Cydonian Monk

Forgotten Space Program

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this is great! loving the whole space archeology vibe. i concur that my kerbals wouldn't be so gentle to old thomlock if he showed off after 95 years of absence without leave. he would have a hard time collecting his old paychecks at the very least xP

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Definitely a fun series to read - looking forward to future instalments.

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Latest chapter was a real joy to read. The style reminded me a lot of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on several moments!

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Thanks, everybody. :)

Ran into a bug last night... A universe-breaking NullRef I've never been able to explain with "Thing B" station. We'll get into what exactly it is this evening when I post the update, but I'm rather convinced the place is haunted. Or cursed. 

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A Nitrogen One

To move forward with reclaiming "Thing B," the agency needed to first bring it up to modern standards. And by "modern" they meant "heat, air, and perhaps a bit of water." The first Nitrogen mission (Nitrogen A-1) would help reach that goal by installing a large docking adapter and reconfiguring the station slightly.

Nitrogen was the next step forward in spaceflight. Developed with modularity in mind, each Nitrogen craft would include a capsule or one or two kerbals, an "orbital module" so they could safely snack in space without getting crumbs in the controls, and a "service module" to get all the above into space in the first place.

To loft this new mass into orbit, Wernher and the interns developed a "new" launch vehicle: The LV-04 Sonata. Not really a completely new vehicle, it discarded the four Gustave V-2 strap-on boosters for four copies of the core stage from the LV-03. A bit of extra power on the upper stage and it was good enough to handle all three variants of the Nitrogen.

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For reasons of crew safety, the capsule and orbital module were attached to a "launch escape system." It was assumed this would pull the soft, mushy crew away from an exploding rocket without turning them into jelly. Just because kerbals are fungible doesn't mean they should be fungi.

One element of the Nitrogen vehicle enjoyed by all crews, both flight and ground, was the new onboard computer system. Unlike previous vehicles, the kOS module is now standard and included in the service module of the orbiter, allowing for all operations while in flight to be controlled by scripts. (Scripts which are being retooled to run from shared libraries.) In addition, all Nitrogen-class vehicles include onboard telemetry thanks to some overworked interns and an Engineer 7500 module.

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Though it's likely more variations will appear in the future, today's Nitrogen mission was conducted using the A-type, A for Adapter. Engineer Sieta Kerman was sent up with the docking adapter to hopefully bring "Thing B" back to a useable state. The docking adapter part of the craft would then be left behind at the station for future craft to use, allowing them to include the smaller, androgynous docking adapter developed by Tantares.

Other variants include the C-type, which is identical to the A-type excluding the docking ports between the return and habitat modules, and the T-type, T for Twin, which can ferry two astronauts into orbit. 

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Superior mission planning from the snack-and-coffee-fueled interns at the space center meant the Nitrogen A-1 rendezvoused with Thing B just as both craft exited into the morning sunlight after less than one orbit. The Boss was most pleased. 

Still uncertain as to the docking capabilities of the flight computer, Sieta took over and guided the small craft in. (That, and because the programmer kerbs hadn't actually written a docking program. When run the docking program just blinked a few lights and bleeped as though an error had occurred. The error of course being the rest of the code didn't exist.)

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And with that, they were successfully and safely docked to a decades-old space station. A quick inspection of the interior revealed a few micro-meteorite damaged sections that would need to be sealed off; A few sections where water had both frozen and sublimated, resulting in all manner of burst pipes; And a few sections that are best not described. 

The bulk of the ship was cold. Very cold. Even without radiators it wasn't near to overheating, with the internal part temperature averaging 152 Kelvin. No doubt it would heat up as the atmosphere was pumped back into it and crews started living in it once more, but for now it was too cold to touch. Radiators were high on the list of additions.

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The inspection also revealed that station's full name: "Kelgee Station."

"And I think it's haunted."

"Uuuuh, say again Nitrogen? Did you say, haunted?"

"Yes. Haunted. I'm hearing weird noises up here. Gives me the creeps."

Wernher shook his head at the CapCom, who radioed back to politely tell Sieta to keep a lid on the crazy talk. "These engineers and their crazy superstitions." Meanwhile Wernher and the interns set about deciding how best to bring the station up to survivable levels. After some review they agreed to move the Laboratory Module from its current position near the "ventral" (or top / solar-panel) side of the station to a position closer to the docking adapter installed by Sieta. 

And they were in luck, as the ancient construction bot used to first assemble the station still worked, still had antennas, and had nearly a full tank of monoprop. It was no problem to have it wrangle the lab module and its connected science pod down to the dorsal node of the station.

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And that's when the fun began. Sieta sealed off the rest of the station, pumped the atmosphere up in the lab and the hab connected to it, and went to disconnect the science pod. (With the intent of moving the pod somewhere else and using that docking port for another Nitrogen A-type adapter.) She pulled the release lever for the docked pod and instructed the bot to pull it away.

The science pod was having nothing of the sort. Releasing it caused a loud shriek to echo through the station. A metal-rending, soul-grinding sound that shook even the kerbals on the ground. The science pod and the construction bot (Gerty. Its name was Gerty....) shot off into the kosmos, leaving behind the wasted ruin of everything everyone had ever known or loved.

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And then Kerbin started to disappear, along with most of the station. Chunk by precious chunk.

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All that remained was Sieta, the laboratory module, and a strange sense that this is what would happen if she pulled the release lever for the science pod. That this is what had happened the last half-dozen times she tried. 

"Cursed, not haunted. Cursed. And I'm leaving."

Mission control erupted into a cacophony of noise as everyone scrambled to put down their celebratory snacks and get back to their stations. "Nitrogen, Flight. Did you say 'leaving'?"

"Yes, that's right, leaving. The station's already named after one dead kerbal. I'm not sticking around to see if it's him or some other shade that's cursed the place, and I'm certainly not waiting here long enough to have one named after me. My official engineering evaluation of this place is that it's haunted and we should hurl it into deep space. With lava."

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Sure enough, the station cameras and the shipboard sensors both showed Sieta had undocked from the station and was quickly backing away, only 2 days into a 5 day mission. Gene scrambled to find something else for her to do while still in orbit. Wasn't there a contract somewhere here? Something from that USI outfit?

Ah, there it was.

 

Thing C

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"N-A1, Flight. Since you're in such a hurry to leave we wondered if you might be willing to check out a second target for us. Something called 'Sky Home.' The toy rocket company we bought those early experiments from wants us to expand it, and I'd like to know if it's worthwhile."

"Are there any ghosts? Or zombies? No, I can handle zombies. Just no ghosts, ok?"

And so Sieta set out for Baile Speir, one of the first true Sky Homes. "Thing C" as it were, was in a lower orbit than Kelgee (100km vs 130km). Being slightly behind the two of them, the Nitrogen A-1 needed to kick itself into an even higher orbit and wait for the station to catch up. A little over an orbit later and she had a good view of it.

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"Ok flight, I've got a nice picture of it now. Smaller than that last wreck, and a fairly modular construction. Lots of little segments it looks like. There are still two ships here."

"Well, you said you could handle space zombies...."

"Where did all the crews go? Three seats in each of these big ships, only one in that weird bird-like thing back at the other. If they were all full, then we're missing ten kerbals. Wernher or any of the brain trust have an idea?"

Gene looked over to the chief designer, who had visibly perked up at the mention of his name. "Ja! There are the tales of the mighty kraken, who cracks open the ships of unsuspecting kerbals and eats them, slowly. Munch, a munch, a munch, like that. Their tormented souls can be heard screaming all the way from its lair in the..." The line went dead when Gene pulled the plug on Wernher's headset.

"Ah, sorry about that N-A1. No, Wernher most certainly does NOT have an idea as to what's eating the missing crews. Please take a look inside and advise us on its condition."

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The condition was remarkable considering its age. A cursory check of the exterior showed a number of communications devices (Sieta suspected this was more of a comms relay than a space station), and no substantial damage. She forced a few of the antennas open, hoping at least one of them would connect to the network and start sending data.

She poked her head inside and was surprised to see the sensors in the airlock reporting a full atmosphere. No signs of a crew, and no signs of some violent encounter with a giant space squid either. None of the computer equipment worked, but some of the printed documentation had dates on them that gave her a idea as to the station's age.

79 years, 79 days. Really, really old. 

Already a bit spooked, Sieta decided she didn't want to spend another two days in space. So the next time around she boosted the little Nitrogen into high Kerbin orbit (officially becoming the first Kerbal to enter high orbit following Thomlock's return), and burned at apoapsis to set up her reentry.

That was a mistake.

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The Carbon-series capsule used by the Nitrogen A and C types was only designed for reentry from low orbit. Likewise, it was only intended for short reentries, not long, grueling burns such as Sieta had experienced with the Carbon 4. This time, not only was the capsule enduring a long, arduous reentry, but it was also returning at a considerably higher rate of speed.

So once again all the ablator burned off.

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And without ablator, the heat had to go somewhere. By the time the craft had slowed to under 1600m/s, the internal temperature was well over 400 Kelvin. Several things inside the capsule had melted, including the emergency radio Sieta needed to call in the recovery team. Somehow the parachutes had survived, the drogue chute pulling free just as the internal temperature crested 417 Kelvin. 

Sieta jumped out when the capsule was still a few meters above the ground. The last thing she wanted was it to roll over onto the door, blocking her only route of escape from the oven. Luckily the craft bounced to a stop just a short way down the hill, upright, hot enough to start a small grass fire.

Again.

She hoped the grass fire would be enough for the recovery team to find her.

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What she _didn't_ expect, and what no one at the space agency could explain, was why and how the World's First representative found her, and why he was giving her an award for "First return to the surface from orbit."

And that's how Sieta lost her mind.

 

Navigation: Next Post

Edited by Cydonian Monk
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Nooooo!

Poor Sieta.

That was possibly the best chapter yet, thanks for this, and happy holidays!

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8 hours ago, Cydonian Monk said:

And that's how Sieta lost her mind.

I've often wondered what a Kerbal psych ward is like.  Are they houses of horror such as in the 18th Century or something more modern?  Hopefully Sieta will be able to tell us :)

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"Munch. A munch. A munch." :D

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3 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

I've often wondered what a Kerbal psych ward is like.  Are they houses of horror such as in the 18th Century or something more modern?  Hopefully Sieta will be able to tell us :)

Far, far worse than 18th Century sanitariums. Kerbals send their cracked comrades to Dres.

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8 minutes ago, Cydonian Monk said:

Far, far worse than 18th Century sanitariums. Kerbals send their cracked comrades to Dres.

LOL!  At least you get another world's first for the 1st batch :D.  But what about while technology is too low to get to Dres?  What do you do with the madkerbs while waiting for a Dres window?

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;( This makes me sad. Dres is an insanity ward? I thought Eve was the real insanity therapy.

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12 hours ago, SpaceplaneAddict said:

;( This makes me sad. Dres is an insanity ward? I thought Eve was the real insanity therapy.

Winky frown: External reference detected

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A Little More Nitrogen

After some consideration, The Boss decided to push forward with the contract to expand Baile Speir. The second Nitrogen mission, originally intended to be a second adapter for Kelgee Station, was retasked and sent to Baile Speir instead. A few small improvements were made to the spacecraft to account for issues discovered during the previous mission, such as the positioning of the RCS ports, but otherwise the Nitrogen A-2 was identical to the N-A1.

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Macfred, first kerbal in space and the only 0-star astronaut left in the corps, launched to meet the station just moments before sunrise. Even then the launch was a few minutes late, with the craft placed into an orbit somewhat behind the target. (The small dot over the VAB in the above shot is Baile Speir.) 

Two orbits later and Macfred was making his approach to his new home in the sky. 

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The station had only one open docking port when Macfred arrived, so some rearranging was needed before more modules could be sent up. The easiest way to free up two of the mid-sized docking ports was to move the communications modules to the ends of the solar array trusses. As it so happened, both of these modules were autonomous probes, and moving them was quite easy.

Macfred kept two of the station's six solar arrays closed after he moved the communications pods, more to reduce heat intake than any specific reason. Unlike Kelgee Station, Baile Speir was already warm. Not warm enough to cause any serious danger, but warm enough that radiators would need to be one of the early things they installed.

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With the two upper docking ports open, Macfred was ready to move onto the next chore - relocating the two "Obair" ships that were currently docked at the lower ports. The upper ports were closed off from the rest of the station thanks to the large monoprop tank, so an EVA would be needed to return after the docking.

And there was the small problem of both ships having zero flight electronics. No flight computer, no stability control, nothing.

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Not the easiest docking ever performed, but soon that was over. Macfred's two spacewalks earned the first astronaut his first astronaut star. (To be awarded upon returning to Kerbin.)

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--


All that shuffling opened up two more docking ports on the habitable parts of the station. The planned expansion module would use a normal docking port, but to attach the life support supplies the station would need another of the Tantares small androgynous docking ports. (As it was the station had enough life support to keep one kerbal alive for almost 30 days, or 30 kerbals alive for 1 day.)

Verly was sent up with the Nitrogen A-3 a short while later. 

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Once the second Engineer was aboard the two set about preparing the station for the new life support module. They only had a few days to get everything ready, as Macfred would have to undock so the supplies craft could use his docking port. His reentry was one of the most precise to date, with his landing coming within a few hundred meters of the space center.

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They waited until morning for his 1-star graduation ceremony. Thankfully no World's Firsters showed up with a plaque and prize money.

--

 

And a Dash of Oxygen

The air to breathe was launched atop yet another LV-04 Sonata launcher. The Oxygen series was similar in construction to the Nitrogen, using everything down to the same service module. The three food bags, one water bag, and plethora of oxygen tanks were the obvious exception.

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Once the first Oxygen craft had finished its rendezvous, Verly remotely guided it in to the docking port. The station could now support one kerbals for more than two years. If they had some way to clean the water and oxygen, then one kerbal could be locked in orbit for nearly five years. (More than long enough to hold them until a transfer to Dres was ready....)

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With that done the stage was set for the arrival of the station's first expansion module.

 

Navigation: Next Page

Edited by Cydonian Monk
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Say... if you ever do a nuclear-powered Nitrogen craft, will it be N-AN? ;) Loving the space archaeology story!

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8 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

Say... if you ever do a nuclear-powered Nitrogen craft, will it be N-AN? ;) Loving the space archaeology story!

The real danger is if I do a Reuseable, Economy-model Nitrogen. I already get enough NREs from the game as is without adding more......

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6 minutes ago, Cydonian Monk said:

The real danger is if I do a Reuseable, Economy-model Nitrogen. I already get enough NREs from the game as is without adding more......

LOL! Love it. :)

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Who knows what might be lurking beyond Kerbin Orbit and SOI...

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12 hours ago, The space freak said:

Awesome story!Which mod did you use for the Nitrogen Vehicle

Thank you. Nitrogen is mostly Tantares, with a few stock parts and the fins from Taerobee. Other parts include the kOS computer and the Engineer module. 

Edited by Cydonian Monk

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On ‎12‎/‎26‎/‎2015 at 0:35 PM, Cydonian Monk said:

Once the first Oxygen craft had finished its rendezvous, Verly remotely guided it in to the docking port. The station could now support one kerbals for more than two years. If they had some way to clean the water and oxygen, then one kerbal could be locked in orbit for nearly five years. (More than long enough to hold them until a transfer to Dres was ready....)

LOL...  Question answered :D

 

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Did you build the stations before or is it a mod

Edited by The space freak

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1 hour ago, The space freak said:

Did you build the stations before or is it a mod

While I've considered writing a mod like this in the past (more of a space race mod, where you can find your opponent's ships and stations in orbit), everything "found" in this save is something I've built in the past. In the case of Baile Speir, it was built in July of 2013. 

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You should use the Tarsier telescopes to "discover" things in orbits of other planets, would be neat

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10 minutes ago, waterlubber said:

You should use the Tarsier telescopes to "discover" things in orbits of other planets, would be neat

Oooh. I wasn't aware that was still around. I've got the CactEye stuff installed (though more for some of the small parts it provides than the telescopes), and the HullCam telescopes, just hadn't launched any yet. Think I'll toss the TST stuff back in again and give it a spin. 

Thanks!

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