Q: Was Taylor's flight an exploratory mission or a colonization attempt?
A: Taylor and his crew were bound for Alpha Centauri, we have postulated that much and presented hard evidence to back our theory up but the most important question of Taylor's mission isn't so much where it was headed, as why it was headed there. Why did ANSA send a manned flight to Alpha Centauri in 1972? We know that Alpha Centauri is the closest neighboring star at just 4.2 light years away, a little somewhat over a parsec (3.26ly) which, in astronomical terms, could be considered just next door.
As a light year is a measure of distance and not time we must then realize that a light year is the distance that light travels in one year, not the time it takes (which is, of course, one year) for light to travel that distance. Therefore an object traveling at almost (99% POTSOL) percent of the speed of light will cover in one year of objective time ninety-nine percent of the distance that light (traveling at 1.00C) normally would. Light travels at (roughly) 186,000 (and some change) miles per second. There are roughly thirty-one point five million seconds in one year, so one light year equals six trillion miles, or of maintaining a constant speed of approximately 186,000 miles per second for 31,536,000 seconds.
That's a lot of numbers and figures to keep track of, but it resolves very simply.
A flight to Alpha Centauri, at the (barely) C speed of 99% POTSOL would give us a flight time of 4.242 years. The nearest star to our sun is Proxima Centauri, at 4.2 light years away, or about 1.3 parsecs, roughly, again were using fuzzy math here for the sake of speeding along the discussion. If we were to travel to this star, it would take us 4.242 years of objective time at 99 percent of the speed of light to reach Alpha Centauri (time dilation will make it seem much less to the crew aboard who will age at subjective time). Turn around would be a minimum of 8.4 years, ATSOL. Much longer if we drop in velocity by appreciable amounts (taking valuable time to run up to high POSOL or braking down from high POSOL) or spend a lot of time looking around, which, coincidentally, is what explorers like to do a lot of.Time dilation would affect the crew but not the outside observer on Earth. This interesting aspect of physics throws yet another curve into the argument, but it is an important curve. While the crew aboard the Icarus will age far less than the average person on Earth, the overall mission time will still be barely a decade of 'Earth' or objective (normal non-dilated) time, for the mission to travel to Alpha Centauri, look around, and successfully return. While the Earth will age roughly a decade, the crew will age only a little over a year.
|Percent of the Speed of Light (POTSOL) (% C)
(observers on Earth)
(astronauts on spacecraft)
99 % Speed of Light (0.99C)
184,425.00 miles / sec
That is one ‘possible’ answer to what Taylor means when he tells Landon "You signed on for the BIG ONE". When the term "Big One" is used to describe something in a historical context, I’m more inclined to think of something as being a first, an epoch, or the next monumental stepping stone of the human race. The Atomic Bomb was a ‘Big One’, and the Moon landing was a ‘Big One’.
So what then, does Taylor refer to when he mentions that Landon signed on for the "Big One" of 1972?
It can’t be the Moon landing, if so, man did they miss the Moon! The Moon landing is mentioned in the third movie, EFTPOTA when a news announcer makes the statement that the appearance of the Ape-O-Nauts could be the biggest thing since the Moon Landing. Strange that he didn't announce that it could be bigger than Taylor's mission, the world's first interstellar mission and a mission that came three years after the Moon landing.
So, the Moon landing happened years before Taylor’s mission, maybe even a decade, maybe even in the ‘50’s (movie wise, not reality wise). Remember the concept of retro-tech here. We have some very advanced technology appearing in the various POTA movies, so you get stuff like holograms right along side stuff like disco. It is a weird fusion of science, but an interesting, retrospective one nonetheless.
So, we take our first step out among the stars, but we take a very small step. We assume that since Taylor is going deep into interstellar space, that we must have already landed on the Moon, maybe beyond though this is never mentioned or even hinted at anywhere in the films. The fact that we have been to the Moon is fully verified as canon in the third movie. There are no suggestions of a previous flight into interstellar space, and given the time frame, I don’t think we are ready for a colony at another star, especially one that will take 320 years of objective time just to arrive. Colonies are only founded after a lot of research and decision making has taken place. Usually, you send scouts or explorers to chart an area, and if it is a viable location, you start to think about a colony.
Colonies are never founded ad hoc.
Politicians tend to be short term thinkers, barely able to think much past the opinion poll, certainly not much further than the next popular election, let alone assigning tax money to a project that will only reach fruition when they are ten or more generations gone and dust. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense, logically, politically, or militarily that Taylor's mission would be a colony attempt.
The biggest nail in the coffin of the 'colonization' theory is the time factor itself. WHY would you build a colony that would take 320 years of objective time just to reach? No government is going to sponsor that kind of ridiculous effort. Put yourself in the government's shoes: Someone comes to you and asks you for several thousand dollars for a great project that is going to come back and make you very rich. You agree, who wouldn't want a twenty or more fold increase in their investment, but, when you ask when you might can hope to get your money back your friend says in about 320 years.
Would you lend them the money?
I seriously doubt it for the main reason that you will not be around to enjoy the benefits of your investment. Your investment is taking away your money now, and giving you many times your investment so far in the future that you won't be around to see it or use it. The colony theory just doesn't work, logically, on any angle and no matter how you look at it.
Historically, colonies have been founded by wealthy nations and empires as outposts to extend both their political power and territorial boundaries as well as investments to return newly discovered wealth to the homeland. I see none of this in a proposed 'colony' that is located 'somewhere in Orion's belt'. In the late '60's, we made many orbits around the Earth, and even manned flights to the Moon. Our crowning achievement was putting a pair of American astronauts actually on the surface of the Moon. In 1969, we did not go to the Moon intent on starting a colony with three astronauts. Therefore, I do not see that Taylor and his crew of three were going to a unknown world 320 light years away to start a colony.
My take on the situation is that Taylor and his crew were headed for Alpha Centauri, on the first manned interstellar exploratory flight to another star, and the mission went FUBAR. During the flight, their ship encounters an anomaly, what Brent will clearly refer to in the second movie as a Hasslein Curve, which he describes as "a defect, a slippage in time". This effect or anomaly is also described as a 'time warp' in other instances throughout the series. This defect propelled Taylor and his crew, and later Brent and Skipper, over 2000 objective years (but only about 18 months subjective time) into the future. The design of their ship was not that it would travel for 2000 years in objective time, but that it would perhaps be a ten year mission, maybe a little over four years to get to Alpha C, some time there, and a leisurely trip back home. Along the way, a nice long nap in suspended animation to keep the supplies needed aboard to a bare minimum and keep the good crew from going stir crazy.
A lot of people point out that Taylor's mission was bound for 'somewhere in Orion's belt' simply by a rather flippant statement that Taylor makes in the first movie. I think this is a ludicrous notion. Look at the conversation below again and read between the lines carefully.
Landon: "Well, where are we? Do you have any notions, Skipper?"
Here, Landon uses the term "Skipper" in a very derogatory, degrading manner, almost as if he is mocking Taylor's rank and position. That much is clearly evidenced by the voice inflection in the movie between the actors. There is no respect between professionals here. In the second movie, when Brent refers to his commander as "Skipper", it is easy to recognize as a term that is used to mean respect, admiration and friendship. In POTA, Landon uses the term "Skipper" in a flippant, facetious manner that is clearly evident from the voice tone.
Taylor: "We're some 320 light years from Earth on an unnamed planet in orbit around a star in the constellation of Orion. Is that close enough for you?"
Here, Taylor barks back at Landon. Taylor is not about to let Landon get under his skin, so he comes up with a completely fictional location, right off the top of his head, and throws it out at Landon to digest. He has to know that the nearest star in Orion is some 500 light years or more away, 320 light years won't get you close to anything in the constellation of Orion. Taylor knows this and he makes his answer to Landon's flippant question sound outlandish in order to see how sincere Landon is, and how much he is taking their predicament seriously. Landon bites and swallows the bait without ever noticing Taylor's last jab at him in the words "Is that close enough for you?"
"If YOU'RE so damn smart, Landon, then why don't YOU tell US where WE are?"
Landon, feeling his attack against Taylor's ego fail, and realizing that his hand has been called, must now do his best to save face in the front of his two peers (Dodge and Taylor). Prepared to see Taylor crack under his jab, he instead is himself put in the spotlight. Taylor has turned his flippant attack around and put the argument back in Landon's hand. Landon isn't comfortable with this, because besides trying to blame everything on Taylor, Landon really doesn't understand what is going on. He tries to make the best of this reverse situation by looking up at the sun overhead and giving his best educated guess. A guess that Dodge quickly and quite emphatically points out is completely wrong.
Landon (looking up at sun): "That star could be Bellatrix ..."
Landon bites Taylor's hook here, and Taylor reels him in. Landon realizes that Taylor has returned his remark, and now, if Landon is to save face, he has to come up with a location and some kind of show of his ability to be a better commander than Taylor. Landon looks up, sees the sun and makes the comment that it could be Bellatrix. The truth is, Landon doesn't know where they are either! He's lost and he really is concerned for where they are. Taylor knows that they are lost, and couldn't care less because he knows that the amount of objective time that has passed for the crew has almost certainly turned everything that ever mattered to dust. There is no hurry to get back because there is no 'back' to get back to. This is an outlook that Landon simply either cannot or will not accept. Landon is clearly in complete denial during the time after the astronauts splash down. Taylor is a realist. Landon is the dreamer.
Dodge: "It's too white for Bellatrix."
This is Dodge's statement that the Taylor and Landon should quit acting like children. He's basically telling Landon "You're an idiot also." Dodge knows it can't be Bellatrix, and he is surprised that Landon would make a judgment like that but he doesn't push it. This is Dodge's stab at Landon to tell him to give it a rest. You have to listen to the parlay between Taylor and Landon to realize that it is simply a mental sparring match, not a discussion on their actual location in the universe. The two aren't arguing over where they actually are, they're releasing a great deal of pent up frustration.
So if we have explained away the statement about being in the constellation of Orion, where does the theory of a colony come into the argument? That is most often attributed to one statement made by Taylor to Nova during his captivity:
"Did I tell you about Stewart? Now, there was a lovely girl... the most precious
cargo we brought along. SHE WAS TO BE THE NEW 'EVE'... with our hot and eager
help, of course..."
This statement makes a lot of sense if you consider that Taylor is the jilted lover in an affair gone wrong between Taylor, Stewart, and Landon. This would also be explained by the fact that Taylor and Landon once considered it to be their ultimate male fantasy and dream to be alone with Stewart in space, away from Earth, possibly a dream of Taylor's which was later realized by Landon and Taylor is jealous that Landon stole Stewart away. Just because Taylor refers to her as 'the new Eve' does not mean she was intended to be some kind of ANSA advanced baby factory. Eve has long been considered to be an interpretation of 'the ideal companion', rather than literally as 'mother', which would be the truth if you consider how Taylor and Landon pine over her death in their own individual, different ways. Taylor rubs it in to Landon and Landon fights back at Taylor for the death of a woman who's affections both men obviously shared. Dodge isn't affected by Stewart's death like Taylor and Landon are.
When Taylor talks to Nova about Stewart, he is saying that at one time, the most precious cargo carried aboard their spacecraft wasn't the hopes and dreams of Americans and the world, but Taylor's own romantic notions involving his chosen mate, Stewart. A mate who rebuked him and chose Landon instead, thus reverting from being Taylor's most precious cargo to that of Landon's most precious cargo, or facetiously as 'our' most precious cargo, or the most precious cargo that WE (Landon and Taylor) brought along.
"She was to be the new 'Eve', with our hot and eager help, of course ..."
This statement means that Stewart was first Taylor's woman, and then Landon's woman, and that the relationship between the three was anything but professional. It was a case of boy meets girl, other boy meets girl, girl leaves boy for other boy, two boys and girl go off in spaceship. It was a bad, very bad idea from a crew standpoint, but one that ANSA or NASA may not have been fully aware of, or able to do anything about given the timetable and expenditure of the launch.
Taylor could also be referring to the general cultural mood of 'free love' that was so prevalent back in the '60's and early '70's in America. Perhaps the "Icarus" was going to be the world's first meeting of the 'Light-year Club', and a ten year long orgy in space with lots of peace, love, and happiness. One thing is for certain, Stewart was not going to be the sole source for populating some strange new world. The logistics of that are ludicrous no matter in what manner of favorable light you might be able to shed upon it.
In order to start a viable colony, it would take far more than three men and one woman. That is not a good genetic starting point, logically speaking. You had two white males, a black male, and a white female. Not much choice for a viable genetic matrix, even if each of them had been the 'cream of the crop' in their genetic makeup.
So, if Taylor's mission wasn't a colonization attempt, then what was it?
Taylor's mission, simply put, was an exploratory flight beyond our solar system, a flight at appreciable amounts of the speed of light and the first such flight in the history of Mankind. The flight target was Alpha Centauri, the mission flight parameters called for a nine or ten year mission, AKA "The Big One" as no one had ever gone on a interstellar mission, let alone a flight of that duration.
Taylor was NOT going to start a colony.
No government or politician in their right mind would ever offer money for a project that wouldn't be completed until the politicians and their blood lines were all dead and forgotten... Logic kills the colony theory rather nicely. If you think that Taylor and his crew were a colonial expedition, then see if the following example makes sense or if it does not.
The year is 1680.
England is going to start a colony in the New World. They send their best ship and best crew, which is comprised of three men and one woman. This crew has the latest military weapons on their ship; namely muskets, swords, and cannons. It is the fastest ship ever built by England, a windjammer with more range and endurance than any design prior to its introduction. Let's assume that the crew can somehow 'magically' go to sleep and survive for the long voyage without aging. No world power has a colony in the New World yet, it is vast uncharted territory, ripe for the taking. The ship and colony will not arrive until the year 2000, taking 320 objective years to arrive as the ship is equipped with wind blown sails. However, because the crew is 'magically' in suspended animation, they will not age more than a few months.
Fast forward to the year 2000.
When the colonial windjammer arrives on the Eastern Coast, it is met not with virgin forest and untamed wilderness, but with what has become the most powerful nation in the world. The only ships that use sails anymore are private pleasure craft. Nuclear powered ships are the backbone of the naval powers, weapons that can destroy entire cities are man-sized or smaller. Jet aircraft fly through the air at speeds in excess of the speed of sound. Where a colony was to be started, a nation of several hundred million people now exists. These people have computers, automobiles, cellular phones, and repeating firearms using cased, smokeless powder. These strange new people have gone to the Moon, have sent probes beyond the solar system, they have TV, radio, DVDs, satellites, and are building an international space station in orbit.
In the 320 years it has taken for the colony ship to sail from England to America, America has gone from an unexplored continent to a power that overshadows England, which itself has given up most of its empirical holdings and now consists mostly of the one mainland island...
All of this in 320 years time.
Imagine what 320 years would do for the human race? Just as those in 1680 could not even begin to conceive of the technological marvels that we have now, we ourselves cannot begin to conceive of the technological marvels that will be inherent to the human existence in the year 2320. And this slow boat from hell, with four people on it and supplies to start a colony, arrives 320 years after it set out? Do you really THINK that England would have financed such a ludicrous venture? I doubt it and that is the biggest nail in this so called ridiculous 'colony' theory; simple logistics. Four people travelling one way 320 light years in distance and 320 years of objective (non-crew) time simply cannot be considered a viable colonial expedition in any stretch of the imagination.
The COLONY theory is one of the more ridiculous assertions to come out of the fandom of the POTA movie, and it is erroneously based on two simple statements made by Taylor:
Taylor: "We're some 320 light years from Earth on an unnamed planet in orbit around a star in the constellation of Orion. Is that close enough for you?"
Taylor: "Did I tell you about Stewart? Now, there was a lovely girl... the most precious cargo we brought along. SHE WAS TO BE THE NEW 'EVE'... with our hot and eager help, of course..."
The only two statements in the entire series which, when viewed in certain limited concepts, hint that Taylor and his crew were out to colonize the galaxy. I just can't logically believe that Taylor and his crew were sent out to start a colony 'somewhere in Orion's Belt'. They don't even know where they are going, and colonies are not happen-stance events; they are carefully coordinated and planned operations. No one has ever said "Let's go found a colony, uh, somewhere." and had anyone take them seriously let alone lend them large sums of cash and expensive ships.
Let's just suppose for one instant that we do intend to establish a colony 'on an unnamed planet in orbit around a star in the constellation of Orion'. Even if these colonists could fly at the speed of light, that would mean that it would take them 320 years of objective time (Earth time) (according to the movie) to get one way to the colony (much less subjective or ship time of course and while they are not aging, those behind on Earth are dying from old age tapping their feet waiting on the astronauts to get to this far away colony).
In 320 years, families
rise and fall, nations rise and fall, and empires are built and collapse. I
doubt any government or corporation can claim that they would actively sponsor a
colony whose benefits in both materials and production wouldn't be available for
some 740 years (round trip, assuming no time for production). Okay, for
arguments sake, let's say that this new colony has gold nuggets and fist sized
diamonds just laying around on the ground for the colonists to pick up and send
back to Mother Earth. Say it takes one month to load up a cargo vessel, you've
still got 740 years and one month of
before you get any material benefit returned from the colony to the founding
nation. In 740 years, you could strip mine the inner planets and the asteroid
belt down to their cores, if you put your mind to it.
Colonies are historically founded to do two things; expand the empire/nation and to provide additional wealth in a recently discovered mineral rich area (like the Spanish Main was to Spain, France, Holland, and England during the 1500 to 1700 years).
Trying to produce a colony that it takes 320 years to travel to is a ridiculous notion. If you are still in school, find your history teacher and talk to them about colonies. Ask them if Spain or France or England would have spent the money in 1680 to found a colony that wouldn't arrive until 2000. Do you see how much technology has passed in that time frame? They had swords and cloth sail back then, they didn't even have steam power or electricity! Today we have space shuttles and cell-phones, computers and lasers. IF Taylor was going to found a colony, by the time that he and his crew got there, humanity would have already invented a viable form of FTL travel, or at least something better than Taylor's antique drive system, passed him in flight, and been waiting on him to throw a big 'welcome to the colony YOU were supposed to start!' style party.
Perhaps Brent, in BTPOTA, drives the last nail into the so called 'Colony Theory' when he is interrogated by the House of Mendaz and he makes the following statements under telepathic interrogation:
"I'm an astronaut. I was sent here on a rescue mission to find a fellow astronaut, Taylor."
Why would a colony need a rescue mission? If something wasn't WRONG, then why send a RESCUE mission?
"Well, from this planet, but from another time, 2000 years ago."
Which means that EVERYTHING that ever mattered is gone now. ANSA, NASA, USA, Russia, Mom's apple pie, whatever, so Brent, like Taylor, is realizing that the mission is FUBAR and that something bad has happened, something no where near what the mission or its rescue ever called for. This also proves that Brent launched from EARTH, the planet, not the "USS Earth", the name of some mysterious mothership as some less than inspired individuals have suggested.
"I came through a defect, a slippage in time. That's what must have happened to Taylor. I'm sure he tried to get back."
Brent has mentioned previously, in BTPOTA, to his Skipper that they must have passed through a Hasslein Curve, a bend in time. Upon interrogation, Brent admits that they fell through a 'defect', a 'slippage in time' which means that they encountered something completely unknown and out of the ordinary, something not planned on. Since Brent says that they followed Taylor's exact trajectory, that is clear indication that they were on a follow up rescue mission to find Taylor.
Why would you rescue a colony attempt?
The nail in the Colony Theory coffin is when Brent says
"That's what must have happened to Taylor. I'm sure he tried to get back."
Now, if you are starting a colony, why would you try to get back? No. If you are going somewhere to start over, with all the equipment to build a self sufficient colony, why would you try to get back? You wouldn't and that is the point. If you were on an exploratory flight to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, and you fell through a 'defect, a slippage in time', if you encountered something totally out of the ordinary that threw your whole mission into failure and everything went wrong, wouldn't you try to get back?
Wouldn't ANSA send a rescue mission after you?
Using all rational and logical explanation, based on historical perspective of successful colonization attempts, Taylor's mission fails to meet even the most basic criteria of a colonization attempt. Perhaps the greatest nail in the colonization coffin, however, is a statement made by Taylor himself while he is standing before the Orangutan tribunal.
Taylor says "I'm an explorer in space."
This statement hardly sounds like he was on a colonization effort.
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