Angel-125

When We Left kerbin - Chapter Twenty: Epilogue

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Prologue: Exploring Minmus (This post)

Prologue: Exploring Minmus Part 2

Interlude: Flipping Pancakes

Prologue Finale: Loose Ends

Chapter One: What A View

Chapter Two: Eve of New Pursuits

Chapter Three: Return On Investment

Chapter Four: The Secret Lives of Kelbin Kerman

Chapter Five: Salvage Runs

Chapter Six: Missing Persons

Chapter Seven: Pipelines

Chapter Eight: Dopplegangers

Chapter Nine: Landfall

Chapter Ten: Counter Moves

Chapter Eleven: Going for Broke

Chapter Twelve: New Beginnings

Chapter Thirteen: Lucky You

Chapter Fourteen: Ups And Downs

Chapter Fifteen: Vapor Trails

Chapter Sixteen: Loop de Loop

Chapter Seventeen: Going Home

Chapter Eighteen: Explorations

Chapter Nineteen: Revelations

Chapter Twenty: Epilogue

- - -

Spoiler

When Kapollo 5 arrived at Minmus Station, Team Valentina, one of several 3-astronaut flight crews (team names were still being determined), found a bit of a mess. The core module arrived with its booster core and upper stage intact, but while the venerable Mk 2 Titan Tug (lower left) successfully delivered the modified Hab/Lab module, its docking port was stuck and it couldn't undock. Valentina decided to make the best of it, and make extensive use of the Hab/Lab's 3D print lab.

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Bobus, the team's engineer and veteran of the Kerbin Elcano Exploration Project (K.E.E.P.),  went on EVA and performed an extensive spacewalk. He stripped the Titan Tug of of everything he could and recycled the parts into MaterialKits. He even got help from Valentina to pull the Fulcrum engines from the booster core and upper stage and then recycled them. It finally came down to just four parts that couldn't be handled by the kerbals and stuffed into the converted fuel tanks so that they could be recycled. Sadly, Bobus was just too inexperienced to recycle the parts by hand. Fortunately, he had a plan.

After stripping down every non-essential part and pulling some backup parts as well, he managed to create this:

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He called it the Scrapper Pod. Using @Pak's KMU from Cormorant Aeronology mated to a Coach 500 printed from recycled materials, his jurry-rigged scrapper pod could do the work that he couldn't- and a bit more. The pod could store either Equipment or MaterialKits.

Bobus carefully maneuvered the Scrapper Pod towards its targets and one by one, they fell to his mighty robotic recycler arm, vanishing in a puff of smoke:

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Extensive use of the OSE Workshop as well as the tools from the Kerbal Attachment System- not to mention a lot of back and forth shuffling of RCS thrusters and fuel pods- turned the jumble of spent rocket stages into valuable storage space:

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With lots of work and determination, Minmus Station was open for business, and KSC added scrapper pods along with OSE Workshops as must-haves for any deep space station or vessel.

With Minmus Station established, Kapollo 5- now designated Minmus Expedition 1 (MEX 1)- landed on Minmus to establish a base there. Valentina selected a site with an anomaly that turned out to be a monolith. While the site lacked any graviolium, they did find a lode of Gemstones. The team poses for a picture before continuing their work:

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A few days later, KSC delivered the Drill Truck with much needed supplies. Bobus made good use of the resources to finish establishing Minmus Base:

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Test driving the rover on the surface proved challenging until Val decided to take a short hop to the Greater Flats using the jump jets. It worked out well enough for the team to return to base and outfit the rover with as much MonoPropellant storage as possible and to fill its tanks with every last drop on the base. They set out again, this time hopping over to the Flats, and found a good spot for another base. The team waited for KSC to ship a pair of experimental landers filled with MonoPropellant for their next hops. When they arrived, Bobus modified the rover even further:

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... and the team hopped to the next biomes...

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... and finally reached their last biome at the Poles. Another lander awaited them there that had enough fuel to return to Minmus Base. With their successful exploration of all the biomes on Minmus, Valentina, Bobus, and Payin returned to Minmus Base with loads of science:

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The team had two sets of experiments: one for processing in the science lab, and another to return to Kerbin with.

With their primary objectives complete, Minmus Expedition 1 prepared to return home. Two weeks later, Minmus Expedition 2 arrived:

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It carried two more 3-kerbal flight crews to further develop Minmus. Their mission was to test new technologies for in-situ resource utilization as well as offword vessel construction- essentially making an extraplanetary launchpad...

Val has a series of meetings with Kerman Navy Captain James T. Kerman (Minmus Expedition 2's commander) and Marcina Kerman (second in command):

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After transferring command, Captain James drove Val and her team to Kapollo 5:

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Bobus awoke the ship from its slumber, and they launched for orbit:

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... where they docked at Minmus Station to retrieve their orbital module for the trip home- and to perform some much needed maintenance:

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With that task complete, Val remotely undocked their new Nuclear Tug for the trip home:

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... and then undocked with their orbital module. After docking to the tug, they burned for low Kerbin orbit. They had an 8-day trip ahead of them.

Meanwhile, Lizchel and Dicie began digging into the research provided by MEX 1 and the rest of the team got to work printing up new base components to support ISRU and extraplanetary launchpads.

Jane, a raw recruit and technically still an astronaut candidate (the paperwork hadn't caught up yet), installed the new components with the help of Stelissa, the expedition's other engineer.

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Jane was a last-minute addition to James' flight crew when Keridien died during a freak training accident. Captain James is technically also a rookie astronaut, but he's also secretly one of the true Original Four astronauts. He would've been one of the first astronauts in space were it not for the Mk1-1 fire that killed three astronauts- a memorial sits outside of the VAB as a reminder that safety and attention to detail is important. KSC recovered of course, hired Bill, Bob, Jeb, and Val as the official Original Four, and the rest is history. Today, James is listed as one of the candidates that wasn't selected selected as part of the original cadre of astronauts but subsequently graduated from another astronaut class. But commanding Minmus Station is proof that productive persistence  pays off! And when asked by a reporter if he had any advice to young aspiring kerbals, he said, "Number one decide what it is you really want to do, and then second, never give up until you've done it." *

With the successful test of the rover's recycler arm completed, Jim had Marnica remotely pilot the two MonoPropellant Landers over to Minmus Base for disassembly:

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The landers worked out so well for MEX 1, KSC is considering creating resource cache landers for future exploration missions.

Once the landers arrived, Jane made short work of them:

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With the base expanded and landers recycled, it was time to try making a rocket of their own- all they had to do was make something that could reach Kerbin and deliver the lode of Gemstones that MEX 1 found at the monolith.

Kapollo 5 finally reached Low Kerbin Orbit after 8 days of travel. After an experimental aerobraking maneuver, Valentina conducted a circularization burn using the nuclear tug:

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A couple of correction burns and an alignment burn with Skybase later, Kapollo 5 separated from the tug for the trip home:

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Just before hitting the atmosphere, Bobus undocked the orbital module and jettisoned the service module:

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Kapollo 5 careened into the atmosphere of Kerbin, and despite the latest attempt to land back at KSC, Valentina missed.

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Kapollo 5 landed in the ocean well over 100km away. Fortunately, that's what the KSCS Liberty is for.

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The home-built airship replaced the KSNS Fulton in the capsule recovery role when the Fulton was destroyed in the arctic circle. Significantly faster than the KSNS Akron- the airship that flew around the world that is now a museum ship- the Liberty reached Kapollo 5 in record time. Raphia, one of the Akron's former crew, swam over to the Kapollo, attached the lift cable, and helped the Minmus Expedition 1 crew out of the capsule:

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With the crew safely aboard the Liberty, the airship hauled the capsule aboard as well:

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A "long" 20 minute flight later, Liberty and her charges arrived back at KSC. Team Valentina poseed for a publicity shot:

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.. and Minmus Expedition 1 brought back a bonanza of science:

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With Kapollo 5/Minmus Expedition 1 back home safe and the science secured, KSC declared mission accomplished!

* Said by Deke Slayton during the Apollo Soyuz Test Project

 

Edited by Angel-125

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I like it @Angel-125! One question though: Does anything return to Kerbin in the same configuration it left in? :)

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5 hours ago, kerbalstar said:

I like it @Angel-125! One question though: Does anything return to Kerbin in the same configuration it left in? :)

Only time will tell. :)

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Kinda cool!!!  What is the airship mod?  Never tried that. 

Edit: this is very cool!!!

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24 minutes ago, Wallygator said:

What is the airship mod?

Heisenberg Airships, one of his mods. Links in his signature.

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On 4/30/2018 at 11:34 PM, JadeOfMaar said:

Heisenberg Airships, one of his mods. Links in his signature.

Nice!  Thanks!

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I am extraordinarily excited to see where this goes! I loved KEEP and the Duna Space Program series! Taking your mods and turning them into a story is an amazing thing to follow!

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Prologue Part 2

Captain James scoffed at the results. Negative productivity. Negative. He shook his head.

“Well, did you read the manual, I hope,” Taniwa, Chief Designer at Kairyuu Shipping asked over the wireless. There was a slight delay due to the distance from Kerbin to Minmus. “I put a lot of work into that manual, you know, you really should read it. It would save my company a lot of support requests…”

Of course we did,” Captain James fired back.

“Then you should know that the more courageous and dumber your team is, the less productive they are.”

“Look, my team is-”

“Rightfully evaluated as having negative productivity,” Taniwha pointed out. “The tests don’t lie. Your team has too many members who are too courageous, too dumb, or both. So I contend that if all else fails, read the directions. And if that still doesn’t work, follow them.”

“Ok, I get it,” Captain James said, admitting defeat. “We need smarter kerbals that are easily frightened. What about… What about experience, does that count?”

“Page 9 of the manual,” Taniwa smiled and responded.

The MEX 2 Mission Commander thought for a few moments. “Right. Ok, so we just need to train up.”

Taniwa nodded and smiled. “Is there anything else you need today, Captain?”

“Uh, no, I think that’s it.”

“Excellent. Thank you for calling Kairyuu Shipping’s help line. Have a great day.”

Captain James hung up the video caller.

“So I guess we have to head back home,” Marnica said, “to debrief, train up, and then fly out here again.”

“The whole point of MEX 2 is to develop ISRU and extraplanetary launchpad capability, then build a base capable of refueling spacecraft and building new ones. Going home is admitting defeat. What are we going to do when we go home to train,” James asked. Marnica gave him a puzzled look. He continued. “All we’ll do is sit in a room somewhere and debrief. Then we’ll sit in a classroom to get yelled at- I mean lectured- and take a bunch of tests. Then we’ll go fly again unless some other crew gets the job.

“Why do we have to go all the way back to Kerbin just to sit in a classroom,” James asked.

“Well, that is the procedure for-“

James interrupted her and pointed at the room’s monitors. “We just had a video conference. And where were we?”

“Uh, sitting in the Pathfinder lab’s hab floor,” Marnica answered.

“Exactly.” Marnica gave him a blank stare. James sighed and continued. “All we need to do is print up a classroom of our own, and telecommute to Kerbin to train.”

“Ohhhh,” Marnica said, finally understanding.

 “Old age and treachery overcomes youth and skill,” James said triumphantly. He was the oldest astronaut in the Corps. The next oldest kerbal was fifteen years his junior.

Stelissa, Jane, and James got to work printing up a new Casa as well as the equipment needed to assemble it. A few days later, the printer finished the job. Jane installed the new module, assembled it, and configured it as a Ponderosa.

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The expedition crew spent time in the new module in shifts to train up. That did the trick, the team’s re-evaluation put their construction productivity into the positive. They got right to work building their first vessel on another world, and KSC added the Ponderosa to its growing list of must-haves for any long-term offworld mission.

A day later, MEX 2 finished assembling their craft, a vessel designed by KSP to deliver resources back to Kerbin. If successful, it would deliver the first load of Gemstones mined offworld. The team fueled and loaded the fledgling craft and watched it lift into the sky.

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Seven and a half days later, the delivery vehicle entered Kerbin’s atmosphere. Its new heat shield design deployed right at atmospheric entry while the craft jettisoned its propulsion stage.

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It performed an aerobraking maneuver successfully, lowering its apoapsis height to 485km.

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On its next pass, the delivery vehicle re-entered the atmosphere, this time landing successfully.

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***

Meanwhile, at Munbase Enterprise, Team Jeb was still struggling to establish a self-sustaining presence on the Mun. It was by choice, however. When Bill deliberately crash-landed Enterprise, the first Deep Space Exploration Vessel, onto the Mun to save the lives of Bob and Jeb, KSC was pretty angry with Bill disobeying orders, but they saw an opportunity as well.

After discussing it with the crew, Team Jeb agreed to become test subjects for deep space isolation training, making do with only the resources they have on hand. If successful, all flight crews heading to deep space would spend time at the Munbase for similar isolation training.

To simulate a trip to Duna, communications with Mission Control would become increasingly delayed. KSC subsequently sent some emergency supplies and Kapollo 4 as a replacement return vehicle, but barring an emergency, Munbase Enterprise was on their own.

Part of their trouble centered on gathering resources- the Gold Digger drills just couldn’t dig up resources fast enough. Bill worked the problem and created the Claimjumper strip miner, and the team printed up a Hacienda to house it. Several weeks later, they scrounged up enough Equipment to assemble the strip miner.

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That worked, and Munbase Enterprise began building up their resource reserves. They also printed up some more components to prepare for their own extraplanetary launchpad. And once again, KSC had a new tool for their deep space missions toolbox.

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Teaser image for the next Prologue chapter:

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What's this? It's inspired by this:

LRV.jpg

Edited by Angel-125

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Just now, Angel-125 said:

Teaser image for the next Prologue chapter:

MOeRdhG.png

Conspiracy intensifies

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Interlude: Flipping Pancakes

The Flapjack roared off the runway to a cheering crowd. Its revolutionary linear aerospike was the most efficient rocket ever built. The rocket saucer, whose shape was inspired by the crashed Arctic Saucer, would need every bit of that efficiency to achieve orbit. But unlike previous rockets, the space plane need no boosters or extra stages. There were rumors that the Kerman Air Force had its own rocket saucers, but nobody had ever seen one to prove it.

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The Flapjack held Team Loner, a crew of three headed to Munbase Enterprise to relieve Bill, Bob, and Jeb. It was fitting that Team Loaner made the Flapjack's first operational flight; they helped test it, much to Jeb's aggravation.

A couple of hours later, the Flapjack arrived at Skybase, where Air Force Major Kelbin, Samalla, and Dr. Munvan of Kapollo 6 greeted them. Their mission was going well, and Kelbin had just finished testing the Mk2 Scrapper Pod. Team Kelbin and Team Loner would have plenty of time to get to know each other and to check out the new ship while Loner and his crew awaited the new Munbus.

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Unlike previous missions to the moons of Kerbin, Munar Expedition 2 (ME-2) would fly a dedicated munar transport instead of taking a cramped spacecraft like a Big Brumby or Kapollo. The general idea was that the outbound crew would take the Munbus while the inbound crew would fly the Flapjack home. Since there weren't any other available crews qualified to fly the rocket saucer, or any crews inbound just yet, the Flapjack headed home on automatic.

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It nearly ran out of runway, but the Flapjack autopilot performed better than any other kermanned spacecraft to date. Ground crews towed the rocket saucer back to the hangar for evaluation, but in the future, KSC hoped to just park the space plane on the tarmaq and refuel it for its next mission like any other aircraft.

 

Edited by Angel-125

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that saucer certianly has a lot of "Science return vehicles" wonder what they are going to be used for

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Prologue Finale: Loose Ends

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No doubt about it, DSEV-1 was slowly slipping down the hillside. The sliding already claimed the number two lab (the remains were recycled), but Bill wanted to preserve the wreck as much as possible. He first tried hooking up some winches to the craft and hauling it up the hill, but the winch violently broke free and sent its piling flying. The flight engineer was about to give up when he decided to try a radical idea: bolt some wheels onto Enterprise and drive it onto the platform!

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To his surprise, it worked! He did bottom out briefly, but a short burst from the repaired main engine enabled DSEV-1 to scrape over the regolith. A short time later, Enterprise took up its position on the konkrete platform built for its namesake mun base. Future flight crews and tourists would be able to visit the Kerman States’ first Deep Space Exploration Vessel thanks to the flight engineer’s efforts.

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With DSEV-1 preserved for future generations and the last load of gemstones nearly ready for shipment, Bill, Bob, and Jeb’s mission to the mun was almost over. Bill just needed to repair and refuel Kapollo 4 for the trip home and wait for Team Loner (they really needed official team names…) to arrive. They wouldn’t know the hardships of the early days- struggling to scratch out the resources they needed using feeble drills, wondering if they’d freeze to death in the bitter cold, worrying that their greenhouse crops would fail, and stripping down everything they could to print up new modules- but subsequent crews would have ample space to learn how to work together in an isolated environment. They wouldn’t even have cramped ships to travel in- the new Munbus produced by Captain James and MEX 2 took care of that- if they get the kinks worked out.

Bill looked around and smiled at their handiwork. They’d turned tragedy into triumph. And in just a few days, they’d be home.

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***

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Lagatha vonKerman opened her eyes, briefly panicked, and took a deep breath to calm herself. That triggered a huge coughing fit as she coughed up the blue gunk in her wind pipe. She nearly passed out with all the coughing. Her muddled brain struggled to understand what was happening. Across from her, she could hear Hanse vonKerman going through similar duress. She looked at the mission elapsed time. Then she remembered.

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283 days ago, the Abenteurer left Kerbin orbit with her, Hanse, Alice, and Irina all in cryostasis- something the Kermans had yet to discover. In two days, they’d be 200km above Eve. Her job was to make sure that the Abenteurer entered orbit around the purple planet instead of sailing on by.

She didn’t have much to do, however. Her instructions were simple: wake the ship up from its slumber, warm up the atomic rockets to prepare for the burn, gather science from high above Eve, and check in with Kontrol (which is supposed to be done first, but there wasn’t much they could do abou it). Check, check, and check. There were a few minor glitches, but Alice could take care of them once she woke up. Other than that, all she could do was make a crew report, flip the switches to run some experiments, and wait.

The autopilot already plotted a 1568.1m/sec braking burn- well within the ship’s available delta-v. Even if the tankers failed to arrive, the Abenteurer had just over 5,500 m/sec of delta left in the tanks- enough to enter orbit, wait for the transfer window back to Kerbin, and head home. If they arrived in orbit, she’d wake the rest of the crew and they’d all explore Eve and Gilly, plant flags, take EVA samples, and then slumber for the trip home. If not, then they’d go back into cryosleep and await rescue.

Two days of waiting with little to do. She chuckled though, Hanse probably had a few ideas…

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Two days later, Lagatha cursed. They were late to initiate the burn, but at least the atomic rockets sprang to life. An eight-minute burn was an eternity for a crew that had never been to Eve before, especially since nobody had been here before. She breathed a sigh of relief when the plot showed that they entered orbit around Eve. Now the engines had to keep going to circularize their orbit. The burn clicked below 800 meters per second, still no problems. Abenteurer was holding up her end of the bargain. They were on the night side now.

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Eventually the ship settled into a 290.5km by 155.7km orbit, right as Kerbol crested the horizon. Close enough. They’d done it, they were the first kerbals to orbit around another world! Time to circularize the orbit and wake up the rest of the crew. It would be another 19 days before the tankers made their orbital insertion attempt, but they’d have plenty to do while they waited.

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***

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“Well, that’s the last of them,” Kerman Air Force Major Parie Kerman said as she gazed upon the open bay of the Air Force’s new A-52 Avenger, currently docked at Dolores Air Force Station. It had just taken on the last of the space station’s atomic weapons. Derived from the Kerbal Space Program’s Aircraft model 51 “Flapjack,” the Avenger (pilots called it the “Pancake”) was a disc-shaped craft inspired by the crashed flying saucer found in the Arctic. Its disc shape remained the only technology taken from the flying saucer thus far- and things would remain that way for years as the World Court argued about who got to study the alien craft and who owned its secrets.

With the breakdown of the Total Disarmament Treaty, Avengers like the one docked to Dolores took up patrol orbits for up to 157 days- 90 days was the typical mission time- ready to dispense their deadly atomic cargos should the need arise. But the crew spaces and cargo/weapons bays designed to perform its mission came at a cost. The Avenger needed help from the new Ike booster to attain orbit. On the plus side, Avengers weren’t limited to a fixed orbital track like Dolores Air Force Station. They could adjust their orbit thanks to their built-in maneuvering engines, and once they completed their patrol, they returned to base while another rocket saucer sortied and took up patrol in a different orbit.

With its last weapon offloaded, Dolores AFS retired from its atomic patrol. That was a good thing, the station was falling apart.

Parie saw Captain Gedra Kerman exit the airlock for an impromptu EVA. “Number 2 Power Module just shorted out, and took Lab 2 down with it,” she said, grabbing a powered multi-tool.

Parie sighed. “Again? I thought you fixed it.”

“I did,” Gedra replied. “My fix is still good. This is something else. I should have them back and running in a few minutes.”

“This is what we get for exceeding the station’s design life,” Parie quipped. “Need a hand?”

“Nah, I got it,” Gedra said as she jetted over to the stricken module and began repairs. A few minutes later she repaired the part and headed back inside. After the airlock cycled, Parie headed in as well.

The airlock was pressurizing when she heard the station’s master alarm, followed by a loud boom. “What the Moho was that,” she asked over the wireless. “Station crew report in. Gedra, was it another system failure?”

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“Cargo 3’s engine spontaneously exploded,” Gedra responded.

That didn’t sound good. The crew gave their status report. Janchell and Nelberry reported no casualties, as did the Avenger’s flight crew. The airlock finally filled with air. Parie rushed to the command center. “How the mulch did it do that?”

“Unknown,” Gedra answered. She took a quick look at the last few second of the logs. “One moment it was fine, then boom. Logs suggest a sudden loss of pressure right before the sensor failed. Never seen anything like it.“

“What is orbiting nearby,” Parie asked.

Gedra checked the radar output. “Nothing but DenEye 5.”

“No orbital debris? What about that spent Titan stage,” Parie asked, referring to a co-orbiting rocket stage that failed to de-orbit.

“On the other side of the planet.”

"Huh." Parie shook her head and shrugged. She ordered a station-wide status check. The station was intact save for the busted engine and several systems in need of repair. So much was going wrong that it could be any number of malfunctions. All she could really do at this point was talk to the boss.

After reporting their situation, Air Force Mission Control ordered Dolores AFS abandoned sooner than planned- it was running out of spare equipment anyway, and it had run out of research kits and experiments to run, leaving it mostly useless. Both the A-52 and Parie’s Big Brumby undocked and de-orbited without incident.

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Both spacecraft crews failed to notice that the “DenEye 5” orbiting not too far from the ailing space station was nothing like one of their spy satellites...

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Chapter One: What A View

In their effort to reach the Mun, Minmus, Duna, and most recently, Eve, both the Kerman States’ Kerbal Space Program and their rival, the vonKerman Republic’s Kerbin Galactic, left trash in orbit- a lot of trash. The rival space programs were more concerned with out-achieving each other than cleaning up after themselves. Their expendable (in KSP’s case, sometimes reusable) launch vehicles pushed kerbals to greater heights but they also littered low-kerbin orbit in the process.

When KSP’s Skybase and VKR’s Hause both suffered near misses and a Probodobodyne communications satellite took a catastrophic direct hit all in the same month, they realized that they had a problem. After a significant debate about salvage rights versus sovereignty versus who was ultimately responsible for cleaning up the space junk, the World Court finally decreed that any kerbal-made object marked as debris that orbited at least 70km above the surface was fair game regardless of its nation of origin. Anyone could de-orbit and/or salvage the orbiting scrap as long as it posed no danger to those on the ground or in orbit. And thanks to the Kerbal Space Program’s microgravity 3D printer and orbital recycling technologies, low-kerbin orbit held a treasure trove of junk just waiting to be turned into the next spaceship.

Kerman Air Force Major Kelbin Kerman was in charge of KSP’s Orbital Debris Removal Project, known by the insiders as O-DeRP. He volunteered for the job, but not just because he believed in a trash free low orbit. Apparently, in a past life, he’d done this job before- or so he believed. When his final astronaut training took an unexpected and prolonged detour around the world in an airship, he’d had a lot of time on his hands. He contemplated many things including quitting the program (discovering an alien saucer crashed in the arctic changed his mind), but when he turned to meditation, things got interesting.

When he cleared his mind, sometimes he had visions. Vivid visions. In one, he flew a space shuttle- a rocket plane that launched into space vertically, delivered its crew and cargo, and then flew back to the space center like an airplane. On his last mission in the kerbin shuttle orbiter, he learned that he got an orbital debris removal assignment very similar to the one he had now. The dreams were so real and so vivid, it was as if he’d been an astronaut in a past life. But were the visions real? He’d hoped that heading up O-DeRP would jog something loose in his mind, but that hadn’t happened. Instead, after the initial excitement wore off, he found himself stuck in yet another monotonous job.

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At least this time, he couldn’t beat the view.

“Yo dude,” Dr. Munvan, the team’s scientist and his best friend called out over the wireless, “you coming back in or what?”

“Just a minute, Munvan.”

“Dude, if you don’t get back in here, we’ll miss our landing window. You know how Gene gets when that happens…”

“Ok, ok,” he said sighing. He knew his friend was right. Kelbin tapped his jet pack thruster controls, spun around, and headed for Skybase’s airlock. He was going to miss the view for sure.

With the introduction of the A-51 Flapjack, expendable capsules had become obsolete.  As crews rotated between the various bases, their capsules were recovered and phased out in favor of the reusable single-stage-to-orbit rocket saucer. With Kapollo 6’s mission complete, it was Kelbin’s turn to retire the Kapollo program’s last craft. It was probably for the better; Kapollo was plagued by problems ranging from Kapollo 2’s unplanned service module separation while on orbit to the Duna I’s engine failures during Kapollo 3’s fatal ascent to Kapollo 5’s constantly failing fuel cells, not to mention autopilots that constantly broke down... Even Kapollo 6 had its share of difficulties, with its dead autopilot, broken RCS thruster, and an engine leaking hydraulic fluid. Kelbin was both happy to see the spacecraft phased out and also sad; Kapollo 6 was his first ship that transported him on his first mission to space.

Kapollo 6 and her crew spent 200 days in orbit- nearly half a year! In that time, he, Samalla, and Munvan- all veterans of the Kerbin Elcano Exploration Project- accomplished a lot. First crew to dock with and activate Skybase. Completion of the Solar Activity Monitoring Experiment (with some odd results). First successful test of the Mk2 Scrapper Pod, which perfected on-orbit recycling technologies. They also received three resupply spacecraft, a prototype station hub, a new pressurized mating adapter, and even guests in the form of Loaner Kerman and his crew. Kelbin and his crew even set the Kerman States’ record for the longest duration in microgravity.

Yes, it was sad to leave his home in space, but he also knew that he’d return soon enough. Once Skybase received new components and he retrained on the Flapjack, orbital salvage would begin in earnest.

Once back inside, Kelbin found Munvan and Samalla already aboard Kapollo 6, warming up its systems and preparing to shove off from the space station. With Kelbin seated and strapped in, the spacecraft separated from Skybase and put some distance between it and the station. After lowering its orbit to 100km, Kapollo 6 lined up with the space center and performed its de-orbit maneuver. Despite is failing systems, the craft re-entered the atmosphere without incident.

 

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The last flight of Kapollo ended on a high note by setting another record: Kapollo 6 touched down on KSC grounds! Kelbin handedly won the bet to see who could land a capsule closest to KSC. No other flight even came close.

 

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***

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Gene took a deep breath and looked at the crowd. Here goes, he thought to himself. “When Jeb and Bob became stranded on the Mun during our first kermanned munar landing, we knew that we couldn’t build a rescue craft in time before they perished. So we sacrificed Enterprise, which had ample supplies, and deliberately grounded her on the Mun to form what would eventually become Munbase Enterprise. We rescued Bill, Bob, and Jeb, of course, and Enterprise continued her mission of testing the technologies needed for deep space missions. But the grounding of our first Deep Space Exploration Vessel left a hole in our plans. Until now.

“Ladies, gentlekerbs, and distinguished guests, Enterprise was never intended to be the only deep space exploration vessel. Today, we begin construction of Enterprise’s successor, the DSEV-2 Protector! First of her class and named after the most famous fictional vessel in history, the Protector has many adventures ahead of her, just like her namesake. In fact, today I am honored to announce that Protector’s maiden voyage will be to Duna, the first kermanned spacecraft to do so!

“Commanded by Navy Captain Valentina Kerman,” Gene said, pointing to Valentina, ”along with Air Force Colonel Jebediah Kerman, Air Force Major Bill Kerman, Dr. Bob Kerman, Bobus Kerman, and Payin Kerman, the Protector will have one of the finest crew that the Kerbal Space Program has to offer.” Jeb snorted with derision just loud enough for Gene to hear. The veteran astronaut fumed at the thought that he wasn’t in command of the first Duna mission.

Gene ignored him and continued his speech. “And the crew will have some of the most advanced technology available to them including the new Estonian landing craft, the ability to live off the land, and even the ability to produce new craft as needed. This won’t be a ‘flags and footprints’ mission like other space companies do, Valentina and her crew will thoroughly explore the rusty planet just like the fictional Commander Quincy and his crew explore new worlds. And to talk more about how science fiction is becoming reality, I’d like to introduce our keynote speaker, the creator of Galaxy Trek, JJ Kerman!”

The theme to Galaxy Trek played on the PA system as the audience clapped and JJ Kerman took the stage…

 

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***

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“Actually, Major Kelbin,” JJ Kerman said, “if you have the time, I’d love to speak with you more about what it’s like being an astronaut and get your take on that around the world trip you had. Your experiences would really help enrich the show. I can even arrange a visit to the set of Galaxy Trek if you’d like, and even a cameo role if you’re interested.”

Absolutely,” Kelbin said, beaming. He was a big fan. He exchanged contact information with JJ, shook hands, and parted company. He saw Bobus and Payin and walked over. He hadn’t seen them since they left for Minmus.

“Congratulations on getting the Duna mission,” Kelbin said, shaking Bobus and Payin’s hands, “it’s great to see that two of The Five New Guys are part of Duna One.”

 

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“Thanks,” Bobus replied. He stepped closer to Kelbin and spoke quietly. “I still think Jeb pulled strings to get the second team slot. If he hadn’t, all of the Five New Guys would be on the flight. Moho, we earned it after all the mulch they put us through.”

“Maybe,” Kelbin said, trying not to sound too disappointed as his emotions stirred. “But there were a lot of qualified candidates.”

“What will you be doing while we’re gone,” Payin asked, changing the subject.

“Oh, training to fly the Flapjack, cleaning up low orbit, hopefully commanding a munbase, and with luck, getting to be a test pilot for the Cormorant,” Kelbin responded.

“That new cargo shuttle under development?”

“Yeah.”

“That sounds like a lot of fun and variety,” Bobus said. “At least you won’t be stuck in a tin can for half a year.”

“Yeah. But you’ll be one of the first to explore a whole new world.”

Bobus conceded the point. “True. But we aren’t the first kerbals to do that... Don’t worry, Kelbin, you’ll get your chance.”

That sounded a little condescending, he thought to himself. “Yeah,” is all Kelbin would say. Now he knew how Jeb felt. No doubt about it, he was jealous.

***

After the commencement ceremony concluded, KSC got right to work. They had a launch window approaching and they did not want the vonKerman Republic to beat them to Duna. And with off-world vessel construction still in its infancy, it was up to the space center to ensure that DSEV-2 got its ride into orbit. To do that, they needed a big rocket.

The Duna VII was a massive new booster with a large payload capacity. It needed it in order to deliver DSEV-2’s core into orbit as well as its support craft. It was also a controversial booster. The Kerbal Space Center had to guarantee that the expendable rocket would leave no orbital debris to clean up, and even with that promise they were only granted a handful of launches.

Despite the sense of urgency, the massive booster lifted off the pad and delivered its cargo into orbit without incident.

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DSEV-2’s logistics and habitation modules quickly followed, flying on the smaller Ike booster. They too arrived into orbit and docked with the core without incident. KSC next lofted several large tankers to fuel the Protector. After completing their mission, KSC sent the spent tanks to Skybase to expand the station.

 

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With DSEV-2 assembled, fueled, and awaiting her crew, KSC focused on the Duna 1 mission’s support craft, including the Duna Drill Truck and transfer booster, a Buffalo Bulldozer, two Duna Reconnaissance Orbiters, a Duna Tanker, and an experimental Duna Flyer. KSC significantly depleted their funds to assemble the fleet. Fortunately, Munbase Enterprise’s vein of gemstones helped recoup their costs.

The opening of the Duna transfer window was like the start of sea bug season off the northwest coast of the Kerman States. The fleet of vessels left their orbital harbor one by one, igniting their engine on the first leg of a long journey to the rusty planet. Seven ships from the Kerman States started their journey over the course of two hours. It was the largest fleet headed in history headed to another world.

 

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Two vessels flying the vonKerman Republic flag made the trek as well.

 

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And some theme music as the fleet sets sail...

Spoiler

 

 

Edited by Angel-125

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It's here! "And there was great joy in that city.”  (Acts 8:8)

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2 hours ago, Kosmonaut said:

I miss ksos man

Me too, but @Pak has done absolutely amazing things with the Cormorant Mk3 system including retexturing parts, decals, payload parts for the shuttle, a Block II shuttle, and even Shuttle-C. I believe it has or will soon have a shuttle manipulator too. KSOS had it's day in the sun, but the Cormorant is far better IMO.

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On 6/4/2018 at 9:52 PM, Angel-125 said:

Me too, but @Pak has done absolutely amazing things with the Cormorant Mk3 system including retexturing parts, decals, payload parts for the shuttle, a Block II shuttle, and even Shuttle-C. I believe it has or will soon have a shuttle manipulator too. KSOS had it's day in the sun, but the Cormorant is far better IMO.

I more meant your KSOS mission reports- could never get the damn mod to work

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