#111 December 1997
Section 188.8.131.52.111.of the Artemis Data Book
by Peter Kokh
What's a Field & Stream sort of guy to do on a world where you need a clumsy spacesuit just to survive?Just the facts, M'am
A Truth-in-Writing Declaration
The author is not a hunter or a fisherman, nor a sailor or pilot. Nonetheless, he loves the outdoors with a passion, finding exhilaration and renewal in long walks through woods and fields. up mountain-slopes and through rocky canyons, either by himself or with his dogs. Through the years he has had many a treasured moment sitting alone by a well hidden waterfall, or perched on some mountain peak looking down on valleys, yes, down even on clouds and eagles. Yet this has been sporadic activity for him, and he knows full well that there are those for whom the outdoors is not just a shot in the arm, but lifeblood.
The Moon has no atmosphere. You cannot stand outdoors in your shirtsleeves, not even bundled up but with face exposed, enjoying the uninterrupted sunshine, or the star spangled skies beyond belief. You must wear a spacesuit, or be in side a protective vehicle, or within a pressurized structure. Your communion with nature cannot be immediate, as on Earth. It must be mediated, very unsatisfactorily, by contrivances and contraptions allowing you to survive outside of your element.
While there is no air or breeze to be chilly or sultry, surface temperatures can swing wildly between sun and shade, between dayspan and night-span. Exercise and exertion mean a buildup of heat from which it is difficult to find relief. Sweating only makes things worse, steamy in the sun, clammy in the shade.
Outdoor sports like flying and soaring and kiting and hang-gliding are not possible. Though human-powered flight may become a commonplace in large enough pressurized megastructures. Fishing and hunting will be possible someday, but only in small captive reserves, smacking of "canned hunting." Swimming needs only an indoor or middoor pool, and canoeing along urban canals and boulevard streams is a likely target for city fathers seeking to make life as homelike as possible. But open sea sailing and boating will be a memory, or at best a virtual reality pastime.
For the spelunker, there will be lavatubes aplenty. But these great lunar underworlds, unlike Earth's limestone caves carved by water through sedimentary rock that once was ocean bed, lack stalactite and stalagmite, no curtain, column or drapery formations; they boast no underground streams or pools.
And for the coup de gras, even the protection of the spacesuit is overwhelmed by time, too long out-vac at a time, too many short excursions over the long haul. Radiation exposure is accumulative. One will have to hoard his surface outing time, saving it for occasions that are the most necessary, and/or the most rewarding. No all day, every day stuff. Never again for those who would forsake Cradle Earth. Not until another sweet thick atmosphere blessed Cradle World is found, or made.
What's a guy to do? no green hills or valleys, no woods, no grassy plains or meadows, no boundless seas horizon to horizon!
Quit your bellyaching!
The Joe Six Pack, who only imagines himself indulging in all these activities from the safety of his sofa cushion, will moan and groan. But the true inveterate son of the outdoors will find a way, make a way if necessary, to satisfy his search to live one with nature, one with the wind, one with the sun, one with the stars. At least on the Moon, it is possible. Those who boast that they are nature's children, but only indulge themselves from the safety of a tether-leash, in urban parks and man-made meadows, will delight, poor souls, in those human "zoo-parks in the sky", the great O'Neillian space settlements. Some of us must march to another drum. We need to be one on one with nature, and not just nature counterfeited by man - in a bottle.
Here on that harsher frontier, where there are natural landscapes and landforms undreamt of, where one is surrounded by nature untamed and uncaricaturized by man, the true outdoorsman will find a way, indeed many a way. And the result will be all the more gratifying for the challenges that will have been overcome along the way.
The Spacesuit is dead! - Long live the Spacesuit!
The spacesuit has its origin in a series of ad hoc improvements to the high altitude aviator's pressure suit. It has been made capable of handling not just thin air, but vacuum, not just cool or warm air but the merciless heat of the unmediated sun, and the insatiable heat sink of the naked cosmic skies. In the process it has grown ever heavier to wear, ever more cumbersome to move around in, or do useful tool-yielding physical work. Using it to transfer between pressurized habitats or vehicle cabins and the vacuum out side requires expensive airlocks, poor at retaining precious volatiles, and failing altogether to keep outvac the insidious, mischievous, ubiquitous moondust.
The spacesuit needs to be rethought. The time is long overdue. But you don't see the need if you have only short term goals. It is perhaps imagined by many that the spacesuit is what makes it possible for humans to be in space, or on the Moon, or Mars. In actuality, it is the spacesuit, in the forms realized to date, that is the biggest on-site obstacle to human acculturation to these alien shores.
First, routine chores outside pressurized habitats, outposts, and vehicles, can be performed much more comfortably in the older more flexible less weighty high pressure aviation suits. All we need to do is to put in place sky/sun shielding ramada canopies over routine work areas and aprons.
[See MMM # 37 JUL '90, p 3, "Ramadas"]Second, the space suit can be radically redesigned to be entered as if it were a formfitting vehicle, from a turtleback life support unit. One backs into a conformal convex dock-lock, the turtle back engages, the inner hatch opens, the turtle back opens into the interior space thus opened up, and the suit wearer reaches up and out behind his head to grasp a bar inside the habitat or vehicle and pulls himself out of the docked suit, into the habitat or vehicle. There would be much less precious volatile loss (specifically Nitrogen) during each outbound cycling, much less insidious moondust tracking in on each inbound use.
[See MMM # 89 OCT '95, pp 3-5 "SHELTER on the Moon: Digging in for longer, safer stays"]
[see MMM # 89 OCT '90, "Dust Control"]Today's suits are veritable "Dagwood sandwiches" of layer after layer of different materials, chosen to hold in the pressure, keep out the vacuum, and buffer against thermal extremes. The result is an unwieldy amount of bulk that makes motion difficult, and the graceful agility prized by the outdoorsman, nothing more than a forgotten memory. Are there alternatives to this overbearing layering? Maybe not, but the "Young Turk", the won't-take-anyone's-word-for-it type of guy who in the end invents everything, will be the one to test the uprighteousness of this all too early capitulation. One almost suspects that the greater the perceived technological difficulty the more likely "ordinary folk" will continue to leave space, and the Moon, to the godly experts. It is important to the priestly class who now permits only token human scout activity, to maintain all myths.
Assume a lighter suit, one that is entered through a docked turtle back hatch, rather than donned inside in preparation for a ceremonialized grand exit or entrance through the airlock. Given such substantial improvements, personal after-breakfast or after-supper hikes through the never quite the same moonscapes becomes a possibility. In his novel Earthlight, Arthur C. Clarke has his hero jog some 600 kilometers to the nearest outpost after his vehicle breaks down. Not bearing all that weight. Not without being able to shed all that perspiration and heat from exertion. In high sun conditions (say within 20° of the equator, and within two days of local dayspan noon) solar overheating can be avoided by deploying a gossamer helmet mounted parasol of aluminum foil. In sixthweight and in the absence of air and wind, such a comically ungainly contraption will be less ridiculous than it seems.
In the all time number one science fiction best selling classic Dune, the desert dwelling Fremen wore stillsuits to both conserve body moisture - even the urine was recycled into drinking water - and shed excess height. This fictional invention provides a goal for those who would improve the spacesuit to strive after. It is those who would not try, and don't want to be proven wrong, who say it can't be done.
The Buppet, like the turtle back suit, is something we've spoken of previously, for instance in the "Dust Control" article cited above. The Buppet (contraction of Body Puppet) is really a telephone booth sized upright personal cab(in) within which the shirt-sleeved operator directly controls manipulator arms and either "legs", tracks, or wheels. This device will allow a more immediate sense of oneness with the terrain than that afforded by vehicles of more conventional configuration. What's more, it is made for one, and will take you where you want to go in acceptable comfort. Ideal if you are a prospector, like to collect rocks, or simply explore difficult but scenic terrain. It will do fine, with inboard stereo, to just loose yourself over the horizon for a while, meditating on all the mysterious meanings and enigmas of life.
From Personal Vehicles to Motor Coaches
Your spirit of adventure may be well-enough satisfied satisfied by following sundry beaten tracks. Or it may compel you to seek the trackless expanses "where no man has gone before" or at least not too often. You know yourself. In the first case, just the right personal vehicle for you may be relatively small and simple. In the second case, you may need prudent capacity for provisions, spare parts, tools, and medical supplies, as well as a vehicle with a much more capable suspension and life support system. If you are not one to stray far from home, but like to get out on your Harley all-terrain moonbike once and awhile, there probably will be just such a bike for you. [Herein Milwaukee, where Harleys are made and designed only a few blocks from my home, we had hoped to coax Harley-Davidson into putting together just such a dustmaster for ISDC '98. Alas, we let our lead time slip, and it's not to be.]
For the everyday intersettlement traveler or businessmen, the first modest coaches operated by Graymaster Lines, may be conversions of the crew cabins of "amphibious" lunar landers. Such vehicles which we have dubbed frogs, or toads (depending upon whether the conversion is temporary or permanent) would have the crew compartment, equipped with a wheeled and motorized chassis, underslung between the engines, so that upon landing, they can be winched down to the ground and taxi away.
So what's an Outdoorsman to do?
Well, if you can live within the Rad limits, not cheating by removing your monitor wristband either occasionally or with compulsive frequency (until and unless you have been diagnosed with an incurable fatal or degenerative disease - why, then, reckless is the thing to be!) - if you can live within these strictures, and be satisfied, you can do a lot.
[MMM#81 DEC'94 p1 "Surrey with a Fringe On Top"]
Farther Down the Road, Way Down
We have included in the outdoor menu above recreational, hobby, leisure travel, and occupational activities that outdoor lovers from Earth might enjoy in the "magnificent desolation" of the Moon, provided they have an open attitude. Temperaments and moods firmed up by stubbornness are not easily changed. But then we are speaking to outdoor souls. It will never be "just like on Earth". You can't substitute for Earth's forests and plains, for its rivers and lakes, and least of all for its global ocean, the mother biome of all life. But if the pioneer ceases to pine for what he or she has willingly left behind, and give it a chance, there may lie ahead plenty of moments of outvac satisfaction. The Moon is not Earth, but it has its own beauty, its own scenic wonders, its own awesome sights. In this now alien environment, people with "outdoor souls" will someday come to feel quite at home. They will learn to love activities they can indulge in on the Moon but could never do on Earth.
The Moon offers vacuum, lavatubes that are gargantuan by Earth standards, awesome craters and vast frozen lava flood plains. It offers stunning views of Earth, and the stars? Why Lunans will wonder how people of Earth could ever have been drawn on an epic journey to the stars that they could barely see. And hopefully, any sense of loss that lingers in first generation pioneers will sublimate into a drive, a passion to find still more ways to enjoy, relax, and have fun in the great outvac.
In the end, the prospective pioneer must choose. If there are activities
on Earth that cannot soon enough be duplicated on the Moon, to which his
happiness is pegged, it's best to be honest and call your self a stay-at-home
Pioneer supporter. There is no point in being heroic. There is nothing
wrong with being attached to recreational pursuits than will not translate
well to the "new" world. The Space Frontier needs not only those willing
to and psychologically capable of forsaking Earth, it needs real trusted
friends who will stay at home and lend invaluable support that can only
be given by people in the mother world. Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto
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Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto