With a shiver of excitement Valentina slipped on the first layer of the egress suit. Valentina could barely wait . She had Xu’s final OK that her leg was healed and that she was fit to travel the surface again. She didn’t even mind that cautious Xu was coming along with her. Both of them were keen on seeing the progress made to their underground shelter and this tangible evidence of their existence made for a giddy expedition.
Valentina watched as Xu exited the transfer module and the door slid shut behind. She entered and waited for the module to purge the contents. Shortly the lights changed to green and the exterior door slid open in front of here. She lightly trod down each step, feeling graceful as a ballerina even though her suit almost doubled her body mass. It felt good to be roaming free on the surface again. There was no air to brush against her face or a bright sun in a blue sky to brighten her path. But through her visor she could again feel the grandeur of the scene that the Hab’s cameras just couldn’t capture. She moved up to join with Xu and carefully took Xu’s gloved hand into her own. Putting their communications into private mode, she thanked Xu for her help in recovering her leg’s strength and for her tenderness in nurturing her spirit. Deep down, she was incredibly thankful that Xu with all her oddities about karma and tranquility was part of and indeed leading her team. Her peaceful demeanor had been a source of strength for Valentina. They comfortably walked together toward the shelter’s entrance. They saw, rising out of the regolith, humanity’s first structure upon another world. It was awe inspiring even though somewhat trivial. The structure itself came about from Valentina’s forced stay in the Hab. She had stumbled upon the perfect construction design. Surprisingly, the dry dusty air of the Moon was very similar to the Earth’s Arctic in which the team had spent some weeks training. There, the Innuit built igloos out of dry ice. By carefully shaping each block, they could build a structure without the need of cement. Using the same principles, Valentina had slowly sintered bricks at the Hab and gotten Woof to carry the bricks and build an igloo shaped structure. In front of her and Xu was the result; a low rounded entrance that would provide some protection against solar winds. Valentina smiled as they approached. Her design had survived a number of minor Moon-quakes and looked fine. She could feel the vibrations from the rock borer that was underneath the igloo like entrance. If the entrance and the shelter proved structurally sound, it would be the first significant step in forming the Moon’s surface to support a human colony.
As they approached, Valentina was positively beaming and her pleasure showed through the suit’s faceplate. She turned to Xu and they gave each other a high-five. Their long term survival required the ability to use resources on the Moon and this structure justified part of this expectation. Valentina approached closer and began taking stress and strain measurements about its base.
Fall in the northern hemisphere seems to find many of us looking for one last opportunity to enjoy the summer or at least the pleasures of remembering a relaxed summer vacation. Just about every possible human ailment has got a group doing walks, runs and swims to raise money. Being healthy is certainly vital to our every day lives. But, what will we do when we have most of our ailments under control. Do we simply sit in front of an electronic entertainment device? Or can you envision humans exploring the infinite realm of space. Without an end to space, we would always have excitement awaiting around the next solar system. Let’s start by living on the Moon and seeing what that’s like. Then, we’d be ready for the next adventure. Then the next. And the one following.
It’s exciting to see that private enterprise can quickly develop and market space faring capability. Both the United States and China have entrepreneurs advancing technological capability. But, they are still lacking a revenue stream. While they may have a great product, who are their customers? We see governments as being the only ones. And as we all know, governments are fickle. Our Lunar Colony Fund is resolving this. By collecting donations across the globe, we will provide a steady revenue stream to which private entrepreneurs can contract. There are enough like-minded people with enough disposable income to make this happen. Let’s do it.
Keep sending in your ideas for fund raising and your stories of fund raising success. Let’s show the world that we can indeed dream of a better existence.
Xu chaired their fourth weekly management meeting. While the colonists had originally thought that this event would be a waste of time, now they gave it their highest priority. They had already passed through the health, hygiene and safety minutes. They had begun to review their resources. While their water usage was within expectations, it remained the critical resource for their survival. At each meeting they reflected on their consumption and their future. For the presentation on water, Xu brought up Jean for his review of the colony’s infrastructure.
Jean pulled his presentation onto the large monitor in front of them. He showed how their pipes and connectors remained tight with leakage at or below the nominal rate. Luckily for them this was a routine slide. Oddly, they found that being self sufficient was easier said than done. Some of their external monitors could measure leakage as low as hundreds of molecules a minute and their detectors were never nil. “How could they ever be self-sufficient given this?” they all wondered. Yet, with several weeks experience they had built up a history and could readily see any discrepancies in the measured discharge; though none showed. Jean moved quickly on to the slide depicting their resources. Their usage rate of breathable air remained reasonable and they had many ways to access pure oxygen if need. Also he showed how their scrubbers were cleaning out their CO2 and automatically depositing it into reservoirs destined for the future vegetation production. Last, Jean brought up the slide showing the water availability. It was simple; a barrel symbolising the amount in storage, a hollow line entering the barrel to indicate no water production and a line exiting the barrel that showed their daily, non-recyclable consumption. While Jean liked the graphic’s simplicity, sometimes it seemed too stark. By taking the available amount and dividing by the consumption they could calculate to within the hour when their water would run out. With a resupply container arriving within a month, he knew they had little margin for error. Jean continued on describing the status of the major equipment modules then closed with a satisfactory exclamation of “really, nothing new to report”.
Xu allowed Jean to finish his summary and then she brought up her final slide, the near term schedule of events. Aside from the resupply container’s imminent arrival and another some months later, their slate was empty except for the visitors. A group of four; scientists, tourists and operators was slated to arrive shortly after the resupply vessel. She knew that the Hab could accommodate the extra people but she was a bit more than curious as to how their guests would fit into their routine.
This time Jean and Xu were outside walking with Woof while Valentina kept watch from inside the Hab. This was the first occasion that they had travelled outside the line of sight of any Hab monitor. They were exploring a shallow crevasse that split the inside edge of the crater. Their approach had been gradual along a well rounded fall line and with Woof leading, they entered the shallow down slope that descended outside their view.
Jean and Xu had role played this excursion during the last two days in the Hab. A 3D visual simulator put them into a synthetic environment. The simulator used measurements from the orbiting satellite to structure the ground. Jean had fun with this and would continually try to outsmart the computer. His favourite game was to walk directly at and through the imaginary crevasse rock wall or to gently but powerfully kick a rock in the hopes of it going ballistic. Xu laughed at his antics but she preferred to keep focused and she’d always pull him back into the task at hand. For her, as always, it was their goal; water, water, water. Their long-term survival depended upon acquiring this resource. Thus, they used the role playing to optimize any opportunity that could help lead to success.
As they ambled along the surface, Xu kept track of Woof’s laser gyros. With these they kept informed of the slope of the crevasse’s floor. The rover’s LIDAR imaging also kept them as well as Valentina at the Hab apprised of the local ground contours. They had discovered that much as like sand on the deserts of Earth, the lunar regolith smoothed out most small bumps and pitfalls. Valentina focused her monitors upon this ground truth data and steadily built up a true terrain map. From it, she’d relay suggestions to Xu and Jean for slight changes to a footfall. While she felt it monotonous, acquiring ground truth data could greatly speed detection of rocks containing appreciable water, or actually, ice. The sound of keyclicks coming from Desai’s work station just slightly behind her comforted her in her task. She saw Woof’s slope rate readout begin to increase too fast and she gave a command for all three to stand fast.
Expecting a drop-off, Jean tethered himself to Xu and pulled out a long ground probe. Back home he’d call this thing a stick but with no trees on the Moon then the telescopic probe got this more exciting name. Waving the probe as a blind person would wave their white cane, Jean slowly continued.