CatastrophicFailure

ALIEN SKIES: A 6.4-scale playthrough of GPP/Rald

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25 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Crap, I knew I forgot something Er, why no, he hasn't been forgotten at all! The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, all things serve the Beam, and so on, and so forth... this, we do not speak of!

OK, I won't mention it again, комиссар!

 

Edited by Geschosskopf

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23 minutes ago, Alpha 360 said:

I'm just reading that series:wink:. Did you watch the movie or read the book. Or both?

There. Is. No. Movie. :huh:

...do ye ken?

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But, but I watched the Dark Tower on disc. Look it up. Trust me.

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Year 8, Day 124...

*Yawn...*

That was... rather refreshing. Who knew a few days in a padded sensory isolation room could be so relaxing? I may have to make this a regular thing, maybe even put it into the staff training rotation.

Moving on, NOVA Gratian has at last arrived at its encounter! We're still not... sure who put that voice file in the data stream. Normally I'd suspect Vlad, but I have it on good authority (and corroborated by several witnesses) that he was otherwise engaged, getting soundly beaten by butter-filled socks, during the last data uplink, so the Masked Snarker remains at large.

Spoiler

 

MDVUaWx.png

 

After more than a year and two hundred days in deep space, the probe remains in good health, having only lost one backup reaction wheel to entropy. Long-range imaging of the area around Gratian has confirmed the presence of a large moon orbiting the roughly Rald-sized world. But our first order of business is braking into orbit with the aptly-named Braking Stage.

EbS7TO4.png

 

1400m/s or so later, and our first tentative science readings, and the NOVA has entered a stable, highly eccentric orbit!

caaXOIT.png

 

The science team is practically salivating at this point. Which is nothing unusual, we should probably feed them more often.

j0yx2Lo.png

We shall soon be back around, Gratian.

 

But first, we're also getting our first close-up-yet-long-range images of the planet's Moon, which Andrei has named Germinus.

FLM5gIV.png

Geminus? Geminus. It's only a distant encounter, but it's enough for us to pin down that it has a slightly inclined and fairly circular orbit. We'll be back here, soon too.

 

But first (wait, did I already say that?), the distant encounter has given NOVA an advantageous gravity assist, nudging the apo-Grate a bit lower and dipping the other end into the atmosphere, just as we wanted. With a few final course tweaks, the lander's target is set.

0bhwCtc.png

 

That's right, the NOVA-series carry and integral atmospheric lander package! It's a very simple design, purely sedentary, but should be robust enough for a range of landing conditions.

5spPYqo.png

 

Once the lander is dispatched, the nearly spend braking stage is also left on a collision course. Wouldn't do to have it cluttering up space. Hopefully it will burn up in Gratian's atmosphere.

8x2eQqZ.png

And if not, wouldn't be the first time we've littered all over a pristine planet.

 

The NOVA orbiter corrects its course once more, regaining a stable orbit and distancing itself from the lander. Soon after, we get our expected loss-of-signal, as the lander's EDL antenna is very short range. The landing sequence is completely automated from this point.

WHYbKtY.png

 

It's a tense time at Mission Control. The lander should be entering the atmosphere at this point, at a speed similar to low Gael orbit.

wVY5HT0.png

As well as recording our first data about the beige world's atmosphere. Wait, it's taupe? It's taupe.

 

Coming in at well over 6500m/s, it's going to get toasty...

11XhN5V.png

 

With our luck, it's probably going to land on the side of a mountain. 

krzukox.png

Yeah, like that one.

 

The engineering team has programmed with caution, the chute should open as soon as conditions are safe, even if it's a bit high.

DafNCW3.png

 

The probe will continue gathering data all during its descent, even as it heads toward...

5y9N8nL.png

...yep, the side of a mountain.

 

At a couple of kilometers up, once safely hanging on the main chute, the heat shield and fairing will decouple.

bA3AyNZ.png

 

It's gonna be the side of a mountain, isn't it? I just know it's gonna land on the side of a mountain.

4oF2kaq.png

 

Any minute now...

QMPKIz4.png

 

Aaaaany minute now...

Once the lander is safely down, it should automatically deploy long-range mission antennas as well as triple-redundant RTG's.

Any minute now...

vR9j8f3.png

 

Just as panic is starting to set in, the NOVA orbiter gets a low pass over the landing site, and communication is restored! The lander is safely down, but for some reason the main antenna did not deploy. Fortunately, this has been planned for, and the orbiter automatically relays a signal to deploy them.

rZEXmPL.png

We only get a few tenuous bits of data, though, before the orbiter passes below the horizon. It's going to be a long wait until we can recover the rest.

 

A small course tweak, and the orbiter is once more on course for Germinus.

IWcWwAP.png

Geminus? Geminus.

 

We're going to do a full survey of the Mün-sized moon before focusing attention back on Gratian, there's not enough delta-V available to do it any other way.

oD1s1jG.png

 

The orbiter makes a low pass, once more braking into an eccentric polar orbit. It's a lucky encounter, and the final orbit will allow a full mapping of the world as well as gathering as much critical low-altitude science as possible.

ap9xZu5.png

 

Over the course of several days, on Germinusian month,  nearly the entire surface is mapped and biome scanned, revealing several anomalies. These will necessitate further study on a future mission. Who know what's down there...

k7XMCoZ.png

Geminusian? Geminusian.

 

But, we can't stay here forever. The orbiter once again fires up its thruster and heads back to Gratian. 

I3fzePJ.png

 

The limited data we received from the lander was just enough, the engineering team has agreed to a risky attempt at aerobraking to reduce our apo-Grate away from Germinus's potentially dangerous pull.

d2AmtUt.png

Geminus? Geminus.

 

More tense moments. The orbiter was never designed for this, it lacks any kind of heat shielding, but Gratian's atmosphere seems just thick enough...

6WW8VNu.png

It's getting hot in there...

 

But the maneuver is a success! Nothing too important is lost, although all the photos the cameras return are now a little blackened around the edges. Gives them a nice, nostalgic feel.

w6iVyge.png

Over the next dozen orbits or so, we'll maintain this peri-Grate, which seems to be just at the edge of what the probe can handle. This will slowly drop our orbit for our full scan.

 

During one of these passes, we finally regain contact with the lander! All systems are still in good health. Once again it's only a trickle of data, but it's good to know it still works.

HfcqlWH.png

 

Finally, we've tortured the poor orbiter enough. The last of its fuel and backup attitude/maneuvering propellant is spent to circularize to a polar 2700km orbit, now that we've also gathered as much low-altitude science as we're going to get.

KHL4JdK.png

 

This will also conclude the "active" portion of the mission. The orbiter's big high-gain antenna has already returned a trove of science data, now it's down to mapping and slowly downloading the lander's store as it passes in and out of contact.

kf46KXa.png

Overall, the mission has been a stunning success! Even more than the data returned, it has validated the robustness and adaptability of the NOVA platform. We've got two more en-route to Gauss and Otho, and what we've learned here will be absolutely critical to those missions as well.

This has been just the morale bump the space program needed. Oddly enough, the random beatings didn't seem to help at all, go figure. Gratian has also proved itself a fascinating target for further study, although there are no firm plans in the pipeline at the moment. Between its just-thick-enough atmosphere, handy moon, and potential resources, it may be just the place for a future crewed mission. Only time will tell.

 

OK, guys you can put the socks down, now. Guys? Guys? Guys....

 

 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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This thread does science?  I forgot it did science.

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There's a space program beyond Rald? Wow, amazings :)

(though the Rald exploration was very pretty. And insane)

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8 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Once the lander is safely down, it should automatically deploy long-range mission antennas as well as triple-redundant RTG's.

That's a nifty little cannoball you've got there :) Are those retractable RTGs from SXT? 

Also, why did the lander sink so far into the ground?  Is it that heavy or is the ground that soft?  

 

8 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Nothing too important is lost, although all the photos the cameras return are now a little blackened around the edges. Gives them a nice, nostalgic feel.

 

8 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

This has been just the morale bump the space program needed. Oddly enough, the random beatings didn't seem to help at all, go figure.

I really enjoy all the little jokes like the above that you toss into your reports.

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15 hours ago, 1101 said:

This thread does science?  I forgot it did science.

Well, the way I have it set up in the Admin building, it’s mostly about the money. :blush:

 

14 hours ago, NCommander said:

There's a space program beyond Rald? Wow, amazings :)

(though the Rald exploration was very pretty. And insane)

I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time exploring a single world before. I thought that would be a quick detour, but this game has become quite... organic. I’ll have to get the map with the RaldBase’s odyssey  put up.

 

12 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

Also, why did the lander sink so far into the ground?  Is it that heavy or is the ground that soft?  

Yes. -_-

12 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

That's a nifty little cannoball you've got there :) Are those retractable RTGs from SXT? 

Your guess is as good as mine, I have no idea what anything is from anymore. :confused:

9 hours ago, insert_name said:

Does the orbiter have rtgs as well, I don't see any solar panels?

Near Future nucyaler reactor (running at a bare trickle). :cool: Ain’t messin around this far out. 

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Year 8, Day 126...

The time has come, the walrus said...

Why the walrus is talking in the first place and how he can even tell time I'm still not sure, but as I've said, this place is very strange. In other news, the time has finally come to retire the ailing UpLab before it retires itself. To that end, we've built... this...

Spoiler

 

PyQr8CA.png

Only trouble is, with all the shenanigans on Rald it's been sitting in storage in the back of the VAB for a long time, and no one's quite sure how it works anymore. Oh well, nothing to do but perform the Holy Mouse Click, count to three (absolutely not two or four, and five is right out!), and hope nothing explodes.

Oddly enough, that worked.

 

So here's the payload. Looks like it was designed to bring something back, too. Hmm...

R2bjI18.png

 

Without too much fuss, it meets up with the drifting space station, which seems to have alot more randomly venting and glowy red bits than last time we paid attention to it...

WboHuFj.png

 

So, once we managed to remotely wrest control of the station back from the space-roaches that had apparently done one donut too many with it, the payload sidles up next to it.

75ZvoWI.png

 

Let's see what's inside...

GoXfCLH.png

Hmm. Not empty. Looks like some sort of camera. And I think we were going to bring back the LDEF and its cargo of expensive, still-not-completed experiments.

 

First things first, we cut loose the LDEF module.

aHNjdI2.png

Fortunately it wasn't the one with the welded docking port. It's got plenty of batteries and a working probe core, so it should be fine on its own for a little while.

 

Next, the camera... thing... is released from the return module. The Mission Control team has affectionately dubbed it WALL-EYE.

Y1uGuK1.png

They may regret that attachment when it comes time for its fiery demise. 

 

WALL-EYE slides on over...

M8XCtwD.png

 

And docks for a good view of the festivities.

UzvO7n4.png

 

Upon closer examination, it seems we've got a docking port mismatch. The crew docking adapter is jettisoned. I'm sure it'll be fine, what's one more piece of debris in this orbit, right?

YFoWPG9.png

 

Now the retro-package separates. Surprisingly enough, it was not a box filled with big-haired synth-pop has-beens on grainy cassette tapes.

REF8VX8.png

What it was... was a blatant violation of the very laws of physics. Somehow, the center of mass is behind the engine at the back there. As in, floating a couple of meters out in empty space. This puts the RCS ports at the front of the thing, and, well...

 

We may have had to invent several new swear words to deal with this one. In the end, it was just easier to dock the space station to the retro-pack.

zRyoZY0.png

The 53-tonne space station with half he RCS thrusters broken and officially no translation capability at all. Let that sink in for a minute. ><shudders><

The details, well... this, we do not speak of, right?

 

Now, about that wandering LDEF...

pT7o6WQ.png

Um...

 

Guys... I think you're gonna need a bigger ship...

z55NXX5.png

 

Well, it... sort of fits... 

BBEwON3.png

I wonder what'll happen if we just close the cargo bay doors like that...

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

.

Oh. That. Ok.

d2y0apj.png

 

So now we have a rather impressive debris field...

6alUV7l.png

 

...and the return ship has been ripped apart and is completely dead. Or probably wishes it were. 

5pe0mlR.png

Meanwhile, the LDEF, while un damaged, is now tumbling helplessly out of control. Apparently, while it did have a good probe core, no one bothered to add any reaction wheels.

 

Well, we'll have to figure that part out later.

Meanwhile, the time has come, the walrus said...

nVt37FT.png

Will someone please get that walrus out of here?! It smells like rotting fish...

We have cameras up the proverbial yin-yang for this one.

laZb1Ij.png

What exactly a yin-yang is, and why someone bothered to write a proverb about it, I'm not going to pursue. 

 

Here's the view from WALL-EYE. Should be pretty spectacular.

TL5WhdG.png

 

 

 

ЦDДҀЋЇ , ҀФӍЯДDЄ...

 

 

 

Oddly enough, the end was... surprisingly calm. The nuclear reactor at the front went quickly, as expected, at around 85 kilometers altitude... 

z5YHToi.png

I'm sure there's no danger seeding the upper atmosphere with a third of a tonne of highly radioactive spent fuel...

 

Various support structures and equipment soon followed...

vyztWGv.png

 

After that, the end came... surprisingly quickly.

biuylF9.png

 

At around 79 kilometers the station pivoted sideways to the airstream...

mDXplHW.png

 

...and the breakup was nearly instantaneous, then.

B2BBDh7.png

 

pLb7b6d.png

1cBNJPT.png

FBnmxTw.png

Things happened very quickly....

I9HBeQg.png

There goes WALL-EYE... told you guys not to get too close...
[sad beep]

NLqhMF9.png

 

Several large pieces were left to go streaking across the sky...

OgGFF5c.png

 

...creating quite the fireworks display...

sFvSxGk.png

PNGVbKx.png

 

Which just happen to pass nearly right over the space center.

qoOzRUD.png

Guys, maybe next time we deorbit something this size, we should endeavor to not do it right over our own heads...

 

Some bits actually survived enough to reach the lower atmosphere...

plHBP6t.png

 

The survivors of which were promptly resigned to Davey Jones' locker-- [crickets] 

J5TRQi1.png

 

And that was... all she wrote. The UpLab is now a footnote in our history, leaving the page open for bigger and better things.

Oh, and will someone please go find that walrus and apologize? I didn't realize Vlad hadn't showered all month again...

 

Spoiler

Special thanks to @Vaporo for the return of fauxrillic Kerillic!

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Nothing like deorbiting a space station when you're done with it. Though TBH, it didn't look like their were that many Kerbalism critical failures with it. Mostly all yellows ...

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10 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Why the walrus is talking in the first place and how he can even tell time I'm still not sure,

Goo goo gajoob

 

10 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Now the retro-package separates. Surprisingly enough, it was not a box filled with big-haired synth-pop has-beens on grainy cassette tapes.

Which is a pity.  Would have been a good way to get rid of them :wink:  Anyway, this docking exercise sounds amazingly painful.  Geez.

Anyway, lovely explosions.  Yay!  I just wonder if some of the space roaches survived re-entry.  If so, they're close enough to the kosmodrome to be a problem later....

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4 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

I just wonder if some of the space roaches survived re-entry.

We may find ourselves with a new RatSquirrelFish.

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On ‎2‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 2:19 PM, 0111narwhalz said:

We may find ourselves with a new RatSquirrelFish.

Roach-Walrus-Fish? Probably tastes like bacon.... if a bit fishy.

 

Edit: Doesn't everything taste like Bacon, Chicken or something unmentionable? (and likely unrepeatable, and probably illegal in several states.) 

 

Mmmmm, Pig-Chicken-Fish!

Edited by Patupi

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3 hours ago, Patupi said:

Edit: Doesn't everything taste like Bacon, Chicken or something unmentionable?

In my own case, pretty much everything tastes like Tabasco :) 

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21 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

In my own case, pretty much everything tastes like Tabasco :) 

So, option three then? :D

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Year 8, Day 147...More housekeeping and minutia in this update. ION-1, our plucky little foray into electric propulsion, has spent the last few months in an eccentric holding orbit high over Gael after thoroughly SAR mapping the surface. And at Ceti. And Iota. And Rald.  This thing just keeps on going and going like some bizarre pink rabbit. To that end, it needs a refuel.

Spoiler


f3IqIDZ.png

 

Unfortunately, it was never designed for refueling. But more on that later. First off, another reliable Mallard-D heads into a rare polar orbit.

a0px5uR.png

 

It drops of this beautifully over-engineered little nightmare before leaving the area at high speed.

SP6ETsx.png

 

The refueling tug then heads off, using an uninsulated hydrolox kick stage.

EJrZ69Z.png

 

Did I mention it was over-engineered? The engineering team was worried that the kick stage would maintain enough fuel to make the initial burn at all before it all boiled off. Instead, there's plenty left for the velocity-matching burn, too.

SXwzzKQ.png

 

The kick stage is then, well, kicked... still with fuel left in the ever-warmer tanks.

FzFJbed.png

 

And now comes the unpleasant business. The tug is equipped with a micronozed Klaw, to grab onto one of ION-1's engines, and, well... you get the idea.

PS75nuJ.png

Note to self: Remove any and all movies relating to aliens from the engineer's lounge room. Replace them with something harmless, like... ponies...

 

So, anyways, nature being what it is, the deed is done. Despite neither thing here being natural. But over 12,000 unites of fresh xenon is successfully force-fed into ION-1.

 xQI2Hen.png

Unfortunately, we have no way to remotely check it for implanted eggs...

 

Further mimicking nature, once the transfer is complete, there's.... well, there's just no use for the tug, anymore. It carries no instruments or even long-range antennas, so it's no good even as a remote relay elsewhere. The engineering team all imagines a sad face as the tug goes to pick up its own kick stage drifting nearby.

KcBavoG.png

Ponies. The engineering team definitely needs ponies. No, Vlad, they cannot be telepathic  taco-stealing ponies. Where do you even come up with this stuff?

 

So, after finishing its task, the tug fires up its ion engines for the first time and... whoah!

VKnQdZR.png

It seems in all the hubbub, no one disabled the engine on the kick stage, so it fires right back up again and spins the whole mass up to an incredible speed!

 

Unfortunately for the tug, it still has a ridiculous amount of fuel on board for its own engines, more than enough to stop its rotation and begin its sad end.

wlDxBUx.png

 

It gets a nice view of the polar aurora as it descends...

C1Xk7ir.png

 

But soon disappears in a puff of logic highly compressed xenon.

7N6mKlk.png

 

ION-1, meanwhile, while feeling rather ill and complaining of indigestion, now has a full 18 kilometers per second available in the tanks.

oRjbdCA.png

 

So it's quickly sent off to be the harbinger of bad news to another useless object.

Nz4yvy2.png

Transfer window? We don't need no steenking transfer window!

 

Iota station has been derelict ever since the first and last crew left it, possessing a probe core but no long-range antennae, and the solar panels failed some time ago.

So, after a lot of flitting around and several unprintable pages of fresh swear words later, it's finally pushed out of orbit.

2bY7owr.png

 

...smacking harmlessly into the Iotan surface.

n2nVqDc.png

 

Well, harmless to everything except the station, of course.

ONTPcOV.png

 

 

ION-1, of course, remains in good health in a high orbit over the small moon. The fuel in its tanks barely touched, we have a new mission for it. A window to Thalia is once more approaching, and after the disappointment and then failure of Thalia EXPRESS, this time we're sending... an armada.

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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19 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

after the disappointment and then failure of Thalia EXPRESS, this time we're sending... an armada.

Bomb that planet into oblivion!

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Ooooh, a flotilla armada! Those are always fun. When in doubt, send two probes instead of one. Or three. Or ten.

You're probably asking yourself: "In all that excitement, did he send six probes, or five?"

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2 hours ago, roboslacker said:

Bomb that planet into oblivion!

According to some estimates, it may already be there... :sealed:

1 hour ago, IncongruousGoat said:

You're probably asking yourself: "In all that excitement, did he send six probes, or five?"

I guess the question I should be asking myself is, do I feel lucky?

...and something about my lawn I think...

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22 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Transfer window? We don't need no steenking transfer window!

Thats what I said to a trip to Laythe.

pKBEFRv.png

Thats what happened multiple times.

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4 hours ago, qzgy said:

Thats what I said to a trip to Laythe.

Well, it helps if you have absolutely silly amounts of delta-V and no pesky atmosphere in the way and...

Wait, is that bioluminescence? :o

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8 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Wait, is that bioluminescence? :o

Yes it indeed is! Courtesy of Spectra, which has become my go-to visual pack.

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Year 8, Day 291...

We're on the verge of very big things, here. After the celestial knee-whack of the last mission to Thalia, followed by the slap-when-we're-down of complete loss of the probe only days before it was to execute a second flyby, this time we're taking no chances.

We're gonna throw stuff at Thalia until something finally sticks. Hopefully literally.

We begin with the physical science package, bringing out the indauntable wait, is that a word? Grey Goose for launch.

37AxWNf.png

 

She gains speed incredibly quickly, due to the unusually light payload.

ytcmr9b.png

 

Post-construction, er... simulations... revealed a small... irregularity with the svelte fairing design...

WJ3aQWg.png

 

So, the unusual decision was made to keep the fairing all the way through trans-Thalia injection.

IbVO8Ll.png

Instead of lofting something heavy, this Grey Goose had its mission profile tweaked to use the upper stage as the actual injection stage, significantly lowering both the cost and complexity of the mission.
Except for the pesky fairing.

 

And so, after a fairly mild 3500m/s burn, the ThEta probe is en-route!

3Ng7IaY.png

The incredibly successful design of ION-1 has here been distilled into a high-efficiency propulsion package. Still primarily nuclear powered, it's also packing a fixed solar array to hopefully power the troublesome fifth ion engine once in Thalia's SOI. The propulsion package's primary role is to insert a simple chemical-fueled lander into low Thalia orbit, before itself proceeding to the small moon of Eta for a thorough survey. The fixed solar wing also incorporates a large radiator, as some of the long-distance readings of the planet from Thalia EXPRESS were... interesting.

 

Six days later, the original ION-1 now joins its cohort on a slightly less efficient transfer. There should be no shortage of delta-V available once we reach the enigmatic planet this time!

GEOKioQ.png

 

And finally, 20 days after that, the final piece is put into play with another Grey Goose launch.

V27gM76.png

 

Good booster sep! never get tired of seeing this...

OHnhBfS.png

 

Having the Mallard upper stage do the transfer won't be an option this time, despite leaving later, this mission is on the fast track, and the upper stage will only be able to provide around half of the needed 5600m/s impulse.

vd2dt6D.png

 

Once it's burned every scrap of fuel it has, a more efficient hydrolox transfer stage takes over for the rest of the burn. The Mallard stage is left on a trajectory that will take it to the very edge of Gael's SOI, with a slight nudge to bring it back into the atmosphere. We're not even bothering trying to recover this one.

Xz11cBE.png

 

The cryogenic transfer stage works even better than expected, hanging on to enough fuel despite its lack of insulation to make a significant correction burn just beyond Gael.

GRwI7Ui.png

 

Before puttering off on its own into the celestial abyss.

jd2Ypt7.png

 

Here we have ION-2, a further revision of the same propulsion system in play on the other two probes, now optimized for high-altitude orbital scanning and packing a small impactor probe.

a42qWxj.png

 

Aaaaand, they're off! It's going to be quite the race to reach the target world before the contract deadline. Despite its later departure, ION-2 will reach Thalia well ahead of the other two. Slowing down may be a problem.

yjbzmMB.png

The engineering team has dubbed this motley crew the Thally's Armada.

This is why we don't let them actually name things.

 

And there's... one more complication to throw in.

ryV7VjQ.png

Right about the same time the Armada will be making their arrivals, NOVA Otho is due to be making its own...

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3 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

We're gonna throw stuff at Thalia until something finally sticks. Hopefully literally.

And here I thought you were going to nuke it from orbit. Well, I guess harpoons work okay too. Does Thalia have any blubber?

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