Author : Dale Anson
It had taken eleven reactors on Earth for the first success, each one larger than the previous, each one providing the power to get the next one going, but fusion power had been achieved. All the safe and endless power that anyone could want. There were forty seven installations in the US alone. The change in the economy was staggering, with the price of power near zero and the virtually unlimited supply, nearly every industry had been affected, and for the good. I remember when the first one came on line, my dad said this would change everything, and he was right.
It made sense to power the moon base with fusion power. Once it was going, there would be no need to refuel for years. On Earth, after the first fusion plant was going, it was a simple matter to direct enough power to subsequent plants to let them power up to the point where they could self-sustain their own magnetic bottle to contain the reaction. On the moon, the plan was to step up with three reactors, each firing in rapid succession. The first would provide just enough power to the second to get it to provide just enough power to the third to be able to sustain the magnetic field to contain the reaction.
The reactor center was located about two hundred kilometers from our main base. Some called it Reactor City, but really, a few domes and a couple of hundred people don’t make much more than a village. I was piloting in a load of supplies and some new recruits when they initiated the firing sequence of the three reactors. I piped the audio through to the new guys so they could hear it as it happened. Start up of the first reactor to final magnetic containment in the third reactor should only take about five minutes.
We listened as the first reactor started up. We heard that its magnetic field had drained nearly all the electrical reserve we had on hand in our tiny community, but that the first fusion reaction had started and was powering up the second reactor. The new guys cheered when it was announced that the second reactor was on line and powering up the third. Then the details get fuzzy. Apparently, the fusion reaction had just started up on the third reactor, when the second suffered a critical malfunction. No power to Reactor Number Three meant the magnetic containment field disappeared, and with the fusion reaction no longer contained, all three reactors went up in an amazing nuclear display.
I wondered along with the recruits just where we were going to set down.