Authors: Raymond L. Weil
to watch as the excavator cut into the Moon’s surface. Already the machine was
down nearly twenty feet, but the tunneling was starting to slow as harder lunar
material was encountered. Behind the last conveyor, a growing pile of lunar
rubble was visible. There was also a lot of lunar dust.
seems to be going fine,” Isaac commented as he carefully watched the excavator.
His keen eyes took in every aspect of the operation. He would not leave the
site until he was satisfied everything was operating smoothly and safely.
“We have over twenty
mines currently in operation,” Mase added as he watched the dust falling slowly
at the end of the conveyor. “It’s amazing all the minerals we’ve found on the Moon.”
treasure trove,” Isaac replied in agreement. “There are so many shallow meteor
cores that our mining operations are highly profitable and growing more so
as a miner driving a small, specially designed lunar bulldozer began pushing
and leveling out the rubble from the excavator. A small habitation dome had
been set up so the miners could go inside and rest in relative comfort as
needed. The dome was twenty-four feet across and contained beds and a small
kitchen. An airlock granted access and a group of solar panels off to one side
Once the mine
was put into production, several more of the small, versatile domes would be
brought in and connected to the current one. Another dome would be placed over
the tunnel. It would be pressurized, creating a breathable atmosphere in the
mining tunnel so the miners could work in relative comfort.
“I’m glad we
came up with these domes,” Mase commented as he saw several miners go inside to
rest. The miners would run a two-shift operation.
great,” agreed Isaac, looking over toward the dome. He had helped to design
them. “It makes mining out on the lunar surface a lot more practical if the
crews have somewhere they can go to take their spacesuits off and relax for a
At the larger mining sites, a series of the domes were used for the bigger
crews. Some of the crews would stay out at the mining sites for an entire week
before coming back to Tycho City for a well deserved break.
Mase and Isaac
continued to watch the mining operation for several more hours until they were
satisfied with the progress. Then Mase returned to Tycho City and Isaac went on
to inspect several more of the nearby mining operations that were on his list
for the day. Isaac tried to visit each mining site at least once a week. He
also required a daily status report from the supervisor of each one.
Back at the
mass driver, Jase stared with satisfaction at the work being done. Under
recommendations from some of the other engineers, they had added several more
magnetic coils to the mass driver rail. That way, if one failed, the spare
coils could be kicked in. The new induction relays were almost completely
installed and the rail had checked out as still being stable.
Jase made his
way carefully back down the rail to the metal building that covered the
beginning of the mass driver. In the light lunar gravity, you had to watch
every step. It was extremely easy to lose your balance and fall if you didn’t
pay close attention to what you were doing. He entered the building through the
airlock and took off his cumbersome spacesuit. Stepping inside, he saw Jackson
Pierce standing over to one side, talking to several men.
“I know all
the cargo pods are full,” Jackson was saying in an exasperated voice. “We just
need to figure out some way to store the excess material until we can load it
into a cargo pod later. If we can’t, then we’re going to shut down all the
thing I could suggest is to dump it outside on the ground,” the man responded,
frowning. He knew this would be a lot of extra work. “We have a loader we could
use to pick it up and then bring it in to be loaded into the pods.”
means we will have a lot of lunar dust on the refined metals,” one of the others
objected, shaking his head. Everyone disliked the lunar dust. It tended to get
into everything and was hard to remove.
over and joined in on the conversation. “We can rig up some spray nozzles to
wash the material off before we load it,” he commented. “It shouldn’t be that
difficult. We already wash off the Moon Buggies and other equipment. We can do
the same with the refined metals. It will put a strain on our water recycling
system, but I think it can handle it.”
“I guess so,”
replied one of the men dubiously. “It just means more work for all of us.”
about that?” another one grumbled in a loud voice. “We always get stuck with
“I’m sure I
can get some type of bonus approved for all the extra work you are being asked
to do,” interjected Jackson, knowing this would help to encourage the men.
“A bonus,” the
complaining worker said, his face breaking into a broad smile. “Now that sounds
more like it!”
nodded their heads in agreement. They were already well paid, but to receive a bonus
for doing this extra work sounded encouraging.
Jackson turned to Jase. “How much longer until all the repairs are completed?”
days,” answered Jase, thinking about what still needed to be done. “Plus one
more day to check out the system with a few test firings of the rings. We can
launch a few pods in the tests.”
sure those pods are for Star One. They really need the raw material,” Jackson ordered. Commander Colton had been adamant about that.
Back in Tycho City, Mase had returned to his office to finish his final report for the day, and
then it would be off to eat a relaxing meal. He looked up from his desk as
Linda walked in.
off for the day. Is there anything else you need?”
working for Mase, and she found her duties both interesting and challenging. It
was difficult being away from her family, but she tried to speak with them at
least twice a week. Her sister Karen was always full of questions about Tycho City and Linda’s job.
never been a dull moment since she had gone to work for Mase. She had told
Karen all about her new job and Linda thought she could detect a tinge of
jealousy in her sister’s voice. Karen was going to college at the University of Kansas.
I’m just going to finish up this last report and then I’m through also,” replied
Mase, gesturing toward his computer screen. “I’m nearly done.”
mentioned that Steve has slowed production of Luxen in the fusion reactor until
we can get the mass driver back online.”
“I was afraid
of that,” responded Mase, leaning back in his chair and stretching his back.
“Between the mass driver being down and now Star One reducing production of
Luxen, we are making a lot of companies on Earth unhappy.”
be back to normal in a few more days,” responded Linda, trying to sound
positive and upbeat. “The mass driver will be back online, Star One will be
back to full production of Luxen, and the Farside array will be fully
After a few
more words, Linda left to go home. Thinking about the Farside array, Mase
remembered that he had asked LeAnn Kelly to send him some photos from the
Albertson reflector. Checking his computer, sure enough there was a file from
LeAnn marked Albertson reflector. Clicking on the file, Mase watched as the
photos came up on his computer screen.
The first few
photos were of distant nebula, awe inspiring in all their colors and myriads of
shapes. The next photos were of galaxy clusters and were just as breathtaking.
There was no doubt in Mase’s mind that the Albertson reflector was going to
rewrite astronomy. The Farside array would probably do the same thing. He
settled back in his chair and spent the next few minutes viewing all the photos
that LeAnn had sent.
later, Mase walked down the main concourse in Tycho City. Vehicle traffic was restricted
from the downtown area and access was mostly by on foot. As Mase walked past
the numerous small shops and eating places, he marveled at how everything
looked so Earth normal. This was something he never grew tired of. People were
out and about shopping or taking their families out to eat. People were talking,
and Mase could hear the carefree laughter of children. It was hard to believe
they were on the Moon. As he walked, people occasionally stopped him and said
He stopped at
a small restaurant and treated himself to a burger and fries before heading
home. A decent night’s rest was in order. He knew the next few days would be extremely
hectic as they tried to get the mass driver back online.
Early the next
day, Pierre LaRann was in his spacesuit watching intently as the last dish antenna
was brought online. He was standing next to his Moon Buggy along with several
engineers. They were twelve miles from the array Control Center.
last one,” Andrew Carnegie stated as the antenna dish slowly turned to aim
itself toward deep space. Andrew was the chief engineer for the Farside
“Now we just
need to calibrate these dishes,” sighed Pierre as he watched the dish rotating
only take a couple of days,” Andrew assured him. “By scanning known pulsars, we
can use the computers to calibrate the dishes pretty quickly. It shouldn’t be a
Pierre gazed out across the desolate landscape of the Moon. The dish antennas were a stark
white in color compared to the darker grays of the lunar surface. Since they
were currently on the far side away from the sun and only starlight illuminated
the landscape, the grays were darker and the shadows were much more pronounced.
craters and hills surrounded them, with the only level areas being the dish
antenna sites and the small tracks and roads that connected them. Each dish antenna
could be moved on the small tracks. This would allow them to arrange the array
in several different configurations to aid in observations.
antenna finally locked into place, and Andrew was satisfied. “Let’s get back to
the Control Center. We can start the final calibrations as soon as we get
great,” replied Pierre, pleased that the array was finally finished. He looked
around at all the dish antennas that surrounded him. Years of hard work and
planning had brought them to this point.
In just a few
more days, he could get down to some serious astronomical research. There were
several recently discovered black holes he wanted to scan. He felt confident that
one or both could contain a traversable wormhole. He was already thinking about
the new research paper that he was going to write and how it would be received
in the science community.
all three had climbed into the Moon Buggy. Shortly, they were on their way back
to the main Control Center. As they drove, they passed other Moon Buggies going
about on routine maintenance checks. The engineers checked the dish antennas
several times a day. The array was too costly to allow for any malfunctions.
later, Mase was at the mass driver waiting for the first test firing. Jase and
Jackson were both in the mass driver Control Room with him. The Control Room
was located in the large metal building at the base of the rail.
show green,” Jase commented as he checked several data screens. “We should be
ready to fire.”
A number of
technicians operating the different control stations were watching closely as
the magnetic coils were being charged for the first test firing. There were
normally six technicians and one control officer in the small Control Room for
each firing of the mass driver. The control officer could stop a firing if
necessary. The parameters for stopping a firing had been changed drastically, particularly
since the incident that had wrecked the mass driver. The control officer now
had more authority to stop a firing if he felt there was a potential problem.
Half a dozen
large viewscreens were on the front wall of the Control Center and focused on
various sections of the mass driver rail. Everyone was tense and impatient to
get the first firing over with.
around at the busy crew. They were highly efficient at their jobs. Mase had
been careful to choose only the best people for the different jobs on the Moon.
He folded his arms across his chest and waited patiently for the firing to
begin. He hoped everything went smoothly.
promised Jane that the mass driver should be online again shortly. He hoped that
he wouldn’t have to break his promise to her. From what she had said earlier,
her office was being bombarded with demands as to when the mass driver would be
operational. Including Senator Farley, who was threatening to shut the entire operation
down permanently if there was another incident.
seconds until full charge,” one of the technicians reported as he adjusted
several controls on his console.
are normal,” another reported as he studied the data flashing across his computer
On the main screen,
the mass driver lit up as the first cargo pod was positioned. Then a cargo pod
hurtled through the rings as each fired in sequence, increasing the pod’s
acceleration. In moments, the pod reached the final ring and was flung off the
rail and toward space far above.
velocity reached,” the control officer confirmed as he checked a computer data
screen. “The pod is on course for Star One.”