In May 2021, the Moon is in the process of being colonized, and this new frontier is attracting a diverse human population to lunar settlements like Moon City, Farside 5, and others.
Two denizens of this rough-and-tumble lunar society are the notorious millionaire J. J. Hubbard and former-astronaut-turned-satellite-salvager Bill Kemp, the first man to set foot on Mars. He left Space Corporation because he wants to explore space, while his former employer only wants to operate commercial passenger flights to and from Mars and Venus.
When Hubbard hears about a small 6000-tonne asteroid made of pure "ceramic" sapphire that is in a low lunar orbit, he hires Kemp to capture it with Kemp's old Moon 02 space ferry. Kemp is to transport it down to the surface of the lunar farside, even though doing so would be against Space Corporation law. Kemp, however, has little choice because he learns from Hubbard that his flight license will soon be revoked due to protests from Space Corporation. Hubbard also reveals that he plans to use the giant sapphire for building much improved rocket engine thermal insulators, profiting from the need for even more powerful rockets to colonize Mercury and the moons of Jupiter.
A young woman named Clementine arrives looking for her brother, a miner working a distant patch of moonscape at Spectacle Crater on the lunar farside. Unfortunately, the trip from Moon City on the nearside would take six days by a lunar vehicle. Since Kemp can go there much more quickly using Moon 02, she convinces him to help her learn if her brother is still alive. The terrain around his camp is not suitable, so Kemp and Clementine land and travel the remaining distance using a lunar transport buggy. The two discover that Clementine's brother is dead, and that he was murdered for his discovery: a large vein of nickel that would have made him a rich man. They are shot at by some of Hubbard's men, who have followed them to the camp. Kemp takes them out one by one.
Hubbard was unhappy to learn that Kemp was leaving to assist Clementine, because Hubbard was responsible for Clementine's brother's death. Hubbard needed the claim to be abandoned, so he could to take control of it and use it as the isolated landing site for the sapphire asteroid. Hubbard blackmails Kemp into completing the asteroid job by threatening his and Clementine's lives. Kemp kills the millionaire and some of his men in a shoot out and strands the rest on the asteroid, as it collides with the Moon. Because Clementine is her brother's next of kin, Kemp informs her that she now has legal ownership of the nickel vein and soon the "crashed" sapphire asteroid, making her a very wealthy woman.
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