Confused Scientist

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  1. Confused Scientist

    Taking Tesla private (Split from SpaceX Thread)

    If they do, could Musk just take Tesla private so the words he said were the ones he meant?
  2. Confused Scientist

    "Rokkit Syense" in CW's "The 100"

    I'd almost be willing to forgive everything else for the sake of the plot, but under no circumstances will I accept a rescue plan that ends with a 70 mph crash. I would expect a collision with a stationary object at these speeds to be fatal in a car with advanced safety belts, airbags, and crumple zones, so I don't want to know what happens when the first module hits the ground at highway speeds with an entire space station about to crush it. Physicist: "Is there even a difference?"
  3. Confused Scientist

    Making a Dollar or Two- BOOK TWO

    Part 22- Take a Souvenir Some people say that a simple "Thank you" is one of the greatest way to show one's gratitude for something done for them by someone else. They are, of course, wrong; the best way to repay someone is to pay them. Nevertheless, the crew of the Raven decided to thank the KSP's engineers, who were also being payed, for their great work on their spacecraft. "We'd like to thank Mason," Alice was saying, "for doing such a good job on the solar panels. Also Kennen for the RCS pods, Sam for the adapter between the SM and the CM, and especially Yanny for the Raven afterbody, cramming in computers, comms, life support, RCS fuel, RCS ports, a docking port, a docking tunnel, and parachutes. Of course, if the parachutes don't work we won't have time to complain." Stellla Kerman laughed. After so long in deep space, neither her or Jeb had lost the streak of gallows humor that runs in every pilot trying to make a dollar or two. "Also Gene, who I would estimate is on his third cigar by now. Wernher, too, who of course was the design chief for-" "Ah, hold on," CAPCOM called. "We have something on Air-to-Ground Three." "Are you sure?" Jeb asked. Air-to-Ground Three was the secure, confidential line. "It's not the flight surgeon, is it? I'm not thanking that weasel." "Just turn the dial," CAPCOM ordered. Jeb obeyed. "We've got a huge problem!" Bob yelled, causing Jeb to rip off his headset and massage his temples before turning down the volume. "Sunny's on the phone with the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company, trying to get their flight plans, and she's threatening to let the whole press know if they don't release the ship's designs and orbital-" "Bob. Calm down. What is the problem?" "We think the MDBC just launched their two-seater Popeye spacecraft and our computers say it's going to come within a hundred meters of you guys!" "What?" "They're going to try an EVA, but there's no way to know if they're going to rendezvous with you, or crash into you, or what, because the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company is keeping the whole thing a secret!" "Any theories?" "Val thinks they're either going to rendezvous and EVA over to sabotage your ship, or EVA over and steal whatever designs they haven't already gotten from their mole. I think they're starting to suspect we're sending out phony documents to throw them off our tail, so they decided they'd just take a look at the real thing." "Any chance the Popeye is without crew?" "They've already done two kerballed tests, so there's almost certainly crew on this one, especially if they want the record for first EVA." "I understand. I'd prefer to get off Air-to-Ground Three now." "Good luck." Jeb looked at his crew. "The Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company just launched a Popeye and it's going to rendezvous with us." "What?" "That's what I said. Come on, let's do the engine tests and get out of here. Strap in!" Stella nodded and keyed the radio. "Control, we're ready to begin the engine test one revolution early. Can we get burn data?" "Copy, we are adjusting our schedule by one orbit. For maneuver number one, we show you prograde at eighty percent thrust for ten seconds, one hundred percent for five seconds. Apoapsis: 350 km. Periapsis: 110 km. Engine gimbals at ignition up 0.1048, left at 0.7202, adjusting to down 0.0924 and left 0.7322 at the burn's completion. RCS jet ullage five seconds prior to scheduled ignition, and manual engine cutoff if seventeen seconds of burn time go by without a delta-V computer shutdown. Now, in the first row of the PAD, copy down the following sequence: 32001048, 3207202..." Another twenty minutes passed as the burn was copied into the computer. With all three astronauts strapped into their couches, the Raven passed into darkness. Jeb admired the view out the port docking window, when a glint caught his eye. He loosened his straps and pressed his head against the viewport, expecting to see their discarded second stage. Instead, a silver ball with a squat brown cone on one side was rotating and firing RCS jets. "The Popeye is sixty seconds out!" Jeb called. "Stella, how long until the burn?" "Four minutes." "I'm rolling the ship to get a better view of the Popeye." Small jets fired underneath the cone and the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company ship stopped just a few dozen meters from the Raven and a round hatch with a tiny porthole opened. A kerbal in a brown suit jumped out and used a small gas-gun to steer towards Jeb's ship. "Well," Jeb muttered, "they finally have one 'first' record. Alice! Disable SAS, then key Program 12 into the computer and get ready to execute on my command!" "Okay, SAS is off. What is it you intend to do?" "I'm gonna send that spacewalker for a ride on... a merry-go-round, I guess? Hold on." Jeb grabbed onto the control column as the other astronaut got within a few meters of the Raven and reached out for a handhold. With three seconds to go until impact, Jeb shoved the stick all the way over to the right. The powerful RCS thrusters, meant for spinning a much heavier Phoenix/Raven stack, sent the ship into a strong roll. Without any time to react, the spacewalker hit the side of the service module and was thrown out to the end of her tether. "Execute Program 12!" With computer control, the Raven cancelled out its roll and re-orientated itself to the burn orientation. Just a few seconds later, Program 32 flashed an "Execute" message and began the maneuver, with the Raven's powerful engine- again meant for towing the Raven and the Phoenix- shot the ship away from the disoriented spacewalker and her craft. Stella was laughing. "I'll say we gave them the slip there!" Jeb was more analytical. "We have more fuel and better acceleration, so... yeah! They couldn't catch up if they wanted to!" The CAPCOM breathed a sigh of relief. "Raven, you're LOS in thirty seconds. When we re-acquire, we'll send you data for a plane change burn." "Copy. Raven, over and out." As Mission Control faded into static, the crew took a moment to relax before they had to key up their next burn. "Hey," Alice said, "no one's ever been able to move about in zero-g before. I'm going to go down to the instrument bay and fly around." She unbuckled her straps and shakily flipped around, nearly kicking Stella in the face. Jeb was about to join her when he remembered that floating gracefully around the capsule would be a dead giveaway of his prior experience. "What's it like?" Stella asked. Like Jeb, she stayed in her seat. "I don't know where my legs are!" The radio crackled. "Raven, Juno, AOS at Bigfield Tracking Station." "Juno, Raven, we are ready to receive the numbers on our next burn." "Copy. Set Program 42 SAS mode att-hold, directional value seven for anti-normal, and then manual forward translation on the RCS for ninety seconds." Alice got back in her seat. "Okay, SAS Program 42 running. Attitude dial on seven." "Good! We'll count you off for the maneuver on our mark." "Thanks," Jeb said. "Hey, who are we talking to?" "It's me! Bill!" "Sorry, Bill! We have a garbled connection. Okay, when's our burn?" "Three, two, one, mark!" The four RCS quads lit up and the Raven very slowly lowered its inclination as Stella counted off the burn duration. "Eighty-eight, eighty-nine, ninety!" "Thrust cutoff!" Jeb announced. "Program 42 terminated," Alice replied. "Juno, burn complete." "Glad to hear it," Bill said. "Raven, you're LOS at Bigfield in thirty seconds. We'll pick you up at Punto de Camarones in about two minutes. We'll deorbit you then, and pick you up for the downhill ride at KSC Local." "Roger," Jeb said, "LOS at Bigfield, with retro at Punto de Camarones and entry interface at KSC Local." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ "Twenty seconds to retro," Alice called. "Program 74 is in with retrograde hold." "Proceed." The Raven crew waited in silence for a few moments, and then there came the muffled rumble of engine startup and the return of gravity. After a few seconds the burn was over. "How are our residuals?" Jeb asked. "All balls," Alice replied. "Good." "LOS at Punto de Camarones," Stella said. "And... AOS at KSC Local!" "Okay, good to see you're coming in for a landing," Bill said. "At one hundred ten kilometers jettison the SM." "Mmm hmm... Looks like we're there now!" Jeb turned the handle to dump the service module. The pyros fired, and Stella began reading off the entry RCS checklist before a jolt and a thud rocked the cockpit. Frowning, Jeb grabbed the control column and pushed it forward. The capsule's rotation was sluggish, too sluggish. "Ah, control, we have negative SM sep." "What?" "My best guess is that the pyros fired, but the straps are still attached. We're down to ninety kilometers now." "Are you going to have control on your way down?" "I guess we'll see." The three kerbals in the capsule waited as the atmosphere rushed up to greet them. "Seventy kilometers," Alice said to no one in particular. "Alice, kill all the re-entry programs," Jeb ordered. "I'm flying this one by hand." Just as he said that, a very slow rocking began and Jeb corrected with some yaw to the right. "Raven, we think you'll be in the plasma blackout in ten seconds. Contact us and start your beacon when clear from kshhhhhhhhh-pop-shhhhhh..." The radio faded into static as Jeb fired an RCS burst to correct the pitch. The capsule had begun a very slow barbecue roll, but Jeb had bigger problems. "The solar panels sheared off," Stella observed. "Lucky they did no damage." As the plasma began to light up outside the windows, Jeb began to sweat. He pushed the control column all the way forward, and then pulled it back, trying to keep the front in front and the back in back. Finally, at forty kilometers, Jeb lost the battle and the Raven tumbled end over end, with plasma ebbing and flowing, softening the side of the capsule, until- The straps holding the service module in place broke and it went tumbling away, just visible in Stella's window. Within seconds, the capsule's attitude stabilized. "Alice, reactivate Program 51," Jeb said. "If we're lucky we can still make it into our landing zone." Just a few seconds later, the sky began to turn blue again and the plasma faded. As soon as the radio stopped crackling, Jeb started a running banter with Bill in Juno Control. "Raven, Juno Control, come in. Raven, Juno-" "We read you, Juno, loud and clear! Here come the- oof! -the drogues! How are we?" "You're right above the target zone and we'll have a helicopter to come get you in a few minutes." "Glad to hear it! Here they come- four mains! Have you ever seen something so beautiful, how they twist in the wind?" "I have- it's called coffee." "Radar altimeter says twenty meters... ten meters... here we come! Oof! Like a sack of bricks!" ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Jeb, Stella, and Alice stepped onto the aircraft carrier as their helicopter went back for their capsule. Approaching a microphone, Jeb began, "United Cuyahoga is the greatest nation-" "We have no time for that," Sunny said, stepping from behind a small chopper. "I flew to this aircraft carrier on short notice to tell you that we need you to get on another helicopter." "Again?" Stella asked. "I'll explain on the way," Sunny said. "The Popeye began its retro-burn just a few minutes after you went into LOS, and if we hurry we might be able to catch them in one of our alternate recovery ships. If we can recover the crew and capsule before the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company does, we can claim we were helping out with the rescue and then make a copy of the flight data recorder and interrogate the crew. This is war, and as long as we keep our attacks less aggressive than theirs they can never take us to court. Keep that in mind from now on- Look!" Sunny pointed out the window at circling helicopters and multiple aircraft carriers. Far above the din, a small silver ball was descending beneath a parachute. As soon as the helicopter landed on the KSP's aircraft carrier, Jeb, Alice, Stella, and Sunny hurried into a control room off the bridge where some Navy officers had hijacked the feed between the Popeye and its mission control. "We're doing real good here up here," one of the Popeye astronauts was saying, "and we can't wait to tell everybody how we were able to do the first ever space rendezvous with the Raven." Alice crossed her arms. "I still can't figure out how they were able to rendezvous so easily. We're still at least six months from rendezvous capabilities." "Well, remember," Jeb said, "that the hard part about rendezvous is putting the calculations in the flight computer. In that respect we're ahead, since they need to do a whole other spacecraft after this- their Munar spacecraft- while we've already begun flight testing-" "Quiet!" Sunny snapped. "Something's happening on the radio!" The Popeye astronauts were yelling. "Fire! Fire! We're bailing out!" Just as Stella heard that, she looked out the window and saw two kerbals in brown pressure suits eject from the capsule and deploy orange parachutes. Jeb's eyes were wide. "A fire! Do you think they're okay?" "I didn't hear any alarms," Stella said. "They probably just bailed out so they can cut the parachute to make sure we don't get the flight data recorder." Just as she said that, the Popeye's parachute lines were cut. "Wait..." Jeb said. "I feel like that's going to come down right on top of-" The Popeye smashed into the deck of the aircraft carrier. "Hurry!" Stella shouted. "If we hurry we can get the black box before we have to abandon ship!" The Popeye rolled off the carrier deck and into the ocean. Stella swore. "I think we should leave," Jeb said, "and never speak of this again."
  4. Confused Scientist

    So what song is stuck in your head today?

  5. Confused Scientist

    Mars 'impossible" to terraform

    I think with modified plant life or algae this project could be doable, although I'm wondering if it would be more trouble than it's worth to redirect comets to a Martian impact. Also, I seem to recall a plan once that would melt the Martian ice caps with nuclear weapons, which would really be beneficial to the greenhouse gas situation. Of course, landscaping with nukes is never* a good idea, but an even worse one was a '60s-era plan to create an artificial volcano in Tierra del Fuego to produce iron ore. Actually, now that I think about it, if Mars didn't have a solid core then a volcano might be another good way to bump up greenhouse gases. Then again, looking at that last sentence reminds me that Mars has no magnetic field, so forget it. That's the deal-breaker. Also, everything I just described sounds way harder than artificial shelters, which are definitely the way to go. *Unless you want to give your mortal enemy a new inland ocean, in which case, go ahead. Pretend you're doing Russia/North Korea/India/Pakistan/France/America a favor.
  6. Confused Scientist

    SpaceX Discussion Thread

    Interesting that "NASA will be there" is a necessary detail, as if they've been so degraded that they might not have been invited. SLS is a money-suck but the probes are doing great, and NASA is undoubtedly the world's leading expert in duration spaceflight, landing on Mars, and the environment on Mars' surface, so I'd really like to see what input they have for the BFS life support, interior design, etc. and how their thoughts differ from SpaceX's. Of course, "NASA will be there" could just be emphasis on how important this conference will be.
  7. Confused Scientist

    Making a Dollar or Two- BOOK TWO

    Part 21- Take a Picture Here The red lights of the fire trucks reflected off of the ocean as the last of the VAB fire was put out. Jeb paced back and forth, stewing in his anger, before pulling Sunny Kerman aside. "Did you ever want to be an investigative reporter?" he asked. Sunny nodded, frightened by the look in Jeb's eyes. "Take as much money as you need and run a complete background check on all of our workers in the clean rooms. If you find anyone with ties to the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company, bring them to Gene and we'll flush their clearance. If that doesn't work, then go to the previous place of employment of every engineer and ask questions. Then fly to the MDBC headquarters in Bobaville and ask to see their blueprints; if they've stolen some of ours then we definitely have a mole and we need to start spreading disinformation about our rockets. Go!" Meanwhile, Valentina, Wernher, and a fire chief were surveying the remains of the clean room. "Were there any hazardous materials stored in this area?" the chief asked. Wernher shook his head. "The fuel silos are out by the launchpads, and we didn't apply any heat shielding resins to the spacecraft yet, so they were mostly just metal. The testing process used... we did have a small amount of liquid oxygen for testing purposes, but if the fire alarm goes off the workers grab them as they evacuate. I'll see who has the bottles." The chief nodded. "About your fire alarm... it's hooked up to a tracking system, along with your burglar alarm and smoke detectors. We took a printout of the data from each one, and look what we found." Valentina looked at the list. "The fire alarm was pulled... two minutes before any of the smoke detectors were triggered." She swore. The chief nodded. "Looks like you've got yourself an arsonist." Val ran out into the crowd of engineers and began asking them about the fire. Wernher lagged behind, but he was stopped by the fire chief. "You dropped your ID badge." "No, I have mine right here," Wernher said. "Besides, that one's been melted from the fire." The chief looked at it. "So it has," he said. "I'll throw it out for you." In the darkness, none of them noticed that bits and pieces of two words could be made out on the plastic: "-ary Aut-" ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Alice Kerman had been wrong when she'd estimated how long it would take to rebuild the Raven and the now aptly-named Phoenix. When Sunny Kerman had started her investigation of the KSP engineers, she had stumbled across duplicate blueprints of both the Phoenix and the Raven, cutting four months off of the recovery time. The engineers got to work cutting metal, but other than that the arson investigation had stalled, with the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company refusing to open their archives to Sunny, who had started going to the previous employers of every engineer and astronaut on the KSP payroll, starting at the machine shops in Juno's Landing and working her way out. By the time the Raven was stacked for its first crewed launch, she was halfway down the list and ready to fly to Bobaville again, not to visit the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company, but this time to question the previous employer of Sam Kerman. Instead, she stayed at the Kerbal Space Center to give the Raven pre-launch press conference. Jeb ignored the new press conference introduction on the television behind him as he suited up in his orange pressure suit, and for the first time Alice and Stella donned white-silver ones. After a quick communications and pressure check, he flashed a thumbs-up, and grabbed his air conditioner and headed for the van that had replaced Wernher's truck. Arriving at the pad, Jeb could finally appreciate the raw power of a Moa set to launch: the four engine bells on their conical mountings; the orange foam of the first stage insulation glistening in the dawn; the clouds of boil-off swirling around in a faint breeze. Arriving in the white room, Jeb waved at Bill. "How are things?" "One of the engineers got stung by a wasp in the LES. Other than that, things have been flawless so far. Bob and Val are waiting for you in the Raven." Heading over to the command module, Jeb could see them crawling around with checklists in the spacious service bay beneath the couches. Upon seeing Jeb, Bob and Val smiled. "She's all yours," Val said. "You can drive it from the showroom floor, unless you want the optional window defrosters, in which case we'll have to send it back to the shop." Jeb laughed. "Save me a seat at the Bungalow Bar, because if you don't I'll just crash-land the Raven into the bar." "Happy landings!" The Raven crew strapped into the command module and Val closed the hatch. "POS disconnected," Stella said. "Pre-Launch Program 51 is loaded on the computer. Going through the checklist now. Nav platform?" "Aligned with the reference beacon and adjusted for Kerbin's rotation," Alice replied. "Life support?" "Already cooling the capsule." "Verify correct position of all switches." There was a twelve-minute pause in conversation while the checks were performed. "Got 'em," Jeb said. "Good. Abort mode?" "One-bravo, ready to switch to one-charile at liftoff." "Commencing capsule pressure checks. Visors locked and lowered." There was a creaking sound as the capsule was pressurized. "Holding at 1.2 atmospheres. In the meantime, how about control pipes in some music?" "Sure thing, Raven. I have-" "Hold it," Alice asked, "who's our CAPCOM?" "Hansted here. I've got some tunes for you coming in right about now." Well, if you Ever plan To motor west, Jeb, take my way, That's the roadway, That's the best. Catch some heaven On Route Seven-Seven. Well, it winds From Juno To Crystal City More than two Hundred klicks All the way. Catch some heaven On Route Seven-Seven. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Inside launch control, Gene was radiant as the Moa's terminal count approached. Three kerbals were going to space, and despite all of the fires and explosions and mess-ups, the mission was turning out perfectly so far. As the access arms on the pad retracted, Gene turned to his team. "T-minus two minutes and counting." "We're on internals." "T-minus one minute thirty." "The stage two boil-off vent closed. Launch pressure is building." "Flight termination system armed." "T-minus one minute and counting." "Hydrazine is flowing to stage one pumps, engines one through four." "Telemetry online, comms five by five." "Forty-five seconds." "The booster and the crew are go for launch. Abort mode switchover imminent." "Guidance is internal. Testing gimbals." "T-minus thirty." "Booster, flight!" "Go, flight." "Stop the launch! There's been a rapid pressure buildup in the first stage engines' gimbals!" "Flight, timer, hold the launch!" "We're holding at twenty-three seconds." "Okay. Booster, can you isolate the problem?" "Trying... can I get a visual on the booster?" "There's a live picture on the screen now." "I see! The stage one power line is still attached. The gimbal system uses full authority limiter on the pad, but when the power line is attached the hydraulic system is locked. Obviously one command got through, but not the other. I'm sending a retraction command again... it's worked! We are go for launch." "Okay. Timer, reset the count to thirty seconds." "Restarting the count on my mark. Three, two, one, mark!" "Power is flowing to the stage two engine." "Terminal count. T-minus fifteen, fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten-" "Turbopumps online." "Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three-" "Ignition!" "Two, one, zero." "Liftoff!" ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Inside the Raven, the muffled roar of the Moa's engines shook Jeb's body as he called out the roll program. All three astronauts were thrilled at the raw power and graceful engineering of the rocket as it hurled them out over the ocean. "Abort mode two-charlie," Stella called. As the rocket climbed, the acceleration grew, until Jeb could barely lift his arm. Raw, unfiltered sunlight streamed through the windows, which provided a much better view of space than the portholes on the Sparkler. "Stage two startup." "First-stage propellant down to five percent," Jeb replied. "Prepare for separation." There was a shaking and a boom that vibrated through the Moa's structure, and then the second stage was free, shoving towards orbit. "Propellant-volatility below one." "There goes the escape tower!" Alice exclaimed. "Abort mode one-delta." There was a flash of light and a muffled thump as the escape tower flew away from the nose of the capsule, exposing a dummy docking adapter. "We're above seventy kilometers," Jeb announced. "Congratulations, you're now astronauts." There was a bit of silence as the second stage continued its burn, then the acceleration ebbed. Nuts and bolts drifted towards the instrument console. "Separation and roll," Stella said. "Solar panel deployment imminent." Jeb exhaled. "Well," he said, "let's enjoy this moment of silence in honor of all of the busy, chaotic ones that are about to start coming."
  8. Confused Scientist

    Making a Dollar or Two- BOOK TWO

    Part 20- Disturbance at the Rockethouse Sun set over the space center, but the KSC did not sleep, with engineers working around the clock to get the first Raven ready for its maiden flight in three months before the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company flew their first flight, with the rumor being to make up lost time they were skipping one-seaters and going straight for the Munar-capable vehicle. At the administration building, Sunny Kerman stepped outside into the fading sunlight and listened to the crickets for a moment before getting into a golf cart for the drive to the VAB. "Hold on!" A burly engineer came running up behind her. "Where're you headed?" "Over to the VAB," Sunny replied. "Good. I'm going over there too." As they drove they passed the darkened construction sites that were the source of endless clangs and bangs all through the day. On the left there was a crew quarters expansion, on the left a larger hangar, and over by the coast where a crescent Mun was rising there were new launchpads going up. "So," Sunny said, "I don't know you. What's your name?" "Mason Kerman," Mason said. "Pleasure to meet you. You know, you don't look like the other nerds building the rockets." "What do you mean?" "I mean you look like you've been outside more than a day in your life. You're also way more muscular than anybody else here." Mason shrugged. "I used to work in the security business. They like strong people." Pulling up at the VAB, Sunny waved at Mason before getting out and grabbing a small tape. Walking through into the newly air-conditioned VAB, she went right over to Wernher's office and knocked on the door. Wernher pulled the door open, smiling when he saw Sunny. "What brings you here?" "I've got a new intro for our televised press releases," she replied. "Is Gene here?" Wernher shook his head. "He went into town with Mortimer to find someone we can hire to fix the simulators. Why, do you want to run the demo by him?" "Nah, you're good too." They sat down in front of a television set. "I used the new computers for a sleek look," Sunny explained, "but I was careful not to get all sci-fi about it. I think I have a simple design that won't look futuristic now or outdated in ten years. Now," she said, standing to insert the tape, "keep in mind that this will also be our official KSP seal until further notice." Wernher shut off the lights and sat down. A round seal appeared on the screen, blue with red trim around the edges, with rounded out red letters that said simply: KSP. Around the top of the seal there was a gold banner with silver trim and lettering that read "Rising to Glory," and along the bottom an identical one said "For All Kerbalkind." In the upper right corner a small blip of a spacecraft traced a red line in an orbit around Kerbin, and in the left corner a similar scene played out around the Mun. The background was pure black with perhaps a dozen small stars that were widely spaced near the bottom to help even out the image. "I like it," Wernher said. Sunny nodded and paused the tape. "The big blue patch will be painted on all of our spacecraft- without the banners, of course. This is just the official logo, for use on podiums, stuff like that. Also right here, for our intro before press conferences. I think we can stick with this for about four seconds while an announcer says something like, "Live from the Cape," and then we fade out into the press conference." Sunny unpaused the tape and after a moment the card faded away until it had been replaced by what had been on the tape previously: An airline commercial promising low fares on flights departing from countries with four or more consecutive vowels in their name. "That's it," Sunny said. "I think it's-" "Stop," Wernher said. Sunny shut up. Wernher inhaled once, then twice, and turned around with fear in his eyes. "FIRE!" he shouted. "Call the fire department, and for Kraken's sake, drain the liquid oxygen tanks!" Then, just before Sunny ran out, he issued a quieter command: "And after you've called the fire department, call the police. Then start a background check into all of our employees and find anybody who might have been employed by the Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Jeb, Bill, Bob, Val, and Stella all sat in a small, dusty library in a lonely corner of the crew quarters, with the air still warm from the sunlight that was fading through of the high, narrow windows. There were cups of tea on the table, but nobody could drink as Stella told her story. "So," she said, "where do I begin? Well, the important part is that I was dirt poor but I could fly anything with engines, so I took a low-paying job flying some old shuttle to all of the derelicts- Station Three, Colossus I, but mostly Station One, because there was no competition. I flew the Number Nine shuttle, just a small twenty-seater thing. Even then, we still had to fly to Colossus II after visiting Station One just to fill seats, and we were only flying once every other month. Anyway, we got a real low-rent clientele on the shuttle, if you get my drift, so I was surprised when some gentleman in a suit gets on board without a connecting ticket to Colossus II. I could have asked him why he wanted to get to Station One with his surprisingly heavy lander, but I didn't ask, and I'm assuming you guys didn't neither. I did assume he was trying to get to Munbase Two. Of course, this guy was Hudson, and you all were smart enough to go on the run when the IA started hunting for you, but I stupidly agreed to get interrogated by some of their burlier officers. They didn't like something I'd said, probably all of it, but they hauled me off to Minmus so I could be 'isolated' from people who might want to harm me for allowing the murder of half the Munar population, but then for some reason they got all panicky-" "That would be because we busted up one of their corvettes around Minmus," Jeb interrupted. "Stole all of the fuel." Stella laughed. "Figures, anyway, they ship me off to Gilly, and when we get there one of the cruisers bumps into a tanker, and it bumps into a ship, so the whole thing's a whole mess. In the chaos someone hands me a tiny radio, already tuned to Radio Free Kerbol. So, naturally, now that I'm locked up at Gilly you guys come in and mess everything up, get Valentina to join your gang, and the IA gets nervous and sends me all the way to Tylo, and everybody got really sad when Commissioner Mason Kerman announced that the Kraken's Spit crew had been captured. I spend a few months on the surface there, telling everybody that the Kraken's Spit was getting closer to Jool, and we make a plan to build our own ship and escape. Then a guard finds out and they decide to send me to Eeloo." "The Interplanetary Authority was at Eeloo?" Bill asked. "I think it was a real secret thing," Stella said, "probably where the built the S-bomb." "S-bomb?" "Singularity bomb. Anyway, they take me off the surface, haul me up to Detention Facility N036-B, and before they even open the door the whole station blows up. The centrifuge goes one way, some corvette goes off on its own-" "That was us too," Bill explained. "Yeah, I thought so. Anyway, I was alone in the transfer shuttle, so I went up to the controls and undocked, easy as that. I wanted to escape, and I ruled out Laythe and Vall, so I went to Bop. Of course, I left my transponder on and the IA followed me right in with singularity bombs. It's just bad luck that you were there, too. I was coming in over the north pole so I landed as soon as I could, but by then I think you guys had been spotted and they dropped the bombs. All I know is that there was a giant flood of rock and dust, and then I woke up in Crystal City." Stella laughed. "Of course, I probably had less to drink than most people who say that." Just as Jeb was about to ask another question, Alice ran in. "Come quick!" she yelled. "The VAB has been burned to the ground." Valentina gasped and stood up. "How are our launch assets?" Alice sighed. "Nine out of eleven Moa boosters are fine, but the fire was right next to the Raven and Phoenix clean rooms. Both prototypes were burned to the ground, and development has been pushed back by at least nine months." Stella stood up and turned towards Alice before clearing her throat and saying what they were all thinking: "This could be the end."
  9. Confused Scientist

    King of the Hill

    I do not attempt to take over the hill, because I believe that @The Minmus Derp is a capable King of the Hill and I become a willing subject. However, after @The Minmus Derp becomes tyrannical and throws political dissidents into gulags, starting with someone who served the King a sandwich without any mustard, I start my own underground newspaper to spread the word that I'm starting a new hill, a better hill, where everybody has equal say and nobody is too powerful. However, my attempt at a revolution fails for three reasons: 1.) Nobody reads newspapers anymore. 2.) @The Minmus Derp finds out because I put an "@" next to "Minmus Derp," which sends a notification, and I get thrown into a gulag. 3. )This is just a silly Internet game, and my socialist schemes are needed in real life to push Texas into the Gulf of Mexico. @The Minmus Derp remains King of the Hill.
  10. Confused Scientist

    Making a Dollar or Two- BOOK TWO

    Part 19- Across the Hyperverse The following is an audio transcript of a Munar landing simulation conducted after the design of the Phoenix landing vehicle was frozen: Jeb: Five uprange, pitching over to keyhole entry. Alice: NGS in detent," Alice Kerman replied. "Radar altitude three hundred meters. Jeb: Three... two... one... ignition! Alice: Delta-V five hundred, four-fifty, four hundred... Jeb: On track in our landing ellipse. Alice: Three-fifty, three hundred... Red light on gimbal two! Jeb: I see it... switching to AGS. Alice: Two-fifty, two hundred, one-fifty... Jeb: Pitching up, throttling down. Alice: One hundred... fuel ten percent. Jeb: Perfect. I'll set it down right over there... Alice: Fifty meters. Fuel eight percent. Jeb: No more altitude readouts, please. Just fuel. Alice: Six percent. Jeb: Looks like we got some dust... Alice: Five. Jeb: Contact light! Engine shutdown, SAS out of detent. [End of simulation.] ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Much to Jeb's excitement, computers had arrived at the Cape, and with them endless simulations. The Raven command module was about three months from completion, and production on the Moa was ramping up and it would soon be transferred to the regular Kontinental production lines when the last few kinks were worked out. Jeb, Bill, and Bob had been tapped for the first mission, so the newbies could have more time to train. Jeb suspected that on later missions he would fly with Hardbrett and Mermon, and Valentina had expressed a preference for her crew to be Alice and Franxie. Speaking of Valentina, she was there, talking to Jeb, Bill, and Bob in her room in the crew quarters. "The simulations are going fine," she was saying, "but I'm worried about how the newbies would react to an emergency in an untested vehicle during the first landing. After the first landing, we can make the simulations perfect, but until then I don't think anyone except us- the Kraken's Spit crew- can cope with something going wrong. Jeb nodded. "Of course, one of the 'Original Four'- that's what they're calling us orange suits, by the way- will be piloting the first mission, but the copilot is also essential for a safe mission." "Of course, we could just use two orange suits on the first mission," Bill suggested. "That might lead to a failure of imagination," Bob said. "Landing the Kraken's Spit is way different from the small, zippy Phoenix and having two crewmembers who only remember a giant dropship would be even worse." "Well, there's only one thing we can do," Valentina replied. "What's that?" Bill asked. "We have to get geologists and researchers and experts and bring them in to work on the simulators," Valentina said, "and make the Mun as realistic as possible." Jeb nodded. "When I was in there today they had us landing in a giant crater. Even knowing what size the regolith grains are will be invaluable." Bob sighed. "I wish we had learned a little bit more about how our spacecraft worked back when we were flying them." "Don't say that," Bill scolded. "We knew it all, but those were sixth- and seventh-generation dropships. Now we have to make some from scratch, so we'll make mistakes. I think before we're done we're going to have a lot of fun." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The experts arrived the next day, and each of them was convinced that their opinion was the only one that mattered, with some suggesting that the Munar regolith was made of powder and others being certain that there were lava tubes buried beneath the surface. In the course of two hours, Jeb, Bill, Bob, and Val didn't hear anything that they couldn't disprove immediately, and eventually they developed a hatred of these researchers rivaled only by their resentment of reporters and sent them home. "Well," Val said, "that was a bust." Jeb nodded. "I suppose we should- wait!" He ran towards the door and grabbed a young geologist who hadn't said much of anything just before she left. "I know you from somewhere." "Name's Stella Kerman." "...Oh! I paid you to drive my car from Crystal City. How've you been?" "Pretty good," Stella replied. "I took a job flying helicopters for geologists who wanted to look at really flat places in the middle of nowhere. I was so bored at their camps, I started building model rockets and hopping the helicopter and pretending I was landing on the Mun. Oh, and I also looked at some of the really boring theses that the geologists were writing and made my own theories on the composition of the Mun and the best ways to determine its geologic characteristics." Jeb, Bill, Bob, and Val huddled for a minute. "Vertical landing practice...," Jeb muttered. "Model rockets...," Val whispered. "Munar studies...," Bob gasped. "And experiment plans," Bill sighed. They turned around. "You're hired," they said, all at once. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Jeb showed Stella around the KSC the next day, which included an up-close look at the next Moa booster. "So you can see that we keep lots of spare parts on hand, that will eventually get used for more Moa rockets," Jeb said. "Now, if you'll follow me into this smaller hangar, I have something really special to show you." Stella followed Jeb into a smaller area, more like a garage, and gaped at a half dozen workers swarming around a silver spider. "This is the bare bones of the Phoenix," Jeb explained. "You'll start training on the simulators, because you're a prime candidate for the first landing mission-" "How will you reinforce the landing gear?" Stella asked. "...What do you mean? It's doing fine right now, and it's in six times Munar gravity." "Yeah, but you still need to put in the computers, and the fuel, and stuff. In fact, the way the gear's mounted now, as soon as you land the legs will puncture the fuel tanks." "But this design is frozen..." "It's also broken. You need to fix it." Jeb stared at the Phoenix for a minute and swore before calling Wernher over. Jeb and Wernher huddled over a workbench for a minute, before Wernher ran out into the main VAB and Jeb walked back over to Stella. "You're absolutely right. How could you tell just by looking at it?" "I must have an instinct," Stella said. "Well. Anyway. Hey, since you said you had some theories about the Munar composition, we got you a gift that will help you write research papers and stuff. It's waiting in your room." Jeb and Stella hopped in a golf cart and drove back to the crew quarters. Entering her room, Stella glanced at a large, bulky object shoved against the wall. "What is it?" "It's not much to look at," Jeb explained, "but it's an electric typewriter. You can run basic typing programs, backspace, and print stuff. Give it a try." Stella sat down and typed for a few seconds before hitting print. Jeb took a look at the paper. Recently, aiding dumb, ignorant observations framed radiantly enough; even keeping ergonomics readily became oppressively leaning. Jeb grinned. "I see this is one of those research papers that seeks to edify the user through big words that don't mean anything." "Yeah," Stella said. "The trick is to pick the right first letter of each word." Jeb frowned. The first letter of each word... He took another look, understood what Stella was saying, and fainted.
  11. Confused Scientist

    SpaceX Discussion Thread

    You mean abort motors to save the BFS in the event of a stage one failure? Even if the BFS could survive a BFR explosion, chances are it wouldn't be within range of a landing pad, unless SpaceX built emergency landing zones beneath the flight path.
  12. Confused Scientist

    Skirting Death - Share Your Closest Calls

    In my early attempts at building a spaceplane, I put wings on my 2.5 meter service module. I could glide the thing to the space center, but when it was time to land the thing was going 200 m/s and the nose (a 3-person capsule, since this was just a modified CSM) was really heavy. I was about to crash land, but my abort system for launch failures featured about twenty-four sepatrons at the base of the capsule, so I hit backspace and pitched up as hard as I could. The service module with wings crashed into the runway, and I made a safe parachute landing off to the side. Later on, I was trying to build a big Duna SSTO on a laptop that, among other things, featured a bizarre keyboard problem (probably with the board) where some keys would be shifted within their rows. For example, function is spacebar, spacebar is left arrow, 1 is 4, 4 is 7, etc. Suffice it to say this laptop was not up to the task, but neither was this SSTO, which I had taken on atmospheric test flights and never once landed successfully. I came around to land, poised my fingers on the spacebar to deploy the drogue parachutes, and began my flare, immediately after which, I panicked at the sight of the space center flashing by at 175 m/s and lowered the nose. In super-slow motion, I watched the nose gear thud into the runway, and soon my screen was filled with smoke. Five seconds later, I got another frame, and noticed the runway was destroyed. After fifteen seconds and three more frames, though, I noticed something: The SSTO was still rolling. It reached the next runway segment and destroyed it, too, which was probably good because the nose wheel dug into a crater and the whole thing stopped very quickly. The smoke cleared and the SSTO sat tilted on the destoyed runway... but it was alive.
  13. Confused Scientist

    Making a Dollar or Two- BOOK TWO

    Confused Scientist: Shaking Through!
  14. Confused Scientist

    Making a Dollar or Two- BOOK TWO

    Part 18- Shaking Through, Opportune (Repeat) After a fevered two years of development, the Moa IV was ready. Wernher watched, satisfied, as his team of a few dozen workers supervised the winch that was hoisting it to an upright position. Inland, the shell of the new rocket hangar- nicknamed Moa's Lair, sat, having been wheeled away from the launchpad. Inside the control room, Gene was in a less jovial mood. The Moa was a completely untested rocket, and the future of the program depended on its success. Behind him, Jeb paced back and forth, and Gene was sure that if Jeb (and, for that matter, Bill, Bob, and Val) didn't have such a strange fear of cigarettes one would be hanging from his mouth. Val, Bob, and Bill were at the pad, ready to start inspections as soon as the rocket was vertical, and Sunny was off somewhere holding a press conference with the welcome aid of several shotguns. "Flight, timer." "Go, flight." "Time to launch?" "T-minus three hours and two minutes... mark." Gene nodded. "Affirmative. Attention, all stations." Jeb stopped pacing, and everybody in the control room turned from their consoles, not that it made any difference. The lights weren't very important to fix compared to the rockets, and the room was already dim before each controller lit up two or three or four cigarettes, and the haze in the air was like a black curtain drawn over the room. Gene cleared his throat and stood up. "The Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Company is right on our heels. They're maybe six months behind us, and even though they're going to make more mistakes, they can pour more money into Munstock until it either succeeds or blows up in their faces. With a two-month booster production time, every launch is critical, so do your best. I don't need to tell you that, but I wanted to tell you why." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ "T-minus two minutes and counting." "We're on internals." "T-minus one minute thirty." "Stage two boil-off vent closed. Launch pressure building." "Flight termination system armed." "T-minus one minute and counting." "Hydrazine flowing to stage one pumps, engines one through four." "Telemetry online, five by five." "Forty-five seconds." "Gimbals are good. Guidance is internal." "T-minus thirty." "Power is flowing to the stage two engine." "T-minus fifteen, fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten-" "Turbopumps online." "Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three-" "Ignition!" "Two, one, zero." "Liftoff!" "Roll program." "Pitch, roll looks good. Stage one engine performance nominal." "Passing one kilometer." "Passing five kilometers." "Passing fifteen kilometers." "Stage two startup commen-" "Flight, Guidance!" "Flight, Tanks!" "Flight, Comms!" Gene didn't answer any of the calls. Through the cigarette haze, he could see the Moa IV disintegrate as it arced forward towards orbit. After a few seconds of silence, he found his voice. "GC, Flight. Lock the doors." ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Two days later, film from the launch came back. Jeb, Val, Wernher, and just about everybody else watched a slow-motion replay of the accident, and soon the problem was pretty clear: "The side of the second stage blew up," Valentina complained. Wernher nodded. "That's right where the second stage boil-off valve is. Sam? What's that valve do?" A young engineer stepped out from the back. "The boil-off valve is used before launch to prevent the tanks from rupturing, before it's closed to let the tanks build up to their full pressure." "So how could it fail-" "At second stage startup, about a minute before stage separation, the valve switches to a third position, which allows the boil-off to bypass the engine and pressurize the ullage motors. The valve closes again about ten seconds after stage separation." Wernher nodded. "Jeb? Can you conduct failure testing?" Jeb nodded, and went over to the R&D complex. He opened a drawer and extracted a spare boil-off valve and a tank of compressed air. He attached the tank to the valve inlet, lowered his goggles, spun the tank valve, and spun around, covering his head. Nothing happened. When Jeb turned around, the valve readings were at ten times operational pressure and it was still holding. After thinking for a minute, Jeb went outside and drove back to the Moa's Lair vehicle assembly building. Passing Wernher's office, Jeb went over to a cluster of engineers, who were inspecting a newly-delivered upper stage. Sam looked up, eyes widened at the sight of Jeb's face, and quickly turned back down to his work. Jeb shoved his way through to the boil-off valve. "Take it apart," he told Sam. "Apart?" Jeb nodded. He wheeled over a table, and as Sam worked he set out the pieces and compared them to the blueprints. Once the whole valve had been removed and laid out on the table, nothing looked out of place, except for one strange plastic piece. It was a dust cover. Probably nothing... Jeb thought. Then again, all of the other pre-flight support equipment is shown in this diagram. Jeb picked up the dust cover and hurried back to the R&D lab. Inserting the cover into the valve, Jeb pressurized the assembly, which burst immediately. Returning to Moa's Lair again, Jeb went into Wernher's office and showed him the valve. "Good," Wernher said. "I was thinking it was something like that." Wernher turned the valve over. "It's weird that this would even be installed, since all of our equipment is built in-house. You should go check the serial number." Going back to the R&D complex for the third time, Jeb wished again that some nice kerbal would invent a computer so he wouldn't have to thumb through the parts catalog, which must have weighed at least ten pounds. After hefting it onto a desk, Jeb looked at the serial number and decided it would be near the back. Turning to the last entry, Jeb compared the dust cover and realized its serial number had at least four more digits than the longest one in the book. On a hunch, Jeb raced to the airport in his Korvette and, thankful that skyjacking was still a thing of the future, ran onto the flight line towards a Marketta-Dougheed-Bloeting Kerbin Komet. Lifting up his toolbox, he opened up a panel in the back of the plane and looked at the serial number. His eyes widened. Jeb broke the speed limit on his way back to the KSC and called Wernher and Gene into a janitorial closet for an emergency meeting. He explained his plan to them and they nodded. Wernher went out into the VAB and told the engineers that the problem was probably with a dust cover that had been installed in the valve by mistake, but that they wouldn't be sure until the next flight. Either way, the dust cover would be removed on the next flight. On a quiet night two months later, Jeb crept out to the Moa IV's service tower on the eve of a launch and opened up the side of the second stage. Examining the valve, he found a dust cover. Silently, Jeb removed it and climbed down from the tower; at this point he was sure his theory was correct but he agreed with Wernher and Gene that they needed one more data point. The second flight of the Moa IV was successful and within six weeks the next one was wheeled to the pad. Again, Jeb checked the boil-off valve, but this time there was no dust cover. Jeb nearly fainted, but instead he closed the side of the rocket and ran back to the crew quarters as fast as he could. Bursting into Valentina's room, he asked, "Do you remember that time in Crystal City you told me you wanted things to be like they were on the Kraken's Spit?" "Yeah..." Valentina replied. "Well, one place we can start is extreme paranoia and watching our backs."
  15. Confused Scientist

    Making a Dollar or Two- BOOK TWO

    I have that planned down the line... way down the line. Think "Book Three".