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Adventures in Orbiter
Mining the Moon - Pt. V Author: David Organ ( Staiduk )
Finally! I get to do what I came for - prospect for iridium.
After dropping the three Bonded Couriers off at Heinlein and seeing them safely unsuited; I headed in to the central hub
to find a billet for the night. There are hostels; as well as pilots' quarters at the 3M offices but I decided to splurge and get a hotel room at the Raffles. Yes; it's 'Heinlein Base'; so 3M named
the hotel after R.A.H.'s famous lunar hotel in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Slightly humourous; since Raffles in the book was a dive.
Raffles at Heinlein is most definitely not a dive. It's a solid three-star or low four; with a couple excellent restaurants and well-appointed rooms. The price was high but worth it, since I'll be living out of my cockpit for long days to come.
After setting up in my room; I changed, showered and despite being bone-tired from lack of sleep; headed down to one of the hotel's restaurants, the Oddysey Cafe. I was pleasantly
surprised to find Amanda Patterson - one of the BC's I'd just shuttled over - there. She saw me; invited me over. We spent a pleasant dinner chatting together. After saying goodnight; I retired for
about a year of much-needed sleep.
Next morning (early afternoon actually); I saw to the kitting-out of the Weasle for prospecting duty. I spoke to the pad crews and had them extend the pad's retractable loading dock out to the ship's airlock so I wouldn't have to suit up (an expensive but very helpful option); then spent the next few hours taking out passenger seats, hammocks and storage; then loading in extra survey and mineral testing gear.
Finally; after deciding that everything was ready; I placed a call to the BC's office, got hold of Amanda and met her for an early dinner. A couple of hours later; I was suited up, in
vacuum and climbing into the Weasle for my first prospecting run of the trip.
For all its sleek looks; the Delta Glider III is a general utility spaceplane; not a fighter or
Of course; no-one ever bothered to tell me that. After powering up; I gained clearance for departure for Heinlein Pad Control, and gently lifted off. For about 20 meters, that is.
Heinlein doesn't have an Intersolar office; so they're not about to enforce Company procedure. Once the wingtips cleared; I rolled her over sideways and hit the mains
and hover engines simultaneously; blasting away from the base in a manoeuver Lunar pilots like to call the 'Daisy Cutter'.
Heh heh - just gotta love a craft that does what you tell it!
Now to head for iridium - the problem is finding it.Company eggheads had located several likely sites and included them in my
mission profile. Though I'm by no means restricted to only looking in those spots; they're a good enough starting point. Locking the
first site into the nav; I roll her level and power out of the crater in a northerly direction. In a few minutes; I'm at orbital speed; 50km.
up. Two hours after that; I'm settling down to the maria of the first target site.
First impressions are not promising. It's just after lunar dawn; so it's still very dark. (Won't get light for about another week.) This is a very old crater about 10Km. across; the result of some ancient heavy impact. It doesn't show much indication of being an iridium-rich area; but there are a couple of promising spots I'd like to check out. I power the Weasle down to standby, then suit up and cycle myself out the airlock to check the area out in person.
In short; it's a bummer. I start heading for the area of bright rock I'd seen on my descent. I got about 100m then went up to my chest in dust - a sinkhole.
The whole area's submerged in at least a foot of the stuff. In the light lunar gravity it's not dangerous to wade through; but it is tiring. After about half an hour of slogging I reached the spot I was going for - about the only non-sunken rock for a few kilometers. I clambered up into a smallish crater, take a few samples and tested them out.
Bad news. There's traces of iridium here; but only traces. Not nearly enough to justify even a pilot hole. So it's safe to say this area's a
bust - but I'm not about to give up just yet. Part of the crater wall has a crater of its own where a smaller meteor bullseyed it - I'll check that area out as well.
It turned out to be a lot farther away than I thought - almost 3 kilometers; and 5 from the Weasle. Judging distance by eye on the Moon
is patently impossible without a laser rangefinder. Unless there's something you can judge scale by; from even a short distance away a
rock could be ten meters or a hundred - there's no way to tell. I got caught by that; and wound up slogging much farther than I
expected. Wading through dust the entire time. I got there to find a big old dustbowl; no trace of iridium, not even a half-decent view to
make the labour worthwhile. Panting, sweating, bitching and getting low on oxygen, I turn back for the ship. After another forty-five
minutes of wondering why I'd ever been stupid enough to get a job as a prospector; I climbed wearily back into the Weasle, powered up, peeled the suit off and lay down for a long nap.
Back to the ship. Times like this I wonder: Why the Hell didn't they put a ladder in the nose of this thing?!
When I woke up; I clipped fresh charges into the suit; set the depleted ones to charge, then headed out again. Unlikely or not; I didn't get good by not being thorough.
I stayed in the area for two more days. Two wasted, useless days with not so much as a single yellow-white iridium kernel for my trouble.
Well; that's par for the course. If you can't accept failure you'll never make it as a prospector - for every successful strike there's 20 dry runs - and that's taking knowledge, preparation and intel
into account. Lots more places to search; time to get to it.
Heading for the next target.
>>Mining the Moon Pt. VI
You will need the following add-ons to run this mission for yourself.
- DGIII and skins
- Moon Base Alpha