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Crossed Fingers - Space junk in the ocean

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Katie XXII and the Minmus Polar Lander

Mission: Test out a new (bloody expensive) booster, map Minmus in high definition and land a small spacecraft near Minmus' north pole.

Launch Vehicle: Firestorm - III

It's time to kill three birds with one stone: grab a high-resolution altimetry and slope scan of Minmus, test-fly the new Firestorm III booster, and launch the long-awaited, long-delayed Minmus Polar Lander.

Spoiler

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The Firestorm III is our first truly fourth-generation launch vehicle, equipped with three KS-25 "Vector" hydrolox-fuelled engines for its first stage. Due to the utterly obscene cost of these engines (at :funds:18,000 a piece), we've decided to try and make the booster re-usable. In order to do this, it's equipped with eight parachutes on the first stage tankbutt.

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Lifting off from Launch Complex 2 at dawn, our revolutionary new lifter climbs away into a frankly beautiful sky.

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Looking at the booster from below, we get a good view of the three utterly insane powerplants, which we actually had to limit the performance of to avoid this launcher tearing itself to shreds. We also get to see three of the landing parachutes. We also get a lovely view of two of Kerbin's natural satellites, Mun and Sentinel.

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Moar beauty shots.

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It's at this moment that a fairly severe design flaw becomes evident. The first stage cuts off too low for us to safely jettison the fairing, so we have into coast into the high atmosphere on a remarkably steep trajectory. For the next flight, I think that I'll stick the fairing base on the second stage, not the first.

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Seeing as we've now (finally) dumped the fairing, I ought to tell you a bit more about the two spacecraft flying today.

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Katie - XXII is a scanning orbiter, equipped with an advanced new altimetry scanner and the same argon-fuelled engine that StrutCo 1 uses. It'll be producing a high-definition map that we can use for the upcoming Castle Block IIIB Minmus landings, and operations around our Minmus base.

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The Minmus Polar Lander is a more interesting vehicle. It was first proposed in early Year 2, as a proposal for the first 'Katie Evolved' mission (Katie - VII). That was one hotly contested mission. There were several candidate spacecraft, the finalists being the Munar Polar Mapping Mission, which was a mapping orbiter, carrying a mini-lander, the Munar Surface Exploration Vehicle, the Minmus Free-Return Mission, the Sentinel Atmospheric Probe and finally the Minmus Polar Lander.

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The first of the finalists to go was the Minmus Free-Return Mission, which was deemed as having 'little scientific potential'. Next was the Sentinel Atmospheric Probe (which eventually flew as a secondary payload on the Sentinel Scientific Orbiter, and taught us a lot about Sentinel's atmosphere. Namely that it's buggy as hell and no-one who values their life should go anywhere near it.). Due to problems with the wheels, the Munar Surface Exploration Vehicle was eliminated (but flew later on Katie - XII, and drove more than 30km before being broken by a game update). Then, the Munar Polar Mapping Mission was selected in order to obtain better maps of the Munar surface for the upcoming Katie - VIII to XI landings, and the Minmus Polar lander was shelved.

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Until five years later! While competing for the first Firestorm - III launch slot, the Katie - XXII team realised that they needed a secondary payload to justify using such a big launcher, so they dug out the old MPL team, who were more than happy to cooperate.

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Due to the nature of the vehicle, a counterweight was necessary to allow the orbiter to operate normally during the cruise phase. Here it is shown just after jettison, along with a nice view of the fragile little rock it came from.

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Tucking its landing legs away for safety, the Landvermesser class lander de-orbits high over Minmus.

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And it sticks its legs out again as it hurtles towards the surface of Minmus' entirely unexplored polar regions.

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Mere meters up, the MPL now has to be very careful, and the design team are turning pink, waiting the last few seconds of a six-year wait.

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And touchdown! The Minmus Polar Lander has arrived, and made history. The long-suffering design team can breathe again. Six years of waiting has not been in vain.

 

Nauchnyy Sputnik 2

Mission: Launch a surplus Type 1 Smotritel satellite on a scientific mission for Metkosmos.

Launch Vehicle: R-5a

And now, the 3rd last flight of an R-5a carries a huge dish to the edge of Kerbin's SOI.

Spoiler

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This is Nauchnyy Sputnik 2, a surplus Type 1 Smotritel spacecraft that, if one of Smotritels 1, 2 or 3 had failed, would have flown as Smotritel 4. As part of one of their various agreements, the MASF promised to give Metkosmos the backup (if it wasn't needed) in return for use of Kaikonur Kosmodrome for that round of launches.

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The aging, but still remarkably reliable R-5a lifts off, carrying another bit of the spider web of agreements between the two Metarian agencies into space.

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I suppose that I should say something about the Nauchnyy Sputnik program. Well, it's Metkosmos' low(ish) budget scientific program. The first mission was a polar orbiting ore scanning satellite, and this mission will use the enourmous spy dish to listen to the universe for interesting radio signals and identify radiobright stars.

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To acheive this, the satellite is going to enter an insanely elliptical orbit on a relatively high eccentricity, with its apoapsis out beyond Sentinel, thus getting it away from all the radio chatter of Low Kerbin Orbit.

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The first stage drops away, revealing one of this mission's party tricks, a cryogenic second stage. This stage first flew several years ago on Muna 6, and hasn't flown since, but three engines remained stockpiled, so Metkosmos decided to use one of them on this flight.

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With the fairing gone, we now get the familiar lines of a Type 1 Smotritel spacecraft.

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The cryogenic stage re-ignites once more to put the probe into LKO, before separating.

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Afterwards, the probe's own engine ignites to throw Nauchnyy Sputnik 2 into its target orbit.

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And finally, after cut-off, the huge dish, typical of the Type 1, deploys as the probe begins its long coast to apoapsis.

 

Edited by NotAgain
Sp&G

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Hamal P - 1

Mission: Pre-supply Besstrashnyy station for Expedition 2.

Launch Vehicle: R-5a

Agency/Launch Site: Metkosmos/Kaikonur Kosmodrome

It's been a bit of an R-5a filled week, hasn't it? Anyway, it's time to pre-supply Besstrashnyy before Expedition 2 arrives at the station.

Spoiler

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The Hamal P variant is an uncrewed resupply ship that finds its origins several years ago, when six original Hamal missions flew to the Krepost 1 military space station during its operational life. Now that we've got a new station, dedicated to science, and equipped for long-duration crews and permanent habitation, it makes sense to bring back an (updated) resupply ship.

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This is now the penultimate R-5a launch, and the last uncrewed one, that we see rumbling away into a cloudless sky over Metar.

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The boosters separate and fall away in an unusual formation that certainly isn't a Korolev cross.

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Now, as the fairing and first stage separate, we get a good look at the vehicle, carrying 41 days of consumables for three crew. It looks very Kulak-alike, doesn't it?

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The upper stage ignites and flings the ship into orbit.

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Also, some fool's only gone and painted the KSA meatball onto the ship, instead of the Metarian flag.

(OOC: That was my stupid fault. I forgot to change the mission flag.)

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So, after a series of maneouvers, Hamal P - 1 redezvouses with Besstrashnyy and aligns to dock.

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Which it promptly does, and Besstrashnyy is once again rendered 'suitable for Kerbal habitation', ready for Crisla, Nataise and Vergee to arrive in a few weeks on Expedition 2.

 

Airesat 6

Mission: Launch the Airesat 6 communications satellite into its 120km x 1,200km orbit around Kerbin.

Launch Vehicle: Black Knight

Agency/Launch Site: ANSEB/Great Ez Kape

Now, I shall introduce you to ANSEB's smallest available launcher: the Black Knight. Today, it'll be firing a new comms sat into an eccentric orbit around Kerbin.

Spoiler

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Airesat 6 is the penultimate spacecraft in a network of six comms satellites that ANSEB have been putting up to support their launches. That may sound slightly strange, but that can be explained by the fact that Airesat 1 wasn't part of the network, just ANSEB's first mission.

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With a remarkable amount of drama for such a small lifter (the core is only 0.9375m in diameter), the Black Knight lifts off from the Great Ez Kape launch site, lifting clouds of steam from the ocean directly beneath the launch pad.

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Ooh, that's pretty. Performing well, the booster thunders upwards and begins its pitch program, wandering out of view of the spectators in the 'safe zone' half a kilometer from the pad.

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Shortly afterwards, the boosters cut off and decouple, falling back down to parachute-land in the ocean.

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After carrying the vehicle into the high atmosphere, the first stage decouples and the four little engines of the second stage take over.

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Now hurtling through Kerbin's high atmosphere at ridiculous speed, the second stage cuts off and decouples, handing the baton on to the twin-engined third stage.

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At 55km up, the fairing separates, giving us our first view of the satellite itself. It's a somewhat revised design over Airesats 2 to 5, with better solar arrays and an improved camera package, now featuring a night vision camera.

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With the hi-gain antenna and solar arrays now deployed, the spacecraft enters orbit under the power of the third stage.

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The third stage does most of the work, then the 'Jib' monopropellant engine lights up to make a final few course corrections.

 

MCSO - 2

Mission: Fling the second Munar Communications and Support Orbiter at the Mun

Launch Vehicle: Matchstick I

Agency/Launch Site: ANSEB/Great Ez Kape

Less than two days after the highly successful launch of Airesat 6, another rocket is on the launch pad at Great Ez Kape, readly to shoot for the Mun.

Spoiler

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This is Munar Communications and Support Orbiter - 2, or MCSO - 2, which constitutes ANSEB's second Munshot. There are four MCSO missions in the program as of now, all being sent up to help the Munar Surface Explorer landing missions that should start launching soon-ish.

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This program is only the second time that ANSEB have ever used solid rocket motors on any of their launch vehicles in any role other than separation motors (the first being the launch of the DOEX Duna mission).

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The Matchstick I launcher should be relatively familiar to you lot now, so hopefully I don't need to do any explaining.

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The upper stage, however, is new. It consists of a Sina DPS engine, courtesy of the Airenian branch of the Bluedog Design Bereau, some hypergolic propellants, and not much else.

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With just a hint of plasma playing around the fairing, the upper stage carries the Mun probe towards space, furthering the boundaries of Kerbalkind and -

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- Oops. That's not good. It would appear that the fairing has shredded our only source of power. Oh mulch.

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Welp, this spacecraft is mostly useless, so why not try and kill it with fire?

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"You used 'Kill it with fire'. It wasn't very effective."

But water made short work of it.

 

Duna Ops

Mission: Drive Intrepidity, and perform a course correction on Orion 1.

While satellites have been disintegrating back on Kerbin, stuff has been happening elsewhere.

Spoiler

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For instance, Interpidity finally has her panoramic camera up and running, and managed to capture a picture of a lovely Dunan sunset.

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Ken-Tech's Orion 1 probe changed its orbit to satisfy a contract.

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Intrepidity also observed a beautiful sunrise, too.

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Well hello everybody, and welcome to the finals of the Rover Gymnastics competition. As you can see, Intrepidity, representing the KSA today, has done a perfect instrument-stand, recieving high scores from all the judges, and general annoyance from Mission Control.

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While she's sitting around and being lazy, we decided to use Intrepidity's camera to take some images of the sky, and captured a beautiful shot of Nyke.

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After some reaction-wheel based messing around, we got Intrepidity running again and got this lovely image.

 

Edited by NotAgain
Sp&G

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Munar Surface Operation Control Node 1

Mission: Launch a new docking node to MSOC Station.

Launch Vehicle: Firedance - IIIA

Agency/Launch Site: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

A Firedance - IIIA lifts off carrying a new-generation space station module (thanks, CxAerospace!) to Low Munar Orbit.

Spoiler

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Munar Surface Operations Control is a small station in Low Munar Orbit, built for a contract, initially as a single-mission station. However, as costs spiralled out of control, it was decided, after the initial mission, that we would attempt to fly more missions to the station.

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There's just one problem. MSOC only has one docking port. As it was only designed for one mission, we saw no reason why it might need resupplying, so only left a port for the crewed Blue Anchor Block III that would bring the first crew.

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So this is a mission to launch a new docking node to MSOC. Node 1 will feature six ports, one will be used to dock with the station, four will be new generation CADS ports, and one will be a Clamp - O - Tron Jr for Blue Anchor missions. Not only will this mission bring new docking ports, but more pressurised space, which will be sorely needed over the 100 day course of the upcoming Expedition 2.

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So, we rejoin the Firedance - IIIA during the second stage burn, after fairing separation. The S-IVB second stage will put the module in orbit, and then make the transfer burn to the Mun.

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Finally, after a night launch, we get our first look at the payload after orbital insertion. It's not insanely complex, just a metal tube with some docking pots and a Reaction Control System attached to it. It doesn't even have its own solar arrays! The braking and rendezvous stage is fairly interesting, though. It is the one carrying the solar arrays. It's a new approach that we decided to try in order to keep part counts under control, as MSOC already has a set of four Gigantor - XL solar arrays in place providing all the power it could possibly need.

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And with that, the transfer burn is made, and the node is set on a course for the Mun.

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The braking and rendezvous stage is devised from a shelved ANSEB project for a large three kerb spacecraft with one of these huge 'SPS' engines for propulsion. They cancelled that engine in favour of two smaller ones.

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Speaking of that engine, it's time to light it for the inclination correction burn. MSOC is on an inclined, 50km x 50km orbit around the Mun to allow it to watch over a larger swathe of the Munar surface directly, so we don't come into the Munar SOI on a proper inclination, meaning a correction must be made.

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And here we are, braking to match velocities with the station after a day and a half of cruising.

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Now, the braking and rendezvous stage shows off its party trick, a set of small solid rocket motors, used to fire it into an orbit that isn't threatening to the station, or spacecraft coming or going.

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The new node then guides itself in to dock with the station, and, finally, resupply work can begin in preparation for Expedition 2's arrival.

 

Munakhod 1 Ops

Mission: Drive Munakhod 1

Agency: Metkosmos

It's been a little while since I put anything about Munakhod 1 up on Crossed Fingers, so I decided to reassure you all that she's okay.

Spoiler

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It's just a little drive today. Just from the centre of the crater to investigate this rock over here.

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And to shelter from what's to come...

Seriously, though. Stay tuned to learn what our brave little Munar explorer is sheltering from. All will be revealed. Tomorrow. Or the day after.

Edited by NotAgain

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Does anyone have an opinion on anything they'd like me to tweak about Crossed Fingers? Like the kind of information I give about the missions, or the kind of screenshots, or if you'd like a bit of narrative.

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On 2017-07-23 at 11:40 PM, NotAgain said:

Does anyone have an opinion on anything they'd like me to tweak about Crossed Fingers? Like the kind of information I give about the missions, or the kind of screenshots, or if you'd like a bit of narrative.

I like the format you're using. It makes it easy to follow along with all that is happening. One thing I wouldn't mind seeing is a list with short descriptions of the various launch vehicles. Something similar to the crewed spacecrafts in the OP but maybe with some pictures too.

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Alright then, @SBKerman, I'll put together a list of the major lifters. Expect that in the next couple of weeks, and I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Edited by NotAgain

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Oligarch 2 launch and Munar orbital insertion

Mission: Launch two Kosmonauts to the Mun, for science.

Launch Vehicle: NK-1

Crew: P1 Maldin Kerman (Commander and SEM Pilot), E1 Nauki Kerman (Flight Engineer).

Agency/Launch Site: Metkosmos/Kaikonur Kosmodrome

An enourmous Metkosmos NK-1 lifter thunders into the sky from Kaikonur, carrying Kosmonauts to the Munar surface for the second time.

Spoiler

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After the fantastic success of the Oligarch 1 Munar landing, six further Block I Munar landing missions have been approved. The first two of these will be test missions, testing, respectively, the hardware's capacity to make precision landings on airless bodies and its capacity to operate outside of line-of-site communications with Kerbin (i.e. on the far side of the Mun).

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Crewing this mission we have (from left to right) E1 Nauki Kerman (Flight Engineer) and P1 Maldin Kerman (Commander and SEM Pilot). Nauki is a highly experienced Kosmonaut, and commanded Maldin's first mission (Kulak P - 1). Maldin is, on the other hand a fairly inexperienced Kosmonaut, with only one mission under his belt on a far more automated spacecraft than the Oligarch. Sergei is more than a little worried about sending Maldin up as Commander, but Nauki's not a pilot, and, seeing as this mission is a precision-landing test, we kinda need a Pilot to fly the Surface Excursion Module, and we're not willing to send Barina to the Mun twice in a row (she's still boring us with tales from Oligarch 1. For Kod's sake, that mission was more than 300 days ago. Why won't she shut up already?)

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And with that, after some hours of delays caused by a couple of countdown holds, in turn caused by problems with the Guidance Computer (OOC: I had to go out and forgot to pause the game), the NK-1 ignites its thirty first stage engines, and lifts off into the night. (That's a frankly ridiculous number of engines.)

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What do you mean, 'explosion', Tvetslyana?

Surely you mean 'entirely planned and expected pyrotechnical display', don't you?

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After the exciting and not at all terrifying first stage separation, the insane lifter continues to push for orbit, streaking into the dawn at more that 1.2km/s.

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SECO then occurs and the fairing separates cleanly, thankfully not breaking anything.

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The LES is then jettisoned, the CSM's solar arrays are deployed, the second stage is cut free, and the third stage aligns for the orbital insertion burn.

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The stage then lights up, and places the entire munar package into Low Kerbin Orbit. In case you're interested, the Munar Package consists of the Command and Service Module (CSM), which provides most of the power, a communcications relay, most of the life support, the Munar capture and escape burns and the Kerbin return capabilty. Next is the Surface Excursion Module (SEM), a single-seat lander made largely of tinfoil and bubblegum, which totally fails to provide just enough space for the occupant to take off their helmet and sit in comfort, but does manage to carry them down to the Munar surface and back with razer-thin margins. Oh, and the ascent stage gets its power from batteries, which have less than an hour of charge, which makes for an interesting rendezvous procedure. The final element is the Vehicle Injector Stage (VIS), which is reponsible for catapulting the entire assembly to the Mun. On this flight, the serial numbers of the hardware are CSM - 08, SEM - 04 and VIS - 04.

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The second (and last) burn of the third stage isn't quite as critical as the others. It simply puts the spacecraft on the same plane as the target body. If, for some strange reason, the third stage can't reignite, we can still plot a course to intercept the Mun, and at least salvage some of the mision. Fortunately, the stage burned just fine.

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Next, came the Trans-Munar Injection burn. I'm actually really proud of the VIS. It's simple, yet effective, unlike some of the other contraptions I've come up with over the years.

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Now, the Transposition, Docking and Extraction Maneouver takes place, and results in the union of the CSM and SEM, and the ditching of the VIS on a course to scream off into solar orbit.

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And finally, after more than a day of cruising, the Service Module Engine ignites, displaces several hundred meters per second of Delta V and puts the (remarkably lightweight) spacecraft into Munar orbit, ready for Commander Maldin to take SEM - 04 down to the Munar Surface. Stay tuned find out whether or not our brave Kosmonaut dies horribly!

 

Edited by NotAgain
Sp&G

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Oligarch 2 landing and EVA 1

After arriving in Munar orbit, Maldin undocks the Surface Excursion Module, and attempts a landing.

Spoiler

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We join Maldin today while he descends down to the Munar surface in his little rocket-powered tin can, EVA suit already on, as there isn't enough room in the SEM to take it off or put it back on. The landing site is actually less than 20km from where Wensie Kerman became the first Kerbal on the Mun.

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TRANSCRIPT:

COMMANDER: Flight, Sickle, I'm going to step outside.

MISSION CONTROL: Sickle, Flight, don't you dare, you are not cleared for EVA. You are on an impact trajectory.

CMR: Flight, Sickle, The Data Availability Indicator says we haven't got a 'low space' report for this biome.

MC: Sickle, I don't care. We're not risking you.

FLIGHT ENGINEER: Sickle, Hammer, please, just don't.

CMR: I'm gonna do it.

MC & FE: Maldin, don't you dare!

[Silence]

CMR: I've got the data, Flight!

FE: [Unintelligable]

MC: Sickle, be advised, Sergei's going to kill you when you get back.

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So after that not-so-minor drama, Maldin proceeds to stick the landing, coming down within twenty meters of the target on a remarkably limited fuel budget.

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TRANSCRIPT:

CMR: Flight, Sickle, I am mounting the ladder, and descending.

FE: Sickle, Hammer, good luck.

MC: Sickle, Flight, your comm uplink looks good, we have you on the external camera. You are free to step onto the surface.

CMR: Roger.

[SILENCE]

MC: Sickle, Flight, are you okay?

CMR: Oh my Kod, I'm on the Mun. I'm on the [Unintelligable] Mun!

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Remember how I said that my actual save is some weeks ahead of the mission report? Well, Oligarch 2 landed two days after the Grenfell Tower disaster, and that's only a few miles from where I live, so, with unusual solemnity, I decided to name the landing site accordingly, and have a moment's silence.

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So, after that solemn occasion, the Munakhod 1 rover comes out of hiding! Yes, we've landed in the same crater as Muna 9, on the plateau in the center. Munakhod 1 was sheltering from the dust cloud kicked up by the Surface Excursion Module, which could have coated the rover's solar panel if it hadn't been allowed to settle.

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And we get a lovely group shot of Munakhod 1, SEM - 04, P1 Maldin Kerman and the flag of the Kerbal Soviet States of Metar.

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After checking Munakhod 1 over to ensure that the rover's extended stay on the Munar surface hasn't damaged it, Maldin heads off into the southwest portion of the crater to look for the Muna 9 lander that brought the rover here. After a bit of wandering around, he finally locates it, still functional, after about 200 days on the Mun.

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So he heads over to inspect the lander. As we well know, it's a strange but simplistic design, with a small core mounted on a large structural plate and fuel tanks, batteries and four 2kN engines mounted at the sides, and no landing legs. In the interests of inspecting something that's been on the Munar surface that long, Mission Control got Maldin to collect the stack separator, which joined the rover and lander during the flight, to bring back to Kerbin for proper analysis in a lab.

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Maldin then decides to use his EVA pack and fly back. Let's just say that he isn't as good at landing himself as he is the SEM.

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So, after sliding across the Mun on his faceplate (which must be made of something epically strong), Maldin re-mounts the ladder and clambers back into his tiny cabin, where he can at least open his visor and breath fresh, reprocessed air.

 

Edited by NotAgain
Sp&G

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Oligarch 2 EVA 2 and 3

Maldin heads off to name some craters.

Spoiler

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After getting a couple of hours of well-earned rest in the Surface Excursion Module, Maldin's back at it. One of the goals of this mission is to flag and name five craters on the Munar surface. So far, we've done one, so Maldin is heading off on EVA 2 to flag a second one.

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The crater that he's tagging in this image is actually half in/half out of the Grenfell Tower Memorial Crater, and is thought to be older. Maldin continued with the Metarian naming scheme of naming geographic features on other worlds after real-life cosmonauts by calling this one Artsebarsky Crater, named after Anatoly Artsebarsky, who flew on Soyuz TM-12.

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Just as he's about to head back to the SEM, the live uplink to the CSM re-opens and Maldin spots it coming over the horizon.

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Now back in direct communication with the orbiter via the lander, Maldin heads back to grab some more flags and sit down for twenty minutes, and this time, he managed to land without making a new crater on the Mun.

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So, after grabbing the three remaining flags and a bit of rest, and restocking his EVA suit's life support, Maldin heads out again, going in pretty much the opposite direction to Artsebarsky Crater.

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Once he arrives at the crater wall, Maldin uses his KMU thruster pack to get over it, instead of climbing over 50 meters of near-vertical cliffs in an EVA suit.

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Now, he reaches the first target of EVA 3, which gets called Artyukhin Crater, named after Yuri Artyukhin, veteran of Soyuz 14. Like Artsebarsky, Artyukhin Crater in in the side of the Grenfell Tower Memorial Crater, and is thought to be the result of an earlier impact.

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The next target is less than 2km away, and the KMU isn't needed. It becomes Atkov Crater. This is actually being considered as a location for a small, two-kerb, permanantly crewed outpost.

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After another short-ish walk, Maldin arrives at this EVA's final target, which gets named Aubakirov Crater, named after Toktar Aubakirov, who flew to the Mir space station on Soyuz TM-13/12.

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After flagging the last crater of the mission, Maldin uses his KMU to fly back to the lander, and, you guessed it, almost killed himself landing.

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Also, Munakhod 1 had gotten itself flipped over somehow, so Maldin went and turned the little rover back upright and cleaned off its solar panel, before climbing back into the SEM.

 

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Oligarch 2 return

Maldin returns to Munar orbit, and both him and Nauki return to Kerbin.

Spoiler

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A day and a half after landing on the Mun, Maldin is now preparing to launch back to Low Munar Orbit in SEM - 04's ascent stage. Admittedly, the mission has been a little bit disappointing in terms of science gains, but all the actual goals of the surface mission have been acheived, so it's time to leave.

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With that, Maldin ignites the hypergolic-fuelled aerospike engine of the ascent stage, spraying the descent stage with toxic by-products of combustion, and kicking the flimsey little ascent stage away from the Munar surface.

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Pitching over, the ascent stage now pushes the horizontal velocity higher, and tries to trim the course as best as it is able before entering orbit.

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Now, the responsibility for the rendezvous passes to the CSM, and Nauki Kerman's limited flying skills.

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But, with a little help from the spacecraft's computers and Mission Control, the CSM brings itself alongside the ascent stage.

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Once again, the baton is passed back to Maldin in the ascent stage, who pilots the excuse for a spacecraft in to dock.

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The two spacecraft safely dock, and Maldin, and the precious data transfer across to the CSM.

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Just as an afterthought, here's a demonstration of how cramped the combined spacecraft are, considering that two Kerbals get that much space to share for (often) upwards of five days.

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After retreiving the commander and the data, the ascent stage is jettisoned, and Surface Excursion Module - 04's job is done.

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Maldin then aligns the CSM for the escape burn, and fires the engine for several hundered meters per second, putting the spacecraft on a course to pass through Kerbin's atmosphere.

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Over the course of a day, the CSM hurtles back towards Kerbin, and the crew get some well-earned rest.

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Then, things went horribly wrong. For some reason, the spacecraft's control system failed to respond for several minutes as it approached the atmosphere, and both the Orbital Module and Service Module failed to separate, and the vehicle failed to align for reentry, leading to it flying into the atmosphere nose-first. The crew re-booted the entire computer system, and while some computers are designed for rapid start-ups, like the Life Support Control Computer, the guidance, staging and attitude contol computers have minutes-long start-up sequences, and the Orbital Module was actually disintegrating by the time the computers rebooted. Luckily, the Descent Module righted itself, and the rest of the reentry proceeded without further incident.

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And finally, Metkosmos' most dramatic mission since Kulak 5 comes to and end, and Maldin and Nauki are removed from their battered capsule and taken off to hospital, and Sergei decides that the train to the Brennenbeck Salt Mines needs to leave early tonight. Let's just say that heads will roll for this...

 

Grace - XIII

Mission: Launch the highly ambitious, but highly profitable Grace - XIII

Launch Vehicle: Firestorm III - MHUSS

Agency/Launch Site: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

Our first ever 'Grand Tour' mission lifts off from Kanaveral.

Spoiler

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Recently, the KSA were approached by Silisko Industries, and offered a substantial sum of money (more than 600,000 credits) to fly by the Mun, Minmus, Duna and Ike with one spacecraft, so the agency has put together this mission.

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Not only does this mission serve to fulfill this contract, but also to test out the new Modular Hypergolic Upper Stage System in its smallest configuration.

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So, the Firestorm III booster carries the MHUSS and the nuclear-engined, nuclear-powered probe into the upper atmosphere.

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The first stage burns out and is decoupled, and the MHUSS ignites for the first time. The MHUSS isn't exactly revolutuionary, and the engine is the same one that is used on the first stage of the Firestorm I, but it should be useful.

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The fairing now separates, and the nuclear reactor powers up, along with the radiators responsible for cooling it, and the auxiliary solar arrays deploy.

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The second stage then ignites to fire the probe directly to the Mun, without waiting around in LKO.

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We'll keep the MHUSS attached to the probe in order to enter orbit around the Mun, and then transfer to Minmus.

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And so, it enters Munar orbit.

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And then leaves again, six days later.

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For some reason, I forgot to take a screenshot of the probe entering orbit around Minmus, so you'll have to make do with this course correction.

 

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Lauren - I Flyby 2

It's that time again: Lauren - I has encountered Moho again, and has made a discovery at the North Pole.

Spoiler

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Our valiant little Moho probe has encountered its target again, and is on course to fly over the North Polar region of the planet. In other news, I just finished design work on Lauren - II, and, despite it actually being even smaller than Lauren - I, I'm fairly confident that it has the delta V to enter orbit around Moho.

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So, after spinning the probe around to protect its solar arrays, just in case we brushed a hilltop on our way through, we came closer to Moho than we'd ever done before.

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And look! On the left of the image, the fabled Mohole!

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At this point, we were coming within 200 meters of the ground whenever we flew over a hilltop, and most of Mission Control couldn't breathe.

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But, by some miracle, we didn't crash, and Lauren - I gets to live for another flyby.

 

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Eleanor A - II

Mission: Resupply Munar Surface Operations Control

Launch Vehicle: Firedance IIID

Agency/Launch Site: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

Today, we're sending the 'food barrel' to the Mun.

Spoiler

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We've got several 'firsts' going on today. Not only is this the first Munar mission for the Eleanor Advanced, but it's also the first flight of an S-IVC upper stage, the first time any resupply ship has flown to the Mun, the first flight of the improved Firedance IIID, and the largest single-module spacecraft ever sent to the Mun.

This is also the second and last test mission of the Eleanor Advanced spacecraft, but I expect it'll be back. It's been too helpful not to use.

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This is a continuation of the series of missions that are attempting to restore Munar Surface Operations Control to full functionality, ready for Blue Anchor - Firedance XIII to make the first mission to our Munar base, which has been waiting for a crew for more than two years.

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So, the huge boosters (the biggest ever made) finally cut off after carrying the rocket into the high atmosphere, and are decoupled.

No, we definately didn't nick the boosters from a Prometheus III.

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Shortly afterwards, the first stage cuts off as well, and the twin engined S-IVC upper stage, sporting two Dnoces - S engines ignites, hurling the 'food barrel', as it's been christened by the KSC staff, into space.

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The S-IVC continues into orbit, carrying the 24 ton resupply ship, and then burns again, placing Eleanor A - II onto a trans-Munar trajectory.

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A scant day later, the food barrel is low over the Mun, aligning itself for insertion into orbit.

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The SPS engine, the same sort that brought Node 1 to MSOC, ignites and makes a series of burns, putting itself on course for an encounter with the station.

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Which it acheives, just as Kerbin rises back above the limb of the Mun.

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The docking is made, and 200+ days of supplies are delivered to the station.

 

Also, I have excellent news! My finger is FINALLY healed, and it no longer hurts to type!

Edited by NotAgain

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Rose - I Arrival at Dres Nowhere

Oh, look. I'm back. This probe launched a few weeks before this report started, on a Muo V, a relatively major lifter that you guys somehow haven't encountered.

Spoiler

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Look at that. It's a picture of a probe and absolutely nothing else. Nothing at all. Shut up.

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Rose - I is the second General Exploration Bus mission. It's a mission to the TOTALLY EMPTY region of space between Duna and Jool. It definately isn't entering orbit around a remarkably interesting dwarf planet.

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Whoop!

Sorry for the two-week absence, people, I've been on a disappointing holiday.

Anyway, there's a couple of minor changes that I'm going to be making to this mission report. Firstly, I'm going to stop covering EVERY SINGLE MISSION. The boring and repetative ones, like station resupply missions and trajectory changes, will be briefly summarised every few days. Also, I'm beginning to shift towards huge interplanetary missions, so expect some weird and wonderful spacecraft, and a ridiculous new Metarian lifter.

EDIT -  And a Kenairian one, too.

Edited by NotAgain

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Kulak P - 2

Mission: Launch Besstrashnyy Expedition 2

Launch Vehicle: R - 5a

Crew: S1 Crisla Kerman (Commander), E1 Stelice Kerman (Mission Specialist), S1 Vergee Kerman (Mission Specialist)

Agency/Launch Site: Metkosmos/Kaikonur Kosmodrome

Today, we send Expedition 2 to Besstrashnyy aboard a Kulak P. The plan is to send three Kosmonauts up for a 160 day stay at the station, and keep it constantly crewed.

Spoiler

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So, here we have (from left to right) S1 Vergee Kerman (Mission Specialist), E1 Stelice Kerman (Mission Specialist) and S1 Crisla Kerman (Commander). They'll become the station's first long-duration crew, as Ex-1 was only a twenty day mission, simply to set up the station and check that it was, in fact, habitable.

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Also, this is the much-hyped final flight of the R - 5a lifter, the stalwart of Metkosmos crewed operations for several years, and launcher for loads of iconic Metkosmos missions. I'm honestly sad to see this booster go. But anyway, here's to a flawless final mission...

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The booster lifted off flawlessly, and powered away into the night sky, carrying three screaming extremely dedicated and professional Kosmonauts into what is rapidly becoming their natural habitat.

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Aaand there go my hopes of a flawless final launch. It would appear that I decoupled the boosters a fraction of a second too early, and they almost decapitated the rocket. Ah well...

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Oh, Mulch.

The flight goes further up the creek when the Launch Escape System and fairing jettison and rip off one of the solar arrays.

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But, looking on the bright side, we made it to space!

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After an annoying number of shenanigans, we reached Besstrashnyy, visually checked that Hamal P - 1 was where we'd left it (you never can tell with these sneaky spacecraft), and lined up for docking.

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Despite the lack of a pilot aboard, the crewed sardine tin safely soft-docks with the station, and then makes the connection firm.

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Expedition 2 is in da house. Station. Thingummy.

 

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ZY1lXfs.png

I've been busy...

I launched that base for a contract more than two years ago, and I've finally gotten around to sending a crew up there. I've now got a flag planted, a Mark II Munar Roving Vehicle on site and assembled, and an RTG array built and connected up for power during the long Munar nights.

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Orion - 3

Mission: Launch a probe with an experimental new antenna to Duna.

Launch Vehicle: Daleth N

Agency/Launch SIte: University of Ken-Tec/Kape Kanaveral

Ken-Tec finally make an appearance. They're off to Duna.

Spoiler

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It's been quite some time since I mentioned Ken-Tec apart from Cassiopea 2, so here they are again, going interplanetary, again. This time, however, they won't be using the insanity that is the Daleth 2. They've come up with something entirely new. They call it the Daleth N. (N for New. Real imaginative, guys.)

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This is quite possibly the smallest interplanetary mission I've ever launched. The Daleth N consists of a shortened Daleth 2 core stage as the first stage, and something entirely new (and rather clever, if I do say so myself) for the second stage.

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The mission itself is basically Ken-Tec just testing its abilities. There's no instruments aboard, but there is a new antenna with some seriously decent bandwidth. We're hoping to use it to support crewed misions to Duna in the future.

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At this point, the first stage finally runs out of fuel and is separated, and the second stage barrels onwards into the void.

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See? I TOLD you it was clever! It's a cubic octagonal strut, around which are mounted four 'spark' engines, and then the entire thing is clipped very slightly into the bottom of the fuel tank. Cool, huh?

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And finally, we get a (not very good) look at the probe. It's really just a box with four solar arrays, some fuel attached, an engine, and the experimental antenna.

 

Duna 4

Mission: Launch Duna 4, and her daughter craft, Dunakhod 1, out to the red planet.

Launch Vehicle: ALV

Agency/Launch Site: Metkosmos/Kaikonur Kosmodrome

Metkosmos go big-style and cute at the same time, somehow.

Spoiler

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As the Duna window is opening, Metkosmos have decided to fling some stuff at Duna too. In this case, it's the Duna 4 mission. Duna 4 itself is a fairly sizeable stationary lander, solar powered, with a fair complement of instruments, but the bit of this mission that I'm really proud of is Dunakhod 1. I'll leave you to guess what that is, but I'll tell you that it's small enough to be hidden under the lander.

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Using an ALV to loft this mission was blatant overkill, but I wanted seriously good margins, and felt like flying an ALV, so I used the 'it's outside of the capacity of an R - 5' excuse and commisioned one.

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Oooh. That's really pretty. Anyway, with the first stage done, the second stage takes over to push the mission into sub-orbit, and then orbit, before being discarded.

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Also, the fairings separate, and we get a decent look at Duna 4 itself. It's nothing much. I'm sure that you guys have done better, but I really like the looks of the lander, for some reason.

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Now expended, the second stage is discarded in LKO, and the hypergolic third stage prepares to fire up for the departure burn.

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But first, here's Dunakhod 1's point of view, thanks to Hullcam VDS.

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Finally, the third stage lights up, and the probe leaves Kerbin behind forever. Let's hope it packed its socks.

 

Grace - VII

Mission: Make a high-resolution terrain and altimetry map of Duna.

Launch Vehicle: Etoh Heavy B

Agency/Launch Site: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

The KSA heads off to map out Duna.

Spoiler

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Now that a new hi-res scanner has finally been developed, it's time to thoroughly map out Duna, so that when Kerbals get there, they aren't blundering about saying things like "we could be anywhere within this 5km x 5km pixel on the map". So it's Grace - VII's job to go and map out the planet.

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It's another fairly small interplanetary rocket, using an Etoh Heavy (B variant) for a launch vehicle. That's basically an extended Etoh first stage as the core, a fairly generic LV-909 upper stage and two Etoh first stages as boosters, cross-feeding into the core to form a single aspargus stage.

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The Etoh was one of our first orbital-capable lifters, and, thinking that they were the bee's knees, we laid in a serious stock of them, not knowing that our satellites would rapidly exceed their capacity, and that better boosters would be rapidly invented.

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A couple of years ago, a pair of scientists from the original Etoh development team came up with the idea of an 'Etoh Heavy' with a three-ton-to-orbit capacity, which, combined with its low cost, re-introduced the Etoh as a family of viable lifters.

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The probe itself is fairly tiny. It needs that transfer stage for braking at Duna, too, as its own fuel supply is only for course corrections in orbit of Duna.

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Obligatory beauty shot.

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And the probe heads off into the depths of interplanetary space.

 

Guan Yu 2

Mission: Inflate Glorious Leader's ego.

Launch Vehicle: Rongyu Long 5

Agency/Launch Site: ENSA/Round Range

Elenvair finally make an appearance.

Spoiler

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The ENSA have kept remarkably quiet since the start of this mission report, but glorious leader finally has, in his divine wisdom, instructed his scientists to send a little bit of Elevairian glory to the surface of Duna, following the success of the Guan Yu 1 mission.

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Oh, and about the paintjob: it was the day of my city's Pride parade, and I'd found this texture a couple of days back. So I figured: why not?

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Okay, that's the most disappointing plume ever.

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This is also the ENSA's first ever attempt at a cryogenic engine or stage. I'd say it's doing fairly well.

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Very well, in fact. The little probe consists of a tiny, highly slapdash lander and an orbiter, and really not much else.

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Also, I decided to experiment with using an SRM as a braking motor. Fingers crossed this works...

 

Edited by NotAgain
Sp&G

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DOVE (Duna OberVEr)

Mission: Collect high-definition images of Duna (and possibly its moons) in various normal, infra-red and ultra-violet light, among other things.

Launch Vehicle: Matchsitck II - CES

Agency/Launch Site: ANEB/Great Ez Kape

ANSEB join this window's Duna flotilla.

Actually, I'm not sure that I can legitamately classify this as a flotilla anymore. Pretty sure it's a full fleet now.

Spoiler

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Airenia, like Elenvair, flew a very successful mission to Duna at the last transfer window (in ANSEB's case: DOEX (Duna Orbital EXplorer), a fairly simple orbiter that happened to fly by Ike too), and, like Elenvair, they're trying to build on their success. It's important to remember that this is an agency that hasn't even landed a probe on the Mun yet.

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As the name would suggest, this time we're packing a bunch of cameras on the mission in order to properly observe Duna, and make sure that it doesn't do anything sneaky without us seeing. You never can tell with these planets.

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You'll all be familiar with the Matchstick II - CES by now (if you're not, check out the EOTER launch), so I shan't particularly waste time describing it. Oh, look. It's Sentinel.

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We left Great Ez Cape in our dust (or fumes).

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Somehow, I forgot to take a screenshot of either the first stage separation OR the fairing deployment. So here's the Cryogenic Exporation Stage performing very well with the little probe shrouded in darkness. Yes, I know that's really unhelpful for those of you who'd like to see it. Sorry.

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Well, at least you can make out the lines of the probe now. Here you can see the solar arrays, the main camera array, another camera on the other side, and the lo-gain antenna.

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Okay, you can see it a bit better now. Here we go off to Duna.

 

Grace - VIII

Mission: Produce a high-definition map of Duna's moons; Ike and Nyke.

Launch Vehicle: Firestorm III - Perseus

Agency/Launch SIte: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

In an attempt to ensure the safety of our (often bumbling) Kerbonauts, we fling a mapping probe at Ike and Nyke.

Spoiler

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As our first crewed mission to Duna will be landing on both Ike and Nyke, we've decided that they should get mapped out properly. (We already have maps of the water deposits on them, thanks to the Grace - III mission, so obtaining Liquid Hydrogen shouldn't be too much hassle.)

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So, our nice new launcher roars off into a beautiful sky, carrying our new mapping probe.

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Also, we're using a brand new upper stage on this flight. I call it the Perseus. It's a cryogenic stage which can store its hydrolox fuel for far longer than any other cryogenic stage that we currently operate, extending the life of an upper stage from hours to days, maybe weeks.

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And, just as the vehicle tried to stage, the decoupling mechanism failed. In an attempt to save the launch, mission control ordered the new second stage to ignite, and, thankfully, the upper stage broke free and continued to accelerate.

(OOC: I forgot a decoupler. My bad.)

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After that little shenanigan, the vehicle accelerated onto a sub-orbital trajectory and the engine finally cut off, and the fairings separated at the appropriate altitude. Oh, and look at the cool stickers on the fairing.

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So, this is her. Grace - VIII. She's got an ion engine. And she's using the new hi-gain antenna. It's got a cool foil cover. Generally, she's a very cool probe.

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And there she goes, off the the Dunan moons, the Perseus stage kicking it out of Kerbin's Sphere of Influence.

 

Ike 1

Mission: Land on, and science the Mulch out of Ike.

Launch Vehicle: R - 6(O)

Agency/Launch Site: Metkosmos/Kaikonur Kosmodrome

Metkosmos heads out to grab another interplanetary first.

Spoiler

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Up to this point, Kerbals have put probes on the surfaces of both Duna and Nyke, but not Ike. Ike poses a unique challenge within the Dunan Sphere of Influence, as it's a significantly larger body than Nyke (Duna's second and smallest moon), but has no atmosphere, unlike Duna.

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So, this is Kerbalkind's first attempt at landing on Ike. Considering that we'll be trying to put Kerbals on Ike at the next transfer window, this is really important. If this mission (and its sister mission, Ike 2) fail, then landing Greenwood 2's crew will be, uhh, interesting*.

 

* This being the Firefly definition of interesting, which is: "Oh God, oh God, we're all gonna die."

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In case that kind of thing happens, I've decided that I'll send two of these landers, so Ike 1 and Ike 2 are identical in everything but name.

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The payload today is the lander itself, and the braking stage, which will make any necessary course corrections, place the lander in orbit of Ike, and deal with a significant amount of the descent.

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Here, we get a pretty good view of the lander. it's pretty simple. Just a control core, some science, some fuel and the engines that drink it, and the landing gear. And some comms equipment and a camera package stuck on top. And the solar panels.

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And there it goes. deparing Kerbin orbit, and heading out to explore the unknown. And, in this case, the unknown is actually unknown.

 

Edited by NotAgain
Improvements

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Launcher List Part 1

Some time ago I promised @SBKerman a list of my currently active launch vehicles. Here's the long-awaited first installment.

 

R - 5a

Stages: 2 (with boosters)

Agency: Metkosmos (MASF has access sometimes)

Notable Payloads: DJCS 1, Kulak - 4, Evera 1, Evera 3, Duna 1.

Actually, this should classified as a historic lifter now, as it's made its last flight, carrying Kulak P - 2 to Besstrashnyy. The R - 5 family has been the staple lifter of Metar's civilian space agency, Metkosmos, for years. It was actually developed by the Metarian Army Space Force, who then discovered that they had practically no use for it after a few months, and handed over the rights to the design to Metkosmos, who set about rapidly improving the R - 5 into the R - 5a. The lifter can be relied on to put around 15 tons into LKO these days, and has recently had fins added to boosters to allow for wider payloads. The R - 5a has been in service since early Year 3, and I've lost track of all the missions it's launched.

Spoiler

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Black Lancer 1A

Stages: 1 (with boosters)

Agency: KSA (ANSEB has access, as they designed and supply the main engine and all of the KSA's capsules.)

Notable Payloads: StrutCo 1, Katrina 1 Rescue Mission.

Again, this is actually a historic lifter now, as the Black Lancer 1B is on the verge of replacing it, but it's been the mainstay of the KSA's small crew Kerbin Orbit missions for years. Every few weeks one of these sends up a Blue Anchor Block IV, a brilliant multi-purpose crewed spacecraft that we use for rescue missions and carrying crews to Kerbin Outbound. We also use these to launch probes (like StrutCo 1) and small space station modules (like the Kerbin Outbound CADS adaptor). The original Black Lancer 1 was built in an effort to fire two crew into High Kerbin Orbit on a shoestring budget to replace the failed reaction wheels of the Katrina 1 Jool probe (which ended up being slain by the Kraken a couple of weeks later, before it even arrived). we had about :funds:40,000 available, and we managed to slap together a launcher and what ended up being the first prototype of the Blue Anchor Block IV, and then Gene went "Hey, we can use this for other stuff", and so the Black Lancer 1 was born.

Spoiler

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Firedance III Family

Stages: 2 (various types of booster available)

Agency: KSA

Notable Payloads: Blue Anchor Block III Munar Landing Missions, Grace - IX, Grace XII, Eleanor A resupply vehicles, Orblab 2, Kerbin Outbound Core.

The Firedance III is our primary Medium - Heavy lift launcher, with four different primary variants and a fifth in the works it's massively capable, launching anything from interplanetary probes to crewed Munar landers to large resupply missions to large space station modules. It's not exactly a cheap launcher, but every variant currently in service (not the original Firedance III) has a flawless safety record, and the KSA's administrators are willing to trade cost-effectiveness for extreme reliability and ease of operation. While the Firedance I and II are retired, and we're phasing out the Firedance IV, we have no current plans to retire this workhorse of a family while it's performing so well.

Spoiler

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Firedance IIIA

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Firedance IIIB

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Firedance IIIC

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Firedance IIID

 

Firedance IV

Stages: 2 (3rd stage can be added)

Agency: KSA

Notable Payloads: Kerbin Outbound's Tank, Castle Minmus landing missions, KSS Of The Twilight, The Darkness (OV - 8).

The Firedance IV is, simply put, the most powerful launcher ever flown by any agency. The Metkosmos NK - 1 is the only launcher that realistically comes close. Capable of putting over 100 tons of payload into Low Kerbin Orbit, this is the vehicle that we turn to when we need to launch a monstrosity into orbit. It's not cheap, but performance like that never comes cheap. In fact, it comes in at around :funds:300,000 per launch, so we're trying to phase it out by the end of Year 12 and replace it with the Firestorm IV, but we may have to keep it in limited service until Year 25, or possibly Year 27 in order to launch huge payloads to Duna. So watch this space.

Spoiler

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Firestorm I Family

Stages: 2 (boosters available)

Agency: KSA

Notable Payloads: Lauren - I, Black Bull - Firestorm I, Debris Retrieval Vehicles.

The Firestorm I was, honestly, an attempt at a cheap, stop-gap fourth generation launch vehicle using existing technology. I suppose it's more of a Generation 3.5 launcher, actually. Whatever it is, though, it's proved its usefulness dozens of times, launching anything from rescue missions to Moho probes, and it continus to excel thanks to its simple design, low cost and massive adapatability.

Spoiler

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Firestorm I 443

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Firestorm I 232

 

Edited by NotAgain

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20 hours ago, NotAgain said:

Launcher List Part 1

Some time ago I promised @SBKerman a list of my currently active launch vehicles. Here's the long-awaited first installment.

Awesome! I really like the short summaries and list of notable payloads. Looking forward to part 2.

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Just to warn you lot, as term starts tomorrow for me, it's unlikely that I'll be able to post very frequent updates, but I'll try and get something up at least once per week.

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StrutCo 2

Mission: Send another commercial space exploration probe out to its destination (Duna).

Launch Vehicle: Etoh Heavy B

Agency/Launch Site: KSA on behalf of StrutCo/Kape Kanaveral

StrutCo make another interplanetary foray.

Spoiler

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After the success of the StrutCo 1 Eve orbiter, StrutCo have contracted another mission, this time to Duna. The probe in question is relatively small, equipped with a microwave-based water detection thingummy and uses an argon-fuelled ion engine.

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The Etoh Heavy B lifts off from Kanaveral again, carrying another probe out to Duna.

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That's pretty.

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So's that.

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The probe acheived orbit without incident. I decided to use those Gigantor arrays as we'll be at Duna (where solar intensity is lower), and operating a power-hungry ion engine.

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And so, it headed off to Duna. StrutCo is really becoming a very well-travelled agency.

 

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Ike 2

Mission: Experience some serious de ja vu, and launch another Ike lander.

Launch Vehicle: R - 6(O)

Agency/Launch Site: Metkosmos/Kaikonur Kosmodrome

In the (disturbingly likely) case of emergency, there's a second, identical ship a few days behind.

Spoiler

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Due to whole 'we've never been to Ike, and it might be a ball of death' thing, Director Sergei Kerman of Metkosmos has decided that it would be a good idea to send two identical missions to Ike, in case of failure, Kraken or the weirdness that is daily life in the Kerbol system.

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Once again, we're using an R - 6(O) as the lifter, as it worked perfectly well last time and, well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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As per usual, the booster performs admirably, and our intrepid little lander gets flung into the inky void.

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I'm getting a weird sense of de ja vu about this.

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Also, here's a shot from one of the lander's cameras in LKO, showing the magnetometer (retracted), one of the solar arrays, the colour camera and the hi-gain antenna.

 

Grace - X

Mission: Probe Ike in an explosive fashion.

Launch Vehicle: Prometheus III 050

Agency/Launch Site: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

We're going to deliberately crash a little probe with a lump of Plutonium aboard into a moon for science and funds. It doesn't get much more 'Kerbal' than that.

Also, for those wondering where Grace - IX is, we discovered a problem with her on the launch pad, and had to roll the mission back to be fixed.

Spoiler

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As the description would suggest, we're going back to the fundamental values of Kerbal Space Program, and crashing something into something else.  In this case, we're crashing a tiny impactor into Ike for a contract.

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The launcher we're using today is a Prometheus III, an old but highly reliable booster design that we used to, among other things, put the first lander on Minmus and the first orbiter around Sentinel.

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For the first time ever, though, we're using a Perseus cryogenic upper stage as the second stage of a Prometheus III. Should be interesting.

Oh, please disregard that suspicious-looking puff of smoke. It's nothing to worry about.

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Exactly like last time, on Grace - VIII, the Perseus performs beautifully, placing the probe into Low Kerbin Orbit.

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So, this is it. The main probe is the bit covered in gold foil, science and solar arrays. The impactor is the bit on the cone at the front. It consists of a tiny RTG, a tiny fuel tank, a tiny engine, a tiny control core and a tiny reaction wheel.

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So, the Perseus re-ignites and starts the Trans-Dunan Injection burn.

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Ooh, pretty sunset. It's moments like this that I look at my screen and can't help but forgive the game for all of the blasted bugs that I have to contend with (including the one one that killed my SSTO program before it was born). Catch it at the right moment, and KSP can be really beautiful. This is one of those glorious moments. Praise be to KSP.

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Moment of sentimentality over, the probe separates from the upper stage and begins its long cruise through the empty, lonely void.

 

Also: Whoop! 300 rep! Thanks, everyone!

Edited by NotAgain

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Looks like Tuesday evening updates may become a thing...

Grace - XI

Mission: Investigate Duna's poles for the first time.

Launch Vehicle: Firestorm III - MHUSS

Agency/Launch Site: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

Another Duna probe is sent aloft on a Firestorm III, this time it's a stationary lander.

Spoiler

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We're finally coming to the end of the Year 7 Duna fleet, and it's time to investigate the planet's polar regions for the first time. (Not counting that upper stage we accidentally-on-pupose crashed there last year.) For this task, we've come up with the imaginatively named 'Duna Polar Lander'. In other news, we're looking to employ someone to name our future missions.

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Once again the performance-limited KS-25s perform flawlessly, launching the latest 'Grace' into the early morning sky over the KSC.

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You may be thinking "NotAgain old chap, those engines are ridiculously expensive! Why are you using them on such a small lifter?" Well, the Firestorm III has a party trick. It's got eight large parachutes mounted around its base that allow us to recover...

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...oops. Scratch that.

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Well, it looks like the costs involved with this mission just skyrocketed (pun intended). Mort's not gonna be pleased. The spectators, on the other hand, love a good explosion. (This little mishap is remarkably similar to the Apollo 15 staging anomaly. http://gwsbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/apollo15-staging-anomaly.html)

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The second stage here is an MHUSS (Modular Hypergolic Upper Stage System), a single high-thrust 'Skipper' engine and a fuel tank, simply put.

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It would appear that I haven't included any clear images of the lander in this update. Well, I guess that it'll have to remain a mystery until it arrives at Duna.

 

Grace - IX

Mission: Send a new rover to Duna to unlock yet more of its secrets.

Launch Vehicle: Firedance IIIA (ACUSS 3rd Stage)

Agency/Launch Site: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

We finally launch Intrepidity's sucessor, Tenacity. (I swear, @Hotaru, I'm not stealing your names! This was, believe it or not, a coincidence!)

Spoiler

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Grace - IX is the long anticipated successor to our highly successful Duna rover, Intrepidity. There are a few crucial differences between the two rovers, but I'll explain those in a moment. For now, let's focus on the launch.

Also, I have no idea why there's a Metarian flag flying. Maybe I need to have words with the pad team.

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Well, actually, let's test the instruments first.

Actually, maybe that's not such a good idea.

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Okay, here we go. It would appear to be another sunrise launch. Nothing wrong with that. The old, faithful Firedance IIIA rumbles into the sky again, carrying the car-sized future of Dunan exploration.

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As I said, Tenacity is an improvement on Intrepidity in a few ways: First of all, it's larger, being about the size of a small car. Secondly, it's far better equipped in terms of scientific instrumentation, with a far more extensive compliment than its predecessor. Thirdly, Tenacity is powered by an array of RTGs, providing a constant supply of power for the rover, day and night, allowing the rover to drive and transmit at night, or during eclipses, which are a real pain for Intrepidity's controllers.

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Whoops. It would appear that I didn't check my staging properly, and I jettisoned the fairing at the same time as the first stage. Looks like Tenacity could get a bit hot.

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Well, it would appear that our rover survived the, uhh, toasty ride to orbit. Like I was about to say, these improvements come at a cost. Tenacity weighs over a ton, while Intrepidity tips the scales at just over 200 kilos.

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The ACUSS (Advanced Cryogenic Upper Stage System) has now finished its job, and has been jettisoned. The rover is now on a course for Duna. When it arrives in a few hundred days, we'll attempt our first ever skycrane landing on Duna.

 

Grace - XII

Mission: Return some really valuable rocks.

Launch Vehicle: Firedance IIIC

Agency/Launch Site: KSA/Kape Kanaveral

We embark on our most ambitious Duna mission yet: an attempt to discover rocks.

Spoiler

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All joking aside, this is our most important Duna mission to date, as it'll test our ability to return something from the surface of the red planet back to orbit. (We already know that we can put something on a trajectory to return to Kerbin from Dunan orbit, thanks to Grace - VI, currently cruising home.) If this mission fails, we may actually have to postpone our crewed Duna landing attempts in order to actually get it right, as a working Duna Ascent Vehicle is totally mission critical.

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For this mission, we're using a Firedance IIIC, a lifter usually reserved for crewed Munar landings and station launches.

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Boosters jettisoned.

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Good to see that the fairing stayed on this time around. *Grumble grumble Grace - IX grumble grumble*

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Grace - XII is the largest spacecraft that we've ever launched out to Duna by a long shot. In theory, it's capable of launching a couple of kilos of rocks and dust, and a few goo samples, back to Kerbin for analysis. In theory.

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Right then, everyone, cross your fingers. We'll see you on the other side, Grace - XII.

 

Edited by NotAgain

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15 hours ago, NotAgain said:

 

Also, I have no idea why there's a Metarian flag flying.

Perhaps some Metarian spies dignitaries are visiting.

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Blue Anchor - Black Lancer X

Mission: Launch a new crew to Munar Surface Operations Control in anticipation of the upcoming Mun landing

Launch Vehicle: Black Lancer 2

Crew: Commander P1 Matdred Kerman, Mission Specialist S0 Karen Kerman (and more?)

Agency/Launch Site: KSA (with a transfer from the OAA)/Kape Kanaveral

Matdred and Karen head out to MSOC.

Spoiler

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Today, our intrepid Kerbonauts are heading out to the Mun again (this is getting comfortably routine for me, something I never thought I'd say when I started playiong this game) to become the second crew for Munar Surface Operations Control. They'll be respponsible for keeping an eye on the crew of Blue Anchor - Firedance XIII when they visit Beryl Station (named after one of my grandmothers), our Mun base. On the right, we have Commander P1 Matdred Kerman (who is finally returning to space after some serious mental reconditioning. The less said about that, the better.) and Mission Specialist S0 Karen, a transfer from the Orbital Access Alliance, and a total rookie.

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We're seriously hoping that the Black lancer 2 maintains its perfect safety record from last time, as, if this mission doesn't go to plan, we can't launch our next Mun landing on schedual.

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The little docking camera mounted on the capsule captured this image or the Launch Escape Sytem during ascent. The sheer amount of plasma in this image is seriously unnerving.

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Fortunately for us (and our wallets, we're a bit strapped for cash right now) the rocket carried the Block IVC Blue Anchor and the Inon B second stage safely into orbit, where it gets cut off and cut free.

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One point in Matdred's favour is that he doesn't mind cramped spaces and long periods of microgravity. Why? It certainly wasn't MY fault...

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The Inon B cryogenic upper stage kicks into action and propells the little spacecraft out to the Mun.

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After a day of cruising, the spacecraft and its crew arrive safely in orbit around the Mun, and align the orbit of Blue Anchor - Black Lancer X and Munar Surface Operations Control, and Matdred maneouvers to rendezvous with the station.

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TRANSCRIPT:

CMDR: Well, there it is, one of the greatest pieces of kit in the 'verse, all stocked up and ready for us, and now with enough room to swing a kat.

MS: A kat, eh? funny you should mention that...

CMDR: What?

MS: Nothing...

*meowing from biological experiment crate*

CMDR: Please tell me I didn't hear that.

At this point, the Mission Specialist pulled a small, mottled kat out of the experiment crate.

MS: I couldn't find anyone willing to take care of her for a quarter of a year!

CMDR: So you smuggled her aboard a spacecraft!? MY spacecraft!? Wherner has kats, he'd have taken care of her!

MS: Well, I didn't know that!

*several seconds of silence*

CMDR: Kanaveral, did you get that?

FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Yes, every word.

CMDR: Should I abort the docking and prepare for contingency return?

MS: Sorr-

CMDR: Shut up.

FD: Uhh... Hmm... No. We probably haven't got the biological experiments anymore thanks to, wait, what was the kat's name again?

MS: Umm... Well...

FD: Spit it out, you can't possibly get into even more trouble.

MS: Her name's Valentina.

FD: I was wrong. You've managed to dig yourself deeper.

MS: Sorry, she's my idol!

*Silence*

FD: Alright, Commander, proceed with the docking. Karen, I think that K0 Valentina Kat can become a long-term study on the effects of microgravity on the physiology of kats.

MS: Thank you, Flight.

CMDR: (Unintelligable).

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So, after that not insignificant bit of drama, the crew are here, our new feline crew member has been added to the roster, and Gene's bought the entire stock of asprin at the kampus pharmacy.

 

Edited by NotAgain

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