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Mars-Bound Hokie

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  1. CHAPTER FORTY: RETURNING HOME (213 DAYS LATER) It was two hours until morning for Dangerzone Air Force Base on Kerbin. Though the stars were lighting up the night sky above, almost all the exterior lights were on as several people and vehicles were moving in the area. This was unusual for the base personnel, as the night flying drills were not scheduled for another four days. Most of them guessed that there was a mission about to commence soon, but had no idea as to the nature. All they knew is that in involved a few spaceplanes – which had arrived weeks ago – some experimental weapons, and men from Special Forces. Once they noticed a Kerbal Space Program jet land earlier today, they figured that it was serious and would involve flying at high altitudes. Inside the underground briefing room, 19 men – 8 pilots, 10 soldiers (2 of which trained medics), and 1 mechanic – were awaiting their orders. When they were summoned to briefing, they had been told that they had been chosen for a special mission. However, the only details they had been giving regarding the mission were that it involved a fugitive and a hostage. “So, what do you think we’re gonna do?” asked Technical Sergeant Iceman Kerman. “Who cares? I just want to get some air under my wings,” said Staff Sergeant Maverick Kerman, who had a reputation for being a hotshot pilot. “Don’t tell anyone I told you this,” said Master Sergeant Manfred Kerman, “but Iceman and I have been drilling with a new plane for the past two weeks.” “Like THAT’S a secret,” sighed Maverick. “Next time you want to hide a top-secret aircraft, don’t test it once a day and keep it in the maintenance hangar.” “Tell me you didn’t take it for a joyride,” said Manfred. “Don’t worry, I didn’t,” assured Maverick. “200 days of latrine detail taught me that.” “Attention! Captain on deck!” someone shouted, then everyone stood in attention as Captain Henry Kerman arrived – along with a man neither of them had seen before. “At ease, gentlemen,” said Henry, and the men sat down. “Now, this man here is Dr. Werner Von Kerman from the Kerbal Space Center in Krakopolis. In case you haven’t noticed already, some of you have been drilling with a new spaceplane for the last two weeks. As to why, we’re getting right to it. Doctor, if you please?” “Thank you, Captain. Lights,” Werner requested, then the briefing room was dark as a projector activated and displayed a side-by-side image of a man and a woman on the IntelligentBoard. “You’ve all been told that this is a search-and-rescue mission involving a fugitive of the law.” Werner pressed a button on a small remote and the word “Enemy” appeared underneath the woman in all-capital letters. “This woman here is Misty Kerman. She has murdered several people on the planet Eve and kidnapped this man, Jebediah Kerman Senior.” The word “Hostage,” then popped up under the man’s photo. “Jeb Senior?” gasped one of the soldiers. “Not good,” murmured another. “I heard that, and YES, it’s not good,” interrupted Werner. “During her escape, she stole an Eve Ascent Vehicle and blasted off in a trajectory heading back home.” The screen then changed to show Kerbin with a path of a pod going in a hyperbolic trajectory. What really got the men’s attention was the clock that was counting down. ETA UNTIL 70 KM – 2:26:13.937 “She is currently in Kerbin’s sphere of influence. More specifically, she is expected to breach the atmosphere in less than… two and a half hours. If our calculations are correct, and if you guys do the mission right, her current trajectory will place her right with you mid-flight. Her periapsis is now at 55 kilometers.” “Um, one question,” said Maverick. “How will we know when to launch and where she’s going?” “I’m getting there, and please hold your questions until the end. The planes you all will be using have a tracking program that will show you her pod’s trajectory AND her ETA to your position. However, keep in mind that she will be going WAY faster than you… except for Master Sergeant Manfred Kerman, who will use the Laie plane.” He then changed slides to show a medium-sized plane on the runway of the Kerbal Space Center. “That’s it,” Manfred whispered to Maverick. “That’s the plane.” “Now, LISTEN UP!” ordered Captain Henry, then Wernher changed slides. “As Misty will be entering Kerbin’s atmosphere in an initial hyperbolic trajectory, she will be going faster than any of YOUR planes can when she reaches periapsis – which, by the way, is now 55 kilometers above the surface. Even with the spaceplanes that most of you will be using for the mission, you can’t match her velocity by the time she reaches you. So that you all have a better chance of reaching each other as a group, you will all launch in separate waves before she hits the atmosphere.” “Green Team, stand up!” said Henry, and the soldiers and six of the pilots obeyed. “You all will launch first in your designated planes at the right time. Your mission: extract Misty and Jeb Senior and hold them until they can be picked up. Remember: Jeb Senior is the HOSTAGE while MISTY is the bad guy.” “Maverick Kerman, stand up,” said Henry, and Maverick obeyed as Werner showed a picture of a one-man SSTO next to Maverick’s military ID photo. “Rank and name, airman.” “Sir! Staff Sergeant Maverick Kerman, sir!” “You, sir, will fly this spaceplane – also known as the L-2 Mercury – during the mission. You’ll take off soon after the paratroopers, eventually passing them. Your job: reconnaissance. Specifically, following the trail of the capsule after Manfred’s plane intercepts it.” “Manfred Kerman, stand up!” “Thank you, I already know who you are,” said Werner, but Manfred stood up anyway. “The rest of you guys will be airborne by the time he takes off.” His slide then changed to show the Laie. “If you read Spaceplane Monthly, or if you’ve been involved in the practice drills for this mission, you should already know what this is. If you don’t, this plane is called the Laie. Up to date, this is the fastest aircraft on the planet; capable of circling the entire equator in less than half an hour and landing in one piece.” “Whoa!” gasped a soldier. “You lucky son of a gun,” one of the paratroopers told Manfred. “As Misty will be entering the atmosphere in an attempt to aerobrake – hence, lowering her orbital apoapsis – she will be decelerating whereas Manfred will be accelerating. In other words, he will need to take off BEFORE she breaches the atmosphere and gain enough speed to match hers when she reaches her periapsis. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about…” he then showed a drawing on the IntelligentBoard, “take a look at THIS.” “Um… excuse me,” Maverick interrupted, raising his hand, “I thought the rules for the ‘Around the World’ aircraft race SPECIFICALLY STATES that you need to be below 35 km at all times. Why do you want to get up to 55?” “Yeah. More importantly, how?” asked one of the troop transport pilots. “There’s no usuable air for the intakes.” “For once, you pay attention to the rules,” sighed Werner. “To answer BOTH of your questions, the Laie CAN fly in rocket mode – which means it has oxidizer in its tanks. This means that, for as long as rocket mode is on, the rapier engines won’t need intake air. I need Manfred to get up to 55 kilometers because Misty’s trajectory puts her at that high a periapsis.” He paused as the two men nodded in agreement. “On the other hand, it IS possible for her to make a last-minute change in her periapsis before she jettisons her rocket. Either way, since she does not have enough fuel to achieve a negative periapsis altitude, Manfred would still be able to intercept her in the sky.” “What do you want me to do with the capsule when I meet her?” asked Manfred. “You should already know, Manfred – but, since everyone else wasn’t involved in your drills, I’m going to tell it anyway,” said Werner, showing a missile with what looked like airbrakes and parachutes deployed. “When you intercept Misty’s capsule, you should be matching her velocity at periapsis. You should be not too far behind her when you launch these. For those who don’t know what this is, this is the new DragOn air-to-air missile – built in a joint project between the Kerbal Space Program and BDArmory specifically for this mission. “Once launched, they will lock on a target and fly towards it. When they catch up, they will orient themselves so that a powerful electromagnet on one of the sides will attach the missiles to the capsule. When both missiles are attached, they will deploy airbrakes in order to increase the capsule’s drag profile – hence increasing her deceleration rate.” A video then started, showing what Manfred was talking about. A computer-generated model of the Laie flew towards a Mk1-3 command pod and fired two missiles at the same time. The missiles then spun about their long axes mid-flight and attached themselves to the capsule before deploying two airbrakes and a parachute each. “So, basically, you’re slowing down Misty’s pod,” summarized Captain Henry. “Manfred will follow Misty’s pod at a safe distance, but he will not go above 60 kilometers altitude after the missiles are fired. Should MISTY do so, Manfred will descend to 20 kilometers and return to base. As for the rest of you, if that happens, you will turn around and await my orders.” “Ideally, the DragOn missiles would slow her down to the point where she won’t go around Kerbin again,” continued Werner. “If, however, she DOES – and her new orbital period around Kerbin is NOT a whole multiple of six hours – she’ll be crashing at a different location. Depending on that, you will either return to base or converge on that location at a specified velocity.” “Should you be ordered to converge, Maverick will fly recon and scout ahead on the estimated landing spot unless otherwise ordered,” added Henry. “As for the ground forces, your job is simple: surround the capsule, arrest Misty and rescue Jeb Senior, and give them medical attention if necessary. Oh, and don’t forget to call it in when you do. I want to know when they’re in your hands.” NAME GENDER STATUS INSTRUCTIONS IF MED NEEDED Jebediah Kerman Senior Male Hostage 1. Separate from Misty. 2. (IF FUEL PERMITS) fly Jeb Senior to Baikerbanur. 3. (IF FUEL DOES NOT PERMIT) fly to nearest base. If you can’t, radio position and wait for law enforcement to extract him. 1. Have medic attend to patient. If the injuries are serious enough to warrant a hospital visit, radio it in. We will relay information to whoever’s receiving him. - if he needs two trained medics (and not just any other assistant), forget Misty getting any until one can be spared. 2. Fly to nearest hospital and drop him off. DO NOT LET HIM JUMP OFF THE PLANE. - if a base is nearby, pick that one. All air force bases should have hospitals on-site. Misty Kerman Female Enemy (armed) 1. Force surrender 2. Restrain her 3. Check for weapons 4. (IF FUEL PERMITS) fly prisoner to base for holding 5. (IF FUEL DOES NOT PERMIT) radio position and hold her until law enforcement picks her up. (LETHAL FORCE ALLOWED) 1. Have medic attend to patient. If the injuries are serious enough to warrant a hospital visit, radio it in. We will relay information to whoever’s receiving her. - notify law enforcement that patient is a fugitive of the law. 2. Fly to nearest hospital and drop her off. DO NOT LET HER JUMP OFF THE PLANE. - if a base is nearby, pick that one. Security personnel will watch her at all times. IF YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN SAVING MISTY’S LIFE OR JEB SENIOR’S AND/OR YOUR OWN … KILL HER OR LEAVE HER TO DIE SHE DESERVES IT, ANYWAY “Now that you get the jist,” said Captain Henry, “any questions?” “Yes, is she carrying the Watneyvirus?” a paratrooper blurted out. “No,” sighed Werner. “As it was an epidemic that broke out ON DUNA approximately 150 days ago, Misty would have still been in-transit FROM EVE by then. By that logic, she couldn’t be ANYWHERE NEAR anyone OR anything with that virus.” Someone else raised their hand, but Werner seemed to know what he was about to ask. “She’s not carrying anything from Laythe’s Fallout Zone, either. As far as we know, Misty doesn’t have ANY biological weapons with her.” Embarrassed, the soldier put his hand down. “Any other questions?” “I got one,” said Iceman, “why don’t we just… WAIT for Misty to land?” “For far too long, she – and her now-dead daughter, Irpond Kerman – has eluded justice for all her heinous crimes,” answered Captain Henry. “If you knew half of what Misty did – some of them before ANY of you were even born – you’d want her head on a pike too.” “Besides an algorithm to more accurately predict her landing location, the centrals wanted Misty to land on THEIR terms instead of her own,” Werner added. “This kind of mission can also be helpful in retrieving capsules that have lost control or otherwise unable to safely land themselves.” “Don’t you already have some kind of remote override program, or some automated emergency landing program?” questioned Iceman. “Even the best spacecraft control systems can fail,” warned Werner, “or in some cases, get sabotaged TO THE POINT of complete failure. Any other questions?” All was silent for ten seconds. “Good, now get to your stations.” “Captain? Dr. Werner?” said Maverick as the other men left the room. “Why’d you pick Manfred to fly the Laie?” “Did you have another pilot in mind?” asked Werner. “Well… ME!” emphasized Maverick. “I’ve flown the fastest planes in the air force – and a few spaceplanes, I might add – and I don’t even have an accident liability record.” “But due to the incredible precision that this mission requires, I can’t have anyone with SEVERAL aerial tomfoolery and insubordination citations under his belt use the Laie and fire the DragOn missiles,” argued Werner. “Besides, it’s far too late to change anything now as you are not trained with using the Laie OR the DragOn missiles.” “I understand, Dr. Werner,” sighed Maverick. “Get to your plane, pilot,” ordered Captain Henry. “As soon as he says ‘go,’ you go. No time for lollygagging when the time comes.” “Dangerzone ATC, this is Black One. Requesting clearance to takeoff on Runway 2-4,” reported Manfred, strapped to the cockpit seat of his plane. “Runway 2-4 is clear. Standby to takeoff,” air traffic responded. “Copy that. Moving into position.” “Have fun catching up, Manfred,” bragged Maverick on the radio. “T-minus 20 seconds,” a female computer voice said on Manfred’s headphones. “Run a full diagnostic scan,” ATC responded, and Manfred hit a button on the control panel. “All systems operational.” “T-minus 10 seconds.” “You really think this is going to work?” the captain asked. “To be honest, Captain, I don’t know,” answered Werner. “Go!” the female computer voice ordered, and Manfred pushed the throttle all the way. “Just like you practiced, dude,” he told himself. “You got this.” Ten seconds later, he was already airborne and climbing at an angle of 10 degrees. “You’re doing good so far,” Werner told Manfred. “Hit the autopilot.” “Roger. Switching to targeting autopilot.” As soon as Manfred did that, the plane started to fly itself; his dashboard screen then showed his plane flying through a series of pink hoops.” “We have confirmation; your targeting autopilot’s on, and you’re flying according to the specified instructions,” Henry told Manfred. “Acknowledged.” “Hey, Manfred,” Maverick said a minute later. “I got you on radar.” “Same here,” he replied as he noticed the plane pitching up. He was not concerned about this, as the modified plane had been programmed to set off an alarm if it deviated from the path that would enable him to catch Misty at 55 kilometers altitude. “Dangerzone ATC to squadron,” someone said on the ground, “we just picked up a new signal breaching the upper atmosphere.” “Misty Kerman!” Maverick concluded in a dramatic voice. “Proceed with the mission as planned,” ordered Captain Henry. “ETA to rendezvous with target: one minute,” Manfred’s navicomputer told him. “I see her,” said Manfred when his eyes met a capsule flying through the atmosphere with yellow flames trailing behind it. Several seconds later, his plane leveled out and aimed at the capsule. “Target locked.” “Fire.” Manfred then pulled the trigger on the control stick, releasing both missiles before they started flying toward the capsule. “IT’S AWAY!” As Werner had told him earlier, the missiles spun around before attaching themselves to both sides of the capsule. “Missiles attached. Repeat: missiles attached!” “Fall back and follow her.” “Copy that. Reducing speed.” He then saw airbrakes deploy on both missiles. “It’s working,” Werner announced. “Her apoapsis drop rate has increased.” “What does that mean?” asked Captain Henry. “She’s slowing down faster than she normally would,” explained Werner. “Hopefully, slow enough to land the first go-around.” “Sir,” one of the tower operators said, “we’re receiving a staticky transmission.” “Where’s it coming from?” asked Henry. “Either Manfred’s plane or… the capsule,” he said, confused. “The CAPSULE?” gasped Werner. “On speaker.” “Yes, sir.” “Bill… up to…,” a woman’s voice said on the speaker. “Manfred, any women on board your aircraft?” questioned Henry. “Negative.” “Mam, this is Dangerzone Air Force Base. Identify yourself,” a radio operator demanded. “Mist… erman,” she responded amid the static. “Say again. Repeat, say again. You’re breaking up.” “It’s Misty,” said Werner. “Target’s spinning out of control,” reported Manfred. “Repeat: target’s spinning out of control.” “Is that good or bad?” Henry asked Werner. “Depending on heat placement and whether or not the emergency landing program is intact, it can go either way,” answered Werner. “Bill… e lost,” Misty’s voice. “We lost contact,” an operator reported. “It blew up! Repeat: target has exploded,” added Manfred. “We have visual confirmation,” another man spoke on the radio. “Target was spotted exploding in Kerbin’s upper atmosphere.” “No,” gasped Werner. “What are the odds someone survived that?” Henry inquired. “Honestly, I’m putting their chances of survival at… zero.” “All right,” sighed Henry. “Attention all squadron aircraft, fall back and regroup!” “Roger that, we’re turning around,” said Manfred. “We’ll have to search the debris later to see what we can save,” said Werner, “but odds are their dead bodies are still plummeting towards the surface.” “Jeb’s not gonna be too happy to hear about his dad,” commented Henry. “Even though he has stated on interplanetary media that he wants nothing to do with his father?” questioned Werner. “Better believe it, doctor. I had a strained relationship with MY father before he died,” said Henry. “When he DID die from a drunk driving accident, it took a while for the grief to hit me. However, when it did, it felt like getting hit by a truck.” “I know at least ONE person who would celebrate,” sighed Werner. “Bill Kerman, Misty’s alleged arch-nemesis.” “I’m sure A LOT of people will celebrate that she’s dead,” said Henry. “Yeah… but at WHAT COST?” Millions of kilometers away, on the surface of Dres, Jeb, Val, and Bob were now watching some Dick and Janey in Calculus Base’s rec room; Bill was nowhere in sight. While he and Val were dating now – much to the surprise of everyone within Dres’ sphere of influence – life had gotten quite boring for the other two. Jeb’s streak of boredom broke when he learned that he had been promoted to the rank of admiral. He was excited for a bit, but he then got disappointed when his rank (for the most part) prevented him from piloting spacecraft himself; rather, he would have subordinates do that for him. “That blows, man,” he told Bill. “What’s the point of having a kick-ass rocket if you can’t even USE it?” Aside from that, Hadgan’s court martial ended up with his conviction and him being confined to a makeshift holding cell in Dresden Base. Had his victim been someone other than Irpond (or Misty, if she was there), he would have either been executed or sentenced to life in prison on Kerbin. However, due to the heinous nature of Irpond’s crimes, Hadgan was only charged with manslaughter. Not only was he officially discharged from the Kerbal Space Program, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison – with the possibility of parole – after landing on Kerbin as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Irpond’s corpse was placed in a spacesuit – whose life support systems and batteries were completely drained – and buried 500 meters away from Dresden Base. Though it was marked with a flag and a grave marker some engineers made, many were questioning if she even deserved a burial. Back in Calculus’ rec room, the Dick and Janey episode had just ended and was now showing a preview of the next one. In it, a girl was following a voice down to her garage and stopped 30 centimeters away from the workbench on the other side. “I turned myself into a pickle, Janey,” said a pickle with eyes and a mouth sitting on a workbench. “I’m PICKLE DIIIIIICK!” Jeb and Bob laughed, but Val was confused. “You know, I still don’t get why Dick would turn himself into a pickle,” she told her friends. “Duh, to avoid therapy with his family,” sighed Jeb. “Not that, Jeb. Of all the things a mad scientist like Dick can do just to ditch therapy, why go with turning himself into a pickle?” clarified Val. “I’d have just used a clone or an android as a stand-in.” “Then it wouldn’t be as funny, would it?” argued Bob. “Aw, man,” groaned Jeb, gesturing toward the monitor. “WHY are we getting commercials? I thought our KerbleTV subscription came WITHOUT ads.” “Not anymore,” said Val, accessing a newsletter on her kPad. “The space program is saving money on all its KerbleTV subscriptions by allowing ads between scheduled shows and movies.” “Yeah, like I’m gonna drive out to For-Mart and buy some toothpaste – in THE MIDDLE OF DRES,” complained Jeb. “Not to mention a Congo order will take years to get here,” added Bob, then the monitor started showing a roofless car commercial. “Oh, man, we’re lucky Bill’s not here to see this.” “Why’s that?” wondered Val. “He’ll go on and on about how advertising a Fur Ari to Dres is a terrible idea,” answered Bob. “The short version: it won’t work at all here.” “Speaking of Bill, where is he?” questioned Jeb. “He’s at the control room, watching a mission to rescue your dad,” said Val. “Honestly, I’d rather take commercials over watching some guys fishing Dad out of a capsule,” said Jeb. “The recovery crews should have no problem getting him, right?” “Last I heard, they were trying to intercept it MID-FLIGHT,” Val told him, then shrugging her shoulders. “I dunno how, though.” “If I were Misty, I’d think you were bluffing,” commented Bob. “Unless she was in a suborbital trajectory, she would be going at escape velocity – or higher – at periapsis. I could be wrong, but I don’t think ANY of our spaceplanes have that kind of acceleration.” “You’ll have to ask Bill about that,” said Val. “Hey, Bob, wanna look at some Watneyvirus memes while THIS goes on?” asked Jeb. “Nah, I made my own yesterday,” replied Bob. “Oh, really? Let’s see them,” said Jeb, and Bob showed him his kPad. “You know, the point of making a meme is to make people laugh. THAT just makes my brain fry to a crisp.” “Like when you didn’t know what dihydrogen monoxide meant?” sighed Bob. “Let me see that,” Val requested. “Huh, the ‘before quarantine’ and ‘during quarantine’ pictures look the same.” “That’s because they ARE,” explained Bob. “Even without a virus spreading around Duna, you need to remain in a closed, regulated environment to survive. The only difference NOW is that the EVA and vehicular travel rate dropped.” “Oh, I get it. Since you can’t go outside on Duna without a suit on, you’d be cooped in a surface base – pandemic or not,” Val figured out. “Let’s just hope that virus doesn’t reach Kerbin.” “Given the choice between Duna and Laythe, I’d take… Duna,” stated Bob. “Not me. Laythe is where the cool planes are at,” Jeb disagreed. “And it’s a moon with breathable air and radioactive fallout,” reminded Bob. “Last I checked – which was YESTERDAY – the fallout didn’t cover the ENTIRE moon,” said Val. “It was concentrated over the island cluster where Poseidon’s Palace… hey, look, the commercial break’s over.” “Sweet,” cheered Jeb, then the next episode’s intro sequence began. “Cool, it’s KIA Note.” “KIA Note?” gasped Bob. “How is THAT cool?” “What do you mean how is that cool?” Jeb responded. “I heard it was TERRIBLE,” explained Bob. “Terrible? From who?” wondered Jeb. “I first heard about it from Rob and some friends from Kerbin,” said Bob. “I even saw some clips of that movie, and it was just AWFUL.” “Movie? Wait, are you talking about the animated show or the live-action movie?” asked Val. “There was an animated show?” inquired Bob. “I never saw THAT.” “Well, yes, the Catflix movie WAS bad – but the animated show is WAY better,” stated Jeb. “You are going to LOVE this.” “Oh, and Jeb,” said Val, “I’m not gonna turn on the subtitles OR change the language. I’m sure you can understand what they’re saying.” “Why is that important?” wondered Bob. “The KIA Note series was originally made in Nye Island,” explained Val. “The voice actors had pretty thick accents, and Jeb used to have trouble understanding them when we watched it in high school.” “Hey, I didn’t get why Lightyear would make someone hijack A BOOT,” countered Jeb. “A boot… you mean Lightyear caused a BOATJACKING?” gasped Bob as the intro ended. The episode began with two men – a middle-aged brown-haired man with a mustache and glasses, and a young man in his late teens (presumably his son) – parking in front of a prison. Unbeknownst to the middle-aged man, but not to his son, a monkey-like creature with wings and a spike-tipped tail (known as a shinymonkey) was leaving the car behind them. “So, Lightyear,” said Gobluk, the shinymonkey, “why were ye so happy to go to this place?” “Chief Kermani,” said one of the guards, turning to the young man, “and Lightyear. What brings ye booth to this dump?” “All I need ta do is lose Dud and access the inmet files before I start writing names,” the young man – who everyone knew as Lightyear – told himself. “How’s he gonna do that?” wondered Bob. “Just wait and see, dude,” said Jeb. “Hey, guys,” interrupted Bill, then Val turned her head around. “Hey, dude,” replied Jeb. “We’re watching the UNDUBBED KIA Note right now. Wanna join?” “Actually, Gene just called; he has a status report concerning the rescue mission.” “I’ll take it,” said Val. “Go on without me, guys.” “Actually, he wants ALL FOUR of us,” corrected Bill. “Yes, Jeb, that includes you.” “Fine,” groaned Jeb, “but I’m ditching you if Dad talks on the radio.” All three of Bill’s friends left the rec room and followed him to the control room. “We’re here, Gene,” said Bill. “Excellent,” replied Gene’s voice. “Val, Jeb, Bob, can you hear me?” “Yep,” answered Jeb. “I can hear you,” added Val. “Good,” said Gene. “As I’m sure you three are aware, today was the day that Misty and Jeb Senior’s capsule hit its Kerbin orbital periapsis. In case Bill hasn’t told you yet, we have formulated a plan to intercept it mid-flight and force it to land under our control.” “Well, well, how’d it go? Did you get Dad?” asked Jeb, getting confused looks from Bob and Bill. “This is not going to be easy to accept,” started Gene. “An hour ago, we have received news that Misty Kerman’s capsule had exploded at 52 kilometers altitude over Kerbin’s southwestern hemisphere. Though debris location and recovery efforts are still underway, we’ll… have to… assume the worst.” “So… Dad’s dead?” gasped Jeb. “Until we get evidence otherwise, I’m afraid so. Doesn’t look like ANYONE could have survived that kind of explosion coming in at that high a velocity.” “Then doesn’t that mean MISTY died too?” asked Bob. “Yep, that’s right,” confirmed Gene. “NO!” shouted Bill. “She’s still alive, I KNOW it.” “How, can you sense her life force or something?” inquired Jeb. “She’s been slipping past you guys for years,” complained Bill. “How do you know she didn’t do it again NOW?” “Because the idea that Misty and/or Jeb Senior could have survived a capsule explosion at escape velocity 52 kilometers above sea level is RIDICULOUS,” argued Bob. “Come on, Bill. You know their death is the only logical outcome of that event.” “Doesn’t exactly help that you guys BLEW HIM UP!” shouted Jeb. “The missiles we launched were designed to increase her drag and slow her down faster,” argued Gene. “Seconds before the explosion, they seemed to be working as designed. However, that does not mean that they could have LED TO said explosion – as she was seen spinning out of control before detonation.” “Have you considered the possibility that it was Misty’s ENDGAME?” suggested Val. “You think Misty WANTED to get caught?” asked Bob. “More like she wanted TO DIE,” clarified Val. “She and her captive boyfriend die together in that capsule, and Bill doesn’t get the satisfaction of defeating her.” “Why do I get the feeling that’s not what happened?” countered Bill. “You don’t think she’s STILL ALIVE, do you?” wondered Gene. “She was a pioneering fuel scientist with some mechanical experience, not to mention she’s fooled the police for AT LEAST 30 years by now,” mentioned Bill. “Factor that in, and the notion of her survival doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Does it?” “If we can’t find evidence indicating anyone survived – or if we find one or more bodies – we’ll have to just assume that Misty and Jeb Senior were both killed in the explosion that claimed the pod,” said Gene. “In the meantime, you’ll be getting your next planetary assignments in your emails soon.” “Great, because this rock has gotten very boring lately,” complained Bob. “Do you want me to spoil it for you, or do you want to wait?” inquired Gene. “I can wait,” said Val. “What about you g… hey, where’s Jeb?” “What do you mean where’s Jeb?” asked Gene. “I mean he’s not here,” said Val. “I vote wait,” commented Bill, and Bob nodded. “Any ideas where Jeb is?” “Probably the rec room to watch KIA Note,” sighed Bob. “And to change the language settings so he won’t get the Nye accents,” added Val. “Anything else, Gene?” asked Bill. “No, sir, that’s it,” said Gene. “Signing off.” Gene then disconnected, and Val, Bob, and Bill started running to the rec room. “Why are we running?” wondered Bill. “We all watched the series in high school.” “Bob didn’t,” said Val, then they arrived. “Hey, Jeb, don’t just ditch us to watch… VIXEN NEWS?” “I’m here live at Dangerzone Air Force Base,” a red-haired woman spoke, “where the attempt to rescue Jeb’s Junkyard CEO Jebediah Kerman Senior – more commonly known as Jeb Senior – was just launched.” A picture of Jeb Senior then appeared beside the woman. “An hour ago, his capsule was seen high up in Kerbin’s atmosphere going EXTREMELY fast. Seconds after the air force intercepted it, it spun out of control and exploded. So far, it looks like NOBODY survived that.” The capsule then started spinning for a few seconds before blowing up mid-air. Val and Bob gasped in horror as debris scattered through the atmosphere in flames. “Dad,” whispered Jeb before changing channel. “This is a Kerbin News Network breaking news report,” a man said while the screen showed a frozen image of the capsule exploding. “Jebediah Kerman Senior, and alleged kidnapper Misty Kerman, have both died in a capsule explosion in the southwestern hemisphere. Though sources confirm a mid-air rescue mission was launched, it is unclear as to whether or not it caused the explosion.” “Change it,” sighed Val. “What the…,” gasped Bob after Jeb switched out of Kerbin News Network. “That lady’s my old school nurse.” “Jeb was… my soulmate,” a middle-aged woman sobbed on-camera. “He was so young and… so warm!” “Eesh, a little old for MY type, aren’t you?” cringed Jeb. “She’s talking about YOUR DAD,” sighed Bill. “Hold up, are you saying that Miss… dang it, I forgot her name,” stammered Bob. “Are you saying that she DATED Jeb Senior?” “Probably,” said Bill. “He dated A LOT of women before marrying Jeb’s mom.” “Weeping ex-girlfriends,” groaned Jeb as he changed channels, “another car commercial, and HELLO, what do we have here?” “Misty and Jeb Senior had the perfect bond, and the prime minister’s henchmen MURDERED them for it,” said a slightly obese woman with purple hair. “Of course, what would you expect from Trunton’s successor.” “Change, NOW!” ordered Val, and Jeb did so. “Honestly, who allowed THAT channel on our KerbleTV subscription?” “This is Lois Kerman of the Daily Kerbin, coming to you from the corporate headquarters of Jeb’s Junkyard in Krakopolis,” a black-haired reporter said. “The Daily Kerbin has a TV network now?” asked Bob. “Shh,” said Jeb. “Almost an hour ago, the capsule carrying the company’s CEO and his kidnapper, the notorious outlaw Misty Kerman, exploded high up in Kerbin’s atmosphere. Though sources confirm that a search effort is underway, chances are they died when their capsule blew up. Over at corporate headquarters, employees and board members alike have already taken leave to mourn the loss of the company’s founder and leader.” In front of the building, hundreds of men and women were gathered in silence. “We now take you to the company’s CFO, Bruce Kerman.” The screen then changed to show a man behind a podium standing in front of the building’s doors. “I’ve worked in Jeb’s Junkyard since I was a teenager,” he started. “I never told Jeb Senior this, but he was like a father to me. I’m sure, in some way or other, he was like a father to all of you in the company.” “More than to his OWN son, in fact,” sighed Jeb. “Let us all remember that he started this company from the ground up, and it prospered under his leadership,” continued Bruce. “Though this may sound embarrassing in front of our competitors, I will admit that we felt… lost when we heard he was kidnapped. Now that he’s dead, I honestly have no idea HOW we will move on from this. What I DO know is that we will move on and prosper again, as he wanted it for all of us in Jeb’s Junkyard.” “Not really confident, coming from a CFO,” said Bob. “To his son, I say this: I know you and your dad may not have been on the best of terms, but I guarantee that the grief WILL hit you like a sledgehammer. However, you don’t have to face it alone. If you ever need our support, do not hesitate to contact us.” The camera then showed Lois again. “It is currently unclear as to who will take Jeb Senior’s position as head of the company. Will Jeb’s Junkyard continue to…” Jeb changed the channel again, only to see another crowd. “… Alpha Badger Hall to mourn the loss of a prominent former resident, Jebediah Kerman Senior,” a man said. “We have obtained the following quotes from other residents.” “I’m glad that Misty Kerman’s dead,” said William Kerman, “but that victory came at too great a cost.” “Dad?” gasped Bill. “That guy’s your dad?” wondered Bob. “I hope you’re watching, Jeb, ‘cause I’m here for you, bro,” said another man. “Turn that off,” said Val, and Jeb switched off the TV. “Seems a little early to mourn Jeb Senior, doesn’t it?” wondered Bill. “Bill, we all saw that video of the EAV capsule going ka-boom,” said Bob. “There’s NO WAY he OR Misty could have survived that.” “I will agree with Bill here,” said Val, “since we don’t even have confirmation that they’re dead yet. I mean, if they find bodies or body PARTS with the debris, then there’s NO DOUBT.” “But what if they DON’T?” argued Bill. “Misty’s and Jeb Senior’s remains could have DISINTEGRATED in the explosion,” reminded Bob, “so there’s a GOOD CHANCE they won’t find anything.” “They WERE able to recover the bodies from the Rebel explosion,” countered Val. “But that shuttle blew up LESS THAN A MINUTE after liftoff, and it was relatively low in the atmosphere,” said Bob. “Misty’s EAV capsule was WAY HIGHER and going WAY FASTER – not to mention some hotshots tried to intercept it with some experimental drag missiles. The chances of finding kerbal remains in THAT are lower.” “How about that,” said Val, looking at her kPad, “they just mailed my next assignment.” “Mine too,” added Bill. “Mine three,” said Bob. Jeb, however, said nothing. “Well, let’s see them.” Val then showed her friends her email, which surprised the boys. From: [email protected] To: [email protected] Carbon Copy: Bill – [email protected] Bob – [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] Jeb – [email protected] [email protected] Subject: Kerbalnaut Assignment (RESPOND ASAP) Valentina Kerman, As you may be aware by now, now-discharged kerbalnaut Hadgan Kerman was convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of mass murderer Irpond Kerman. He was sentenced to guarded solitary confinement in Dresden Base until the next tranfer window back to Kerbin, where he would serve 10 years in prison (with the possibility of parole) upon arrival. Besides the fact that the central government has asked that Hadgan be escorted back to Kerbin until picked up by law enforcement, Mission Control has decided that it’s time that four of you – specifically, Bill Kerman, Bob Kerman, Jebediah Kerman, and Valentina Kerman – return home after over a decade. Below this message are the details regarding: · Crewmembers and roles · How long until blast-off · Which spacecraft you’re using · Expected time to arrival Though you should know by now that you’re returning to Kerbin, it’s KSP procedure to give kerbalnauts about to be transferred the assignment details in a chart format. Assignment Kerbin (HOME) Crewmembers Bill Kerman · Male · Chief Engineer Bob Kerman · Male · Chief Scientist Cassie Kerman · Female · Engineer · Specializes in in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) Hadgan Kerman · Male · Prisoner · For protocol purposes, treat as a tourist, but always watch him. · Don’t let him EVA for any reason. Jebediah Kerman (Admiral) · Male · Primary Pilot Maurge Kerman · Female · Scientist · Medical experience Valentina Kerman (Admiral) · Male · Secondary Pilot · Mission Commander Vehicle Interplanetary Travel Pod Mk. Vb – 5B31 · Fuel – 71% capacity · Currently docked with U.S.S. Defiant Estimated Transit Time 1 year, 75 days LAUNCH IN T-MINUS 62 days, 1 hour, 23 minutes, 41 seconds If you have any questions/concerns/comments, please respond immediately as the launch date cannot be change. Otherwise, hit one of the buttons below to either confirm or object to this. · Should you hit “object” and “yes” to the are-you-sure prompt, be sure to give your reason/s. If Mission Control agrees with your objection, you will be notified immediately after a decision is made and/or a replacement crewmember will be assigned. CONFIRM OBJECT Sincerely, Office of Kerbal Space Program Personnel “You too, huh?” said Bill. “Wait, you’re going back home as well?” asked Val, then Bill held his own kPad next to Val’s. “On the same pod, too.” “What a coincidence, same here,” remarked Bob. “What about you, Jeb?” wondered Bill. “Man, you will NOT BELIEVE how many people blew up my inbox… in the LAST HOUR,” sighed Jeb. “Who even gave them my KSP email, anyway?” “You did, of course,” said Val. “Our KSP email addresses are visible in the public kerbalnaut directory.” “They are?” inquired Jeb. “I really need to change my privacy settings.” “You can try, but the email addresses CAN’T be removed,” warned Val. “Mission Control got too many complaints about regular citizens AND other kerbalnauts not being able to reach each other.” “So, I guess this means that some random guy from Gilly can email us, huh?” said Bob. “Yep, pretty much,” confirmed Val. “Oh, guess what, some random guy from Gilly DID email me,” commented Jeb. “Subject: My Condolences.” “Try typing ‘Kerbalnaut Assignment’ on the search filter,” suggested Bill. “Thanks,” said Jeb, then he read the message. “How about that, they’re sending me back home in… Pod 5B31.” “Looks like we’re all going back, huh,” said Val. “This is probably a bad time to mention it,” stammered Bob, “but your dad probably left you something in his will.” “Boy, why should I care?” snapped Jeb. “He has nothing that I want.” “He could have made you… a freaking BILLIONAIRE,” said Bill. “Heck, he could have made you heir to Jeb’s Junkyard – and that’s a freaking GOLD MINE.” “And what would I buy with THAT?” sighed Jeb. “Uh, your very own supersonic jet; heck, or even a COLLECTION of them,” said Bill. “Let’s not forget that you were one who loved to ‘cruise in style.’” “Don’t get your hopes up on the CEO position,” remarked Val. “First off, it makes more sense to give it to someone who ROSE THROUGH THE RANKS and was very helpful during his or her time in the company. Second of all, since you’ve made it clear that you don’t want anything to do with your dad, he’ll have no reason to make you CEO of Jeb’s Junkyard. Third of all, your reckless nature would make you a liability.” “Plus, he might have a secret that would only be revealed in case he died,” added Bob. “Rob had a cellmate who found out he had an illegitimate half-sibling after his dad died.” “Like how my mom and sister died? I already know about that,” said Jeb. “That might not be all, Jeb,” Bill told him. “Since your dad was quite the womanizer before he married your mom, there IS a possibility that he had children OTHER THAN Vanessa and you. Heck, there’s also a chance that he had affairs AFTER your mom’s crash.” “Oh, please. A lot of women tried to blackmail Dad with false paternity suits before he started dating Misty,” scoffed Jeb. “Good thing we had DNA testing in our courthouse.” “Although they WERE filthy gold diggers, I’d rather hang with them over a psychotic murderer any day,” said Val. “Uh, Val, one of them WAS a psychotic murderer,” remarked Jeb. “No, Bill, it wasn’t Misty.” “Well, if you don’t get back to Kerbin, you’ll never know if you have any half-siblings,” said Bill. “I don’t know the specific details of your next assignment, but I’m sure you’ll find some time to honor your dad’s final wishes.” “And why would I honor that deadbeat?” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, your father was NO deadbeat,” argued Bill. “He spent a good chunk of his own life PROTECTING YOU, making sure you didn’t end up like his wife and daughter.” “Like I needed it.” “Uh, yes, you did,” countered Bill. “After you put me in that coma, your dad forbade you from flying in anything without a license. Do you know why?” “Because your parents threatened to sue him?” “NO, because he didn’t want you to KILL YOURSELF. We BOTH could have died in that crash, dude. THAT’S why I started to fly with VAL. By the way, my parents threatened to press charges against YOU – not your dad – if I died.” “Psst, let’s get outta here,” Bob whispered to Val. “Why are you even bringing it up, Bill?” questioned Jeb. “He wasn’t YOUR father!” “Because… I…” “Because you WHAT?” “Because I don’t want to see my friend regret hating his own dad for the rest of his life! Happy?” “SHUT UP!” interrupted Val, and everyone was silent. “Bill’s right, Jeb. Take me, for instance. Whatever you think your dad did, MY BROTHER is guilty of WAY worse.” “And he’s still alive,” said Jeb. “But he’s still my brother, and he must have thought he had a good reason to do what he did. Even now, I regret not writing to him in prison.” “Really, because he and his men exterminated an entire Laythan tribe.” “Sure, that was disgusting, but that’s NOWHERE NEAR as bad as hiding your sister’s existence from you – or the fact that her death was YOUR MOTHER’S fault,” Val reminded him. “Yet, you’ve condemned him to death by crazyhead. Do you really want the final memories of your own father to be that?” Bill was about to speak, but then Jeb cut him off. “DON’T compare Dad’s death to your mom’s, dude. You were close to her, AND the ones who killed her were STILL ALIVE after she died… from CANCER.” “And I don’t regret missing your football game to stay with her that night,” said Bill, “because it was the last memory I had of her. Not only that, I was THERE for her in her final moments. You, on the other hand, WEREN’T for your dad.” “Duh, how could I be there? I was on ANOTHER PLANET.” “And the least you could do is pay your respects,” argued Bill. “You would have missed his funeral by the time you hit Kerbin’s surface, but you can always visit wherever they’re keeping his remains and say good-bye. What have you got to lose?” “Letting Dad off the hook for lying and holding me back,” answered Jeb. “You know, since I’m still acting commander, I could just ORDER you to visit your dad’s burial place – or urn, or box, depending on what they did to him – after we get home,” warned Val. “However, I WON’T. If you WANT a crater in your soul for the rest of your life, that’s fine with me.” “Technically, Mission Control could bring it up if he…” started Bob. “Not now, Bob,” sighed Val. “This is something Jeb needs to figure out on his own. If he wants our help, he could just ask.” “So… KIA Note?” asked Bill. “First, reply to Mission Control that you got your planetary assignments,” said Val. “DON’T forget to log them into your calendars. If you don’t have anything else on your duty rosters, THEN we can watch KIA Note.
  2. I made a pure stock replica of the Valkyrie from "Captain America: the First Avenger." Flying over the ocean after leaving the KSC. Unfortunately, it was not the high-flying supersonic beauty I was going for - not by a long shot This was taken 3,500 m above the surface, going at 303 m/s. Nice sunrise shot. I'd better land fast, since I'm almost out of fuel. Perfect landing 753.7 km away from the KSC in ~50 minutes. If you want to try it out for yourself, here's the craft file: https://kerbalx.com/Mars-Bound_Hokie/Valkyrie HAIL HYDRA
  3. ANREY KERMAN'S MISSION LOG: Y65D63 - 2H10M The good news is that we made it to Jool orbit safe and sound - and years before I would have, if I had stayed in that old Hamacker. It's still drifting on Ike's surface, by the way. The bad news is that, while we were waiting for our node for a Pol refuel, our trajectory calculator found out we would get a gravity assist at our Jool periapsis from Laythe. If we didn't do anything about it soon, we would get sling-shot out of Jool orbit. Even worse, with only 1,755 m/s of delta-V in our tanks, chances are we would be stuck drifting forever if that happened. Fortunately, our tourist had an idea: "Just freaking land there." It was understandable why he would make such a statement: he did pay for an orbit of Laythe. I seconded that idea, since my original mission plan was to get there as well. Once the other crewmembers found out they could just reset their target to Laythe, they agreed with us and decided to set the approach periapsis to 40 km ASL. The plan is to aerobrake at 40 km over Laythe, saving us hundreds of meters of delta-V for the circularization burn. After that, we'll land on the sunny side of the moon to refuel and do my exploration - although, thanks to the other Neptune missions, I probably won't be able to do much. I hope we don't burn to a crisp during the re-entry, or that we don't end up on the dark side at first (since they're a pain to land in). When the Laythe part of the tour is done, we'll refuel on Pol and pick up those other kerbalnauts at Pinky Finger Station before orbiting Tylo as originally planned. The "Laythe" part of the tour was inevitable, so we might as well get it done now instead of put it off. We still have another contract to take crew reports over Jool itself, but we want to get everything else done first - aside from the final pre-Kerbin refueling. Though I was impressed by how the T-6 Cannonball performed in the Kerbin test runs, it's a shame that it didn't do so well on Duna. Even worse, that failure took the lives of Johnfrid Kerman and Enmal Kerman. Now we know to only use the Dirtblood for Duna landings; it is debatable on whether we should use the Lazybird, though. Either way, I'm confident that the Cannonball can complete the Jool-5, strengthening the bond between the Anubis and the Neptune missions. Isn't it ironic that Johnfrid avoided death in one doomed spacecraft, only to end up dying in another one years later? If all goes well, it may end up being the default tourist transport for anything involving Vall or Tylo. I don't know how (or if) we can establish permanent surface bases on Tylo, but I'm sure someone will find a way.
  4. Or maximum absorption garments, which seems pretty gross. You know, I wonder how "Are you currently playing, or have you ever played, Kerbal Space Program?" as a job interview question for NASA/SpaceX would affect the kind of employees those companies would get. Would the company do better or worse if they got KSP veterans (as well as qualified individuals)?
  5. Probably; I was mostly paying attention to the gauges. Once the numbers stopped changing so quickly, my KSP experience told me that those guys were in a stable orbit. Someone on Imgur commented on my album and asked "Can you imagine 19 hours without toilet breaks?"
  6. I took screenshots of today's launch from the NASA Livestream. T-minus 16 seconds until liftoff. Pretty cool timer, isn't it? Stage 1 Separation confirmed. If only we could get a shot like the one on the left in KSP (without the use of camera mods). Bob and Doug now in a 200-km altitude orbit above Kerbin Earth, going at 27,000 km/hr (or 7,500 m/s) It will be about 19 hours before our two brave kerbalnauts astronauts dock with the ISS. Imgur Album: https://imgur.com/gallery/ogAZTHL
  7. One would argue that it would belong in this thread, as that series is based on the new Space Force. Glad you brought it to our attention; now we have a new Netflix series to look forward to.
  8. Working on it - along with getting my private pilot's license over the summer. After reading this story (so far), who in the Kerbal Space Program do you think causes more deaths? I just want to know your opinion/s. Misty Irpond Terrible engineers
  9. As the title implies, this thread is to discuss and post information about the United States Space Force. I'll start us off with a recruitment video that was posted less than a week ago
  10. SAMDARD KERMAN'S MISSION LOG: Y64D402 - 4H00M Not only did we confirm that intelligent life exists on Laythe, but we have actually interacted with it. Standing next to me is Makadum, who appears to be the chief of the Laythan settlement on not only the central crater island, but the surrounding islands as well. Me (left) and Makadum (right). Assumed to be the chief by the way the other Laythans kneeled when he approached us - as well as the other attention he received. I mean, who else could it be? Like with the other Laythans, he has brown fur, sharp teeth, and claws Fur used to keep warm to cold temperatures I was so glad to put my helmet back on after this picture was taken. They are, however, omnivorous - as seen by: Us witnessing it. Analysis of their teeth, both on live and dead specimens Their gloves were designed with holes for the retractable claws. Wear hats for: Heat preservation Eye protection from brightness Showing their tribal signs Everyone had that sign on their hats, which means some kind of unity. Apparently, the chief has a seal on his jacket that shows the tribal sign with a gold background - nobody else had it. White jacket seemingly used for camouflage against snow. Useful in combat, but why is it worn on a regular basis? Do the Laythans enjoy remaining hidden? None of us couldn't understand a word the Laythans said, but we still learned a lot about them. For starters, the green flares we saw hundreds of days ago were to signal the coming of a deity from "Green Sky World." It kind of makes sense, since our spaceplanes entering the atmosphere looks like we're coming from Jool. Due to our green skin color, and the fact that we don't need food thanks to our photosynthetic cells, we were welcomed as gods when we landed. Though we had spent most of the time inside the Neptune VII - at least one of us had to stay inside at all times, in fact - we had the chance to live among the Laythans. We had no intention to be treated as gods upon landing, but I guess that's what comes with being as green as Jool. Compared to the small towns on Kerbin, their villages seem primitive; I guess that's what comes with living on a frozen island with limited resources on a super-cold moon that's over 85% ocean. However, that doesn't mean that they're not thriving or have a steady food and water supply. They have found a way to filter all those minerals from the water, and the Laythans have extremely quick reflexes when it comes to catching fish and other animals. They use tools to do their hunting and harvesting, but the Laythans' features seemed to pay off their species well before they have started making tools. Before we left the island, we gave Makadum our Hemorrhoid camera (and some extra film) and asked him to take a picture of us. After he did, we scanned the pictures while letting him keep the originals - and the camera and film. Me with Vall and Tylo in the sky. Us looking at the sunset. A Laythan sunset over the crater islands. When the photo op was over, we waved the Laythans good-bye and took off. During our ascent, they fired some more green flares. Since MJ was having trouble with the transfer burn plotter for Pol, we had decided to refuel on Bop instead (again). I hope we're done before the next transfer window to Kerbin closes, but I'm sure the mass ore transport already stationed on that moon will help with that. Before we hit Bop's SOI, the Anubis I - the first crewed mission to Tylo - had arrived at Jool's SOI. All that's left for us to do is to refuel and we are outta here.
  11. CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE: TANK DUST On board the U.S.S. Defiant, Jeb was busy helping Bob with his science project while Bill and Val were doing a routine inspection of a docked self-mining lander. “Life support systems, check,” said Bill. “Reaction wheel, check.” “Is the testing system ready?” asked Val, then Bill activated the system that enabled the pilot to use the controls without moving the ship itself. “Ready, Val.” “Reaction wheel, all systems check,” started Val. “RCS thrusters… all online. Monoprop tanks… hang on, there’s something wrong with the left tank.” “What?” “It says, ‘Additional mass detected,’ and ‘Uneven pressure.’” Bill then took the controls and redirected the monopropellant from the lander’s tanks to the Defiant’s. “Huh, it still has a different internal mass and pressure relative to the right tank,” he noticed. “Looks like I’m going out. EVA me.” “I’ll log this,” said Val as an EVA suit assembled itself on Bill. He then jumped through the airlock and out into space before flying to the left tank. “I hope you don’t lose the bolts as you take the cap off.” “Don’t worry, the ratchet bits are magnetic – and so is the holding container,” said Bill. “Ready, Val.” “Stand by for further instructions,” ordered Val. “As long as you’re outside, we can get external checks out of the way.” “Good idea,” agreed Bill. “How’s the hunt for Misty going?” asked Val. “She’s expected to hit Kerbin’s sphere of influence in about 200 days, give or take a few,” answered Bill. “However, her current trajectory places her at a high periapsis above the planet’s surface. We have reason to believe that she’ll fine-tune her closest approach to the target soon.” “Tell me you’ve got asteroid catchers ready,” sighed Val. “They decided against using the standard asteroid catchers to rescue Jeb Senior in Kerbin’s sphere of influence,” said Bill. “What? Why?” gasped Val. “Last I heard, the plan was to launch SSTOs full of armed rescue squads to rendezvous with the incoming EAV,” explained Bill. “Oh, I guess that makes sense,” said Val. “They might want to launch a bunch of them in a Hamsterwheel configuration.” “That’s going to be costly,” reminded Bill, “especially since you’ll need to launch SIX planes and not three in case Misty goes the opposite of any of the regular Hamsterwheel planes.” “Not to mention the number of space-ready troops it will take,” added Val. “Bet arranging that will keep the centrals busy.” “If she somehow gets past that line, Mission Control is busy with increasing the precision of the landing trajectory predictor.” “Isn’t it already accurate?” wondered Val. “I mean… I haven’t heard of any recovery crew mishaps since the time I was in-transit to Laythe.” “It’s accurate up to a point. Mission Control is trying to LOWER the margin of error so that the recovery crews can get to the capsule faster.” “I’d just send some paratroopers to shoot Misty and save the capsule for later,” commented Val. “As cool a plan THAT is, we also need to get Jeb Senior to safety,” reminded Bill. “Hopefully, Misty doesn’t alter her trajectory enough to throw off the trackers before she reaches the atmosphere; but if she does… I don’t know if she can re-enter without blowing up first.” “She managed to fix a sabotaged EAV, launch it, and send it on a solar trajectory to Kerbin. What makes you think she can’t re-enter? It seems pretty straightforward.” “To YOU, maybe. Do you know how many rookies fail the capsule LKO re-entry simulations in Basic?” “I dunno, but I bet some of them fail ON PURPOSE.” “Why would a cadet INTENTIONALLY fail to splash down correctly?” “I dunno, seeing an explosion or something on fire… satisfying the need for speed,” sighed Val. “You know… something JEB would do.” “Guess I should ask whoever’s in charge to take that into account when reporting performance stats, huh,” remarked Bill. “The point is that we need to catch Misty before she reaches her Kerbin periapsis, or else there’s a chance she won’t survive re-entry – and if that capsule blows up, Jeb Senior dies too.” “BEFORE she reaches periapsis, you say,” said Val. “What about after?” “Performing an orbital rendezvous with an object in a hyperbolic trajectory AFTER it passes periapsis is next to impossible,” argued Bill. “Sure, there’s a chance you can match velocities at the closest point after periapsis, but you’re TOO LATE if you wait until then to make your transfer burn.” “Then shouldn’t Mission Control account for Misty doing a gravity assist or an aerobrake?” “Gene said that they should have a pod in solar orbit in less than a month in case Misty decides to drift instead of land or surrender. As for the aerobrake part… Mission Control needs to calculate the periapsis altitude range that would put Misty in an elliptical orbit rather than a direct re-entry OR a hyperbolic orbit.” “That’s gonna be tricky,” commented Val. “It’s not like they could just use trial and error with incoming objects from Eve.” “If Misty did a REGULAR transfer burn from Eve to Kerbin, we could calculate her orbital velocity relative to the sun when she hit Kerbin,” added Bill. “However, since she made her exit burn TOO EARLY, it’s gonna be harder to find her orbital velocity – let alone that relative to Kerbin – since she’s at an abnormal trajectory.” “Even if they could do it in two seconds now, they STILL need to work with the atmosphere to calculate that altitude range,” said Val. “Honestly, do you really think that she’ll try that?” “If it means throwing off recovery crews, yes,” Bill answered. “I’m also guessing that her velocity relative to Kerbin will be higher than that of an Eve returner coming in on a regular trajectory.” “If I remember correctly, you get more aerodynamic resistance as you go lower in the atmosphere, right?” inquired Val. “That’s right,” confirmed Bill. “Additionally, as Misty’s EAV is equipped with an ablative heat shield, she would have less surface area for the atmosphere to act on than the inflatable one.” “It’d be really cool if the lab guys made a scale model of Kerbin’s atmosphere,” sighed Val, “and fired an object at a speed that could mimic the EAV’s.” “I doubt playing Human Space Program would help either,” agreed Bill. “Our best bet to rescue Jeb Senior is to rendezvous with the EAV before it hits the atmosphere.” “Which would require building… six armed SSTOs with a whole lot of delta-V in each,” said Val. “Kinda makes you wonder who’s paying for them.” “You know, now that you mention it, the ‘Double-Direction Hamsterwheel’ would make a very effective planetary defense plan,” commented Bill. “Any bad guys going in or out of Kerbin would get intercepted quickly.” “Hang on,” said Val, “I just got the instructions.” She then told Bill how to remove the monopropellant tank cap to look inside; there was some soil from Dres in it. After she reported Bill’s findngs to Mission Control, they ordered Bob to come outside with sample containers for Bill to put the soil in. “How the heck did Dres soil end up in your monopropellant tank?” wondered Bob. “It’s not like Dres has dust storms… or weather, for that matter.” “Yeah, how DID it end up in the tanks?” concurred Bill. “Maybe it got in through the surface harvester or the ore converter or something,” suggested Val. “Someone could have also left the docking port open and let dust get inside while another lander sent it flying everywhere.” “Eh… I don’t know if the drill or ore converter are to blame,” Bob disagreed. “Though this hasn’t been tested yet, wouldn’t the heat generated from either of them vaporize the solid soil?” “That could be your next science project,” said Val, “but aren’t they cooled off by the radiators?” “Yeah, but they’re designed to prevent the drill and ISRU unit from reaching CATASTROPHIC temperatures,” reminded Bill. “That doesn’t mean they’re not hot enough to vaporize the soil.” “What’s the big problem?” interrupted Jeb as he flew to the boys in his suit. “Couldn’t you just install a dust shield on the ore converters?” “Good question,” said Bill. “You might want to ask Mission Control about it.” “Hey, Jeb,” Val spoke on the radio. “How’s it going?” There was no answer. “He can’t talk now,” explained Bob, “he’s on a different channel.” “Then I think I should ask if it’s a good time to bring up his dad,” said Val. “He’s gotta forgive him sometime,” sighed Bill. “Until Jeb marries and has kids of his own, Jeb Senior’s the only family he has left.” “Even then, they gotta meet their grandpa sometime,” added Bob. “Assuming Misty doesn’t kill him first,” said Val. “Believe it or not, Jeb’s perfectly fine with that outcome,” said Bill. “Oh, I believe it, all right,” commented Val. “Hey, maybe you can be a better help than I can,” suggested Bill. “What makes you think I’m better?” wondered Val. “You’ve been friends with him WAY longer than I have.” “But you have a brother in prison for genocide,” reminded Bill. “M… maybe you can calm Jeb down since you both have family members that you despise.” “Hey, do you guys remember doing that ‘egg parenting’ experiment in school?” asked Bob. “Nope,” said Bill. “Me neither,” Val mentioned, “Vic, on the other hand, did.” “What, you two didn’t?” questioned Bob. “Why’d they get rid of it?” “Probably because there were too many cheaters,” sighed Val. “I just thought it was due to budget cuts,” said Bill. “Really, Bill? Budget cuts?” commented Val. “How expensive do you think eggs are?” “You know how bad the administration was at handling their money, especially when it came toward the school’s STEM department,” argued Bill. “That’s why I had to fly to WOOMERANG to test my rocket boosters.” “Seriously, it should cost about… 15 minutes of overtime just to afford two dozen eggs,” Val responded. “Anyway, Bob, what’s the point?” “First off, now you know why Mission Control employs more Wolverines than Badgers; you guys are careless with your cash,” joked Bob. “Tell Jeb Senior that,” replied Bill. “Speaking of which, how does some childish parenting experiment connect with what’s going on with him now?” “Jeb Senior was so afraid of losing that egg because of what happened to the last one,” explained Bob, “especially since the first egg died at the hands of the other parent. As a result, Jeb Senior didn’t trust his child with anyone else’s hands other than his own. However, he couldn’t just tell him the truth about his mom, or else he would be devastated.” “That’s what I told Jeb,” sighed Bill, “but he didn’t listen.” “Would you rather Jeb Senior tell him as a kid, when he would have been VERY impressionable?” argued Bob. “At that age, it would have devastating consequences. As an adult… Jeb SHOULD be mature enough to understand.” “Got it, guys,” interrupted Jeb. “They said that they tried sealing up the ISRU unit, but the machine blew up even with radiators and north pole temperatures.” “Well, how about that?” said Bill. “Anyway, what are we talking about?” “Um… hey, Bob, any ideas how the dust got into the monopropellant tanks?” lied Bill. “Someone must have left the docking port open while the lander was on the surface,” guessed Bob. “I’ll have to compare the soil composition at this craft’s previous sites to the samples we collected from the tank to determine if molecular structure was affected.” “Yeah… but HOW EXACTLY did it get in through an open port?” argued Bill. “It’s not like Dres has dust storms.” “I hate to break up the scientific debate here,” interrupted Val, “but Bill needs to get back inside the Defiant. He and I are heading down to the surface for Hadgan’s court martial in two hours.” “Why does he need to get back inside, Val? You got a lander right there,” said Jeb. “Actually, Mission Control told us to leave it docked until the regular checks were completed AND you guys have answered how dust got in the monoprop tanks,” explained Val. “A fuel-and-oxidizer lander is on its way.” “Speaking of the dust issue,” said Bob, “any ideas how it got in the tanks?” “Someone probably left the docking port open while ANOTHER LANDER was blowing dust next to it,” guessed Val. “The force provided by a landing rocket may compensate for a lack of wind,” agreed Bill. “Either way, I’m taking a closer look at the dust from the tank to study how its molecular composition was affected – if at all,” said Bob. “Is this all of it?” “Yep,” said Bill. “We may also want to see how the Dres dust affected the monoprop in the tanks.” “Bob, you get started with the soil,” said Val. “I’ll send someone up here to take care of the monopropellant.” “Wait,” gasped Bill, “do you remember which tank you put the lander’s monoprop in?” “Relax, Bill. I put it in Tank Five of the Defiant,” assured Val. “And yes, it was empty; I’m not Jeb.” “Hey,” Jeb remarked. “Everyone, remember that tank number,” said Bob. “Odds are that the dust didn’t affect monopropellant performance, but I want to be sure everything is accounted for when we do this experiment.” “Speaking of experiments,” started Bill, “we’re still calculating the altitude range Misty needs to conduct an orbital aerobrake.” “Why would she do that?” asked Jeb. “Seems like a lot of hassle, if you ask me.” “To throw off recovery crews,” answered Bill. “Aside from that, I need to calculate what orbital trajectories are ships in a Double-Direction Hamsterwheel arrangement least likely to successfully rendezvous with before the target reaches periapsis.” “Could you dial that down a few notches, please?” Jeb requested, and Bill sighed. “Finding the Hamsterwheel’s weak spots.” “Weak spots? It’s pretty obvious, dude; they take forever to make a full orbit.” “First of all, when Misty hits the sphere of influence…,” started Bill. “Tchhh. What’s… that?” asked Jeb, then he made static sounds again. “You tchhh breaking u… tchhh!” “Jeb, I’m floating right next to you,” said Bill, and Jeb pointed at his own helmet. “Comm status report on Jeb.” “Jeb Kerman’s communication systems are functioning normally,” answered Bill’s suit computer. “Bill, time to get inside,” said Val. “The lander already made its intercept burn.” “Coming,” Bill responded, then he entered the station through the airlock while Jeb came in from the other side. “Man, Jeb’s being a baby today.” “How come?” “He used the old static trick on his comm, even though I was right next to him and his communication systems were fine,” explained Bill. “He did that the first time I mentioned Misty.” “Because catching Misty would also mean rescuing his dad,” Val figured out. “Wait,” gasped Bill, “we forgot to finish lander maintenance.” “I sent a replacement crew to finish up,” assured Val. “Even when that’s done, we can’t use it until we sort out the issue with the dust.” “Gives me more time to figure out Misty’s next move,” smirked Bill. “Not now, you’re not,” objected Val. “First off, we need to be at court martial soon. Second, what are YOU gonna do about Misty. Unless you got a hyperdrive hidden on this rock, you’re not gonna catch her; someone on Kerbin will.” “Then why can’t I help?” “You can at least tell them what Misty may plan to do based on your knowledge on both her and Irpond,” suggested Val. “I am,” said Bill, “see.” “That’s not what I meant,” clarified Val. “I meant figuring out what her endgame was.” “I’m an engineer, not a criminal profiler,” said Bill. “You know more about Irpond AND Misty than anyone else who’s alive AND accounted for,” argued Val. “You have access to their service records.” “So does Mission Control, but they won’t tell you everything,” reminded Val. “For instance, the incident involving your rocket and Misty’s house fire won’t show up because neither mother nor daughter were active KSP members at the time. Even if one of them was, their personal lives won’t go on record unless it either affected their job performance or that of the program’s.” “I’m pretty sure everything I got from Irpond and Misty’s emails, I forwarded to Double-I,” said Bill. “If you want to get inside Misty’s head, talk to someone in the KBI.” “Then you should focus more on what’s going on in Dres’ sphere of influence rather than in Kerbin’s,” assured Val. “By the way, your aerobrake mapper won’t work.” “How so?” “You could have bad weather where she’s re-entering,” explained Val. “Aside from that, I read on the news a year ago that someone went through three aerobraking passes after returning from Eve.” “Let me see,” sighed Bill, then he searched on Oogle for the article Val mentioned. “Hey, what do you know, someone did do three aerobraking orbits. Hang on one sec.” He carefully inspected the publication date and rewound Transfer Window Alarm Clock. “This guy said he flew to visit Gilly, and the capsule he used is for solo Gilly landers, so he must have had a high Eve parking orbital period before blasting off. Taking that into account and subtracting the average Eve-to-Kerbin transit time from the landing date, I can say he most likely left Eve’s sphere of influence at the NORMAL TRANSFER WINDOW.” “What’s that got to do with anything?” “Misty left early, remember,” said Bill, “so her incoming trajectory and velocity will be different from that of what you’d expect from a craft leaving Eve at the regular transfer window. Even if she managed to get this tourist’s initial Kerbin periapsis, there’s no guarantee it will work for her the same way it worked for him. That, and their capsules have different drag.” “Mission Control can work all that out and implement the solution faster than you can,” said Val. “You should have told them that before I noticed a discrepancy in Irpond’s service record,” countered Bill. “I figured out Irpond was the killer, I calculated that she was on Dres, I led Bob’s rescue. If anybody’s going to stop Misty, it’s…” “NOT you,” interrupted Val. “Last time you said that, nearly 200 people died in an SSTO explosion,” Bill recalled. “Because Irpond hijacked Matt’s kPad and messed with the operation code,” Val mentioned. “This time, Misty doesn’t have Irpond to help her mess up rescue craft.” “That doesn’t mean that she won’t have aces up her sleeve.” “What’s she gonna do? It’s not like she can have military spaceplanes self-destruct, not to mention that Irpond hasn’t communicated with her since she escaped the Defiant.” “Then I gotta figure out what she can do, and fast.” “Right now, you gotta be ready for court martial,” reminded Val. “Get dressed and compile your notes should the court ask for them.” “Uh, Val, I don’t have a dress uniform.” “Oh, yeah,” said Val. “Well, in that case, you’d better put on some… oh, crap.” “What?” “I don’t have my uniform either,” realized Val. “Where is it?” asked Bill. “Calculus Base,” answered Val. “Where our court martial is?” questioned Bill, and Val nodded. “Then what’s the problem?” “I can’t wear it since they’re using it as evidence,” explained Val. “I always go to court in my uniform.” “Why would they use your uniform as evidence? I thought Hadgan was on trial, not to mention that you were in the base chapel when he shot Irpond.” “Irpond got her DNA all over it when she tried to impersonate me during her second escape,” explained Val. “I’ll just keep my suit and explain why I’m not wearing my uniform right now.” “Too bad Dres doesn’t have a formalwear rental shop,” sighed Bill. “That would be cool.” “If more tourists came here, then there would be a demand for it,” added Val. “Back in Poseidon’s Palace, it was very profitable.” “And now you have a bunch of expensive clothes – along with equipment and bodies – trapped in the fallout zone,” said Bill. “Thanks to that monster, both tourist and personnel demand for Laythe has dropped to almost zero,” Val told him. “Even worse, many blamed me for causing it.” “You? Why you?” “The evidence: I was Vic’s sister,” sighed Val. “Oh,” said Bill. “Shouldn’t matter now; we know it was actually Irpond – NOT you.” “To some idiots, it doesn’t matter,” replied Val. “In fact, some are even going as far as to say I FRAMED her.” Bill looked confused as he lightly pushed himself off the ceiling. “Didn’t you read the news?” “Only the STEM section,” Bill admitted. “The rest is just irrelevant garbage and does not concern me now that I’m in space.” “I probably should do the same,” commented Val. “On the other hand, don’t you wanna know what’s going on in Baikerbanur?” “If it was of any concern or interest, either Dad or Mission Control would contact me.” “Well, after we get our notes straight, we should…,” started Val. “Bill,” Bob’s voice spoke on his kPad, “could you meet me in the lab, please? I need some help with this Dres dust thing.” “On my way,” replied Bill, “but I can’t stay long. I need to get down for a court martial, remember?” “Won’t take long.” “Later, Val,” Bill told her before leaving. 45 minutes later, Bill and Val were in a lander awaiting their de-orbit burn. “So, what’s the story about the monoprop?” asked Val. “The dust appeared to have dissolved in the monopropellant, but the process was extremely slow thanks to the cold temperatures,” said Bill. “Assuming that the dust went unnoticed, it would have taken…,” he stammered as he checked his notes, “8 days, 1 hour, and 23 minutes for that much dust to have dissolved completely.” “You didn’t need to be that precise,” sighed Val. “Couldn’t you have figured out when the dust GOT IN the lander?” “Actually, no,” answered Bill. “We don’t know how much dust got in there in the first place, nor do we know if it got in all at once or accumulated through repeated use.” “Good point,” agreed Val. “That’s probably why Mission Control ordered that lander shut down until further notice.” “Yeah, we’ll definitely have problems if dust is getting into more than just the monopropellant tanks,” remarked Bill. “I checked for similar incidents and found two; one on Duna with a spaceplane, the other on Moho with a fuel truck.” “Okay. You got your notes for the trial ready, right?” “Yes,” said Bill. “I don’t even see why we need to try Hadgan? Irpond was a mass murderer who was too dangerous to be left alive.” “They say that, if we don’t convict Hadgan, then people will start killing criminals themselves rather than go through the legal system,” explained Val. “Yeah, like we trust them one bit,” remarked Bill, and Val laughed. “I do see their point. Though Irpond was CLEARLY guilty, what’s to stop us from killing someone who’s actually INNOCENT?” “Hey, here’s an idea,” said Bill, “you call the prosecutors traitors for siding with Irpond.” “Funny, that’s the same thing Vic told me,” Val recalled. “I could try that, but we’re just witnesses in the court martial.” “I hope Mission Control doesn’t focus too much effort on this sham trial,” said Bill angrily. “We need to focus on getting Jeb Senior back.” “Why don’t we just read something to take our mind off this,” suggested Val. “Here, let’s start with… aw, man.” “What?” wondered Bill. “Our swim team lost AGAIN,” answered Val, then she showed him the headline. SCIENCE GUYS CRUSH BADGERS “I don’t think it’s THAT big a deal,” Bill disagreed. “I mean, I’d bet against us too if we were up against the Science Guys.” “Me too, if we were against a bunch of ten-year-olds,” said Val. “From Nye?” “From ANYWHERE,” clarified Val. “Uhh… is our swim team REALLY that bad?” “Yep,” sighed Val. “We’ve been sucking for the past two… hey, wait a minute. How do YOU know Nye’s that good? I thought you only read the STEM section.” “Actually, Nye’s winning streak was the main focus of an article there… and here we go.” VICTORY PROVEN NYE’S BIRTHRIGHT “What the…” gasped Val as she kept reading. “Training since birth?” “When it comes to swimming, going against the Science Guys is suicide,” explained Bill. “First thing they do with their kids when they learn to walk is get them in swim classes. It’s a part of their annual school curriculum, in fact.” “Wow,” said Val. “No wonder Matt and Scott took the submarine job.” “Scott, you mean the bald guy who Irpond convinced to frame you?” “Yes, who else?” “Huh, that makes sense,” said Bill. “Speaking of Matt, he told me that he was assigned to design a luxury ring station orbiting Laythe.” “Ring stations are the ones that generate gravity, right?” questioned Val, and Bill nodded. “I thought we already had a station in orbit.” “That’s what I said, but Mission Control wanted a new tourist attraction to replace Poseidon’s Palace until they figure out what to do about the Fallout Zone,” explained Bill. “And yes, they OFFICIALLY renamed that region of Laythe the Fallout Zone.” “It’s not just Poseidon’s Palace and those kerbals we lost,” Val lamented. “The Ryagii Tribe was wiped out, the crops were killed, and their village is now a poisonous wasteland.” “Have you ever interacted with them?” “Well… I do recall driving a sick child to our medical wing a few weeks before Sheri was killed,” said Val. “The doctors said that Laythan medical practices were inadequate to save his life, but OUR facilities were.” “That’s weird, because our medics are trained for KERBALS, not Laythans,” Bill pointed out. “I think you’d better read the report if you want further details, or ask Bob about it,” Val suggested. “Heck, I was just a driver while someone else spoke with them. If you want to talk to someone who’s ACTUALLY interacted with them, try Bob.” “I wonder if we’ve made contact with any tribes OTHER than the Clivar and Ryagii,” said Bill. “We probably have,” replied Val, “but you hear about those two more often because they were a major part of our first exploration missions… and the military’s biggest scandal.” “First the Clivar, and then the Ryagii; two tribes wiped out by kerbalkind,” Bill mentioned. “Kinda makes you wonder what we’re even doing on that rock.” “Yeah, kinda does,” agreed Val. “It also makes me wonder if it’s even worth it to colonize Laythe anymore.” “Why, because of Irpond?” shrugged Bill. “More like Irpond AND Vic,” said Val. “I’m not sure the other Laythans will be too happy with us killing two tribes that were total opposites of each other. Besides, it’s not like we can extradite Irpond to Laythe to face justice… even if we struck a deal with them.” “Another reason why I picked Duna as a ret…,” said Bill. “T-minus ten minutes to de-orbit burn,” the autopilot interrupted. “You do realize the air isn’t breathable, right?” reminded Val. “Well, I wouldn’t exactly remove my helmet on Laythe either,” argued Bill. “At least we get to use air-breathing engines when we fly,” said Val, “whereas on DUNA, you have to use closed-cycle engines.” “True,” said Bill, then his kPad pinged. “Ooh, Spaceplane Monthly.” “What are they rolling out of the hangar now?” wondered Val. “Huh,” said Bill as he downloaded the PDF. “They’re building a new spaceplane airport in Woomerang.” “Let me guess,” sighed Val, “Jeb’s Junkyard is building it.” “No, it’s Dinklestein Kerman’s Construction Emporium,” corrected Bill. “Wait a second, I thought Woomerang ALREADY had an airport,” recalled Val. “Well, according to this, it ‘didn’t have the proper facilities,’ to maintain and operate spaceplanes,” said Bill. “Then why not just upgrade the airport for spaceplanes?” questioned Val. “Wouldn’t that cost less money than building a whole new airport?” “It says that upgrading Woomerang Airport would require shutting down about half of it for construction space,” explained Bill. “Besides that, a bunch of environmentalists were protesting that adding spaceplanes to the air traffic would increase the sound pollution concentration.” “Yeah, that would do it,” agreed Val. “So, where in Woomerang is the new airport located?” “A few kilometers southeast of the city.” “Wait a second,” said Val, scratching her chin. “Baikerbanur’s closer to the equator than Woomerang, so why build a spaceport in Woomerang at all?” “Hey, you’re right,” gasped Bill. “Whatever planes they’ll use are going to need a lot of LKO delta-V for inclination changes… hang on.” “What is it?” “In a few days, their CEO is flying in a docking-capable spaceplane to the Gaia Hotel; located in 45-degree orbit 250 kilometers above sea level,” said Bill. “Aw, kraken, Dinklestein’s building the airport just for his new hotel.” “What’s wrong with that?” questioned Val. “The airport is being used to get people on and off his new space station, not for anything more,” complained Bill. “It’s his own money being spent here, and we have plenty of high delta-V planes in commission,” argued Val. “Relax.” “I can’t relax,” said Bill. “I just learned that not only is the new spaceplane airport being built in WOOMERANG, but its sole purpose was an LKO luxury vacation starting point.” “What’s the problem with the airport’s location?” “Hello, it’s at Woomerang, home of Team Misty and Irpond,” reminded Bill. “Misty could steal a plane and make her getaway.” “Hmm,” said Val. “I doubt it.” “How so?” “If I were Misty, I’d get this,” said Val, showing Bill a headline on her kPad. ALL-TOURIST JOOL-5 PLANE LANDED “JOOL-5?” gasped Bill. “Let me see that.” Val then gave Bill her kPad and he read. “Four tourists use a mining-capable SSTO to land on ALL FIVE of Jool’s moons? They even brought back samples to give to the KSC when they were all done. Everything was fully recovered. Wow, whoever designed this was awesome.” “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that, if I was on the run with a hostage, I’d go for something with a whole lot of range and able to refuel itself,” Val pointed out. “Since the name of the plane model is also on the news, Misty would be able to know what to steal.” “Wait a minute,” interrupted Bill. “It says here that, for the Tylo landings, open-cockpit landers were deployed from the main craft. Both she and Jeb Senior are EVA-certified, so she may use them to land on larger bodies while the plane is in orbit.” “Or she could use the lander as a decoy,” said Val. “If she tried to return to the ship with the lander, odds are that someone would have intercepted her.” “Oh, yeah, like we did,” smirked Bill. “Now that you bring up the Jool-5 plane, there’s no guarantee that she’ll end up anywhere near Woomerang. I mean, assuming she doesn’t miss the atmosphere or blow up during re-entry, for all I know she could end up in the middle of Squaddon.” “That’s what Mission Control is doing, predicting where she would land based on her trajectory.” “Then what’s she going to do after that, huh?” asked Bill. “To be safe, we should put a full lockdown on Kerbin. Nobody gets on the ground, nobody gets off.” “Easier said than done,” disagreed Val. “Sure, Prime Minister Ryan is hard on crime – probably even more than Trunton was – but implementing a full lockdown on KERBIN to catch ONE CRIMINAL would cause massive outrage. Worst-case scenario, we have a thermonuclear war on our hands.” “Yeah, like you didn’t anger every kerbal on every other planet or moon you did that on,” countered Bill. “Oh, if I thought the crap I got for the Dres lockdown was bad, wait until I tick off 99 percent of the Kerbal population – and on their home planet,” warned Val. “Someone may even give Misty an Ultimate Challenge rocket out of spite for me.” “Hedge Kerman implemented such a lockdown on Kerbin when he was prime minister, yet I don’t remember much public outrage then,” said Bill. “So your parents say,” reminded Val, “we were starting preschool when the Krakenites attacked our cities on 297. Also, the Krakenites were ORGANIZED GLOBAL TERRORISTS while Misty is just a lovesick maniac with a captive boyfriend. Even I think a full lockdown is too much, and I’m sure a good part of the central government would too.” “Says she who implemented one on Dres when the lovesick maniac’s DAUGHTER escaped.” “Because we had limited alternatives and resources to track her,” explained Val. “Besides, things are run on other planets differently than on Kerbin.” “Well, do YOU have any ideas to catch Misty?” “I do like your idea of a lockdown, but NOT on all flights,” started Val. “Flights with three or less occupants should be grounded, sure, but that won’t cause too many problems since they’re only small exploration crews and private spacecraft owners.” “What about cadet training flights?” questioned Bill. “If you were so concerned about the lockdown backfiring, then you should consider the possibility that Mission Control will demand they continue – especially if Misty ends up NOWHERE NEAR Krakopolis.” “I thought of that, said Val. “If you read the performance stats for the spaceplane they use – which is the… Lovebird, I think – then you’ll know that it can’t go any further than LKO before making a safe de-orbit burn.” “They use the JL-4 Lovebird for cadet training?” gasped Bill, then he started looking through his kPad. “I thought those were for customers who paid for a couple’s trip to LKO.” “I heard that they’re good for early-level cadets who signed up for the spaceplane track,” said Val. “If Misty gets her hands on one of them, she won’t get far since they don’t have much fuel and oxidizer.” “And they have a Mission Control override system in case something goes wrong,” added Bill after accessing the design specs for the JL-4 Lovebird spaceplane. “Even if Jeb Senior tries to escape, and Misty uses the instructor override, we could just bring her back. Furthermore… even if she cuts off all communications with the ground so that Mission Control can’t transmit the override command, she won’t go anywhere without… ooh, a docking port.” “Docking port?” wondered Val. “Let me see that.” Val then spun the model of the plane on the screen and looked underneath the fuselage. “How about that, an underside docking port. ‘To be used for rendezvous drills or orbital refueling.’ If Misty needs any more fuel, she’s gonna get a death squad along with it.” “Okay… but she still has Jeb Senior hostage. She could just hole herself in the plane and threaten to kill Jeb Senior if anyone gets near that plane. Apart from that, she snuck in the space center.” “Yes, but she was alone and waited for her target to land,” Val recalled. “Ever wonder why she didn’t just hijack Sally’s plane and kill her before crashing it? Security was tight in the boarding areas, but NOT TIGHT ENOUGH around where Sally was shot. Misty would know that sneaking aboard a low-capacity spacecraft that’s scheduled to launch is too risky, so she backed out; even if she took a Lovebird, we have a fail-safe option.” “Okay, but we should keep planes like the Mun Hopper and Dirtblood on lockdown,” reminded Bill. “They’re designed for interplanetary flights – the Dirtblood after a refueling stop – and they fit your three-or-less criteria. Speaking of which, why let flights with four or more occupants go?” “The public’s not going to be too happy with stopping commercial flights on Misty’s account, so the government will HAVE to let them go,” said Val. “HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean we can’t watch who gets on and off.” “Don’t we ALREADY do that?” “Yes, but recent KAA regulations mandate that all occupants are checked one-by-one to see if they’re designated passengers and crew,” Val elaborated. “Moreover, they also greenlit using facial recognition software and well as fingerprint scans.” “Okay, but… what about stowing away?” questioned Bill. “Dude, do you really think that she’s going to stash herself and her captive in an airliner after what happened in Woomerang?” sighed Val. “I’m just considering every possibility, that’s all,” said Bill. “We have entire bureaus dedicated to tracking criminals like her,” reminded Val. “None of which have seen the likes of Misty OR Irpond,” argued Bill. “Name one criminal other than them who killed hundreds of people on two or more planets.” “Victor Kerman and his Laythe commandos,” answered Val. “But they technically weren’t fugitives; ALL of them were accounted for before their arrests. By the way, the Clivar Scandal got blown wide open thanks to Irpond.” “YOU’RE MISSING THE POINT!” shouted Val. “Just like with Irpond, Misty will slip up and then KERBIN’S law enforcement will catch her. When they do, she won’t get away with it THIS time. YOU just need to relax and do your job.” “But what if they don’t save Jeb Senior?” “Unless you were in the same sphere of influence, there was nothing you could do except offer some clues. Now, either you flirt with me or get back to reading Spaceplane Monthly.” “But…,” stammered Bill. “THAT’S AN ORDER, engineer.” “Yes… Admiral,” sighed Bill, then he got back to reading his kPad. “Oh, no.” “What?” “WinterOwl and C7 are teaming up to REPLACE the interplanetary travel pod,” Bill complained. “Who would dare dethrone MY pod?” THY TIME HATH COME, TRAVEL POD “You knew this day was coming, dude,” said Val. “Your pod had a great run, but EVERY king must lose his crown SOMETIME. How do you think the ones who designed the craft YOU replaced felt?” “But… but… I shaped space travel for our species.” “And it’s time for it to evolve. I’m actually surprised your pod didn’t get replaced SOONER, in fact.” “Which would you rather take, Val? My creation that has worked for almost two decades already, or some new spaceplane fresh out of the hangar.” “Honestly, assuming BOTH prototypes work, I’d take the spaceplane,” answered Val. “I mean, you gotta admit, we are leaving debris everywhere whenever we launch a pod.” “At what cost?” “You don’t know that.” “The interplanetary travel pod has boasted the highest delta-V capacity of any spacecraft that can carry more than five people in a closed capsule AND has a thrust of over 60 kilonewtons. Consider what you’ll be giving up when you get on one of those planes.” “Look, Bill, let’s face it. You cannot stop them from trying to replace you… I mean, your pod. All you can do is offer your advice on their design trade-offs, but they won’t let you on the design team unless they accept you.” “Good luck with that,” said Bill sarcastically. “I’d rather be in a craft that can get me anywhere.” He said before he started reading. “Wynter Kerman the Fourth has stated that she intends for one of the ‘Throne Planes’ to be able to land on… Tylo. This lady’s getting pretty ambitious.” “Whoa,” gasped Val. “Reusable Tylo ascent and descent vehicles are pretty hard to design, let alone operate. If she can do that, then she can do the Jool-5.” “That’s… her goal,” said Bill, pointing at the article. “I hope she has enough delta-V for her next stop after the orbital ascent.”
  12. It's been done before. You can also build something as absurd as a toilet, like one that @vyznev built last year. I also build some absurd stuff myself, like: An asymmetrical aircraft Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated Replica of a building from the animated TV series Phineas and Ferb You don't necessarily need a rocket to build a base (unless you want to take it somewhere). If you just want to show it off, that's fine. 21-Rocket Salute Vehicle @徐俊睿, I think you would be interested in the Chinese-speaking part of the KSP Forums. The "International" category is specially devoted to non-English speakers who would rather use their own language when asking for help. Of course, the English-speaking players would be more than happy to assist you as well. https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/forum/90-chinese-中文/ Rocket-building can vary in difficulty, depending on your mission purpose. If you're just starting out, there are numerous YouTube tutorials that guide you through starting KSP. I made a couple of them last year for building your first rockets and planes (but I never got past #2). If you can't understand what I'm saying, then you can at least follow what's going on in the video. Wishing you all the best.
  13. FROM THE OFFICE OF WERNHER VON KERMAN It has been officially confirmed that life exists on Laythe. Not only that, it has apparently evolved to the point where it can form seafaring civilizations. The Neptune VII's had logged its last refueling stop on Laythe's southern ice caps and reported no problems landing in the (relative) darkness. Before they landed, they transmitted this photograph with a stunning view of Jool from the sky. After what seems like months of refueling in that frozen biome, the crew took off again and headed north towards the DeGrasse Sea. They made sure to launch when it would be daytime where they were heading. During the ascent, they sent home another postcard-worthy photograph of Jool. After seeing the beauty of the green gas giant (or, what some of the younger employees like to call, the Triple-G), I think we can benefit from selling postcards with these pictures. Perhaps we should put them in our tourist vessels. Then again, how are they going to be sent across the solar system? Electronic transmission? On their way to the sea, the crew saw the island where the Neptune IV was before it made its exit ascent from Laythe. When the crew had arrived in the specified airspace, mission pilot Gusbles Kerman noticed something odd out his cockpit window. While his plane was still ablaze from the supersonic speeds (which, I assure you, pose no threat if he flies it correctly), he leaned over and took a picture from his seat. Those brown dots look like ships, which we certainly DID NOT send to Laythe. The only logical conclusion is that they originated from Laythe. Gusbles then descended over the DeGrasse Sea to get some scientific data from closer to the ocean. During his descent, his sensors picked up what appeared to be a signal flare coming from the water. Samdard had logged that he guessed that the fleet of ships Gusbles saw noticed the plane and used the flares as a means of communicating to other ships about our presence. Green signal flare seen over the horizon. Those Laythan sailors must have some powerful telescopes if they can see the flare from that far. Fortunately, it didn't go high enough to cause any damage to the Neptune VII. Detected to have gone up to 5 km altitude before its vertical velocity turned negative. The plane was 15 km high at the time this picture was taken. Gusbles then changed his heading to avoid the Laythan ships before flying less than 1 km above the DeGrasse Sea. The crew didn't get much data, though (except for goo) since the Neptune V girls had already did a lot of science-harvesting while mapping out potential landing spots. After that, Gusbles turned his plane slightly northwest and flew towards Crater Island in an attempt for obtaining more data. When the Neptune VII had reached the surrounding islands, they detected more flares rising from the surface. It was morning in the area, so one would think that it was a Laythan tradition to fire a wake-up flare or something like that. However, if we connect that with what the kerbals observed with the ships several minutes prior, it seems like that it's a warning signal whenever someone sees our planes. Since no Neptune kerbalnauts reported any attempts to shoot down their spacecraft - except for some whackjob on Kerbin who aimed a laser pointer at the Neptune IV when it was landing - we can reasonably assume that either the Laythans don't perceive the kerbalnauts as a threat or they're just not capable of high-range anti-aircraft combat (or both). We can also assume that they are not capable of long-range communications, as seen by the need to use signal flares to communicate our presence. Since we had not detected satellites orbiting Laythe other than our own, they're probably incapable of space travel. Whether or not they can fly through the air is still a mystery. If they were, how come they didn't show up on our scanners? Better yet, how come the Neptune V kerbalnauts didn't report the Crater Island civilizations when they visited it the first time? Are the Laythans experts in hiding themselves from us, or do Lisa and Givan have something to hide? Meanwhile, the Eelootian story has seemed to repeat itself. Some rookie engineer named Dacan Kerman got herself stranded in the northeastern hemisphere - in an old lander can, no less - and we sent a recently-developed ISRU-capable spacecraft to rescue her. Now the question remains: do we send her straight to Kerbin, or have her stop at Ike first? With these photos as proof, we can tell the public that we know for sure that civilizations exist outside of Kerbin. Internal Investigations will begin questioning Lisa and Givan about their possible encounter with the Crater Island Laythans, but it seems like the Laythans just hid themselves so well that not even they - let alone all our probes - spotted them. Though it's way better than the natives trying to kill us, I would prefer that we establish a friendly relationship with them. After all, if we're going to send kerbalkind to Laythe on a regular basis, we might as well get to know our neighbors. Wernher Von Kerman Year 64, Day 275 0H00M
  14. Thanks to the combined efforts of my Lazybird and the Mass Ore Transport stationed on Eeloo, I rescued a stranded engineer named Dacan Kerman. Making my de-orbit burn while approaching the target. You can see the Ice Canyon in the background here. It took a couple of refueling runs - one with the mass ore transport, and one with an older model with a lower ore capacity - to fill this baby up. Good thing that I put a docking port on the top of the plane, so it can do more than just hang on to the carrier plane. Dacan Kerman in front of a flag after the plane landed 100 meters from the can. I was actually surprised it was the older can model, seeing how it changed after 1.6. Now I just need to refuel this thing on Eeloo's surface before launching into orbit - and having the ore transport refuel it again. After that, the question is: should I go straight to Kerbin, or do I stop at Duna first? KERBIN Pros Get home quicker May save fuel via aerobraking ALSO RISKY Cons Chance of blowing up during aerobraking And I have scientific data in that plane's probe core. May not have enough delta-V for a safe ejection+insertion+landing Aerobraking may also be insufficient, too. DUNA Pros Will require less delta-V Mass ore transport on standby on Ike Cons Take longer to get home What do you think I should do?
  15. GUSBLES KERMAN'S MISSION LOG: Y64D176 - 0H00M Even with the tanks (mostly) full, the controls on this plane are very sensitive. So sensitive, in fact, that I almost crashed my plane 30 seconds after takeoff while turning toward my desired heading. I then gained up to 2 km altitude and flew away, heading towards Sector RT-F. Us at 2.8 km altitude, breaking the sound barrier. For the most part, I should avoid turns. Several minutes later, we flew over the island holding Trident Base. The picture below shows us at ~22 km altitude, flying at 915 m/s. While we were flying there, we just realized: Samdard forgot to repack the drag chutes. On the bright side, the sensitive controls made it easier for us to lose speed mid-air (aside from the airbrakes). As soon as we saw our target island, we slowed down and began our descent. Notice the tiny spot of water in the middle of the island (not the one above engine three). We ended up landing almost ten kilometers away. After we landed, Samdard repacked the chutes and started running towards that lake. I gotta admit the guy's dedication to getting us a lake sample; he ran all the way there all by himself, dove in the pond, got a sample, and ran it back to the plane. He reported feeling cold in that suit. We plan to fly around the moon a little more, but it seems like we won't be getting anything new since the previous missions already had - especially the all-girl mission that jotted down the good landing spots. At best, we could get some goo data that the Neptune IV missed during its tourist run. We could also relay back some advice on how to use the private spaceplane on Laythe. The Neptune VII (our plane) is basically a private spaceplane modified to be carried on another spaceplane - and with its docking capabilities removed. Meanwhile, we had heard that a surface outpost on its way to Eeloo had finally landed somewhere in one of that snowball's canyons. Immediately after Mission Control got confirmation, they accepted an expansion contract and started working on the new module. Inner Canyon base on Eeloo. Yes, I know the ground in this shot is brown and not white. That's just because of the local terrain. Besides, the only other place with medium-dark brown terrain (that I know of) is Moho - which makes it more impressive (unless you account for the temperature regulation design) Notice the docking ports on the sides. That's because whoever paid for this knew that it would be expanded soon after landing. Base prototype with the new module being tested at the KSC. New module also has a large docking port in case we need to attach something there. I don't know how we're going to send bases like this one to Laythe, but I'm sure the engineers back home would figure it out. At least we can send these bases to three of the other Jool moons (no way we're sending them to Tylo), then we can expand our hold on Jool and the celestial bodies orbiting it. I just hope Bop and Pol aren't too bouncy.
  16. Okay, @DRAG0Nmon. Here's my OFFICIAL entry for this challenge. Bedsheetz Further Details And now, for the transport SSTO P-5 Olympian And together, you get a safe flight to a nice hotel high above Kerbin. Complete with nice views of the planet and the night sky, as well as a Minmus-ready mining-capable SSTO.
  17. Sorry, but yes you do. Aw, man. I was going to show off my Jool Ring. Crew capacity: 91 Including 4 science labs (with scientific instruments) ISRU capabilities Six docking ports ~400G relays Kerbnet action group Specifically, the probe core. Has enough delta-V to make it to any of the five moons A docking-capable variant of the Poseidon SSTO connected with the ring station over Laythe. SSTO is mining-capable (regardless of variant) and holds 20 people. Has proven to have landed on Kerbin safely. Though this may not qualify as an entry, I thought I might want to show off what I can do.
  18. Johnknee Kerman was a scientist exploring Laythe's Crater Island (15* 20' 30" N, 65* 22' 24" W), where several animals were photographed in a recon flight. One small dog-like animal in particular caught his attention, then he went over to pet it. Little did he know that it was not only a baby, but its vicious mother was nearby. Johnknee was mauled in seconds, dying after the mother's 20-centimeter claws pierced his heart through his EVA suit. Dr. Kendall Kerman will die from koronavirus.
  19. Hey, @Lewie, I made my own SR-71 Blackbird replica and took it to space. As a bonus, I took some pictures. Spacebird Mk. I The next variant/s will be mining and/or docking-capable. Craft file - https://kerbalx.com/Mars-Bound_Hokie/Spacebird-Mk-I
  20. SAMDARD KERMAN'S MISSION LOG: Y64D147 - 5H00M As expected, we have made it to Laythe in almost half the time as the other spaceplanes before us. Though Bop refueling took way longer than expected, we converted enough fuel for a safe landing. In fact, since we had set our Laythe periapsis to 42 km on approach, we aerobraked through the atmosphere and was lucky enough to land on the sunny side of the moon with some nearby islands. Getting kind of hot in here. Gusbles remembered the hard way that the controls to the plane were very sensitive. That's probably one reason why the spaceplane was carried through Kerbin in the first place. Immediately after we stopped, we went outside and planted a flag before starting to refuel. We still had plenty of Lf in the tank when we landed, thanks to our aerobrake. Before we took off from Bop, we heard about what happened on Duna with Johnfrid and Enmal. Since there have been no signs of them since Mission Control lost contact with the T-6 Cannonball prototype, we'll have to assume the worst. Back on Kerbin, there was a 21-Rocket Salute performed in their honor. I don't know why anyone would accuse Bill of murder-by-notebook; it just sounds ridiculous. After examining the design for the T-6 Cannonball, I will say this: if Bill wanted to kill them, all he had to do was sit back and watch the show. As a general rule, it's not a good idea to send any spaceplanes not specifically designed for Duna through its atmosphere.
  21. Nothing happened; "H Kerman" was an alias. Yuri Kerman will freeze to death on Eeloo.
  22. A 333-part spaceplane-carried spaceplane is NOTHING compared to a 1202-part Jool ring station. If you want to overwork your CPU, you should try that. And if you think my ring's bad for your computer's health, wait until you see @HolidayTheLeek's Aqua-Sama. That craft currently holds the KerbalX record for highest part count (8,450). On an unrelated note, I accepted a contract to expand one of my surface bases. But first, I had to test the expansion module on Kerbin to ensure that docking is possible.
  23. Nice job, and I certainly see the appeal (except for the lack of safety railings). Now, here's MY efficient spacecraft launcher: A spaceplane that carries a spaceplane Just return the large plane when you're done. The main spaceplane (the one that's being carried) has 4,975 m/s of delta-V once detached. Craft file: https://kerbalx.com/Mars-Bound_Hokie/Lazybird
  24. Finally, after seven (in-game) years, I completed my Eeloo outpost contract. Landed inside one of Eeloo's canyons, explaining why the ground underneath is brown. Craft file: https://kerbalx.com/Mars-Bound_Hokie/Eeloo-Outpost
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