The Martian

Page 40

Coulda’ done it with ice. I’m just sayin’.

All right. On to my next problem: How do I fix the EVA suit? Duct tape might seal a hairline crack, but it can’t hold an atmosphere of pressure against the size of my broken faceplate.

The patch kit is too small, but still useful. I can spread the resin around the edge of where the faceplate was, then stick something on to cover the hole. Problem is, what do I use to cover the hole? Something that can stand up to a lot of pressure.

Looking around, the only thing I see that can hold an atmosphere is the EVA suit itself. There’s plenty of material to work with, and I can even cut it. Remember when I was cutting Hab canvas in to strips? Those same sheers are right here in my tool kit.

Cutting a chunk out of my EVA suit leaves it with another hole. But a hole I can control the shape and location of.

Yeah… I think I see a solution here. I’m going to cut off my arm!

Well, no. Not my arm. The EVA suit’s arm. I’ll cut right below the left elbow. Then I can cut along its length, turning it into a rectangle. It’ll be big enough to seal the faceplate, and it’ll be held in place by the resin.

Material designed to withstand atmospheric pressure? Check.

Resin designed to seal a breach against that pressure? Check.

And what about the gaping hole on the stumpy arm? Unlike my faceplate, the suit’s material is flexible. I’ll press it together and seal it with resin. I’ll have to press my left arm against my side while I’m in the suit, but there’ll be room.

I’ll be spreading the resin pretty thin, but it’s literally the strongest adhesive known to man. And it doesn’t have to be a perfect seal. It just has to last long enough for me to get to safety.

And where will that “safety” be? Not a damn clue.

Anyway, one problem at a time. Right now I’m fixing the EVA suit.



Cutting the arm off the suit was easy; so was cutting along its length to make a rectangle. Those sheers are strong as hell.

Cleaning the glass off the faceplate took longer than I’d expected. It’s unlikely it would puncture EVA suit material, but I’m not taking any chances. Besides, I don’t want glass in my face when I’m wearing it.

Then came the tricky part. Once I broke the seal on the patch kit, I had 60 seconds before the resin set. I scooped it off the patch kit with my fingers and quickly spread it around the rim of the faceplate. Then, I took what was left and sealed the arm hole.

I pressed the rectangle of suit material on to the helmet. I held it firmly with both hands while using my knee to keep pressure on the arm’s seam.

I held on until I’d counted 120 seconds. Just to be sure.

It seemed to work well. The seal looked strong and the resin was rock-hard. I did, however, glue my hand to the helmet.

Stop laughing.

In retrospect, using my fingers to spread the resin wasn’t the best plan. Fortunately, my left hand was still free. After some grunting and a lot of profanities, I was able to reach the tool box. Once I got a screwdriver I chiseled myself free (feeling really stupid the whole time.)

Using the arm computer, I had the suit overpressurize to 1.2 atmospheres. The faceplate patch bowed outward, but otherwise held firm. The arm filled in, threatening to tear the new seam, but stayed in one piece.

Then I watched the readouts to see how airtight things were.

Answer: Not very.

The suit is designed for 8 hours of use. That works out to 250ml of liquid oxygen. Just to be safe, the suit has a full liter of O2 capacity. But that’s only half the story.

The rest of the air is nitrogen. It’s just there to add pressure. When the suit leaks, that’s what it backfills with. The suit has 2 liters of liquid N2 storage.

It absolutely pissed the air out. In 60 seconds it leaked so much it pressurized the whole airlock to 1.2 atmospheres.

Let’s call the volume of the airlock 2 cubic meters. The inflated EVA suit probably takes up half of it. So it took 5 minutes to add 0.2 atmospheres to 1 cubic meter. That’s 285g of air (trust me on the math). The air in the tanks is around 1 gram per cubic centimeter, meaning I just lost 285ml.

The three tanks combined had 3000ml to start with. A lot of that was used to maintain pressure while the airlock was leaking. Also, my breathing turned some oxygen in to carbon dioxide, which was captured by the suit’s CO2 filters.

Checking the readouts, I have 410ml of oxygen, 738ml of nitrogen. Together, they make almost 1150ml to work with. That, divided by 285ml lost per minute…

Once I’m out of the airlock, this EVA suit will only last 4 minutes.




Ok, I’ve been thinking some more.

What good is going to the rover? I’d just be trapped there instead. The extra room would be nice, but I’d still die eventually. No Water Reclaimer, no Oxygenator, no food. Take your pick; all of those problems are fatal.

I need to fix the Hab. I know what to do; we practiced it in training. But it’ll take a long time. I’ll have to scrounge around in the now-collapsed canvas to get the spare material for patching. Then I have to find the breach and seal-strip a patch in place.

But it’ll take hours to repair and my EVA suit is shit.

I’ll need another suit. Martinez’s used to be in the rover. I hauled it all the way to the Pathfinder site and back, just in case I needed a spare. But when I returned, I put it back in the Hab.

Damn it!

All right, so I’ll need to get another suit before going to the rover. Which one? Johanssen’s is too small for me (tiny little gal, our Johanssen). Lewis’s is full of water. Actually, by now it’s full of slowly sublimating ice. The mangled, glued together suit I have with me is Beck’s; my original suit has a hole in it. That just leaves Martinez and Vogel.

I left Martinez’s near my bunk, in case I needed a suit in a hurry. Of course, after that sudden decompression, it could be anywhere. Still, it’s a place to start.

Next problem: I’m like 50 meters from the Hab. Running in 0.4g while wearing a bulky EVA suit isn’t easy. At best, I can trundle 2 meters per second. That’s a precious 25 seconds; almost an eighth of my 4 minutes. I’ve got to bring that down.

But how?



I’ll roll the damn airlock.

It’s basically a phone booth on its side. I did some experiments.

I figured if I want it to roll, I’ll need to hit the wall as hard as possible. And I have to be in the air at the time. I can’t press against some other part of the airlock. The forces would cancel and it wouldn’t move at all.

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