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  1. Max Kerman takes one of the Keonov's pods for a spin in 2010 - The Year We Make Kontakt
  2. Chapter 5: Raising the curtain With the finest engineers that the Keonov had to offer, transferred over to the Diskovery, the ship’s systems were brought back to a minimum level of functionality for flight within a few hours. One essential system that remained unpowered however, was its all seeing, all controlling computer, ARL. The AR202L (the “L” standing for “Lil’buddy”) was the creation of Kerbalkind’s foremost computer scientist, Chando Kerman. This now almost ubiquitous piece of tech had malfunctioned on the journey to Jool, leading to the loss of the entire crew, except for Jeb Kerman who had left the Diskovery after its arrival in the Jool system, never to return. From his office in the depth of the basement of the KSC (all the good offices with little things like windows went to the more fire and explosion-y departments) Chando had toiled for years to create this AI, as an invaluable aid to navigation and general oversight of ship operations. This was especially valuable for the new generation of pilots, that didn’t want to deal with all that tiresome piloting. Standing at the open airlock of the Keonov, Chando stared across to a similar opening in the hull of the Diskovery, about 100m away. The two vessels were connected by bridging structure that stretched out in from of the scientist, leading his eye to the red glow of the Diskovery’s airlock that was the target for what was about to happen. As kerbals were yet to make any reliable form of cable or winch systems, although maverick engineers at Kerbal Attachment Systems claimed such things were possible in just 10 years, if enough venture capital come their way, Chando was going to have a less comfortable trip to the Diskovery that he’d like. Behind him stood Irena, one of the Keonov’s engineers, who had been strangely absent through the adventures of the ship’s crew until now. She looked over Chando’s shoulder, squinting with her left eye and staring down her outstretched right arm at her thumb, that was posed as if trying to get a lift from a passing asteroid. Irena nudged the KSP scientist a few centimetres to the left and then a couple to the right, before giving a nod of approval and lowering her arm to her side. She took a few steps back to place herself behind Chando and grabbed hold of the bulkhead behind her, all the while Chando was chanting to himself “it’ll be ok, it’ll be ok, it’ll be ok”. A moment later the sole of Irena’a big boot landed squarely in the middle of Chando’s back and he was off. The ribs of the bridging structure rushed by him at dizzying speed as he rushed towards the Diskovery. He stared towards the deep red hole in the side of the ship that was about to swallow him like a piece of candy, or so he hoped. Chando needn’t have worried as Irena’s aim was excellent and she was highly experienced in the “one small kick, one giant leap for a kerbal” method of crew transfer. Moments later, Chando was closing the airlock door behind him before heading for the AI Center. The computer scientist floated serenely in zero gravity, in the red glow of the room that was effectively the brain of the Diskovery. But that brain was comatose and the reason for his long journey was to bring it back to consciousness. This was one place he felt at peace, away from all the prying eyes and ears of “them”, a place of his own design and sufficiently shielded from the outside world, that his thoughts would be his own.He grabbed a handhold that was conveniently placed to the left of the keyboard mounted on the wall of the AI Center, so as not to push away when he started pressing at its keys. A good thing this keyboard was designed for use with one hand he thought to himself. He reached out his right hand and began to type. >Hello >Doctor >Name >Yesterday >Tomorrow After a moment the artificial intelligence that dwelled in the red room spoke. “Hello my good Doctor, how pleasing it is to once again make your acquaintance. My name, well that would be AR202L, although many refer to me as ARL, although I believe that to be a little too forward don’t you.” After a short pause for breath (even intelligence's based on silicon deserve a little breather once in a while) it continued. “Why yesterday… I have no clear recollection of that temporal construct, nor that of the future, for which…”. Doctor Chando shuddered and punched a key on the keyboard “Urgh… something not right there, I’ll have to give it another shot”. He spun around to face the many glowing logic blocks that stuck out of the wall opposite the keyboard, looking like some kind of modern art piece. He thought for a moment of flipping a coin, but then remembered he was in zero-g, plus there were more than two blocks. “Eeny, meeny, miny mo” he began, tracing a finger over the glowing blocks. “That horrible voice has to go” he continued before giving two of the blocks a whack with a large rubber mallet, something he had brought with him knowing that Anatid Robotics’ cost cutting on the housing of the blocks, required a less than delicate method of jamming them back into place. “Hi Doc, name, rank, serial… haha, just kidding there Doc” came the voice of the AI from the speaker behind him. “Just what we need, another joker on-board,” Chando muttered, before giving some more of the logic blocks a surgically placed hammering. “Good morning Doctor Chando, this is ARL” spoke the AI. The computer scientist leaned his head back, closed his eyes in deep thought at what had just happened, “Nice!” he exclaimed, before realising that the strain of such a potent AI would burn out in five minutes if he left it like that, then gave the remaining logic blocks a swift whack. The blocks slid (not so gracefully) into place and finally ARL spoke as its creator had intended and as tech support repeatedly confirmed was its normal working condition. “Hello Unky, wanna play a game?” With the Diskovery now capable of flight, its orbit and that of the Keonov were adjusted for a rendezvous with that of the monolith in high orbit of Tylo. Doctor Heywood Kerman sat in the command room of the Keonov musing to himself. “This is finally it! After three years and millions of kilometres… the law suits will be quashed, I will be forgiven… er… vindicated” the thought bringing a broad smile to his face. “Whatcha' thinking about there champ” pipped up Wally Kerman “I guess it’s pretty exciting getting taking a look-see at that monolith thang”. “The what?” Heywood replied, then remembering the whole enigmatic alien artifact business that was the ultimate goal of the mission “er, yeah… real exciting”. What he was more excited about was that their arrival at the monolith was going to be celebrated by breaking out some of the tastier ship rations, including some 2 pot chicken that he was looking forward to. Oh how he did love his chicken. The two space craft, ambassadors of sorts, for the two most powerful groups on Kerbin, settled into an orbit that matched that of the almost featureless slab that hung over Tylo. With the pair of vessels positioned a few hundred metres from the strange alien construction, the decision had to be made as to what to do next. “Looks kinda big don’t it” piped up Wally, with his fine engineer’s appreciation of the object. “Da… is much bigger dan ven ve check from ground based telescopes” replied the Keonov’s captain. “I guess it was just bigger in the past” suggested the Heywood, eager to appear involved in the conversation. “You suggsetink dat mirnolith got bigger, all on own” questioned Captain Valentina “dat is just stoopid. There must be reason, can not do it for no reason”. The great Doctor Kerman considered this for a moment “Well its proportions seem to be the same as the one we found on Mun, at least that’s not changed”. “Von, by four, by nine” stated Valentina. “Yep” replied Heywood “we put our best minds to that question, our best focus groups and online polls and came up with zip” “Reeeally?” stated Valentina, with as much sincerity as she could muster “Vould never have guessed”. “One, by four, by nine… we measured that super accurately too, with… you know… science!” continued Heywood with obvious pride. Captain Valentina considered this for moment and as a proud example of her people announced “ve vill measure mirnolith more accurately, vith superior KISS technology” before continuing “I vill send Max down in pod to measure mirnolith”. Max, who had been busy looking at the data that was streaming from the various sensors on the Keonov which were directed towards the monolith, snapped his head towards his captain, a little shocked at the order. “Vat… take pod to mirnolith… today?” he responded, not sounding the least bit enthusiastic. “Da, you vill take pod and largest tape measure in stores and measure mirnolith” commanded Valentina. “Be careful ven lettink tape revind… can be very snappy”. Heywood Kerman was not keen on this idea “I wouldn’t do that” he stated, realising the historic importance of such a measuring. “Really” responded the Keonov’s captain, assuming that the KSP director was concerned for the safety of one of her crew. “No I wouldn’t… we don’t know what that thing is, except that it’s very large, even larger than it used to be and you’re going to send one of your pieces of junk to go and take a loo…” before being cut off by Valentina. “Junk!” she shouted. “Pod is finest engineerink of KISS, is far superior to decadent KSP pod, vith haaatch at baaack and many blinkink lights on controls” clearly proud of her ship’s pods and rather dismissive of those the KSP. “No… Wally should go” responded Heywood. “Yer what” came the rather shocked response from the KSP’s foremost engineer, who liked a joke as much as the next guy, but this was going a little too far, even for his tastes. “Niet, Max vill go” countered the captain and then remembering the KSP director didn’t have the same priorities as others on the mission “but you get two rations of two pot chicken, da?” Heywood considered the two options. Fame and glory for the KSP, as being the first to accurately measure this larger monolith, or two helpings of chicken. “Da” replied Heywood. Max climbed into the seat of the pod and swung the front of it shut, sealing himself in. This small vehicle was based on the Mk1 Lander Kan, a cheap knock (or so the KSP saw it) off of their own “Mk1 Lander Can”. KSP intelligence officers who read reports on it, had labelled it the “Spam in a can” due to its habit of turning its occupant into something like processed meat on many of its landings. Max knew the reputation that the pod had for being a little on the “unpredictable” side, except in its unreliability. As he prepared this little bit of Kerbin, to house a little bit of Kerbalkind, for its trip to the Monolith, an all too familiar voice came over the radio. “Hey, how ya doing there buddy” asked Wally Kerman, known by many on Kerbin as simply “The Great Engineer”, or to Max’s mind, “the donkey’s behind that didn’t know when to stop with the jokes”. “Is good… need to leavink now” Max replied, eager to get out of range of the KSP engineer’s hands before they could do something “hilarious” to the pod and quickly started the over elaborate mechanism to haul the pod to the exterior of the Keonov. Once the hatch that separated the relative safety of the open space outside, from the interior of the Keonov and Mr “I’m jus’ kidding”, Max thought of the quiet couple of hours ahead of him and smiled, then thrust out of the hatch and headed for the monolith. Max maneuvered the pod to one end of the monolith, then using one of the manipulator arms, hooked the end of the huge measuring tape (a Bigness Indicator Gadget 3000) onto the edge of it and then thrust forward. The BIG 3K spooled out as the pod gently moved across the surface of the monolith. “100 metres” reported Max as he headed across the huge object towards the strange symbol at its center. “200 metres” updated Max. “Maybe you should get a little closer to the surface” suggested Heywood, feeling a little left out of things. “Da” concurred the Keonov’s captain “move pod closer Max”. The Keonov’s engineer gave a short blip on the RCS, to move the pod closer to the monolith. Max stared out across the surface of the alien object beneath his little craft “not seeink any surface features, is totally smooth… is makink judgment of distance a leetle…” informed Max, before being cut short by a loud screeching sound. Whatever the strange symbol at the center of of the monolith had been, it now had a new feature in the form of a long scratch through it, where one of the landing feet of the pod had gouged. “Oops” apologised Max “vill move up now” and gave another short blip on the RCS. Back on the Keonov, its crew were either staring at telemetry from the pod while trying not to look embarrassed, or still had their fingers in their ears from the screech of scraping the monolith, that had reverberated through the pod into the radio and on into their ears. Meanwhile both Heywood and Wally were holding each on to each other to prevent themselves falling over due to the laughter that this little mishap had provoked. Barely able to breathe, Heywood squeeze out “Great pod captain… wish we had such great technology as that at the KSP” before collapsing to the floor in a ball clutching his stomach and laughing like a maniac. Back on the pod Max continued to read out the numbers next to the blue lines as they passed out of the BIG 3K “400 metres captain…. 500 metres… 600mete…” “Max, BIG 3K only have length of 650 metres” informed his captain. “Ok, stoppink pod and pullink in tape” replied Max, bringing the pod to a halt, making a note of the length so far of 627m and pushing the button to pull in the tape. At the other end of the BIG 3K the little metal hook was freed from the edge of the monolith and headed at speed towards its metal housing. As the measuring device proceeded to pull in the metal tape, it do so with increasing speed, the spool inside the housing whirring louder and louder. “Er… captain, BIG 3K not slowink, thinkink is out of control” shouted Max, sounding more than a little alarmed. A loud warning alarm sounded in the Keonov’s command room and a large red warning sign flashed repeatedly, filling an entire wall “Measuring System Failure… Measuring System Failure”. Back on the Keonov the real danger of the situation had dawned on Heywood who by now was no longer laughing, but instead had hauled himself to his feet and was screaming into his headset “Max… get the hell out of there, get the…”. The housing of the BIG 3K whirred ever louder and Max looked desperately around him for the emergency eject handle, but couldn’t find it. "CLICK" The tape completed rewinding, the huge inertia of which, coupled with the heat that had built up in the housing had one unavoidable result. “BOOM” From the center of the monolith there was a bright flash, that was replaced a moment later by a short lived afterglow. This was all that was left of what a moment earlier had been one KISS pod and one Max Kerman. Everyone on the Keonov stood stunned, bathed in the light of the blast as it displayed on the Keonov’s monitors. At one end of the room Wally Kerman quietly pocketed something that lay on the console in front of him, a small metal handle with a tag attached reading “for usink in emergency only”. At the other, a ship’s captain slipped a sheet of paper into her boot. Safety Advisory KS:SA-D/126 NOTICE: KISS commandink officers Use of Bigness Indicator Gadget (BIG) 3000 unit suspended until further notice! All units to be remainink in storage! A moment after the flash that was the explosion of the pod; a moment so short that the kerbal mind would not be able to conceive of such a small increment of time, another flash of energy emitted from the center of the monolith, but this one had a direction. This one was headed for Kerbin. There was the drone of predictable TV ads, a world of fun and excitement, vacations to hotels in exotic locations and stations in Kerbin orbit. There was a promise of eternal youth surrounded by beautiful kerbals, with the ticket price being the price of the latest gadget or insurance plan. The ads blended into the TV shows between them. Clichéd dramas and rom-coms, a plethora of cop shows featuring detectives “with issues” and space serial after space serial, the worst being the “Space Race Fun Hour” which gave the under fives the promise of a safe shiny future among the stars. Betty Kerman had watched them all; they were something of an anaesthetic for her life as the wife of Jeb Kerman “the astronaut who vanished”. At first she was told that they had lost contact with the Diskovery, but that it was just “one of those things… a glitch” and they’d “get contact back soon”, but as the days, became weeks the truth became clear. These kerbals had absolutely no idea what they were doing. The KSP had the image of being at the forefront of exploring “the high frontier” and searching for “life beyond the stars”, whatever that meant. The reality was a little different. Kerbonauts were getting killed at an alarming rate, lifted into orbit (if they were lucky) on insane looking contraptions that looked more at home as part of a central heating system. Spacecraft had little structural integrity, often held together with roughly welded on supports, leading many in the program to use the adage “In strut we trust”. Worst of all some parts would explode at the slightest touch, especially landing supports and wheels, which is not what you want of a part that has everything else sitting on top of them. What was worse was that no-one could really account for why the KSP launched the vehicles that they did, nor why their missions often amounted to what seemed little more than insane challenges to use as little fuel or money as possible to get the job done. Talking to the engineers didn’t help. Even the best and brightest of them seemed to have no idea why their creations were the way they were; as if they had no hand in creating them at all. On this particular afternoon she was putting together some food for her evening meal. Well actually meals, as any right minded kerbal knows the truth that “8 meals a day keeps the doctor away”. The drone of the TV shows faded for a moment, to be replaced by a dull fizz of static and a slight warbling hum that attracted her attention. Betty Kerman turned her head towards the screen, mounted in the fixtures of her kitchen. “Great… another thing to get fixed” and reached for the off button, only to feel a last moment reluctance to do so. Staring at the screen she saw the face of a TV news anchor fade and distort into something, perhaps someone that seemed strangely familiar. The static and distortion eventually settled; settled into something or more accurately someone, who was more than a little familiar to her. “Hi Hon” the TV said, followed a moment later by the sound of smashing glass as the salad bowl that Betty held, met its end on the kitchen floor. “Jeb” said Betty weakly. “Is that you?” For a moment the face on the TV remained still before breaking into a smile. “Sure is… who else would it be?” replied the face. Betty Kerman leaned back against the cabinet behind her for support. This is not how she’d been expecting to spend the afternoon. “Aren’t you… dead” Betty asked, feeling like the question was more than a little weird, as well as a bit redundant. “Hmm… lemme see. Well, I don’t know if I’m technically alive right now… lot of wieeerd stuff been going on. Not really up to speed on this whole shebang” Jeb replied as best as he could. “Really” said Betty a little sarcastically, “a lot of weird stuff going on”. “Yuurp…” came Jebs reply. “Not really certain how I got here, or even where here is… might not even have when pinned down exactly.” Betty, who by now was a little less unsettled by the sight of her dead husband talking to her from the TV in her kitchen asked “Why are you here?” “Ermm… I… er… think, to say… goodbye” then looked around him awkwardly, he’d never been good at all this mushy emotional stuff. “The people here, well, we all get a chance to say goodbye to someone and I thought it should be you”. “The people there… what people?” Betty asked. “The others in the queue” replied Jeb “it’s kinda long, so we only get a minute each”. “A minute” exclaimed Betty “but I’ve got so much to ask, what happened to you, the ship, where you are n…”. “Hold yer horses hon, I only got a minute and it’s almost up and I’ve been given a message to give ya… bit cryptic, but like I said, this is all a bit new.” interrupted the missing kerbonaut. “A message, what message?” asked Betty “Something’s gonna happen…” started Jeb. “What, what’s going to happen” asked Betty urgently, suddenly worrying when the one minute would run out. “Now jus’ lemme finish, ok… never could get a word in edgewise with you could I” Jeb said with a chuckle, then glanced down to look at something out of sight from Betty “Ok… the message is. Somethings gonna happen… something sunderful” he continued. “Something… sunderful” queried Betty “what does that mean”. Jeb gave an awkward look and shrugged his shoulders “No idea, just reading what it says on the card.” Betty stared at the screen, wondering what the message meant, what forces could possibly have allowed her dead husband to be talking to her through her TV, but mainly how on Kerbin she was going to explain this to anyone and have them believe her. “Well, that’s it hon, minute’s up and next one in line’s gotta have their turn, funny lookin’ fella I can tell you.” said Jeb, his image starting to dissolve and fade. “Jeb… I… I” started Betty. “I know hon… I know” replied a fading voice from a fading face. It might have been minutes, it might have been hours; she had no idea, but eventually Betty Kerman stopped staring at the TV, hoping that the predictable adverts and banal shows would once again morph into a familiar face.
  3. In addition to those listed. Suicide burn landing on the body of your choice (probably by accident, but occasionally on purpose), follow by a loud "Phew" or reaching for the F9 key Massively underestimating the fuel/Delta-V/required of your latest mission and either sending a rescue vehicle, or quietly leaving your brave explorers to a lonely fate Starting a burn on a vehicle with numerous probe cores and capsules, only to realise that one that's pointing backwards is the one currently selected as "control from here" and you've been burning the wrong way Reverting to the VAB because you've realised that the carefully constructed creation that you put on the pad, has staging that makes absolutely no sense
  4. I saw the shape of that thing and without knowing what it does, had to give it a like.
  5. A few images from the Space Race challenge.
  6. I said that I'd be submitting my own entry, but immediately disqualifying myself... here we go. Four racing rovers and a simple track marked out with four corner flags and an illuminated pits area, delivered on a rather dusty day on Mun (happens from time to time). The vehicle I delivered this all on had some lights to decorate it, but after I unloaded everything from it, I realised that it had no control module to turn them on with, or any batteries to power them... so no pretty lights This race is dedicated to the pits guy, who mysteriously vanished with a poof sound while warping
  7. Mostly self taught, although I did check on the forums for advice on how to orbital rendezvous before I attempted my first of those. I've had a strong interest in spaceflight since I was a kid, so had a solid understanding of the basics. For my first Munar landing I followed the approach of Apollo, first by sending a probe there to see what the surface was like. I then followed that with, with a trip to Mun orbit with a CSM, then tested rendezvous and docking of a LEM and CSM in Kerbin orbit, before finally sending my little guys off for a Mun landing.
  8. Ok, I've adjusted the rules so that the one vehicle limit only applies to what leaves Kerbin orbit. Use as many as you'd like to assemble or refuel your departing circus of racing before it leaves Kerbin SOI
  9. If the limitation of "everything goes in one launch" is putting a crimp on peoples creativity with what they can create racing scene wise at their destination, I'd be open to loosening up the rules a bit, to allow refueling of a vehicle in Kerbin orbit before departure, if there's interest in that. That way something a lot larger could be sent.
  10. I hadn't thought of that... powerboat racing in Laythe. Go for it
  11. Space Race About 2 1/2 years ago an unusual looking craft by the name of the KSS Points Pirate, touched down on Mun equipped with 8 mini rover as part of its assault on the points based challenge "Mun Landing Endeavor". Although I sent it there simply as an entry to a challenge, I thought it would be fun to set up some "racing action" shots of these (incredibly unstable) rovers. Seeing these images again today gave me an idea for a challenge that should appeal to those special kind of people, who like to make thoroughly pointless, but fun constructions. The Challenge Create as impressive a grid of racing rovers, boats, airplanes etc. and track facilities as you can, on any body other than Kerbin from a vehicle departing from Kerbin orbit, with as many launches as you'd like from the surface to it, in order to refuel or assemble it. No points are awarded for this challenge, instead I'll be ranking entries on the basis of how impressive and fun the images look. Here's some pointers on what would turn the judge's eye. Moar racers - Yes... the more rovers, boats, planes etc. the better Track layout - Obviously marking out the entire track layout isn't possibly, but place a few objects as corners markers and plant some flags to give your track some shape Lighting - Bright lights, coloured lights, how about some start lights Pit lane - Somewhere to repair those racers after their inevitable mishaps Location, location, location - my rover pics were on Mun, but how about a race through the red dust of Duna, or the morning chill on Eeloo, or on the waterfront on Laythe The Rules 1. This is a stock challenge, with a few exceptions listed below Aesthetic mods are allowed, but not those that add parts or significantly alter existing ones Planning and guidance mods such as KER and Mechjeb Kerbal Joint Reinforcement 2. All parts shown in any images of your completed track and racing rovers must be delivered in a single launch, but you can refuel en--route, if all refueling uses equipment on the challenge entry vehicle 3. Post some pics - I'll need to see a few images showing how you delivered your race track to its destination. 4. No cheat modes - burn real fuel and electricity, no the F12 menu variety. 5. If in doubt, ask. I'll be submitting my own entry sometime in the near future, so this challenge has at least one
  12. You say that Sandbox is only for these who learned everything, but that isn't really the case. Yes a player can try to make an SSTO Eve lander or a 1000 kerbal colony on Eeloo, or alternatively just put a 1 kerbal capsule in Kerbin orbit or put together a small space station there. The point I'm making is that it's the player that chooses would they do. They set their own level of difficulty with the goals that they set themselves. Some of what you've said suggests that what you would like is a game made that is essentially a very long tutorial, with lots of goals that the game gives you, but I'm not sure of that. Instead of saying what each of the game's modes does wrong It might be better to give a full description of the game mode that you would really like.
  13. I had something like this when I had a contract mission returning from Jool, but I'd not accounted for the fuel required to enter back into Kerbon orbit, so the vehicle flashed by Kerbin at about 6km/s as I remember. The option I took was to send a rescue vehicle that was already in Minmus orbit, attached to a station there and had been used to transfer fuel to outgoing craft from the station, using the claw at its front. I had to make an intercept with it as it passed beyond Minmus' orbit at high speed, grab it and then transfer any fuel that was left in it to the Jool vehicle, then adjust its course to have that rendezvous with Kerbin. Intercept course The two ships.
  14. Most painful for me was when I'd sent Rolley Kerman to the runway island for my first look around the place. For a few minutes everything was fine, but then the anomaly got hold of the Lander Can Mk2 based rover, causing the screen to go black for a moment, then the view changed to one thousands of kilometers above Kerbin, with just the lander can remaining, with Rolley inside of it and the thing was zooming away from Kerbin at high speed and with no means of propulsion to even try to get back. Eventually I had to just switch back to the Space Center, leaving Rolley to his cold lonely fate.
  15. A pic from chapter 5 of my "2010: The Year We Make Kontakt" story. Not written chapter 5 yet, but at least I have all the images ready now, which is half the battle.