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Moon-crete Monday

Posted by James Dubois in Uncategorized.
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As the boats are connected with the superstructure, people are feeling tense. After seven years in space, we’re not moving and although we have no physical sense of this, there’s a feeling of being still. The center of CHOIRS is a half-built docking center with plug-in ports for the the lifeboat modules. The plan is to use these as temporary dwellings over the next year while the mass shielding is built. I should explain.

One of the biggest problems with living out in space is that while the Earth has atmosphere and an electromagnetic field, space does not. That means harmful radiation that doesn’t reach the ground on Earth has no problem moving through vacuum. The result is that we’re constantly bombarded with GCR’s. Cosmic rays. The lifeboats get around this with some clever engineering and design: the bulk of the ship, not requiring much in the way of heat-shielding like the old space shuttle, is composed on titanium with a shell of hydrogen-rich plastic. This helps a lot in absorbing radiation that would normally pass through our fragile fleshy selves. The other form of shielding lies in our fuel and water supplies.

CHOIRS is going to last a long time and needs to have the needs of generations of inhabitants taken into consideration. To this end its going to have a mass shield encircling it. Dr. Wernick’s regolith team is building the shield from particulate from the moon of Tethys. Huge (and I mean huge) excavation machines have been pulling material from the moon’s surface, breaking it down and mixing into a kind of super-strong concrete. The lunar concrete (“moon-crete”) is launched from mass drivers on the surface of Tethys at super-slow velocity, just enough to send it to our “catchers,” robotic tugs that haul the slabs into position on the wireframe where they’re bolted on. I’m amazed at the grace and beauty involved in this operations. Chunks of moon-crete that would cover half a city block grabbed by gnat-sized robots and gently maneuvered into the frame. Thankfully this is all happening within the constraints of a rigid safety protocol. It would not be good for us if the catchers missed it crashed into us.

I believe the shell will be completed soon after CHOIRS spins up. Gregor says everything is going according to schedule. I worked with him on Luna (years ago!) and he and his wife are good people to have on the team. No nonsense, practical and brilliant (Janice is a classically-trained musician and she and a materials engineer on Wernick’s team have started a quartet of some kind).

Speaking of teams, the organizational structures in place shifted again. We’re now on a mandate from the CHOIRS Project backing nations to install representatives. Now that we’re officially here we need to set up some governmental entities above and beyond the ship/crew protocols. The captains of each of the ships are still in charge but there’s been discussion about when they’re to relinquish control and hand it over to a governing body. I guess because we’re still at sea and we need one steady hand on the wheel? Of course, this means my workload is going to increase. Not only am I still building this thing but now I’m one of the “city council” members. This was all put into place years ago in the initial charter but it still weirds me out. We’re already talking about elections once we’ve achieved spin. Some of the settlers are quite conservative (politically, not socially… you can’t really be when you’re locked in a tin can with strangers for seven years) and are looking for a traditional governmental structure. There are more than a few people of a socialist or libertarian mindset because of the nationalities involved. We have over a thousand voices that must be heard so I’m doing lots of research, reading a lot of papers on the subject by Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, et al. Sasha is devouring this stuff. I think because she was born during the end of the cold war and she saw the chaos of the Russian state. We’ve been having lively debates in the galley. Her personal history is enlightening/frightening (at least to a boring scientist like myself). She is (was?) a member of the Pirate Party? And she gave me stick loaded with all sorts of articles and movies of art shows and rallies (some very strange things).

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