The Base Gets Its Start
So this is how we decided to start our adventure. First, we sent our satellite probes to the moon, they took lots of pictures of the moon's surface (almost all of it), and got as much information as they could to help us find out to what places we could send our rovers. Then we sent rovers, they climbed all over the moon's surface, analyzed rock samples, took temperature and light measurements, investigated the lunar soil to see how hard it was to dig in, checked for important minerals, looked for ice, stuff like that.
Then we sent up the construction crew (These were still more robots,
but they were built to do construction). And with the robots went
the beginnings of our base. The construction robots dug the ditch
our base would go into. Then they unrolled this big, long, super-strong,
balloon into the ditch and put some air into it. The balloon filled
up the ditch. When sunlight hit the balloon, special substances in
the skin of the balloon became very hard. The balloon had turned
into our first base! Then the robots moved equipment we would need
inside the base (They even started our garden!). They buried the
base with some lunar soil, and set up some of our solar cells. Now
the base only needed one more thing...us!
Finally, after our months of training and hard work, the base was ready to begin operation. But the base was on the moon, and we needed to get there. First, to make things a little easier on the rockets we needed to go into earth orbit, we sent the fuel our spaceship would need to go to the moon in it's own rocket. Then it was our turn to follow in our spaceship. The spaceship was on top of a pretty big rocket. Ham and I looked at each other and nervously wondered what kind of ride we were going to have. Before we knew it we found out, "10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1..Blast off!!" There was a big rumbling sound, and everything shook, then we felt squished as the rocket accelerated into the sky. We went higher and faster, and in just a few minutes we were in outer space. Then suddenly, the rocket engines stopped, and there was no gravity at all. We would have floated out of our seats if we hadn't been wearing seat belts.
"This is amazing!" I said to myself, "we're in orbit! We're actually on our way to the moon!" Then I looked at Ham (He looked a little green, and his eyes were a little crossed). Dr. R. O. Dentia told us that when we got into orbit we might feel a little queasy at first. I guess Ham knew exactly what the doctor was talking about.
Once we were in orbit, we caught up with our fuel (which was in big tanks) and put the fuel into our spaceship. Then we were ready to go to the moon. We got ready to leave our orbit above the earth, and at the exact right time, we fired our spaceship's engines. Once again, we were squished down into our seats as the spaceship accelerated. After a little while, the engines stopped. We had left our orbit around the earth and were headed out towards the moon. Spaceships like ours don't run the engines all the time. Instead, we fire the engines only for a little while, then we coast for a long time. Ham and I checked in with mission control, we checked to make sure we were on the right course (we were), and then we sat back to enjoy the ride.
For the next three days, the earth shrunk in our spaceship's windows,
and the moon got bigger. Soon, we could see details on the moon's
surface that we had never imagined. Sure, we had seen the pictures
from the Apollo landings, and we had seen the moon through a telescope,
but here was the real thing. There was no haze or clouds outside
to get in the way of our view. In fact, our view was sharper and
more detailed than any view possible from earth.. The moon looked
so close you could reach out and touch it, but we were still thousands
of kilometers away from it. We found ourselves spending all
of our spare time staring at all the new landmarks on surface of our new
home: big craters, plains, mountains, valleys, even some long-dead volcanoes.
We would be exploring many of these places soon, it was all very exciting
to think about.
"One Small Hop for a Gerbil, one giant leap for Rodent Kind"
It was time to restart the spaceship's engines and slow down as we approached the moon. Ham expertly guided our ship on the correct trajectory around the backside of the moon. As we slowed down, we began to drop towards the surface of the moon. The moon stopped looking like a big ball in the sky and started looking like some solid ground to land on. Soon we heard the base's radio beacon. Then, as we got lower, we could make out the panels of solar cells on the 'roof' of our moon house. We didn't want to land too close to the base though, because rocket engines stir up alot of dust, and we didn't want to get our base's solar cells dirty. As we got closer, dust started flying up off of the surface of the moon as expected, making it pretty hard to see where we were going. Then suddenly, the landing light came on. Ham shut down the engines, and everything got real quiet. We had landed!
Ham and I were very happy with our work. We started hopping up
and down with excitement, but that wasn't such a good idea, because we
banged our heads on the ceiling pretty hard, and that hurt alot!
I guess we had forgotten about the moon's low gravity. We were going
to have to learn to follow some new rules here on the moon to keep from
hurting ourselves. After we checked our spaceship to make sure it
was OK, we packed our things, and put on our spacesuits and helmets.
We turned on a vacuum pump to remove the air from inside the spaceship's
cabin, then opened the outside hatch. Outside was a whole new world
for us to explore.
On to the Next Page..