by Matthew Spence
Matthew Spence is a freelance writer whose work has most recently appeared in Short Beasts, Flora Fiction, and Suburban Witchcraft. His work also appears on Wattpad.
“Baked bricks,” Commander Mavis said, with some skepticism. “You want to bake bricks on the Moon?”
“It could be done, and has been in zero g environments, with microwaves,” Doctor Pak replied. “The base engineers say it’s feasible, and at no cost to the authorities back on Earth.”
“That’s not what I’m concerned about. This is a privately funded base.” It was true, but they still had investors. “But they do like to save money, so I’ll run it by them…what exactly do you want to do?”
“Bake the alkaline dust on the surface at roughly 2500 degrees Fahrenheit,”Pak replied. “The surface is already highly charged with particles, so it should couple to microwave radiation quite efficiently. We could use the sun as a source. A road would be far more efficient than transport tubes; vehicles could use the impacted surface and save fuel and transportation costs from one base to another, and so forth.”
Mavis nodded thoughtfully. “I’ll point that out to them,” she said. “All right, start working. If it’s successful it could make other forms of ground transport on Luna obsolete, and we’d be the first to do it.”
The private base was located in Copernicus Crater. The main plan was to “build” a road between it and Kepler, where it would meet up with another, smaller observatory station that bore the crater’s name.
Solar mirrors were set up in low orbit to magnify the sun’s rays, like, Pak explained, using a magnifying glass on the ground on Earth. NASA had agreed to let them use some of their own; the idea of roads on the moon appealed to them, as well, and Mavis was sure that other supranationals-the EU and Asians Unions, in particular-would also be watching. She knew that it wasn’t about politics for Pak and his team; they only wanted to prove it could be done. But the lunar road race was on, and Mavis did want to win. Being first would help.
The first leg of the section of “highway” they’d mapped out was the easiest. The Moon’s short horizon made the surveying easier. The low gravity allowed for grading with crawlers without having to add too much density. Construction drones added shoulders and the top layer of compacted paving.
Not that there weren’t problems. NASA security, which had been assigned to them due to the use of their mirrors, reported attempts by the Asian Union to hack the mirrors’ positioning thruster, apparently to make them beam each other. Meanwhile, the EU was laying claim to part of the territory beyond Kepler, where they had laid earlier claims that were rejected under the 1967 space treaty that was still in effect a century later. In the end, they had to settle with building their own road in between Pico and their base in Plato.
“It is kind of frustrating,” Pak acknowledged on the day their own road was finally completed. “Here we build a road, and everyone else wants their own. Roads should connect us, not divide us.”
“Maybe they will, someday,” Mavis agreed. “But this is our road. They can’t take that away from us. And whatever happens, it’ll always lead home.”