had access to the last Engineer I needed, Lori Jameson. I’d also finally earned enough to afford an Anaconda. So I set about engineering my new ship specifically for exploration. I wanted just jump range, but the ability to actually visit interesting things. That meant figuring out the right compromise of thrusters, distributor and power plant that would at least give me enough juice to boost when I needed to. I also sacrificed some jump range so I’d have a fighter hanger along. Took advantage of my Achenar permit to verify I could safely land in the 6.7 G of Achenar 3.

    It took me ages to come up with a name. In the end it was my piloting style that inspired it. I’ve dented more than a few landing pads in that ship, not to mention the ship itself in the process. So in the end I went with "The Rough Landing".

    For my first attempt to get out there I joined an expedition that was heading out to Beagle point. Unfortunately I only made it as far as the Hawking’s Gap settlements before a personal matter forced me to return the bubble.

    A few months later I was ready to make another attempt. I decided I couldn’t wait for another expedition, so instead I went looking for another reason to go beyond simple curiosity.

    I can’t even remember why I was at Hutton Orbital. I think it was because I’d started seeing a bunch of very lucrative data delivery missions while in the Sol system. Whatever the reason, since I was there I visited the Gift Shop to pick up a Hutton Mug. (not to mention a few tonnes of them to sell elsewhere). And that’s when I spotted a curious little display:

    Far Out Mugs - Send your mug to the Beyond!
    Send a personalized Hutton Mug out to the furthest reaches of human explored space. This is an opportunity unlike any other…


    Seemed like a silly waste of money to me. But then I saw the note down at the bottom: "Pilot Wanted - Think you have what it takes to brave the beyond? Contact The Hutton Orbital Tourism Bureau"

    So I applied. The pay isn’t actually all that great. Kind of difficult to have a thriving tourist economy in a place where the primary claim to fame is that it’s annoying to get to. And they were hoping they’d find someone like me: Someone who was planning on going out there to explore anyway. The contract required only that I take a canister of mugs as far past Beagle Point as I could get and send them drifting in space directly away from Sol.

    So myself and my fighter pilot Flora and a canister of mugs set out in my Anaconda - The Rough Landing and plotted the route to Colonia. It was a good chance to try the recent upgrades to the nav computer that made neutron route plotting easier. My old bookmarks were still some help - seems like the new system only really considers the most direct routes, so it helps to get down to the dense neutron layer and choosing carefully where exactly to plot to.

    From Colonia I figured I’d try and just see how close I could get via neutron routes, but otherwise head more or less straight for Beagle Point. At my closest approach to the Galactic core I stumbled into an area absolutely full of black holes and probably scanned over 200 of them. Not far beyond that I came across an undiscovered Wolf-Rayet. It was shortly after that that I made the first mistake. I’d landed on a Polonium rich planet - I knew I’d probably need some premium level fuel injection at some point - and was out in my SRV. Been out a while when I remembered I’d promised to touch base with Mom & Pops. We got to chatting, so I just parked the SRV. Forgot how much juice that thing uses even when it’s just sitting there though. And no one told me about the design flaw. Boy that thing does not react well to running out of power.

    Anyway, still needing polonium and now lacking a way to get more, I reluctantly head back to Colonia. Made it back without too much trouble, sold a bunch of Cartographic data, (including thankfully the Wolf-Rayet). Loaded up on data missions to the next system over cause the board was just full of ‘em. But that’s when I made the second mistake. I’d had the shields powered down to limit fuel consumption. Just a few light seconds shy of the destination station I got interdicted. If I’d had the shields up I probably could have lasted long enough to high wake. But with them down I lost my FSD before it was even half charged. Flora and I managed to get to the pods. But that was the last I saw of her. Either she’s dead or one of the pirates scooped her pod. Did I mention how much I hate slavery? I outfitted a DBX and went searching for her, but there was no sign. Did find the wreck though. No sign of the mugs either, guess the pirates got them too.

    The repair yard said they’d see what they could do. Damage to the frame was pretty extensive, but most of the modules were recoverable. Me and that ship had spent too much time together for me to just give up on her though, so I told them to try. In the meantime I hitched a lift back to the bubble wondering how I was going to explain all this to the Hutton Orbital Tourist Bureau.

    Turns out they’d never put all their mugs in one canister so to speak. The personalisation was all just printed messages and images, so all they had to do was run another batch. Hardly even cost them a thing. Told me my contract was still valid if I wanted to make another go of it.

    I told them Damn right I would. I also decided I’d try to get payback for Flora. So I bought another Anaconda. Didn’t fit it out quite the same though. Decent jump range, but I wanted to make this one a little more versatile. I could always transfer the exploration fit over if the repairs didn’t pan out. After engineering the new conda runs a little hot. So I christened it the Jack of Flames. I also engineered some modules to better outfit that DBX I still had sitting out at Colonia. So it wasn’t till the very end of November that I returned to Hutton Orbital (with a full load of very lucrative data missions) to pick up the canister of personalized Hutton Mugs.

    When I got back to Colonia I rediscovered how much carrying cargo of makes you into a target for every two-bit pirate out there. I almost lost the mugs when a hatch breaker limpet ripped them from my ship. Managed to scoop ‘em before the pirate did. But I decided payback would have to wait.

    Thankfully the repair yard had done a brilliant job on The Rough Landing. She’d even got a fancy new midnight black paint job. So me, some mugs, and my new fighter pilot Sabrina headed out again for Beagle Point. A few KLy into the journey I found another Polonium rich planet and was prospecting it when I found something I didn’t expect - occupied escape pods. 6 of them. There was essentially zero chance anyone else would ever find them. And I couldn’t just leave fellow explorers out there in the black.

    I was determined that this would be the last detour though. After dropping off the pods with search and rescue I struck back out into the dense neutron layer and followed it for as long as I could. This actually turned out to be a lot further than I expected - I think I was less than 8 KLY from Beagle Point when I finally decided it was too risky to stay so far below the Galactic Plane.

    Despite being so close, I still couldn’t plot a route directly there. I knew I’d hit it sooner or later - I’d reached The Abyss. But turns out the Abyss was no big deal - there’s still a thin layer where the star density is reasonably high. Once I got up there (the dense neutron layer is about 1-2 KLy below the galactic disk), I had no trouble plotting a route the rest of the way.

    Not having the neutron stars to speed my way I started exploring more in earnest. Finally picked up enough jumponium materials for a number premium boosts. It also gave me some time do to some research.

    Beagle Point was discovered by the Distant Suns expedition during January of 3301. This predated the FSD modifications that enable the so called Jumponium materials to extend jump ranges by as much as a factor of two. So at the time Beagle Point was most distant star from Sol reachable by human jump technology. But even with Jumponium there are only a few systems beyond Beagle Point before the galaxy essentially just ends. No stars have been discovered beyond the system Oevasy SG-Y d0. It is not yet official, but the community has named this system Semotus Beacon (though some favour Ishum's Reach, after it’s discoverer CMDR Sam Ishum). (https://www.edsm.net/en/system/id/16...Oevasy+SG-Y+d0)

    I had hopped to find some unexplored stars right at the edge. Although I’m sure if I followed the edge along I’d find some, but in the area around Beagle Point I couldn’t find any. I was expecting to find quite a few that were unreachable, but that wasn’t the case - with grade 5 engineering plus jumponium, an Anaconda can reach systems over 120Ly away, and although I didn’t check every one, according to EDSM all the furthest systems were explored.

    Which means that at least in this part of the galaxy the edge of known space is also the edge of explored space. Thankfully that also means that there’s good information about how to reach the edge.

    Thus I when I finally reached Beagle Point on December 16th 3303, I felt much more like a tourist then an explorer. Still, It’s pretty out there, and so I touched down on Darwin’s Legacy and drove my SRV up the tallest mountain I could find and flew my fighter out over one of the two large craters.



    But I still had a contract to fulfil, and so I picked my way along the galactic rim to the route scouted by the SHEPARD expedition in December 3302. For the first time ever I needed to use FSD injection to get somewhere. Despite knowing I had plenty of materials, there’s something just a little nerve-racking making a jump like that. I followed with great interest the rescue of CMDR Macedonica by CMDR Chiggy in November of 3302 (https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showth...nd-of-the-Road), so I knew what mistakes not to make (though in the end I opted not to fit a mining laser).

    At Semotus Beacon I knew I could jump no further. There are two stars here, a Class A with no planets, and a class G. At present their orbits are such that this smaller star is 130 Ls further from Sol. And orbiting that are several planets. The most distant of those has several moons. And the most distant of those has been dubbed Salomé's Reach by the Children of Raxxla pilot who is the first recorded to have landed there.

    At first I thought this would be the end of my outward journey, some 65,647.34 Ly from Sol. Except that FSD jumps are not the only way to get around. It may not be a viable way to reach stars (and it definitely isn’t a viable way to get to the next galaxy), but supercruise isn’t exactly slow.

    One presumes this fact was exploited by one CMDR Shummy to reach a record distance of 65649 Ly from Sol on September 24th 3303.

    Then in October, between the 22nd and 25th, CMDR Deluvian traveled an additional 3 Ly for a new record of 65,652 Ly. (https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showth...=1#post6072957)

    Given CMDR Deluvian’s tale, I was able to infer two things - He hadn’t intended to set a record when he got out here, so he hadn’t optimised his ship for it. Specifically he had the default 32 ton fuel tank normally equipped on an Anaconda. I have twice that - I found after flying the AspX for so long that to take best advantage of neutron plotting, having a bit of extra fuel helps. Not too much because the routes are plotted based on your fully fueled jump range. Thus, although I didn’t come out here planning on breaking this record, I’ve got a chance.

    To give it the best possible shot I’ve optimised everything I can out here: drained my supercruise tank while within scooping distance of the G class star meant that I’d have both tanks as full as possible. Turning off every module I could would reduce the power draw. I’ve even turned off ‘report crimes against me’, and dimmed the lights as far as they’ll go. Even my sensors are off. Good thing there’s nothing out here.

    I’ve also injected my FSD with Jumponium. Based on the images provided by CMDR Deluvian, I suspect he did the same, but I can’t be certain - however I can tell that my fuel draw is a few percent less than his.

    So late on December 16th, 3303 I targeted a star on the direct line back to Sol (Targeting Sol itself seemed to break the navigation display), and headed out.

    Then I did the math. It takes between 1 and 2 hours to reach the maximum supercruise speed of 2001c. Dividing the length of a year by the maximum gives us 4.38 hours per light year. So to beat CMDR Deluvian’s record I would need to fly at maximum supercruise for at least 24 hours. Given that I have twice as much fuel as he did and I’m using it slower, I expect to be in supercruise for in the neighborhood of two days.

    And so I’ve had plenty of time to write this tale. After 21 hours I managed to matched his record.

    After 48 hours in supercruise I've got little more than fumes. But I'm just about 65,659Ly from Sol. After seeing it slowly climb for the last day, my jump range has started dropping rapidly. Because of the FSD injection it peaked at a 128Ly or so. As long as it stays above 53Ly, I should be able to keep going. My supercruise tank is just about to roll over, so we'll see how much margin we've got.

  2. #2
    Margins are getting thin, but I've just crossed the 65,659Ly mark.

    Just got the rather ominous message 5% Fuel Reserves Remaining pop right in front of my face.

  3. #3
    I'm streaming on twitch in case you want to watch the most boring stream ever:
    https://www.twitch.tv/ponderousmad

  4. #4
    So I've been trying to see if there's a way to get the distance more accurately then to the nearest light year.

    The Galaxy map only ever shows the plotted star to star distance. It ignores any supercruise travel.

    I was hoping that the friends list showed more precision, but it only shows the same number as the Galaxy map.

    So that only leaves the navigation display in the lower left, and the notation on the target star in the HUD, which, from what I can tell just rounds to the nearest number of light years.

    I can theoretically calculate the distance using my distance to the star I left from, plus the plotting distance, but I can't verify that it's accurate.

    Given that I need to to a jump of 50.7 Ly, and I only have enough fuel for 88 Ly, there's no way that I can make it to the next milestone.

  5. #5
    Ok. I've done the math.

    If Semotus Beacon is 65647.34Ly from Sol, and I'm now 11.7Ly from Semotus Beacon, that means I'm finally 65659 Ly from Sol without rounding.

    But I was wrong about my fuel rollover.

    "Main Fuel Tank Drained"

    Guess this is it. No return trip for me.

  6. #6
    Turns out the jump distance in the right panel wasn't telling me what I thought it was. It had gone from 88ly to 75 ly when it last filled my supercruise tank, so I was expecting this next drop to go to ~ 60 ly. But instead it dropped to 52 ly. But despite only needing to make a 50.7 ly jump, I can't.

    So, I probably shouldn't have asked, given everything. I knew they'd probably want to try, but I hate asking for help.

    But I also know that the fuel rats love a challenge. So I thought I should at least contact them and see what they'd say...

  7. #7
    Had the pleasure of riding along with CMDR Persera during a very small portion of their trip. Was a super view. Thanks for the opportunity to let me see the galaxy from so far away

  8. #8
    Impressive journey CMDR! o7
    It would take the efforts of two Fuel Rats to save you. Both would have to do as you did, at first, but when they are almost half way towards your location one of them would have to refuel the other (leaving just enough in their own tank to jump out). The refuelled ship could then make it to your location with enough fuel to spare to refuel you and still make it out themselves.
    .
    Of course, this approach would also allow a group of ships working together to beat your record but I think we'll have to wait for someone to find Raxxla before we can think about reaching any other galaxies...
    .
    Fly safe!

  9. #9
    Oof, epic post CMDR. Only about half way through reading it at the moment and my lunch break is over.
    Will finish reading later. Thanks for sharing!

  10. #10
    Sometimes it wont let you 'plot' the course if it is close to your range, but if you simply select the target destination star and then engage your frameshift drive 'without plotting' it should still let you jump. This is the technique I used when breaking 'short-lived' the farthest system below the galactic plane.

  11. #11
    Let us know how the rescue goes, assuming they take up the challenge.

  12. #12
    This is an incredibly well written account commander +1 rep.
    I will watch this space.
    I'm sure you will get rescued, don't lose hope commander.
    I would like to add you in game if I may, so I can check on your location.
    Cmdr Johnny Frost out o7

  13. #13
    Nice story. But have you tried just selecting the star and jumping as suggested above?
    Or are you flat empty now..

    I hope you can be rescued if that's the case.

    I wonder how far a conda could get loaded with a bunch of full fuel tanks (and Jumponium / g5 fsd to get out there)
    How much fuel did you go with?

  14. #14
    Originally Posted by osser View Post (Source)
    I wonder how far a conda could get loaded with a bunch of full fuel tanks (and Jumponium / g5 fsd to get out there)
    Somewhere in the region of 100 LY give or take - 18 days of continuous SC! (anyone attempting this shouldn't try it in one go as they will lose a lot of progress when the weekly server reset occurs....)

  15. #15
    If a team of say 4 commanders could go with the same builds and relay fuel the last guy could get WAAAAAAAYYYYY out there hehe.
    It would take absolute super patience though.
    That makes Hutton look like a trip to the corner store.
    I wonder if anyone is crazy enough to try it.

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