“This is Apollo Base, reporting touchdown.”
“Roger Apollo Base, any special message to relay?”
“Yes, tell Fischer we’ll make sure his suite has the latest in Radiation shielding.”
“Roger that, Apollo Base, good luck.”
Clicking the comm override, Brian Tern turned to his crew. “Okay men, we’re doing this one by the book.” Eyes rolled among the crew.
“Captain, what if we find something that’s not in the book?” That was Adam Christopher, the construction foreman.
“Well then, Adam, we go by my book. Improvise with style.” The crew laughed at that, and started gearing up. Brian started heading up to the command deck, his gait still not quite adjusted to the moon’s gravity. He nodded to his second, Eric Olson, and sat down at his station. “How’s the weather looking, Eric?”
Eric glanced at the solar report. “Looks like smooth weather, cap. The Russians have been kind enough to let us read the telemetry from Blizko 5, looks fairly quiet sun side. Besides, thanks to your landing, nobody should take less than an hour to get into the magnetic field shelter, plenty of time if we do get a CME.” Brian nodded.
The biggest selling point of the Artemis missions had been the magnetic field shelter, designed to reflect protons traveling up to 15% of light speed, more than twice as fast as all but the fastest recorded proton storms to date. That, combined with the 10.7cm early warning Radio, had saved members of Artemis 12 from worse than bad sunburn when a solar flare erupted while the sun was near zenith. Brian smiled, remembering how the Space Construction Guild had put a lawsuit to the vote and had it voted down 6 to 1. After that, the Artemis missions had had a huge amount of media interest, with 16 slated to have a reporter sent along. Especially fitting, as 16 was supposed to make Apollo Base operational, and leave a skeleton crew behind. The base itself would not be fully crewed until 17, and, providing he passed the physicals, the PR guys back home were suggesting Alan Fischer, pilot of the first new transorbital spaceflight since the Apollo missions, be sent up in 20, to administrate the base. Privately, Tern thought Fischer was wasted as a mere administrator, but that decision was going to be made well above his head.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, he glanced at the various readouts. A pilot with generalized training in all the fields being used out here, many of them theoretical, apparently meant he was fit to be a captain. The Artemis missions, so far, seemed to be luckier than the previous Apollo missions, as there had not been any exceptional equipment failures to date. He grabbed the log book, and wrote down:
January 13th, 2035, 1250UTC: Arrival at Apollo Base. Artemis 15 so far is going smoothly. Have landed at coordinates 00°41′00″N, 23°26′10″W, approximately 300 meters from Tranquility Base. Caches left by previous Artemis missions captured by video during landing approach. Excavation crew leaving ship as soon as they are ready.
“Captain, we’re ready to go.” The voice of Foreman Christopher came over the intercom. “We’re just waiting for you to do the honors.”
Tern smiled. He had found, in drills, that he could be suited up and ready for EVA in less than 30 seconds. He never let anyone know why he had gotten so quick at it. He nodded to Olson.
“You’re in charge of the ship ‘til I get back. Make sure that comm system is working, we want the warning from the 10.7 ASAP.”
Eric nodded. “Will do, captain, have a nice walk.”
Brian Tern stood next to the foreman. “Airlock evacuated, cycling the door.” Brian looked over the Mare as the outer door opened, hardly the first to do so, but the first to EVA on this mission.
“This was worth waiting for,” he said as he jumped out the airlock, realizing almost before his feet lost contact that he’d misjudged his aim, and he was going to land awkwardly at best. “I think I’m going to be the first human to somersault on the moon!” A burst of laughter came from the construction crew as he shifted his body to land without hurting himself, and he indeed did acquire that honor.
The crew dropped down a bit more conservatively as Brian halted his momentum, and started hopping back to the Verne. “Well now, aren’t you glad they gave up on the Space Shuttle? This is working out far better.” He turned around, getting his bearings.
“The first cache