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  1. JAXA+ | Japanese Crewed Venus Mission "Ame-no-Uzume" (2037-2040)
  2. 2039-12-03 - The Ame-no-Uzume Venus mission heads back to Earth, returning 11 months later on 2040-11-03
  3. 2039 -11-29 - Once the crew were all inside the Venus Transport Vehicle, the Ascent Vehicle undocked and was de-orbited. Like the Mars mission, departure from Venus happened in multiple phases, with a burn into an elliptical orbit (lasting 4 days), an inclination change near the high point, and a final escape burn on 2039-12-03. However, the remaining propellant on the Venus Orbit Stage was also used for one last boost (300 m/s) before the Earth Return Stage took over and used up over 4200 m/s of delta-v. The ERS had two LE-7-R and two LE-5B-3 engines. Third and final phase of Trans-Earth Injection (1495 m/s) 2040-11-03 - Because this mission was a short-stay (opposition class), Earth was not in an optimal position for a minimum-energy (Hohmann) transfer. Thus, the journey back to Earth ended up taking 11 months instead of 5 months, going as far as Mars's orbit around the Sun, so that the Earth could catch up in its orbit. Upon arrival, the VTV was travelling with over several km/s in excess velocity. The crew undocked in the Earth Arrival Vehicle, which was designed to propulsively brake using its LE-5B-3 engine (4400 m/s) approximately 10 minutes before entering the atmosphere, to reduce heating and G-forces during re-entry. Splashdown occurred in the Atlantic Ocean west of Africa.
  4. 2039-11-27 - The Ame-no-Uzume Venus Ascent Vehicle launches from the balloon habitat (54 km) and docks with the Venus Transport Vehicle
  5. Misora Kaneko and Kasumi Aimoto stayed in the upper Venusian atmosphere for one month, above a vast majority of the thick carbon-dioxide-filled atmosphere which trapped heat to an excessive degree. However, the balloon habitat also had to be able to withstand clouds of sulfuric acid. The scientific mission was mainly to observe the weather and climate of Venus, including wind patterns and lightning, as well as how the atmosphere interacted with the surface. In a phenomenon known as super-rotation [not simulated in KSP], winds in the upper atmosphere circle the planet in only four Earth days while the ground takes 243 days to rotate. Another goal was to search for the possibility of life in the form of extremophile microorganisms floating in the upper atmosphere. 2039-11-27 - The Venus Ascent Vehicle was a two-stage "rockoon," 4 meters wide. A cylindrical crew cabin was surrounded by an aerodynamic shell, with methane/liquid oxygen rocket stages underneath. After the crew climbed down into the VAV, it detached and fell from the balloon habitat (at an altitude of 53.9 km), firing ullage motors (to settle the propellant) and igniting its single Raptor engine (borrowed from SpaceX). This methalox engine was chosen for its relative storability and high thrust compared to hydrogen, and efficiency compared to hypergolic fuels. As it began to rise again, the ascent vehicle was programmed to automatically tilt and avoid a collision, while being stabilized by vector thrust and four fins. The first stage burnt out at about 100 km, and was jettisoned. The second stage used three RL10 CECE methalox engines to reach an orbit of 220 km. Approximately 9200 m/s of delta-v was needed to reach orbit from 54 km, similar to the requirements for launching from Earth at sea level. Only one engine was used for orbital maneuvers. Several hours later, the VAV made a rendezvous with the Venus Transport Vehicle, docking at the saddle truss behind the VTV's habitation section. Misora and Kasumi had rejoined Asuka Tanoue, and were preparing to make it back to Earth.
  6. 2039-10-28 - The Ame-no-Uzume Venus Balloon Habitat enters the upper atmosphere, where the crew will float 53 km above the surface for 30 days (RSS/RO)
  7. 2039-10-28 - Six years after the Kagutsuchi Mars landing, two crewmembers (Misora Kaneko and Kasumi Aimoto) undocked in the Earth Arrival Vehicle to make a short relocation from the Venus Transport Vehicle to the Venus Habitation Module. Once docked, the crew entered the small habitat, pressurized the cabin, and made preparations to de-orbit. The EAV undocked once again to make it back to the VTV, where Asuka Tanoue would remain in orbit. The Earth Arrival Vehicle docked with the Venus Habitation Module in the foreground, with the Venus Transport Vehicle in the background A couple hours later, the three LE-5B-3 engines of the VHM's orbital stage would light for one last time before being discarded and burnt up in the atmosphere. The VHM separated from the stage and inflated its 25 m heat shield, beginning its descent into the thick atmosphere. Large reaction control thrusters were needed to stabilize the vehicle, otherwise it would end up aerodynamically flipping with the heat shield in the rear and the less-resistant habitat and ascent vehicle in the front. During ballistic deceleration, the people onboard experienced high G-forces, up to 9 times that of Earth. This lead to momentary loss of consciousness, but they soon recovered after a few seconds. Much exercise was needed on the outbound journey to prepare the crew for this harrowing moment, which would be followed by wonder. At 75 km above the surface, the parachutes released, gradually slowing down the vehicle from hundreds to tens of m/s. At 60 km, the heat shield was jettisoned with slightly imbalanced solid fuel separation motors, to prevent the drag of the shield from causing a re-collision. 55 km was the suitable attitude for the parachutes to cut and the large balloon to inflate. The balloon itself had a mass of 23 t [ballast mass added based on the HAVOC concept], making up about one-quarter of the habitat + ascent vehicle (90 t). The hab descended as low as 49 km before it began to rise again, ultimately settling in at an altitude between 52.8 and 53.8 km. At this altitude, the pressures are relatively Earth-like (90-100 kPa) compared to the surface (over 9000 kPa), while the temperatures are around 50 °C instead of the lead-melting 460 °C. The gravity of Venus was also 90% that of Earth. The crew would stay in the atmospheric habitat, powered by four RTGs, for 30 days before returning to orbit in the Venus Ascent Vehicle. [note: The KSP mods KerBalloons and AirPark (to suspend the vehicle in the air) were used. The KerBalloons part is only 15 kg and has a bug in which it explodes (if inflated) when loading a save file, so the file had to be edited to have the balloon uninflated when loading with AirPark.]
  8. 2039-10-26 - The Ame-no-Uzume Venus Transport Vehicle arrives (RSS/RO) 2039-10-28 - Rendezvous with the Venus balloon habitat
  9. 2039-05-21 - On the 29th anniversary of the launch of the Akatsuki Venus probe, the Ame-no-Uzume Venus Transport Vehicle began its journey from Earth. The eight LE-7-R engines of the first Earth Departure Stage burned to raise the orbit's high point by about 10,000 kilometers, before stage separation. Three-and-a-half hours later, the second EDS burned and separated, leaving the remaining vehicle on a course for Venus. Total change in velocity (delta-v): ~3400 m/s First Earth Departure Stage burn - 1470 m/s 2039-10-26 - After five months in interplanetary space, the Venus Transport Vehicle arrived at its destination. The six LE-7-R engines of the Venus Orbit Stage ignited to insert the craft into a 2-day elliptical orbit. On the next day, a plane change maneuver near the high point would align the orbit with the equatorial Venus (balloon) Habitation Module that arrived in April 2038. Two more orbital insertion burns would set up a relatively slow rendezvous with the VHM on October 28. Observing the relatively featureless (aside from a few ripples) cloud layer blanketing the entire Venusian surface, Asuka Tanoue would stay in orbit as Misora Kaneko and Kasumi Aimoto prepared to undock from the VTV in the Earth Arrival Vehicle to transfer and re-dock to the Venus balloon habitat. Total delta-v used: ~3650 m/s (and ~150 for plane change)
  10. 2039-03-09 - First module of the Ame-no-Uzume Venus Transport Vehicle (~800 t) (RSS/RO) 2039-05-16 - The complete Venus Transport Vehicle (2420 t), with Misora Kaneko, Asuka Tanoue, and Kasumi Aimoto on board.
  11. 2039-03-09 - An H-Z 222L launched the first module of the Ame-no-Uzume Venus Transport Vehicle, the Venus Orbit Stage (6x LE-7-R engines) and Earth Return Stage (3x LE-7-R, 3x LE-5B-3). At 800 tonnes, they were larger than the Kagutsuchi Mars mission stages because of Venus's deeper gravity well. Like its predecessor probe, Akatsuki, the public relations campaign involved engraving some of the metallic portions of the spacecraft with thousands of names from the public and images of a certain virtual singer. 2039-03-31 - Another H-Z 222L launched the first of two Earth Departure Stages (8x LE-7-R), identical to the one launched for the Venus balloon habitat and ascent vehicle, docking to the rear of the VOS/ERS almost two and a half days later. Total mass: 1570 t. 2039-04-22 - As a duplicate of the previous launch, the second Earth Departure Stage appended itself to the end of the VTV. Total mass: 2350 t. 2039-05-14 - An H-Z 102S launched the crew of three on the Earth Arrival Vehicle, on top of the VTV's habitation module. These astronauts were Misora Kaneko, Asuka Tanoue, and Kasumi Aimoto. After transposition and docking, the EAV used its LE-5B-3 engine and small RCS thrusters to rendezvous and dock with the Venus Transport Vehicle. A saddle truss was located between the hab and the Earth Return Stage, to serve as a docking point for the Venus Ascent Vehicle once it had returned to orbit. The total mass of the VTV once assembled was 2420 tonnes, 40 percent heavier than the Kagutsuchi Mars Transport Vehicle.
  12. 2038-04-06 - The Ame-no-Uzume balloon habitat/ascent vehicle enters a 300 km orbit above Venus
  13. 2037-10-24 - The eight LE-7-R engines of the Earth Departure Stage ignited, pushing the Ame-no-Uzume balloon habitat and ascent vehicle towards Venus, which it would reach in just over 5 months. 2038-03-26 - The three Kodama-X relay satellites arrived at Venus simultaneously, executing their maneuvers within minutes of each other* to enter a high elliptical orbit (with a period of about 20 days). As Venus spins clockwise instead of counter-clockwise like most planets, so did the satellites' orbits. Afterwards, they would make plane changes then finally enter a 24-hour circular equatorial orbit (33400 km) on 2038-04-18. * This was made possible in KSP by the Physics Range Extender mod, which can prevent craft from unloading even if they are hundreds of kilometers apart. Also, plotting an encounter that required the periapsis (low point in the orbit) to be at the same time as the point where the orbit crosses the equator required me to use HyperEdit to place a temporary "dummy" satellite in an equatorial orbit for the purpose of better targeting. 2038-04-02 - The Venus Orbit Stage of the Ame-no-Uzume balloon habitat performed its multi-phase orbital insertion: first to an elliptical orbit, then a plane change, then finally to a 300 km equatorial orbit on 2038-04-06. The transfer stage was almost identical to the Kagutsuchi Mars Orbit Stage, with its three LE-7-R main engines and three auxiliary LE-5 engines. The vehicle would wait in orbit for about one and a half years for the crew to arrive in the Venus Transport Vehicle. The equatorial orbit would ensure that the ascent vehicle could return to rendezvous with the transport vehicle at any time. 2038-04-06 - Final orbit insertion
  14. Ame-no-Uzume - Japanese Venus Balloon Mission (RSS/RO) 2037-10-19 - Ame-no-Uzume Venus Habitat/Ascent Vehicle with transfer stages | mass: 1180 t
  15. The Ame-no-Uzume Venus Mission was named after the Japanese goddess associated with dawn and merriment, as a successor to the Akatsuki ("Dawn") Venus orbiter mission. It would involve a total of 6 (2 + 4) launches. In 2037, the Venus Habitat Module and Venus Ascent Vehicle would depart Earth to enter a 300 km orbit around their destination. The crew would launch in 2039 and ride on the Venus Transport Vehicle. Several transfer stages, heavier and longer compared to their Mars-bound predecessors, would be launched by the H-Z 222L. The crew would then transfer from the VTV to the VHM/VAV, which would deploy an inflatable heat shield and enter the atmosphere of Venus, releasing parachutes and a large balloon* that would allow the vehicle to float over 50 km above the extreme conditions on the surface. Two astronauts would enter the Venusian atmosphere while one would stay in orbit. After about 30 days, the two-stage VAV would drop from the VHM and launch back to orbit, meeting up with the VTV. Once returning to Earth in 2040, Earth Arrival Vehicle would then slow down to reduce G-forces upon re-entry. * from KerBalloons with modified configs 2037-09-25 - The first launch (H-Z 204L) carried the Venus Habitat/Ascent Vehicle with the Venus Orbit Stage (3x LE-7-R, 3x LE-5B-3), which had a mass of over 400 tonnes and entered a 400 km parking orbit. The VAV had a Raptor engine on the first stage, with 3x methane RL10s on the second stage. The solar arrays were slightly smaller than the Mars mission due to Venus being closer to the Sun; however, the Venus Transfer Vehicle (2039-2040) would need to go as far as the orbit of Mars during the return trip. 2037-10-16 - A Zeta rocket launched from Uchinoura Space Center with three Kodama-X Data Relay and Tracking Satellites to Venus. 2037-10-19 - An H-Z 222L launched the Earth Departure Stage (8x LE-7-R) for the Ame-no-Uzume Venus Habitat/Ascent Vehicle, docking just a few hours later. The total mass of the stack was about 1180 t.
  16. I got the balloon to work in Realism Overhaul by making a .cfg patch file (with its own folder in GameData) with the following text: (note: this does not make the part realistic in terms of mass, etc.) Patch link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3tu7qmjk4o48wek/KerBalloons_RO.zip?dl=0
  17. Video of the Kagutsuchi mission: 2035-05-01 - After 1.5 years of exploring Mars and its moons (a "conjunction class" or long-stay mission), it was finally time for the crew of Kagutsuchi to return to Earth. The Mars Transfer Vehicle jettisoned its Mars Orbit Stage, leaving the Earth Return Stage (which was identical to the transfer stage of the Mars Habitation Module, with its 1 LE-7-R and 2 LE-5B-3 engines). The MTV's orbit being aligned with Phobos, but it was misaligned for a return to Earth. To correct this, it would perform the Trans-Earth Injection in several phases, essentially a reverse of the maneuvers completed at Mars arrival (first burn, inclination change, then second burn). The orbital inclination was shifted by over 40 degrees at the apoapsis [the required inclination for transfer calculated with the help of KSPTOT]. 6 and a half months later, the MTV arrived home. The MAV undocked to redirect itself, leaving the rest of the MTV to fly past Earth as close as 250 km. The MAV's capsule separated, re-entered and splashed down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 2035-05-03 - Second phase of the Trans-Earth Injection burn 2035-11-19 - Return to Earth
  18. [JAXA+] 2035-11-19 - The Kagutsuchi Mars mission returns to Earth
  19. JAXA+ | Japanese Crewed Mars Mission "Kagutsuchi" (2030-2035)
  20. [JAXA+] 2035-04-10 - The Kagutsuchi Mars Transfer Vehicle lands on Phobos and Deimos (three days later)
  21. 2035-04-10 - After refueling and a week of rest at the Mars Transport Vehicle, the Kagutsuchi crew undocked once again to travel to the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. The MAV performed a series of Hohmann transfer burns to intercept and match velocities with the targets. Landing on Phobos occurred about 8 hours later. The Martian moons were very small compared to their parent planet, being similar to carbonaceous asteroids. Due to its low density, Phobos was also considered to be a collection of rocks loosely held together by gravity. Their escape velocities were about 10 m/s or less, requiring careful and gentle engine burns. The RL10 CECE methalox variant could throttle down to 25% of full thrust, and with half of the engines disabled, the effective throttling could be as low as 12.5%. On the surface, walking felt more like floating, and taking a single step could take an astronaut dozens of meters away. The crew only stayed on Phobos for two days due to the solar arrays not getting enough exposure to the Sun, as it was often occluded by Phobos and Mars. They lifted off straight from the surface, escaping from the moon's tiny gravitational pull very easily, and headed for Deimos (half the size of Phobos), where they landed on April 13 and stayed for only one day. The MAV returned to low Mars orbit and docked with the MTV on April 15.
  22. [JAXA+] 2035-04-02 - After 1.4 years, the Kagutsuchi Mars Ascent Vehicle launches back to orbit and docks with the Mars Transport Vehicle, where it is refueled.
  23. 2033-11-01 - The Mars Cruiser rover was designed for long range ground expeditions, having about three weeks worth of supplies. On this day, it was driven 75 km west of the Habitation Module to explore Kasei Valles, the longest outflow channel on Mars. It was thought to have been formed by massive floods of liquid water that occurred billions of years ago, carving through the planet's surface over hundreds of kilometers. As this region was once covered in water, the crew of the Kagutsuchi mission studied and analyzed the ground for any fossilized remains of ancient lifeforms. Over time, the solar wind stripped away the Martian atmosphere (Mars being too small for a magnetic field), and the low temperatures and pressures caused liquid water to either freeze or evaporate. The crew returned to the base several hours later, and would continue their exploration for 1 year and 5 months. 2035-04-02 - The crew got ready to leave the Habitation Module, entering the Mars Cruiser for one last time and driving back 10 km to the Mars Ascent Vehicle. They climbed back into the MAV, and almost six hours later, the ladders and solar arrays were retracted for launch (to be redeployed once in orbit). The four methalox RL10 engines ignited while the landing legs were tucked in, as the single-stage vehicle ascended to a 200 km orbit. A day later, it caught up and docked with the Mars Transport Vehicle once again. The tapering section of the MTV contained a tank with almost 30 tonnes of liquid methane and oxygen to refuel the MAV, which would be used again to visit the moons of Mars. The MAV was also resupplied with food, water, and other necessities.
  24. [JAXA+] 2033-10-29 - The Kagutsuchi Mars Ascent Vehicle lands 10 km from the Habitation Module and Mars Cruiser rover that landed two years earlier. Takeyoshi Homura, Makoto Watanuki, and Akane Furukawa (right to left) become the first Japanese astronauts on Mars.
  25. 2033-10-29 - The crewed Kagutsuchi Mars Ascent Vehicle undocked from the interplanetary Transport Vehicle, just over an hour before executing the de-orbit burn with the tug stage (1x methalox RL10 engine). This burn was mostly conducted perpendicular to the prograde direction to align the MAV's path to land near the Mars Habitation Module. The tug stage was then separated, and the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator shield inflated. It was slightly smaller than the decelerator used for the MHM (20 instead of 25 m), but was sufficient at reducing velocity such that when the parachutes deployed at 15 km above the surface, a brief force of only 5-6 Gs was experienced by the crew. The shield fell, leaving the landing legs to extend. Four methalox RL10 s ignited for the final descent and landing, softly touching down on the Martian surface. The MAV landed about 10 km south of the MHM in Kasei Valles. The crew of the MAV put on their suits before the cabin was depressurized. Takeyoshi Homura was the first to climb out of the hatch and down the ladder, becoming the first Japanese person on Mars. Followed by Makoto Watanuki and Akane Furukawa, he planted the red sun flag of Japan on the Red Planet. They waited for their ride to the MHM: the Mars Cruiser rover, which drove autonomously to the MAV's landing site, a trip lasting about 10-15 minutes. The three astronauts boarded the Mars Cruiser, driving it back to the MHM, the base where they would live for the next 1.4 years.
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