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"Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not."
- Isaac Asimov

Inflatable Roofed Valley  
  A habitat on an asteroid created by placing a tent-like roof over a natural valley or depression, and then inflating it.  

This is an early reference to a practical idea - inflatable structures do not require as much mass lifted up from Earth.

The Captain selected a little bowl-shaped depression in the hills, some thousand feet long and half as broad, in which to establish a permanent camp. This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...

Libby found himself assigned to the roofing detail. He helped a metalsmith struggle over the hill with a portable atomic heater, difficult to handle because of a mass of eight hundred pounds, but weighing here only sixteen pounds. The rest of the roofing detail were breaking out and preparing to move by hand the enormous translucent tent which was to be the "sky" of the little valley.

The metalsmith located a landmark on the inner slope of the valley, set up his heater, and commenced cutting a deep horizontal groove or step in the rock. He kept it always at the same level by following a chalk mark drawn along the rock wall. Libby enquired how the job had been surveyed so quickly.

"Easy," he was answered, "two of the quartermasters went ahead with a transit, leveled it just fifty feet above the valley floor, and clamped a searchlight to it. Then one of 'em ran like hell around the rim, making chalk marks at the height at which the beam struck."

"Is this roof going to be just fifty feet high?"

"No, it will average maybe a hundred. It bellies up in the middle from the air pressure."

"Earth normal?"

"Half Earth normal."

From Misfit, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1939
Additional resources -

Compare to the air tight tent from Asteroid of Fear by Raymond Z. Gallun and the inflatable air lock from Space Tug by Murray Leinster.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Misfit
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Misfit
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Inflatable Roofed Valley-related news articles:
  - Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers

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