Saturday, 4 April 2009

A Colony On Mars : Chapter 11

. Saturday, 4 April 2009

CHAPTER - Planning the March to Utopia
January 17, 2108: That afternoon when Tim returned to Carter's office
there were three construction workers and a couple Government scientists
going over some drawings on Carters desk. “Tim, take a look at this. The big
cavern which I think we should start calling Utopia for now, is about six miles
from this wall in the Government cavern. There are smaller caverns along the
way that we are going to have to secure and pressurize before advancing and
the way I see it we are going to have to tunnel for up to two miles. Our biggest
problem is that these caverns are not all on the same level. See this long
narrow cavern right here it is deeper than the others but once we reach the floor
of this long slender cavern right here it will enter right into Utopia on the same
level. so it looks like we are going to have to tunnel down to that sliver before
we can continue. Setting the downgrade into that cavern will be a real problem.
We will have at least five, maybe six smaller caverns to secure and pressurize
before we reach Utopia .

How long do you estimate it will take us to dig two miles of tunnel
Johnson?” “Let's see” said Johnson, “if we can complete one foot of tunnel per
hour average it would take roughly ten thousand hours, that would be about
seven months of continuous tunneling if we worked around the clock. That
could vary considerably depending on soil conditions and problems that we
might be encountered in sealing off the small caverns that we go through. We
have six hundred workers now and can expect at least three hundred more
before we reach Utopia
. “I would say that our tunneling crews would have to work in Mars suits
a lot of the time. Of course once a new cavern had been pressurized they
could headquarter in that cavern. The men will need 24 hours rest after working
eight hours and we will need eight men working at all times so that would mean
a tunneling crew of 32 men. All things considered I would say we will reach
Utopia in one to two years. At least that gives a workable time frame.”
“Once a tunnel is opened it will need to be enlarged. We will need four
more crews of eight men each for this job. They should not start work on a
tunnel until the tunneling crew has moved on to the next tunneling job so they
do not get into each others way. The crews doing the enlarging can use the dirt
they remove for top soil at the farm or for fill dirt in leveling the caverns. The
tunneling crews working for breakthrough will be digging approximately eight
foot by eight foot tunnels, the second crews will be enlarging the tunnels to 25
feet wide by 20 feet high.”
“Your next Fossum, how long will it take to seal off the small caverns and
pressurize them? “Does your chart show how many fissures need to be sealed
between here and Utopia, yes there is a count here for each cavern and a total
of up to one hundred fissures but that is only an estimate. There average width
on the chart appears to be three or four feet. “I estimate that a crew can seal
one fissure per day. That takes into account that the workers can not be
exposed to the surface for more than two hours at a time. All things considered
there is probably three to four months work there if we have the materials and if
we could only have one crew working at a time.” “Why don't you explain how
you go about sealing a fissure, Dave.” “We locate the fissures that need to be
filled by placing a bright light in the cavern then going out after dark in Mars
suits and making a visual observation of where the light penetrates the surface.
Then we flag the location so that we can find it the next day. To plug the hole
we dig out around the fissure, usually an eight foot hole and down three or four
feet until we hopefully hit bedrock. Then we lay in an eight foot piece of circular
one Inch tempered plywood. We then mix the concrete and pour it into hole
about eight Inches deep. When the concrete has cured we lay down eight foot
long pieces of rebar, criss crossed and wire the joints together. we pour fresh
concrete about one foot thick then when that has cured we lay on another
course of rebar followed by another course of concrete. The rest we just fill with
Mars soil until it is level with the surface.” This will take a crew about eight hours
in working time but they can be working on other fissures while the cement is
curing. Also keep in mind that when the winds come up on the surface we
can't do any work outside. Twice a year for almost a month at a time the winds
are too strong to do any work on the surface. There will probably be times
when opening one of the caverns will be delayed for a considerable time waiting
for the wind to die down.”
“How about installing and moving the air locks can one crew keep up,
Johnson fielded that question, “That is a definite yes but they would be kept
busy. As long as we have plenty of workers we should probably assign two
crews. One crew can set the small temporary locks while the other can set the
larger permanent sliding air locks once the tunnels have been enlarged. Can
our system handle the load of pressurizing that much new space. “Certainly not
all at once but if we only had to do one small cavern per week the answer would
be yes, We have some old oxygen making equipment over in supply that could
keep the atmosphere breathable without running any risk at all. Lets say we
can handle the atmosphere problem throughout the whole system as we go but
none of what we have said so far applies to Utopia .”
“If any of the small caverns turn out to be larger than anticipated then we
will install additional atmosphere apparatus along the way. While we are at it
we might as well have several more systems on order. We do have three
backup systems in the supply yard now but it is important that we always
maintain twice as much atmosphere equipment as we need so if we have an
equipment failure we will still have atmosphere. We could install the new
systems as we go and keep ordering more back up systems from the Company.
Actually the more area that we are providing atmosphere for the safer we will
be. We should discuss our needs in this area with the government employee
who handles the atmosphere now and assign more workers to that function. If
they are not needed on a given day he can release the workers to perform other
work until he does need them but they should all be trained to install and
maintain these systems. When we reach Utopia we'll need several new
systems to maintain atmosphere in a cavern that large. I won't know just how
many until we get there and I make some calculations.”
As for our maps and our estimation of the size and shape of the caverns
we will be going through keep in mind that this information was gathered
several years ago by flying over the area and taking infrared pictures. For a
number of reasons they may not be completely accurate.
“How many men can we spare now to start digging?” “With all of the
problems that I know we will encounter, my estimate is that we will need, fifty or
more. That would cover all of the support operations. I suggest that today we
select who we want on our tunneling crews, gather our equipment and start
them out in the morning under Johnson's supervision. Our first tunnel is going
to be a little over eight hundred feet long, we have plenty of people and we can
work them four hours on and 24 hours off. We won't need to set the air tight
seal until they are in seven hundred ninety feet. Then we will set the door and
the men will have to start working in Mars suits for the last ten feet to
Johnson and Tim spent the rest of the day going over lists of employees
and picking out the men that they wanted on the first four crews. The men were
notified by cell phone that they would start tunneling the next morning. They
were then asked to join Johnson in the supply depot and start locating all the
equipment they could find. A concrete block wall was erected in front of the
tunnel site but set back 20 feet to give the men room to work. The electricians
ran power over to the site and trenches were dug to catch the debris. Any of
the soil removed would be moved to where the farm was being set up. The
farmers could use it to make topsoil or the crews could use it in the wall that
would run along the river to protect the lake and stream from being
contaminated by the crop runoff.
January 19, 2108: Among the cargo Items unloaded from Mars Supply
One was the new equipment for processing human waste. As soon as Carter
saw it and read the setup manual he set two crews to installing the equipment.
One of the Scientists looking over the equipment decided that the machine
would fit in the small cavern attached to the Government cavern that had been
used as public bath rooms. Once it had been installed men drilled a four Inch
hole down from the surface and attached a power vent. Then put an air lock on
the door leading into the Government cavern. When the machine was in use
they would shut the air lock and work in Mars suits until they had finished
processing the waste matter.
The machine separated the matter into three parts. The liquid was
processed through reverse osmosis equipment and then allowed to run off into
the crevasse where they had been dumping everything. The non
biodegradable matter, ie the plastic porta potty liners or any other non
biodegradable matter that had found it's way into the sewer system, were
compressed into bricks and spat out the front of the machine where workers
stacked them to the side of the cavern. The machine then processed the
biodegradable mass which came out as a kind of mulch which was odorless
and and only slightly damp. All harmful bacteria had been removed but the
mulch was still rich in nutrients. The men captured this material in large plastic
garbage bags. Once the machine had finished processing the batch for the day
the crew turned on the power vent to the surface and opened a vent pipe that
ran along side the air lock. It only took a few seconds to exhaust all the stale air
in the cavern. Once the air was clean they could they would close the vents
and inject a strong ammonia based deodorant into the small cavern and open
the air lock. It took three men working in Mars suits about two hours per day to
process the waste. The result was about five hundred pounds of fertile mulch
and thirty or so plastic bricks that could be very valuable as light weight
building materials.
The mulch was taken over to the farm where Abner could combine it with
mineral nitrates and other fertilizers before it was mixing it with Mars dirt to
make top soil. Abner would soon need lots of top soil.
This daily processing chore was considered to be an undesirable job.
There were plenty of volunteers when they learned that they only had to work
about a four hour day.
January 20, 2108: The farm was coming along nicely. A large farm
house, lab and barn were being constructed. This would be the only house on
Mars with a fully functional kitchen, two bathrooms and four bedrooms. The
reason for the four bedrooms was that both couples had indicated that they
were probably on Mars to spend the rest of their lives and both couples
intended to start a family. Tim really liked the farm couples and it got him to
thinking about how they were making a commitment to live out their lives on
Mars after only being here a few days.
Tim asked Abner “What was it you said you wanted to show me next time
I got over this way” “The Ivy, Tim, The Ivy, look at this stuff.” By then the little
green shoots were up almost half an Inch. This stuff is like a weed, it will grow
anywhere even in ordinary cave light, it looks pleasing to the eye, especially
against these stark cavern walls and it will improve our atmosphere, or at least
take some of the load off our atmosphere apparatus.” “Sounds good but maybe
we better discuss it with the scientists before we start spreading the stuff
That evening Tim and Carla had a long talk. “How do you feel about
Mars now Carla?” I like it so far, it seems more vibrant and alive and it certainly
has a low crime rate. The work that I do is the same as I was doing on Earth
but the people are nicer to work with and the way The Company bends over
backward to provide us anything we ask for is wonderful. The only thing that
bothers me is that my biological clock is running and I would like to start a
family. We could start one here on Mars but there would be fines and penalties,
you know.” “I want a family also Carla, in a little over a year we will break into
Utopia Cavern and even if it takes two more years to seal and pressurize, we
are still looking at living in Utopia when our kids start school.”
“There we will have regular streets, with electric cars darting around, we
will have schools and churches and businesses. Bob told me that one of the
other prime investors in Mars Colony, Inc. is the family that owns all the biggest
store chain on Earth but they want to hold off opening up on Mars until Utopia is
“OK Carla, no more contraceptives. This is our home now and I love the
place. When our contract is up we can either renew once or stay on Mars and
go into business. I already know that The Company and Government are going
to sell off most of the real estate in Utopia to developers, businesses and
private citizens. If things go as I see them going we will be in on the ground
floor of the nicest city in the solar system. Besides I think I would have a lot
more difficulty in adjusting to Earth gravity than I had in adjusting to Mars

Continue Chapter:


:)) ;)) ;;) :D ;) :p :(( :) :( :X =(( :-o :-/ :-* :| 8-} :)] ~x( :-t b-( :-L x( =))

Post a Comment

Your Ad Here