This is the fifth section of the fourteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
The first ships to launch were the smaller test vehicles that had been developed first. These had the advantage of being expendable and having a smaller crew. They had the disadvantage of having to use smaller dirtier nuclear bombs as their propulsion. As the first had risen to the surface from its underwater vigil it’s pusher plate still partially submerged as the first bomb detonated the crew onboard waited. The first bomb was not the worrying part, the second and third were the more worrying. As the first ship rose into the sky its bombs getting more and more frequent as the control mechanism confirmed that all was working within parameters and the engineering was holding together and corrosion hadn’t caused too much damage. This first ship, the Oppenheimer, was rising onwards its occupants pinned to their seats by the ever more frequent blasts pushing them forwards.
As word of the success was reported around the world other ships were launched from their various hiding places. The largest ships were able to use sufficiently clean bombs that were closer to the populated centres, but still located in remote areas.