The Flight of the Icarus
With the advent of hypersleep technology 50 years ago, a joint project between the US government and the Isley Corporation financed and manned a space exploration with the intent of opening the rest of the near universe to colonization. The flight’s mission was to push beyond the edges of the Milky-way, and attempt to reach the next nearest spiral galaxy to our own, the Andromeda Galaxy.
Since Hypersleep was deemed dangerous in extended sessions, Isley scientists working on the project devised a program wherein the ship’s crew would ‘leap-frog’ through cycles of waking and sleeping. After two weeks of hypersleep, the crew would be awakened for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to hypersleep. It was hoped that in this way, the intensive journey to the Andromeda Galaxy could be managed.
With special funding from the US government, Isley also built a special ship for the journey, titled the Icarus, after the myth of one of the first humans to attempt flight. The Icarus was outfitted with all the most advanced parts and systems that Isley had to offer, as well as the next generation of hypersleep systems. The Icarus was quite a bit larger than most ships, containing within it’s hull advanced communication systems and an expansive cargo hold which housed not only the extra supplies needed for when the crew was not in hypersleep, and extra fuel, but also surveying, research, and terraforming equipment. The crew itself was composed of half a dozen young couples, all highly trained in their various fields.
The Icarus’s mission, first to reach the Andromeda Galaxy, and then to find a planet either habitable or able to be terraformed. There the crew would found a small colony. Projections indicated that it would likely take the Icarus several years to reach the Andromeda Galaxy, and several more to find a suitable planet. However, if the mission were successful, It would not only prove the effectiveness of the ‘leap-froging’ method of hypersleep travel for incredibly long distances, But also open up an entirely new galaxy to human colonization.
The Event was well publicized, the crew near celebrities, much like the first humans to land on the moon. For months news about “The Flight of the Icarus” was in every vid and every gossip rag. While some made the observation that the name of the ship implied doom for the mission, most chose to see it as an audacious and bold move to expand the horizons of the explored universe.
The Icarus embarked from port Alahambra with much fanfair, and for several weeks its progress through the Milkyway was highly publicized. The speed and efficiency with which it reached the outer colonies galvanized interest in the new hypersleep technology, and spurned demand for its use on Isley ships.
Then, amongst much publicity and trepidation, the Icarus left the Galaxy. For several months communication with the Icarus remained steady. Every two weeks a message would be received stating ‘all clear’ before the crew would return to hypersleep for the next leap. However about three months in, reports started trickling back from the Icarus that instances of HSDD were increasing amongst the crew. The two ships doctors indicated that the instances were still treatable, but occurring more frequently with every leap. However, communications with the Icarus still remained steady, until one day, about four months out from the edge of the galaxy, they abruptly stopped.
While the US Government and Isley released an official statement regarding the failure of the mission, the mysterious nature of the ship’s disappearance spurned much speculation on what actually occurred. Popular theories about what happened to the Icarus and her crew range from assuming that communications just failed, and the Icarus's mission was successful and there is now a lost colony of humans settled in the Andromeda Galaxy, to more tragic theories such as assuming that the crew was driven mad through over use of hypersleep and slaughtered each other, or the ship itself failed and stranded them in the dark abyss between galaxies, or an encounter with hostile aliens destroyed the ship.
No mission has been sent to try and breach the boundaries of the Milky way galaxy since, although the information received from the Icarus during those first few fateful months has been of great use to astrophysicists in understanding the composition of space outside of our own galaxy, and the data gathered on intensive exposure to hypersleep during that time is the baseline for many of Isleys cautions and protocols regarding the continued use of hypersleep technology.
The “Flight of the Icarus” has since been a staple of pop culture, the mission synonymous not only with the classic idea of hubris, but also increasingly with the spirit of exploration and the do and dare to try something in the name of science, exploration, and the advancement of the human race, despite the inherent risk involved. The Icarus and her crew have been fantasized and lionized in popular entertainment, inspiring both an ITV show, and a very popular and award winning space opera titled, predictably “The Flight of the Icarus”