5 days ago I made a snap decision.
I’d been helping the Alliance expand into new systems for a few weeks doing combat, trade. missions – whatever needed doing. We’d made good progress but I was starting to get restless. Since my first exploration the call of the void has always been there at the back of my mind and on a whim I decided to head out again. But this time somewhere more interesting – Sagitarius A*, the super massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy.
I picked up Eve from Shinrarta Dezhra after kitting her out for exploration. It was then I bumped into CMDR Bikky who by complete coincidence had decided to head to Sag A*. We decided to make the trip together for company. It gets very lonely out exploring. We winged up and set out directly to the centre of the galaxy.
100ly later and we received comms from CMDR Charybdis and CMDR Ian Norton asking what we we’re up to. We told them about our little trip and they decided to come along as well. 4 people now! We took the first 1000ly slowly and met up to take pictures and have a small celebration with chaff and a heat sink.
By the second day, word had spread of our impromptu trip and another 4 commanders began the trip. Now we were 8! I’d got into a rhythm by now and along with a couple of other commanders we put around 2500ly behind us. The front runners were now 3500ly from civilised space, the furthest I’ve ever travelled but only about 15% of the way to Sagitarius A*. The back marker at this point had had to return to equip a different ship. The scale of the task was becoming apparent!
The third day saw me make another 3000ly of fairly uninteresting systems. By this point I was doing nothing other than jumping, scanning and occasionally scooping, checking the system maps for anything interesting whilst my FSD charged. I’d got my jump time down to under a minute per jump on average which means 1kly in around 40 minutes. If I didn’t get distracted by chatting to the other commanders on the trip, or investigating interesting looking (but generally not) planets.
The fourth day was the most interesting so far. CMDR Charybdis had opened a small lead and had headed slightly sideways to investigate a nebula. When he got there he discovered 5 systems with black holes and neutron stars in a fairly small area (100ly across – it’s funny how your perception of distance changes this far out). I promptly changed tack and followed him there, uncovering a water world on the way. I then saw my first black hole. Rather underwhelming, I have to say apart from the gravitational lensing effects. That was shortly followed by more black holes and finally a neutron star. Black holes, it turns out are not particularly dangerous but neutron stars are incredibly hot, dense and small. I had to get very close to scan it and accidentally got too close and dropped out of supercruise. At that point my heat was already at 54%. With the heat of the star, my FSD capacitor charging and the intense gravity, I only made supercruise when my heat had reached 90% and the cockpit was smoking. A timely reminder that a second’s distraction can cost your life out here. I got a safe distance away, dropped into normal space again and settled down for the night.
The fifth day was pretty uneventful again but I made another 3200ly, leaving me 11000ly from civilisation now. The half way mark is in sight. I should make it today.