Crossed Fingers - The Rover Gymnastics competition

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Katie XXII and the Minmus Polar Lander

Mission: Test out a new (bloody expensive) booster, map Minmus in high definition and land a small spacecraft near Minmus' north pole.

Launch Vehicle: Firestorm - III

It's time to kill three birds with one stone: grab a high-resolution altimetry and slope scan of Minmus, test-fly the new Firestorm III booster, and launch the long-awaited, long-delayed Minmus Polar Lander.



The Firestorm III is our first truly fourth-generation launch vehicle, equipped with three KS-25 "Vector" hydrolox-fuelled engines for its first stage. Due to the utterly obscene cost of these engines (at :funds:18,000 a piece), we've decided to try and make the booster re-usable. In order to do this, it's equipped with eight parachutes on the first stage tankbutt.


Lifting off from Launch Complex 2 at dawn, our revolutionary new lifter climbs away into a frankly beautiful sky.


Looking at the booster from below, we get a good view of the three utterly insane powerplants, which we actually had to limit the performance of to avoid this launcher tearing itself to shreds. We also get to see three of the landing parachutes. We also get a lovely view of two of Kerbin's natural satellites, Mun and Sentinel.


Moar beauty shots.


It's at this moment that a fairly severe design flaw becomes evident. The first stage cuts off too low for us to safely jettison the fairing, so we have into coast into the high atmosphere on a remarkably steep trajectory. For the next flight, I think that I'll stick the fairing base on the second stage, not the first.


Seeing as we've now (finally) dumped the fairing, I ought to tell you a bit more about the two spacecraft flying today.


Katie - XXII is a scanning orbiter, equipped with an advanced new altimetry scanner and the same argon-fuelled engine that StrutCo 1 uses. It'll be producing a high-definition map that we can use for the upcoming Castle Block IIIB Minmus landings, and operations around our Minmus base.


The Minmus Polar Lander is a more interesting vehicle. It was first proposed in early Year 2, as a proposal for the first 'Katie Evolved' mission (Katie - VII). That was one hotly contested mission. There were several candidate spacecraft, the finalists being the Munar Polar Mapping Mission, which was a mapping orbiter, carrying a mini-lander, the Munar Surface Exploration Vehicle, the Minmus Free-Return Mission, the Sentinel Atmospheric Probe and finally the Minmus Polar Lander.


The first of the finalists to go was the Minmus Free-Return Mission, which was deemed as having 'little scientific potential'. Next was the Sentinel Atmospheric Probe (which eventually flew as a secondary payload on the Sentinel Scientific Orbiter, and taught us a lot about Sentinel's atmosphere. Namely that it's buggy as hell and no-one who values their life should go anywhere near it.). Due to problems with the wheels, the Munar Surface Exploration Vehicle was eliminated (but flew later on Katie - XII, and drove more than 30km before being broken by a game update). Then, the Munar Polar Mapping Mission was selected in order to obtain better maps of the Munar surface for the upcoming Katie - VIII to XI landings, and the Minmus Polar lander was shelved.


Until five years later! While competing for the first Firestorm - III launch slot, the Katie - XXII team realised that they needed a secondary payload to justify using such a big launcher, so they dug out the old MPL team, who were more than happy to cooperate.


Due to the nature of the vehicle, a counterweight was necessary to allow the orbiter to operate normally during the cruise phase. Here it is shown just after jettison, along with a nice view of the fragile little rock it came from.


Tucking its landing legs away for safety, the Landvermesser class lander de-orbits high over Minmus.


And it sticks its legs out again as it hurtles towards the surface of Minmus' entirely unexplored polar regions.


Mere meters up, the MPL now has to be very careful, and the design team are turning pink, waiting the last few seconds of a six-year wait.


And touchdown! The Minmus Polar Lander has arrived, and made history. The long-suffering design team can breathe again. Six years of waiting has not been in vain.


Nauchnyy Sputnik 2

Mission: Launch a surplus Type 1 Smotritel satellite on a scientific mission for Metkosmos.

Launch Vehicle: R-5a

And now, the 3rd last flight of an R-5a carries a huge dish to the edge of Kerbin's SOI.



This is Nauchnyy Sputnik 2, a surplus Type 1 Smotritel spacecraft that, if one of Smotritels 1, 2 or 3 had failed, would have flown as Smotritel 4. As part of one of their various agreements, the MASF promised to give Metkosmos the backup (if it wasn't needed) in return for use of Kaikonur Kosmodrome for that round of launches.


The aging, but still remarkably reliable R-5a lifts off, carrying another bit of the spider web of agreements between the two Metarian agencies into space.


I suppose that I should say something about the Nauchnyy Sputnik program. Well, it's Metkosmos' low(ish) budget scientific program. The first mission was a polar orbiting ore scanning satellite, and this mission will use the enourmous spy dish to listen to the universe for interesting radio signals and identify radiobright stars.


To acheive this, the satellite is going to enter an insanely elliptical orbit on a relatively high eccentricity, with its apoapsis out beyond Sentinel, thus getting it away from all the radio chatter of Low Kerbin Orbit.


The first stage drops away, revealing one of this mission's party tricks, a cryogenic second stage. This stage first flew several years ago on Muna 6, and hasn't flown since, but three engines remained stockpiled, so Metkosmos decided to use one of them on this flight.



With the fairing gone, we now get the familiar lines of a Type 1 Smotritel spacecraft.



The cryogenic stage re-ignites once more to put the probe into LKO, before separating.


Afterwards, the probe's own engine ignites to throw Nauchnyy Sputnik 2 into its target orbit.


And finally, after cut-off, the huge dish, typical of the Type 1, deploys as the probe begins its long coast to apoapsis.


Edited by NotAgain
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Hamal P - 1

Mission: Pre-supply Besstrashnyy station for Expedition 2.

Launch Vehicle: R-5a

Agency/Launch Site: Metkosmos/Kaikonur Kosmodrome

It's been a bit of an R-5a filled week, hasn't it? Anyway, it's time to pre-supply Besstrashnyy before Expedition 2 arrives at the station.



The Hamal P variant is an uncrewed resupply ship that finds its origins several years ago, when six original Hamal missions flew to the Krepost 1 military space station during its operational life. Now that we've got a new station, dedicated to science, and equipped for long-duration crews and permanent habitation, it makes sense to bring back an (updated) resupply ship.


This is now the penultimate R-5a launch, and the last uncrewed one, that we see rumbling away into a cloudless sky over Metar.


The boosters separate and fall away in an unusual formation that certainly isn't a Korolev cross.


Now, as the fairing and first stage separate, we get a good look at the vehicle, carrying 41 days of consumables for three crew. It looks very Kulak-alike, doesn't it?


The upper stage ignites and flings the ship into orbit.


Also, some fool's only gone and painted the KSA meatball onto the ship, instead of the Metarian flag.

(OOC: That was my stupid fault. I forgot to change the mission flag.)


So, after a series of maneouvers, Hamal P - 1 redezvouses with Besstrashnyy and aligns to dock.


Which it promptly does, and Besstrashnyy is once again rendered 'suitable for Kerbal habitation', ready for Crisla, Nataise and Vergee to arrive in a few weeks on Expedition 2.


Airesat 6

Mission: Launch the Airesat 6 communications satellite into its 120km x 1,200km orbit around Kerbin.

Launch Vehicle: Black Knight

Agency/Launch Site: ANSEB/Great Ez Kape

Now, I shall introduce you to ANSEB's smallest available launcher: the Black Knight. Today, it'll be firing a new comms sat into an eccentric orbit around Kerbin.



Airesat 6 is the penultimate spacecraft in a network of six comms satellites that ANSEB have been putting up to support their launches. That may sound slightly strange, but that can be explained by the fact that Airesat 1 wasn't part of the network, just ANSEB's first mission.


With a remarkable amount of drama for such a small lifter (the core is only 0.9375m in diameter), the Black Knight lifts off from the Great Ez Kape launch site, lifting clouds of steam from the ocean directly beneath the launch pad.


Ooh, that's pretty. Performing well, the booster thunders upwards and begins its pitch program, wandering out of view of the spectators in the 'safe zone' half a kilometer from the pad.


Shortly afterwards, the boosters cut off and decouple, falling back down to parachute-land in the ocean.


After carrying the vehicle into the high atmosphere, the first stage decouples and the four little engines of the second stage take over.


Now hurtling through Kerbin's high atmosphere at ridiculous speed, the second stage cuts off and decouples, handing the baton on to the twin-engined third stage.


At 55km up, the fairing separates, giving us our first view of the satellite itself. It's a somewhat revised design over Airesats 2 to 5, with better solar arrays and an improved camera package, now featuring a night vision camera.


With the hi-gain antenna and solar arrays now deployed, the spacecraft enters orbit under the power of the third stage.


The third stage does most of the work, then the 'Jib' monopropellant engine lights up to make a final few course corrections.


MCSO - 2

Mission: Fling the second Munar Communications and Support Orbiter at the Mun

Launch Vehicle: Matchstick I

Agency/Launch Site: ANSEB/Great Ez Kape

Less than two days after the highly successful launch of Airesat 6, another rocket is on the launch pad at Great Ez Kape, readly to shoot for the Mun.



This is Munar Communications and Support Orbiter - 2, or MCSO - 2, which constitutes ANSEB's second Munshot. There are four MCSO missions in the program as of now, all being sent up to help the Munar Surface Explorer landing missions that should start launching soon-ish.


This program is only the second time that ANSEB have ever used solid rocket motors on any of their launch vehicles in any role other than separation motors (the first being the launch of the DOEX Duna mission).


The Matchstick I launcher should be relatively familiar to you lot now, so hopefully I don't need to do any explaining.


The upper stage, however, is new. It consists of a Sina DPS engine, courtesy of the Airenian branch of the Bluedog Design Bereau, some hypergolic propellants, and not much else.


With just a hint of plasma playing around the fairing, the upper stage carries the Mun probe towards space, furthering the boundaries of Kerbalkind and -


- Oops. That's not good. It would appear that the fairing has shredded our only source of power. Oh mulch.


Welp, this spacecraft is mostly useless, so why not try and kill it with fire?


"You used 'Kill it with fire'. It wasn't very effective."

But water made short work of it.


Duna Ops

Mission: Drive Intrepidity, and perform a course correction on Orion 1.

While satellites have been disintegrating back on Kerbin, stuff has been happening elsewhere.



For instance, Interpidity finally has her panoramic camera up and running, and managed to capture a picture of a lovely Dunan sunset.


Ken-Tech's Orion 1 probe changed its orbit to satisfy a contract.


Intrepidity also observed a beautiful sunrise, too.


Well hello everybody, and welcome to the finals of the Rover Gymnastics competition. As you can see, Intrepidity, representing the KSA today, has done a perfect instrument-stand, recieving high scores from all the judges, and general annoyance from Mission Control.


While she's sitting around and being lazy, we decided to use Intrepidity's camera to take some images of the sky, and captured a beautiful shot of Nyke.


After some reaction-wheel based messing around, we got Intrepidity running again and got this lovely image.


Edited by NotAgain
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