In Threshold, I've got a number of trips between Earth and Mars, and I need to schedule them as quickly together as possible (with a very small number of ships), and then I have plot reasons to go to (or at least have ships heading for) no less than three other astronomical bodies.
I am, unfortunately, NOT a rocket scientist. I know the technologies which will be available to the characters (several, including one Very Cool Neato drive approach). I know where I want these people to get to, and I know other events I want to have happen, but I am stopped at the point where I actually have to assign numbers to things like "how long will this take" and "what stuff do they need to take with them".
A couple of people on Baen's Bar pointed me towards some software that was supposed to do this, but I cannot seem to get it to work (and other packages are of course Windows, while I'm running on a Mac) and, speaking honestly, I don't know enough to even know what I don't know, if you know what I mean. I know more about the physics of space travel than most laymen do, but it's not nearly enough.
If I can tell you where I want to go, for what reason, and what technology I use to get there (and, I suppose, some of the dramatic reasons why and how), can someone help me achieve the following:
1) Reasonable (if AWFULLY TIGHT) schedules to get people from point A to B
2) Any special requirements (e.g., extra throwaway fuel tanks, etc) needed to get where they're going
3) particular times I'd have to be "hitting" in order to get the particular planetary alignments I'd need
4) Any special maneuvers (slingshots, etc.) which would be used in getting there or stopping there.
Note that I reserve the right to BEND physics to serve dramatic necessity, but I don't want to BREAK physics in any areas where I'm using known tech. I don't mind people saying "Ooooh, jeez, that's an awfully optimistic set of assumptions"; I do mind them saying "Not One Chance In All The Hells of Space".
I really do need technical advice on this one. I can handle a lot (sensor tech, etc.) but there's about eight major sciences involved in Threshold that I want to avoid bobbling too badly.
Anyone interested can either email me by replying to this message, or you can join up with my Livejournal community for betareaders of my stuff, rykspoor_beta.
For this assistance you would get a "thank you" acknowledgement in the front of the book (similar to the one for Phil Moynihan in Boundary) and, if you liked, a cameo/redshirting/Tuckerization.