"[Science fiction] is the only kind of writing that allows you to look at the world we live in and change one piece at a time."
- Frederik Pohl
||A tough, transparent material used to make domes or even spacecraft.
|Made of stellene, mostly—an improved form of polyethylene—almost the same stuff as a weather balloon."
"A few millimeters thick, light, perfectly flexible when deflated," Nelsen added. "Cut out and cement your bubb together in any shape you choose. Fold it up firmly, like a parachute—it makes a small package that can be carried up into orbit in a blastoff rocket with the best efficiency. There, attached flasks of breathable atmosphere fill it out in a minute. Eight pounds pressure makes it fairly solid in a vacuum. So, behold—you've got breathing and living room, inside. There's nylon cording for increased strength—as in an automobile tire—though not nearly as much. There's a silicone gum between the thin double layers, to seal possible meteor punctures. A darkening lead-salt impregnation in the otherwise transparent stellene cuts radiation entry below the danger level, and filters the glare and the hard ultra-violet out of the sunshine. So there you are, all set up."
|From The Planet Strappers,
by Raymond Z. Gallun.
Published by Pyramid Books in 1961
Additional resources -
If you're lucky you can find the nedessary materials on a likely moon:
"There is an extensive underlying layer of gypsum, here," he said. "The water-bearing rock. A mile away there's an ample deposit of graphite—carbon. Thus, there exists a complete local source of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, ideal for synthesizing various hydrocarbonic chemicals or making complicated polyethylene materials such as stellene, so useful in space. Lead, too, is not very far off. Silicon is, of course, available everywhere. There'll be a plant belonging to Hoffman Chemicals here, before too long. I was prospecting for them, for a site like this. Actually I was very lucky, locating this spot almost right away—which is fortunate. They think I'm still looking, and aren't concerned..."
The self-sealing nature of stellene is pretty slick; Gallun plagiarizes his own idea from From Asteroid of Fear (1951) (see self-sealing plastic). It won't help if the object is too big, though:
Then there were some tiny radar-blips, which could have indicated meteors. Nelsen and Ramos changed the angle of the ion guides of their ionic motors to move their bubbs from course, slightly, and dodge. During the first hour, they were successful. But then there were more blips, in greater numbers.
Fist-sized chunks flicked through their vehicles almost simultaneously. Air puffed out. Their rings collapsed under them—the sealer was no good for holes of such size. At once, the continued spin of the bubbs wound them, like limp laundry, into knots.
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