Astraph

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  1. XVI Laying the Path With technical solutions worked out and prototypes tested, construction of final components for the Niven mission was authorized. Following the final revision, the stationary part of the Sidonia complex was to consist of three modules: Sidonia Cygnus - a refined version of Cygnus refinery, with upgraded heat management modules, optimized for atmospheric cooling. The vessel took its name from Cygnus - a minor goddess of Gaelian pantheon, known for her excellent technical and mechanical skills. Sidonia Moriya - named after a sacred temple of ancient Gaelian faith, the lander was to provide habitat and supplies during extended stay on planet's surface. Sidonia Anna - named after Cygnus' mistress and legendary warrioress, Anna was designed to deliver all components and devices required for proper assembly of Moriya and Cygnus' facilities. All three components have been launched on the same day - the biggest and most complex operation ever conducted by the Agency. Sidonia complex launch [Y5 D116] Ferrum booster, as powerful as it was, lacked the capability to put a fully fueled Heart of Kerbold into orbit; due to this, an orbital propellant depot had to be included in mission architecture. Fully automated, the depot was to operate two robotic landers, collecting water and ore from Iota's surface and delivering it for processing in moon's low orbit. Orbital Propellant Depot (OPD) assembly With the depot in place, and all three landers en route, the Agency's crews returned to patient waiting. Should all three landers touch down successfully, the next transfer window two years later would signal the beginning of the main, crewed phase…
  2. The whole Niven project is ended, so I have its name list closed... But for the next mission, why not Adds to the list. So far, updating KSP-I resulted with my HTP drive becoming non-functional due to change in propellant compatibility... But if I ever get to warp or other ridiculous tech, why not try explaining the black magic behind them in Adams' style
  3. Oh! Good to know that. But, if that's WAD, then we still have one issue that started my whole thread here... Here's my ship, put in orbit using KRASH. Literally the second the simulation kicks in, wrappers around the reactor explode (F3 readout shows 3352/2698 K temperature at the moment of meltdown), and wrapper radiators start burning. They don't get destroyed (though when I tried to rememdy this by putting more radiators, some of them melted down upon entering simulation anyway). Well, that'd make sense, taking into account a fully loaded ship is >400 tons and it's powered by a 0.625m Molten Salt... (And by 'sense' I mean the heat management algorythm going mad and somehow glitching the radiators in this situation) What confuses me though is the VAB power readout: it's all in red, with 588 MW produced and 58 MW dispearsed. As I said, I initially tried to fix it by adding more wrappers - but even when I brought radiator resting remperature well below 2000 K, the burning effect persisted and random wrappers went poof the second I loaded the ship. I just made a test - slapped a 2.5m Molten Salt reactor with an electric generator on top of the ship and launched it. In-atmosphere, there was some Waste Heat prodution, but other wise things worked well. In-orbit, both Radiator Temperature and Power Radiated readouts show some positive values - but wrappers still explode and burning effect persists. Here are the readouts for the additional 2.5m reactor variant. I'm frankly at a loss what is causing this effect and how it might affect my ship during long-term flights. Especially since, from what I see, NERVAs no longer use HTP - so I either need to redesign propulsion to incorporate Thermal Nozzles (which means slapping two more reactors onto the ship), or try to somehow design a compact hydrogen/helium fuel tank that would still give me enough dV...
  4. Before anything - I loaded my craft and started stripping radiators all the way to wrappers around the reactor (which worked fine in my previous designs) - nothing. WasteHeat change is a nice, round 0 and 0 KW power is being radiated via wrappers. I tried installing the latest 1.4.5-compatible version of KSP-I you have linked in the release thread (TBH I was still using the one I downloaded via CKAN back in July 2018...). I already see Module Manager is WAY more up-to-date than mine (mine was 3.0.7), but the upgrade didn't help either. The only actual change I see is making all my designs obsolete, as it moved the Thermal Power Generator up the tree... But at least I have a replacement part, so that's something.. Anyway, here are the other radiator configs I used previously and which work fine upon loading: Space station, using stock radiators in vacuum: Non-zero WasteHeat amount, radiators radiating KW into space with no issue Niven habitat with graphite radiators and wrappers (I apologize for nightime screenshot): Here radiators emit 0 KW, but WasteHeat production looks legit. Niven has a Duna-like atmosphere, no idea if convection would cause those effects. My current design - back to Gael, all radiators safe from reactor-mounted wrappers removed: WasteHeat production is 0, radiators radiate 0 KW, radiator temperature is 0K (!). EDIT: Oh, also noticed that after upgrade I can no longer use HTP as NERVA propellant.Oh yeah, sounds like a complete redesign anyway!
  5. Something's wrong with my radiators again. I got some science from my last mission, researched Graphene radiators, alongside a Molten Salt Reactor upgrade... And it all just stopped working. Long story short, when I decide to test my new design (using the KRASH mod to put it into orbit to test vacuum heat management), half the radiators pop due to overheating the second game loads, and the rest just burns - they have reentry effects on and are engulfed with flames. I checked the readouts - and they are all just WRONG. Lemme use screenshots to explain: Radiators show 0 KW being radiated, despite of their status. I loaded the ship on Gael to check if maybe there's something wrong with atmospheric convection - but nah. Also, in atmosphere the radiators don't even get hot, despire literally nothing changing in terms of thermal readout. Take note there is no Waste Heat produced at all as well. The reactor is reduced to 0.625m with TweakScale with Thermal Electric Generator attached directly to it. KSPI readouts for reference. I admit I have no idea what is wrong here - I suspect launch clamps might have something to do with the ship not melting, but I'm not really sure. I can't really roll the craft out without the clamps, as in its current state the legs just collapse under its weight ^^' Finally, in-VAB readout. Numbers are in yellow, true, but I am running the reactor at 10% power anyway (I just want it as backup for long nights on tidally locked moons and in low orbit), so I reckoned things should be working just fine... Apparently they don't. A few bonus notes, just in case: Ships I had launched earlier work just fine. I tested my orbital propellant depot, powered by a 2.5m reactor and cooled with stock radiators - things worked fine, panels dumped WasteHeat as they should. I also tried swapping some radiators for stock ones - the issue persisted. What I didn't try, though, was getting rid of all Graphene radiators and replacing them with stock ones. I'm running KSP 1.4.5 Let me know if I should post screenshots of other situations/configurations.
  6. XV Trial by Ice "Sometimes you need to start at the beginning" -Cpt. Obvious (This update is sponsored by this magnificent suite from ThePrimeCronus YT channel. Full credits in vid's description.) With design finalized and first prototype well under construction, the Sidonia programme pushed on to next stage. Logistics of interplanetary flight have always been a subject of a heated debate. The simplest solution - taking all life support supplies, fuel and other resources from Gael directly - would result in an overbloated spaceship, well beyond the capabilities of any reasonable launch system. Therefore, the mission architecture had to be split into segments, each responsible for one critical component: Crew transport and en-route life support -> Handled by Sidonia proper. Propulsion production -> Handled by a specialized refinery complex, extracting and processing resources from planetary atmosphere and crust Cargo and instrument freight -> Handled by a specialized cargo craft, tentatively dubbed "Big, Dumb Freighter". Long term habitation and work space -> Handled by a specialized lander, containing inflatable agroponics and habitation modules. Orbital delivery -> Handled by a super-heavy Ferrum booster. To reduce costs and simplify deployment and utilization, all four lander components were determined to use the basic template laid out by Sidonia. The dual propulsion Sidonia used had several implications for refinery design; in-situ refueling would require two basic resources - water and karbonite. Processing karbonite to rocket fuel was a well known and relatively simple process; by a combination of distillation, fracking and black magic, the omnipresent compound could have been reduced to a highly energetic mixture of hydrocarbons. HTP, however, was more complex to obtain. The anthraquinone process required two things; purified water and lots of electric energy. Water was first dissolved into hydrogen and oxygen, and then both molecules would recombine in a catalyst-laced chamber, producing hydrogen peroxide to be stored in specially insulated tanks. Similarly to karbonite, water was ubiquitous in the system. Energy - not so much. The prototype Cygnus refinery was designed to combine those two processes; upon landing, the device would deploy it drills, extracting water and karbonite, and then use its onboard reactor to process them into usable resources. Extendable radiators were to expel heat into space, keeping internal temperature optimal for fuel production. Render of Cygnus refinery prototype As fuel production was deemed to be the most unproven part of the process, a test mission was scheduled to examine the integration of refinery modules and refueling technology. Heart of Kerbold and the prototype Cygnus refinery were rolled out, stacked on top of two next-generation Ferrum boosters and prepped for launch. Ferrum booster promised to deliver a whole new quality to the Space Program - with 250 tons of low orbit capability, it easily dwarfed the preceding Electrum. Unfortunately, this also increased manufacturing costs and technical complexity to monstrous proportions - which, in turn was to be mitigated by the booster's unique and unprecedented feature. Sidonia Iota Phase I - Cygnus Phase II - Heart of Kerbold Phase III - Deep Space Cruise & Return Lauded as a stunning and outstanding success, the first flight of Sidonia completed all of its primary objectives: Feasibility of Ferrum boosters has been confirmed. The loss of 42 resulted in future examples having doubled battery capacity. The reentry profile has also been adjusted slightly, adding a mid-entry burn to allow engine alternators to charge up the batteries. Dual propulsion system has proven its reliability and effectiveness, despite apparent complexity. While sceptics were quick to point out that four Vectors offered excessive thrust for Niven operations and fuel tanks were insufficienct for a confident mission to bodies larger than the Yellow Planet, redesigning the array was deemed too risky and expensive to be considered without endangering the mission schedule Cygnus refinery has proven its feasibility, although with several caveats; heat management systems worked very porly in vacuum despite extending radiator surface, resulting in the reactor rapidly overheating and limiting its working regime to relatively short pulses. This, in turn, reduced the overall HTP output, meaning that despite spending almost 50 days on Iota, Sidonia took off without fully filled tanks. Life support and flight control systems on Heart of Kerbold worked flawlessly; the biggest issue detected was related to power; it was hoped NTR reactors would be sufficient to power up all systems while the spaceship remained in a celestial body's shadow - unfortunately, wiring and generator issues forced the crew to revert to emergency power whenever the blackout exceeded 5 minutes. While this didn't affect life support systems, disturbance in cooling resulted in a non-negligible boiloff of HTP from the ship's tanks. With this, the final phase of preparations was given a green light to proceed...
  7. How about I revive my thread anyway, huh? Again, a very long break... but I actually spent it playing, so that I'm able to post the results without fearing the project gets dropped midway. But I'm back, screenshots sit firmly on my SDD, so without furhter ado - let's get it going! _________________________________________________________________________________________ XIV Hopping across the Heavens "Prettier than a water tower!" - Astraph Kerman Picking the exact architecture for the Niven mission was a matter of fierce and prolonged debate. The objective - getting to the Yellow Planet, landing on its surface and returning to Gael - was obvious and undisputed. The method of achieving it, however, brought leading design bureaus to the verge of an actual war, with arsenals of paper airplanes and rubber band machine guns readied in amounts hithereto unheard of. Kyakovlev Industries, with their reputation (and financing) saved by the successful Nadir spacecraft, moved on with their Apex Sidonia design. A massive spacecraft, measuring 5 metres in diameter and over 20 in height, was to combine the functions of both cruise stage, lander and habitat during surface stay. Unlike earlier designs, Apex Sidonia was to utilize two separate types of propulsion - LH/Ox for landing and take off, and a Nuclear Thermal Rocket for interplanetary cruise and deep-space manuvers. Much deliberation was put into what kind of facilities would be included in the final, full-sized spaceship; Kyakovlev higher-ups pushed for a "single package" design, with a single Sidonia containing her own habitat, ISRU refinery, cargo hold and science laboratory. At the same time, the spaceship was to be fully resuable, with propulsion and delta V capabilities sufficient for landing and take off from worlds more massive than Niven. The preliminary mass estimate of the complete spacecraft was just shy of 300 tons - more than the Portal station with full loadout. With those requirements in mind, the first prototype - dubbed Hopper - was to test the very basic concept required for the whole project to succeed; namely, precise manuvering during atmospheric descent and pinpoint landing. Apex Sidonia Hopper flights The failure of suborbital 'hops' meant that the whole Sidonia concept has been pushed back to the drawing board - albeit briefly. Out of the alternatives considered, neither managed to show much promise; a separate lander/transfer stage combo offered a chance to save mass, but in returned presented a risk of transfer stage becoming inoperational beyond repair during crew's stay on the surface. With little research put in aerodynamics following the Piñata's flight, NASEK's proposition to create a shuttle-style lander has also been declined as implausible. Ultimately, the sunken cost fallacy won the day - and Kyakovlev was given a short deadline to present a revised design, along with a working prototype. A few dozen restless days and sleepless nights gave birth to a revised Sidonia design; dropping the notorious (and seemingly jinxed) "Apex" designation, the new spaceship towered above the Hopper prototype, having over 7.5 metres in diameter and well over 20 in height. Its habitation module was expanded, providing life support and space for 6 crew members - twice the amount forseen for initial design. Propulsion has also been revised completely; liquid hydrogen as fuel has been dropped completely, due to its bulky and unwieldy tanks. Heat shielding during reentry - and even moreso, limitations of lifter rocket fairings - required the ship to be as compact as possible. However, using old-fashioned propulsion for interplanetary transfers would bring the mass much above the limits given by available lifter rocket technology - so a compromise had to be reached. The design went through several iterations, with the one ultimately presented using a dual propulsion method; landing and launch back into orbit were to be facilitated using old-fasioned LFO engines. The cluster of 6 Vulcan engines has been replaced with 4 Vectors - combining high thrust, compact design and outstanding gimbal range, those engines were considered an excellect choice for controlled descent. Two prototype iterations - older, Vulcan-powered on top and the updated Vector configuration below. Initial concepts for the reviewed interplanetary stage called for using pure water as propellant; readily accessible throughout the solar system and easy to refine and handle, it seemed like a natural choice due to its high density (and thus low storage volume). However, its low specific impulse meant that the advantage of using it over regular chemical propulsion would be marginal at best. Instead, final iterations switched to high-test hydrogen peroxide (HTP) instead. While more difficult to process and more violate and than regular water, HTP offered a visible advantage in specific impulse. Instead of just heating it up with thermal reactor and expelling through the nozzle, HTP was to be first ran through a catalyst, where it violently decomposed to superheated water vapour and oxygen - and which was then heated up even more before being expelled. The result offered around 600 seconds of impulse, compared to 250 seconds for regular water and 800 seconds for liquid hydrogen. NTR's high performance came at a price, however; since throttling was made by regulating reactor thermal output, precise thrust control via shutting down and reigniting the engine was not possible. While this was of little consequence during deep space manuvers, precise trajectory adjustments would provide considerable difficulty. To mitigate this, a single vacuum-optimized Eaglet LFO engine has been added to the Vector cluster. The final design of the SIdonia spaceship The first example - named Heart of Kerbold, to honour a late Kerbal writer and utopist Douglas Kerman - has been assembled and presented to the public shortly before the deadline passed. Wet dress rehearsals, static burns and hover tests confirmed all the systems cooperated correctly. Computer simulations indicated the complex was powerful enough to land and lift off from Niven. There was, however, one big question that could have only been answered up there, in the void: Would reality approve?
  8. A short preface this time - phew, I never thought I'd come back to KSP with such zeal anymore. The past two weeks were spent almost exclusively in the game, designing, tweaking and refining my crewed mission architecture. Having to deal with science mode limitations is a pretty new thing for me (as I said, none of my campaigns actually progressed to interplanetary crewed flights), and it's way easier to just slap together a Dres mission in sandbox. Anyway, let's go! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ XIII One step back, two steps forward With Ceti and Iota samples delivered onboard the Portal, Ace and Shigu sat down to tedious laboratory experiments and tests. Zero-g environment in Gael orbit and lack of local contamination helped preserve the samples' pristine condition - but the complete novelty of such laboratories meant research lagged considerably. What was designed as a 200 day long stay ended up lasting over twice as long - a whole Gaelian year. Portal's life support system was not designed for such prolonged stay; a mid-year resupply mission had to be undertaken. While Kyakovlev still had several examples of Zenith at the ready, its unsuccessful landing attempts discouraged using them for a crewed mission. Moreover, preliminary Niven mission concept studies made it apparent that any reasonable Niven-capable spaceship had to be designed from scratch. This meant the end of both Apex and Zenith projects, as all manpower and resources were to be directed towards this completely new craft. However, flights to Portal still had to be undertaken; to this end, Kyakovlev Industries presented a low-cost, expendable crew and supplies delivery system, dubbed Nadir. Vastly simpler than Zenith Heavy, Nadir was designed around completely opposite principles - the whole service and cargo module was expendable, with only the capsule designed for recovery. Dual karbonite/liquid fuel propulsion system has been replaced with a set of simple, lightweight monopropelant engines. A strictly low-orbit vessel, Nadir was painfully limited - but at the same time, it was perfectly tailored for its designed purpose. Nadir 1 & 2 flights to Poral station Ace and Shigu's prolonged mission meant that the overambitious goal set up by Astraph Kerman - to land on Niven before the second anniversary of first crewed flight - has not been met. Shelving of both Apex and Zenith projects also meant that no crewed flights beyond Portal orbit have been undertaken for the whole year. But this didn't mean the second year passed without any breakthroughs; quite the contrary. As soon as Portal became fully operational, the second phase of Niven mission came into motion; Niven Prospector. The largest probe up to date, the Prospector consisted of four separate vessels: Bus - the structural and propulsive module; powered by four experimental Candle RTG engines, it was to deliver the 3 probes to Niven, while serving as a testbed for nuclear space propulsion technnologies Scanner - an autonomous satellite, equipped with sophisticated surface imaging devices. Surface Component - twin landers, designed to achieve soft descent and collect surface samples for analysis. Mission summary 1) Launch & Coast 2) Orbital insertion & Scanner deployment 3) Probe landing The Prospector mission provided valueable insight into Nivenian environment. The surface and relief appeared relatively young, which implied a set of active geological conditions - be it tectonics, volcanism or aeolian erosion. No traces of surface water have been detected - and lack of atmospheric vapour precluded the existence of an active hydrosphere. However, considerable amount of hydrates and gypsium have been found - which meant that extracting water from soil was a viable option. This, combined with confirmed karbonite presence, meant that a wide selection of potential fuels was available for production - from hydrogen, through water, to simple synthetic hydrocarbons. Of special significance was discovery of aerial methane and ammonia. Unstable and highly reactive, those compounds could not last long in the atmosphere without a source to replenish their supply - with organic metabolism being the most exciting possibility. Out of other atmospheric gases, the results were neither spectacular nor surprising - high carbon dioxide content and was confirmed during first the very first mission to Niven and trace gases composition matched theoretical models made up back on Gael. Prospector's findings, combined with data collected during first flyby, finally provided the Agency with the bare minimum of data required to organized the crewed mission. With concept studies on Gael reaching their ending, time has come to move on to another great step - creation of an actual interplanetary spacecraft... One of preliminary designs for Apex Sidonia, with mass simulator replacing the actual crew module.
  9. @Jumberlack thanks for confirming my suspicions. I actually got the next tier of reactors (including the Interstellar's Molten Salt one), and miraculously I am finally able to generate power without crashing my whole setup. Barely 30 MW, but it's enough to actually run the H2O electrolysis without the whole thing imploding on itself. I also cheated tinkered a bit with TweakScale and by using 2.5x sized radiators managed the final iteration to look nice and actually work at the same time.
  10. Aesthetics be damned, I just slapped as many radiators on a reworked refinery as I could. However, when I'm launching KRASH to test the whole setup, both generators shut down due to... no radiator being available. I have absolutely no idea what's wrong. Generators are connected directly to reactors, reactors are working (producing actinides and so on). I have no idea what I'm doing wrong here... EDIT: I just noticed that my generator's Cold Bath temperature (500 K) is higher than Hot Bath (300 K)... Is that working as intended? EDIT2: Just in case - Reactor Control window EDIT 3: Looks like my initial suspicions were true - I am stupid and failed to notice key things (like the whole in-flight thermal readout function). Here's my troubeshooting, I'd be most grateful if someone more experienced verified my conclusions ^^' 1.25m reactors have laughable output (6.7 MW with 4 reactors) at tier 1, while electrolyzer alone gobbles up 20 MW. I tried to reduce its power consumption to 10% with the slider, but it did little to fix the issue, it still goes at full power when activated. USI reactors apparently have their own generator integrated, so I guess the mod does not recognize them as 'proper' reactors for thermal power production. My tech is tier 1, so obviously, radiators are also excrements at dispelling heat. My plan for tomorrow is to return to 2.5m reactor, but tweak its power output so levels manageable without turning the whole refinery into a radiator chrysantemium. Guess more advanced technology will allow me to build something more ambitious in near future.
  11. Yeah, when I click on Reactor Control window, things seem working - I have actinides being produced, temperature goes up and heat is produced. If I fire up only less power-hungry modules (like the Ore processor) or just the drill, they work indefinitely. Issues begin when I fire up all converters and the drill at the same time. As I mentioned, I know I used too little radiators to have 100% efficiency - but I see no way to add more without making majority of lander's parts radiators... If anyone could share their reactor setups, I would happily try to reverse-engineer them. Oh, and one last detail, though I am not sure how relevant is that - since I'm playing GPP, I am using the older version of the mod (though I can't provide the exact version number right now, as I am at work)
  12. I might be dumb and missing some very basic (and essential) part, because in tutorial/guides I have checked this thing is never explained (or rather, treated as a trival detail that should already be known). I want to build a HTP refinery for my Niven mission in GPP. I slapped the 2.5m reactor from USI, Thermal Power Generator on top of that. Then I basically covered it with radiators (wrap-up ones plastered all along the reactor and generator + 6 deploable radiator panels). When I turn the thing on, it has like 20% power efficiency and all is fine and dandy. But the moment I power up the refinery (universal drill + ISRU Processor + Electrolyzer + Refridgerator), the thing just dies. Power output drops to 0, radiators no longer have power to work, so it falls into a vicious circle. I tried tweaking it one way or another, but I am just unable to sustain operations at any rate. What can I do to fix this and what am I doing wrong? Some notes for clarity: True, in Therman Control window in VAB all values are red - but even if I literally plaster the whole thing with radiators, things barely go into yellow areas. I am trying to use vacuum-optimized radiators exclusively; I am using launch pad as test bed, then launch prototypes to Iota for vacuum tests. My thinking is that if it works in vacuum, it should also work in Niven's thin atmosphere Here's a screenshot of the prototype setup; please note the variant I am describing above has a Thermal Generator added on top of the reactor (between reactor and the reaction wheel); it has also slightly different configuration (Ore processors instead of Karbonite module), but it should not change the thermal situation, right?
  13. Haha, no worries I have a patchy schedule, I know, but I am not giving up on this campaign. It might be hopelessly outdated now (the version I play is 1.4.5), but screw this, even if I updated, checking each of 100 mods I have installed would most likely kill me and my motivation. And my hopeful plan is to get this Niven landing done before the anniversary rolls in Thanks to all else who is reading this, you are the main reason to keep writing!
  14. XII Samples and Flybys With the Portal Station assembled and operational, preparation for the telerobotic sample return mission became top priority for the Space Program. Apart from obvious scientific payoff of studying Niven surface conditions without risking the life of kerbonauts, landing and taking off from the planet with an uncrewed probe offered one more benefit - access to valueable data regarding atmospheric conditions and take off profile. I - Iota Sample Return II - Ceti Sample Return III - Zenith T 4 & Extended Laboratory Music While low Gael orbit teemed with activity, the Mission Control had to keep their eyes on a more distant place; Surveyor 4, launched soon after it's Niven-bound brother (and an unsuccessful Surveyor 3), was approaching its target; planet Tellumo. Basically an updated version of its predecessor, the probe carried exact same suite of scientific instruments, and was planned to only make a brief flyby. Flyby animation As the report of the mission pointed out: Presence of abundant atmospheric oxygen and water vapour was confirmed; this opens the possibility that, barring presence of unknown compounds in the atmosphere or soil, life support systems would have to be far less complex than during other missions. Higher estimates of both radius and mass have been confirmed; crushing pressures and gravity would pose a completely different set of challenges for future explorers. Higher gravity also results in a more compact atmosphere. A single moonlet, dubbed Lili, was found within the planet's ring system. Its proximity to Tellumo would make it a good staging point for crewed missions, as well as a potential fuel depot during surface excursions. However, the overall conclusion is that crewed exploration of Tellumo should be limited to orbital missions at most; while designing an ascent vehicle capable of attaining orbit is feasible, it would require extensive and time-consuming research and development to construct one, yet alone deliver it on Tellumo's surface.
  15. XI Portal Station The discovery of an anomalous - and clearly artificial - phenomenon on Ceti sped up preparations for the full-scale Niven mission. Practically unlimited funds have been assigned to both the super-heavy launcher design and 2nd generation Apex spacecraft. Even though discovery of Anomaly 1 was not publicized, careful media campaign about potential of alien life forms commenced - with even concepts like ancient astronauts getting some media coverage. In terms of actual spaceflight, the following roadmap has been proposed for Niven mission: Construction of Portal Station - a high Gael orbit outpost, serving as a stop station between the planet and extragaelian destinations, as well as a zero g laboratory for conducting tests and experiments Niven Prospector - an unmanned probe mission, aimed at in-depth analysis of Niven atmosphere and surface composition Niven Sampling - a telerobotic mission, consiting of a crewed orbiter and unmanned lander, capable of returning surface samples from the planet's surface Niven Cygnus - An unmanned lander, containing in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) facilities, paving the way for actual crewed landing Niven Cydonia - A crewed landing, expected to stay at least 200 days on Niven surface Obviously, those plans were laid out in long term - much longer than Astraph's overoptimistic schedule of a single year. The first phase began immediately - the design of a modular space station, using experiences of the HOLTCH mission, as been in preparation for some time already. In total, the assembly required three launches - one to deliver each of the components: the Core Module. Laboratory and the Habitat. Each launch was to performed by the prototype super-heavy Electrum rocket - designed to be able to deliver 50 tons to Gael synchronous orbit. I - Portal Core launch II - Laboratory launch III - Habitat module and crew launch With Portal finally operational, green light was given for a direct Niven launch. Smaller in scale, two missions to Iota and Ceti have been scheduled as well, to test the Portal's capabilities and craft recovery techniques needed for the Niven mission. The yellow planet seemed closer than ever before...