Rise Of The Artemis Collective 3 Resource Extraction Site #4
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"Landing outfit confirmed."
"Okay, we're a go for landing at site 4, Isabelle bring us in."
With total focus, Isabelle wouldn't notice if someone shot a firearm right next to her ear, right now all there existed in her world was herself, her copilot Tom and the control interface of the Artemis 2 SSTO craft. Lining up the landing vector with the craft's current velocity vector Isabelle went over all the numbers displayed in front of her on various instrument readouts and checked them before double checking and independently verifying each of the values together with Tom.
"Pilot go for commitment."
"Copilot also go for commitment."
[Computer go for landing, now requesting clearance… Clearance confirmed.]
With the go ahead from home flight command back on earth, Isabelle let go of the stick as she no longer needed to remain on standby to manually aboard and bring the craft into orbit around the moon, from here the computer with do most of the hard work until they got closer. How would one even land on the moon in an SSTO? That was the question Isabelle originally had on her mind through a large part of her initial training at the collective, while the answer might seem simple on the surface, it was far from it. Some people might look at the Artemis 2 with its delta shaped wings, landing wheels and compact air intakes near the armoured c.o.c.kpit of the plane and think it was just like a normal plane, and that it would land as such on the moon, but the lack of an atmosphere, the speed at which it would land at and multiple other factors would make that feat impossible. Other people who had paid a bit more attention in cla.s.s might a.s.sume it would land by deploying a landing gear on the rear of the craft before landing upright like the Eagle landing craft which first brought humans to the moon, and while that's how the Artemis 1 landed, the Artemis 2 did not have that feature as it added too much weight.
"Flipping. Hold on tight back there!"
With an aggressive moment of the stick, Isabelle flipped around the craft so that its engines now pointed towards the lunar surface as she lit up the engines and started to reduce speed per the flight computer's readouts.
"We're committed for landing, site 4 confirm."
Speaking into her microphone, Isabelle waited for the short signal delay before a response came through.
[Site 4 confirms, you're looking good.]
With a vaguely humanoid sound coming from the other side, Tom confirmed that the landing computer had engaged.
(Now for the hard part… Waiting.)
Having knowledge of the sheer absurdity of the upcoming manoeuvre and knowing she couldn't do anything if something went wrong even as she sat at the controls definitely made the waiting worse for Isabelle as she held tightly on to the flight stick with such force that her knuckles turned white.
"Relax Isabelle, it's just like landing on an aircraft carrier."
(This is not just like landing on an aircraft carrier! This is not just like landing on an aircraft carrier! There's literally no comparison! This might as well be like jumping from s.p.a.ce and landing on a f.u.c.king penny! Oh, wait that's because it f.u.c.king is like jumping from s.p.a.ce and landing on a f.u.c.king penny!)
With Isabelle giving Tom a death stare he quickly realized that his advice was not helping
"Look you don't need to look at me like that, I get it."
Almost being able to hear her inner thoughts, Tom opted for another method of encouragement as he placed a hand on Isabelle's shoulder.
"You got this, there's a reason why you're the pilot."
"... Thanks, sorry for overreaching."
Having calmed down again Isabelle was able to properly focus on the task at hand and before long the small grey dot in the distance had grown to encompa.s.s almost her entire view.
Isabelle's job at this was simple enough was, she just needed to hit the target while managing the crafts approach speed it burned towards the moon. Her target was the resource extraction site #4 landing 'pad', a large net construction on the surface of the moon. With a full load of supplies, the Artemis 2 simply didn't have enough deltV to completely slow down and land on the moon, but that didn't matter as there was no reason to slow down completely. With a combination of varied techniques derived from the Artemis collectives US defence and navy contracts, the collective devised a landing system that would be considered truly absurd by most normal standards, just not in the history of s.p.a.ce travel.
"Beacon reading 5 by 5, you got it."
"Yeah, I got it. Everybody brace for landing!"
Burning up the last of the Artemis' fuel, Isabelle stuck the landing as she felt the rapid deceleration before the vibration of the landing braces attaching itself to the Artemis 2 s.p.a.ceplane.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to resource extraction site #4. Please returns your trays to the upright position and please remember all your personal belongings as you prepare to leave the s.p.a.ceplane. We once again thank all of you for flying with air Viking."
Wiping the sweat off her brows Isabelle spoke in an overly confident tone as she started calming down, finally realizing that she had been gripping the control stick so hard that her hand had cramped up.
"Helen, how is the fleet looking?"
"It's looking good, I'm just going through the software one last time while Max looks over the machines with Tom and inspects them for any damage we need to request parts for. How's the Artemis 2 holding up?"
"It's in perfect shape, I'll be loading it on the launch track tomorrow with the help of Tom before we start sending up refined helium-3."
After a short rest and unpacking of all the supplies, work immediately started on site #4 as Tom and Max suited up and started inspecting the gigantic helium-3 mining rigs while Isabelle inspected the Artemis 2 for any signs of damage and Helen who was both the youngest member of the team and the software drone expert went over the drone launch system and drone software.
"I've also been picking up signs of a meteor shower that'll be impacting this area in about 15 hours, will you be looking at it with Max?"
"Yeah, definitely. Max says it might be extrasolar in origin."
"E-extrasolar, as in not from our solar system? Will it be safe?"
Visibly flinching when Isabelle mentioned that they were going to casually stroll out and pick up objects unlike anything any human being had ever come into contact with, h.e.l.len showed concern for her friend's safety.
"Yep, don't worry. We're taking all the precautions."
"O-okay then, good luck I guess."
"Thanks~ I'm going to go down to the lower levels, do you want anything?"
"Oh, yeah some coffee would be nice."
Leaving Helen in the main server room, Isabelle took an elevator down deeper into the heart of the moon base where the crew quarters and main storage was located to s.h.i.+eld the crew doing their normal operations from cosmic radiation, seeing as they couldn't be covered by a few layers of lead like the servers constantly were. Arriving at the lowest level Isabelle walked by the drone control room and individual sleeping quarters after going through emergency airlocks to arrive in the crew 'kitchen'.
(Well, even calling it a kitchen might be a stretch… Seeing as it's just a grouping of hydration systems for freeze dried food next to the food stores.)
As Isabelle was on free time at the moment she took a few minutes to find her prefered mid day meal and rehydrate it before returning to the elevator while checking up on the base reactor on her tablet as she returned to the upper levels.
"Hmm… Energy levels on the second chamber have dropped by about 0.9% since we last were here, is it decaying?... But it's still within the margin, so it's fine."
The fusion reactor which was powering the entire base was located several kilometres underground to s.h.i.+eld its sensors from cosmic radiation, but that in turn made it harder to service as it was just a series of depressurized tunnels that led all the way down there.
"How is #19?"
"Looking good, if you don't count the busted up scoop."
While Isabelle was lazing around and roaming the base, Tom and Max worked to inspect the mining rigs in the depressurized vehicle bay. Even the low gravity in their work environment the multiple ton, 20 meter tall mega machines took some time to go over, due to the ever present moon dust which seemed to stick to almost everything. While Tom checked out the ma.s.sive tank like treads to see if any of them had been busted up beyond repair. The vehicle bay served both as the loading docks for the mining rigs as well as the only way in or out of site #4 trough a ma.s.sive tunnel with a gradual incline which eventually led to the lunar surface with the large electromagnetic catapult which launched both helium-3 transport drones and the Artemis 2 s.p.a.ceplanes alike.
"How are the kids?"
With the two of them just about finis.h.i.+ng up, Max decided to start some small talk to fill the time.
"... Angry, what about yours?"
"Proud. Don't worry, they'll show that they care about you when they get a little older."
"Yeah, that's what they say about teenagers but I still don't really believe it…"
With Tom having two teenage daughters back home, the 'dad is going to work in s.p.a.ce' conversation didn't really go over that well first time he took off to s.p.a.ce, nor did it the second time over. Meanwhile, Max had a large family with kids there was a lot older than Tom's after Max had worked in the south American mining industry for almost a decade only to be laid off, and then land a job at the Artemis collective? His entire family was extremely proud of him.
"They are most likely ju-"
[Proximity alarm, shelter in place.]
Caught mid sentence Max was slow to react when the station AI suddenly gave out a master alert, luckily Tom was nearby.
Grabbing his hand, Tom dragged Max down under a mining rig as they contacted Helen inside the station to find out what was going on.
"Helen, what was that!?"
"It's the meteor shower, apparently most of it didn't show up on the scanners. Are you two safe?"
"Yeah, we're hiding under one of the mining rig's."
"Good… Stay put for now."
Confirming that Max and Tom were safe Isabelle immediately dialled up Artemis home command as she completely slit into her vacuum suit which she and all the others half wore at all times when outside their personal rooms.
"Command, command! This is site #4, we're being hit with a meteor shower not previously observed."
Waiting the 3 seconds for the signal delay between the moon and earth as she felt her heart pound in her chest, Helen finally received a response after waiting what felt like an eternity.
"Yeah, we're also just seeing it hit our scopes now, standby.... It looks our calculations were off, it's the shower scheduled to hit in 14 hours."
"Received and understood Artemis command, I have two crew outside in the vehicle bay, please advice."
"Bring them in, the angle of the shower doesn't align with the site #4 vehicle bay. For now, suspend all mining operations for the next 48 hours, we'll be looking at satellite data to find out where the meteors impacted and decided who is the closest to collect samples. Stand by for further directives, command out."
After calling Max and Tom inside Helen felt all the pressure drain out from her as she collapsed back in her chair and took off her helmet.
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Having heard the alarm when she was coming back up in the elevator, Isabelle had rushed back to Helen.
"The meteor shower is. .h.i.tting our area, we're fine."
"So it was a false alarm… Thank G.o.d."
Seeing her friends pressure drain from her face, Helen completely forgot what she had been thinking about.
"Yeah, I was also worried there for a second. Do you have my coffee?"
"Eh?... Ah, yeah but I kinda tossed it aside in the elevator."
"EH!? No way!"
"Sorry, I'll go get you a new one, and clean up the mess…"
As the crew felt the situation more or less over, not a single one of them speculated on why exactly something as predictable as a meteor shower hadn't shown up on any scans before coming so close.
Rise Of The Artemis Collective 3 Resource Extraction Site #4
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Rise Of The Artemis Collective 3 Resource Extraction Site #4 summary
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