Chapter 855: The Scholar in a Wheelchair
At Coro International Airport, Jiang Chen met one of the greatest modern physicists in the world, the wheelchair professor, Hawking.
However, at this moment, his appearance was different from the widely circulated image of being on a wheelchair. He was being pushed forward by his assistant and a Phantom helmet was on his head.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Jiang Chen. I wonder if there is any way you can make a small crack on the helmet? Wearing a helmet and using the electronic sound synthesis tool makes me feel a lot better. The doctor even said that I could live for two more years, but I can’t see anything this way.”
Jiang Chen took a second to process the information and then laughed.
“I will ask my scientists to investigate this issue. It shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“Thank you so much,” the electronic voice responded.
Given the influence of Hawking in the scientific community, Jiang Chen did not reject his request to visit the Space Launch Center. In a sense, he was more representative of the academic world than the researchers sent by NASA.
Of course, he still knew what could be displayed and what couldn’t be displayed.
The ship arrived at the island where the launch center was located. A Celestial Trade bodyguard replaced his assistant’s job and pushed the wheelchair next to Jiang Chen.
“This is our launch site. The Celestial 4 is launched from here. That side is used to launch other types of rockets. We recently had some frequent space activities. There is basically a launch mission every other week.” Jiang Chen introduced him while bringing him into the launch center.
“An enviable budget,” Hawking exclaimed.
“That’s because I didn’t spend the taxpayer’s money, and only my own money.” Jiang Chen laughed.
Entering the launch center, Kelvin welcomed them and took them to the ground command center responsible for the colony of Guanghan City. There, more than 50 personnel were busy at the computers with their tasks at hand.
Hawking let the person pushing his wheelchair to take off his helmet. He didn’t want to talk at the moment; he just wanted to see what this place looked like.
Kelvin walked to a computer and touched several buttons on the screen. Soon, a hologram projected in front of everyone. The image came from Guanghan, 384,400 km away.
“Here is the colony of Guanghan. What’s the order, Commander.” An astronaut appeared in the camera and asked Kelvin.
“Report on the status of supplies.”
“Okay, just a second…”
After listening to the astronaut’ report on the oxygen, drinking water, collection of moon soil and other materials, with the help of Celestial Trade bodyguard, Hawking put on the Phantom helmet again and sincerely said.
“I saw the future.”
“It is a privilege to receive this honor,” Jiang Chen humbly responded.
After a pause, Hawking continued.
“Humans can’t place all of our eggs in one basket, so they can’t place all of the bets on one planet. I said this long ago, but unfortunately neither the British nor the UA government took this seriously. Spending taxpayers’ money in Iraq is always much better than throwing it in the space without a future. Even if everyone knows it, the future will be there. History is always strikingly similar; Columbus also lobbied Britain, France, Italy, and Portugal. It’s amazing that Icarus’s paradox not only applies to businesses, but it also applies to some superpowers as well.”
“But in front of you is also a businessman,” Jiang Chen said.
“But you are still very young and being young is always good.” With that synthetic voice, Hawking said something ambiguous and difficult to interpret.
Jiang Chen couldn’t stay there for too long. There was still a meeting on VRcity that he needed to attend to in the afternoon at Future Group. After leaving the task of hosting Hawking to Kelvin, Jiang Chen was preparing to leave the space launch center when his eyes suddenly stopped on Hawking’s wheelchair.
“Is there a problem?”
Hawking had noticed his gaze as his helmet already off. With his finger tapping on the keyboard of the armrest, he asked Jiang Chen in the electronic voice.
“One thing,” Jiang Chen nodded, grinning at the old man, “I have a proposal. However, I don’t know if you would be interested?”
At the same time, a special hearing was being held in the Congress Building in Capital, UA.
“…We must restart the Apollo Program immediately! Celestial Trade has already begun its colonization of the Moon. We have led the world for more than half a century, but now we are behind them. For the great UA people, this is unacceptable!”
Standing in front of the hearing, NASA’s Head Charles Bolden spoke passionately to the members of the hearing and tried to convince them to restart the Apollo Program. However, the Congress members in the hearings showed a lack of interest. Some people played with their pens, some people looked at Bolden with one eyebrow raised, and others simply turned to the next page in the document.
Since 1972, NASA’s has not received any sort of budget increase, but its budget was reduced by about 75% and has remained so for more than forty years. Unlike the Kennedy era, when NASA only needed to use one sentence—”The Soviet is also doing this!” for a large budget to be approved immediately. It was not a hassle at all.
Now, the president gave the go ahead, and as long as the Congress was willing to allocate the budget, the Apollo Program could be restarted. However, what made Bolden desperate was that Congress was not interested in the free land 384,400 km away.
“The UA people will view this as unacceptable? Why do I feel that there are plenty of people who have signed up to be a Celestial Trade astronaut?” One lawmaker smiled.
“Do you think this is right?” Bolden retorted back.
“What is wrong about it,” said the Congress member who was sitting in the middle. He tapped on the book. “I need you to tell me what benefits the Apollo Program can give us other than boosting national confidence.”
Bolden was silent, he could only squeeze out a sentence after a long pause.
“…Not all benefits can be seen.”
Several members smiled at each other and the Congress member at the top shrugged.
“But only the visible benefits can convince taxpayers to pay the money.”
After the hearing ended, Bolden returned to NASA’s office and slammed the prepared document onto the table.
“The Congress is discussing raising the budget for research and development of new anti-ballistic missile systems and anti-EMP weapons. This is an even more urgent issue. The odds of convincing them is almost zero.” The assistant followed in said while closing the door.
“What did Hill mean?” Bolden said irritably.
“She may have just given us an empty promise.” The assistant with a bitter smile said.
But then, the door was suddenly pushed open, and a NASA employee came in and put a newspaper on his desk. He was visibly excitedly.
“Look at this! There is this!”
Borden with a frown took the newspaper. When he saw the red circled text, his eyes widened.
His eyes lit up. He then snatched the newspaper and quickly rushed out the door.
“Where are you going?”
“The Capitol! Our opportunity is here!”
Leaving the dumbfounded two confused in the office, Bolden disappeared.