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Adventures in Orbiter

Mining the Moon - Pt. IV Author: David Organ ( Staiduk )

One thing's for sure; Intersolar doesn't believe in idle hands.

No sooner do I get back from the OB1 run when I'm called into the OCF again.
Remember those 4 Bonded Couriers I came out with? Well; it seems they've been busy little beavers.

OK; by now people must be pretty confused; so I guess I'd better explain about BC's - it's not exactly a high-profile job.

Bonded Couriers
1st; you've got to understand that despite being the absolute bane of every extra-terrestrial prospector; BC's are not employed by any company or consortium. They're low-level United Nations officials; one step up the ladder from office pool. As most of you know from high-school history; shortly after Rutan's Colonial Express landed in Clavius and set up rudimentary living and ice-mining operations; the UN realized the age of extra-terrestrial commercialization had begun. By the time Lunar Explorer and Rising Star had been built to compete; the UN had formed UNETCOB (United Nations Extra-Terrestrial Commercial Operations Board) to oversee all off-planet commercial activities. Since much of these activities centered around mining the moon and thus opened a new boom in prospecting; UNETCOB took steps to control the oldest problem between prospectors, their companies, and the law: claim fraud.
The big difference between lunar prospecting and the old Earth prospecting booms is simple: Getting to and around the Moon is bloody hard. To oversee matters; UNETCOB created the position of Bonded Courier - a neutral official witness to the verification and legal status of all claim stakes.
It's a hassle for prospectors; true enough. It's not exactly a prize position for BC's either. Originally; UN staff fought to get these positions; after all the lure of going into space was very appealing; as was the danger bonus. The thrill soon faded though; prospectors - and their parent companies - don't like the idea of government officials watching their every move and usually don't give BC's a very nice time of it. Also; a six-month tour on the Moon can easily create intense homesickness; and once returning to Earth getting used to one G is pretty painful. Most BC's therefore last only one or two tours before transferring to something more cheerful - like UNHCR.

The procedure for prospectors and BC's works as follows:
A prospector heads out and finds a likely strike. He marks the position with a claim flag and returns to base. (That's the short version. In reality; he does a whole bunch of passive and active radar scans to see if he's been followed; flies to a random point and returns from there; etc. in an effort to keep his claim secret. Claim jumping/theft is a real problem - or was; until a few jumpers were found outside their spacecraft without the benefit of pressure suits.)

Upon return; he contacts the UN field office and lays official claim to the area; a circular zone exactly one kilometer in diameter centered around the claim flag.

After filing the claim; the Bonded Courier takes over. He/she takes the paperwork, timestamps it, locks it into a briefcase and hangs on to it. From this point until the claim is authorized; the paperwork never leaves his posession. The prospector takes the BC back out to the claim site; then sits inside his spacecraft while the BC goes outside to verify the claim. (If the prospector leaves his vehicle for any reason - save the rescue of a BC in imminent danger - the claim is rendered null.)
The BC conducts the claim survey; verifying the flag is exactly where the prospector reported; then marking the exact claim boundaries. (A tiring job; but necessary. Officials or not; liked or not; I must admit BC's work for their pay. Imagine painting a circle with a diameter of 1 Km. - that's 3.14whatever Km.s around - over rough, broken Lunar rock. Accurate to the centimeter as well. Tough enough on Earth; try it on the Moon!)

Once this is done the BC returns to the craft; unsuits and opens the paperwork again. (He carried it with him while doing the survey.) He fills out the remainder of the claim forms; signs, has the prospector sign; then they return to base.
Once back at base; they sign to witness; the prospector gets his copy; the company gets another and the UN keeps the third; and the claim is officially filed.

Anyway; back to the story.

Like I said; those 4 new BC's had been busy little buggers during the time I'd been bouncing around up at OB1. They'd sat down with the annual claim reports and studied them; and noticed that most of the recent claims had been centering around the Southwest Highlands - Tycho; Grimaldi and the like. Burning retrogade (backwards) to slow down; 
300 kms out from Heinlein. 
The base sits in the crater just visible on the horizon.
They therefore decided to shift operations - after getting clearance from UNETCOB in New York; they decided to leave one of their number in Brighton and shift the remaining three to Heinlein Base; closer to the action.

....and guess who had the pleasure of getting them out there.

Actually; I don't mind at all. After discussing the matter (Arguing, whining and threatening, actually) with the S&R staff at Brighton; I was given clearance to shift my own operations to work out of Heinlein - I plan to work the Southwest myself.

That's cool - Heinlien's got a pretty good tourism setup so it's quite comfortable. The scenery's nice too; not like the flat plains surrounding Brighton.

So; next morning I met up with my 3 passengers (they looked fresh - had a chance to shower and sleep - I looked like death warmed over; I still hadn't managed more than a quick nap while in orbit) and shuffled off to Buffalo - or out to the Weasle; I should say.

The flight went easy - it's just a quick half-hour hop. Flying from point to point on the Moon is basically flying a real low orbit - 25 kms up at about 1770 m/s.



Almost there - the massive and spectacular crater Tycho is ahead; one can see the distinctive giant splash marks from that ancient collision leading to the crater itself; which is just over the horizon.


On final approach to Heinlein Base; North Pad Bravo. If the base looks familiar; that's no accident. 3M designed it with tourism in mind; so since the old, old TV show SPACE:1999 was enjoying a resurgence (along with a big budget film remake) and the fictional Moonbase Alpha's design was actually very effective; they built Heinlein Base as a faithful reproduction of the show's lunar station. Tourists love it; the only downside is unlike the show; there aren't many hot girls in miniskirts in the real thing.


Touching down. HB's got those exterior airlocks right on the pads - convenient when leaving the spaceplane; but a big obstacle to watch for when landing.





Down and unloading. The 3 BC's have just gone in the airlock; I'm just shutting down before joining them.
At last - I get to have some sleep!
And then do what I came here for! (look for Iridium, that is. 'Bout time, too.)

Mining the Moon Pt.V

You will need the following add-ons to run this mission for yourself.

- DGIII and skins
- Moon Base Alpha


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