Angel-125

Kerbin Elcano Exploration Project - Chapter Eight: Never Goes As Planned

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Posted (edited)

One of the reasons I created the Heisenberg mod and the recent Buffalo Wings update was so that I could go explore Kerbin. I haven't done that before, and it seemed like a good thing to do. The idea originated from watching EJ-SA's "Kerbin Exploration Initiative" streams and from the Elcano Aviation Challenge.

I had the notion of making an epic story out of the mission, with lots of dialogue and plot twists, but after months of modding, I'm still not finished with my mods, and time constraints mean that I wouldn't be able to do my story justice. So rather than let my hard work go to waste, I opted for a more traditional mission report with news reports sprinkled in that's relatively light on story. I can update it when I have the time, but at least I get to play KSP again instead of just modding it.

Chapters

Prologue (this post)

Chapter One: The Five New Guys

Chapter Two: That's No Data Glitch

Chapter Three: Well, It Looked Good On Paper

Chapter Four: Southbound And Down

Chapter Five: Graviolium

Chapter Six: Away Teams

Interlude

Chapter Seven: Dream A Little Dream With Me

Chapter Eight: Never Goes As Planned

---

Prologue

Spoiler

In preparation for the new astronaut class’ final training mission, the Kerman States Naval Ship Akron (ZR-4), is prepped for flight. She's temporarily in command by Liscella, First Officer of the KSNS Akron. Liscella moves Akron away from the runway so that her complement of vehicles can come aboard.

 

 

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A few minutes later, the Ganges, the Akron's capsule recovery and cargo craft, rolls onto the runway and lifts off. Ganges is piloted by Kimgee, the airship’s Landing Signal Officer.

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With the old airship nearby, it doesn't take long to approach the aft flight deck. It's a narrow deck, but Ganges' compressed air RCS thrusters and hover autopilot make coming aboard relatively easy.

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The tiltrotor lands onto the deck and stows its rotors before taking the elevator down.

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It's a tight fit below decks, but with the rotors folded, Ganges is able to latch onto its tie-down point. Kimgee takes a moment to look around in the hangar bay, then rides the elevator back to the flight deck.

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She starts unpacking supplies in the conning tower, getting ready for the trainees.

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Meanwhile, Raphia & Mosa Akron’s Chief Engineer and Chief Science Officer, respectively, leave the Spaceplane Hangar in a brand new prototype Buffalo rover. Based on the Munar Surface Rover design- an un-kermanned probe almost ready to go to the Mun- the prototype provides an airtight environment to explore airless worlds with. The training mission has the honor of putting the new rover through its paces- Akron is a working mobile classroom, after all.

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Without much fanfare, the rover, dubbed “Fido” by Raphia, boards Akron’s cargo ramp and is secured to the old airship.

 

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With all but the captain aboard, who will arrive in the morning, Liscella launches the Akron and flies her out to Donna Katalina Island, where an abandoned airfield still stands. It has important artifacts from the early space program...

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Akron carefully maneuvers itself and sets down next to the old hangars.

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The crew meets in the ship’s briefing room to share an evening meal and watch as the Brumby 4 (TB-4) mission rolls out to the pad. It should fly in the morning as long as there aren't any surprises. They won’t see the launch in person, but they’ll get a good view on the big screen…

 

Edited by Angel-125
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Now this is going to be a fun read. Thanks for sharing this... and keep it up!

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this is awesome :)

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It was becoming a tradition that the newest class of astronauts get to watch a launch from the VAB’s rooftop, and the latest class watched Brumby 4 lift off into the afternoon sky. TB-4 was the first Kermanned polar launch. Bill and Valentina also had the honor of attempting the first satellite repair in space.

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With the launch range clear, Kerman Navy veteran Captain James T. Kerman herded his charges aboard the Rio Grande, a tiltrotor runabout, and headed to their first stop: The Monolith.

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Very little is known about it, but Captain James explained what he knew: it is 1-meter thick, 4-meters wide, and 9-meters tall. It is estimated to mass 99 tonnes. It is very old and appears to be a monument to an ancient religion. It’s the only one ever found. And it’s made of polished black granite, with some radioactive elements thrown in. Prolonged exposure is hazardous to your health, which is why it is off limits to the public.

“That’s it?” Lieutenant Kelbin Kerman, a Kerman Air Force pilot on loan to KSP, wasn’t impressed.

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“What were you expecting,” Captain James quipped, “mystery glyphs around the bottom? A portal to Minmus? A sentient computer that maintains The Persistence?”

“I just thought there would be more to it,” the young pilot responded. There was a lot of hype and rumor and conspiracy theory surrounding The Monolith due to it being off limits. Sure, KSC’s lattice page mentioned the radiation, but that explanation was a cover-up, right? To hear that the radiation hazard was actually true was, well, kind of a letdown.

“Not every discovery brings miraculous technology or stunning revelations,” Captain James lectured. “A lot of space exploration involves pretty mundane stuff.”

“Look at how precise those carvings of SQUAD are,” Samalla Kerman, one of the engineering students said. “It must’ve been made by aliens.” Payin, a budding scientist and Samalla’s twin sister, scoffed at the idea.

“You’ve said ‘it was aliens’ all your life, sis.”

“Tall Pink Men exist!”

“Let’s go, nuggets,” Captain James said. “This diversion is putting us behind schedule, but a bet’s a bet, and I settle my debts. But if Munvan ever challenges you to a game of 21, you better run.” The trainees chuckled.

“I played a lot in second school,” Munvan, the class’ other scientist, responded.

* * *

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The Rio Grande lifted off from KSC and made its way to Donna Katalina Island. Within a few minutes, they were transitioning to vertical flight again in preparation for landing. Kelbin gasped as he got a front row view of their new assignment: the KSNS Akron!

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After circling around the airship, Kelbin gasped again as Captain James put him in charge of landing the Rio Grande.

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The runabout wobbled and augured around the sky until James suggested that Kelbin use the RCS thrusters, at which point, the KAF pilot plopped the tiltrotor plane onto the deck.

Kimgee, the ship’s Landing Signal Officer, left her duty station to handle the incoming aircraft. The student astronauts disembarked and gathered around to listen to Kimgee's introduction.

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“Welcome aboard the Kerman States Navy Ship Akron,” Kimgee proclaimed. “My name is Lieutenant Commander Kimgee Kerman, and I’m the Landing Signal Officer aboard this ship. Just call me Kimgee, we’re pretty informal around here, except when things get exciting. Before you come aboard and before you leave, you talk to me.

“The Akron is a non-commissioned vessel, but she’s property of the Kerman Navy. She’s on permanent loan to KSP though. Akron is an early model Heisenberg-class airship, back before they flipped the cargo bay upside down to make containerized cargo handling easier. She’s one of the last of her kind.

“The Kerman States bought her and her sister ships just before the Last War. After hostilities broke out, the Navy turned them into flying aircraft carriers and used them as armed scouts. After the war’s end, Akron languished in a hangar for decades until KSP petitioned the Navy to use her as a capsule recovery craft and mobile classroom. We trained The Original Four, The Next Three, and now we get to train you five new guys.”

“Thanks Kimgee,” Captain James said approvingly. “Ok, nuggets, while she gets the Rio Grande squared away below decks- it’s 'her' airplane after we disembark- let’s head to the briefing room. Follow me, we have a full day ahead.”

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Once in the ship’s briefing room, they were introduced to Liscella, Raphia, and Mosa, the ship’s first officer, chief engineer, and science officer, respectively. They would be handling most of the training assignments, including airship operations, and they wasted no time. While Raphia took Samalla and Bobus on a tour of the ship for their first engineering lesson, Mosa excitedly grabbed Munvan and Payin and Fido, the ship’s rover, for a field trip round Donna Katalina.

“I’ll take Kelbin on a tour of the airfield, Liscella” Captain James decided. “Mind the store until I get back.”

“Bored again, are we, Sir?”

“The Commander usually points out about now that all we pilots get to do is fly the ship, while the scientists and engineers have the biggest workload on a mission,” Captain James responded. “It’s true, but command pilots have a bit more to do, being in charge and all.”

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As the captain and Kelbin made their way below decks and out of the airship, Fido and her passengers emerged from Akron’s belly ramp at about the same time, waving as they sped by.

Mosa rushed through basic procedures for operating the rover’s scientific equipment, and Munvan and Payin struggled to keep up. Then she turned them loose, directing her students to take readings at various locations around the island.

“Go anywhere you want,” Mosa instructed, “just not into any of the caves. They’re off limits. I want to see three good readings from all the instruments.”

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Meanwhile, Captain James and Kelbin meandered over to the dilapidated hangar nearest to the crumbling air traffic control tower. Several rocket components lay strewn about in various states of disrepair.

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“That there,” the captain said, pointing at a charred capsule being ravaged by the elements, “is Kapollo 1.”

“Kapollo 1? I thought Kapollo was still on the drawing board,” Kelbin thought aloud.

“The redesign is, this is the original.”

“But it looks really weathered, like it’s been out here for years,” the KAF pilot noticed.

“Six years in fact.”

“But how? The Kerbal Space Program hasn’t been around that long.”

“Officially, you’re right, it’s only been about a year. But actually, it started six years ago, and nearly ended back then too. The Original Four aren’t KSP’s original astronauts. They were Lengan, Joeley, Randall, and yours truly.”

“You're an astronaut? What happened,” Kelbin asked.

“Greed, go fever, carelessness and corruption happened. The Mk1-1 was rushed into production along with those shoddy engines and fuel tanks over there. Somebody didn’t use enough struts, failed to check their staging, and-“ Captain James paused, remembering the screams of his friends over the capsule communications system as the rocket exploded.

“The accident investigation nearly shut down the whole program, but we kept quiet about the incident- the press didn’t care about us back then- and we learned from our mistakes. We realized that a 3-crew capsule was too much for our first launch attempt, and Kapollo went back to the drawing board. We hired Bill, Bob, Jeb, and Val, rolled out the Mk1, flew those YAML missions, and well, you know the rest.”

Kelbin looked at the rotting spacecraft. “So that’s why there’s that memorial at KSC,” Kelbin realized. “I asked around, but nobody would talk about it.”

“Yup. Space is a dangerous business, Kelbin, you’re going to lose people. People under your command... If you can’t live with that, you best rethink why you joined up.”

The captain stood motionless, lost in thought, only to be interrupted by the squawking from his voice box. Reluctantly, he picked it up. “This is James.”

“Captain,” Liscella said. Her tone was serious. “Flight says to recall the class and report aboard the Akron immediately.”

“What’s up?”

“Sir, the training mission’s been scrubbed.”

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Ah, a nice beginning. Cannot wait to see where you take your story and which of your characters become my favorite. I love the Akron and the possibilities it has!

 

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Posted (edited)

On 4/26/2017 at 6:33 PM, adsii1970 said:

Ah, a nice beginning. Cannot wait to see where you take your story and which of your characters become my favorite. I love the Akron and the possibilities it has!

 

Thanks! I'm having fun, especially after taking months and months to build up my mods. Finally get to use them beyond just test driving. :)

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When SCANSAT-1 launched into polar orbit and completed its scan, scientists found glitches in the radar maps. The satellite mapped several anomalies scattered around Kerbin. After determining that SCANSAT-1 had faulty electronics, the TB-4 mission launched into polar orbit with Bill and Valentina to repair the satellite. Bill whipped out his new portable ladder, attached it to the satellite, and got to work replacing electronic components and installing new ones. The mission proved to be a successful demonstration of in-space satellite servicing, and all systems checked out.

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But the anomalies remained.

Then some bright intern at KSC examined the map and noticed that Donna Katalina Island and The Monolith were both listed as anomalies. He notified his supervisor, who notified his supervisor, and so on, until the Kerbal Intelligence Agency got involved.

The KIA knew that Donna Katalina had a radioactive waste disposal site hidden in a cave, a product of the Last War. Well, it was supposed to be a waste disposal site. In truth, the site held atomic weapons that were supposed to be dismantled as part of the Total Disarmament Treaty. But they couldn’t tell anybody that the previous administration decided not to be totally transparent about their arms disposal.

Apparently, other nations had similar ideas.

President Kenny wanted those anomalies checked, so the KIA came up with a plan. Taking a page from history, they created the Kerbin Elcano Exploration Project (KEEP), named after Elcano donKerman, the first kerbal to circumnavigate the globe. Unlike Elcano, KEEP would circle the globe in an airship, the KSNS Akron. Since astronauts are instant celebrities wherever they go, one team would create a distraction while the other team investigated the anomaly.

Arguments went back and forth between the Kerbal Space Program and the KIA about using astronauts as spies, taking valuable recovery assets away from KSC, and so on. But ultimately it came down to a bribe; the government would fully fund KSP’s Project Pathfinder in exchange for using the Akron's crew and their student astronauts as part of the cover. The Akron would even get to field test some of the Pathfinder prototypes. Not everybody was happy about the arrangement, but the road to space isn’t a straight line, and if the student astronauts wanted to ride a rocket, they’d have to play along.

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After a brief stop back at KSC to refuel and pack up the Pathfinder prototypes, the Akron launched into the skies once again. Overflight permissions were still being negotiated with several nations, so Captain James elected to head east to Echana, then south to the mcKerman Isles before entering Ecrya . The Kerman States had treaties with all three nations, so overflight wouldn’t be a problem. It was a long run, but the Akron had the range for it.

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“What’s wrong with the lights,” Captain James asked (*).

“She’s an old airship, skipper,” Raphia responded, “looks like faulty wiring. I’ll grab Samalla and Bobus to do some wiring checks. We should have it fixed in a couple of hours.”

With some sleuthing and debugging work, the Akron’s lights were back in action before the airship landed. She set down in Echana’s Leswubia Peninsula, right next to the Munar Sample Return canister. The MSR brought back the first samples of Ore from the Mun a few weeks ago, and Echana’s President insisted that the canister remain where it landed. She knew that it would become a great tourist attraction- all they needed to do is create an airport.

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With no airport to refuel at, Akron received permission to drill for Ore and refuel. Since it would take a few days, Liscella took the The Five New Guys out for a field trip to a location northwest of the airship.

“Rio Grande, you are cleared for takeoff,” Kimgee radioed.

“Thanks Kimgee,” Liscella radioed back, “see you guys in a few.”

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The Rio Grande took a short hop about a dozen kilometers northwest of the airship, and ran into some difficulty trying to land. “Hover autopilot’s acting up,” Liscella noted(*), “other instruments too. Switching to manual.” The seasoned Navy pilot set the runabout down with some difficulty. A few minutes later, the troubles ceased. She ran diagnostics but couldn’t find anything wrong. Just to be sure, Liscella had Samalla mount the spare science instruments onto the Rio Grande to take some readings before the class filed out. They gathered around a flag planted in the ground.

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“YAML-10,” Bobus read. “No way! Are we really here?”

“What’s so special about this site,” Munvan asked.

“YAML-10 was the first successful orbital flight,” Bobus answered excitedly. “Major Jebediah Kerman became the first kerbal to orbit Kerbin!”

“Oh, that YAML flight,” Munvan realized.

“Uh, what does YAML stand for,” Payin asked.

“Yet Another Mission Log,” Liscella answered. “After shooting off a bunch of various failed sounding rocket projects, somebody at KSC got tired of naming programs, so they gave the Mk1 program the call sign ‘YAML.’ The name was supposed to be temporary, but the press got wind of the program before anybody could change it.”

“It’s a good thing the press doesn’t know what that acronym means,” Bobus said. “Let’s see: YAML-7 shot Jeb out of the atmosphere- first kerbal to do so, YAML-11 was Commander Valentina’s first orbital flight, Jeb flew again on YAML-12 and put Echo Relay-1 into orbit, YAML-13 and 14 launched Echo Relay 2 and 3 into orbit, and gave Major Bill and Bob their astronaut wings. I’ve got all the missions memorized.”

 

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“Oh really,” Liscella said, grinning. “Ok, hot shot, TA-12.”

“That’s easy. TA-12: first operational use of the Corvette upper stage engine. Range test of the Echo Relay network. First Kermanned flyby of the Mun, done by Commander Valentina and Bob.”

“Ok, TA-13?”

“Oh please. Titan-Appaloosa 13 was the last flight of the Appaloosa. First successful rendezvous in space.”

“Not bad,” Liscella admitted. “How about TAT-1?”

“Uh, hm… Titan-Appaloosa Tourist?”

“You’re guessing, but yeah. KSC flew a tourist in the Appaloosa’s backseat while delivering Echo Relay 4. It’s also known as TA-14.”

“I didn’t know that KSP flew tourists,” Payin said.

“It’s not well publicized,” Liscella admitted, “but tourists helped pay for KSP’s early missions. They-“

Just then, Licella’s remote buzzed. The runabout’s science instruments registered an electromagnetic spike.

“Playtime is over, class, looks like there’s a source to our haywire instruments. Let’s check it out.”

* * *

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Moments later, the Rio Grande was in the air again in search of the mystery signal. “Just keep me informed,” Captain James said over the radio. It didn’t take long to spot something…

“What is that,” Kelbin asked.

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“Looks like a satellite dish,” Licella answered, “but we don’t have anything like that out here.”

“Who built it then?”

“I don’t know, Kelbin, but we’re going to find out- woah! Instruments going crazy, I’m keeping her on manual from here on out.”

“Holy Moho, that thing is huge! It could easily reach beyond Sarnus. That’s not one of ours,” Samalla said.

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Liscella set the runabout down near the enormous satellite dish so they could check it out. Munvan and Payin took some science readings. Except for the sporadic radio bursts, nothing seemed out of place.

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“Munvan, Bobus, you’re with me. Kelbin, you and the rest stay back, and keep us in sight. If anything happens, head back to the Akron and get help.”

“Uh,”

“That’s an order, lieutenant.

“Yes Ma’am.”

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The trio approached the giant installation as Kelbin and his half of the class watched. Their caution thankfully proved unnecessary. Licella gave Kelbin a thumbs up.

“No radiation,” Munvan noted. “Explains why it’s not on our anomaly map. What’s it powered by?”

“Geothermal, maybe,” Bobus said, studying the construction. “Hard to say, this installation is ginormous. Definitely made of some form of konkrete. But look carefully, there’s no weathering. No sign of any heavy construction vehicles either.”

“So, it’s brand new, and it just appeared here? That makes no sense.”

“Judging by the local foliage, Liscella, it’s been here years. Decades even. If there were tracks, we’d see at least faint traces. fossil records even. There’s nothing like that around here.”

“How would you know?”

“I was a Long Stride Scout when I was a kid. I got my Specialty Badge in tracking.”

“Ah. Ok, Mr. Long Stride, what’s next?”

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Liscella and her students circled the installation looking for any signs of construction equipment, but found none. With nothing more they could do, they returned to Kelbin and his team, and then boarded the Rio Grande.

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Minutes later, the runabout was airborne again and headed back to the Akron. The crew told KSC about the strange find, but their request to study it further was denied.

“We’ll send a follow-up team,” Gene informed them. “Finish your refueling and head to the first anomaly.”

For now, the origins of the enormous satellite dish would remain a mystery.

(*) Bugs that’ll fixed in the next Heisenberg release…

Edited by Angel-125
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Sorting through some bugs, but here's a hint for the next chapter:

Spoiler

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Wow! I guess I never got close enough to one of those antennas to realize how gigantic they are! Thanks for your report.

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After much bug stomping, several reloads, and much swearing, I finally got the screenshots I need for the next chapter. Once everything came together, it was a lot of fun! I now have a new personal flotation device part for those times when you don't want your kerbals to sink, and while I had to rewrite AirPark to make it all work, it's not quite ready for prime time yet. Anyway, new chapter in the next day or two. :)

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While the YAML flights sent astronauts- and tourists- into space and pioneered the concept of spaceflight, the next step involved multi-crew spacecraft that could rendezvous and dock in space. Unfortunately, the Brumby series took longer to develop than expected, so designers opted for an interim solution: the Appaloosa “Backseat” extension pod that fit onto the back end of the Mk1 pod.

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It worked for the most part; crews were able to rendezvous with their intended targets, but not without much cursing due to the poor visibility. Still, the Appaloosa and its Titan I launch vehicle proved that multi-crew spacecraft could work, and Appaloosas even tossed the Echo Relay satellite network into orbit- vital for near continuous spacecraft coverage.

When the Brumby finally came of age, astronauts had a much better time with rendezvous thanks to its generous views and purpose-built two person crew module. The Brumby 1 (TB-1) test flight vindicated its long development period and her crew performed the first docking in space. TB-2 pushed the envelope even further when it sent Valentina and Bob into Munar orbit, and demonstrated the viability of on-orbit refueling- which also gave TB-2 enough fuel to return home. TB-4 blazed trails by become the first Kermaned spacecraft to enter polar orbit, and the first mission to repair a satellite. TB-3 was also no slouch when it came to firsts.

For the last 187 days, TB-3 set the record for the longest on-orbit stay of a command pod. Bob and Jeb made good use of the MORL-MOLE outpost, performing experiments and gathering science, but with its design life exceed by a factor of 4, it was time to retire the world’s first space station. After closing the hatches, TB-3 undocked from the station, and plotted a course for home. That’s when TB-3 had the honor accomplishing another first: the first Brumby to land off target. Way, way off target.

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“Definitely a computer error,” Bob noted.

“Uh huh,” was all Jeb could manage, he was getting seasick. “How long until the Akron arrives?”

“Let me check…”

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The KSNS Akron (ZRS-4) spent several days on the ground drilling and refueling while her crew continued training The Five New Guys. With her tanks finally full, she was on her way to the next anomaly when Brumby 3 radioed for help. The airship immediately reversed course and headed to the splashdown area. Her mission was simple: rescue Brumby 3’s crew and retrieve the capsule, then land at the nearest friendly territory to offload. That meant heading back to Echana; there were no airports in the viscinity. A half-hour later, the Akron arrived on scene.

“Ganges, you are cleared to launch,” Kimgee radioed. Liscella acknowledged and eased the throttles forward, giving the runabout’s tiltrotors time to spin up.

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The Five New Guys watched from the briefing room; their instructors added Search and Rescue to their lesson list, and soon they’d be conducting drills. Moments later, Liscella hovered just above the ocean and right next to the Brumby capsule.

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"I hate the water," Raphia quipped.

"Then why get rescue swimmer training?"

"To get over my fear of drowning, Liscella."

Raphia grabbed her tools and flotation device before exiting the cabin and grabbing Ganges’s rescue winch cable. She briefly dropped onto the capsule and then plunged into the ocean, cable trailing behind, and swam over to the crew ladder. Then she hooked up the cable connector.

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She signaled for Bob to exit first, and helped him put on his flotation device.

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After connecting the cable connector to his pack, Raphia signaled for Liscella to haul him aboard, then lowered the cable again. Raphia swam to the cable and repeated the process to retrieve Jeb.

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With the Brumby crew aboard, Raphia grabbed the dangling cargo winch cable and swam back to the capsule. She hooked up the cable before grabbing the rescue cable and recovering aboard the Ganges.

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With crew and capsule secured, Ganges hauled the Brumby out of the water and back to the Akron, where Samalla secured it to the deck, and Liscella landed and secured the Ganges. The whole process took twenty minutes.

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The Akron immediately headed back to the Leswubia Peninsula to await KSC’s recovery plane.

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About an hour later, KSC Flight 404, better known as Kondor, made a rough-field landing and taxied over to the awaiting Akron.

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With sundown approaching, the crews decided to wait until morning to secure the Brumby for transport.

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Jeb and Bob took the opportunity to share stories about their exploits with the student astronauts and catch up with the Akron’s crew.

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The next morning, Jeb, Bob, Mosa, and Kelbin took Fido over to the YAML-10 landing site while Gerdra, the Kondor’s engineer, got to work setting up the Brumby for transport.

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At the YAML-10 landing site, Jeb talked about the thrill of the first orbital launch...

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"We weren't sure if the YAML would make orbit," Jeb recalled, "and the BACC boosters were unproven, so it was a thrilling experimental flight. But, the bird made it, just barely. The view is- well, spectacular doesn't really describe it, but it was spectacular."

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"My job was to test out the solar panels- also new, and the orbital telescope. I really like the telescope, it's my favorite. Naturally, I tried looking for my house, but couldn't find it. Weightlessness in orbit beats a few seconds in the Kondor hands down. Anyway, a few hours later, I had to come home. I used up every liter of fuel, just barely kissing the atmosphere. It really made me nervous, I was concerned that YAML-10 would be my coffin!"

"You, The Jebediah Kerman, were scared?" Kelbin looked confused, his hero got scared?

"Space is a scary business, kid," Jeb responded, though "kid" seemed hardly fair, Kelbin was only eight years younger than Jeb. "But there's no courage without fear. You get used to the fear. Use it to focus. Not everybody can master that trick, though. Valentina did... Anyway, YAML-10 made it back, we got some great photos, and I made history."

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By the time that Jeb finished his story, Gerdra had the Brumby prepped for its trip to the Kondor. She rolled it down the Akron’s elevator and cargo lift, and after some careful maneuvering, had it secured in the Kondor’s cargo bay.

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Finally, it was time for the Brumby 3 crew to say their goodbyes, board their transport, and head for home.

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Fredgan, Kondor's pilot, invited, Jeb to take the Kondor’s controls for the flight home. “As long as I don’t get court-marshaled for this,” he joked.

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Kondor made the trip back to KSC in under an hour.

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World’s First Space Station Ends Mission

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Kerbal Space Center: “After setting a record 190-days in orbit and conducting several experiments, MORL-MOLE (The Mark One Research Laboratory – Mark One Laboratory Extension) complex has completed its mission,” says Walt Kerman, head of Public Relations at the Kerbal Space Center. “Jeb and Bob conducted research on space adaption, construction techniques, crystal growth, and evaluation of power tools. Jeb even took control of MSR-1- er, the Armstrong Munar Science Rover- when orbital mechanics didn’t permit drivers at KSC from controlling it.”

With the conclusion of their mission, KSC flew a de-orbit stage to the complex, where Jeb took control and docked it to the station. Jeb and Bob then left the complex via their Brumby spacecraft and returned to Kerbin, leaving the station uninhabited. With the crew safely on the ground, KSC commanded the de-orbit motor to reduce the station’s orbital altitude until it re-entered the atmosphere. The station safely splashed down away from inhabited areas.

“MORL-MOLE has served us well, but it’s not the end of space stations in Kerbin orbit,” Walt continued. “We are prepping MOLE-2 for launch in the coming weeks, which will be focused on studying thermal effects on various materials. It’s necessary research for long-term space habitation.  We’ll also be testing a prototype Kerbal Maneuvering Unit with better endurance than the thruster packs that the astronauts use.

“Unlike MORL-MOLE, MOLE-2 won’t require any subsequent launches to bring up the crew, and it will be flying a new space telescope generously provided by a third party, and we’ll be sending it to polar orbit. To give the extra thrust we’ll need, MOLE-2 will be using our new Sledgehammer solid rocket motors and upgraded Fulcrum and Corvette engines. Gosh, we’re really pushing the envelope on this one, aren’t we?”

Edited by Angel-125
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It is interesting to read your mission reports. Gives some insight into what you had in mind when you designed your mods, and I like your style of writing.

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4 hours ago, Freshmeat said:

It is interesting to read your mission reports. Gives some insight into what you had in mind when you designed your mods, and I like your style of writing.

Thanks! :) This mission report is something I've wanted to do since the fall of last year, when I saw @EJ_SA's Kerbin Exploration Initiative on his Twitch stream. I've never explored Kerbin before and hadn't seen a mission report detailing kerbin's exploration, so I decided to do it. The Elcano Aviation Challenge gave me some ideas too, and before I knew it, I had an idea to go fly round Kerbin and check out the anomalies. I specifically built the Heisenberg mod and the Buffalo Wings update for the task. It almost didn't happen though.

After the initial release of the Heisenberg, I almost shelved the project; forum users on the Heisenberg thread were trying to push me to implement their vision of the mod instead of mine, so the project went dormant until @Shnyrik posted pictures of his first aircraft carrier using the Heisenberg mod. Pictures of that first flying aircraft carrier are on the walls of the hangar deck's ready room. :) Once I had the Heisenberg mod pretty much finished and the Buffalo Wings update done, I could finally go aloft and see what's out there. So far it's been pretty fun.

Edited by Angel-125
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Posted (edited)

Catching up on what's been going on in my save beyond the Akron...

Munar Science Rover Discovers Arch and Then Crashes

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Urla 30th, CY 1966

Kerbal Space Center: The Kerbal Space Program announced today that the Munar Science Rover discovered a strange arch on the munar surface. Shortly thereafter, the rover crashed after unsuccessfully navigating a crater. All communications with the rover were subsequently lost.

“We feel the pain of losing the Armstrong,” Walt Kerman, KSP’s head of Public Relations said, referring to the name of the rover, “but we knew the terrain would be treacherous and planned for this contingency. We’ll have a backup, the Aldrin, ready to fly on Mundia. But the important thing is that we discovered that archway, right about where Bob and Valentina recorded their strange readings on [Brumby 2]. It appears to be a natural phenomenon, but we don’t yet know how it was formed.”

Named after one of twelve mythical heroes from Scripture that went to the Mun to battle the Kraken, the Aldrin, officially known as the Munar Surface Rover 2, will carry on with the exploration of the Mun and pick up where MSR-1 left off. It will have additional sensors and communications equipment for redundancy. The Munar Surface Rover program is a follow on to the Munar Sample Return craft, the first vehicle to soft-land on the Mun and the first to return from the munar surface. The MSR program was tasked with finding good landing spots for a mun base, and to investigate some unusual mascon (mass concentration) readings discovered by Bob Kerman and Lt Cmdr Valentina Kerman (KN) and later confirmed by MunSCAN…

MOLE-2 Launches Into Polar Orbit

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Urla 34th, CY 1966

Kerbal Space Center: The Kerbal Space Program launched MOLE-2, the second Mark One Laboratory Extension into polar orbit today. Crewed by Lieutenant Commander Valentina Kerman (KN) and Major Janchell Kerman (KAF), MOLE-2 is the second crewed flight into polar orbit and the first polar orbiting space station whose mission is to conduct thermal studies on various materials, test a new orbiting telescope, and test a Kerbal Maneuvering Unit (KMU) intended for future space station construction. It is veteran astronaut Valentina's second polar flight, and rookie astronaut Janchell's first spaceflight.

"We wanted an experienced astronaut at the helm, and with Jeb recovering from his record-setting flight, Valentina was up next. The spacecraft had a couple of glitches after reaching orbit, but nothing we couldn't solve," says Walt Kerman, Head of Public Releations at KSC. "We don't need to dock modules together like we did with MORL-MOLE-1," Walt continued. "That saves launch costs on a single-use station. Once MOLE-2 completes its mission, Val will de-orbit the station before returning home."

"It's kind of wasteful," notes Mortimer Kerman, Chief Financial Officer for KSP. "One-use stations cost a lot of Funds, only to be disposed of at the end of the mission. We're already reusing launch vehicles, why not do the same for station?"

"Um, we're working on cargo freighters for station resupply," Walt pointed out.

"Oh, I didn't know that! Excellent..."

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MOLE-2 also marked the final flight of the Titan I launch vehicle, first flown with the first Appaloosa flight, and having flown 16 times. MOLE-2 gave KSP engineers the opportunity to test the new WB-4 Sledgehammer modular solid rocket boosters and upgraded LV-T270 Fulcrum engines before flying them on the new Titan II. "I guess you could call it a one-off Titan IA," Walt admitted.

Edited by Angel-125
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The next chapter is coming along nicely. :) I had to do a lot of cross-country flying, but now things are coming together (and I see I have more bugs to fix). Here's a hint:

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Posted (edited)

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Southbound And Down

With their capsule recovery diversion completed, the Akron takes on some additional ore for the next leg of their journey. Captain James orders the ship aloft and heads south to the Goswen Tundra, considered to be neutral territory by the Five Nations.

With a long flight ahead of them, Mosa took Munvan and Payin into the science lab for some research training and data processing, while Raphia, Bobus, and Samalla got to work on the snacks recyclers- it seemed that they were broken again and not working as efficiently as they should be*.

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Meanwhile, Liscella began teaching Kelbin how to fly the airship while the captain got some rest.

 

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“101.6,” Kelbin said enthusiastically, noting the airspeed.

“Yup, Akron may be old, but she’s got it where it counts,” Liscella answered. “At 2500 meters, the air isn’t as thick as it is near sea level, so the cyclones work more efficiently.”

“What’s her ceiling?”

“Depends upon what we’re carrying. Right now we’d be lucky to top 6500, but with a light load the Akron can make 8 or 9 kilometers, give or take. Take her up to 3000, and let’s see what you get.”

Kelbin nosed the airship upward as he was taught and leveled off at 3000 meters. The airship’s speed slowly crept up to 103 meters per second. At Liscella’s direction, he kept bumping up Akron’s altitude 500 meters at a time and noted the airspeed; with such a long journey ahead and no airports around, they needed to find the best cruising altitude for speed and range. He found the sweet spot at 4500 meters, with an airspeed of 104.3 m/s, and slowly crept upwards as the engines burned off liquid fuel.

The Akron approached the coast of the mkKerman Isles and was welcomed by a friendly greeting from wireless operators. Bobus joined Kimgee in the LSO station; he enjoyed talking to wireless broadcasters, and it was a chance for the mkKermans to speak to a genuine astronaut- or at least a student astronaut. Due to flight delays, the airship didn’t land, but they were able to take in the majestic lakes and grass valleys from the air.

 

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After a short trip across the mkKerman Channel, Akron flew past the Sky Rock Mountain Range and Sky Rock River on her way to the Goswen Highlands.

“Steady as she goes, Lieutenant,” Liscella responded to Kelbin’s concerns about the airship’s altitude. They passed by the mountain range without incident. They still had a long way to go.

 

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***

Akron flew along several mountain ranges and finally reached the Goswen Highlands late in the afternoon. After zeroing in on the anomaly- another giant satellite dish installation- the captain relieved Kelbin and set the airship down on a nearby plateau.

 

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“Kelbin, take Mosa, Payin, Bobus, and Munvan in the Rio Grande and check out that radio dish.”

“Yes, Sir,” Kelbin replied. “Er, do you want Liscella or Kimgee to fly as well?”

“Nope, you’re qualified to solo on the Rio, time to earn your wings.”

After receiving clearance from Kimgee, Kelbin lifted the runabout off the deck and headed the 2.5 kilometers over to the steppe where the radio dish resided. Rio Grande struggled to gain altitude- she was operating at the limit of her service ceiling- so Kelbin gave the runabout a boost via its RCS thrusters. Soon, they were perched on the steppe. Unsure of their situation, Kelbin remained in the runabout to handle any emergencies while the scientists investigated the installation. That was his excuse, it looked pretty cold outside.

 

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“Dudes, this one’s atomic,” Munvan noted, “I’m getting radiation spikes.”

“The construction on this one is different too,” Bobus said. “It seems to be made of konkrete but it’s a different manufacturer or something. Like the other one, it’s been here awhile but still looks new.”

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“Notice anything else that’s different?”

“Like what, Mosa,” Payin asked.

“Oh, whoa, dudes,” Munvan said, looking up, “it’s like tracking our satellites. Gnarly!”

 

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“Yeah,” Mosa agreed. “And unlike the other one, this installation isn’t putting out spurious signals. It appears to be in working order.”

 

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The scientists conducted additional investigations before retreating to the warm interior of the Rio Grande. Kelbin shuttled them back to the Akron, where he gave his report. With the airship’s fuel situation, the captain decided to remain in the area for 17 days, but since the steppe wass too narrow for the Akron, Kelbin logged more flight time in the Rio Grande shuttling various crewmembers between the airship and the installation.

 

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***

Nearly three weeks later, the Akron headed aloft in search of the next anomaly, then set down in the Great Southern Grasslands to do some more refueling.

“How long will we be here,” Kelbin asked.

“Another 2 weeks,” Captain James answered.

“Ugh.”

“Care to elaborate?”

“Sorry, Sir, it’s nothing.”

“Uh huh. I’m aware of the tediousness of our refueling ops, lieutenant. You can always walk home if you don’t want to wait.”

“Yes Sir.”

KSC is aware of our situation, they’re working the problem. This is a good time for you to learn something new.”

“Like command school training?”

“You should give it some thought. You’ve got plenty of time…”

Two weeks later, they reached the southern tip of Espa. President Edwardo donKerman happily conveyed his greetings to the Akron and her crew and gave overflight permissions as long as they stopped in Sandy Island to visit with the people. Captain James quickly agreed and angled the airship into the Bruoso mountain range in search of the next anomaly.

 

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With the airship down to less than a third of her fuel, Captain James set her down on a steep mesa at about 3700 meters altitude.

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They were close to the reported location, but with nothing sticking out, Kimgee, Kelbin, and Samalla took to the air in the Ganges to see what they could spot. Despite the veteran pilot’s best efforts, the Ganges struggled to gain altitude and stay flying. They kept following their BTDT scanner, but couldn’t narrow down the location. Every time they tried, they either went the wrong way or couldn’t gain enough altitude.

 

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Finally, Captain James had enough of the wild goose chase and ordered the Ganges to return.

“We’re not leaving here until we find the stupid thing,” the captain said, frustrated. “I have the helm. Everybody hold onto something, we’re going to do some steep climbing.” With that, the Akron lifted off from the mesa, and flying on little more than slight throttle nudges and copious RCS thrust, the airship crept up the mountain, going where no runabout had gone before- ignoring the fact that the airship had two of them…

“Tally ho, 2 o’clock high,” Kelbin reported from the cockpit’s observation deck.

“Where? I don’t-“ the captain’s eyes locked onto their elusive quarry. “Oh!”

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“No wonder the runabout couldn’t find it,” Captain James said, checking the altimeter. “We’re past 5800. Too high up for them.” He pointed to a promising spot. “Let’s set down over there. Once we’re done, Kelbin, take Payin and Munvan in the Fido to have a look.”

With some careful maneuverings and curses from the captain, the Akron settled onto the mountain top, and Fido went for a walk.

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Munvan and Payin threw all the science instruments they had at it. Laser scans confirmed that the monolith was made of black polished granite, while other instruments noticed the high radioactivity- just like the one at KSC. Their other sensors showed nominal results except for the mystery goo canister- it seemed agitated.

 

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Kelbin and the scientists piled out of the rover to plant the flag and take a photo op.

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That’s when Munvan noticed something peculiar about the ground around the flagpole. He scuffed his feet, and just below the layer of dirt was a strange blue substance that glittered in the sunlight. Kicked up flecks of the stuff fluttered like dust or snowflakes in the wind- except that there was no wind.

“Hey man, we’ve got some odd stuff all over the ground here,” Munvan pointed out. “Like, really weird, you know?”

“What is it,” Kelbin asked.

“Dunno man, but there’s a lot of it. I mastered in geology, and I ain’t never seen stuff like this before.”

“Ok,” Kelbin nodded, “I’ll call it in. *squawk* Captain Sir? Uh, we’ve definitely got a monolith here, and some really odd material strewn about on the ground. What do you want us to do?”

Captain James looked at his fuel gauge, the airship’s reserves were nearly critical. “Break out the Pathfinder. We’re going to be here awhile.”

*Yup, more bug fixing, this time for Snacks.

Edited by Angel-125
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Posted (edited)

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Bobus volunteered to set up the Pathfinder base on the mountain top, using the Fido to transport components. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity,” he said. He worked through most of the night, and by midnight Mosa, Payin, and Munvan took up residence. For all his hard work, Bobus got to name the base: Monolith Mountain Base. To avoid the radiation hazard, the engineer also rigged up a long pipeline and set up a Gold Digger drill next to the monolith. That way, the base could drill for the odd material and study it safely away from radiation exposure.

The next morning, Mosa found Munvan already in the lab, looking at what the little drill conjured up over the last three hours. Most of it was granite, but the sparkly blue stuff took up a significant chunk of the sample as well.

“Hey boss,” Munvan said as Mosa stepped into the geology lab. “I like got an early start. This stuff is pretty cool, I’m calling it graviolium.”

“Gravi-what now?”

“Graviolium. Like you know, from gravoli particle theory. I had a dream about it last night, and these blue snowflakes reminded me of it. This area is like littered with it.”

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“Um, ok… Er, aren’t you a geologist though? How do you know about quantum physics? I thought you said you got your masters in geology?”

“Yeah, girl, I did. I got that when I was like 8. Got one of my doctor’s degree in quantum physics when I was like 12. Double-doctored in botany, because, you know, why not, right?”

“Of course,” Mosa said diplomatically. “That explains the odd smell in the ship’s garden... What can you tell me about this ‘graviolium’ of yours?”

“Not much, boss. But I did put together a preliminary study. It’ll take a few days to complete. Check it, yo.”

Despite some of his eccentricities, Mosa was impressed by the student astronaut’s skills. Without supervision, he managed to put together a complete experiment package the likes of which could only be seen in a commercial or university lab, but with little more than the basic research kits that the airship had on hand. It would take a few days to complete as Munvan noted, but given the Akron’s fuel situation, they weren’t going anywhere for a while.

 

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***

Twelve days later, with KSC’s science team excited about the new monolith discovery, the space center personnel accelerated their refit of the KSNS Fulton. Built during the Last War for use as a flying oiler transport, the Fulton provided underway replenishment and Forward Operations Base support to airships far away from home base. As the last of her kind, the former museum ship was being pressed into service once again, this time in support of the Kerbin Elcano Exploration Project. The idea was that the Fulton flew somewhere ahead of the Akron to serve as a support vessel, or hauled supplies and specialty items to the airship when other aircraft lacked the range. It also provided the ability to follow up with specialists should the Akron find hidden atomic weapons…

Today she launched from South Hope Airport. The South Hope Islands bought the Fulton as a tourist attraction, but it failed to generate revenue, so their parliament was only happy to sell the Fulton back to the Kerman States, and put the funds towards a new amusement park.

Her job was simple: refuel the Akron, deliver a science and engineering team to Monolith Mountain Base, bring a replacement Pathfinder base and new set of experiments to the flying aircraft carrier, then recover at Sandy Shore Heliport before taking the long trip home.

 

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“Up ship,” Fredgan Kerman ordered, still excited that his transfer request from the Kondor to the Fulton was approved. The growling of the old Cyclone engines made him squeal with delight. “Heading 300, set altitude to 4500 or best.”

“Uh, you’re the only pilot aboard, captain,” Lizchell Kerman, one of the scientists pointed out.

“Oh. Right. Ok, up we go then, shouldn’t take more than an hour* to get there, give or take a few for pit stops.”

 

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***

“There you have it,” Munvan said with his surfer’s voice, looking at the results and then at Mosa. “This stuff is definitely weird, girl. Like, defy gravity weird. I accidentally zapped it with static charge, and like, it floated for a couple of seconds! That’s when it like hit me, there’s a passage in Scripture about a ‘blue blood that glittered in sunlight’ that like floated in air. The like Ancients called it ‘the blood of the Kraken.’ Like, the dudes from way back knew about graviolium, and I was like whoa, mind blown, you know?”

 

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“Yeah,” Mosa agreed, “that’s definitely, uh, out there. Um, Munvan, you have what, three science degrees?”

“Eight,” he corrected. Mosa blinked and her jaw dropped.

“Eight? Wow. Do you actually believe SQUAD actually exists? I mean, you quote Scripture a lot…”

“Oh yeah, totally, girl! SQUAD most definitely exists! The all mighty SQUAD created the universe and everything in it- well, almost everything, until the Ancients started battling the Kraken and like started putting their spin on things.”

“How can you have blind faith when you’re so steeped in science?”

Munvan looked serious for a moment and pointed at the graviolium sample. “Is it so blind? Like, Scripture said this stuff existed, and we’ve found some! A lot even! Besides, Stuff has happened to me, a… strange series of coincidences that like, I can’t explain, girl. Like, I want to be more resilient and boom, bad stuff happens that I have to learn to let roll off of me, or like, when someone wants more free time and wham, she’s suddenly out of a job for a year. Mind, blown, am I right?

“Sure, we’ve like got a world founded on science and engineering, and like maybe these coincidences are just that. Maybe there’s like this all mighty being updating the verse now and then, or maybe not. Maybe some of us really do have psychic powers, you know? Maybe our brains get a glimpse at alternate realities and shift our quantum consciousness to one that has the outcome we want, or maybe it’s just an angel tapping on our shoulder.

“But yeah, I like dabbled with Scripture because like, it’s the language of spirituality? I don’t know, girl. Maybe it’s got language to explain things that current science can’t. The way I see it-“

Just then, the intercom buzzed. It was the Captain.

“Monolith Base, this is Akron. You guys done over there? We gotta get off the mountain and meet up with the Fulton, so grab your gear, leave the rest for the incoming science team, and get a move on.”

 

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***

The Akron lifted off of the mountain top and flew several kilometers to the awaiting Fulton.

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Captain James elected to not try underway replenishment due to the wonky AirPark flying at nearly the maximum altitude of the Fulton, and instead he landed the airship right next to the Fulton with an amazing feat of precision flying.

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Keridien hopped out and hooked up the fuel lines, and the Akron began taking on liquid fuel and supplies.

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Late in the afternoon, Captain James and the Fulton’s skipper, Fredgan Kerman, exchanged pleasantries before the airships parted ways.

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Devoid of over half her maximum fuel load, the Fulton landed at Monolith Mountain Base to offload the science team and dig up the deposit of graviolium, while the Akron headed northeast to Sandy Shore Heliport.

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She arrived after sunset, and after topping off her tanks, the crew bed down for the night. Tomorrow would be a busy day of shore leave and entertaining the locals.

 

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*Given the difference between Kerbin days and Earth days, an hour to a kerbal is like 4 hours to humans.

 

Edited by Angel-125
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MOLE-2 Tests Kerbal Maneuvering Unit and Receives Supplies

Neida 34, 1966

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Kerbal Space Program: “I’ve got the best seat in the house,” proclaims Kerman Navy Commander Valentina Kerman as she successfully tested the new Kerbal Maneuvering Unit made by Cormorant Aeronology. “The jet pack is flying perfectly,” she added. The veteran astronaut expertly piloted the KMU out of MOLE-2’s “Garage” and into space, where she put the device through its paces. She then docked with the space station’s port docking port.

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With the station in drift mode, a mode where the station’s SAS and RCS thrusters are shut down, Commander Valentina proceeded to test the KMU’s ability to maneuver heavy payloads in space. “The KMU is perfect for in-space assembly,” the astronaut said during the first live interview from space. “If we had a reusable spacecraft, payloads could be brought up to station, and an astronaut could go out and retrieve the payload and dock it. It has great potential in the hands of a skilled pilot.”

MOLE-2 also received a prototype “Stagecoach” automated freighter which delivered additional snacks, research kits, and spare parts to resupply the station.

“It has good upmass,” Walt Kerman, head of Public Relations at the Kerbal Space Center commented, “but it lacks downmass capability,” he added, referring to the ability to send cargo into orbit and return cargo from orbit. “We’ve got another design in mind that we might send up to station on another flight. I’m sure Commander Valentina and Major Janchell won’t mind an extended stay. Plus, the resupply will make Mort happy.”

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In space for over 41 days…

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After staying the night at Sandy Shore, the Akron lifted off into the skies once again and headed eastward in search of their next anomaly.

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The found it in the Mulgain Highlands in the Skiryra Kingdom. As the airship approached, it became apparent that they’d found another of the giant tracking stations. F7pqJpo.png

Like the previous one, the mystery station appeared to be very old, atomic powered, and still in working condition. It too was tracking various satellites in low Kerbin orbit.

“Gear coming down. All hands, this is the captain,” Captain James announced, “secure for landing. The captain decided to land the airship relatively near the anomaly after it was deemed safe.

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“Drills out, ISRU running nominal, Captain,” Raphia declared.

“Good. Stick Bobus in charge of running the mining rig. You and Mosa are with me. We’ll grab the Fido and go look at that installation.

“Bored again, Sir?”

Captain James ignored his first officer. “Kelbin, work with Munvan and Samalla and put together an away mission to study that extinct volcano. You’ll fly out in the morning. Get some good pictures and take some samples, it’ll work for our cover story. I want some good field reports, crew, we’re headed to Kerbin’s Heart Science Center to mingle with the locals in two days.”

The captain drove Fido up the hill and found an interesting spot.

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He watched the giant mechanisms that pivoted the dish and found an opportunity. He gunned the rover.

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“Uh, Captain?”

“What, Mosa. It’s not like anybody’s been able to get up to the top of one of these before, let’s check it out.”

Before long, the away team drove to the center of the giant dish and got out to look around. No doubt about it, the tracking station was enormous.

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“Definitely picking up radiation spikes here, Captain,” Mosa noted, checking her dosimeter. “They’re much higher than at the base. We can stay no more than 30 minutes.”

“Duly noted. Raph, any ideas who built this place? Was it the vonKermans?”

“Definitely not the vonKermans,” Raphia answered. They may have better crafting skill than we do, but even this is beyond them. Can we set up the SEP here? We might not get a better opportunity to monitor one of these sites from the top.”

“Do it, and while we’re here, let’s get a soil analysis,” the captain ordered.

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***

Raphia worked quickly to attach the cargo extension to the Buffalo. Unfortunately, when she hooked up the rover to the airship to resupply it, ran over some sharp rocks, both front wheels went flat. For now, the captain didn’t worry about it; the rover was designed to handle just such a situation.

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Back at the hilltop, the ship’s chief engineer worked quickly to deploy the @CobaltWolf Surface Experiment Pack. Consisting of a central station and a series of experiments, the SEP was designed to be assembled by an engineer and calibrated by a scientist before being left to its own devices. Raphia worked quickly against the setting sun, and elected to assemble the SEP next to the tracking station’s top instead of on it. She didn’t want to risk damaging the installation or blowing up the SEP if it didn’t agree with being attached to the strange installation.

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With the SEP assembled, Mosa stepped out to calibrate it. It didn’t take long, but she was concerned about the solar panels not getting enough sunlight. Raphia suggested that they make another trip and grab the Pathfinder Sombrero. Its dual-axis arrays would have no trouble tracking the sun.

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The team raced back to the airship, grabbed the gear they needed, and rushed back up the hill, losing the winch along the way. But with the science gear assembled and calibrated just before sundown, and Fido’s front wheels replaced with the trailer pack’s, the away team returned to the Akron and settled in for the night.

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---

Author’s Note: This was an interesting mission. I got everything set up in one take- except for parking the rover back in the Akron. When I tried to dock the rover, the airship blew up from structural failure! Since the Akron has script immunity, I had to reload- but since the rover was under the airship, it would smack into the Akron each time I reloaded, and ended up on its side. I ended up having to rig up a winch to the underside of the airship hull to haul the rover onto its feet, then, after realizing that none of my engineers were high enough skill to fix the flat tires, I replaced them with the extension wheels that the Fulton brought. And that’s why I built the Buffalo with a modular system that supports field assembly…

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13 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

Author’s Note: This was an interesting mission. I got everything set up in one take- except for parking the rover back in the Akron. When I tried to dock the rover, the airship blew up from structural failure! Since the Akron has script immunity, I had to reload- but since the rover was under the airship, it would smack into the Akron each time I reloaded, and ended up on its side. I ended up having to rig up a winch to the underside of the airship hull to haul the rover onto its feet, then, after realizing that none of my engineers were high enough skill to fix the flat tires, I replaced them with the extension wheels that the Fulton brought. And that’s why I built the Buffalo with a modular system that supports field assembly…

I recognize that dish as one I recently visited:

Spoiler

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There's definitely something screwy with the ground there - I lost that rover, as it decided to get launched ~200m into the air when I switched to map view.

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Posted (edited)

Interlude: Briefings

“So after recovering the Brumby 2 mission,” Gene Kerman, Flight Director at Kerbal Space Center continued, “the Akron headed south to investigate the southern-most anomaly. Like the first one they encountered, the second anomaly turned out to be a giant atomic powered tracking station of unknown origin.”

“And you say this one is tracking our satellites?” President Kenny couldn’t believe what he’d heard.

“Yes, Mr. President,” Gene responded. “Unlike the first tracking station, the second one appears to be in working order. We’ve also flagged the first one as a navigational hazard to aircraft.”

“I see. Go on.”

“Yes Sir. We sent a second team in after the Akron left, and they spotted some writings on the base of the installation. One of our linguists recognized the glyphs as Ancient Kerman. It translated to ‘Mesa South.’ We believe it’s the name of the facility.”

“So you’re saying that ancient kermans built the thing?

“It’s not likely, Mr. President,” Gene continued. “We have no records of such an advanced ancient civilization, but apparently they did name it, or somebody versed in ancient Kerman did. Ancient Kerman goes back about four thousand years, and records clearly show stone working as the most advanced technology of the time. They got pretty adept at it.”

“But it’s made of konkrete, so couldn’t they have built the structure?

“That’s partially true, Sir, they did have primitive konkrete back then, but the konkrete comprising the facilities looks brand new. Our scientists theorize that it’s self-maintaining, meaning that it repairs itself. Nobody on Kerbin has that level of technology.”

“And you’re sure the vonKermans aren’t behind this? I mean, that Vehicle Assembly Building of yours is pretty big…”

“Yes, Sir, it is,” Gene admitted, “and the vonKermans can make similar-sized structures. But not like the self-repairing tracking stations Captain James and his crew found. They’ve clearly been there for decades, if not hundreds of years, judging by the surrounding vegetation.”

“So we don’t know who built them,” the President concluded, “and they’re powered by atomics. Swell. Speaking of atomics, has the Akron found any hidden caches?”

“Not yet, Mr. President, but they’re still looking.”

“Where are they now?”

Gene put a map of the globe up on the screen that showed where the Akron had traveled.

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“They’re currently about half a kilometer from another tracking station, this one named the ‘Harvester Massif’ according to its ‘name plate’, for lack of a better term. The Akron is headed to the Kerbin Heart Science Center the day after tomorrow as part of its PR cover story, then on to Lushlands Airport to resupply and finally landing at Round Range International before investigating the next anomaly. As you can see from the map, there are quite a few to investigate, including 3 in the vonKerman Republic. We’ll need help getting overflight permissions to check those sites, Sir.”

“I’ll have my staff work on that. What about that other airship, the Fuller?”

“The Fulton, Sir,” Gene pointed out politely. “After spending a few days at Monolith Mountain Base, the Fulton’s science team finished their analysis of the second monolith and dug up the ‘graviolium’ substance, then the airship recovered at Sandy Shore. She’ll be headed to Round Range in the morning. We were able to sell off some of the graviolium to-“

You did WHAT?” President Kenny thundered, he was not amused by Gene’s report.

“Uh, Sir,” Phil Kerman, agent of KIA interjected, “We authorized KSC to sell a portion of the graviolium to the Sandy Shore Institute of History- for a tidy sum, too. Dr. Munvan’s classification of the stuff notwithstanding, the substance is inert but of little value except as a novelty item for jewelry and such. We had to sell some of it off to cover expenses. Operation K.E.E.P. is proving to be costlier than expected, and there’s no room in the black budget to increase its funding without going to Kongress.”

“I see,” President Kenny said. Kongress wasn’t exactly is friend right now… “How much did you get?”

“Well,” Gene handed the President a bill of sale and continued, “About 2 million Funds. We’ve got about 18000 left, and it’s worth about 6 million.”

“Wow. Who would’ve thought that history would be lucrative,” the President mused. “And it’s from international territory, so we own it free and in the clear. But let me be clear: do not sell any of that stuff again. Period. It’s hard enough to keep this project a secret, and selling…” he looked at the bill of sale on his desk. “…Selling ‘blood of the kraken’ discovered out of nowhere is bound to raise questions. Speaking of which, we have some security leaks to discuss…”

Second Monolith Discovered!

Neida 39, 1966

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Astronauts Payin Kerman, Dr. Munvan Kerman, and Lieutenant Kelbin Kerman (KAF), at the site of the second Monolith.

Kerbal Space Center: Walt Kerman, head of Public Relations at the Kerbal Space Center, officially announced the discovery of a second Monolith after weeks of rumors and a series of images circulated on the Lattice. “The KSNS Akron,” Walt said, referring to the KSC airship touring the world for their Kerbin Elcano Exploration Project, “discovered the monolith in the Bruoso Mountain Range in Espa. The exact location is being kept secret for now at the request of the Espan government- they don’t want tourists trampling their natural preserve. Our science teams confirm that the second monolith is just like the first one, in that it is 1-meter thick, 4-meters wide, and 9-meters tall. It also appears to be made of polished black granite, and has radioactive elements, making it a health hazard. The science team…”

Kerbal Space Program Announces ‘Munshot’ Program

Neida 39, 1966

Kerbal Space Center: The Kerbal Space Program announced an ambitious plan to explore the Mun today...

Edited by Angel-125
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On 6/7/2017 at 11:10 AM, DStaal said:

I recognize that dish as one I recently visited:

There's definitely something screwy with the ground there - I lost that rover, as it decided to get launched ~200m into the air when I switched to map view.

Good to note - @Angel-125 has inspired me to do one of these as well, and I'm going to keep a sharp eye out when I am there.

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Is this a career save, or are you doing this in sandbox?  In your career game, which tech tree are you using?

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2 hours ago, panarchist said:

Is this a career save, or are you doing this in sandbox?  In your career game, which tech tree are you using?

It is a career save using stock tech tree, modified by the nodes that DSEV introduces. Science benefits reduced to 60%

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Posted (edited)

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Kelbin hit his bunk after a long mission planning session that was followed by the captain toasting Lengan, Joeley, and Randall- tonight was the sixth anniversary of their deaths from the Kapollo 1 fire. The young pilot immediately fell asleep…

“Kelbin, what’s the LRB thrust reading,” his copilot asked.

 

“Uh, 0.25, er, 25% coming up on LRB sep...”

 

 

Kelbin’s slumbering mind drifted again…

“Kelbin, what was the reading on the graviolium sensor?”

 

“Uh, 1.13? 1.22…?” In his dream state, Kelbin was struggling to remember. Aha!

“1.3!”

“1.3 what, dude,” Munvan asked, looking over from the koffee dispenser.

Kelbin blinked and looked around, struggling to wake up. What a dream, he thought to himself. “Uh, nothing. Let’s get breakfast and head out to that volcano.”

“Dude, you sound so enthusiastic.”

“Sorry, it’s just that we would be back at KSC today if this whole Kerbin Elcano Exploration Project hadn’t happened. I became an astronaut to explore space, not look for atomic weapons.”

Munvan scoffed. “What atomic weapons, dude? Like, we haven’t found any, just those tracking stations that like nobody knows who built, and that monolith. Those are like pretty cool yo, like nobody knew about them until we found them. You want to explore? We’re exploring, dude.”

“Yeah, I get that,” Kelbin admitted, “but exploring up there, going where no kerbal has gone before, not down here. You seem pretty relaxed about our situation, how do you do it?”

“Stuff like that used to bug me too, dude. It still gets to me sometimes too. Like, I love making new discoveries and writing about them. But like, this one time, I wrote a bunch of papers and watched others benefit from my discoveries before I could, and like I was getting resentful until I changed my priorities. Now I make sure to carve some time out for me, and have a little fun. It’s hard to enjoy the books you like to read if you’re too busy writing, you know? Sometimes work can wait, even if you enjoy it, am I right? So yeah, like, we’re stuck for now, but we’ll get our shot, just gotta be chill about it.

“So like, I’m putting my botany skills to use in the ship’s garden to help pass the time. Maybe you need a hobby, dude, like 3D printing or something. Or if you’re really itching to reach space, like maybe find another route to reach your goal.”

“Another route? The Kerbal Space Program is the only game if you want to reach space.”

Munvan shrugged. “I’ve heard rumors on the Lattice of some kind of commercial space starting up. KSC might not be the only player for long, dude.”

---

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Kelbin, Munvan, and Payin took the Rio Grande out to Mount Explodius, the extinct volcano, to conduct some geology field research. Thousands of years ago, Mount Explodius blew its top and side in a massive explosion, then promptly died out.

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There wasn’t much to see, so after taking some samples and readings, the team headed back to the Akron, and the airship made a 20-minute flight to Kerbin’s Heart and Science Center.

 

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The next few days were kind of a blur. While the science team spent the rest of the day touring the facilities and giving a presentation, some of the crew took the time to walk around and enjoy the sights.

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By morning, the Akron went aloft and flew to Lushlands Airport to refuel, resupply, and perform some maintenance on the drilling rig.

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A day later, they landed at Augury’s Reach to grab some science data, and in the late afternoon the next day, the airship landed at Round Range International for another refueling stop, where the Fulton awaited her for the long trip ahead.

 

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In the morning, the Akron headed out to the last anomaly on the continent. “See you guys in a few,” Fredgan, the Fulton’s skipper, radioed. The anomaly, another tracking station, was just off the coast on a small island. Thanks to the language codec provided by KSC, Munvan translated its name tag as “Nye Island.” As with the other tracking stations, Nye Island appeared to be atomic powered and fully operational. Munvan took several readings, left some networked sensors, and drove back to the Akron.

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The senior staff were talking to KSC when the astronaut trainee returned.

“The new SCANSAT software update really helped, Gene,” Captain James said. “We were able set a waypoint and fly right to the anomaly. No more frustrating searches. My sunglasses are off to the engineers at @DMagic Orbital Science.”

“Glad it’s working out,” Gene radioed back. “You’ll need the waypoints. When we updated SCANSAT-1’s firmware, we found some new anomalies. One of them is southeast of the Mesa South ATS,” he said, referring to the Anomalous Tracking Station.

“No way we’re turning around to check that one out,” Captain James declared.

“Agreed, Captain. We’re sending another team. It’ll give us a chance to test out the new Ostrich.”

“Sounds good. We’ll add the new ones to our flight plan and-“

“Excuse the interruption, Captain,” Liscella piped up, “but the Fulton is here.”

 

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---

 “Akron, this is Fulton,” Fredgan radioed, “you guys ready to drag?”

“Roger, Fulton, we’re headed aloft now,” Captain James radioed back.

“Captain, you’ve done this before, right?”

“Yup, back in the Last War. You?”

“Uh, simulated, Sir, but my dad used to do aerial unreps during the war.”

“Thanks for making me feel old, kid,” Captain James quipped. “Just stick to the manual, you’ll be fine,” he quickly added. He muted the mic. The Captain sighed, then looked at his first officer. “I feel old. I am old.”

“Run out of Just for Kerbs, Sir?”

“Liscella, how did you-“

“Jim, I’ve know you for six years. I know your quirks. What’s eating you? I know it’s not running out of hair dye.”

“Oh, it’s that kid Kelbin. He’s frustrated about being stuck on the ground. I get the same way sometimes, then I think about the fire. I listened to them burn to death over the radio...”

“Jim, look at me. It wasn’t your fault. They knew the risks like you did.  And seriously, if you still want to go, then stop blaming yourself, and make it happen. If you’re not living your dreams and your dreams are achievable, then you aren’t living, you’re waiting to die. You’re James T. Kerman. Quintuple ace pilot and one of the true original four. Not even Jeb can make that claim. So if it’s something you really want to do, then take the black armband off, and go fly. Sir. And happy birthday. The surprise party is at dinner.”

“How-“

“Two tours in ONI, remember?”

“Humph. You’re right, if I was serious I would’ve done something about it by now. Just feeling my age. Besides, after this class there won’t be any more pilot billets unless Kelbin quits, and-“

“Uh, Akron,” Fredgan radioed. “Ok, uh, rise to angels 1.1, maintain altitude, uh, hold speed at 5 meters per.”

“Copy that, Fulton,” Captain James responded, snapping back to the present. With Fulton as the active vessel, Akron had to hold altitude and speed so that the support ship could dock and transfer supplies.

“At angels 1.1, speed holding at 5. Ready for docking.”

“Ok, here we go…”

 

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“You’re off center, kid, but not bad for your first time. You got your music ready?”

“Yes indeed, Captain. Got a lovely tune for you…”

“Very appropriate given where the Fulton was hanging out before. Ok Skipper, let’s drag across the North Sea...”

---

As the Akron and Fulton dragged across the North Sea, KSC’s newest creation, the Ostrich, took to the skies in search of the southernmost anomaly.

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The aircraft struggled to gain altitude; it was overloaded and underpowered. Eventually, Major Parie, the Kerman Air Force pilot in charge of the flight and one of The Next Three astronauts, dumped half their fuel to clear the mountains. It wasn’t a big deal since the Ostrich had a half-dozen drills and an ISRU with which to process ore into liquid fuel, but the Akron’s backup support craft needed to be redesigned with better engines.

 

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The crew found what they were looking but didn’t expect to find what looked like a giant ancient temple. It took significant effort to land the quad tiltrotor without crashing due to its excessive weight and the high altitude, but in the late afternoon sun, the Ostrich parked next to the causeway.

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Major Gedra, the expedition’s engineer, immediately began setting up a Pathfinder base at the entrance to the temple’s courtyard. They were going to be there awhile, who built the temple and why it had an atomic signature was top on their list of questions to answer.

 

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---

By early morning, as Valentine approached the horizon and Kerbol rose above it, the Akron and Fulton reached landfall, but they still had more distance to cover. As they approached the next anomaly, the two airships separated- Fulton landed to begin drilling for ore, and Akron went on the hunt. Their radar system pinged what looked like another monolith, but the crew was having a hard time finding it. The Akron had to reverse course and head west until they found the monolith on a grassy knoll. Mosa, Bobus, and Munvan took Fido out to the anomaly. Though definitely a monolith the latest one was different.

 

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“It’s uh, it’s… green…” Mosa said. “It appears to be made of green granite and it has the same dimensions as the one at KSC and the Bruoso Monolith. Radioactivity is much lower than the other two, it’s a wonder how SCANSat even found it.”

 

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“Maybe it’s a kerbal-made copy of the alien monoliths,” Samalla radioed from the Akron.

“There is absolutely no proof of aliens,” Mosa quipped.

“Oh yeah? Then who made the tracking stations?”

Mosa said nothing. “Munvan, is there more of that ‘graviolium’ of yours here?”

Munvan ran the core samples through the tiny spectrum analyzer in the rover’s lab. “Nah, girl, but like I did find some exotic minerals.”

“Pay dirt,” Bobus said enthusiastically.

“Captain,” Mosa radioed, “since the radiation levels are fairly low, I recommend we have the Fulton land nearby and set up the spare Pathfinder base and SEP. They can give us some more details on the… Grassy Knoll Monolith while we go after the next anomaly. We can cover more ground that way.”

“Very well,” Captain James responded. “I’ll radio Fredgan. They have to refuel, so they can dig up those exotics in the process.”

It only took a short hop for the Fulton to meet up with the Akron again, but it took most of the afternoon to setup the base. The next anomaly would have to wait until morning.

 

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Elcano Travel Update

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Edited by Angel-125
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