Space Miner – Transit to Luna

Thursday, March 19, 2263: It’s official. I’m a Lunatic. Well, for a few weeks, anyway. Turns out that getting to Ceres Station isn’t all that straight forward. So I’m here on Luna going through orientation and getting some basic training on how to survive in space. So far it hasn’t been too difficult, although it can be a little scary how easy it is to die out here.

Getting to Luna was fairly easy, but mostly boring. When I woke up after getting all those shots I was achy, but I was able to get a bite to eat at the cafeteria. I was surprised at how much variety there was in the food. Those corporate-types eat better than I knew! Anyway, after breakfast I saw a message panel paging me. I went over to it and saw that I had about a half hour to report to transpo so I could catch the next elevator capsule going to Luna. I took a little extra time to sync my personal comm with the Icarus message system, which gave me access to internal maps and would send alerts like my transpo orders directly to me. Then I headed for the transpo wing.

Taking the elevator wasn’t what I expected. I had never been to Luna or to any of the orbitals before – too expensive since I was on basic subsistence my whole life – but I always wanted to. I imagined it would be a real adventure, but it turns out to be mostly sitting around and waiting. My friend Darrell from school told me that before the elevators, people had to use chemical rockets to get offplanet, and that those rockets were basically slow-burning bombs! Bombs that sometimes blew up! The elevators make things a lot easier now. One end of the elevator cables are attached to the Earth, the other end to a geo-stationary station above, and the transpo capsules travel up and down. Easy.

The capsules at the Icarus station were lined up with signs telling you where each one was headed. Some would take you to the orbital stations, others to Luna, and a couple were going directly to interplanetary flights to Mars and other parts of the solar system. My comm guided me to my capsule and I found a seat.

My capsule was typical for Lunar transpo. Ten or so meters across and around 70 meters long, no windows, and seating enough for over 250 people. Transpo capsules used here on Earth tend to carry more people per capsule because they don’t need as much equipment for life support, and because it’s expected that people will sleep for some part of the trip to Mars or Luna. The seats in space-bound capsules, even low orbital ones, need to be able to secure people during acceleration and deceleration, convert to sleeping bunks while in transit, or act as private entertainment centers for passengers who are awake. It sounds pretty luxurious, but these capsules take a lot of abuse and some of them can get pretty shabby. At least that’s what some of the other newbies were telling me. I got lucky. My capsule was almost new.

Once it was sealed and moving it would take 18-20 hours to get to Luna, depending on traffic. Until then, me and the other passengers would sit, sleep, eat and generally hang out. There we plenty of vid screens and we could stream shows or music, play games or whatever on our personal comms or tablets. Food and drink was available from automated vends, and the freshers were full service, with cosmetic functions, hair styling, skin art and basic tailoring in addition to basic sanitary service. About halfway through the trip I decided to get my hair cut. I let it get long the last couple years of secondary and it was just past my shoulders. Ozzie, one of the other recruits straight out of secondary, tried to talk me into getting a mohawk like his, but I decided to go with a simple short cut, tight around the sides and with a little more on top. The fresher did a decent job, and it’s one of the approved hairstyles for Icarus employees, so it all works out.

Because the capsule has no windows a lot of the trip was pretty dull. I spent most of it hanging out with Ozzie and some of the other recruits around our age – Kim, Lenny, Zita, Andy and Mal. We all signed for pretty much the same reasons – no future here, hope that we can get out of debt, looking for something more exciting offplanet. Zita and Mal did well enough in their exams that they went straight into Engineer training, not just Worker training, once we got to Luna. Kim already has some corp-admin skills, and she is pretty enough to be in vids, so she is probably going to work in one of the admin offices. The rest of us were headed for Worker Basic once we got to Luna. That will take a couple weeks while we wait for our first assignments. It’s possible some of us will get specialty training, too, depending.

After we got some elevation and shifted from heavy acceleration to cruise-mode, the pilot came on the intercom and announced that she was going to activate the wallscreens to show us the outside. Heck, it could have been an HD recording for all I know, but when the cabin lights dimmed and the walls lit up pretty much everyone in the capsule gasped and awww’d… It was pretty impressive!

iss027-e-012224_lrgAll around and below us we could see the Earth, shining, blue, with clouds scattered here and there. When I looked up I could see Luna and one of the orbiting stations, L3 I think. There were also glittering dots moving around that must have been shuttles, bots or other transports moving around in low-orbit. No stars, though. Zita said the Earth was too bright to let us see any stars, even if we were outside the atmosphere. But I could tell we were getting farther away from the Earth. It was subtle, hard to tell unless you were looking for it, but everything below us was gradually getting smaller and sinking closer to the floor.  Some while later the pilot came on the intercom again and told us she was going to turn the walls off for now, but that she’d turn them back on when we got close enough to Luna so we could get a good look.

After a while I got bored so I took a nap. I guess I was asleep when our capsule detached from the elevator and was transferred to the Lunar trans-ship. Ozzie said it wasn’t that exciting, just some bouncing around but nothing major. When I woke up we were well on our way to Luna, coasting, not accelerating. And that means Zero-G!

A bunch of us who had never been in space before had fun floating. Some people had trouble with Zero-G and needed treatment from an autodoc for nausea, but to me it just felt like I was floating, like in one of those dreams when you feel like you’re flying. Pretty cool. Not 18 hours worth of cool, but pretty cool. Before too long I decided to catch a vid. I wasn’t really watching it, but pretending to gave me an excuse to sit and think. None of this seemed real, still doesn’t, really, and I kept thinking about Jenna. And Darrell. And Momma, too. Part of me wanted to send them a text, just to say hi, let them know where I was. But I was afraid there might be extra charges for sending any kind of message, and until I had a better feel for things I didn’t want to spend any more than I had to.

So I sat and chilled, floated around after a while, talked to the others for a while to see if they knew anything more about Luna and what would happen when we got there.  Like I said, boring. Seems a strange way to start off a new life.

il_fullxfull-344720420True to her word, the pilot turned the walls back on when we got close enough to Luna to take a look. The view was every bit as impressive as the view of Earth, but for different reasons. Earth is all different shades of blue, brown and green, with clouds acting like highlights. But Luna is black and white and lots and lots of grey. Somehow it manages to look soft and harsh all at the same time. Even the structures on the surface are black, white and grey. What little color there is is mostly from lights, signs or from surface markings for navigation.

Again, our slow progress towards Luna was detectable, but barely, and it seemed like only a few minutes had passed before the pilot announced she was going to turn the wallscreens off again. This time it annoyed me, though. I wanted to look at Luna, the place that was going to be my first assignment, my first real step into my new life. Based on the expression on Ozzie’s face, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

A few hours later, we got our chance. The Lunar trans-ship let go of us – all it does is travel back and forth between Earth and Luna, never landing, just passing by before heading back – and the pilot brought us down to the surface. She knew her stuff, we landed light as a feather. Then we had to wait a bit while our capsule was brought below the surface and into a pressurized area. We used that time to try getting a feel for Luna’s gravity. You weigh a lot less on Luna than you do on Earth, something like 80% less, so instead of weighing around 55 kilos I only weigh 9 kilos on Luna. You’d be amazed how much of a difference that makes when you’re trying to do simple things like walk, pick things up, or have a drink of something using a glass.

When the doors to the capsule opened my comm lit up with directions on where I was supposed to go. Turns out that Ozzie and I are in the same training group and bunk in the same housing block. Surprisingly, since we’re here for a few weeks we each have our own private mini-hab, each one with independent life support and rations in case there’s a catastrophic breach. When we got to the housing block there was this tiny old lady, she looked like she was at least 100, who met us and introduced herself as Señora Gomez, the block Supervisor and our orientation officer. She let us stow our belongings, then gave us a quick run down on basic safety procedures. She said she would be going over everything again, which is good because I think I caught less than 10% of what she said. Basically, if the hab breaches, or a suit breaches, or there are micro-meteorites, or a solar flare, or if any one of a bunch of other things happens, we die. Straight up.

I’m beginning to think Jenna may be right, that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Enough for now. I’m gonna grab a late dinner – we landed around 21:00 local time. Then I’m gonna get some shut-eye before training tomorrow.

 

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