CatastrophicFailure

ALIEN SKIES: A 6.4-scale playthrough of GPP/Rald

115 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Year 5, Day 287...

Rescue alarm is still going off. Which is odd, since we've taped it off, thrown a pile of old socks on it, and even unplugged the console. So it looks like it's Ferdin to the rescue again.

Spoiler

 

This design worked well before, and you know what they day: if it ain't broke...

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...Ferdin will probably break it.

 

Same plan as before. First, rendezvous with the stricken capsule at its apogee just above the atmosphere. We're coming, Negy!

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Well, Ferdin is, at least. The rest of us are busy rifling through his personal stuff and Triti has a back of itching powder and an evil look, so we're not about to question.
Oh, and this time Ferdin's brought a Klaw to avoid all that nasty "drifting off helplessly into space" stuff.

 

Step Two: as before, attach docking ports to this huge crew cabin, then rebuild the rescue ship around it.

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Wow, that thing is bigger than Ferd's room. Which is now covered in... well, he might wanna stay in the crew cabin.

 

All right, we've got a system! What could go wrong? Mind where you point the solar panels, you're running out of juice, guys...

eSWnd9e.png

On to the next victim target um... objective?

Wait, his apogee is how high?!?

This one's going to be a nail biter, folks! Stranded Hadald's  apogee is barely 102km, that's ten kilometers inside Gael's atmosphere. How has he not fallen out of orbit already??

OK, you can do this Ferd! Just plot a careful inctercept...

What's that? You're just an engineer and only along for the ride, and Mission Control is supposed to be doing the piloting?

Um... c'mon guys, get those slide-rules working, it's nerding time!

 

Coming in hot...

Even in the tenuous upper atmosphere (why is it always "tenuous upper atmosphere?" Everybody always say "tenuous upper atmosphere!" Isn't that a bit redundant?) 

Anyways, even in the upper atmosphere, the drag is too high. A standard rendezvous won't work, we have to make the approach under power. Fortunately, there's plenty of fuel on board.

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The rescue ship is technically flying at this point. We've got the throttle cracked open, and it's a constant dance to keep time to intercept and intercept distance declining!

Then, only a couple of kilometers away, it's like all of a sudden the laws of physics kick in and Hadald's pod begins slowing down from drag, too!

Closer...! Clooooooser...!

 

That's it, jump, Hadald!

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Don't miss!

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We've got 'im! Or, you've got 'im! Now lets get the flarp out of there!

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Forget anything clever, just land that thing while you're ahead!

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Or spin around in crazy circles below the parachute until everybody pukes all over the walls, whatever works. You do you.

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But that explosion is coming out of your paychecks.

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...that might be more menacing if I actually gave anyone paychecks...

 

Wow... that's a big tree...

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Posted (edited)

Day something, somesuch...

Sigh. More rescue contracts. Where are these people even coming from, anyway?! We've gained two more flight engineers and another pilot, but we still need a scientist, anyway. All of our real scientists are still hiding under an engine bell and throwing turbopumps at anyone who gets within range after I asked if any of them would volunteer for flight training. Probably shouldn't have mentioned the possibility of being stuck in a confined space with Triti for a few weeks..

Anyway, we're keeping it simple this time.

Spoiler

 

We've stripped a NewShip down of all the superfluous bits, like the pilot and launch escape tower, and stuck a Klaw on top. That 10 degree plane change is a killer. Hopefully we can pick up another pilot along the way.

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On the up side, we've finally managed a successful auto-recovery of the Mallard upper stage. I guess all that was needed was for someone to flick the switch from "Cook" to "Don't cook." Go figure.

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First pickup successful. But really, who puts an unpressurized truck cab into orbit?? How did they put it into orbit? Where did it come fromt?? All of our truck cabs (and one missing scientist) have been visually accounted for!

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Second pickup. Another truck cab?? GENE says we're supposed to bring this one back. Something is fishy here. I'm beginning to feel like someone is... toying with us.

ti6HMZB.png

...like this is all part of some sick game, running us around for the amusement of a demented mind! We cannot continue to tolerate this! In fact--

Ooh, snacks!

 

*burp* what was I saying? Anyway, third pick up. And it's a scientist! One way or another. We're gonna stick some glasses and a lab coat on him and warn him he'd better science the flarp out of this place or he's rooming with Triti permanently.

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Yup, must be a scientist, look at that awkward, uncomfortable grin squished between Jencine and Gemchell, there.

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This is your captain speaking. Sort of. Remember, in the event of a water landing, your heat shield may not be used as a flotation device. Because it sinks.

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All right, enough of this flarping about! We have been pawns in the scruples of unknown others for too long! I believe that this space center should commit itself to achieving the goal, kinda-sorta-'bout-that-time, of landing a Kerbal on a moon and returning them safely to Gael. Even if it's Triti. Cuz she said she'd hurt me if I didn't say that. But anyway, no single space project in this period will be more impressive to Kermankind, not that we have much for comparison around here, or more important for the long-range exploration of space, and keeping certain slightly unstable Kerbonauts off-planet for as long as possible.

And also, because GENE says so.

Zd2PiZz.png


 

We're... um... gonna need a bigger VAB...

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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On 6/18/2017 at 10:01 PM, CatastrophicFailure said:

Meanwhile, Lodvin Kerman's... acclimation proceeds as expected. He has no idea how he got to space, where he's from, who he is... or why there's a pile of bricks clogging his toilet. That last one is a bit strange, even for around here.

A bit of a revelation, I say. :wink: Some really nice and fun few chapters, again. Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

Year 5, Day 336...

Today, friends, we take the first steps on a grand journey of going beyond this odd little world to the worlds, er, beyond...

...by, basically, going round and round in circles and doing a bunch of other stuff we've already done before, but, like, more.

Anyways, the plan of landing a Kerbal on another body shall take five phases. We've already developed a mostly reliable space ship, although it's ridiculously heavy, so we're calling that Phase Zero.

Phase 1: Testing in low Gael orbit of a crude crewed vacuum-body lander.
Phase 2: A test flight of a new, gargantuan rocket needed to loft the necessary mass into space.
Phase 3: A long-duration flight to low Iota orbit, since it's closer, to verify the equipment needed for the 20+-day round trip to Ceti.
Phase 4: A crude crewed landing on Ceti herself, to fulfill several contracts.
Phase 5: If there's any money and suckers volunteers left, a crewed landing on Iota.

Spoiler

 

So we begin with orbital testing of a münar lander:

U3Csrgo.png

For this, the engineering team has cobbled together a special one-off Mallard modified with four large SRB's to get the stack into orbit. For this flight, we've duped assigned novices Negy, Hadald and Lodvin. Since if we're going to test a lot untested hardware that could explode at any moment, might as well use the noobs that we haven't invested much in yet. And besides, Lodvin's habit of wandering about muttering about sand is really starting to creep everyone out. The fresh air will do him good. See the world. That sort of thing.

 

...and we have successful booster separation as the sun sets behind the space center!

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Followed by successful orbital insertion and deployment of the payload shroud:

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After a quick system checkout, pilot Lodvin actually shuts up for a few minutes to pivot the NewShip around and dock with our new lander...

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...before extracting it from the Mallard upper stage.

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Heat shield deployed for another successful automated recovery. It almost looks like it's supposed to be that way. Now we just need to figure out how we're going to get it back from where it landed, 2500km away.

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Engineer Negy collects her equipment for the upcoming objectives, and performs a space-walk-around of the fully deployed lander.

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Once she and Hadald are aboard, they leave Lodvin to go on mumbling to himself and prepare to give the lander a thorough shakedown.

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OOC is serious business:

Spoiler

This was... oddly unnerving for me. I almost never fly dedicated landers like this in 6.4 scales. They're going to end up quite far from the command ship, if anything goes wrong they can't just abort and re-enter, and only have about a day of resources available. I wonder if the real Apollo 9 crew was as weirded out at this point.

 

Bye, Lodvin... at last some peace & quiet!

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How... how the heck is Hadald so hairy already?! He's only been up there a couple of hours!

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Well, he did just fly between two spaceships barreling through the upper atmosphere... maybe he's just that virile...

 

Anyway, the first order of business is... taking care of some old business...

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And testing the integrated descent engine.

 

The lander crew rendezvouses with an old, failed space capsule from an earlier aborted rescue mission. It's cluttering up the orbit and needs to be disposed of.

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Negy's whole reason for coming along: the pay is good, the scenery changes, and we let her use explosives.

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...or... have I used that line already?

 

Ahem, yes, well, the crew moves off a safe distance...

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Ooooooh..... Aaaaaaahhhh....

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They're having entirely too much fun for hapless Kerbonauts. Time to get serious.

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Erm... what exactly is Hadald looking at, anyway...?

 

They follow with a long burn on the descent engine, boosting their orbit up to more than 2,300km, just below the deadly inner radiation belt. The view is worth the extra rads.

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That should fix Hadald's hair problem, too...

 

With that system verified, the descent stage is jettisoned...

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...and now beings testing of the tiny ascent motor.

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Some orbital mechanical whirlygigging around later, and Lodvin once again comes back into view.

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It's a bittersweet moment.

 

So far, the little lander has performed exceptionally well, with only some minor trim issues to damp out.

cUoKoXU.png

 

Back with Lodvin's incessant sususrrus (susurrus? Suseruses? I really like the word but I can't spell it. Anyway...), Negy uses any excuse she can to get outside for a while. Here, she gathers experiments from the lander. They weren't used at all, and are rather expensive, but were needed to simulate proper balance. 

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She stuffs them into the cargo bay:

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With that, it's time to leave the empty lander ascent stage to an undeserved fiery death. 

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Which is beginning to seem preferable to a few more hours with Lodvin. There's already a pool starting on exactly what's going to happen when he's eventually paired up with Triti.

 

Susurussing aside, the now-experienced crew enjoys an uneventful re-entry to a landing not far from the Space Center.

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And, fortuitously enough, a handy supply of seaweed to clam up Lodvin. It's not sand, so he doesn't seem to mind.

 

Spoiler

 

On 6/29/2017 at 2:06 AM, monophonic said:

A bit of a revelation, I say. :wink: Some really nice and fun few chapters, again. Thanks!

I have no idea what you're talking about. :D

But, oh, hey, I can like again!

 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Posted (edited)

Year 6, Day 31...

So we're calling this Phase 1-A.

After rebuilding from the last experiment upgrading the Research Center and incorporating a slew of new probe parts (one might even call them Probe Plus parts), we need a test of the new experimental probe buss. It's light enough that we had some excess capacity on the Mallard, so the engineering team thought it worthwhile to validate the delta-V calculations for an Iota return, by, well, returning from Iota. But just with a probe.

Spoiler

 

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Enter the NOVA:Iota mission!

 

No, it's not actually going to Grannus... that's a long, long way off...

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The mission runs into trouble right away with a failure of the lander's primary reaction wheel. Fortunately the return capsule has a spare.

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Once captured in an eccentric orbit, the stack separates.

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This is our new NOVA-class probe buss. Aesthetic efficiency has been increased by over 135%, as well as incorporating several new instruments and important-looking asymmetrical sciencey-bits.

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It will spend some time around Iota for a full checkout.

 

Meanwhile, the sample return lander begins its descent using the remaining fuel in the transfer stage.

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A few kilometers above the surface, the transfer stage is dumped and the landing legs are deployed.

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Response is slow with only the tiny return capsule reaction wheel until the engines kick in.

 

Um, ignore that explosion, that's really truly supposed to happen this time!

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Er... ignore that explosion too. The transfer stage seems extremely... explodey in the low grabbity. But we've successfully landed on Iota!

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We're not staying long. Thanks to using the transfer stage for most of the descent, there's enough fuel left in the lander for a quick biome hop once some samples are aboard.

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Running on fumes but with good control authority from the widely spaced engines, the probe gets a quick glimpse of home before settling down again.

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...and we've landed on Iota... again!

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Still not staying long. The samples are quickly transferred to the return stage. The lander will remain useful on the surface until something else breaks.

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The anemic little return rocket boosts into the Iotan sky!

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OK, seriously, guys, I'm no engineer but I think that adapter collar is just a bit off-center...

 

Mission Control considers a return course that would take advantage of a Rald flyby to save some fuel, but this would put it into a less-than-desirable nighttime landing.

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All systems still looking good, samples are secure...

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I'm sure that signal will come back in time...

 

And after all that fuss... we get a night landing anyway.

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The return capsule only gets a few moments of sun... it's so light that it quickly decelerates in the upper atmosphere with very little heating, even from the 8.5km/s Iota return speed.

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My, the ocean is awfully... clear, here...

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Where is this, anyway?

 

The probe successfully splashes down with its precious cargo of alien dirt!

OyruKfK.png


 

...and promptly begins to sink. Someone go wake up Vlad and get him some flippers.
I don't care if he already smells like fish!

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Posted (edited)

Year 6, Day 51...

It's been a long time since we've had a day like this. This... will be a day long remembered! It has seen the end of the Republic, it will soon--

Oops, wrong script.

Ahem... Today is a glorious testament to the modern age! The culmination of achievement since an unknown alchemist a millennium ago first mixed charcoal, brimstone, and bat poop, and said to himself, "Man, I'ma light this crap on fire!" Presumably he had an assistant to carry on his work. And let us not forget the mighty armies of Ivan I, Ivan the Great, who used the concoction to forge together a shattered land into a mighty Empire! Whether it wanted to or not. And from that nascent Empire sprouted the seeds of our modern, prosperous and glorious Union, and the immortal words that carry on unto this day that This, We Do Not Speak Of!

Except we haven't heard so much as a mouse fart from that Union in over six years now, and here I am speaking of it with no boogeykerb jumping from the shadows. Hmm.

Anyways, we built a really big rocket that didn't explode despite being far too expensive to test properly ahead of time.

Comrades other people, I give you...

...the Big Dummy!

Spoiler

 

O6hGvYk.png

It's named for the payload. We didn't trust it enough with anything important, so we just loaded it up with 65 tonnes of lead and old rocket parts, and a dummy engine. Still, at well over 700 tonnes on the pad it's pretty darn impressive.

 

A trio of RD-180's lofts the monster to 2500m/s, then a successful hot-staging and a pair of RS-25's power the hydrolox upper stage to the edge of space!

di2Vyw2.png

 

And the edge is about as close as it gets. Since we've essentially created the world's largest lawn dart (which in itself really isn't much of an accomplishment on this world, as we've never played lawn darts), we don't want it come back down anywhere near us. The upper stage shuts down in a pseudo-orbit of 104x25 kilometers, still entirely within Gael's atmosphere but with more than enough delta-V remaining to loft the payload into a proper orbit if we'd wanted. 

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And the dummy is loose!

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And within moments is nearly hit by the expended upper stage. That's ok, it's done what we needed it to.

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It's getting hot up here, so take off-- er, what temperature does lead melt at, again?

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Oh. Right about there.

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OOOOoooooooohhhhhhh.......

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Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh........

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Apparently this little bit survived...

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It glides surprisingly well for uncontrolled space junk.

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Yup... definitely going to need a bigger VAB. I had to send Vlad up to the roof to strip the asbestos off and peel back the sheeting to fit our next project.

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In other news, I'm getting a bit concerned about Lodvin. Eccentric is ok, Kerm knows we've got no shortage of that running around here, but he's gone from muttering about sand to mumbling about "going into the light," or not going into the light, or something like that. I may have to take drastic measures if he gets worse.

 

 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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I need to stop reading these in school. People are looking at me weird for laughing like it's going out of fashion.

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16 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Presumably he had an assistant to carry on his work.

:D

16 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Eccentric is ok, Kerm knows we've got no shortage of that running around here

Nothing to do with tonnes of burning lead spread widely through the atmosphere, I expect.

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16 hours ago, NotAgain said:

I need to stop reading these in school. People are looking at me weird for laughing like it's going out of fashion.

I should probably add a warning label eventually. -_-

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

I should probably add a warning label eventually. -_-

Something like "WARNING - CONTAINS HUMOROUS CONTENT. DO NOT READ AT FUNERAL"? :P

Edited by qzgy
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I was thinking something like

WARNING: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT HAS BEEN KNOWN TO CAUSE INOLUNTARY GUFFAWING, UNCONTROLLED OCULAR REVOLUTIONS, GRATUITOUS HAND-TO-FACE CONTACT, AND SPONTANEOUS NASAL EXPULSION OF BEVERAGES. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. DO NOT CONSUME COFFEE, SODA, MILK, OR OTHER POTENTIALLY IRRITATING LIQUDS WHEN USING THIS PRODUCT. IN CASE OF PARALYZING CONFUSION, CONSULT AUTHOR'S WORKS, BUT IT WAS PROBABLY JUST A BAD JOKE ANYWAY.  

SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. 

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Year 6, day 86...

The day came sooner than I expected. I had to tell Vlad to put poor Lodvin down.

 

Why Vlad was carrying him around, I'm still not sure, and Lodvin didn't actually seem to mind, but there's just something not right with that boy. 

Lodvin is pretty strange, too.

 

But anyways, the big day has finally come! Time to slip the surly bonds of Gael and take our first steps toward another world!

IOTA-DUMMY 1
TRITI - NEGY - PETER

Besides, it will get Triti out of everyone's hair for a while.

 

She insisted on being the pilot for this one, and no one around here is suicidal enough to argue with her. So once more a Big Dummy blunders into the sky!

17yon70.png

The whole thing is really just a stop-gap until we can come up with something more refined. As you can see, they didn't even bother to paint it.

 

This mission is planned out as a long-term voyage to low Iota orbit, further testing out the lifter and verifying the performance of all necessary life support systems beyond the safety of Gael, and hopefully getting--

DUCK!!!

jxf4msd.png

Dangit, that always gets me! They really need to fix that unsettling "spin around really fast only meters from the rocket" part of ditching the escape tower. With a 60-tonne load on top, the Big Dummy takes an unusually steep ascent, the LES jettisoning automatically at 75km as usual. Which may be just a bit premature.

 

SECO-1, and orbit is good!

u73yBRe.png

We're still relying on a re-tooled Mallard upper stage as the trans-Iota injection stage, which is marginal for the task at hand. So we're going to need a kick from the remaining fuel in the Big Dummy upper stage.

 

Never mind that explosion!

Um... er... that's supposed to happen! Pyrotechnic... whatsadoodles! Perfectly normal!

61oAM0S.png

We didn't loose anything important there, did we?

 

Um, anyways, after that somewhat unplanned hot-staging during the injection burn, the crew is finally on their way to Iota! Payload shroud deployed...

zdwYHwu.png

 

...and now it's a mad dash to get the NewShip capsule turned around and docked with the mini-station so the crew can cram into the shelter before the ship hits the deadly inner radiation belt.

eO4cAex.png

 

The rest of the assembly is powered down and depressurized, all except for the tiny, heavily-shielded radiation shelter with the light on. Now, the crew hunkers down and waits, and hope they don't end up glowing too much on the other side.

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Now, with the radiation belts safely past, it's time for a large plane-change correction maneuver.

Properly visible here is the Iota Station. This will be the crew's home for the next few weeks. Probably. The accommodations are rather spartan, but preferable to being crammed in a single capsule with Triti for 20-some days, which would likely end up with someone getting kicked down a bottomless pit.

eEiOgXo.png

 

Three and a half days after leaving home, the crew finally leaves Gael's influence behind and crosses the threshold to Iota. Scientist Pete Kerman steps out for some observations. And also, because Triti, etc, etc.

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Another of our strange castaways, Pete actually seems fairly normal, other than an unsettling habit of humming "It's The End of the World as We Know It" under his breath.

 

That's no moon...

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... wait, of course it is!

 

Passing low over the surface, the Mallard upper stage fires for the last planned time. Proper insulation along with active cooling enabled it to coast for over four days now with no significant cryogenic fuel loss, and plenty left to boot.

vTjextZ.png

 

Now it's Engineer Negy's turn to hop out an enjoy the view. All systems running well and they've a lab full of samples, so the official "Go" is given for at least twenty days in orbit!

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So of course they run into trouble right away. As soon as the station passes into darkness, the crew realizes they have only five minutes of battery power. That's not good with nearly 40 minutes of orbital darkness to contend with. Shutting down the lab helps, but still leaves the station without power for around ten minutes every orbit. The crew muddles on for a few hours, flicking lots of switches and trying to find a power configuration that won't leave them stuck in darkness over and over.

In desperation, they cut the transfer stage and it's cooling power requirements loose. Plans to use it as an orbiting propellant depot just boiled off.

imiVQgg.png

 

Unfortunately, it's not quite enough. The three press on for another day and a half before Mission Control considers calling an abort. Engineer Negy sums it up, "We just kinna do it! We dun't have the power!" She seems as surprised as everyone else at her sudden Gednalnan brogue. Possibly a sign of space dementia brought on by repeated freeze/thaw cycles.

Any further discussion on the matter is ended by word of a coronal mass ejection now incoming. The crew immediately begin contingency abort procedures, as they hadn't had nearly enough time to stick enough poo to the walls to provide effective radiation shielding.

Spoiler

(Seriously, this is how Kerbalism's "Waste Compactor" works. :0.0: Nose plugs not incl-- um, nevermind.)

The radiation shelter is sealed off and permanently separated from the station. The crew will use it as their refuge on the way home.

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At the next opportunity, the NewShip burns with everything it has. The extra mass of the lead-plated shelter has left the delta-V margin incredibly thin.

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At burn completion, there's a bare 23 m/s left in the tanks.

 

The three leave Iota with mixed feelings. The mission is only a partial success, we've proven that we can, indeed, travel to another world, and even escape when things go wrong, but the engineering team's failure to carry the 1 somewhere and not pack enough batteries even for an objective-limited stay is a drain on everyone.

Ow7JdXa.png

By the sounds of it, they've already started welding themselves into a steel-plated box. Triti seems unusually calm, so everyone down here is freaking out.

 

Iota station, on the other hand, seems to still be in good health...

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... at first. It takes some time to realize that the departing crew took the only high-gain antenna along with them, attached to the shelter pod, so the station is now drifting and unable to be contacted.

 

It's a harrowing trip back home. Between the arrival of the solar storm and the radiation belts, along with limited nitrogen to re-pressurize the NewShip, the three spend most of the trip crammed into the tiny shelter. And none of them has had a bath in a while. Once through the inner belt, it's again a mad dash to bring the command pod up to pressure and pile inside before they slam into the atmosphere.

dUeh5UC.png

 

Down in the lower seat, Negy find this an odd time for her crewmates to be taking naps...

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But despite all their hardships and a less than perfect mission, Pete, Negy, and Triti are finally home safe!

0cuGcZa.png

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to find a very large rock and hide under it.

 

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21 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Down in the lower seat, Negy find this an odd time for her crewmates to be taking naps...

That facial expression is priceless. :D

 

21 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

As soon as the station passes into darkness, the crew realizes they have only five minutes of battery power. That's not good with nearly 40 minutes of orbital darkness to contend with. Shutting down the lab helps, but still leaves the station without power for around ten minutes every orbit. The crew muddles on for a few hours, flicking lots of switches and trying to find a power configuration that won't leave them stuck in darkness over and over.

It seems like this has become a reoccurring problem. Given all the mods you have installed I imagine estimating the "in situ" power draw is difficult, but I'm left wondering how much of the problem is being caused by overestimating the power output from the solar panels? The trickle of power from a small nuclear battery can make a big difference over 40 minutes. 

Five minutes of battery life is a pretty big miss. :wink: 

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9 hours ago, Ten Key said:

It seems like this has become a reoccurring problem. Given all the mods you have installed I imagine estimating the "in situ" power draw is difficult, but I'm left wondering how much of the problem is being caused by overestimating the power output from the solar panels? The trickle of power from a small nuclear battery can make a big difference over 40 minutes. 

I'm convinced there's some parasitic... thing that neither Amp Year or Kerbalism are picking up in their estimates. There's plenty of juice on the sun side, but I can never seem to bring enough batteries. And don't even get me started on Kerbalism's background calculations (there's a reason my space station is still empty). Unfortunately, proper RTGs are still a few tech levels away. Fortunately, I finally broke down and installed Near Future power, so...

9 hours ago, Ten Key said:

Five minutes of battery life is a pretty big miss. :wink: 

When in doubt... plutonium. :cool:

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36 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

When in doubt... plutonium. :cool:

That's now my quote of the day.

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