In context: An Elite Dangerous pilot, who has been trapped in the inky void outside the Milky Way for nearly three months, is close to being rescued.
Commander Deluvian Reyes Cruz began his journey outside the galaxy back in November of last year. His goal was to break the record for the farthest distance traveled from Sol. Not only did his miss his goal, but he also failed in the overall mission by becoming stranded in deep space.
Rock Paper Shotgun notes that while Cruz set out with enough fuel to make the jump back, his greed to get one extra lightyear tacked onto his personal record cost him enough fuel to leave him no way back to charted territory.
"I decided to go for one more sip on a supercruise tank," the pilot said. "Just to stretch my distance to 141LY beyond Ishum's Reach... just one more LY... I thought one more 'sip' would be ok. Well, it wasn't."
After traveling for 45 days in real-time, Cruz had ventured 65,788 lightyears from Sol, falling short of the 65,804 LY record set by Commander Kenneth McGrew. His last little push put him just out of reach for the closest jump point back to the galaxy.
Fortunately for Cruz, a group of Elite Dangerous players that call themselves "The Fuel Rats" heard of his plight and began planning "Operation: Beyond The Dark Edge" back in January. The Fuel Rats have rescued players in similar situations in the past. Last year we reported how they had saved Commander Persera from a fuel miscalculation that left her spinning out in the void.
While rescuing someone poses fewer risks than venturing out to break a record alone, it still is a time-consuming task that takes planning. The Rats can not just jump out to the pilot and give them some fuel. They have to get there the same way the pilot did --- on supercruise. Plus, it is in uncharted space. One slight mistake in their bearing calculations could have them lightyears away from Cruz and possibly stranded themselves.
"It's taken over 3 days to work the numbers and the science to the point that we have a detailed plan," said Commander Highwaywarrior, who also participated in the rescue of Persera last year. "[Five] of us are en route to assist Cmdr Deluvian. In total, we have the capacity to carry 2576t of fuel and 632 limpets."
Once reaching the edge of the galaxy, four Rats set out toward Cruz's ship --- two refueling tankers and two rescue ships traveling in pairs. A fifth remains in safe space gathering necessary materials to get back to more civilized ports. The fuel haulers will each refill their respective rescue ship 38.7 lightyears outside the galaxy and then jump back to safety. The two rescue Rats will continue another 100+ LY to give Cruz enough fuel to make the jump back to the edge with them.
Highwaywarrior is streaming the entire rescue. He is currently far enough out to have some great views of a side-on Milky Way. He and his partner Cmdr Veristhea will have traveled 600 hours in supercruise to reach the stranded pilot. For comparison, Persera's rescue only took 48 hours. They are scheduled to reach Cruz's ship on Saturday, February 23, at 2100 (UTC) if you would like to watch the final phase of the operation.