2359 Open Area on the Moon

The open area is covered by an immaterial dome, but otherwise the area is open to space like earth's surface. Earth-like atmospheric conditions are created by technical means without employing a solid dome, massive shields or side walls. The open area is connected to the moon city Vegas.

The open area comprises a circle of five kilometers. The atmosphere is three kilometers high, but only the lower 100 meters are habitable. Beyond that the layered containment system begins. The system provides a pressure of 0.7 bar at ground level and an oxygen partial pressure which allows unlimited stays without additional life support.

A combination of transparent shields and active measures keeps the atmosphere inside and protects against radiation. Actually, the area is not completely open to space. It is covered by multiple layers of transparent gratings which electromagnetic near field projectors are attached to restricting the movement of atmospheric molecules to the inside. Major supporting beams in the sky are rendered invisible using metamaterials for optical wavelengths. For security reasons, there is also a passive protective shell made of transparent ceramics. Though, this shell being just an additional safety measure it is much thinner and also much less visible than the other self-sustaining habitat domes.

The open area is not really different from other transparent domes. It rather is an incremental improvement where some crystoplast layers have been replaced by active elements. Yet, its effect is very impressive. Leaving Vegas through the new open area exit, you walk down the grand staircase into a green park under a dark blue sky just as on Earth. This is a spectacular difference to most of the lunar surface which is dominated by hard vacuum, deadly radiation, and toxic moon dust.

The open area becomes a popular destination for locals and for tourists. The possibility to dwell under an open sky makes Vegas very attractive. For a long time Vegas is the headquarters of the Solar Coalition. Many people regard Vegas even as the capital of the Solar system, although the system is never really united. Open areas contribute significantly to making people feel at home in interplanetary space during Earth's isolation.

Over time the open area is continuously expanded. 100 years later with the extension to 10 kilometers the protective dome is omitted, since the other measures have proven to be very reliable. The 24th century style field projectors containing the air are replaced by a nanite matrix, then the largest existing field screen in the entire Solar system. With these modifications the Vegas open area comes very close to our modern open ranges.

During the System War in the 26th century Vegas is occupied when Earth forces seize the moon in a surprise attack. Six years later Coalition troops use the open area of Vegas in a landing operation thereby partially destroying the containment system. Luckily, the flexible nano-matrix and built-in safety measures prevent a catastrophic decompression. The advantage of landing in the open area is that Coalition forces can operate under normal atmospheric conditions just like former paratroopers. This tactic allows to drop ground troops in numbers unusually large for combat in space. So, they overrun the defending troops easily. After Vegas is taken by the Coalition, Earth's forces have to pull back from the moon. This victory is a turning point in the war made possible by the ingenious tactics of General Hiroshi Wang, not the least of which is the liberation of Vegas through its open area. Without the open area the Coalition would probably not have been able to evict Earth's forces from the moon which basically controls the Earth-Moon-L5 space. Thus, the success landing was instrumental in regaining the earth itself and securing humanity's access to the stars.

At the beginning of the 28th century over a billion people lives in interplanetary space. There are many open areas with a total of over 4,000 square kilometers on the Moon, Mars and on other airless celestial bodies. With interplanetary population shrinking during the Kisor war many open areas are abandoned to save the maintenance cost. In the final phase of the war the Vegas/Luna metropolitan area is a military target due to its industrial capacity. The free area of Vegas suffers severe damage during early attacks on lunar infrastructure. It is finally destroyed.

The post–war economic expansion allows to rebuild the open area with Kisoran technology as a modern 1000 square kilometer "open range", the first of many in the so called Roaring 28th (century).

Though damaged by the South-Moon Mercenary Rebellion the Vegas Open Range is largely kept up even under Dellian rule, only to play an important role another time in the liberation of the Solar system during the so-called Orbital Uprising in the mid-32nd century.