"Alright Mr. Ogada, I know you're looking a bit dubious, but all that rust is
just a surface coating. Back in the fifties, Lake Chad expanded all over
this area and this pad spent about a decade half-submerged. The lake is back to
being a puddle again, and we've checked out all the systems, replaced the bad
wiring, and all you need to do is fix a compressor in one of the engines and
replace the governor in the fusion reactor and you'll be golden. Finest robust
Venusian technology, here. At least it was in the thirties.
"Now with the compressors working, you'll get a nice thermajet effect on the APT engines-- suck in the air, superheat it with heat from the fusion plant and spit it out the back. No fuel needed, and that'll get you to about two-thirds orbital speed before the effective thrust drops to nearly nothing. But with that and proper performance management, the Ark-340 will get a total delta-vee of twenty kps -- enough to take off, fly to the Lunar surface, and come back to the pad. One week trip, full cargo load of forty short containers or twenty long.
"And for plasma drive fuel, it's all argon, separated out of the atmosphere by the drive units and stored liquid onboard. Zero fuel costs.
"Yes, I meant propellant. And the thrusters use Tetranitrogen, so the compressors can make that too. All you need is power and the fusion plant will run for a couple of years between refueling.
"I'll go as low as eight million for the sale, provided you cover the repairs and parts.
"Fine, I'll cover it. Ten million. Twelve if you want that test flight and a warrantee on the repairs.
"Eleven then. My final offer. It's sat in on this old pad for near forty years; it can sit until the next buyer comes along.
"Nope. Ten-five. I'm not going under ten.
"I said I wasn't -- okay ten it is. Three weeks and we'll take this thing up to Uhuru Station and back -- geosynchronous is as far as I'll go. And if you're going to bring your own cargo, I'm going to have to insist on two-thirds of the profit, since it won't be your ship yet.
"Okay, half then. Have we got a deal?"
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by Geir Lanesskog, All Rights Reserved