Chapter 4 - A Stroll On The Moon On the moon, can you imagine that! And we landed safe and sound. All thanks to a guardian angel, named Al and the world's biggest and most egoistical computer to back me up. Now I had to lock everything up, suit up and then for my stroll on the moon. Feeling great and loving it! Al finally had enough room to stand up, but he still had to stick out from the control panel since there was only enough room for two to stand. It seems due to the limited amount of room, each astronaut had to dress the other one. "OK Sam. Push that umbilical cord into the blue connection on the front of my suit. Turn it left till it clicks. Good," said Al looking at his hand link read out, listening to the technicians in the imaging camber and trying to remember his training from almost 30 years before. "You're a little rusty there, Firefly. We're behind our best time by thirty minutes," said the younger Al. "Oh, just nervous I guess. Nervous and excited," said Sam. "I know what you mean. This is the ultimate kick in the pants!" said the younger Al smiling. "Houston, Constellation. We are putting on our helmets. Radio check. How do you read?" asked Al the younger. "Constellation, Houston. You're five by five. Do you copy?" asked the cap com. "Roger Cap com. You're loud and clear," said Al the younger. "Do a radio check, Sam!" said Al the observer. "Houston, Constellation, radio check. Do you hear me?" asked Sam. "Constellation, Houston. You are coming on loud and clear. Do you copy?" asked the cap com. "Roger that. I hear you fine!" said Sam. "Depressurization commencing, Houston," said Al the younger. "Roger, we have a green light. No we see a warning signal. Check your EVA suits," said the cap com. "Sam. Your right glove is not completely tight. Click it closed again," said Al the observer. "Houston, Constellation. I am fixing my glove. How's that?" asked Sam. "Roger, all lights are green. Continue with decompression," said the cap com. When pressure inside the LEM had reach a vacuum, Al Calavicci opened up the hatch and started down the ladder. "Boy, it's beautiful out here. No windows to look through now. The ladder is easy to negotiate. I am opening the equipment bay," said Al. "Your transmission is coming in crystal clear, Constellation," said the cap com. "Houston, Calavicci. HI BETH!" said Al as he waved and went to the base of the ladder. "It looks a lot like the beach around Hilo near sunset. I'm going to step off of the LEM footpad now. May what we learn here take our science further than the distance that we had to travel to the moon," said Al in a historic moment in the mission. "Some PR guy back at Marshall Spaceflight Center penned that one. Hokey, but I'll always be remembered for it," said Al standing next to Sam in the LEM module. "The area around Aristarchus is very rocky. We're sitting on about a Five-degree slope. Moving around is not too hard. I'm going to pick up the contingency sample, Houston," said Al the younger. "That's just in case we got attacked by moon men or the LEM was going to blow up. At least we bring back ONE ROCK! Now we're going to do this right." Al punched a few buttons on his hand link and slowly descended to the footpad. Stepping off he said, "God, I wish the Volaskey twins were here. I wander what it's like in one sixth G? Now's that's memorable," he said blowing smoke into the darkness of space. In fact he looked very strange in his orange Armani walking around on the lunar surface smoking his cigar. "This is even better than sitting on the outside of the Command Module. I'm really walking on the moon. No space suit! Neil Armstrong eat your heart out. YES!" "Constellation, Houston. Ready for the Lunar Module pilot egress," said the cap com. "Roger, Houston. Exiting LEM," said Sam. "OK, Sam. Lower your head, twist to the right. Remember you have 180 pounds on your back, but it only weighs thirty pounds. Good Sam," said Al the observer. "Houston, I'm at the foot of the ladder. I find stepping off very easy. Hopping is much easier than walking," said Sam. "Look at that crater over there, Firefly," said Al the younger. "What a soup bowl that would make! " said Sam. "Reminds me of a sand trap I was in at Pebble Beach. The vice president and I were playing it and I shot a double birdie even with the trap," said Al the younger. "Constellation, Houston. Roger you're in the trap. Recommend a wedge," said the cap com. "Lookie here. I just found Shepard's ball. One hell of a slice ending up here," said Al the younger. "Copy. Lost and found will notify Captain Shepard. Proceed with unloading the LRV," said the cap com. To my amazement, we unfolded a four-wheeled vehicle from the side of Constellation. It had wire mesh wheels and two seats made of straps. A camera was mounted front and center. It had no engine, but a small motor for each wheel. Commander Calavicci and I made three journeys with the lunar rover throughout the Aristarchus area visiting both craters and a valley or canyon that was formed by a collapsed lava flow tube. No where on the moon would water have made such a canyon. Though not as big as the Grand Canyon, it was beautiful in the fading light of the long lunar day. Al was with me all the time the telling me where to go and which rocks to pick up. The Aristarchus region contained both light and dark material. We saw extensive evidence of volcanic activity. Al said that this was all confirmed by the NASA scientists at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Visiting the Aristarchus crater was incredible. It was forty kilometers in diameter and almost four kilometers deep. That made that crater in Arizona look like a pothole. NASA had never visited such a large crater before. It was a beautiful sight. On the last day we set up the lunar experiment package and the American flag. "Sure looks great against the dark sky," said Sam staring at it. "Old Glory. Long may she wave. And she will sit here on the moon for a long, long time," said Al the younger. "About three hundred thousand years, unless we're back before then," said Al the observer. "Constellation, Houston. Data is being received from the Lunar Experiment Package. Data stream looks good," said the cap com. "Roger, cap com. We will now take the sun shield off the plaque," said Al. "Care to read it, Firefly?" "Sure. Here men set forth exploring the Aristarchus region. April 1973. We came in peace and left with knowledge and it has the signatures of the Apollo 18 astronauts," said Sam. "Constellation, Houston. Roger, we copy. Thank you. Time to clean up shop. Move the LRV to it's final resting place," said the cap com. "Hope I can find a parking place," said Al the younger driving it about 500 feet away," We climbed up the ladder for the last time and closed the hatch. After removing my helmet I said excitedly, "That is one experience I will never forget." "Ain't it the truth," said Al the observer poking his head into the LEM. "Ain't it the truth," said Al the younger. Al the observer first looked shocked and then replied. "Brilliant observation, if I do say myself. And I did. Twice!" Much later they depressurized the LEM to throw out the extra food, waste and the EVA suits. "Can you see just leaving that trash on the moon?" said Al the observer. "But then there's only so much fuel in the LEM ascent stage. It seems so cruel with the beauty that the moon has had for millions of years, just to dump your trash. Jeez, it's a shame," said Al shaking his head and blowing smoke rings into the darkness of space. "Houston, Constellation. We have one last experiment to do. Aristarchus, was a Greek mathematician that postulated that the sun was the center of the solar system centuries before Copernicus. He also fairly accurately deduced the distance the earth was from the moon by using the diameter of the moon as a unit of measurement. I mounted a pole with a circle on it on the Lunar Experiment Package antenna and plan to do the same experiment," said Al the younger. "Roger, Constellation. Commence Aristarchus one," said the cap com. "I'm lining the disc up with the earth. Using a little logic, a little Calavicci know-how and a pad of paper," said Al the younger. "What about the computer?" asked Sam. "Unless it's has to do with our trajectory, I don't think it will work!" said Al the younger wondering about his partner. "SAM! The computer on my watch can do more than that landing computer. This is 1973. It wasn't designed to do general computations. By the way, the answer is 475,000 kilometers," said Al the observer. Sam showed him the answer. "475,000 miles. Looks like we have a longer trip home, Houston," said Al the younger. "Constellation, Houston. We'll send up a rope help pull you down!" said the cap com. "I question our scientific method up here. But it's all a tribute to the crater's namesake. His answer was closer. Those Greeks were pretty smart 3000 years ago. The experiment has been completed, Houston," said Al the younger. "Constellation, Houston. Roger. Start check list for lift off," said the cap com. Al and I went through the check list and made sure all the dials read properly and all the switches were set. My holographic friend was not usually nostalgic, but was really sorry to say good-bye again to the lunar surface. "God this place is majestic. I wish Beth were here to see it," said Al the observer. "Admiral, the images will be saved as always. You and Captain Calavicci can visit it at any time," said Ziggy. "Thanks, Ziggy," said Al the observer.