The Rock Sled


JJ's Face

Hello to all earth-dwellers and dreamers!  JJ here with a few thoughts on asteroid working.  In other words, the tools a rock-slinger might be packing.  –Especially if he (she) is working on the surface.

Everyone knows there’s very little gravity involved.  Almost nil.  However, if he’s prospecting, checking on the mooring cables, servicing the solar collectors or whatever, he’ll packing gear with him.  His exo suit will be burdened enough with its own air supply, power pack, and whatnot, so he’ll have to pull his stuff along with him.

But how?  If he pulls it in a bag attached behind him, it’s going to bump into him whenever he stops or slows down.  Or because of its own mass and momentum, it will wander, sway, and tug at him, forcing him either to secure it or let it pull him off his task site.  Also, economics being pretty lean out there, he can’t afford his own personal spaceship to be there at his beck and call.  He’ll have to improvise.  Something easy, cheap, and serviceable.

It will look astonishingly like a toboggan, or perhaps even a kayak, with room for storage fore and aft.  No engines, and no need.  A simple pole, pointed at both ends for better purchase, can be used by the spacer in a paddling motion, just like an Inuit native paddling a kayak.  He can move along at a good pace, stopping, pivoting, and holding himself in place quite easily.  A few small grappling hooks and anchor the sled to the surface while he performs a necessary chore, or examines a promising outcropping of rock or ice.  In addition, extra tools like a small pick-hammer, levers, and cables can be clipped in place or on the underside itself.

A larger cousin of this device would be also useful, especially if had steering jets.

It could carry extra cargo and consumables, and ever serve as a handy ‘gig’ to rendezvous with visiting or slow-passing ships, to exchange cargo and a passenger or two.  It could even sweep the local station area for debris, small rocks, or the occasional trash bag carelessly lost or thrown overboard.  There will be a fine for that, by the way.

It might even be big enough to stow an inflatable tent for the evening if he or she is going to be out for an extensive time.  Whether or not to gather enough loose rocks or regolith to provide radiation shelter for extended hours will be a matter of discussion.  For that matter, it’s not impossible for robots to manufacture and pre-position rocky ‘igloos’ here and there just for such an eventuality.

This is JJ, signing off for now.

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