Le chapitre 35
Should Valentina choose the yellow or green cube. Jean had hidden a prize underneath each, as well as nothing under the pink and orange cubes. Just by watching his emotions she knew that neither the pink or orange cubes had anything of interest. So, she watched as Jean played with each cube, moved them around trying to imitate a con man’s actions with a shell game. She watched as Jean regarded each with care and almost some devotion whenever his hands touched their surface. Finally she couldn’t wait any longer and yelled out “yellow” in a fervent exclamation. Jean’s large hand enveloped the yellow cube and slowly lifted it up to reveal the small apparatus underneath, an exquisite machine designed and built for lunar gravity. She knew her eyes were glowing like a child’s who’s just unwrapped the most amazing birthday gift ever.
Valentina remembered the days leading up to this moment. Sometime ago, she had shared with her fellow colonists all the details of her plan to bring manufacturing expertise to cities and villages throughout Africa. In so doing, she would change the continent from simply extracting resources for others and in to an industrial powerhouse. Her main steps included designs for a solar powered 3-D printer that used a mixture of local ingredients. They began in a material that had low stress and strain values. This property made it great for working in the printer. But, once the material was shaped and exposed to the Sun together with atmospheric levels of oxygen then it had a hardness similar to steel. But retained a reasonable suppleness. As she had patented both the specialized printer and the material, she could control its distribution and utilization. She had been doing this in such a way as to give Africans a significant lead in optimizing the usage of the two. Some small cities had created assembly lines for local car-like vehicles. A few larger cities had begun a nascent aviation industry. All the while this unfolded, Valentina had kept track of the upgrades and improvements being made to the printer and the material. From them, she extrapolated to industrial conditions on the Moon. She didn’t have free oxygen in their atmosphere but she had lots of direct solar energy. Further, she could use some of the Hab’s chemical reserves which include a store of pure oxygen. With these, she had designed and had fabricated a 3-D printer that was perfect for their needs. Then, after trialling a number of different mixtures, she had found some with similar qualities to that being used in Africa. Once she had a reasonable process, she had set Jean loose. His amazingly imaginative and machine-oriented mind had overflown with ideas on machines and parts that could benefit them. Many of his early contrivances dealt with reducing the potential for lunar dust destroying any moving parts. In result his redesign of cogs and tracks resulted in machinery needed cleaning much less often. As well, visual inspection was showing much less pitting and wearing of surfaces. For this, all the colonists were breathing easier just knowing that they could design and build things on the Moon to their own avail and without the intercession of Earthlings. At first, progress on both the Earth and the Moon had been slow. Lately however, each had taken exponential leaps, somehow almost feeding off of each other. Her inauspicious beginnings had culminated into the joys of the moment and she couldn’t feel happier.
The machine under the yellow cup was a simple device; a body scratcher. But, as she learned, it had the capability of the Canadarm of the old space shuttle. With it, she could scratch any part of her body, in any way and at any time. Jean had even designed an appendage that looked like a much smaller version of Dextre, another robotic arm of the International Space Station. The arm could scratch, massage or gently rub.
“Simple pleasures”, she thought. “All we need are a few simple pleasures and we could live on this wonderful lunar world forever.”