Of all the new experiences on the Moon, Jean enjoyed this one the most. He carefully removed his glove to expose his hand to the emptiness of space. Bending, he ran his fingers through the sharp shards of lunar regolith. From decades of working with his hands, Jean had built up calluses and extremely thick skin. While he felt the shards as a tingling sensation, no pain ensued. He then took an anti-static cloth from his belt, gently cleaned off his hand and reattached his glove. With a soft swoosh sound, he knew that the internal air pressure had extended back into his glove and his hand was fully protected again. He realized it was a ridiculously risky luxury but whenever he did this, he imagined being back on Earth, on a beach, seeing the Sun’s rays trace shadows across boulders and cliff walls. Though these were great memories, he was continually grateful and thankful of his opportunity on the Moon.
However, life had not always been this pleasant; it was actually pretty rough when they first had landed. The four of them were sharing a space not much larger than his garage back home on Earth. He had worried a bit about that during the training on Earth. While he wasn’t a particularly possessive person, he did like claiming his space, his tools and his responsibilities. Also, he wasn’t too keen on semi-public showering and toileting. Yet, all four of them seemed to have quickly settled into a routine that kept everyone comfortable. He kept his personal needs to a few predictable times. Usually when he started toward the shower, the others had already made themselves busy at the other end of the room, especially the ladies. He wasn’t a prude but there were some things that his mother had taught him were just to be kept private. Still, they had all taken to wearing minimal clothing so there weren’t many secrets between them. At first he considered this risqué.
“Were we all exhibitionists?” he wondered to himself.
But the practicalities of their environment and the necessity for minimal personal effects at launch hadn’t given them abundant wardrobe alternatives. Yes, at times the living was rough like when he had gone camping with his Scout troop he thought. But it wasn’t all difficult or unpleasant.
Happily, some parts of his new life were kind of nice. For instance, he enjoyed having complete control over their air quality. They could regulate the temperature, the humidity and even the smell. On his turns, he’d chosen to wake to air that was slightly cool with a hint of dampness and the smell of fresh cut hay tingling at the back of his nose. Funny he thought, “he’d never lived on a farm and had stayed at farm houses only a few times.”
Because of where his work took him, he’d spent most of his time in towns and cities. Still, rising out of his cot in the habitat module to that atmosphere put a huge smile on his face and got him ready to face anything coming his way.
And that smile had come in handy a few times already. The first few days had been an abrupt and crucially quick learning experience. Their habitat was functioning on their arrival but they noticed little glitches all about. Lights didn’t work. Air vents were quiet. Wire tracings didn’t match the schematics. And so on. Most concerning were the air-alarms. These initiated with a low, audible siren-like noise and a slow flashing of yellow strip lights. Both the siren’s frequency and the intensity of the lights increased as the internal air pressure dropped. Perhaps a micrometeorite had struck or a joint had separated. In any case, immediate attention was demanded.
Yet, all this fuss and bother was nirvana to him. His tool case was extraordinary; everything he needed was at hand and their quality was impeccable. He had quickly set up a maintenance log for them to enter problems and requests. He thought ruefully of his dad’s ‘honey-do’ pot that his mom had kept full and he realised he was recreating the same thing; but on a computer and on a distant planet (as they called the Moon)! Nevertheless, via his scheduling, things got done. Crises such as loss of air or leakage of water got immediate attention, often with many helping hands as their survival depended upon the air and water supply. But, Jean and the other three found that the life-critical alarms were few. Happily, as expected, he had his honey-do pot to fill his day and his own appreciation of their importance to prioritize each. He got things back to their nominal working condition and occasionally made improvements to accommodate unforeseen effects of the low gravity, no-atmosphere conditions on the Moon. Yes, Jean was more than content; he was thinking his life was fulfilled in this stark, new environment.
He finished crawling out from underneath the habitat. His flexible suit made this possible where the Apollo astronauts in their suits had barely been able to bend at the waist. He straightened and took a last, pleased look at his repair work; the rerouted cabling and the new nameplates. He’ll update the drawings once he was back at his workstation in the habitat.
He thought, “Another great job by Jean the go-to-guy!”.
He smiled, turned and began the short walk back to the airlock, only slightly looking forward to the simple, slow but lengthy process that took him from the ‘great outdoors’ back into the shirt-sleeve environment of the habitat module.