Thursday, 10 January 2013

Day Ten: McMurdo Hub

I put the word “Hub” in my lunar McMurdo’s name the other day, and that has come to inform the way that I’ve laid the station out. Situated within the neat circle of the Dawes Crater, I started with a  large central facility that would serves as kind of a command and social center for lunar activity. Someplace nice and normal and city-like that would allow the UN and the space agencies to show how fine life off-world can be for current and future generations. A series of spokes stretch out from there, spreading across the heart of the crater, providing space for housing and the larger utility centers.

Dawes is just over eleven miles in diameter, and, with a maximum population of somewhere between 1500 and 2000, McMurdo doesn’t need all of that space yet. Think of it as room to grow, and imagine something a little less crabbed when you take a look at this rough diagram that I drew up.


Okay, so, normally I would have scanned this, but my scanner’s not exactly working right now. What we’ve got instead is this kind of terrible photograph, but I think you can still get the gist of it. Let me run down the components for you:

We’ll start at 1, which is the central hub facility addressed above. It’s mostly a social center with restaurants and bars, a movie theater and a small park. The medical center is also located in this area, along with the public offices of several administrators. The ring of smaller, numbered facilities around the hub are sort of back-bone departments, housing Admin ( 2 ), Engineering ( 3 ) and it’s connected rover maintenance bay ( also 3 ), Waste Reclamation (4 ), Water Handling ( 5 ), Atmosphere Handling ( 6 ), and Security ( 7 ).

Around these facilities are the primary access corridors, highlighted in red. Each of the six is named for a major space pioneer (only one or two of whom are likely to be fictional), and they lead first to the housing sectors ( A ). The southernmost, Gagarin, is several miles in length and leads out past the southern rim of the crater. Instead of housing, it features a massive, partly pressurized storage area ( E ), and eventually leads out to Port Control ( F ) and the colony’s landing fields ( G ). The northernmost corridor, Tereshkova, leads out past its housing complex to the primary communications center ( D ), which oversees and services all communications made on the lunar network, and handles routing and packet transfer for most surface contact with the orbitals and Earth. At the ends of the southeast and southwest corridors (Leonov and Armstrong respectively) are a series of massive hydroponics banks ( B ) which provide fresh foodstuffs, as well as atmosphere reclamation centers. Finally, at the ends of the northeastern and northwestern corridors (which I don’t have names for yet) we have the power centers ( C ), which maintain a number of small fusion reactors as well as a pair of elaborate solar arrays.

For as impressive as McMurdo would appear to an outsider, it’s also an extremely delicate place. Most of it is under several feet of dirt for the sake of radiation shielding, and while there are windows and skylights all over the place, they’re extremely thick and don’t provide much of a view or let in any real light. There’s dust getting in from the surface everywhere and ventilation has to run constantly to prevent toxic pockets from building up (need to talk to someone to see how big of a problem this would be in lunar gravity), so there are few places that are actually clean or quiet. There’s the constant risk of some astral projectile hitting the place and venting atmosphere, and the landing fields are miles away to prevent human beings causing much the same problem accidentally. Plus, there’s no such thing as a closed system with our current level of technology. McMurdo can collect as much energy as possible, recycle as much water, grow as much food…but eventually a machine is going to break or they’re going to run out of something, and Earth is going to have to bail them out. It’s a dangerous enough place, even without a murderer possibly running around.

I like this layout, actually. It’s got some fairly traditional elements to it, but I like the fact that the whole thing is also kind of a publicity stunt that could go wrong at any moment. It feels right, and it gives the lunar surface an air of instability that I think will lend itself well to driving the characters forward in their investigations.



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