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Chapman208 writes (in part):

Thanks for the primer. In this specific case, what matters to the crew is that they have 69 hours of air left. They have to move the ship 1143 km in 64 hours to reach the asteroid that has the iron oxides they have to refine into iron and oxygen (allowing 5 hours for the extraction and refining).

I reply:

I'm new around here but this discussion raises some red flags for me. I've been reading SF since I was about eight. As a kid I typically devoured a book (or more) per night, and even now, as an attorney, husband, and father of an active three-year-old, I still find time to do a fair amount of reading. I subscribe to Analog, Asimov's, and Fantasy & Science Fiction and do my best to keep up with them. My reaction to your brief descriptions of your stories was: "Hasn't that been done before?" That's not fatal, of course. But if you do something that's been done before, especially if it's been done a lot, you'll need a new take.

I'm also concerned that the science is materially inaccurate. To me, the numbers in your orbital scenario seem big enough that orbital mechanics will be a significant consideration. In other words, you can't simply point your ship at the asteroid (or whether the asteroid will be when your trip is over) and fire your rockets, because your increased speed relative to the sun will drive you into a higher orbit. The usual way of matching orbits (which is what you're trying to do) is to decelerate, thereby dropping into a lower and faster orbit. You wait a while until you've passed the object you're trying to catch, then accelerate to rejoin the object in its higher orbit. The process is described in, for example, Emergence by David R. Palmer (not a terribly good book, just the first that came to my mind with an orbital matching scene).

Any hard SF editor, such as, say, Stan Schmidt, will consider this basic orbital mechanics. If you betray unfamiliarity with it, he will reject it out of hand (because he knows that many of his readers expect accuracy in this aspect of the stories he publishes). I would expect the experience to reflect adversely on your ability ever to enter that particular market. I am seriously concerned that you have not done enough science homework to satisfy the rigor demanded by the hard SF market.

Best of luck to you. I look forward to your work hitting my bookshelf. --Bob
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