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Everything posted by UnusualAttitude

  1. Welcome to what will possibly be the least popular thread on the KSP forums. What, may you ask, does gardening have to do with spaceflight...? Why, absolutely nothing of course... unless you are a hungry astronaut left stranded on Mars with only some potatoes and a large quantity of astronaut poop to use as fertiliser. I am not a stranded astronaut, but I do have a bone to pick with my garden. You see, last year's crop was dreadful. I put in a lot of work last spring, but after a promising start... ...things started dying left right and centre. July and August were bone dry, my tomato plants got mildew, and in the end all I had to show for my efforts were courgettes (zucchini for you guys from across the pond). Lots of courgettes. Long ones, round ones, stripy ones. We spent most of last summer eating them in soups, curries, with couscous or stuffed, and then we froze or canned the rest and have been steadily munching our way through them since. My step-children never want to see another courgette again. Officially. Ever. So this year, we are going to try again, and do better. Or else. I have my first plot ready for onions and potatoes (this is my first attempt at 'taters). I have some nice rich, dark soil with a plentiful supply of manure courtesy of these gals... Apparently chicken dung is the best. They are also helping me to clear the turf from my second plot which is just next to my bottom-of-the-garden office where I write the Camwise Logs. I feel like I'm using them for slave labour, but dammit they're efficient. Leave hens on your lawn for a couple of weeks and it will be totally wrecked, children. My main goal this year is to revive Great Uncle Jim's tomatoes. This will be my third attempt. Great Uncle Jim (or Tonton Jim) was my wife's grandfather, as well as being her great uncle. Don't ask. It's just how they did things back then in that part of France. Anyway, Tonton Jim was a legendary gardener, and my wife has fond memories of eating his delicious, juicy, fleshy tomatoes as a child. Tonton Jim passed away a few years ago. Fittingly, he was in the garden he loved so much when it happened. His heart failed and he was dead before he hit the ground apparently. What a great way to go. A couple of summers back, we visited her grandma who gave us some tomato seeds that had been tucked away in the cellar for years. The most recent strain is from Jim's 2005 crop. So far, I have managed to get some to germinate twice, but the first attempt I planted too late, and last year was an awful season for just about everything. Anyway, I'll keep you updated as things start to grow. And if any of you lads and lasses have a garden, feel free to post your endeavours...
  2. Yes, radiation would be acceptable on Ganymede, and with Ganymede at its closest approach to Europa, you would have a similar signal delay to Earth-Moon (about 2 seconds). I am using Remote Tech with signal delay, and I don't use Mechjeb or kOS. I've nothing against either, and this is nothing to do with realism (it actually isn't realistic, but is explained away by my Kerbals being awful at automation), it's just a gameplay choice I made to force myself to do certain things with crew only. Remote control of a lander with a two second delay is possible, it's just really impractical. Hmmmm.... we shall see.
  3. This is the story of the Kerbals of Earth, the third planet from the star Sol. Some time in the recent geological past, an unknown disaster brought devastation and extinction on a global scale. Once a paradise of forests and oceans teeming with life, Earth is now a blasted wasteland where small communities of these tenacious little green creatures struggle for survival, striving to rise from their subterranean origins and conquer the surface of their world, and its heavens. A handful of powerful companies rule over the Kerbal communities and control access to the world's dwindling supply of resources. These companies have agreed to sponsor a small team of visionary engineers and scientists who believe that the future of their species – and an explanation as to their origins – may lie in space. Together, they found the Omelek Space Centre on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is the story of Camwise, a resourceful space engineer who proves to have an uncanny ability to survive and get his crew home, even when the odds are stacked against him. It is also the story of Bartdon, a truculent senior investigator trying to hold the space programme together despite facing pressure from without and treachery from within. This is the story of the Kerbals of planet Earth and their attempts to reach out into the Solar System. Reach out they will indeed, and find more than they bargained for. The Camwise Logs is also a KSP Real Solar System / Realism Overhaul play-through in career mode. Certain part mods are used, and occasionally part configuration files are adjusted, but these will always reflect plausible – if not yet feasible – near future technologies. Hyperedit is occasionally used for the purpose of setting certain scenes (or repairing bugs and glitches), but all space missions are launched and flown legitimately, under full manual control of the author (ie: no mechjeb). All vehicles perform according to the specifications described in the story. PART ONE: THE MOON VS. ME PART TWO: THE VIEW FROM PHOBOS PART THREE: LUNACY PART FOUR: TOO BIG TO FAIL PART FIVE: L'ENFANT SAUVAGE PART ONE: THE MOON VS. ME "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" Albert Einstein. YEAR 6 DAY 45 Now, then. My name is Camwise and I am, until the circumstances change, stuck on the Moon. Yes, Luna, the Moon, the natural satellite of planet Earth; not the Mun, or whatever they call it in that computer game played by some of the kids back home who dream about becoming astronauts. What was it called again...? Anyway, back to the problem at hand. I was sent to Luna as the engineer of the first two-kerbal crew to set up and occupy what shall be the first long-term Moon base. That is, if we manage to build the damned thing before we starve to death. Yes, as you can see if you examined the telemetry, our lander toppled. Before embarking, I had naturally expressed my concerns to the designer of the aforementioned vehicle, Karanda. She happens to be brilliant at aerodynamics, and made some invaluable contributions to the spaceplane programme, but this lander is certainly not one of her better efforts. She fails to grasp some of the fundamentals of flying where there is no air. To say it is top-heavy would be putting things mildly, but even I had not foreseen that the landing legs would impede the thrust of the radial engines that were supposed to ensure our soft touchdown at Drygalski crater. You would have thought she would have run the necessary simulations... It's not as if having engines that actually slow down a Lunar lander are mission critical, right? As it was, my pilot Catbeth had been faced with two choices: extend the gear and make a new crater on the lunar surface for the next team of engineers to drill into, or attempt to touchdown by canceling our velocity just above the surface and extending the gear at the last moment. Fortunately she had chosen the latter, but despite her best attempt at sticking the landing, the lander had tipped anyway. OK, fine. The good news is that we are still alive, and I can live with sleeping on the walls of our capsule for the foreseeable future. At least we have a ton of supplies for our long-term stay on the Lunar surface while we wait for the Island Space Port to come up with an idea for getting us off this rock, don't we? Well, not quite. The majority of the ton of supplies in question (2.4 metric tonnes actually, as well as the capsule that is our ride home, two spacious habs, a service module with large solar panels and a rover), is still circling the Moon in a low polar orbit. Some of the modules are as little as thirty kilometers above our heads. I'm pretty sure that if I go outside and squint at the sky for long enough, I will catch a glimpse of the sunlight glinting off metal as our salvation skims silently over the grey and dusty landscape at one-point-six kilometers per second. Now, of course we weren't sent here to helplessly watch our gear fly past, so let me explain. We will have a lot of work to do once the first modules touch down. But they will only touch down if the water drilling rig continues to extract H2O at the planned rate. If the electrolysis units and cryocoolers that are supposed to turn the water into liquid hydrogen and oxygen work properly. If the cryogenic fuel doesn't boil off faster than we can produce it. If the shuttle we intend to refuel and fly to pluck the modules from orbit performs to spec, just like Karanda's brilliant single stage lander was supposed to. That's a lot of “if”s, I know. But meanwhile, while the tank of this huge machine I'm operating slowly fills up with water extracted from the lunar regolith, I have nothing better to do than tell you about the series of events that brought us here.
  4. Life finds a way...
  5. Oh yes, ever since I introduced Steledith back in this entry, I've been wanting to develop her character and her role in this story. She's a lot of fun to write; a sort of kerbal scientific reasoning machine, trapped inside her own insanely powerful intellect, except for the occasional moment of lucidity. This is all part of a wider plan to give some of my secondary characters some love. Expect similar treatment (eventually) for others, such as Froemone, Cat, Lisabeth... and maybe others you might have forgotten about, but who are still out there, doing important stuff.
  6. Wow @tater and @0111narwhalz, shady dealings involving lemons. This thread is turning out to be far more useful and popular than I could have possibly imagined... Yes, technically you can. You can even cut your potato into sections (as long as you have one eye or sprout per section) to get several plants from a single spud. Most gardeners recommend leaving your cut up potatoes to dry for a couple days before you plant them if you do this. Be aware that most potatoes you buy from the store have been treated with a chemical called chlorpropham to stop them sprouting in your pantry. Not a problem if you can get organic veg, though.
  7. Correct, and this is why it's such an awesome aircraft. Switchable two setting foot heater fitted as standard. In your face, C-130.
  8. Guess the plane. It's my new favourite aircraft ever, and if you can guess correctly, I'll tell you why.
  9. Thanks, KAL, that's very cool. Do the symmetrical waves symbolise the twin nuclear reactors of the Fontanes class of probes, spewing radiation into the void? The aliens might think that they are wifi routers.... The story will soon become more... complicated than that. I'm afraid I can't really explain without giving too much away. However, starting with my next episode, Froemone will give a detailed technical description of the upcoming missions, and you are welcome to make patches for any of them.
  10. Yeah, this. Except (to nitpick) for the word "evil" in the philosophical sense. I was educated to be very cautious with such a concept. Greedy, selfish, or power-hungry would be better terms. Perhaps the Chairman and his Board even hide behind the delusion that their way of doing things is what is best for the Company (and its thousands of employees) and therefore for the Earth itself. Perhaps they just want to ensure their fat pension schemes get funded. Perhaps they are curious about the alien tech.... We all have our motivations and reasons for doing things the way we do. I'm sure we can agree that the Resource Companies are firmly in the "bad guys'" corner by now, but they are not "evil" as such.
  11. O ye of little faith, and all that nonsense... I'm slowly clawing my way back towards posting more regularly, although one time sink is the ridiculously long burns of some of the transfers I have been/will be doing. Next weekTM, Froemone will tell us about some of the amazing new uhm... creations he has come up with. Stay tuned, if your email client will let you.
  12. Oh no, any kind of gardening is fine! Indoors, outdoors, flowers, trees, edible stuff, zen gardens, secret gardens... Just 'cause my philosophy is "if you can't eat it, why bother growing it?" doesn't mean this thread has to be limited to that. I love the colours! We clearly don't share the same definition of what is merely a "hill" and what deserves the title of "mountain". For context, although I live near a fairly significant mountain chain today (the Pyrenees between France and Spain), I grew up in a landscape that looks like this (northeast England). Not quite that bad here. We're usually fine until July. If we get a heat wave (and we have more frequently in recent years), typical temperatures are 35-40°C/95-105°F, and it's a matter of how often we get a summer rainstorm. Sometimes they can be a couple of weeks apart so I have to irrigate, or things will start to yellow seriously after three or four days. I guess this is pretty tame compared to New Mexico, though.
  13. Wow. I did not know banana trees produced such beautiful flowers. My friends gave me a banana tree once as a birthday present, and I managed to kill it pretty quick. Also, some nice mountains you have going on in the background, there...
  14. Yup. I was actually thinking of you when I posted this. You've been waiting patiently for the Fontanes downlinks for quite some time, I believe... Imagine you're the CEO of a huge, multi-billion dollar company on the verge of discovering some new ground breaking technology that would allow you to stay on top of the market for decades to come. The price to pay are the lives of, say, three of your company's employees. You can get away with it, because these guys will meet a lonely end on some distant planet. There is no Internet to spread the truth about your ruthless actions. Journalism, as we know it, doesn't even exist. What do you think would really happen in such a scenario? There are many good historical examples I could quote... Forgive me for being too cynical, but these ain't cute cuddly Kerbals. These Kerbals are very, very, human. If anyone has a plausible idea on how to protect against 500+ rems that doesn't involve shielding that is several metres thick (hydrogen, ice), sci-fi materials (carbon nanotubes, solid hydrogen) or massive engineering challenges (all concepts for active shielding), then I'm open to suggestions. Be warned, NASA doesn't, despite throwing a considerable amount of grey matter at the problem. We'll just have to hope that answers lie on Ganymede. Ganymede's OK, apparently. I've never explicitly stated this (although I've hinted at it many times), but I imagine the tech-level of my Kerbals is a bit of a mixed bag. They are awesome at engine technology, and unafraid to push nuclear power generation to its limits. On the other hand, their computer technology sucks big time and is similar to our 1970s or 1980s IT, at best. They now have megawatt reactors, powerful electric propulsion, but don't know what a mobile phone, a home computer or a digital watch is. Hey, a digital watch...? That would be a pretty neat idea...
  15. YEAR 13, DAY 264. TRANS PACIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE, TANEGASHIMA. It was late afternoon, and the autumn sunlight slanted through the grimy windows of a first floor office. It filtered onto an old wooden desk that was flooded by a mass of photographic plates and bundles of data sheets that threatened to cascade to the floor in a paper avalanche at any moment. Behind the desk, a middle aged kerbelle with mousy hair shot with silver and wearing an expression of dreamy ecstasy pored over the plates, occasionally examining some minute detail with a magnifying glass or scribbling notes before passing on to the next slide. The building in which the office was located was just part of a sprawling complex of ultra modern laboratories, administrative blocks and data libraries. The whole place, with its spotless alleys, electric shuttle system and well-trimmed shrubberies, reeked of the Resource Company's wealth and influence. The occupant of the office, however, had managed to create her own secret garden of chaos and disorder within the sterile walls of the research centre. It looked more like the study of some eccentric old astrologer than an office, the walls lined by bookshelves overflowing with an unbelievable variety of grimoires, star charts and other essays, from the truly ancient to the most exclusive. Dust lay thick on the few surfaces that were available for it to settle on. Here and there amidst the clutter, the occasional half-empty teacup had been abandoned to a lonely fate. At the heart of this intentional chaos, Theoretical Planetary and Astronomy Investigator Steledith suddenly looked up from her work and paused for a moment, staring off into space, focussed at some point beyond infinity, as if she could see right through the wall of the office that was opposite her. Utter silence reigned, broken only by occasional muffled sounds from outside. A passing golf cart, the chatter of two junior technicians as they left the building... But Steledith was momentarily elsewhere, mulling over some immeasurably ancient mystery of the vast cosmos that had suddenly struck her in the process of her research, and had nothing to do whatsoever with the slides she was studying. These magnificent distractions fell upon her often. Her assistant would sometimes walk in on her while they were underway. Most of the time he would close the door again and leave her to it, as they usually provided insight on an unexpected – although often unrelated – subject. Each time, he half expected to see the light reflected from some distant galaxy or quasar shining in her eyes as she gazed blindly into the void. Half an hour passed... ...then Steledith blinked once, twice, looked back down at the slides in front of her and resumed her work as if nothing had happened. She was looking for traces of asteroids, comets and other small bodies hidden within the massive amounts of pictures and data that were constantly beamed down from the Company's new space telescope. To perform such a search, any ordinary astronomer would use a blink comparator to flick through successive images of the same patch of sky, looking for subtle changes from one image to the next, the wandering points of light that betrayed the existence of a planetesimal within the Sol system, moving against the fixed star field in the background. But Steledith was no ordinary astronomer. She would cycle through the plates, scanning them rapidly. Half of them had already fallen from the desk at some point, and were therefore hopelessly out of sequence, but this wasn't a problem for her. Steledith had a map of the sky etched into the back of her mind. All she needed to do in order to see the universe was to close her eyes. She reviewed the photographs in seemingly random order, occasionally scribbling coordinates into a small notebook, a long list of observations to be added to the telescope's schedule. On the rare occasions when she was truly focussed, Steledith could keep this up for hours or even days. Her assistant would occasionally interrupt her, bringing tea and snacks. Most of the time, he would hang around in her office on some false pretext, just to make sure that the easily distracted kerbelle did not forget to eat. After a while longer, Steledith looked up again and realised that the reason she'd been straining her eyes for some time was that the sun had set and it was growing dark inside her office. She clicked on her desk lamp and surveyed the mess of plates in front of her. Another long pause. Why doing this, again? ... Oh yes. Asteroids. Comets. Find Earth killers. … But what reason? … Ah. Martian Transmission. The Kerbal face on the surface of Mars that had talked. Placed there to lure us outwards? Barty had cut off the transmission (she wondered idly where that old oaf might have got to as she hadn't seen him in a while...). On Earth, they missed out on the end of the message. “Should you fail to do so, we will have to consider your species as being a potential threat to our Creators. Our instructions would then oblige us to...” And that was all. The Company might be too stupid to understand what the message implied, or perhaps they simply didn't care, but it had taken Steledith all of six seconds to deduce the missing part of the First Mate's declaration. Even though she sometimes forgot to get up in the morning, the Planetary Investigator was not the sort of kerbal who could ignore a major threat to the celestial body she happened to be living on. She had immediately put in a request for an improved infrared space telescope. She hadn't even been asked to justify her demand: it happened to coincide perfectly with the Board's new asteroid prospection programme. The project was therefore accepted almost immediately and the telescope was launched the following spring. Steledith and her team were now ploughing through the data. Steledith hadn't disclosed her fears, even to her own assistants, mainly because she didn't know exactly what they were looking for herself. Would they somehow stumble upon the Crew's ship? Judging from the images they had, it might be possible to see it if it was still in the inner system. And if it was still active in any way, it would certainly shine out like a beacon in infrared. But they had found nothing of the sort, anywhere near the ecliptic at least. Kerbals. Star faring civilisation. Consider – Earth – threat. Preemptive response? … Asteroid bombardment... OK... but what sort of asteroid? And what sort of bombardment? A slight nudge to one of the Near Earth rocks that would cause it to cross paths with the Blue Planet during one of its future trips around the sun? Could work. Possible to intercept if sufficient warning. Or a swift kick in the pants of a Kuiper Belt Object. One that would send it spinning sunwards, trailing a plume of water vapour and dust as it drew closer to the star, in full view of the horrified Kerbals of Earth who would be powerless to stop such a celestial juggernaut incoming at tens of kilometres per second and at right angles to their home planet's orbit. Robots:1, Earth: 0. In an uncharacteristic display of emotion, Steledith shuddered. All she could do was make a full inventory of as many of the asteroids and comets in the system as possible. If the First Mate's deadline came and went, they would have to watch the sky with ceaseless vigilance for the first signs of movement, and the most minute deviations of any- Wait. Someone was knocking briskly on her office door. She gazed at the door thoughtfully. Had she forgotten yet another appointment? Where had young Raylan got to? Oh, was that the time..? He would have gone home hours ago... The knocking took on a distinctly impatient tone. Whoever was hammering on the door had obviously been trying to get her attention for quite some time. “Come in,” she called out at last. Two kerbals wearing formal suits swept into the office. The first one was younger and seemed to bristle with a fierce, enthusiastic energy. He shrugged off the fact that his door-battering had been ignored for the past five minutes and glided across the room to Steledith's desk. He held out his hand, beaming. Steledith ignored the proffered hand and stared up at him, blankly. The kerb's smile wavered for a mere fraction of a second before recovering. He turned to his companion. “May I introduce you to TPAI Steledith, one of the most brilliant researchers of our institute. Steledith, this is Special Investigator Samrod. He is our new correspondent to the Board.” She turned to face Samrod, a tall, stony-faced kerbal who carried a black briefcase. His piercing gaze and cold demeanour might have been intimidating if Steledith had even understood the concept of intimidation. Instead, the Special Investigator was treated with the same blank stare. “Hello, dear,” she said at last. “Would you like some tea?” “No thank you, Steledith,” replied the first kerbal quickly, attempting to make up lost ground. “Look, sorry for interrupting you at such a late hour, we did try to call you before we came but...” His gaze fell upon the waste paper basket at the foot of her desk and the unmistakable shape of a telephone nestled amongst the crumpled scraps torn from her notebook and a large pile of used teabags, its cord bundled around it along with the socket that had been ripped from the wall at some point. “Anyway, we-” “And you are..?” asked Steledith. This really took the wind out of his sails, but after a moment of awkward silence he recovered once more. “I'm Principal Investigator Jedfal.” Blank stare. “I'm your boss, Steledith.” Sensing that this was going nowhere, Samrod cut in. “We have compiled the latest downloads from the Fontanes probes,” he said, pulling a heavy file from his briefcase and dropping it on the desk with a thump. “PI Jedfal assures me that you often spot details that other investigators overlook. We were hoping that you would give us your opinion on some of the data and images, ma'am.” “I'd be... delighted,” said Steledith. She opened the file and started browsing through the images that had winged their way across the void as packets of data from the three probes: the kerbal's most ambitious – and expensive – mission of robotic exploration of the system to date. Some of them she recognised, as they had already been released to the scientific community. Majestic views of Saturn's rings as Fontanes One came streaking into orbital insertion from the high-energy transfer that Bartdon had requested more than three years earlier. The same probe swinging round the dark side of the giant planet, the sunlight scattered by the razor-thin plane of icy shards that made up its ring. Back outwards once more, as far as Iapetus, a yin-yang mix of brilliant white and dark, reddish brown. Slightly flattened at the poles, the moon sported an equatorial bulge that stood out clearly from the limb as the probe swept low over its surface in a polar orbit. Dark colour – carbonaceous material – contrast between leading and trailing hemispheres - dust from asteroid collision? Or captured retrograde moon? - lower albedo raising temperatures, sublimation of ice and depositing organic residue – fascinating – equatorial ridge: possible ancient ring system that accreted, or something else..? thought Steledith idly. And then, much more detailed pictures of the moon's surface. These were new to her. A vertiginous plummet towards the icy surface. It was clear that Fontanes One had been sent skimming just above the darker side. A highly risky manoeuvre to perform with such a sophisticated piece of hardware orbiting a distant, poorly-understood target. “We made a low pass,” said Samrod, in a matter-of-fact voice. “Radar spotted something. We wanted to take a closer look.” Steledith did a double-take and stared intently at the next picture for several minutes. Down there on the frigid landscape more than a billion kilometres away was the unmistakable shape of a structure that she had already seen before. Or rather, a structure that Planetary Investigator Margaret had seen on the Moon. But she was dead now, her lifeless husk tumbling endlessly through the hard vacuum somewhere above Mars. Suggests a system-wide network. Purpose: warning? communications? beacons? Equatorial position to broadcast across ecliptic plane..? “Is this the same type of anomaly as the one discovered by the crew of Cirq Two in Schubert crater?” was all Samrod wanted to know. “Yes...” Steledith breathed without looking at him. She continued browsing. Pictures of the strange satellite Hyperion. It's shape was irregular, its surface a jagged chaos of deep, sharply defined craters, but its surface coloration was relatively uniform... Too large for such irregular shape – not tidally locked. Massive collision? What happened in this system? ...followed by three more pale, icy moons – Rhea, Dione and Tethys – and the data that specified their orbital parameters. New calculations of their mass, their orbital periods and the resonances between them. Something didn't seem quite right to Steledith – judging from this information, it didn't look as it should if the gravity and tidal forces of Saturn had been at work for aeons, as should be expected if the moons had accreted at the same time as the planet itself. But even her overclocked intellect could not make out what was going on there without further calculations. And finally, the smaller moon Enceladus, a pure white snowball drifting round the edge of the main ring system. Fontanes One had spiralled inwards and come in low over the satellite's South pole. Radar had detected cracks and rifts in the water ice crust. But the real revelation was what the probe's dust analyser had picked up during the low flyby, which was later confirmed by pictures taken above the pole. A plume of fine ice crystals were escaping from the rifts: liquid water jetted into the cold vacuum of space. Tidal heating – like Jovian moons – sub surface ocean. Thin ice crust near the pole. “This is where our probe lies now. We will continue to observe this body before we push inwards towards the rings. What I need to know, ma'am, is if this means that Enceladus could be a habitable environment in any way for an alien life form, or even for Kerbalkind.” said Samrod. “Why, yes,” Steledith responded immediately, “as long as you grow gills, of course.” The next pictures were from Fontanes Three, the sister probe that had arrived at Jupiter the previous year. Stunning images of Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io. “We got confirmation of at least two similar arch structures on the surface of Ganymede, as well as a magnetic anomaly that could be a datacore. We also have some inconclusive hits on Europa. We would like your opinion on those. I've been authorised to give you the radar images and the multispectral scan to work from, ma'am.” “You're too kind, dear. Where is Three now?” “We don't know.” Steledith looked up at Samrod and tutted disapprovingly, as if she were scolding the Special Investigator for getting dirt all over his new suit while playing in the back yard. “You lost a probe that cost nearly a million funds? How careless of you.” “We took it in within the orbit of Io. We believe that the high levels of radiation close to Jupiter finally caused a major failure in one of the sub systems that control the high gain antenna. That, or it collided with some debris in Jupiter's ring. The probe might still be operational, but we are unable to make contact with it. We did, however, get much closer to the planet than we originally expected to.” “How close?” Steledith was interested, now. “Well, after a complete scan of Io we attempted to reach the inner moons. Amalthea, Metis...” Steledith stiffened and sat up straight, her usual dreamy expression replaced by an accusing glare. “Why bother? If I understand correctly, you're only looking for datacores that could be accessible to a potential crewed mission. Special Investigator, you do realise that even on Europa, an unshielded kerbonaut would receive a potentially fatal dose of radiation in just hours, perhaps even minutes?” “Yes I do, ma'am,” said Samrod. For a long moment, her profound, sparkling eyes met the glacial, unflinching scrutiny of the Special Investigator. It was only then that Steledith realised that he had been sent by the Board to request her benediction for a mission. One that would doubtlessly condemn a crew of her fellow kerbonauts to a painful, unpleasant death. Cause distraction. In a sudden flurry of violence, she gave a shriek of anger and swept the whole pile of documents from her desk onto the floor. She advanced towards the two kerbals standing in front of her desk. Even Samrod was caught off guard and took a step backwards. She made a swift, stabbing gesture at the door of her office that made Jedfal flinch. “Get. Out. Now.” It was the Principal Investigator who knelt in an undignified scramble to collect the scattered pages and stuff them back into the briefcase. Samrod said nothing but continued to stare coolly at Steledith, the faintest hint of a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. When his companion was done, he turned and left the room without saying a word. Jedfal hurried out behind him. Steledith waited until the sound of their footsteps had receded down the corridor, and then bent over to retrieve the images that she had kicked under her desk when she had stepped towards the two investigators. She had tried to aim for the bottom of the pile, and indeed it looked like she had ended up with some of the last pictures transmitted by Fontanes Three's camera, as well as what looked like the radar data from a low flyby of a tiny moon. She held up the image to the light of her desk lamp that had been knocked askew by her outburst, her hand still trembling from the false display of emotion that was so unbecoming of her. The scene that had been captured by the probe was something that she had never expected to see in her lifetime. The yawning gulf of a massive impact crater gouged into the pole of an ash grey moon, against the stunning backdrop of Jupiter's cloud tops. Fontanes Three had grazed the crater rim by mere hundreds of metres at a relative velocity that must have been scorching, that far down the great planet's gravity well. Closest approach had been so tight that the probe's sensitive instruments had detected backscatter from its own service lights, reflecting off the icy surface of the crater floor. Why take such risk? What's down there? Steledith forced herself to tear her gaze away and move. She pulled a tattered old carpet bag from her bottom draw and began stuffing the papers into it. Maybe if she hurried, she could catch the last flight out of Tanegashima, she thought. And in the present state of affairs, it didn't really matter where the flight was heading for.
  16. This is actually my first attempt at spuds, and I don't doubt they'll grow just fine if its not too dry this year (that's the big killer here). So far, I've had plenty of good crops from onions, anything squash or marrow-like, and some really excellent tomatoes (except for last year). I've had less success with peppers and aubergine (eggplant). It all depends on your local soil and climate, I suppose.
  17. OK, starting with the easy stuff. Or at least, it's supposed to be easy: onions and 'taters. For potatoes, I am going to plant Agata. These are your run-of-the-mill early crop yellow spuds. I have seed potatoes that have already started to sprout since I bought them a couple of weeks ago. There are many ways of growing potatoes; in raised beds, growbags, trash cans, mulch, or even in old tyres. I will be using the traditional hilled row technique, building up a mound of soil around the plants as they grow to keep the tubers buried. But first of all, I mark the first of my two rows and dig four inch deep holes spaced about a foot apart, all along the row. You could also dig a trench. ...then I put in my seed potatoes with the eye facing upwards and cover with soil. Onions next: both yellow and red. I use onions in almost all of my cooking; in soups, stews, curries, rougail, etc. The red ones will be great for salads to accompany the numerous barbecues that no doubt await me this summer, as well as raw in burgers (my personal speciality: steak/chorizo/cheddar with a creamy tomato-basil-chilli sauce). Onions are easy; just push 'em gently into the ground. Don't cover them: most of the bulb must remain exposed. Space by 4 to 5 inches. Not bad for an afternoon's work. Two rows of potatoes, three of onions.
  18. Wow. To my untrained European ear, the host of that show sounds just like Bernie Sanders. Anyway, thanks. Mr Sanders' show gives some excellent advice for growing sweetcorn, which is something else I want to try this year. Did you know that it is almost impossible to find fresh corn on the cob in France? You can only get it canned. They grow plenty here but it is mainly used for fodder.
  19. Il n'y en a pas, malheureusement... (gallic shrug).
  20. Am I seeing a pattern here? Oh yes. Moar thrust! You, madame, are a TWR barbarian. Glad to see that your ISRU concept works though. And kudos for actually testing it before sending a crew (who's life depends upon it) off into the void with it.
  21. First of all, that's a very nice thing to say. But... is that even a thing? And if so, where would it go? The Lounge? You know, although the Logs has had far more interest than I would ever have expected, this is not one of the mega-threads of the forum superstars where the moderators have to step in because things get out of hand. There's a bunch of you guys who have been following this nearly from the start. You, Per, and DMSP, NotAgain, MatterBeam, insert_name, superstrijder, Mad Rocket Scientist, Geschosskopf (dammit, miss that old dude), Mjp1050, and others I'm forgetting or who simply don't post here, which is fine too. So far, your comments have always been motivating, useful, funny, or have generated interesting discussion about science and spaceflight (which is one of the things I secretly hoped would happen when I started writing this), or cooking, prehistoric hunting methods and cats (thanks Geo), or simply "Moar Camwise," which is fine too. Things have never gone out of control and this thread has ne'er been graced by the presence of a single moderator. Let it remain so, but the list of topics above shows that there is still some room for the occasional tangent or off-topic banter, as long as it doesn't go too far. I certainly consider that it is part of the fun, and part of the reward for posting all this. I'm not the chattiest of people as you can see from my post-count, considering that I've been on these forums since 2014. In fact, I post very little outside Mission Reports and the occasional foray into Science & Spaceflight, although even there I find that reasonable discussion can often degenerate into a highly polarized intellectual p*ssing contest. Welcome to the internet, I suppose. Also, I have almost nothing useful to say about stock KSP. I haven't played an install that wasn't heavily modded for nearly two years now, so my opinions on the matter aren't usually well received in other areas of this forum. TL:DR, I dunno. What do you guys think? Also, anyone posting here is very welcome to send me a PM if they are worried that their question/subject of discussion will be off topic. I don't bite.
  22. Aw, thanks! The shuttle-booster idea came to me out of the blue one Sunday lunchtime after many days of wracking my brains for an interesting disaster scenario on Mars. It's a bit of a pain to find entertaining ways out of catastrophic situations in RSS. Because RSS is hard and the margin for error is so small, all too often the figures just don't add up and your crew is doomed when something fails/goes wrong. I'm pretty happy the maths actually worked out with this particular rescue scenario. Andy Weir is a genius for finding so many plausible solutions to the many bad things that happen to Watney, and backing up his ideas by doing the math in most cases.
  23. Hey there, and welcome. Well spotted. It's supposed to look like foreshadowing, but I would call it "covering my back." Since I haven't got the whole story planned out in detail yet, I could conceivably write in Planet Nine. However, two things: - As of March 2017, its actual existence has not yet been confirmed, even though several teams of astronomers suspect that something is out there. I do not intend to add fictional or even hypothetical bodies to the Solar System of the Log's universe. The feeling of awe that keeps me playing through this comes from exploring places that really exist and have been observed by probes or from Earth in real life. If some lucky person spots it before this story is finished, and some nice modder adds it to RSS, then I might consider it. - It will have to be accessible with the technology that my Kebals will eventually acquire during the course of this story. If it turns out to be thousands of AU away, then it's probably not going to happen anyway. Hell, I just got back from Mars and that took me long enough... Sounds good to me, although judging by the ego of the guy who is so intent on proving its existence, it will probably be called "The Brown Planet."
  24. You're welcome. It took a while, and I'm not sure we're back on track for regular posting yet, but I just wanted you guys to know I'm still here... Yet to be revealed. But from Cam's point of view... ...they are all dead. That's why he's understandably angry. And like Hulk, he is green and starts smashing things. Is that Astroneer? Should I try it? (has it been released on Mac or Linux?) What is that dude doing?
  25. PART FIVE: L'ENFANT SAUVAGE. "Never was solitude equal to this, never had any living being been so utterly forsaken." Jules Verne. YEAR 13, DAY 204. CAMWISE. I stood waiting in the baking desert heat, sweat pouring down my brow. Hoping he would be true to his word once more. Hoping he would come. Hope? I somehow found enough saliva in my parched mouth to spit in the dirt. Hope... A concept that had become rather unfamiliar, in light of recent events. A word that sounded hollow and meaningless. Out of place, like some old word of patois dialect that only the cranky old Kerbs who lived in the murky depths of the deepest, dampest caves used anymore. I had walked through the bone dry Australian outback for nearly three hours to get to our usual meeting point, at the top of a small ridge that overlooked the dustbowl that was Woomera. It was halfway between the residential caves of Koolymilka and the surface village of Roxby, along the dusty rover trail that cut a beeline through the scrubby wasteland. The shabby, poorly maintained road was quiet. Not a single vehicle had passed me by during my long trek, since almost all local traffic went straight to either settlement from the airstation at Woomera. But that was the whole point: it was as remote as possible whilst remaining within reasonable walking distance from my new home, since I certainly couldn't afford a vehicle of my own in my present situation. And there I waited, kicking at the dusty berm on the edge of the trail anxiously, sending clouds of choking dust into the air, but unable to keep still for more than a few moments. He was late. Things had changed in recent weeks, he had already warned me. It would be ever harder for us to meet and discuss recent developments. Trans Pacific was gradually pulling out of Omelek and moving its centre of operations to a new site on the island of Guinea at a place called Madang. This was just part of a wider strategy to alienate all the original contributors to the space programme and make a fresh start with new staff and new infrastructure. He told me that they had a 5 km long runway at Madang. That was something that I would have gladly traded one or more of my grandmothers for... back when I had been the Senior Engineer, trying to launch three hundred tonne spaceplanes from Omelek's abysmally short strip of tarmac and ending up up ploughing into the Pacific Ocean more often than not. Back when that sort of thing had mattered to me. That seemed like a lifetime ago, now. The point was, that all of the old-timers who had worked hard to get us to space were being redistributed to new roles in airship maintenance and freight logistics. They were all being swept aside in favour of new blood, loyal and close to Trans Pacific. Almost all of the old-timers, that is. A few individuals were absolutely irreplaceable, thanks to their extensive knowledge and experience with the challenges of spaceflight. Froemone was one of these individuals, and the Trans Pacific Resource Company had therefore deemed him indispensable for the future of the space programme. Consequently, it was safe to assume that the Board would be on the look-out for any suspicious behaviour on his behalf. Which was why we had to meet in the Australian outback, far from anywhere. We could not be seen together, and Froemone had to squeeze these clandestine meetings into his back-breaking schedule without his absence being noticed. The only reason we could meet at all was because he had to pay regular visits to a supplier based in Woomera. I stopped my anxious dust kicking for a moment as a wave of guilt washed over me. He was taking all the risks here: I had so little left to lose anymore. After my brief spell in Omelek to assist the recovery of Laroque's crew, I had returned to Australia. Catbeth had kindly offered me use of her living quarters in Roxby, as she was rarely at home. I scraped a modest living as an odd-job kerb, repairing anything that the inhabitants of the village brought to me, from rover wheels to electric toasters. A bit of a step down from maintaining the nuclear reactor of an interplanetary spaceship, or a mighty a polar delivery truck. But no job is beneath anybody, I suppose. I pulled a small canteen from my tattered backpack and attempted to quench my thirst with a few drops of water. I squinted up at the sun with one hand raised to avoid being blinded by its harsh gaze. It was well past noon, and still he had not come. I resumed my kicking of the dusty berm, fidgeting and nervous. Finally, the sound of a vehicle approaching. I stepped off the trail and waited for it to appear. There was no cover out here: just sand and the odd dead bush for miles around. Nowhere to hide if the secrecy of our meeting had been compromised and this had turned into a trap. I stood there in the brilliant sunlight and awaited my fate. The vehicle sprang into view above the ridge abruptly. It was an old flatbed truck that had obviously seen better days. It was the type of utility vehicle that was used to haul cargo pallets between settlements. Its driver was clearly not quite in full control, and the truck danced from one side of the trail to the other, kicking up waves of sand and grit as it swerved. As it approached, the truck made one final swerve and pulled off the road, tired brakes squealing in protest. It ground to a halt just a few metres short of mowing me down. The cab door opened slowly, and a Kerbal appeared, dropping heavily into the dust, mopping his brow. He was clearly relieved at reaching his destination. “Uhm... hello Camwise,” he said. “Hello, SE,” I replied. “Nice wheels, but you nearly ran me over.” Froemone trudged towards me through the sand, and pulled an envelope from his suit. “Sorry about that. It was all I could find for rental at short notice. Here, this is for you,” he said. “It's official, now. You're... uhm... dead.” I took the envelope and tore it open, scanning the declaration rapidly. Commander Tirice had indeed made it so. Engineer Camwise had officially expired in Antartica two weeks ago after receiving a fatal dose of radiation while performing routine reactor core maintenance. He had failed to comply with the proper safety protocols. The crew of the icecrawler Montbrun had buried him on the ice shelf at 68°30'25” South, 110°20'50” East and returned his personal effects to his family in western Europe. The former moonwalker and interplanetary traveller had met his end during a tragic accident. End of story. Sad. It was highly unlikely that Trans Pacific would open an inquiry or send a team down there to go digging for their deceased employee and find an empty grave. Such accidents were, unfortunately, far too commonplace to be subject to systematic investigation. Nevertheless, Tirice had put her reputation and career on the line so that I might be free. Once more, I felt humbled. “Thanks, Froe,” I said, relieved of that burden, at least. “So... what's the latest news from the front?” “It's not good, I'm afraid,” he began. “Omelek is all but finished as a space centre. Even R&D is being moved out to Madang. In a few months, Omelek will be just another relay station for the long-haul airships. I'm being relocated to Madang, too. Camwise, this means...” he trailed off. “...that you won't be able to visit me anymore. I get it. Don't worry about me, you're risking far too much as it is. Catbeth will keep me in the loop. Oh, was her candidacy accepted?” “No, they're looking for grunts. Cat is too... uhm... experienced. Besides, they want new blood.” New blood. The expression was fitting, perhaps in ways that Froemone had not intended. Trans Pacific had recently started a new wave of recruitment for the upcoming colonisation programme. The idea, Froemone explained, was to send numerous small teams of kerbonauts to Near Earth asteroids to extract large quantities of propellant and assess their potential for harvesting other resources. This fuel was then to be stockpiled in both Lunar and Low Earth orbits for the next phase of planetary exploration. And this time, Froemone had ensured us that the figures added up, thanks to his new engine. Of all the weird and wonderful forms of electric propulsion he had researched, this was the one that would allow us to become a multi-planetary species at last, he claimed. Powered by our latest nuclear reactors or even large solar arrays, it could use a variety of propellants to shift large ships with high efficiency. In fact, you could burn just about anything you could get your hands on with it, including raw resources mined directly from the asteroids themselves. The plan was to use plain old water mined from space rocks to power the Company's fleets. We would conquer the system with water rockets. The irony of it all... The Company intended to begin with a complete exploration of the Moon, returning to the sites that we had always hoped to visit some day. The plan was to operate not from Drygalski Polar Base, but directly from orbit, thus avoiding the need for long and dangerous treks across the Moon's surface. Plans for the following phase of exploration were unknown beyond the walls of the boardroom, but judging from the hardware that he'd been instructed to develop, Froemone had a pretty good idea of where they intended to go. “I've been asked to over-spec the new Lunar lander,” he said. “The thing is, the delta-vee requirements for Callisto and Ganymede are only a little higher. They haven't stated it officially, but I'm building a lander for the Jupiter system.” I closed my eyes, remembering the data transmitted by the various probes we had already fired off towards the gas giant, Martel and Fontanes Three. The insane levels of radiation around the inner moons. What if one of the Crew datacores was hiding down there? Would the Board balk at condemning a crew to certain death and ordering them down into Jupiter's seemingly bottomless gravity well? Probably not. It didn't bear thinking about. “Did Fontanes Three see anything down there?” I asked Froemone, who sighed and rubbed his forehead, his hair now plastered with sweat. “I don't know, Camwise. I no longer have access to any of that data myself. Like you, I just get the beauty shots that are made public. The Board keeps all the raw data under wraps. They kept only one of the former Planetary Investigators on their team, and even if I managed to contact her, getting any sense from her will be unlikely.” Despite my grim mood and the blistering discomfort of the desert heat, I managed a dry chuckle. “Steledith...” “Yes, another one of the old-timers they couldn't do without.” The thought of the Board's suited thugs trying to extract accurate and useful information from our dotty Planetary Investigator was an amusing one. “What I do know,” Froemone continued, “is that we're launching a new series of probes to the outer system, beyond Jupiter and Saturn. They're smaller and lighter than the Fontanes class, same thruster type, even higher delta-vee but with a minimalist science package that emphasises surface scanning ability. Trans Pacific has signed for at least three of them, maybe more.” I let out a low whistle. That must have cost the equivalent of several top-tier executive pension schemes for the reactors and hardware alone, and the Fontanes programme had already used up nearly half the planet's reserves of xenon. It was a small wonder that there was any left, but it did explain why the headlights on the new rovers that I had repaired recently were of the older, halogen type. “What are the targets?” “The ice giants, and perhaps one or more of the KBOs. Some say the Pluto-Charon system, others say Orcus. Maybe both.” I gaped at Froemone, marvelling at the thought of hitting these distant bodies with probes fired from our little blue planet that huddled close to the warmth of the Sun. In the massive gulf that lay beyond the gas giants, the distances involved seemed immeasurable... However, in recent years, our space telescope had been scouring the skies along the ecliptic, and had found countless small icy bodies wandering along the edge of the Solar System, well beyond the most distant of the eight major planets. Steledith had dismissed these new planetesimals as, I quote, “Lumps of ice... boring.” She was more interested in their orbits. Many of them circled the sun in elongated ellipses, or at high inclination, which suggested that something was lurking out there, perhaps even more distant, and had messed with their trajectories. Something big. Trans Pacific however seemed to think that they warranted a closer look, despite the vast distances and long mission times involved. But surely the Crew weren't out there, were they? I mean, why cross the gap between the stars to find a planet like Earth, just to then go off and skulk on some distant, frozen comet? It made no sense. Froemone interrupted my thoughts. “What are you going to do now?” It was a simple question, but one charged with meaning. The Senior Engineer was worried for me. And rightly so, as I had no ready answer. “Now that I'm dead, you mean? I don't know, I...” I trailed off. I looked pleadingly at Froemone for a moment. So far, he had said nothing about the only thing that really mattered to me. The real reason why I had insisted we remain in contact. It wasn't fair of me to press the matter, and I had promised myself not to ask, but I couldn't help it. “Froe, is there any news of Bartdon and his crew? Anything? Maybe Trans Atlantic made a mistake, or maybe they're covering something up...” Froemone stepped forward and put a hand on my shoulder awkwardly. “Cam, stop right there. The official version of what happened hasn't changed since it was first reported. Quissac's circularisation burn was miscalculated and she re-entered over the Atlantic. She broke up on the way down. Trans Atlantic found the wreckage on the west coast of Africa. There were no survivors.” “Yeah, that's the official version, but...” “There were witnesses, Camwise. Many independent witnesses, and reliable ones. An airship Captain saw her come apart, and the scatter of debris. You and I are engineers, Cam. We both know that Quissac was designed to land on Mars, not on Earth. You have to let it go, now. They're gone, Cam. She's gone. I'm so sorry.” I stared at the ground in silence. Then the rage and sorrow that had been bubbling beneath the surface for weeks welled up and I could no longer contain it. Right then, I needed to break something. The truck that Froe had used to get here was, unfortunately for it, the only thing within breaking distance. Pulling a heavy adjustable wrench from the back pocket of my overall, I launched myself at it. By the time Froemone managed to relieve me of my weapon and wrestle me to the ground I had smashed one of the side windows, a headlight, and put a large dent in one of the doors. A few seconds more and I would have taken out the windshield, but the Senior Engineer was younger and stronger. He had spent less time in microgravity and low gee. More time down here, and less out there. He pinned me in the dust. “Cam, stop.” I stopped struggling and he let me go. I scrambled to my feet with as much dignity as I could muster. “Go back to the Company and build their ships for them,” I spat at him, breathless. “I'm going home.” I turned away from my friend and stormed off towards Roxby without looking back. After a few minutes I heard the truck start up and drive off in the other direction. Gritting my teeth, I bowed my head and walked on. That night I packed my few belongings into my tattered duffel bag and tidied Catbeth's small apartment so that there would be no trace of me ever being there, apart from a short note that I left on the table. Catbeth, Thank you for everything that you have done for me. Please tell Froemone that I'm sorry. I'm going to try and settle the score. For us. Camwise. The next morning, I caught the first airship leaving for Guinea. If it was grunts they were looking for, then grunts they would get indeed.