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Story 4: Oculus Station, Chapter 4: Telescope start!


Oculus Station official log, crew 1, day 3. Preparations are complete for use of the space telescope. The odd centre of mass threw off the guidance computers more than expected, so we'll rotate the station manually, with the gyroscope at the lowest setting. The plan is to simultaneously use the telescope to observe nearby planets, do some Kerbin orbital science, and perform experiments at the lab. The boffins at the KSC can't split me, the only scientist, into three Kerbals, so instead we'll be doing something ambitious, but far less remarkable. A live feed. We'll use the satellite network we have up now to constantly stream data to the space centre. They're trusting me to operate the telescope on my own, but they'll be constantly instructing Jeb and Bill with the other tasks. We'll see how the neighbour worlds have changed. End log.

Bob clicked the submit button on his computer screen, a nodding Jeb standing behind him.

Jeb: Professional AND kinda epic. That's why I don't write these. Unless the house is on fire, it's hard to be too serious.

Bill: Look... I know this isn't a first for any of us, but we're in space. We've broken free of stifling air and gravity to float free. This is like... I don't know a good metaphor, us being atop a stellar mountain. So why do you feel the need to treat it like a comedy sketch?

Jeb: Well, I don't want to go about it like just another job. We're someplace special, so I kinda put a little more pep into my step for the occasion. We're in zero-g, so bad analogy, but my point is, I feel the need to respect these accomplishments, and where we are now, and how I do that is by trying to be cheery.

Bob: We've all got different ways of doing things, I suppose.

Just then, a message crackled in from mission control. "Oi, good talk, you three. Now get to work!"

Jeb: Understood, Capcom. I need to get my pun of the day out of the way though, first.

KSC: Priorities, eh?

Jeb: Alright, here goes. How's the broken window feeling?

Bill: Don't talk about broken windows up here.


KSC: Haha. You are such comedian, we laugh very hard. Now please get to work.

The three scatter to their stations. From the frontmost lander-can, Bob slowly rotates the station to focus on their first target - a rapidly setting Mun.

KSC: Wernher Von Kerman is on the channel, representing the science department.

Bob: Oh, hello sir. We're just focusing on the Mun to warm up.

Wernher: I see. Is the target in your sights?

Bob: Yes, although it's setting now. 

Wernher: Then fire!

Bob: Wut? 

Wernher: Sorry, I got a bit carried away. So... we can't live-stream video if just my voice sounds like I'm on helium and am using a voice mixer, take a photograph.

Bob: Done. The Mun is still fully visible through the atmosphere, though the colour changes. Next, the closest planet to rotate to would be Eve.

Wernher: Oceans, and a previously thick atmosphere. It will be interesting to see if we can even recognise it anymore.

Bob: Target is centred, beginning zoom.

Bob: Well, that can't be right...

Screen_Shot_2017-04-27_at_11.38.30_PM.pnWernher: What can't be right?

Bob: Eve. I have the pre-crisis photographs on my screen, and I'm comparing them side by side. They're exactly the same. No clouds, the atmosphere is as transparent as it was before. And yes, I'm sure.

Wernher: Bob Kerman. I need you to get me these images, now.

Bob: We're trying to send the Kerbin orbital science images right now, sir.

Wernher: Sorry. But these pictures take priority.

Edited by VelocityPolaris

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10 hours ago, VelocityPolaris said:

Jeb: Alright, here goes. How's the broken window feeling?

Bill: Don't talk about broken windows up here.


Oh... wow..... Jeb, that is so bad... and I can't stop giggling... outstanding! :sticktongue:

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No update today, but I'll try to maintain one chapter per two days over the break. I may have been slightly distracted by Subnautica.

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Story 4: Oculus Station, Chapter 5: Science run

"The servos are messed up or something, because it's getting more and more jerky. Jeb and Bill are on it, but it might not be safe to turn the telescope for too much longer."

Bob turned around from the lander-can's radio as Bill floated up through the hatch. 

Bill: Sorry, Bob. There's no spare parts anywhere. I can't find anything besides than the basic toolkit on the shuttle!

Bob: Uh, KSC. We're sorry, but we cannot locate any replacement parts for the telescope. Assistance would be appreciated.

KSC: We're on the problem now, standby - never mind. Wernher here has informed us that the backup parts are, uh, on the habitation module.

Bob: But isn't it -

KSC: Laying incomplete in the Vehicle Assembly Building, yes. A minor oversight.

Bob: ...So-

KSC: Don't get mad. ...just get in as much Duna observation as you can. Focusing the scope on it will take the least amount of rotation.

Bob: Roger that. Bill, I see you're a bit fuming. It is how it is, okay? I just... It'd be nice if you didn't explode again.

Bill: Yeah, sure.

Trying to suppress an outburst, he flew down to find Jeb.

Several days later, the station had turned very slowly, enough to finally focus on the planet

Jeb: There it is, folks! The planet Duna - a sandy world lost in time, entirely alien with just a eerie hint of familiarity on the wind. What secrets, old and new, does it hold?

Bill: Is it really necessary to narrate? We're not doing a movie.

Jeb: With KSC constantly recording everything, camera and microphone, how do you know we're not? Nah, I just - it's how I express wonder,  okay? I feel like I should say something.

Bill: I'd like to just enjoy the sight, personally. If you could move away from the lens, I'd like to take another look.

Bob: Actually, if you wouldn't mind, I need to see to operate that. I can send the picture down to the science lab.

Jeb: Technology these days, eh? Alright, we'll get out of your way.

Bill pokes his head back up through the hatch for a second. "Oi, what are those dark splotches in the picture?"

Bob: Hmm. KSC, I take it you're trying to compare the image with past ones?

KSC: Trying. The picture gets messed up a lot during transmission, though. You mentioned splotches? 

Bob: Right. It's not a problem with the lens, and I don't think those were there.

KSC: You're right, those are completely new. Just like on Kerbin, they're probably cloud formations of some sort. But they don't immediately make sense. We don't think Duna has running water, and dust clouds would probably stand out a lot less from the surface.

Bob: There's a splotch on the surface.

KSC: Uh, maybe a pile of volcanic soot or something? Actually, that makes sense. Those clouds visible from Kerbin are the result of recent volcanic activity on Duna!

Bob: But Duna's volcanoes are all long-extinct.

KSC: It's the hypothesis that makes the most sense at the moment, but it doesn't mean it's the only explanation. Try to look at the entire surface, if you can. Once we get a high-quality image, the R&D boffins will probably be able to tell us for sure. Actually, it would be ideal if you were to return to Kerbin soon with copies of the images, Gene's considering that.

After about 3 more days, the observation of the surface was complete, finding similar splotches in many places across the surface of Duna, but mainly in the poles.

Jeb: Mission control, I'm done with the surface observation now. We waited an entire Duna day.

KSC: Roger. Why are you at the scope controls instead of Bob? 

Jeb: I guess your cameras aren't working that great right now. So it turns out Bob needs to sleep sometimes.

KSC: Roger that. Due to the unexpected damage, we don't think the observation of anything else would be prudent. Return to-

KSC: ...What are you doing?

Jeb: I like Ike.

KSC: That wasn't in the plan, but, eh, it'll help satisfy the astronomy folks, so boom! Gene authorised it.

Jeb: Whoa, that's so close to the surface! You know, I feel a bit like a kid on a playstructure here!

KSC: Alright, just make sure to be careful-

Jeb: KSC? It's slipping... and I have lost control of the telescope. I think the turn-thingies are finally broken. Yep, red lights. Telescope spinny-thingies are non-functional.

KSC: Roger, switch to station main. It's too powerful to do any far-out observation with, but it'll stop you from spinning.

Another two weeks of arguing on the ground, and a lot of progress had been made in space, even without the telescope. Experiments that had been crammed into almost every compartment by scientists were rapidly finished, stars were looked at through a tiny handheld scope, and numerous observations of Kerbin were made. They even had helped guide a cargo ship through a storm when the satellite in position suffered from a glitch. But the decision had been made. They were headed home. After all, there wasn't a proper habitation module yet. The station crew had come to quietly appreciate the serenity of the multicoloured stars around them. But they overcame their reluctance to leave. Bob went to detach the pipe and strut feebly linking station and shuttle, Jeb and Bill ready to depart.

Oculus station may have been far from complete, but they were glad to have it as their home, and every nook and cranny now had a sticky note naming it. The Kerbals had said goodbye to their home in space, but their other home was still out of reach. When they fired the engines to return to Kerbin, Bill noticed that the fuel gauge didn't change. It was faulty. And just their luck, there had been the tiniest of leaks in the spacecraft. The engine fired for as long as the fuel held, but their periapsis was still above 70 kilometres.

RCS thrusters were fired until they were drained of hydrazine, bringing the shuttle into the upper atmosphere. They swung around many times, always hitting the atmosphere just hard enough to feel nauseous, but not enough to be pulled back to the surface of Kerbin. They went through almost every throw-up bag in the capsule before, finally, it went onto it's final approach.

Yes, the sky was on fire outside. And yes, they were subjected to near-crushing gees. But it beat being stuck in orbit. In fact, unbeknownst to the world, they had a surprisingly good karaoke session during re-entry. Alas, by the time communications were restored, it was too late for anyone in mission control to join in. 
They touched down in the middle of nowhere, late into the cold night. At least, said Jeb, they weren't in the ocean. Soon, a truck arrived to pick them up, taking some time to load up the electronics full of pictures and station files, as well as many experiments. The first crew of Oculus station's mission had ended.
Edited by VelocityPolaris

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Story 4: Oculus Station, Chapter 6: New mission

Despite a stay of only a few weeks, the first crew's mission had been an amazing success. Probes were nice, but actual Kerbals back in space had really recaptured the public's imagination. There were still so many mysteries out there. And soon, the Auclal government approved another budget increase. The first thing the space centre did was complete the habitation module of Oculus station and send it up. Directly piloted by an onboard Kerbal and in line with the rest of the station, the docking went more smoothly than anyone had anticipated. In fact, it went so well that a commemorative plaque had to be made. Screen_Shot_2017-05-02_at_2.56.55_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-05-02_at_3.09.21_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-05-02_at_3.08.29_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-06-14_at_1.24.06_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-06-14_at_1.23.24_PM.png

The second crew was made up of commercial pilot Jara Kerman, mechanical safety inspector Crisise Kerman, famed astronomer Karbel Kerman, and commanded by Bob Kerman. It certainly wasn't safe to put him back in space again so soon, but despite there being a good amount of eager volunteers, there were precious few experienced, qualified astronauts, so when he volunteered, the space programme readily put him on the next rocket. Nobody was quite sure why he volunteered, though, after going through so much on the last mission. The habitation module consisted of two oversized habitat modules, another lander-can command pod, and a node room. This was planned as a long mission, especially as there was no return craft currently docked, so the astronauts were given a near-cavernous amount of room. Not that Jara was in any way a bad pilot, but many wondered where Valentina was, and the explanation was that she was busy with an inexplicably important aircraft testing programme, where she flew several definitely incredibly well-built, flightworthy prototypes. 


After several exhausting EVAs through the specially built airlock on the end module, designed by the Quest company, the telescope was operational again. The station was slowly rotated towards the next target, Jool.


The gas giant seemed grainy, possibly explained by some sort of strange new clouds surrounding it. And, officially, when the unreliable telescope started to zoom again, the gears broke down violently, throwing dangerous sparks through the closest lander-can. But that's not what really happened. The space programme had been as open as possible with the public, as a matter of both principle, and financial necessity. True, the gears broke down violently, and the command pod had to be evacuated. Video footage of this was even made public. But before this happened, two more images were captured.

Screen_Shot_2017-06-14_at_1.34.35_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-06-14_at_1.34.34_PM.pngEven more puzzling than the strange, grainy, geometric shapes that surrounded Jool was that the entire planet suddenly appeared to pulse, appearing to envelop Laythe over near the upper left. Directly after this, the mechanical breakdown in the telescope occurred. A change in energy readings was detected, too small to be noticeable from the best observatories on Kerbin. When the government liaison saw this from the mission control computer, his expression strangely changed, and he immediately sealed the room. The images and data were confiscated, and he made sure that everyone who had seen anything was told not to mention it to anyone. Astronauts included. The liaison didn't even have a weapon on him, but money talked to anyone who wasn't frozen in surprise. Then he just took the data and left, car racing off towards the capital city of Aucrye. No remaining data outweighing curiosity, most at the space centre tried to shrug off their surprise at what had just happened. Most.

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Story 5: Eve, Chapter 1: The Plan

Almost immediately, a new government liaison arrived, a much more serious, grim fellow. He laid out the facts - any observation of Jool would be directed from a separate, non-KSP facility. A senior administrator named Joefield, finally raised a protest. "So we're literally not allowed to look at that part of the sky? Do you have any idea how much this will hinder our mission? You know, finding stuff out about space?" the liaison leaned towards him, Joefield holding his breath to avoid the angry Kerbal's smell. "This is not a topic for argument. You know where your funding comes from. If it's any consolation, I can tell you that we are looking into Jool. That section of the sky is not being ignored. Now, don't you have other mysteries to explore?" Joefield lowered his head in reluctant resignation, and said "You know, I wish I could say we don't care about money. But what we do is important. Fine. You win. Now get out of my face, and take a shower." As the liaison went back downstairs in the administration building, Gene, standing at the opposite doorway, shook his head disapprovingly at Joefield. He met Gene's eyes and growled "I know, that wasn't going to go anywhere. But someone had to say something." 

Fast forward a couple of days, to the cafeteria in the astronaut complex. Well, it was called the astronaut complex, but there weren't a ton of astronauts. It had been completely renovated to be usable again, and now provided room and board for most of the employees. Everyone was gathered in the cafeteria, tables almost full. Joefield, Wernher, and Gene were standing on a makeshift podium by a projector screen. Right behind them was Macory, the shadowy and rarely present executive who, officially, ran the entire space programme. His head was always buried in finances, as he kept the space programme afloat. But what was happening today was important enough for him to be here. 

Gene: Thank you for coming, everyone. I know many of you are shaken up by... recent events, but we've got a mission to focus on now. This is something we've never done, not even before the calamity. I'll let our boss explain.

Macory: Hiya. So, apparently I'm your boss. I guess some of you didn't know that. But I swear, I'm working, even if I'm never here. I do finances and stuff, and endless meetings. Got some free time though, so I can try my hand at giving a speech. So, we're going to Eve. The first time we reach out to another planet with our own fingers instead of a probe, and we choose about the worst place. It's stuffy, it's corrosive, but it's beautiful. A manned mission to another planet has always had the same sort of mystery surrounding it that the Mun used to have. Can it be done? Yes, we can do the math, but what's to say that the universe will let it happen, or that something we don't know about won't go wrong? So why Eve, a purple ball with an atmosphere of gaseous murphy's law? Answer: It's gotta have some clues. We know from direct observation that it looks about the same as before, but that makes no sense. Why should Kerbin change so much when Eve hasn't? But how do we know it hasn't? Eve is one of the brighter dots in the night sky when you can see it, but it shouldn't be that bright. And we recently got... a signal. Not aliens contacting us as far as we know, could have been natural, but it looked similar to Kerbal transmissions, and it was from Eve. So yeah, we should check that out.

Gene: Alright, so let's sit down, put our minds together, and do it! We've got an outline of a plan, so here it is. Linus, the projector, if you will.

Two icons come on the projector behind him, showing a drawing of a satellite, and a capsule. As Gene talks, sketches of each vehicle he discusses show up on the screen

Gene: The mission is divided up into two parts. Manned and unmanned. First stage is unmanned. We want to check everything out before we send anyone to their deaths. The first step of unmanned we've already done. We have a couple of comms satellites chasing and leading Kerbin, and they're doing some science stuff on what space outside of Kerbin's SOI is like. Radiation is a big deal, we need to do our homework on it so we don't fry our Kerbals. Next, we need another Summit satellite. We'll give it a new booster and get it into Eve orbit, do some basic orbital science, and it'll be our communications for the crew of any Eve mission. Step 3: Science satellite. Go over the entire surface of Eve in a polar orbit, pick a landing spot. Step 4, and this is going to sound weird, is a glider. We'll have a super-reinforced glider that's sent into the atmosphere of Eve, goes to the landing spot, and actually lands there. Not only do we have some data on the surface, but we have a beacon telling the crew of a manned mission where to land. Now, we start the manned mission. Step 1: We send a few Kerbals on a spacecraft out of Kerbin's SOI, find out what we'll need for a mission in heavy radiation, and get them back to Kerbin before they get too much radiation. Then, we send the components to a surface base, a mining rover, an orbital fuel station, an SSTO in orbit, and a submarine. None of it manned yet. Step 3, a crew vehicle that can shuttle between Kerbin and Eve orbit, along with our intrepid crew. That's when the real mission starts. The crew travels to Eve orbit, dock the shuttle to the fuel station, get to the SSTO, and land by the base on Eve. There's the rover for land exploration and collecting ore to refuel the SSTO with, the base for all their science needs, and the submarine for exploring that rather corrosive water. How are we going to do all of this? I'm not sure, so you all figure it out! Report to your stations, each of your supervisors will have a problem for you to figure out how to solve. DIS-missed!

OOC: Sorry about the lack of pictures in that last chapter, that should be the only one to not have any. I'm shooting for two chapters a week now, so I can maintain that schedule.

Edited by VelocityPolaris

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Story 5: Eve, Chapter 2: Summit 3

Gene stumbled out of bed, and made his way slowly across the drizzly grounds, towards the mission control building. It may have been early in the morning, but he wasn't going to miss the launch of the first craft sent to Eve. He had not had any coffee yet, or he would have been awake enough to notice the fact that there was nothing on the launchpad but some burnt-out clamps. The spacecraft had been sitting on that pad, waiting for a launch window. He entered the passcode and saw Sig Kerman, the night flight director. By the door was the newly-installed beverage fountain, which had settings for almost any cold or hot beverage. He gulped down a steady stream of coffee, only to realise that the scalding beverage was decaf. This was never a sign of a good day. He strode past the rows of desks to relieve Sig, only to see something curious on the big screen up front.


(The picture on the mission control monitor would probably be an engine-mounted camera, as we don't exactly have a chase plane.)

Sig gave a nervous smile. "Uh, you're early, chief. ...Before you say anything, I swear I can explain."

Gene: You launched without me.

Sig: ...Yes, but that's not - look, we got a report of a storm inbound, and had to launch right then and there, okay? We didn't want to risk the probe being struck by lightning. You know how we only get a few minutes notice at best. 

Gene rubbed his face with his fingers in frustration. He was so looking forward to seeing the fruit of everybody's work, the Eve comsat Summit 3, finally take off. It wasn't fair. But nor was it anyone's fault, really. "Alright, just... can you get me a coffee before you get to bed? Something with caffeine, preferably one of those new ones with the whipped cream."

Sig nodded understandingly before ducking outside of the building, into the rain. "No problem, chief. I'll be back directly." 

With their headphones, the technicians weren't really paying attention to what was going on outside of the mission. They just expected the flight director to be there to coordinate them. Gene got a pair of headphones and asked for an engine burn report before anyone else noticed he was there. A couple of minutes later, it was done, and the flame of plasma faded out to the faint puff of monopropellant.


Gene: Burn's complete. Someone get me the Eve trajectory.

The main screen switched which monitor it was showing.

Screen_Shot_2017-05-03_at_2.07.35_PM.pngGene: Alright, TRAYcom, give us the adjustment profile to get that periapsis out of Eve's atmosphere. Remember, we want it equatorial. 

80-something days later...


Gene: Calvey.

TRAYcom: Chief?

Gene: That's not equatorial.

TRAYcom: I don't know how it happened, chief. The computer said we were lined up perfectly until we actually entered Eve's SOI!

Gene: Right... FDO! Try to work out a solution for an equatorial orbit, one that doesn't use all of our delta-v! 

FDO: I'll work on it, sir. But we can only guess how our little dip into the atmosphere's going to affect our trajectory. 

Gene: Right... of course the computer has to get the periapsis wrong, too. Switch to our backup, and get someone in here to take a look at it! TRAYcom, FDO, get a team together to get a few scenarios for the trajectory, try to get us in the roundest, flattest orbit you can. Do it fast, we're not-

Screen_Shot_2017-05-03_at_2.16.50_PM.pngHe whirls around as Sig pokes his head in, gesturing for Gene. 

Gene: What?

Sig: Uh, your coffee's here. Also, one of the scientists needs to talk to you now, it's urgent. I can take over.

Gene: No. You get some rest. Whatever he has to say, he can say it in here. I'm not in the mood for this.

Sig: Okay, I'll tell him.

His sighs audible from across the room, a Kerbal doing his best to put on an air of importance comes through the door as Sig leaves, and adjusts his probably-unnecessary glasses. "Gene Kerman, I need to speak with you. I'm Wilwinn, from the astronomy-"

Gene: Yes we will.

Wilwinn: What was that?

Gene: Nothing. What do you need to say?

Wilwinn: We've been looking at the feed from mission control, and discovered something curious. Just look at the screen.


SYSTEMS: Solar panels are retracted, chief! Upper atmosphere entry is in a minute or two, but we're already hitting a little bit of turbulence!

Gene: Just spit it out!

Wilwinn makes his way to a monitor, and with some quick type/clicking, pulls up an old photo on the main screen.

Gene: Hey! We're trying to... 

Wilwinn: That was a photo from Oculus station's first mission, showing Eve looking exactly how it did pre-crisis. And they are looking at Eve as we speak, and getting more or less the same result.

Gene: So we're looking at the planet from two perspectives, but it looks completely different from both?

Wilwinn: Exactly. And it takes less than a minute for light from Eve to reach Kerbin.

Gene: That shouldn't be possible.

Wilwinn: No, it's not. I don't even have a hypothesis on how this is possible, but one of these images is clearly an illusion, and I wager it's the one from afar. 

Gene: This is fascinating, don't get me wrong, but we have an atmospheric entry to deal with.

Wilwinn: Wait, I just need your radiation data! Look, what if it were possible for light to become trapped - not like a black hole, maybe not even every spectrum -

Gene: Get that off image off the screen, someone! And I'm sorry - I don't care who you are, but listen. GIVE. ME. A. MINUTE.

Wilwinn nodded and walked to the back of the room.

Gene: Alright, make sure that engine is shut! Get the instruments up and running, this'll be our only atmospheric data for a while!

The craft descended into the Eve atmosphere, every surface slowly heating. Apparently a long time in space wasn't good for the onboard computer, as it decided to do a stupid.


Gene: ...someone. Please retract these solar panels. I'm this close to tearing up.

SYSTEMS: Yes, sir! It must have been some sort of glitch, I don't-

Gene: I know. Nobody here is stupid enough to extend them during entry. Payload! How are the science instruments working?

PAYLOAD: We're getting some atmospheric samples, temperature and pressure, gravity and acceleration, the goo is silently judging us, and the science lab is meant for use in-orbit. All systems are green. Comm relays are holding up well too, just in case you ask.

After a briefer dip into the atmosphere than a man with Thalassophobia trying to surf, they made it out without any issues. A burn profile was made not a few minutes later, putting the craft into Eve orbit. Unfortunately, it wasn't the cleanest of orbits.


TRAYcom: Periapsis is now 248,000 metres, Apoapsis is... inclination is... well, pretty high is the answer to both. You can all see the numbers.

Gene: And not a drop of fuel left. Well, we've got 4 interplanetary and 4 local comm relays in Eve orbit. It's not like the mission was unsuccessful. But geez, that was a sloppy job. 

Wilwinn: Well, now we know Eve has in fact changed. A lot. Look, that atmosphere now looks as thick as it is.

Gene: Which means surveying a landing site will now take a lot more specialised instruments.

Wilwinn: Indeed. And is that green on the night/day line? Curious.

Gene: Oh, right. You mentioned you had some ideas?

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Story 5: Eve, Chapter 3: Inquirer

During the 80-something days the first Eve satellite took to make the journey, the space programme was already hard at work on another. Inquirer 1, a survey satellite with scientific instruments specially built to punch through the corrosive soupy fog of pink clouds. The plan was to launch it directly after Summit 3 was in place. But the comsat's sloppy, haphazard orbit ruined that plan, the Inquirer satellite's antenna relying on it to be able to transmit all the way back to Kerbin. The only possible solution was more comsats. And so the engineers had until the next launch window to prepare a launch vehicle to deliver both the inquirer and it's comsats to Eve. All available data suggested that Summit 3 had plenty of fuel for it's job, and the computers tended to glitch out around Eve - this had the scientists gathered around, on a rigorous schedule of scratching their heads and proposing wild hypotheses. Plus, Eve's atmosphere was drastically different then what many of the instruments on Summit 3 had been designed for, so the specially designed instruments on Inquirer had to be redesigned. So after guesswork mixed with careful calculation, a 3-satellite launch vehicle was ready to go. Summits 4 & 5 would try to enter useful geostationary orbits, while Inquirer 1 would go for a polar orbit. The gigantic fairing made the massive rocket quite a challenge to control, but with the rest of mission control helping by cheering him on, Bobak Kerman, who operated the controls with such unusual precision that someone suggested he was an imposter, managed to get it to orbit.Screen_Shot_2017-05-05_at_4.19.43_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-05-05_at_4.24.32_PM.png

The burn that sent the launch vehicle on it's way to Eve went perfectly. The fairing stayed on through the voyage, just in case it could help protect the satellites against interplanetary dust. After many long weeks of going in and out of mission control and watching the craft's trajectory, along with a last minute adjustment burn, the launch vehicle arrived in Eve's SOI, this time in a far more equatorial manner. So far, everything was going by the book.


With the crescent jewel of deadly acid in sight, the retrograde burn began to enter Eve's orbit. Managing to enter a high, erratic orbit, the launch vehicle's engine cut out, and the fairing detached. As they prepared to release the satellites, one at a time, Gene took a deep breath of relief. For once in his life, everything was going according to plan. 


...until it didn't.


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Story 5: Eve, Chapter 4: Survey

With the separation of the satellites from the transfer stage in progress, one of the controllers on the Summit 4 team's row threw down his headphones. "Chief! We're reading an explosion on the craft, audio and video!" Gene reacted immediately. "On screen! Everyone, get me a damage report, figure out what's going on here!" The surrounding explosion became visible from one of the probe's cameras on the main screen, only adding a bit of panic to the confusion. The different teams for each probe frantically combed through their systems, and the core team tried to look through the various exterior cameras for any signs of debris. One by one, heads poked up from behind their computers. "Inquirer looks fine from here, chief!" "Light rotation, but no signs of damage!" "All systems appear nominal, but I've no idea what happened!" Finally, a Kerbal who'd been staring at the engine camera on Summit 4 raised his hand. "Chief, I think I found out what happened!" Gene flopped over his desk to the Kerbal, who was directly in front of him. "Sir, the problem appears to have been all in the transfer module. It hit a snag with a piece of the fairing that got stuck, and lost a sepratron." 

Gene: Any major debris threatening the probes?

TRAYcom: No sir.

Gene: Alright, everyone keep an eye out for anything that could damage the probes. FDO, get the engine of Summit 4 ready for a small burn, to put us a safe distance away from this debris field. PAYLOAD, get solar panels, antennae, and basic instruments going. While we're sitting here, I'll need everyone to check for debris on any of the probes. Report to me if everything is working, and absolutely report to me if something seems off.


Gene stepped back for a moment to take off his headphones for a second, and reach quickly into his desk's emergency compartment. He pulled out not a hot cup of coffee, but cold water. The currently pointless flight surgeon Danby Kerman, who had joined the onlookers at the back of the mission control centre, walked up to him. "Gene. Are you doing alright? You seem to be experienced stress, and stress is a symptom of cancer."

Gene looked at him for a second, puzzled. "Yeah. I'm fine. Just..." he pointed at the circle that represented Eve on his computer screen, wiping away sweat. "...this planet. It made us look like complete amateurs last time. Now we are trained, proFESSIONAL crew, and I'm not letting this poisonpit make fools out of us again."

Danby Kerman: Absolutely, I understand. I'm no psychologist, but I'm sure I can make something up. Imagine that planet to be the cause of all your frustrations, annoyances, and roadblocks in life. Now punch it in the face.

Gene Kerman: Wait, are you telling me to punch the computer screen, or deorbit a satellite?

Danby Kerman: Uh... well... I can smell the lawsuits already, so I'm going to stop giving advice.

Gene Kerman: Please do. Every planned KSP mission right now is going to Eve, so I need to learn to NOT hate an entire celestial body. 

Danby Kerman: Well, you work in a profession that involves appreciating the wonder of the cosmos, right? Just... do that thing. I'll go get a real psychologist for you, sir.

Gene Kerman: Please don't. I need a breather, not a psych evaluation and therapy. 

SYSTEMS: Sir, I hope I'm not interrupting anything, but the half-second-long burn is complete, and we're ready to detach the satellites.

Gene Kerman: Right! Proceed, one at a time.


After the successful separation of the satellites, the Summit 4 and 5 teams fired their engines, bound for a geostationary orbit 10.4 million metres above the surface. Already equatorial, the satellites didn't have very far to go.


Inquirer 1's team, however, had an extra dimension to worry about. Fortunately, their quest for a polar orbit was aided by the sheer amount of fuel packed into the mission's main probe.


As they burned towards geostationary orbit, the two probes began running worryingly low on fuel. People from unrelated stations began leaning over the Summit team members' shoulders, offering advice and drawing squiggly lines on graph paper. Fortunately, they just barely made it, using the remaining drop of fuel to straighten their orbits a bit. A bit of confetti was thrown, the controllers forcing themselves to celebrate achieving their planned orbit. It would have been more jubilant, had they not just run the numbers and realised that Inquirer 1 did not have the delta vee to reach it's planned 500 km polar orbit.


But in another "eh, good enough" moment, they at least managed to achieve a polar orbit, the scansat having an apogee of 1200 km, and a perigee of 500. This made a lot of scanning equipment only useful at the bottom of the orbit. Finding a good landing site would be a lot harder now, but nothing could be done. The rest of the boffins were then let into the room to run wild, excited by the assortment of scientific instruments like a child finding out that their favourite restaurant has a soda menu. Unfortunately, the excitement was quickly destroyed by days, weeks, and months of searching for a landing site. There just didn't seem to be any coast area with a decent amount of ore, a basic requirement for the planned base. Yes, they had far more information about this planet than ever before. But they just couldn't find a landing site! ...until they did.

129 days later. In the cafeteria again, Gene was pointing at a peninsula on Eve, displayed on the projector. "...and just so you know, this is FAR from an ideal landing site. Ore concentration is varying extremely, from 2 to 6 percent. Height is also highly variable, suggesting that this area is far from flat. But it's an area with access to ore, ocean, and highlands - that's the checklist. In other words, this is probably going to be the landing site. Any questions?"

From the back, Jeb raised his hand. "What's next?"

Gene: Good question. Give this astronaut a gold star. We need to explore the landing site in detail, and descending base parts need a signal to home onto. So we're going to build an unmanned rocket plane, and this rocket plane is going to go below the fog, actually get a good visual on the landing site, then it's going to land. And I have absolute confidence in our engineers, but there's just one problem we can't overcome very easily. Macted's with development, he'll explain. 

Macted: Ahem. In order to build a rocket plane, we need a rocket engine that is reasonably lightweight, and is efficient in-atmosphere. And, uh, we don't have enough science points.


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OOC: By the way, I may or may not have pretty much broken my game trying to install the astronomer's visual pack. If anyone reading this has some mod-installing skill, help would be appreciated.

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10 hours ago, VelocityPolaris said:

OOC: By the way, I may or may not have pretty much broken my game trying to install the astronomer's visual pack. If anyone reading this has some mod-installing skill, help would be appreciated.

Oh no! Enjoying this story so far, I'd hate to see it terminated by a mod issue. Are you using CKAN for any of your mods or installing them all by hand? 

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50 minutes ago, GehringGame said:

Oh no! Enjoying this story so far, I'd hate to see it terminated by a mod issue. Are you using CKAN for any of your mods or installing them all by hand? 

By hand.

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I have one and only one problem with this report, the font. I'm not going to lie, but I cannot instantly pick up the words without concentrating on them, sure some of you guys could read them quickly and without hesitation. But I skim read posts (Don't ask, I usually understand what is going on.) And curly (yet suprisingly fashionable and fancy) fonts font help with my methods...

However, there is only one me, everyone else is fine with reading the posts. So I humbly give you my biggest gratitude to the work you put in for these posts, sure the font may be a bad choice in my eyes. But as long as it's readable is what counts. Please continue and do your best!

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2 minutes ago, Galacticvoyager said:

I have one and only one problem with this report, the font. I'm not going to lie, but I cannot instantly pick up the words without concentrating on them, sure some of you guys could read them quickly and without hesitation. But I skim read posts (Don't ask, I usually understand what is going on.) And curly (yet suprisingly fashionable and fancy) fonts font help with my methods...

However, there is only one me, everyone else is fine with reading the posts. So I humbly give you my biggest gratitude to the work you put in for these posts, sure the font may be a bad choice in my eyes. But as long as it's readable is what counts. Please continue and do your best!

This might have something to do with Comic Sans MS being my favourite font in the world. But I can re-upload each chapter in a different font if you want, with spoiler bars around it

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20 hours ago, VelocityPolaris said:

By hand.

What's the nature of the glitch? Crashing on loading or somesuch? Have you tried uninstalling the mod (just deleting its content) to see if you can get the game back up and running as it was before. 

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On 7/6/2017 at 10:00 AM, GehringGame said:

What's the nature of the glitch? Crashing on loading or somesuch? Have you tried uninstalling the mod (just deleting its content) to see if you can get the game back up and running as it was before. 

Well, the astronomer's visual pack seems to replace every celestial body's entire surface with the citylights effect. And yes, I can uninstall everything to get the game running again.

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Quick update: No new chapter today, but I've decided I'm not going to give up on writing this. I've tried to write at least two other KSP stories, got bored or ran into difficulty, and just quit. Not happening again. I've got a real job and a Subnautica project to balance it with, but today I'll try to resolve my mod difficulties.

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Story 6: Shroud lifted, Chapter 1: Hollywood science?

Macted: Essentially, science points are a reward system the government uses for us. They're not willing to expend the effort to learn whether or not data is interesting or relevant, so they reward us for data taken in different locations, with different instruments. These rewards usually come in the form of money grants, or setting us up with some universities, for use of their labs or an internship programme. That's how most of our innovations happen - some whiz college student comes up with a new engine, then we slap our brand name on it and start having them mass-produced. We happen to be low on "science points" at the moment, which means we're going to need to launch a new science mission. 

Gene: But we don't have the money to start one from scratch. Therefore, we'll just speed up development on our interplanetary space kerbal test. If you're a janitor or something and can afford to forget what these missions are, what that's doing is testing how interplanetary space, particularly radiation, affects Kerbals. Another part of the test is to gauge the effectiveness of several proposed shielding techniques, using a small lead plate, a water sack, a couple of hydrogen tanks in various states, and a whoop de doo magic science device, AKA a "magnetic field generator". Now, we recently obtained a small infrared telescope, and it might be a good idea to add that on.

In the days that followed the KSC's discovery of the landing site, the massive astronomer guild seemed surprisingly uninterested. They were, however, interested in something else. Scurrying about through the R&D and mission control building, the scientists had Oculus station put on high alert, pointing their telescope into space. They weren't hiding what they were looking for from the astronauts, but they didn't seem to be sure themselves. Something about plasma levels. Whatever had the scientists worried had Deputy Flight Director Sig worried, as radiation levels had been noticeably rising. Then, suddenly, there was another spike, bigger than any of the others, shown on the main screen for everyone to see.

EECOM: Whoa! Sig, you seeing this?

Sig Kerman: That's in the danger zone! Is there some sort of solar storm happening that we don't know about?

A scientist standing by the wing on the right, where the interplanetary probe controls are, turned to Sig. "No sir. While Kerbol's surface is much more disturbed than it used to be, the spike isn't coming from the sun. Solar output is actually at much lower levels than observed in the past." 

Radiation levels continued to climb, as the typically laid back mission controller tried to hurriedly mobilise his team to find the source. As they did, the probe controllers on the left and right of the building started patching through their headset channels to Sig. Damage reports. Contact becoming spotty, or lost. With so much squawking going on, mission control erupted into chaos. But then, radiation levels fell again, and settled, albeit at a level much higher than a few days ago. Everyone fell into silence, just watching the radiation meter on the main screen, until a message from Oculus station broke the silence.

Oculus Station: Bob reporting in, no injuries up here. We're still trying to assess the damage, but we've got an interesting view outside. Do you have any information on what just happened?


CAPCOM: uh... We're working on it, Oculus. That appeared to be background radiation instead of from a specific point in space, so we've got a clue. You said something about a view?

Oculus Station: Yessir, there's some sort of blue dust visible outside of the command pod window. The rest of the crew is seeing something similar outside of the nearest windows to them. It was most definitely not here before.

CAPCOM: Get someone on the exterior cameras, Oculus, try to get a good view. You take the other two crew members, and start working on a damage report. Is this dust nearby?

Oculus Station:  No, it's a deep space object. They look like, I don't know, rips in time and space!? No, Nebulae, that's what they are. Sorry for getting you excited. Here, we've got the exterior cameras focused.


CAPCOM: Whoa... our scientists are looking at this and actually figuring it out, but could those be... interplanetary clouds?

Oculus Station: No sir, that wouldn't make any sense. As I said, they're nebulae, interstellar dust clouds. But we never saw anything like this earlier on the station, and it wasn't due to lack of attentiveness. These things don't just appear. What's going on?

Sig was concerned with other matters than that conversation. He had pressed a yellow "all hands on deck" button, calling for all off-duty staff to return. Now, he was directing the team leaders of the two side rows, KSOI and interplanetary probes. The central Oculus station controllers were working without any direction for now.

Sig; All probes stations, please report whether or not you are receiving a signal from your assigned spacecraft. We've got 22 probes total, people, let's do a roll call. Meanwhile, have Oculus and the ground science teams try to get us some kind of explanation. What's the status of the geostationary satellites?


KSOI probe leader: Anklebiters 1, 3, and 4 responding, we've got no signal from number 2!

Sig: Hmm... so we lost one of the oldest probes. Three geosats is enough, though. What about the LKO satellites?


KSOI probe leader: Anklebiters 5, 6, 7, and 8, plus Anteater 1 reporting in! Anteater 2 is not responding!

Sig: Five out of six satellites are good, but how did we lose one of the newer ones? We should have two low polar sats, on opposite sides of Kerbin. What's their status?


KSOI probe leader: Anklebiter 10, check. Anklebiter 9 nonfunctional. 

Sig: Geez... these are low orbit satellites we're losing... what about the high orbit ones?


KSOI probe leader: From those big eccentric orbits, Anteater 3 and 4 are fine. Then we've got Summit 1 and 2 on the very edge of Kerbin's SOI, both fully functional.

Sig: That leaves two sats in interplanetary space, and then the four eve probes. 


DSSAT probe leader: Anteater 5 and 6 reporting in, from their positions chasing and leading Kerbin. Summit 3-5, Inquirer 1 both responding. That accounts for the Eve satellites. 

Sig: So 2 early model and 1 late model comsats non-responsive. Any damage to report on our working satellites?

DSSAT probe leader: They're running diagnostics, sir, I'll get back to you on that. But the answer is probably.

Sig then turned to the teams of engineers and scientists behind him, who were leaning over each other's computer screens and squabbling. "Listen, you're splitting down the middle, into two teams. Monkey team will be going off of deep space data, and Typewriter team will look at vehicle specific data, mainly that of Oculus station. Monkey team has my authorisation to use all R&D facilities and grab anyone they need, Typewriter team gets the direct link to Oculus Station's crew, and priority access to the probe mission controllers. I'm going to step out to call the insurance  company, and fetch Gene. 

Meanwhile, aboard Oculus station.

Bob and Karbel, the two scientists aboard, met in the lab, while Jara and Crisise, the pilot and engineer, saw what they could do from one of the habitats. It wasn't practical to have a group discussion, as none of the rooms were big enough for everyone to fit inside comfortably. 

While Crisise went over the systems computer panel, pilot Jara was not being very productive. 


Crisise: Jara! This is a critical situation, stop slacking off!


Jara: No. It's too early for this...

Crisise: Look, I know you're not the most important person here right now, but I need you to get up to the lander-can, and what are you doing instead?

Jara: Conserving oxygen.

Crisise: What?

Jara: You're the safety inspector, and I saw the damage first? Go to the life support section.

Crisise flips a few pages ahead on the computer systems panel before freezing. "An oxygen and a water recycler are damaged!? F... flibbertygibbets! Why didn't I check this first?"


She immediately gets on the intercom, letting Bob and Karbel know of the damage. "...And while the damaged oxygen recycler is running well enough to last as long as our food, the water recycling system, if the rest doesn't break down, is still not going to last as long. We've got 75 days of clean water."

Bob replies. "Understood. Advise KSC of the damage, but keep in mind that this is not an emergency."


Karbel: She seemed a bit stressed.


Bob: Indeed. That report was close to yelling. We need to remember to take this calmly, 75 days is plenty of time to come up with a solution. Back to our mission, though. Do we have any information about that event to tell mission control?

Karbel: Nebulae don't appear out of nowhere, as you said. So they must have been present before. But that means the night sky would have looked far different before the catastrophe. So if they were there beforehand, why didn't we see them?

Bob: The other two pieces of the puzzle are the background radiation levels, and the plasma the scientists had us observing before. The same screen is showing much lower, and less even, concentrations of plasma than before. 

Karbel: Ah. I see. Thank you for the assistance, I've figured it out now.

Bob: What? Just like that? Tell me.

Karbel: I had to earn my fame somehow. And I'll let you figure it out.

Bob: Give me a clue.

Karbel: Your puzzle is missing a piece. The sun's output is lower than any other recorded level in history, and there are more disturbances on Kerbol's surface than usual.

Bob: So to summarise, Kerbol's lowered output is causing less plasma, which is causing more background radiation, and causing interstellar objects that we haven't observed before to suddenly be visible.

Karbel: Right, except that some of those nebulae have actually been observed before. Just not with the naked eye. 

Bob: Oh! I get it! Haha! Hold on, let's get the ground and intercom on, I need people to appreciate my skills of basic deduction. This is Oculus Station commander, we have an explanation. Kerbol blows out plasma, also known as the solar wind. The solar wind, and the sun's magnetic fields form a bubble around the solar system, the heliosphere, which reduces the energy of intergalactic radiation passing through it. Functionally, it's comparable to Kerbin's magnetosphere. Kerbol's output has been decreasing, however, and so it hasn't been able to maintain the heliosphere as well. There hasn't been as much plasma flowing out towards deep space, and the magnetic field hasn't been as strong. Apparently, there was so much plasma that our visibility of interstellar space was actually obscured, and now...  there isn't as much. That means that interstellar radiation is coming in at a much greater rate, probably making it dangerous for a spacecraft to leave the magnetosphere for long. Either a fog has been lifted, or a shield has disappeared.

One of the scientists back in mission control begins to clap. "That's more or less right! I was wondering when someone would figure it out."

At that moment, Gene entered the room, not happy about being fetched early. "You knew what was going on?"

Scientist Taywick Kerman: The astronomy guild decided this was a possibility a while ago. But we had to be sure, and once we were, we wanted to see if our expertise would be needed.

Gene Kerman: You were testing us? 

Taywick: Only after the fact occurred. We can't contact Karbel without going through your CAPCOM, and Bob's one of the many scientists who either won't pay the registration fee, or thinks we're a creepy cult, but every other scientist was told to wait, to see if his colleagues were competent enough. I can't speak for the rest of you, but Bob seems to know his space.

Gene: Now listen to me. We could have used the warning that something was coming, to retract or hibernate satellite systems, to create a makeshift radiation shield for crew, and to secure sensitive equipment. Instead, we lost three satellites, had multiple damaged systems, and our astronauts received a higher dose of radiation than they needed. ...we'll continue this discussion outside.

As Gene steps out, Sig steps up. "Alright, people, we're mainly working on damage reports. If you don't have a task right now, we're going to need some launch windows to Oculus station."

A while later, the senior KSC staff met in the top floor of the administration building, papers spread everywhere in haste. Gene, Joefield, and Wernher were all at a round table by the window, while Macory waited impatiently by the door.

Joefield: Thanks for taking the time, Macory. I know this is an inconvenience on your schedule.

Macory: Sorry, but you won't be welcome if we don't wrap this up. Gene?

Gene: Right. Oculus Station is reporting problems with it's ECLSS systems due to radiation. The biggest problem is water, but we can't rely on any of the recyclers for too much longer. If nothing else breaks down, though, they'll be good for 75 days. So we can either prioritise building a life support module for the station, or continuing our science missions for now. Whatever we decide, we don't want to waste time.

Joefield: Crisise Kerman said it was a crisis, right? And you're proposing we continue with our regularly scheduled missions, then send something up to take care of the life support needs at the last minute? I say we make the life support module top priority.

Wernher: Ya, we could certainly clear the VAB, and have a life support module constructed quickly. But what about the cost of this? Certainly we decide our budget allotments very carefully at the start of the year. We may have to delay our Eve mission plans another year to build this.

Gene: And if it takes too long, we would lose the public's attention, and therefore the entire budget. Macory, is there a chance you can get us some rainy day funding?

Macory: Gene, I don't want to sound mad, but I really doubt it. I'm putting practically every waking hour into making sure you have enough money. I grew up with wealthy parents, I could have gotten along in life fine without doing any real work. But instead, I'm on a schedule of negotiations that could put a soldier in the psychiatric clinic.

Joefield: Ah... we need to find a guy that can fill for you sometimes, Macory. Eventually, you're going to go mad and throw a coffee mug at a benefactor or something. I can do it.

Macory: I don't wanna be a burden, Joefield.

Joefield: You're going to be if the previously stated hypothetical scenario happens. I've got energy, I can fill for you half the time.

Macory: Joe... I don't know how to express genuine appreciation beyond a "thanks", but if I could, I would. Let's get Bob and company their life support.

A few nights later, the supply module lifted off. It's containers had been filled with oxygen recyclers, water purifiers, air tanks, more water, even more food, a currently empty habitat, and even an oversized greenhouse was included. If the station ever needed a resupply again, it wouldn't be for a long while.  Assuming the rocket managed to rendezvous before running out of fuel, as the booster was 5 tonnes over it's official rating. To compensate, a few more small fuel tanks were added to the rocket, and solid rocket boosters on the side, but it was a makeshift job.

Screen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_5.19.39_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_5.38.34_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_5.39.03_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_5.39.11_PM.pngThe boosters separated without difficulty, propelled safely away from the spacecraft by separatron rockets. Now it streaked southwards through the night, headed towards a point where the station would be. Again, the spacecraft's exterior lighting had been inadequate, but the engineers had been busy with other concerns.

Screen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_5.44.29_PM.pngLater, over the pole, the station appeared on the proximity RADAR. It would have been more visible, but appeared as if it was camouflaged against a cloud.

Screen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_6.09.12_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_9.28.27_PM.pngThe rocket began to burn, rapidly closing in on the station at around 700 m/s. Fuel levels were tight, but every engineer on the ground was sure that the gauge was right this time, that they had enough fuel to kill all relative velocity.

Screen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_9.32.18_PM.pngAs they continued to slow down, the rapidly approaching space station became clearly visible, at the upper right end of Kerbin. The crew rushed to the windows, anxious to ensure that their supply ship didn't ram them.

Screen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_9.34.53_PM.pngFinally, as the module undocked from the spent rendezvous stage, Jara Kerman assumed direct control of the spacecraft from mission control. They would continue to close the last couple of kilometres on RCS fuel.

Screen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_9.42.16_PM.pngOnly a short distance from the station, Jara fired RCS in reverse to bring the module to a stop. The docking ports were all at the wrong angle. Rather than carry out the simple solution, Jara instructed everyone on the station to hold on, turned on all of the reaction wheels and RCS thrusters, and rotated the space station so the supply module would be properly facing a docking port. Loose items were thrown about, but the docking port was properly aligned now.



Finally, there was a proper seal! The crew rushed into the module to take stock of the goodies they had been sent, fire up the recyclers, and start growing some plants. While both the oxygen and water recyclers could handle up to nine kerbals, and this was a four kerbal-crew, the 3.75 metre wide greenhouse was only designed to support three Kerbals perpetually. That's why the KSC sent far more foodstuff than anything else.

Screen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_9.49.54_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-07-21_at_9.52.36_PM.pngThe Kerbals on Oculus station now had everything they could possibly need, except, maybe, an escape pod. 

OOC: If you detect any flaws in the science of this story, that's because I pulled it all out of my hat. I did no research. I originally intended to use this chapter to justify the Kerbalism mod, which adds, among other things, life support and radiation. Alas, it was too big for my computer to run, so I settled on TAC life support and the SETI greenhouse instead. The game doesn't crash, but it's slow enough that at least five seconds pass in reality for every one in KSP.

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