Sorabh

The Mission, Controlled: Old-timer Mortimer!

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Hello, everyone! This is a mission report, but with a slight twist. This is a spinoff of the popular mission report The Duna Enterprise.

The timelines diverge at the last chapter , which lead to events resulting in the fading of Kerbals' spirit of exploration. The KSC now only launches communication and Kerbin observation satellites. The once famous Kerbal Space Program, which had been a household name back in the day, is now mediocre at the best. Will the KSC fade into the darkness or will it rise up once again? Find out, in this mission report!

The Mission, Controlled!!!

Table of contents:

Chapter 1: Initiation

Chapter 2: Trial by....fire?

Chapter 3: The Administrontium

Chapter 4: The Herd Mentality

Chapter 5: Cleaning the Pipes

Chapter 6: Old-timer Mortimer!

Chapter 7: The Moho Mystique

Chapter 1: Initiation

Year 233, International Geology and Chemistry Conference
"And hence I believe, that such a mineral could exist. If not in our planet,then somewhere else in the solar system." Dr. Rover D Ude Kerman finished his presentation. The younger scientists took down notes as fast as possible, while the elder, more experienced ones murmured in disagreement.

"I think I speak for the majority of us, but Mr. Rover, such an hypothesis is just a good piece of fantasy in my opinion. A mineral with such volatile properties could not stay stable for too long, and its chemical structure would eventually break down. I think it's time for you to get off the stage and allow cooler minds take over." One of the senior scientists spoke up, condescension dripping like venom in his voice.

"That's what you said about Karbonite, when you could not find any appreciable quantities in Kerbin. But a simple software tweak in the resource scanner orbiting the Mun and voila! We found Karbonite aplenty. The point, is that you need to widen your view, if you wish kermanity to flourish. Now, anymore questions or opinions?"

The scientist sat down disgruntled. Another younger scientist raised his hand.

"Sir, I am Linus Kerman the Third, geologist, Kerbin Research Institute. If this mineral that you speak of, this Karborundum, really exists somewhere in the solar system, how do you plan to prove it's existence? With the aid of our 'capable' and 'innovating' space program?" Linus' statement got a few chuckles, as the Kerbal Space Program was, gently speaking, quite mulchy at the moment.

Dr. Rover ignored the youngster's immature jibe."The truth will come out, sooner or later. I have complete faith that Karborundum will be found, if not by this generation, then the next." Even though those were the words of a kid who was yet to see the world, they sure brought back some bad memories, from thirty years ago.

Year  233, Kerbal Institute of Social Studies

It was the summer of Year 203, thirty years ago, the attempt to land a crewed vehicle on Duna by a private company failed catastrophically because of a damaged retro rocket. The new found spirit of exploration was dampened heavily. That was also the day when the Tech Tree was completed. It was concluded that the primary purpose of KSC has been achieved and now it was time to implement all the knowledge to Kerbals' daily life. Budgets and careers were cut, subsequently and KSC became a jobs program, On this wretched day, heavy sighs from all over the planet caused the CO2 levels to jump about 2% higher than normal. "The Agony of Duna", that's what they called it.

That was the day I, Nanba Kerman was born.

And right now, I am being yelled at the headmaster of the school I am currently teaching at.

"You are fired." The Headmaster's voice echoed in his office. No, it was more like a million headmasters speaking together, in perfect sync.
"Come again?"
"You are fired! Launching soda bottle rockets with students when you are supposed to be teaching is unbecoming of someone in your profession!"
"I was trying to make the class more lively!!"
"Of course. And the fact that it hit the janitor square on the face was just a coincident, right?"
"Well he asked for it..I mean,Exactly! It was an accident! You believe me, right? So, about the job?" I was blabbering whatever came into my mind at that point.
"You are still fired. You have 20 minutes to clear your locker." He handed over a check. "There's your severance pay. Now, please be thankful that I did not call the police and get out of here!!!" He finally erupted like a volcano of rage. I always like it when he does that, but not when I am on the receiving end.

20 minutes later, I was standing at the school gates. The entire student body was by the gate, wishing me good bye. They said all sort of sweet stuff, like how  I was the teacher they had the most fun with and how I did not seem to know much about history. I could only look at them, tears in my eyes, and warned them not to follow my example of slamming the janitor in the face with a soda bottle rocket.

Well, how the heck was I supposed to know about history anyways? I am a mechanical engineer, Kod Damn it!!!

I got home on a lonely bus ride. My mother was very happy to see me back. Father was his usual, grumpy self. I picked up the newspaper and started looking for jobs almost immediately.

Three weeks later

I am still jobless. Its not like I am not qualified for jobs, its that I am overqualified for the most of them! The mood back home is tense. Even mother, who was happy to see me back after all these years is a little bit tense at dinner tonight. It even showed in my share of dessert! I was only served three mini-boongas, compared to mother's seven, and father's eight..

"Umm..I will start looking for more jobs tomorrow..so about the mini-boongas.." I was about to shamelessly grovel for a couple more of those sweet fruits when an advertisement flashed on television.

"We need young, fresh, vibrant Kerbs to be the new face of the KSC! Preferably Mechanical engineers, with some Organizational knowhow. Call this number to book a seat in the interview process!!" A toll free number flashed on the screen that I memorized automatically.

My Kod, this was it! A real job, tailor made especially for me!! I looked down, and found two more mini-boongas in my dish. My mother was smiling, and my father appeared less grumpy.

I made that call, and then I made a face. I am not sure what sort of a face it was, whether I was happy or crying, but it was a face with maximum wrinkledness.
 

Edited by Sorabh
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On 7/25/2018 at 4:45 AM, TanDeeJay said:

Great story. Can’t wait to read more 

Thanks! I will try to update it weekly! :)

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The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 2: Trial by.... fire?

The day of the interview:
It was the fated day! Today I would make or break my future. To say that I am nervous is like saying that Sir Jeb Kerman was only mildly happy when he landed on the Mun.
I had passed the written examination.It was time for the group discussion. They had us sit in a windowless room and then a voice told us what topic we were to discuss on. There were five groups, and each were given a particular topic to discuss on. I had expected a moderator, but there was no one to be found.

"Good morning aspirants!I am your invigilator for this group discussion. Each of the five groups that you have been divided into will be given a specific topic to discuss about. All of you are being electroniaclly monitored, so make sure you give your best!"

The mysterious voice then handed out our topics. My group, Group E got the topic "What do you prefer: KSC of now, or the KSC thirty years ago?"

"Good morning everyone, I am Justin Kerman, and I will take the pleasure of starting off this discussion." A snooby looking kid snapped up the chance to speak first. Dang it!

"If we see the bigger picture, it is painfully obvious that the KSC of today is mediocre at best, when compared to its state thirty years ago. Which is not a bad thing, if I may add. As it has been stated that all that could be invented, all that could be researched has already been done! We don't need anymore dangerous missions just to satisfy the "curiousity" of a few kerbals."

"Indeed, I partially agree with my friend here." Another kerb, Luchas, I think, jumped into the conversation. "The Agony of Duna was the most publicized and documented kerbal disaster. And it tells us what would happens when an arrogant kerb thinks he can take on the solar system for himself. We are living on this gigantic, living spaceship called Kerbin! And how much have we understood about the planet? Not much, that's for sure. Further research into outer space is unnecessary!"

"Of course. This is a huge solar system. Foolish are those Kerbs who think that kerbalkind was fated to explore it all! We should surrender ourselves to Kerbol, and be where it's light shines."

I was about to agree as well. But something seemed off, something basic, something instinctual. "I would like to respectfully disagree." I began."While the evidence suggests that mediocrity is the way to go, a species who once took pride in achieving new heights receeding into the dark? I, for one, can not accept this."

Justin visibly rolled his eyes."Another one of the space junkies. I thought that your species went extinct thirty years ago!" Everyone had a nice little chuckle at my expense. "What more do your kind want as a proof that your days are over? Were the deaths of twelve kerbals on a privately funded spacecraft on Duna not enough?"

"Things go wrong all the time. That does not mean we can all sit back and twiddle our thumbs and do nothing!" I retorted.

"And what guarantee is that the next krewed mission will be without flaws? That the next mission won't fail?"

"There is no guarantee. Not at all. It is even possible to do nothing wrong and still fail our objectives. That's not the sign to stop. its a sign to buckle up, learn from the experience and keep moving forward." I was slowly losing my patience with this guy.

"Ohhh!! So you would dare walk into realms not blessed by the Glorious Kerbol?" The religious nut interfered.

"Oi, the Glorious Kerbol has not blessed me for half my lifetime, during the nights. I am still alive. I think I will take my chances." I could not help but snicker at my wisecrack. And then almost panicked as I realized that such verbal attacks are taken negatively by the invigilators.

"Delusional thoughts are not productive at all. Like I mentioned earlier, we need to understand Kerbin better, not the space." Luchas backed up the others.

"And limited thoughts are even less productive. Why should we be satisfied with only one 'spaceship', when dozens of other 'spaceships' are out there." I pointed upwards."Just waiting to be claimed!"

The discussion went for a long time, with me getting a nice clobbering from the rest of the kerbs in my group. However I did not relent and I was proud of that. Soon enough, time was up and we were all told to wait in the canteen and await the result.

I had a familiar feeling in my guts. That I messed up. I should have just gone with the flow. An hour passed and the results came in.

I passed. I passed?

Huh, I guess luck is an important factor in these kind of situations...

********

Exactly 4 hours later, I entered into the interview room. The atmosphere in there was intimidating, to say the least. There were three scientist-y type kerbs, one of whom I recognized as Werhner Kerman II and... was that Mortimer Kerman?? The Accountant, El Contador??
For those who don't know who Mortimer Kerman is, let me shed a little bit of light. He  is one of the 'Old Guard, the First Accountant and was the second-in-command when KSC was at the peak of its popularity. He stayed at KSC even though the other members of the 'Old Guard' including his (then) boss, Gene Kerman took voluntarily retirement, following the 'Agony of Duna'. In several books and movies, he has been portrayed as a mean, cold and calculating personality, a perfect foil for the kind and gentle Gene Kerman .  In the movies, if he were smiling, then that meant he was going to do something BIG!

He was smiling right now. Oh I am such a goner!

Regardless I smiled back. Or atleast tried to, I am sure it looked like a wince. The rest of the interviewers were trying to burn a hole in my head with their intimidating staring. Mortimer asked me to sit down.

As soon as I sat down on the chair, something seemed out of place. The chair creaked a bit. It was slight, probably because of a loose screw.

"Mr Nanba Kerman, I hope you had your lunch?" Wernher Kerman II took the initiative.

"Yes sir, yes I did. Thank you." I replied. And this chair was getting creakier by the second. My hand reached the spot where the screw securing the seat was supposed to be. It was loose! I knew it! I could not help it but try to tighten the loose screw, while keeping a straight face.

"I will be asking a couple of serious questions ,Mr Kerman. This is a position of responsibility, so you better answer correctly." Mr. Mortimer said, looking straight into my eyes. "A dog, a monkey, and a squirrel are having breakfast.  What time is it?"

'Are you serious!!!!!' I almost screamed it out loud. "I believe it's early morning, since they are having breakfast. I wake up early as well, since it makes me healthy,wealthy and wise." Take that!

"cough*and unemployed*cough."  the younger scientist was not even trying to be subtle.

"Relax Mr. Nanba, I threw that one in there just to break the ice." Mortimer laughed my answer off. "Now let's say,you a re sitting in your front yard and see a kob and kril across the street playing with their dog. The dog climbs into a wagon, and the kob pushes it down the hill.  The dog will be ok, the hill is not steep.  The kril starts yelling at the kob, the kob is yelling at the dog, and the dog is just waiting for the wagon to stop rolling. Which problem do you address first?"

"Hmm..I think that the dog should be saved first. You see, even if the hill is not steep, the wagon will gradually speed up. And all it needs is a pebble in its path to overturn it, and injure the dog in the process. As for the Kob and the krill, they are just yelling. I will probably scold the kob for pushing the wagon, if anything."

Dr. Wernher Kerman II then took over the interview and after a round of technical questions related to rocketry and a few questions on organizational behavior, Mortimer stepped in again.

"Describe, if you will, a previous management situation that you handled poorly, and then how you assessed it afterwards."

"In my last job, I launched a soda bottle rocket at the janitor. It was a harmless prank, as the janitor was not hurt in the slightest. I was only getting back at him for stealing all my Snacks everyday. I ended up losing my job because of that incident, despite the janitor being the first aggressor. I learnt an important lesson that day: If you are going to deal with someone, better do it without witnesses around. And do it quietly!"

Mr. Mortimer had this weird glint in his eyes, the kind of glint my Grandpa Jorfen has whenever he reminiscences about the glorious days of Air Force space program.

"Hmm, I see. And why do you care about space?"

"I..when I was a kid, I had this question: Why do we exist, and how? I still don't know the answer to the 'why' but this curiosity is what drives me. I also want to know, what's beyond the next hill, beyond the next forest, beyond the next celestial body... My fellow kerbs have called it childish but I can never let go of these thoughts."

"Thank you, that will be all." Wernher concluded the interview, and I got out of there as quick as I could, while being polite.

And 2 hours later, I was selected as the Director of KSC Operations. Wait up! Director?This was an interview for choosing the Director? I was informed that it would be a PR related job when I applied for it!

*******

And thus our protagonist becomes the new Director of KSC Operations. What does it imply for the future? Will Nanba Kerman survive KSC and its shenanigans? Or will he buckle under the mediocrity of the space center? Stay tuned to find out more!

Edited by Sorabh
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Posted (edited)

The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 3: The Administrontium

I was standing in front of the administrative building of KSC, heaving my bags along. Apparently, I needed to "stay" at KSC, since an emergency could pop up any moment and had to address the press and the media if the emergency was catastrophic. In other words, I am being paid for being a willing scapegoat for any failures that might occur.

The keyword being 'might'. Operations in KSC have become so routine and reliable that  "Employees sometimes wish for an explosion to spice up things."

Not on my watch.

Although this brings me to the tall claims I made in the group discussion. To return Kerbal Space Center to its former glory, that was what I said. Now, I am not under any obligation to follow through my words at the group discussion, but deep within, it would feel wrong if I didn't.

Ask me to bring a vintage car to its former glory, I would do it before you even finish requesting. But to reorganize such a large organization, and removing the rot from each nook and cranny? I think I might just have bitten more than what I can chew.

Today the IRIS-G Kerbin Observation Satellite will be launched. This will be the first of several IRIS-G satellites which would replace the ageing IRIS-F fleet. Also some students wanted to launch a KubeSat. 'To test new technologies for space travel' that's what they said. The fact that they could brag about it in international conferences remained unsaid.

Spoiler

The workhorse rocket of KSC, the Administrontium, launched from the launchpad with its payload, IRIS G-1 Kerbin Observation Satelite.

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After reaching burnout the sepratron motors ignited, and after a delay of a couple of seconds, the second stage engine started up.

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The second stage lifted the rocket to the required apoapsis of 100 km. After clearing 50kms, the fairings deployed, and the near exhausted second stage detached from the satellite. The solar panels, comms antenna, and the scanners deployed.

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After coasting to the apoapsis, the RCS motors aboard the satellite circularised the orbit.

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Once the payload reached orbit, it released the small university KubeSat. The KubeSat deployed its solar panels and comms, and started doing stuff.

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After a successful launch, the ground control retired for lunch, while I went back to my office. There were going to be reruns of "The Dunatian" on WebFlix, and there's now way I am going to miss that classic.

Halfway into the movie, an Email notification blipped on the screen. It was from a rookie intern. There was a sense of urgency in that email. An urgency similar to when you install a lot of mods in the game "Human Space Program" and hope it won't crash on loading.
What was even odder was that it was not sent to my workplace mail address.

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I looked at the attachments and the first thing I did was to fix a meeting with the engineers

******

"This looks good, this looks very good!" I appreciated the 3D models of the Krewed space crafts that the young engineers were showing me. "I am glad that the spirit of innovation still exists."

The intern, Kunfaya , looked embarrassed as she rubbed her cheek."Oh, it's nothing much, we just tried to extend the existing mk1 pod to fit another kerb. It would be much more better if we could build a 2-kerb spaceship, kinda like this one." Her partner, Eddie, then showed me another design, this was a sightly larger, extended version of the mk1 cockpit. It could easily fit 2 kerbs inside, and felt like a decent upgrade from the first model.

"This is what we call the Mk-2 spacecraft. Like the previous one, we have planned an extension module, to house 4 more kerbals."

"While that's all fine and dandy, why are you showing me this? Work on krewed vehicles stopped 26 years ago." I inquired.

"Well, that might be so but... " Eddie hesitated a bit. "We heard what you had to say in the group discussion."

"What?? How?? I mean, aren't the recordings supposed to be confidential?"

"Not to us! We borrowed the recordings and I must say, we were impressed. We thought that maybe, just maybe we could get this proposal through."

"Well, sorry to disappoint you guys, but I don't have that kind of power, especially on the first day of the office." I felt sorry for the younger intern, the way her enthusiasm faded.

"But, I can appeal to some of the more experienced workers here at KSC! I am sure quite a few people will be enthusiastic about this." I tried to reassure them, but I knew it was not a very good plan.

I returned to my office soon after, and opened up my laptop to make some additions to my mission report to the Magistrate and the Ministry of Space regarding the krewed flights. Midway through my report, I decided to take advice from someone more experienced than me.

I don't know what possessed me to call Mr. Mortimer though...

******

And thus Nanba oversaw his first mission, and got an interesting email by the end of the day. The gears in his mind are running at full speed. But what could he be thinking? And why does he want to take advice from Mortimer Kerman, El Contadore? Stay tuned to find out more!

Edited by Sorabh
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The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 4: The Herd Mentality

After a quick talk over the phone, Mr. Mortimer invited me to a restaurant to talk more about this subject. It was an hour past lunch time, but I could manage.I put on a hat and dark sunglasses and entered the restaurant. Mr. Mort was already there, browsing the menu.

"Oh, you are finally here! And what's with that disguise? Drop it. You look even more suspicious." Mr. Mort remarked without even looking up from the menu.

"I need to talk about more important matters than my disguise." I said, removing the hat and showed him the blueprints of the krewed vehicles.

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"So, what do you think? Can we make this work?"

"If an engineer says it makes sense, I'm sure we can find a way to afford such a craft- but why are you asking me?  What does Werhner Jr. say, and why does the government wish to send kerbs to orbit again?"

"Weeellll... I have not talked to any of them, in fact.." I replied sheepishly. "It's just me and two other engineers, and now you, who are aware of this. All the officials I could have talked to have a negative attitude towards space exploration, and it's unlikely to change anytime soon. So I was wondering if we could force..er... convince them somehow to change their opinions.."

Mortimer looked at me over the rims of his glasses, then sat back and crossed his arms. "You do not, I take it, refer to simple lobbying.  What is your plan?"

"I was thinking about a way to generate hype among kerbs regarding space travel. If kerbs on ground want more satellites and probes in space, the government will, without a doubt, comply." I spoke to Mortimer in a hushed tone. "I am planning a covert space mission.It could be a flyby of bodies that we have not visited, and bodies that we can visit at frequent intervals."

"Once we take science and imagery of an entirely new world, and 'leak' it to the public, kerbs will start taking notice, and that would be our chance! And didn't you have a share in a defunct company? What was it called? Kerbal R&D, yes! Maybe that would help?"  I looked at Mr. Mortimer, hoping for a positive answer.

Mortimer winced. "Please, do not remind me where my retirement funds are sunk."  He sighed. "Yes, KeRDy could certainly do what you ask, they have plenty of untapped resources at this point.  However, I am concerned with your objective."

"Conducting flight operations outside of your existing mandate is perilous, whatever the objective.  Governments tend to prefer their assets conduct themselves within expected bounds.  Your end goal has fine merit, but wouldn't it be a better idea to try to influence the government to extend their directive first, rather than spend assets off the books in the hopes that everything will work out in the end?" Mr. Mortimer looked genuinely concerned.

"First of all, it's about visibility, Mr. Mort... Lobbying by space advocates has been going on for about 2 decades, with no real results. And there won't be any, as long as the common Kerbs are not involved in this process. If people see those images, then perhaps they will see that space is not just for educated, intelligent snobs. Herd mentality of the Kerbs will do the rest for us.Softer approaches haven't worked, maybe something more radical will? And if anyone finds out about what's going on behind the scenes, then I will be the fall guy."

"Secondly, KeRDy promised to upgrade part performance in exchange of science. But the startup failed because there were no more exploration missions, and thus no more science to be gained. Without a demonstration, no one trusted KeRDy's claims and the startup failed. Well, here's your chance to get back your retirement funds, at the least. If the government is not swayed by the emotions of kerbs, then perhaps profit can convince them." I put up a satisfied smile as I recited the speech I had rehearsed thrice.

Mort strummed slowly strummed his fingers.

"Fine.  You'll need to back-channel all your orders and conversations, I'll provide a secure line for you to someone there.  Your engineering team will need to pass me the bills, keep it to under 20% of operating costs and there will be no problems there."

"I don't think you realize what you're doing yet, but- here's to Glory Days," and Mort raised his glass.

"To the glory days!" We toasted and after a while of idle chit chat, left the restaurant.

*******

My inbox was flooded the next day. Turns out that after the successful test flight of the Tiny University KubeSat, every institute in Kerbin wanted a KubeSat of its own in Kerbin Orbit. The manufacturer of the Kubesat sold those in spades, making a huge profit. And now they wanted a launch vehicle. Herd Mentality. Now someone pick up that phone because I called it!!

The Administrontium-Lite was readied. It had the same first stage as the Standard Administrontium, but the upper stage was for lighter payloads.

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The launch went almost nominally, with the booster placing the payload in equatorial LKO.

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The only hiccup was when the software dumped the fairings way beforehand, exposing the payload to high temperatures.

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None of the KubeSats were harmed, however. That's good.

 Now it was the time for the most important part of the mission. The R&D department had hobbled up a makeshift KubeSat Dispensor.

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The dispensing program initiated and the first batch of 4 kubesats separated from the payload container.

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The second and the third batch followed suit.

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The upperstage was then deorbited, bringing the mission to an end.

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*******

I spent the next few nights in my office researching and cataloguing every asset that KSC had at it's disposal. And which of those I could steal without making anyone look for them.

While going through the archive, I stumbled upon a folder named 'DMagic equipments'.

I stumbled upon a literal goldmine. There were science experiments that would no doubt accelerate my plan much faster than it would have been if I were using the 'stock' experiments. According to the data, all of it were in storage. I took a mental note to visit the storage warehouse and continued going through the inventory.

I started searching for SSTOs, for they will be ideal vehicles for launching my rogue space vehicles. They could take off from any runway without drawing much attention and launch the payload to LKO.

But to my disappointment, I discovered that all SSTO designs were dismantled, and some were even burned by mobs!

This was bad! While the probe could be assembled without drawing attention, the same could not be said about the launch.

Now all I could do was to wait for an opportunity.

*******

Nanba gets an 'Okay' from old Mortimer, but has hit a roadblock in his preparations. Would he be successful in getting over the issues and getting ahead in his dangerous plan? Or will he chicken out when he sees no solution in sight? Stay tuned t find out more!

Edited by Sorabh
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That is a *smart* little launcher!  ...and I have a completely unbiased opinion of course. :]

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(A/N: Hello everyone! I apologize for the 2 week delay for this chapter, but the last week was a slogfest! I barely had time to double-click on the KSP icon on my desktop. I will release the next chapter sooner to make up for this. :))

The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 5: Cleaning the Pipes

A few days later, KSC received a shipment from the Air Force. These were the surpulous missile motors which saw little use these days, and ended up taking storage space.

And by Kod those were lots of motors, in different shapes and sizes!

The little ones were the GEM motors. These most often saw use in land to land application over short distances and were Armed Forces' favorite because of its high thrust and range.

The bigger motor was actually designed by KSC as a SRB to assist rocket launches, but soon they fell out of favour. The KSC started favoring liquid engines, which were less prone to blow up their warehouses. The Armed Forces grabbed hold of these motors and developed them into IRBMs.

And now, after all these years, they were being returned to KSC, with the permission to do with them whatever the heck we want to.

Plans were made for launching an experimental small sat launcher "Piddi". The plan required 4 GEM motors to be strapped together as the first stage and an improvised 'Spark' upper stage. These were not that cost effective, but no one cared about cost, these were practically free!

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These rockets got the job done, i.e. place a solitary Kubesat into orbit.

Spoiler

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They had their own limitations, though; they could only be launched in the mornings, as they had very little electric charge storage capability. After 8 more launches of the "Piddi", we still had several boosters left, but no more KubeSats to boost into orbit. It was then when inspiration struck me.

------A Few hours after the final KubeSat launch----

"Hello Gentlekerbs! As all of you know, we have a logistics issue. There are too many motors left, and they are occupying storage space. And we all remember what happened last when we had so many SRBs stacked together."

"Yes we remember, these motors need to be expended, and quickly! We never had any good luck with solids anyways." Werhner Jr. spoke up, with murmurs of agreement from everyone else.

"I have this proposal." I showed them the blueprints of a new launch vehicle concept.

"Hmm, this might work." Werhner Jr. said, peering into the blueprints of the launch vehicle. "This could be a good use of those boosters. But we have exhausted all of our Kubesat payloads, and there are no government payloads either."

"I doubt the government will let us launch a satellite on a fresh, untested launch vehicle. Lets just launch a dummy payload into orbit and call it a day." I suggested.

"Sure, works for me. Whatever gets out those SRBs outta my territory!" Werhner adjusted his glasses. Then we all broke up for lunch.

The rocket was finally completed, and the 'dummy' payload was integrated to it.

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"Ugh, its ugly!" an engineer cringed when he looked at the rocket.

"Yup, it is. But it is important as well. Get back to your posts!" I hushed him.

"Well, OK, but what should we call it? Absurdium?" Linus the Third whispered.

"Hmm, yeah sure. Its not like this rocket will be a regular launch vehicle for us." I went through the checklist for one final time ," Command, give me a systems check."

"Comms Go."

"GNC Go."

"FIDO Go."

"GUIDANCE Go."

"3,2,1.. Booster ignition, and LIFTOFF!!"

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The absurd rocket lunged into the atmosphere with a very high TWR as all the solid motors fired at once. Soon it disappeared into the night sky, leaving behind a gigantic trail of fire and smoke.

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Soon enough, the motors exhausted themselves and detached from the rocket allowing the second stage to fire. This was the Administrontium's second stage. It worked as smooth as butter, and soon the fairing gave away.

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The dummy payload, was no dummy at all! This was the MOho FLyby Object or The MOFLO!

After setting into a nice steady orbit, the ground crew dispersed for lunch. A few, who had figured out that the payload was not an inert one, stayed behind.

"Mr. Director, are we doing what we think we are doing?" One of the interns asked me nervously.

"Yes, yes we are."

"Where is it heading to? The Mun?" Werhner Jr. asked.

"No, its heading to someplace nothing and no one has been to before." I replied.

"Just so you know, we have no part in this! We wont be held accountable if this turns out to be a disaster!" an engineer shouted.

I calmed them down. "If anything goes astray, I will take the axe, don't worry about it. Now, lets plot the trajectory to Moho!"

Moho being Moho, offered an almost immediate launch window albeit an expensive one.The engines on the little probe fired and soon it became the fastest Kerbal made object ever made.

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Minor course corrections were made and then everyone retired for the day.

Now, all my crew and I could do was to wait for the Moho Intercept. And of course, the summons from the Ministry of Space.

******

And thus in one launch, Nanba violated all the rules that the previous Directors had followed until their retirement. How will all of this play out? Will the Ministry of Space take action against him and the engineers who made the probe? Stay tuned to find out!

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The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 6: Old-timer Mortimer!

It was early morning when the summon from the Ministry of Space eventually arrived. I wont bore anyone with the details, but the letter boiled down to "Explain yourself."

I contacted Kunfaya and other members of my crew if they had received similar summons. They answered in negative, thankfully. I dressed up in the most professional clothes that I could find, and took a deep breath as I headed out to the Ministry of Space HQ.

As soon as I walked into the HQ, two guards surrounded me.They led me to a courtroom. It was nicely furnished, completely out of place with the rest of the building.

It was houseful! No surprises there, a newly appointed, fresh outta Kompton KSC director flouted rules that could incriminate him, maybe send him to jail. What concerned me the most was that Mr. Mortimer wasn't there. Has he ditched me? Maybe, maybe not

I need to keep my faith. I pledged upon the Sacred Book of the Supreme Authority that I would speak the truth, and only the truth sat down on the defendant table.

There were no lawyers to represent me. This was clearly a sham trial. These guys were not in the mood to let me walk out of this courtroom as a free kerb.

"Mr. Nanba Kerman, you are faced with allegations of, let's see, privateering a launch vehicle, improper use of KSC resources, launching of unauthorized payloads and blasphemy. Do you plead guilty?"

"Of course, I plead not guilty. But the bigger question here is: Where are my lawyers? And this was supposed to be a Disciplinary Committee hearing, not a full out trial!" Mr. Mortimer was nowhere to be seen, and I was getting nervous.

"Oh, our lawyers seem to be on leave." The rest if the jury chuckled. "All of them had a major case of flu!"

"Well then, I guess I will have to fight for myself. And you did not answer my question. How did a disciplinary committee hearing turned into a trial?"

"WE will be the ones asking the questions, Mr, Nanba.” The Justicar sneered. “Now coming back to the case, could you please elaborate how you refuse to acknowledge the allegations against you, that have been confirmed by 8 witnesses?"

Huh, 8? There were 12 kerbs in the control room who knew what was happening. If I got out of this in one piece, the first thing I am going to do is identify those 8 ra*****s.

"I.. I did everything that was mentioned, but..."

"So you agree that you violated rules! This makes our case much simpler. Now without further ado, this court, taking into consideration all witness and evidences..."

The courtroom doors were opened by a very pale, quivering bailiff, to reveal a white-suit-and tie Mortimer standing outside the door.  He had a level gaze burned onto the bailiff, but after that further moment he cast his gaze upon the courtroom, and removing his hat walked right up to the judge's table.  The Ministry Justicar who was present to rule opened his eyes in shock.

"What are you- ?!" was all he could say before the elderly Mortimer began his reply.

"Having ASKED me to speak, I hereby invoke the right of Peerage, and being a landholder of the old Empire who was permitted to retain my titles and privileges in exchange for my support of the new Authority, I will now speak my Piece to my Peace."

The Justicar stared slack-jawed.  85% of the room had no clue what Mortimer was talking about, but the Justicar was one of the ones that did.  He closed his mouth and inwardly sighed- he had been called down for a simple disciplinary hearing and termination, and now his morning had just gotten well out of hand.

He was supposed to nod and gesture at this point he recalled, but instead he simply sat back and folded his arms with a just slightly indignant huff.  That was enough for Mortimer though, and he took the floor.

"My Fine, Revered, and Esteemed Space Program Management and Ministers."

"Today you have dragged poor Nanba here to the dock with the intent of restoring your feeble grasp on the perils and risks of the use of space and to re-shackle the hopes of Kerbalkind to the very soils they live in.  No, space was too hard in the past, and loss and tragedy brought and end to flow of funding which supported so many jobs needed only for graft, legacy wealth, and greed.  Far better to be in complete control, eliminate risk as far as possible, and keep the minimized gravy train flowing."

"I could here speak about the Abysmal Failure of the Ministry to uphold Kerbal values.  I could speak about the utter ignorance of the Protocols of Jool, fore-most of which is to commit no act which stifles the mind of another.  I could here speak about the Ministry's willingness to Run a Kerb up the River to protect its existence, ... but I will not."

"Instead I will explain to you why this Court is a mockery of everything it pretends to represent."

"Nanba Kerman was hired not too long ago to be a Manager.  Therefore his objective and accepted responsibility was to uphold the post for which he was hired.  Seeing the deplorable state to which the once-lauded KSC had fallen to, he took the steps he felt were responsibly needed to restore the KSC to an institution that upheld the highest values of Kerbalkind."

"Were regulations violated?  You could say yes.  You could also say, if it was possible for a fledgling manager to circumvent the rules without an obvious violation then the rules put in place before his arrival were grossly lacking in management principle!  This is a symptom of institutional failure and not a violation of operational conduct!!" 

Mortimer bored a hole in the board one by one, and none would withstand his gaze.

He relaxed his vicious visage, and slowly offered the frightening smile that had terrified so many in his shadowy past as a younger kerb.

"Besides, he was actually upholding the exact conditions upon which he was hired."

Mortimer opened the briefcase which he had placed on the table next to Nanba, and took out a sheet of paper.

"When an entire institution is bereft of direction, is it not the responsibility of its manager to take charge of the needed change when so given that directive?  ...my good Justicar, would you please take this- Nanba's contract - and read the final line that is written above his signature?"

The Justicar took the paper hesitantly, restored his glasses to his nose, and looked down.  Drawing air to speak his breath caught, and then he read out, "...and other duties as required."

Mortimer gazed about the room as an eagle eyeing its prey.

"Look in the mirror you asses, and you'll see Nanba did only that."

Mortimer paused a moment more, daring anyone to challenge him, then collected his briefcase and turned his back on the board.

"After you Nanba," and he would not move until Nanba began preceding him down the aisle.

*****

I just sat there, unmoving, just like the rest of the Jury. What was Mortimer even on about? I took his cue and left the courtroom. Mortimer followed me closely.

Once we were out of the room, I could no longer keep in the excitement.

“Holy Mulch, Mortimer!!! What the heck even happened back there?”

“Language! And yes, you must be confused right now, but it’s alright. Only a few of us old kerbs REALLY know what I was talking about. Nevertheless, you are out of hot waters, I am sure. The Magistrate has a good head on his shoulder. For now, just focus on your duties as the director and extract some good data from the Moho Flyby mission.” And just like that, Mr. Mortimer headed back into his car without any further ceremony.

I headed to my office. Now that Mr. Mortimer had my back, I could do whatever I could! Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I surely can rub salt on the Justicar's burns by sending a couple of relays to the Mun!

*****

The Relay Satellites were not that difficult to find. These were proposed a long time ago to allow for missions on the dark side of the Mun. The engineers 3D printed these satellites and soon, these were loaded up on a rocket.

(Speaking of which, I should probably uprate the Administrontium. It’s been the same rocket for the last couple of chapters. Clearly, ripping off a popular author’s rocket naming scheme did not do a lot for me!)

The satellites were ready, and loaded up on an upgraded Administrontium rocket (with extra tanks and engines).

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Those look like strapon boosters, but they aren’t. Those tanks are mechanically fowled to the central tank

The rocket took off, and without a lot of fanfare got into a comfortable 85x85 km LKO.

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Once we aligned with the Mun,the second stage engine fired again. The third stage engine completed the burn after the second stage exhausted itself.

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There was some minor course correction, and after a day,(?) the Relay Satellite Carrier reached the Munar periapsis.

The goal was to put these relay satellites in a resonant orbit. Using a calculation tool  the mathematicians at KSC had already planned how to do so.

There were 4 relay sats that we had to deploy in a 135 x 135 km resonant orbit . For that, we needed to inject the Carrier craft in an orbit which had an orbital period of exactly 1.25 times the orbital period of the target orbit.

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Once such an orbit was established, a relay would be released by the carrier craft at the periapsis. Using its own propulsion, the relay circularized its orbit.

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All four relays were deployed from the carrier craft every time it hit the periapsis and the above procedures were repeated.

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Once all four relays were deployed, the carrier craft engaged its scientific payload and then made a plane change maneuver to a polar orbit. It would now passively study the Mun and gather surface data which could be useful for ‘eventual’ Mun landings.

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Those were a long couple of days! Now, time to hit the bed and watch WebFlix!

 

******

Nanba Kerman got into hot waters, and got out of it as well, thanks to a fierce defense by Mortimer . Now that the ball is in the Ministry's court, what will it do? Allow Nanba to undertake scientific missions? Or will it maintain it's stand and discipline Nanba anyway? Stay tuned to find out more!

 

Edited by Sorabh
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7 hours ago, GarrisonChisholm said:

That is a Gorgeous shot with the fully deployed vehicle over Kerbin.  Bravo!  :)

Thanks! And I see you now have four dots...... I also want four dots...I am jealous.. :D

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The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 7: The Moho Mystique!

My cellphone started blaring his new favourite ringtone, a cacaphony for everyone else, but music to my ears. It was from the assistant to the Magistrate.

"Hello, Nanba Kerman here."

"Hello Director, the Magistrate has agreed to allow scientific launches to other celestial bodies. But for now, keep the mission focussed on the inner planets."

"Eve and Duna will be easier to reach, but will take a long time to do so. Moho has much quicker launch windows, but it's very difficult to get into its orbit."

"I will leave those decisions upto you. And please keep launch costs minimal. Every science launch must be reviewed by an external financial advisor. He/ She will have the power to veto any launch, but within the realms of reason. I will send more details to you over the kmail."

"Yeah sure. But we need to talk more on this subject, I don't like the government intruding in KSC's business in such a blatant manner. And Mortimer won't like it, of that I am sure."

The assistant to the Magistrate let out a sigh, "Ah yes, Mortimer...that kerb...I will need to tell him all about his new 'charge'."

"Yeah, you have fun doing that." I let a malevolent smile creep onto my face as I disconnected the cellphone. It was not all that I asked for, but atleast it was a start.

A soon as I put down the phone, it started blaring up again. This one was from the tracking station.

Apparently, the MOFLO reached it's target!!!

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Oh just look at that chunk of rock, its so beautiful!!!

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The probe slipped past Moho at a very high velocity because of our non optimal Trans-Moho insertion burn. Luckily for us it was only a flyby. We gathered whatever science data that we could

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Before we could even blink, the flyby was over! We gained about 756.2 science from this mission.

Now that the flyby was done, the mission planning for the Moho Orbiter went underway. While reaching Moho was not an issue, capturing into orbit was the biggest issue. Our simulations showed it might take upto 4000 m/s to capture in some unfavorable situation!!

The only way to do this, while not raising a stink from the authorities and a lot of red tape by using a VERY heavy rocket, would be to use electric engines.That will be a little difficult as well. Xenon extraction from Kerbin's atmosphere was banned by the government, as environmental pressure groups opposed 'draining rare Kerbal resources to the void.'

Oh, that Magistrate....He is trying to make my life difficult.

As we seemed to run out of options, I was thinking of making subsequent Moho missions to be flybys. But then Kunfaya came to the rescue!

"Sir, I have something to tell you, but promise you won't get upset!"

"What is it Kunfaya?"

"Xenon mining is banned, but there's no legislation which prohibits argon mining."

"Actually, they considered banning argon mining, but argon is rather plentiful in our atmosphere. Moreover, with the ban on electric engines, there were very less opportunities and motivation for scientists to innovate in argon electric propulsion. For they were afraid their inventions could end up in the trash cans just like the Xenon Engines"

"Yes, true. But when I was in the Kerbal Institute of Improvised Technology, there was this kerbelle who was suspended on the grounds of 'illegal activities'."

"Oh? And you are telling me about her because..."

"Because the illegal activities that she was involved in was the development and testing of electrical engines that used argon! The Dean was an Environmental Maniac and suspended her immediately."

"Wha...argon engines?? Who is this kerbelle? What's her name?"

"Triksha Kerman."

******

It was a desolate house in the middle of nowhere. Clearly designed for mobility, and an independent life support system too, from the looks of it. Clearly, the home of a fugitive.

Kunfaya and I knocked on the door, only to get a huge surprise.

Something hit me on the face, almost knocking me out. As I staggered and fell down on my knees, I heard a weapon cocking.

"None of you BARISes move. Not one inch. You are not taking me back, do you get it??" It was a Kerbelle's voice. But it felt heavy, as if she had endured more than what a kerbelle deserves to.

I raised my hand in a gesture to surrender. "We mean no harm!" I managed to get a squeak out. Luckily for me, Kunfaya snapped out of shock," Triksha, its me, Kunfaya! From KIIT! Remember me!"

A look of recognition flashed across Triksha's face as she lowered the weapon." You were the one who topped the fourth semester, yes, I remember you." Her voice was still steady, unwavering.

"We just came here to talk about a mutual problem. I am Nanba Kerman, Director of KSC, by the way."

"Hmmph..come on in then. But remember, one wrong move and I will turn you BARISes into a lead mine."

Soon we were discussing the present scenario at the KSC. The permission to launch science missions to other planets, difficulties regarding the Moho missions, I laid all my cards on the table.

"So now you need my Argon engines. Heh, the irony. I was incarcerated for those engines, and now the government needs my help." She let out a dry laugh. "Well, I will help you out. But I have my conditions. I want them fulfilled, every last one of them."

" Triksha, we can not promise to fulfill each and everyone of your condition!" Kunfaya retorted.

"Then I guess, its Good Night! Show yourself out." The fugitive scientist got up from her seat and headed to the kitchen. "Oh wait! I can lend you those engines if you grovel in front of me. It would be sooooo Cathartic to see KSC begging me for my tech!"

I turned around, a weary smile on my face. "I am a poor kerb, all I have is my knowledge and my pride. They are not for sale. Thank you for sparing your valuable time for us." I waved a good bye and got out of the house, with Kunfaya following me.

"You still haven't heard my conditions yet, Mr. Director." Triksha called out from behind us.

"Hmmph, please feel free to elaborate."

"I will be the sole supplier of these engines, no big corporations will be allowed to be the subcontractor, especially not the Ionic Symphonic Protonic Electronics!"

"I am listening, please go on."

"Secondly, I want immunity from all the charges that have been wrongfully levied on me, and compensation for my incarceration."

"I will consult my financial advisor. You take care until then."

******

After an extensive discussion with Mr. Mortimer, I finally got that pardon and monopoly for Triksha. Mr. Mortimer wasn't too happy about her getting a monopoly in the electric engine market, and neither was I. So, we included a very tiny clause in the legal document that the pardon and monopoly would be valid as long as she works for KSC and KSC only. The clause was written in a manner that would not be visible to Triksha. I doubt it would be visible, even to seasoned lawyers.

If she doesn't toe the line, then I would simply disassociate KSC from her company, and she would be in for a huuuuge shock!

A few days later, Triksha signed the document, and it was validated by the Council. After acquiring one of her experimental engines and refining it even further, we decided to use it in the next Moho Orbiter. If all went all, we could even use the setup for sample return missions from the inner planets!

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The Moho Orbiter for Scientific Experiments (MOOSE) was launched from KSC on a beautiful dawn.

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Ascent into the clouds. This is so beautiful I will frame this and put it on display in my office!

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Separation of the strapon boosters.

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The core booster soon ran out of juice and was staged, followed by the second stage ignition.

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The second stage completed the circularization burn and the probe was in 85X85km LKO orbit.

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What happens when the photographer tries to be overly artistic..... (Is there a real life rocket which deploys fairings like confetti??)

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The second stage had no juice left, so it was discarded and the TMI stage was activated.

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Turns out we overestimated the amount of fuel needed, as a result we had a lot more delta-v in our insertion stage (about 2000 m/s!!)

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About a 110 days later, the probe reached Moho, and BY KRAKEN WHAT IS THAT MIST???!!!!

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Regardless, the probe was inserted onto Moho orbit. 2 burns were used, the first involving the LFO stage, and the second involving the ion engines.

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The probe was established in an elliptical polar orbit, from where it will keep on observing Moho and produce science.

******

The next day, disaster struck! A Kerbin observing satellites collided with one of those small KubeSats. It was a one in a million chance, considering the fact that both satellites were inclined 90 degrees with respect to each other. What's more, there were no spares for that satellite yet!

A decision was made: Those pesky KubeSats will have to go. A plan was formulated and a time limit of 60 days was imposed on each kubesat. Moreover, the Kubesats should have their own propulsion to deorbit, once the 60 day time limit was over.

For now, we had to repair the broken satellite, or deorbit it if repair proves to be impossible. Also, we had to deorbit all of the kubesats strewn around in LKO.

But for this, machines just won't cut it! It was concluded that krewed presence would be needed in order to fulfill this. We had the ability to transport Krew to orbit, and sufficient studies on this subject had been done a few decades ago. It wouldn't hurt to try!

Thus the mothballed design, Carryminati mk-1 was worked upon, and Cariminati mk-II was born.

******

Thus the first 'Proper' scientific mission was successful. What will this lead to? More probes across the solar system? Maybe, or maybe not, the future is uncertain. And what does the emergence of krewed missions signal? Stay tuned to find out more!

 

Edited by Sorabh

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