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Rated: E · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2158216
The math said it would work so I gave it a try.
I had the perfect design for a sun-powered personal ship. Perfect other than requiring multiple tons of carbon that was currently trading at around a few hundred thousand dollars a ton with a six-year minimum waitlist. Every ounce of useable carbon was being claimed by everyone and their mother now that 3D printing had come to dominate off earth manufacturing. Metals are cheap and could make a huge number of things but good old carbon is still needed for a great number of things.

All I had was two hundred thousand to work with once I shipped myself out of the atmosphere. My ticket was nonrefundable and nontransferable. I had to figure out some creative ways to either make a lot of money quickly or get my hands on the carbon that I needed for free or as close to it as I could manage. Experimental designs would need to be returned to their designer for inspection after use so if I could come up with some large mass of carbon to add to each rocket trip up, I could grab the first dozen or so for quality assurance purposes and have everything I needed to be free.

SpaceX was still not using any form of post engine cowling to make use of the thermal plume left in the atmosphere as the rocket accelerates to orbit. They were well into their BFG rocket dominance and the BFG Heavy variant was the latest and greatest thing to lob people and goods into orbit. Everyone else in the market was a copycat of Musks innovations. He ran all other competition into the ground once his block 7 variant took final form and made hundreds of trips to orbit without needing more than a few minor tweaks between runs. The BFG family just ran with that success and made it impossible for anyone else to compete.

There were several Falcon 9 knockoffs going strong as well, but I would prefer to use as few trips as possible. Musk would never allow an untried idea like this on his own ships without a proof of concept first so the first cowling design has to be for the smaller rocket plume. Foamed graphene formed the majority of the hollow bell-shaped tubes and carbon nanotube-based epoxy was perfect for the outer skin for both strength and a smooth enough finish to minimize resistance.

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