Logbook #6


Le chapitre 6

Desai watched Jean as he prepared the jackstay. “Odd” he thought “that nautical terms seemed to be reasonable for a fixed structure on the Moon. “Oh well” he went on “for fitting this rig, I will be the happy crewman”.

The rig was actually a solar shield similar to that used for the Skylab space station. Given that their Habitat module was much larger than the Skylab, their solar shield came in three overlapping sections. Given this, if one shield failed then another might be able to replace it thus avoiding the fate of Skylab. Desai was happy to let Jean attend to the parts. He monitored the sensor read-outs on his display and he awaited the signal to power up the install feature.

His helmet display greatly facilitated this role. On it, he had all the necessary read-outs from the Habitat module. He also had all the process steps displayed; each showing an incomplete status until confirmed by Jean. To the side, the status of the robotic tractor showed that it was ready though its role was simply to capture a video documentary for follow-on Earth based review. As well, of course, the Habitat module filled the background of his helmets display but it was so static that Desai treated it much as a background on a computer monitor.

“Much cooler than a video game” he thought. Yet at the same time he knew that a failure could cost them their lives. This was certainly no game.

With a final signal from Jean, Desai knew it was time to begin. His display showed that all preparatory steps were satisfactorily completed. He initiated the unrolling sequence. The shield’s leading edge tightened; its creases all disappeared. The side capstans slowly turned and the shield began extending up along the side-guides and toward the apex. The aluminized mylar occasionally caught the rising Sun’s rays and sent a brilliant beam at Desai. His helmet automatically adjusted to the light level and he barely noticed a flicker. His fingers continued their mid-air dance as Desai constantly verified the operation’s status.

Desai time shifted and he returned to their team bonding expedition on Devon Island. They had visited the Mars analogue station and then headed to the coastline to spend two weeks just surviving. Winter was very cold there. But it was much colder here on the Moon. Still, the sight of the shield rising up to its apex and then descending down the other side reminded him of the thick nylon fly they had used to cover their tent on the island. While the fly may have helped by keeping some snow off, the shield would by a life saver by reflecting much of the Sun’s radiation. The shield made their Habitat Module a safe refuge for all but the most glaring of solar flares. He reviewed the radiation monitor readings from the module and saw that ones underneath the shield were already showing lower levels. He smiled and thought that being the crew on their stationary ship on the Moon does make for a fantastic adventure.

Desai brought himself back to the task at hand. Like a freed dervish marionette, he played his keyboard and kept the shield ascending. Almost immediately he saw more of the Habitat’s radiation monitors decrease. This shield moving into place protected their sleeping area which was also their escape area when solar flares reached out from the Sun. Until they finished the underground chambers, the Habitat was their one and only living space no matter what the space weather. His monitoring continued as Jean kept feeding the shield along.

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