Moonshine Two

Some of his peers called his job the chain saw, others the underdog or even the under taker. Whatever, his machine set the direction, level and speed of the drives for the whole mine. To call the abrading arm a saw was close, but it was a narrow belt of scraping, hardened teeth. This unit was one of the few machines not home grown, but simply adapted to this mine. The adaption was the industrial vacuum cleaner that took the fine powder away from the face, stored it and took small samples periodically, for the analysis crew. The skill, was to undercut the face as deep as the blade would reach, so level, the floor of the drive was road grade smooth. This allowed the face cutters to segment the face into squares, which became cubes, when the power wedging plant broke the face apart.

Starting at the bottom and working up to the top, the initial under cut gave room for the cubes to fall. The face cutters were lasers set up in gangs, with the dust the laser caused extracted by a small duct system. The small pieces of the ore body were then loaded onto the conveyor to go to the crusher jaws. As blasting was not needed, downtime was minimal and the only bottleneck was moving the undercutter to another drive.

The width of this drive made it possible for the undercutter, the laser cutters and the wedging plant to all work together.

The loader to the conveyor belts was the new continuous overhead model, that had a duct delivering to the conveyor belt. The flexible feed at the back extending hydraulically, under the operator's control and discretion. The segmented conveyors with the kick ups at the delivery ends were easily moved as the face progressed. Tapping into the power line as the drive extended gave power feeds to all of the mine machinery.

The use of sensors at the fall ends of the conveyor would shut down the whole belt system, if one section failed. Replacing one section, as needed, solving the problem. A Short walk from the drive face a transport crew was extending the track and power strips for the ride back to base.

A levelling cutter was setting a path in the middle of the floor of the drive ready for the inductor tracks. Using this new path as a guide, a ceiling cutter was preparing the roof for the power strips that powered the mining.

The transport crew were responsible for the so Flycycle. To call so large a vehicle a cycle was a joke, on the two in line wheels. Each wheel was a powered electric rotor which drove the vehicle along a prepared track-way. The electro-magnets set into the circumference of each wheel, both lifted and drove the vehicle forward. A powered undercarriage held the vehicle straight and level. When the speed was enough to support the vehicle, the undercarriage retracted.The power from the ceiling power strips sent through slip brushes, powering the flycycle.

As the speed rose, the stubby wings set on the roof of the vehicle took effect. The wings being close to the roof, gave a reversed ground affect, with a big lift. A wheel set running on the ceiling varied the wing angle as the speed rose. At full speed, the wing was set at a minimum of drag.

At full speed the trip home was minutes instead of hours. The track being in the tunnel centre left room for all the mining services. At slow down the under carriage was lowered, the power was cut, the vehicles slowed then entered the base station. The walk from the base station to the accommodation module, just enough to unwind and relax. A ramp led them through a circular opening into the biggest attrium in the world. A huge circular window lit the floor and wall of the home module. The ramp and the floor were not joined and the floor was slowly rotating. The floor of the attrium was travelling at right angles to the ramp. The biggest attrium in the world with a transparent dome.

A vortex of air was rising next to the wall, from the floor to the dome. In the vortex a flock of gliders like big birds travelling up the wall and down in the centre. The gliders turning, swooping and stall turning to end in speed dives then finishing with huge circular turns. The articulated wings of the gliders, pushed open and shut by pistons powered by compressed nitrogen. The valves at the hand holds giving the pilots facets of control only birds used. When by accident the air was at a higher pressure, the hang gliders could stall at a slower speed, but conversely turn at a higher speed for almost verticle angles with hifg gee loading.

After two hours of free form flying, teams began to assemble for a relay race. The start a launch from a wall platform, with people on their balconies as an audience. A swoop to base centre, to catch the outflow wind, then fly back to the wall, past the balconies, to find the small variations in the core of the flow. Reaching the top of the wall to ride the inflow, now at peak speed spilling into the dome. The dome centre where the air could only go down, partially from gravity, to complete the vortex, spinning into the circular wall from the bottom.

The flight down from the dome needed care, to prevent an overspeed of the glider. Most pilots used a continuous circular descent, diving in and out of the falling air column. A long diving turn, to reconnect to the rising vortex, from an agreed low altitude. Another lap from base to land on the platform and hand the baton to the next team member. The landing on the platform was as testing as the turbulence of the dome, but for a different reason. The platform was a part of the rotating wall, a part of an apartment roof Up and down had to be rotated ninety degrees in the mind of the flyer, so that what felt like a turn, was in fact, the start of a landing stall. The trick was to fly in the direction of the wall rotation so that looking at the platform became down, then to stall onto the sope of the platform. The stall needed to be at the slowest speed, with full pitch deflection, just above the landing zone.

The platform was positioned a little above one of the sloping glass paths and walls, that spiralled from the bottom of the wall up to the top. This gave a stronger air flow next to the apartment roofs and made for easier landings. After the gliders period the human powered units began the three dimensional soccer. The name" air bikes" with shrouded rear propellers and short double wings and a canard front elevator. A mesh pad on the nose to bump the floating ball. To fly in three dimensions required a high level of cardiac fitness. With the goals halfway up the wall and on opposite sides of the attrium, the goal keepers had tethers for safety as competition could be fierce. To avoid collisions and think in the three dee made for gruelling encounters.

Old mine drives were places to learn and practice. A flight along the drive to the outposts was a relaxing escape. The vortex that lifted gliders, along with the central falling column of air, made for difficult flying after the neutral buoyancy ball, which made the soccer game possible. The sloping strips of clear glass that went from the bottom to the top of the attrium wall had three uses. One was to circulate the air from the base to the dome. The second was as an exit from the complex of apartments to the base. The third was a safety measure to catch and slide anyone falling of their roof The vortex kept the air mixed and moving, a varying percentage was sent through a separate chamber for biologic cleaning in the food growing area.

The paths were in two sections, the strip that took a spiral path down the apartment roofs. A glass wall at right angles to catch the air and cause the air vortex. This second wall was the safety feature. Anyone free of the gravity action of the gravity wall could fall hundreds of feet to the base. While the gravity is weak and the air pressure is sea level nominal, a fall without an air brake would cause injury. The path as it left the base of the wall had a slow twist, as it traversed into the centre of the base floor. The centrifugal force diminishing until near the centre, the one sixth gravity of the moon was prime. Anybody on the path at the base centre was looking at the tops of the apartments.

As soon as the unit was finished and powered up to speed people were ready to move in. The miners, the smelters, the geologists, the astronomers and the medical staff. The ceramic coating of the metal, an old technology, made the fire hazard a much reduced fear. The heat exchangers outside used to generate power in the day time. At night time the exchangers were used to liquefy air and separate any contaminates out. The liquid nitrogen fraction essential for the super-cooled magnets that suspended and spun the attrium module. The liqyid nitrogen the gliders piston power, pure air under pressure generated oxided of nitrogen that nobody wanted.

The bank of heat exchangers had a maintenance crew to change the valving at sun rise and sun set for the different tasks of power generation and air cleaning. The community had several income streams from mining and smelting, sale of hydrogen and oxygen for fuel, dust for deep space ion drives. The space guard search and deflect of any dangerous space body had an income and it covered a lot of the astronomy costs. The geologists research into planetary formation also helped the mining industry. The medical research into olw gravity medication and the new geriatric possibilities attracted good people. The astronomers had as part of their duties, the use of the x-ray and gamma ray search units to look for any space bodies on an earth collision.

The very short wave units could find something coming out of a solar path. These short wave search radars were an impossibility on earth and expensive as earth orbitors. The ordinary optical and radar scopes used for surveillance were able to be monstrous by earth standards. The radio astronomy equipment set up remotely on the eternal earth shadow were like wise of a size and definition to be booked up years ahead by astronomers. The need to track heavy hydrogen, deuterium leaving the sun, had started a search for a laser, to detect that particular hydrogen atom in solar space. Preliminary laboratory testing had been successful as a vacuum chamber with space levels of deuterium had triggered detectable radiation from the tenuous particles. A laser unit with deuterium as the lasing element, to be energised had been the most promising. The next step was to mount a large laser unit on the dark side. A remote operation as the radio scopes did not want any type of interference. A n earth orbiting remote sensor launched from the moon completed the equipment. The moon base was a viable part of research.