UnusualAttitude

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  1. Welcome to what will possibly be the least popular thread on the KSP forums. What, may you ask, does gardening have to do with spaceflight...? Why, absolutely nothing of course... unless you are a hungry astronaut left stranded on Mars with only some potatoes and a large quantity of astronaut poop to use as fertiliser. I am not a stranded astronaut, but I do have a bone to pick with my garden. You see, last year's crop was dreadful. I put in a lot of work last spring, but after a promising start... ...things started dying left right and centre. July and August were bone dry, my tomato plants got mildew, and in the end all I had to show for my efforts were courgettes (zucchini for you guys from across the pond). Lots of courgettes. Long ones, round ones, stripy ones. We spent most of last summer eating them in soups, curries, with couscous or stuffed, and then we froze or canned the rest and have been steadily munching our way through them since. My step-children never want to see another courgette again. Officially. Ever. So this year, we are going to try again, and do better. Or else. I have my first plot ready for onions and potatoes (this is my first attempt at 'taters). I have some nice rich, dark soil with a plentiful supply of manure courtesy of these gals... Apparently chicken dung is the best. They are also helping me to clear the turf from my second plot which is just next to my bottom-of-the-garden office where I write the Camwise Logs. I feel like I'm using them for slave labour, but dammit they're efficient. Leave hens on your lawn for a couple of weeks and it will be totally wrecked, children. My main goal this year is to revive Great Uncle Jim's tomatoes. This will be my third attempt. Great Uncle Jim (or Tonton Jim) was my wife's grandfather, as well as being her great uncle. Don't ask. It's just how they did things back then in that part of France. Anyway, Tonton Jim was a legendary gardener, and my wife has fond memories of eating his delicious, juicy, fleshy tomatoes as a child. Tonton Jim passed away a few years ago. Fittingly, he was in the garden he loved so much when it happened. His heart failed and he was dead before he hit the ground apparently. What a great way to go. A couple of summers back, we visited her grandma who gave us some tomato seeds that had been tucked away in the cellar for years. The most recent strain is from Jim's 2005 crop. So far, I have managed to get some to germinate twice, but the first attempt I planted too late, and last year was an awful season for just about everything. Anyway, I'll keep you updated as things start to grow. And if any of you lads and lasses have a garden, feel free to post your endeavours...
  2. Looks like I need to shop around for some good habaneros, which may be a challenge. French cuisine is wonderful, but they wouldn't recognize a decently hot pepper if one jumped up and bit them on the nose. I've spent years trying to get my family accustomed to capsaicin by means of small, homeopathic doses. I'm getting there, slowly... Your advice might also apply to my sweet peppers too. They often wilt in bright sunlight and heat despite my efforts to give them enough water. I'll probably plant all my peppers in pots next year so I can move them around and experiment... thanks.
  3. Hullo @regex. Sorry our threads were merged but, as improbable as it may sound, I started a gardening thread here a few months ago. Nice plot you have going there. I'm particularly envious of your chilli peppers. I've tried growing them several times but so far the results have been pretty underwhelming. I managed to munch through most of my last crop without breaking sweat. Little capsaicin at all. I'm wondering if this is due to the species I grew, or due to the climate here (South of France, probably similar to the milder parts of California if you live across the pond...). Does anyone have any thoughts on this? My tomatoes have finally ripened, though. I will leave you with the first 800g (1 & 3/4 lb) monster we ate this week... juicy. http://
  4. This is the story of the Kerbals of Earth, the third planet from the star Sol. Some time in the recent geological past, an unknown disaster brought devastation and extinction on a global scale. Once a paradise of forests and oceans teeming with life, Earth is now a blasted wasteland where small communities of these tenacious little green creatures struggle for survival, striving to rise from their subterranean origins and conquer the surface of their world, and its heavens. A handful of powerful companies rule over the Kerbal communities and control access to the world's dwindling supply of resources. These companies have agreed to sponsor a small team of visionary engineers and scientists who believe that the future of their species – and an explanation as to their origins – may lie in space. Together, they found the Omelek Space Centre on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is the story of Camwise, a resourceful space engineer who proves to have an uncanny ability to survive and get his crew home, even when the odds are stacked against him. It is also the story of Bartdon, a truculent senior investigator trying to hold the space programme together despite facing pressure from without and treachery from within. This is the story of the Kerbals of planet Earth and their attempts to reach out into the Solar System. Reach out they will indeed, and find more than they bargained for. The Camwise Logs is also a KSP Real Solar System / Realism Overhaul play-through in career mode. Certain part mods are used, and occasionally part configuration files are adjusted, but these will always reflect plausible – if not yet feasible – near future technologies. Hyperedit is occasionally used for the purpose of setting certain scenes (or repairing bugs and glitches), but all space missions are launched and flown legitimately, under full manual control of the author (ie: no mechjeb). All vehicles perform according to the specifications described in the story. PART ONE: THE MOON VS. ME PART TWO: THE VIEW FROM PHOBOS PART THREE: LUNACY PART FOUR: TOO BIG TO FAIL PART FIVE: L'ENFANT SAUVAGE PART ONE: THE MOON VS. ME "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" Albert Einstein. YEAR 6 DAY 45 Now, then. My name is Camwise and I am, until the circumstances change, stuck on the Moon. Yes, Luna, the Moon, the natural satellite of planet Earth; not the Mun, or whatever they call it in that computer game played by some of the kids back home who dream about becoming astronauts. What was it called again...? Anyway, back to the problem at hand. I was sent to Luna as the engineer of the first two-kerbal crew to set up and occupy what shall be the first long-term Moon base. That is, if we manage to build the damned thing before we starve to death. Yes, as you can see if you examined the telemetry, our lander toppled. Before embarking, I had naturally expressed my concerns to the designer of the aforementioned vehicle, Karanda. She happens to be brilliant at aerodynamics, and made some invaluable contributions to the spaceplane programme, but this lander is certainly not one of her better efforts. She fails to grasp some of the fundamentals of flying where there is no air. To say it is top-heavy would be putting things mildly, but even I had not foreseen that the landing legs would impede the thrust of the radial engines that were supposed to ensure our soft touchdown at Drygalski crater. You would have thought she would have run the necessary simulations... It's not as if having engines that actually slow down a Lunar lander are mission critical, right? As it was, my pilot Catbeth had been faced with two choices: extend the gear and make a new crater on the lunar surface for the next team of engineers to drill into, or attempt to touchdown by canceling our velocity just above the surface and extending the gear at the last moment. Fortunately she had chosen the latter, but despite her best attempt at sticking the landing, the lander had tipped anyway. OK, fine. The good news is that we are still alive, and I can live with sleeping on the walls of our capsule for the foreseeable future. At least we have a ton of supplies for our long-term stay on the Lunar surface while we wait for the Island Space Port to come up with an idea for getting us off this rock, don't we? Well, not quite. The majority of the ton of supplies in question (2.4 metric tonnes actually, as well as the capsule that is our ride home, two spacious habs, a service module with large solar panels and a rover), is still circling the Moon in a low polar orbit. Some of the modules are as little as thirty kilometers above our heads. I'm pretty sure that if I go outside and squint at the sky for long enough, I will catch a glimpse of the sunlight glinting off metal as our salvation skims silently over the grey and dusty landscape at one-point-six kilometers per second. Now, of course we weren't sent here to helplessly watch our gear fly past, so let me explain. We will have a lot of work to do once the first modules touch down. But they will only touch down if the water drilling rig continues to extract H2O at the planned rate. If the electrolysis units and cryocoolers that are supposed to turn the water into liquid hydrogen and oxygen work properly. If the cryogenic fuel doesn't boil off faster than we can produce it. If the shuttle we intend to refuel and fly to pluck the modules from orbit performs to spec, just like Karanda's brilliant single stage lander was supposed to. That's a lot of “if”s, I know. But meanwhile, while the tank of this huge machine I'm operating slowly fills up with water extracted from the lunar regolith, I have nothing better to do than tell you about the series of events that brought us here.
  5. That's unusual, because many people consider both basil and mint to be effective insect repellants themselves. Some gardeners even suggest planting basil in between rows of tomato plants to keep away various pests, and in window boxes to keep mosquitoes out of your house. I must say, your basil looks exactly like my basil does when I don't give it enough water... just sayin'.
  6. Wow, time flies. Time for a long overdue update... Good news, though. This year looks like it's going to be a good one, despite an early heatwave and temperatures well above 35 degrees. I've put in a lot of work just to keep everything properly watered but it's starting to pay off already... Like the 20 kgs of taters harvested yesterday evening! Sorting for storage... ...in a cool, dark, but above all dry place. The house where I live used to be bar/restaurant, and the bar is still here with refrigerator cabins underneath it, although the actual refrigerators have been removed. Perfect. Inevitably, some potatoes were damaged by fork and spade during the harvesting, so these are no good for storage and will go straight to the kitchen to be cut up for tonight's potato salad. I've also put aside the smaller potatoes and will attempt to seed them later this summer, hopefully for an autumn crop. You gotta love the awesome "free food" aspect of 'taters. Elsewhere in the garden, my tomato plants are already over a metre high... (peppers and courgettes in the foreground) ...and the first fruit are growing. It is worth noting that the plants that are (by far) the most vigourous and precocious actually sprouted wild at the bottom of my garden from fruit left to rot last year. The plants that I grew from seed in my greenhouse are all less than a foot tall at present. They are comparatively weedy and flowers are only just starting to appear on some of them. That's nature for you... Also, sweetcorn is doing just fine... ...as are the melons... And a final gratuitous shot for all you Basil fans, @tater and @Beehelp... "There's something about this that's so green, it's like how much more green could this be? And the answer is none. None more green."
  7. Lunar Distant Retrograde Orbit. This is the orbit that was considered as a likely destination for NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission. It is stable over long periods of time (centuries), and getting to it requires less delta-vee than Lagrange points L4/L5. Such an orbit allows you to eject to interplanetary easily, as well as access the lunar surface. Transfer there takes longer than to Low Lunar or L4/L5, though. At least a week, sometimes two. Let's hope Sol's undying light is kind to our Kerbals and blows no solar storms their way. That little capsule has little in the way of radiation shielding....
  8. I'll take that as an awesome compliment, since I find that Cat is the most entertaining writer on these forums. However, no supernatural Kraken beasties here. This is hard sci-fi. Cam's tortured mind is due entirely to the hardships that he has endured. Huh? Sorry, it's late here and my brain hurts. Please clarify.
  9. Yikes! I think Camwise would have noticed if the Kerbelle he was sharing a capsule with smelled like rotten fish, though. Indeed, our hero's only wish is to avoid more of his fellow Kerbals meeting lonely ends while serving the Company somewhere out in the deep black. But, how to go about this without collateral damage? Some infections have to be cut out... and sacrifice may be necessary. Unless... options, Cam.
  10. YEAR 14, DAY 155. CAMWISE. Here I am, floating in the void once more. These days, EVA has started to feel like the only place where I truly belong. I drift fifty thousand kilometres above the pale wasteland of my home planet's natural satellite. Even from this distance, the cold reflection from the Moon's surface softens the shadows cast by the pure, undying blaze of our Sun. The Maria, the impact basins and the various other scars that the long, exhausting aeons have imprinted into the material of this familiar sphere of basalt are clearly visible, even from this distance. What is remarkable, at least on the scale of Kerbalkind, is the massive construction weighing several hundred tonnes floating alongside me. It is, I believe, the largest artificial structure ever to have existed in space, and it happens to be in a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. For those of you who have been following the developments of our space programme since its beginnings, this may seem trivial to you, or perhaps just another small step in the slow plod towards the stars. But believe me, it's a game-changer. You see, we're nearly there. By there, I don't mean that we're half way to Alpha Centauri. Clearly, that will be a project for another generation, not ours. But up here, we are a merely a gentle push away from hundreds of asteroids harbouring the riches that will unlock the gateway to the rest of our solar system. Water. Fuel. Metals. Given enough time and patience, these resources will be stockpiled up here on the edge of Earth's gravity well. LDRO Station will gradually grow into a vast, sprawling complex of fuel tanks, shipyards and greenhouses, fed by swarms of gossamer, solar-powered ships droning in from the Near Earth cortege. An army of robotic insects, bloating this staging post until it bursts asunder and spawns new offspring, ready to migrate onwards and outwards. And then Sol System will be the Company's new playground. Or not. At least, not if I can help it. For now, I gaze at the station in wonder. At the moment, it is docked to the additional bulk of Prosperity, the mining ship that will depart shortly to carry Jenbles and myself to asteroid Y13-HO3 where we are to set up the first mining outpost and test the hardware. We will spend the best part of a year out there. Our feedback will shape the equipment designed for future missions. Oh, and something I forgot to mention: we'll be packing the most powerful nuclear reactor ever launched to space. This reactor, designed by Froemone's team and built by Kastria, was launched into LEO some weeks ago. Along with the rest of our gear, it hitched a lift up to Lunar orbit on one of the solar tugs that had previously towed the station into position. The package consist of a number of elements. First up were two huge service tanks. Our main task would be to return these to Lunar orbit, each one brimming with nearly one hundred tonnes of pure, single malt asteroid water. Next, a docking hub and a life support module including several year's worth of food for hungry Kerbal miners. The Mining Utility Vehicle, or MUV, a ship I swear will get a proper name as soon as we have five minutes alone together. Sporting large solar panels and temporary living quarters, this will be our run-about once we get to the asteroid. It will enable us to set up our hardware and give us a place to live until we get round to digging holes in the 'roid and lining them with molten regolith. It was sent up with a utility module that will serve as an airlock on the asteroid's surface, allowing us to burrow into the rock, thus giving us living space that will be reasonably well-shielded from solar and galactic radiation. And finally, the mining module itself with the nuclear reactor in question. A massive, multi-megawatt beast of a generator, it is indeed rather overkill for the mere purpose of melting a few thousand tonnes of asteroid rock. But remember, we are nothing if not guinea pigs here. Looking at the bigger picture, this is exactly the sort of reactor that we would pack if we were to head out on a multi-year mission to one of the outer planets. The Company is merely planning ahead. This whole menagerie was dragged gradually up the gravity well to rendez-vous with Prosperity in Lunar orbit. That was the slow boat. We, however, took the Lunar Express. Crew Mission 14-02 was the second Opulence capsule to launch from Madang towards Distant Retrograde orbit. Packed on board for this cramped eight day journey were Jenbles and myself, as well as three other kerbals. They were pilots and engineers for the next mining start-up, and they would inherit the thankless task of caretaking for the Lunar station until Prosperity returned from her maiden voyage to Y13-HO3 and back. Closing my eyes, I think back to the launch sequence. The muffled roar from the cluster of engine bells sixty metres behind me. The gee forces rising to a crescendo and cutting off suddenly upon stage separation. The push resuming with second stage ignition and the sudden blinding light through the forward viewports as the launch escape system was jettisoned along with the capsule's aerodynamic shroud. Space once more. Opulence deploying her solar panels. Chief Pilot Anline confirming successful orbital insertion. After a single orbit of Earth, the upper cryogenic stage re-igniting for TLI, and the sight of our world slipping swiftly away into the night below. For a fleeting moment, it occurred to me that I should feel sorrow, some kind of loss. But the moment passed, and a wonderful sense of calm descended upon me. I had lived through everything that Earth, Luna and Mars had thrown at me so far. I had a purpose. I would not fail. Our upper stage had flung us onto a collision course with Luna. A few hours into our transfer, we jettisoned the remains of our launch vehicle. Opulence was free to make the small correction burn that would bring us low around the dark side where we would burn again in three day's time to intercept the station. Now, there was nothing to do but wait and put up with the week-long journey, the lack of privacy in such cramped quarters, and pray that solar activity would be favourable to us during the transfer. Due to the nature of our target orbit around the Moon, such a journey could last between six days and two weeks, depending on where the station was when we launched. We were relatively lucky on this trip: a fortnight in such a capsule just didn't bear thinking about. In the end, Sol was kind to us and sent no flares our way during our journey. Luna passed us by, our injection burn was successful, and we made a direct intercept of LDRO station at the top of our elliptical orbit. The distinctive shape of Prosperity was visible from tens of kilometres away as we approached at the low velocity that is characteristic of such distant orbits. I had plenty of time to admire my handiwork as Anline manoeuvred our ship gently in to dock with the station. Once on board, Jenbles and I were introduced to the three kerbals who would crew Prosperity during our outbound trip to Y13-HO3. Commander Astrice, Second Pilot Kimet, and Flight Engineer Ering. Raw, fresh recruits who, apart from a short trip to LEO during a test-launch of the first Opulence capsule, had never been to space before. Yet here they were, already four months into their eighteen month tour of duty. Enthusiastic, eager, naïve... We didn't settle onboard DRO station but instead, we took our quarters on board Prosperity straight away and prepared for an imminent departure on the first leg of our journey. Now, I am making a final inspection of Prosperity's magnificent solar arrays, checking the fragile structures for micro-impact damage before we head out into the unknown. I gaze at the mighty ship, and can't help but imagine just how much destruction she would cause if she collided with LDRO station at high velocity. I blinked and shook my head, wondering where such a thought could have come from. Why would I do that? Besides, I would have to neutralise a crew of three, plus Jenbles. Impossible. Think of the setback this would be to the Company's plans. Take them by surprise. Fake an accident during an EVA. They will come for you. Pick them off one by one. No... no.... You can do this, Camwise. In zero-gee, you are superior to them all. You are stronger, and faster. You are an engineer. Use your power tool. Take control of the ship. Destroy the station. It will cost the Company years of work... “Shut up.” I whimpered, holding my gloved hands to the side of my helmet. Futile. Use your power tool. Go for their faceplates... “Shut up!” “Come in, ST. Check status... are you OK, Kerski?” Astrice sounded concerned. The voice vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. “Uh, yeah. Just some static on the link. It got pretty loud. How's solar activity?” “Nominal. Are you done out there?” “Yeah. I'm coming back in. See you in ten.” Not like that, I whispered to myself, and turned to head back to the airlock.
  11. Loads of cool screenshots, interesting probes and a lot of attention to detail. This all gives your report a very realistic feel. Do you have any long-term goals or projects in mind for this? And how is Letayushchi coming on?
  12. The Board and the Resource Companies certainly embody shameless corporate profit-at-all-costs capitalism. There is little room for "fun" if you work for, or live under the rule of the Trans Pacific Company. As you have probably guessed by now, the author finds that such a state of affairs would be (is?) an absolute nightmare, and some of this revulsion is reflected in the motivations and decisions of certain characters, Camwise first and foremost. I'm afraid I can't elaborate on these forums, though (rule 2.2b...). You'll just have to read on. Thank you, really. We'll just have to hope that he stays strong a little while longer. Earth is going to need him, badly. Remember that the Board needs all the victims, uh recruits it can get for the asteroid harvesting programme. As soon as they've ironed the creases out of his spine, Cam is going straight back up there to dig regolith.
  13. Hi. Was a busy week, I'm afraid. Much work to be done in the garden, and the buttock-clenching matter of electing France's new Banker-in-Chief (or Chairman of the Board if you prefer, both titles suit him), and a short weekend off during which my wife and I escaped to that wonderful place, Carcassonne, which is both a fairytale castle, and the ideal place to go in case of a zombie apocalypse. Got some more long burns done, though. We now have hundreds of tonnes of hardware orbiting Luna, ready to launch an assault on the Near Earth Objects and mine them into little bits. For profit!
  14. Indeed, I believe that it is the only airliner on which you can successfully shoot the music video of a rock band and still have headroom to spare. I'm glad to see you are still around, and looking forward to moar, too...
  15. So am I... And we haven't gone past Mars yet. Just wait until he hits the bottom, somewhere out in the cold, eternal darkness beyond Neptune... Once again, the paradox of The Camwise Logs is brought to light. Yes, I am trying to make this mission report feel as close as possible to a hard sci-fi series/novel/whatever, with a gritty background, (all the better to sling some social and political commitment under the radar) and very little of the usual Kerbal canon and characters (which/whom I find endearing, sometimes mildly entertaining, but it would never have kept me interested long enough to write 120,000+ words of this in more than a year). On the other hand, would you have kept reading this story if Camwise instead was a spanner-wielding socialist human engineer from France called Bertrand? And if Bartdon was a conservative gentleman scientist from Salisbury called Graham (with a moustache, of couse)? If their space programme had a proper, realistic timeline that would span decades and generations, rather than just a few years? Spacefaring human cavemen who eat bat paste.... wut? Conclusion: there's plenty of Kerbal ingrained in The Camwise Logs and... ...this is quite true. I'm not sure how my story would fare without its Kerbal-ness. Let's talk about this again when I've finished it.
  16. Thank you. The thing is, I was completely freaking out myself. There was absolutely nothing scripted there, and I've no idea why the RLV spun out of control on this particular occasion: I've successfully re-entered and landed her safely multiple times before. That really was a genuine close call for Cam... sorry, Kerski.
  17. YEAR 14, DAY 82. CAMWISE. Once Prosperity was complete, we had no time to waste. We had a ride home to catch. Jenbles manoeuvred the OUV deftly towards the open cargo bay of the awaiting spaceplane. He had been flying the little ship around the massive, complex structure that was Prosperity for the past few weeks. He had consistently kept it clear of the immense, fragile solar arrays. He had tugged the heavy sections of the centrifuge into position with pinpoint precision. And, more importantly, he had somehow managed to avoid crushing me in the process as I'd waltzed around the utility vehicle on EVA. Indeed, he had very quickly learnt how to turn the OUV on a dime. For a kerbonaut on his first mission into space, he was certainly proving to be a competent pilot. The OUV reconnected with the docking port inside the RLV spaceplane with a dull thunk that resonated throughout the pressure hull of the small capsule. Clamps locked into place. The cargo bay doors slid shut with a faint hum that was barely audible above the white noise of the life support systems, blocking off the stark sunlight of space. The cockpit's service lights blinked on and bathed us both in pale, ghostly light. Farewell... for now. I felt the RLV's attitude thrusters fire to push us slowly away from Prosperity to a safe distance for the de-orbit burn. Jenbles pushed back from the OUV's control console and settled into his acceleration couch. From now on we would be merely spectators of our own fate, as the spaceplane's re-entry profile was automated. If all went well, we would touch down on the short runway at Madang in just under an hour. “Belt up and shut up, Kerski,” he muttered. “We're going home.” Home, as Jenbles called it, wasn't at all where I wanted to be right then. But we couldn't stay on Prosperity. She would have to take her own, slow route up to the new station in high Lunar orbit. With her highly efficient but feeble solar electric drive, she would spiral slowly outwards through Earth's radiation belts over a period of several weeks. The great ship would be remotely guided from the ground during the whole procedure. Her first flight crew was already waiting for her up on the station. We would join them at a later date by means of the tried and trustworthy method of strapping a fancy looking tin can on top of a giant stack full of liquid propellants and lighting the wick. I couldn't wait. The short re-entry burn kicked in. Just under forty metres per second and our RLV was committed to returning from whence she came. Nothing left to do but hang on and enjoy the ride. Watch the altimeter indicate our plunge from vertiginous heights. Survey the control panel's splash of little green lights telling us that we were still alive. Imagine the savage forces that would soon assault our fragile machine as it ploughed into the upper layers of our planet's atmosphere. “Kerski...” said Jenbles after a while. “Tell me... why did you sign up for this?” You could hear the tension in his voice. You could tell that he had been told the horror stories about re-entry. That the most dangerous part of spaceflight was getting home. He was talking in an attempt to forget his own fear. By now, the slow lurch of the spaceplane had been arrested by the attitude thrusters, and we were beginning to feel the first touch of deceleration as the atmosphere thickened. “By 'this', I assume you mean achieving the magnificent dream of flying into space?” I asked. “Uh, well,” he said. “I was thinking more of the risks of spaceflight, and the possibility that at any given moment, something might go horribly wrong... so why are you doing this?” Because the world down there no longer has anything for me, I thought. Because I used to think that our space programme was something that would bring hope to Kerbalkind, and show us that there was a better way; that we could strive for a better future. I somehow managed to keep that spark of hope alive, despite everything that happened to me. But it was finally shattered when the Mars shuttle Quissac broke up and scattered its precious contents across the wasteland of this blighted planet. I've been lying to myself all along. This new dimension we were exploring was just another place into which the greed and corruption would seep through and prove to be tenfold. What a naïve fool you were for daring to believe that kerbal lives aren't just commodities to be exploited for profit. And up here, the punishment for being on the wrong side of the system is instantaneous and deadly. No warning. No appeal or reprieve. Just sudden oblivion. So... better me up here than some other poor fool who has no idea what he's getting in to. I know space. She is my mistress, now. And if she comes to take me today, in the next hour, or in the next minute... then I am ready. But first I must even the score. I blinked, pushed away the dark thoughts and out loud I said, “Well, the pay's not too bad...” Jenbles snorted. “You've gotta be kidding me. I made better money when I was bushwhacking in the Outback.” “Yeah, but it's kind of hard to blow it all on liquor come payday when you're up here.” Jenbles gave a hollow laugh, “It was in the Outback, too.” There was a sudden jolt. Jenbles gripped his seat. The RLV began to bank to the left, but then the thrusters caught it and the craft settled back into a level attitude. I glanced down. Still green across the board. We were descending through the top of the stratosphere. “What about you?” I asked. “Me? I had to sell my bird when fuel costs rocketed back in '12. Couldn't afford to run her any more. So I figured that if I wanted to keep flyin', I'd have to-” - he was cut off in mid sentence as our world suddenly became a whirlwind. Without warning, the RLV broke into a spin, gyrating wildly and pitching up at the same time. The aerodynamic noise became a dull roar that was clearly audible even from inside the cargo bay. An angry red wave swept across the control panel in front of me. Half of the capsule's systems suddenly wanted my urgent attention, but my brain was momentarily too busy working out which way was up to care. I couldn't see the horizon, of course, but the navball showed that we rolling through several full revolutions per second and the gee load was increasing with each passing moment. What the hell was going on? An explosion? Hydraulic failure? One of the guidance computers gone haywire? With effort, I managed to turn my head to the left and look at Jenbles, who was transfixed in sheer terror, staring ahead as held on to his seat with a death grip. “We have to abort!” he yelled, his gaze darting to the large red button protected by a plastic cover on the panel between us. “Can't do it yet, too high, too fast!” “But we're gonna break up, Kerski!” The roaring noise increased, the gee forces spiked, and then everything went black. … The blare of the master alarm cut through the darkness. The fog began to clear as the huge load on my chest lifted and became a strange sensation of falling. I forced my eyes open and looked around. Jenbles was still locked out, his head slumped forwards. I attempted to make sense of what the capsule's display was telling me: flight controls were gone and the attitude thrusters weren't responding to guidance inputs. The engines had spooled up and were attempting to correct our flightpath with the exhaust gimbals. Unsuccessfully. Oh. Also, the RLV was plummeting through 8,000 metres, caught in an almost vertical dive towards the terrain below, doing just under Mach one. We had thirty seconds... “Abort!” I shouted at no-one in particular, flicked the protection cover open, and pressed the panic switch. A distant detonation, a whoosh, and I was suddenly blinded as daylight flooded the cargo bay. The doors were blown back by explosive bolts and then the abort motors beneath us fired with a roar. Another kick, a second of violent movement and - - the OUV collided with the spaceplane and snapped to a neck-breaking halt, pinned to the front corner of the cargo bay and held there by the one of the fuel tank mounts that had somehow managed to hook over the side of the fuselage. The solid rocket motors burned out uselessly and the OUV didn't budge. All I could see through the windshield was the forward bulkhead, but meanwhile the altimeter ticked away, down through 5,000 metres. The jolt had brought Jenbles back, but unfortunately he didn't really have anything useful to contribute, apart from muttered curses and heavy breathing. Our velocity was still falling dramatically as the air got thicker and the RLV's engines stopped once more, but she still stubbornly refused to pull up. We were about to nose dive into the ground at terminal velocity, locked in a deadly embrace with the vehicle that should have brought us home safely. Well, at least this would be over quickly, I thought. I am ready. I'm going to try and settle the score. For us. No, I'm ready. Right now. ...settle the score. Ready. For us! With a flicker of something that felt like annoyance I muttered, “not ready...” and jabbed the abort switch a second time, deploying the OUV's drogue chutes. The airstream caught them instantly and ripped the capsule cleanly from the spaceplane's hull. There was a jerk, a moment of smoother deceleration as the chutes bit into the airflow, and then another massive blow as the vessel hit the rear bulkhead of the cargo bay. The hull rang like a bell. I could see only blue sky through the windshield. Our lives hung on a thread for another heartbeat, then the main chutes deployed. The RLV's tortured hull gave in to this final blow on top of the stresses she had encountered during re-entry. Her tail ripped off entirely, just aft of the cargo bay. With a final screech of metal on metal, the capsule was thrown clear. Fortune had determined that our time had not yet come, and our canopy was not caught by the RLV's tail plane as both main parts of the wreckage fell away below us to their doom. Looking down through the windshield, I watched, mesmerised, as the two sections impacted the wasteland below in a flash and a cloud of dust. Seconds later, the OUV touched down with a final jolt that knocked the breath from my body once more. My head was still ringing and my neck had been tortured by repeated loads in just about every direction imaginable. For a while, neither Jenbles or I were capable of speech and the only sound was that of our laboured breathing. “Did we win?” he asked, breaking the silence at last. Then, turning away from me, he threw up the contents of his stomach onto the capsule floor. Uhm... time to egress, perhaps.
  18. Dammit, Mission Control. You could at least have made an effort and painted it a different colour, or something. At least Donbree got to try out rover ladder surfing on the Moon. Camwise is jealous. I wish them good luck with their ascent. They're going to need it.
  19. Neat little shuttle. Looking forward to seeing more of your craft.
  20. Welcome Mr. Watney. It's an honour and a pleasure. We will learn what happened to Bartdon and his crew soon. But first we must find out what Camwise is planning to do, and why. So we shall stick with him for a few more episodes.
  21. You monster...
  22. ...with a pretty nice view from what I assume is your back door. Spot of fishing? Beautiful! You guys are starting to change my mind about only growing things that are edible...
  23. Wow, seven. I don't think I've ever seen that many deer before in one place. On my side, progress in the potato and onion bed is good. (I planted them one month ago today). Also, we have sweetcorn. "With a melon!?" Things aren't going so well in the greenhouse, however. So far, my tomato plants look a bit thin and weedy, considering I planted them indoors back in February... Courgette's are growing just fine, though.... (sigh).
  24. If we knew what we were doing, this wouldn't be called research, would it? From my experience, a crewed mission to Mars is perhaps the most interesting challenge you can undertake in KSP. There are so many different ways of going about it, and without knowing the technology, engines and parts available to you, I can't really give you any practical advice except: test, test, test. Your lander(s), in particular. Forget everything you know about Duna: that Mars atmosphere is slippery. Look at what other players have done and decide what type of mission seems fun for you. This is important, as it will be a huge task, and there will inevitably be some tedium involved. Youtube has many videos of players (winged, Chris P. Bacon, Sparker spring to mind) who have done this using conventional or proposed methods. I know you've been following some of the Camwise Logs, but as a reminder, this is where my slightly more unusual attempt began. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing what you come up with.