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A Home in The Sky

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I - Triumph

Spoiler

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With a tremendous rumble, the Triumph 1 launch vehicle lifted off on its maiden flight. It was the largest private rocket developed to date, developed by the Kerbomax corporation, a merger between Rockomax and Kerbodyne.

Well, technically just the rocket propulsion divisions of the two companies. The original constituent companies had produced mainly military equipment, including notably intercontinental ballistic missiles, along with rockets intended for space exploration. For... Reasons... The rocket propulsion divisions were no longer needed. The plan was to shut down both divisions, but the workers protested. In the end, a compromise was made. Rockomax and Kerbodyne would have nothing to do with the new company. No funding, no contracts, few facilities. Just the over eager workers who loved rockets.

As for why the divisions had been shut down... Well...

===

Throughout the 1960s, tensions between the Socialist Confederation of Kerbal Nations and the Unified Kerbal Provinces were rising rapidly, with no end in sight. In 1962, the Island Airport Missile Crisis significantly increased tensions between the two nations, with one nuclear missile launched towards the UKP. A miracle happened that day, with ace pilot Jebediah Kerman managing to heroically shoot down the missile. Somehow, there was no all-out retaliation, and after that there were de-escalation talks. The talks failed and tensions continued to rise, both nations at their throats.

Both nations attempted to best each other in everything imaginable, including spaceflight. This is where Rockomax and Kerbodyne come in. They both worked together on the massive Jool V rocket, intended to launch Kerbals to the Mun and back. The program experienced a setback in 1966 when the crew capsule for Kerballo 1 caught fire on the launch pad. Fortunately, the three astronauts survived thanks to the quick reaction of the ground crews, although they were left with burns, some major. No major modifications were made to the capsule, mainly just the addition of a fire suppression system. and Kerballo 2 launched with Kerbals on board. Many flights happened. Many of the Jool V flights were far less than successful, and there was major concern about the spacecraft itself.

Nevertheless, on March 30, 1968, Jebediah, Bill, and Bob Kerman strapped themselves into Kerballo 9 and blasted off towards the Moon for the first ever Kerballed lunar landing.

Halfway through their transit to the moon, there was a spark. Like Kerballo 1, the capsule caught fire. The suppression system activated, but the fire had already done its job. All of the oxygen had been rapidly used up, and none of the astronauts had their spacesuits on. All three perished.

The SCKN attempted to take advantage of this failure by launching Alexei and Valentina Kerman towards the moon on the third launch of the massive K-1 rocket. The launch failed and the whole rocket exploded. The launch escape system would have saved their lives, had one of the solid rocket motor casings not failed, causing the breakup of the escape tower...

There were plans to push on with space exploration. However, in August of 1968, the unthinkable happened. In the early morning, 1,000 SCKN nuclear missiles were launched towards the UKP with no warning. The UKP responded likewise, launching a barrage back at the SCKN.

As it turns out, a computer error had led the SCKN to believe that the UKP had launched first, and they believed that they were the ones retaliating. The leaders of the two nations had not spoken for years, but they spoke over phone, realizing their mistake.

Both sides had publicly claimed that the missiles had no self destruct systems, but that was not accurate. The UKPs missiles disarmed and hit the ground with no detonation... Except for three errant missiles, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. The SCKN's missiles detonated high in the atmosphere, wiping out most of the electronics on the entire planet, except for two missiles, which continued on their planned trajectories, also killing hundreds of thousands.

The incident, known as the Doomsday War, sent the world into crisis. Tensions between the two countries increased even higher.

In 1969, the leaders of the two countries met. They did not discuss peace. They did not discuss reparations.

They agreed to an immediate ban on ICBMs and nuclear weapons, and anything deemed more powerful.

This was good news for the world.

There was now no need for long range missiles, and due to the abysmal economic and social state of the world, no need for a manned spaceflight program. Only a few basic launchers were kept around for satellite launches. The rocket propulsion divisions of Kerbodyne and Rockomax were no longer needed.

===

The new company did not have much success at first. Once the reality set in that the work would be hard just to keep the dream of spaceflight alive, many people quit. There was no way they could obtain funding or personnel to build rockets like the Jool V, so they set their sights on simpler goals: A rocket that could be competitive in the satellite launch market.

They could not get the money for this. Given the state of the economy, they couldn't even get money for a spare chair. The company declared bankruptcy in 1970 and the assets were sold off to an anonymous buyer.

Six years later, the world had stabilized significantly. Things were not back to normal, but they were close enough. Tensions were still high, but nothing had come from it. The anonymous buyer attempted to restart Kerbomax. A few dedicated workers showed up, but much of the knowledge on how to build rockets had been lost. The company was able to secure a few investments, however.

In 1979, the Ateli-3 rocket was launched into suborbital space. In 1982, the Peace 2 rocket reached Low Kerbin Orbit with 10 kilograms of soil from all available countries on board. Nobody had a use for a 10 kilogram launcher, however. Kerbomax, still practically on a life support budget, needed a bigger rocket if they ever wanted to be profitable. An investor they got, in the form of Jebediah Kerman's dying father, who wanted to see his son's dream come true.

That brings us to today - July 18, 1985.

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Jebediah Kerman's father had sadly passed away before he could see the launch.

Triumph 1 was powered by an LV-T45 engine with two solid rocket boosters. The second stage was powered by a LV-909. The third stage was a small RCS engine.

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However, the thrust to weight ratio of the first stage affected the guidance software significantly, and the dummy payload did not reach orbit.

Kerbomax had a few satellite launch contracts, but only for after a successful launch. They did not have the money for that second launch.

But this story isn't about Kerbomax. It's about those who bought the second launch.

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January, 1986. The second flight of Triumph, this version called the Triumph 1A. This was he first flight of a boilerplate "Limitless" spacecraft, developed on a shoestring budget by the Starhouse Foundation, a small team of dedicated engineers who had set their sights on long term Kerbal spaceflight. Initially, they existed to try to convince the government to get back into manned spaceflight, but after the tragic Kerballo program, there was pretty much no way they would. The government gave the company a small sum (by government terms) to never bring up the issue again. But the government goofed... They had just unwittingly paid for the beginnings of a new age in space exploration.

With that money, the Starhouse Foundation planned to kickstart the development of a space station, a crewed vehicle, and a resupply vehicle. The initial money would not be enough for even one launch of their planned spacecraft, however, as the government owned launch vehicles were very expensive. The entire project was downsized, to be based off of Kerbomax's Triumph rocket. The money would just barely cover the first unmanned launch of the two man Limitless capsule. After that, the foundation would hopefully receive investor funding to proceed with their plans.

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Limitless Test Flight 1 took a lofted trajectory due to TWR concerns. The first and second stage burns progressed without incident.

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The launch escape system was jettisoned, as was a fairing, revealing Limitless's quite underpowered service module, designed that way to make the spacecraft just under the maximum payload of the Triumph booster.

There was much cheering when the Limitless reached orbit. There was a problem discovered with the fuel flow system, but it wasn't a huge deal.

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After half of an orbit, and several tests, TF-1 was commanded to de-orbit.

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The parachute had been mounted significantly off center, and ended up being far too small for the mission requirements. The capsule splashed down very hard, damaging several critical components, dislodging a few hull panels. It sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

There were numerous flaws uncovered during that mission, the most pressing being that landing was not survivable. This scared away most of the investors, leaving only half of the money required for a second test flight.

When interviewed by the media, Albrecht Kerman, one of the wealthier investors said "I will not sink a single cent into that program unless they can prove that it is safe, and I don't think that will happen."

"And if they make it safe?"

"Then I'll eat my hat. No way crew ever flies on it. If it does I'll fund their next two missions."

So that's how, after much price haggling with Kerbomax, Brent Kerman, the CEO of the Starhouse Foundation, ended up strapping himself into Limitless TF-2.

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This flight was all or nothing. If it didn't work, the project and likely its founder would be dead.

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The ship's life support system was incredibly barebones at this point, little more than modified Scuba gear.

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Brent climbed higher and higher. The Triumph (which had now flown 5 times) perfectly placed the capsule into orbit. This was to be another very quick mission. After only a few dozen minutes in space, the capsule was de-orbited.

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The parachute was now large and mounted inline. It had to be shifted out of the way for the docking port to be used, but it worked.

It was a very hard landing, on land, but it was slow enough for survival.

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"Time to eat that hat, Albrecht!"

 

 

Welcome to my latest mission report! I got carried away with the backstory, there will be brief updates, not as elaborate as the first part.

The save is in version 1.3.1 because I already had the mods loaded. I may update to a recent version as those robotics parts look appealing for what I'm going to be doing, but maybe not.

The purpose of this save is to focus on early space stations and their operational challenges, which will include a lot of EVA, KIS, and KAS. There's only so much obvious stuff you can do with KIS, so any experiment or construction suggestions are encouraged!

I got the inspiration for this after a particularly late night reading articles about the Salyut program.

Enjoy!

 

Edited by Ultimate Steve
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Looks interesting. But Boris? Really? The [political opinions] [bleeeep] [more political opinions] [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeep] [yet more political opinions] [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep]? Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson?

Edited by fulgur
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6 hours ago, fulgur said:

Looks interesting. But Boris? Really? The [political opinions] [bleeeep] [more political opinions] [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeep] [yet more political opinions] [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep]?

I named him before the whole election thing went down, and actually even before I came up with the backstory. At the time he was just another Kerbal.

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II - Anthem

Spoiler

Late 1986. The Space House Foundation was doing fairly well. Including the money from Albrecht, they had enough money for their next three and a half missions. First, they would launch Anthem 1, a resupply ship. Then they would launch Limitless 1 and demonstrate docking, EVA, and basic orbital construction. A very packed schedule. Following those missions, a small space station would be launched.

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Anthem 1 launched in November, 1986.

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The vessel was successfully placed in a roughly 150x150km orbit.

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Two weeks later, Limitless 1 launched with a crew of two. Everything went well until part of the way through the second stage burn.

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Due to a miswired separator, the joint between the third and second stages lost structural integrity and the launch escape system was fired.

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It hadn't ever been tested before due to lack of funds, but fortunately it worked, although the two astronauts on board were very disappointed to not be going to space.

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Fortunately, the landing sequence went very well.

Unfortunately, the Starhouse Foundation only had enough money left for one and a half missions, and public opinion was at an all-time low, Limitless 1 had been the first widespread space launch failure since the Kerballo era. Many investors who may have invested in the future cut all ties with Starhouse.

To make matters worse, Kerbomax had grounded the Triumph lifter in order to find the cause of the accident. The Anthem 1 was not designed for long term spaceflight, and it would likely be months before any mission could reach it. The engineers did their best to put the vessel into hibernation, as everyone knew they could not afford to launch another one.

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The return to flight mission, Limitless 2, launched in May of 1987, carrying the same two astronauts. This was the last mission that Starhouse had funding for, so it was crucial that things go right.

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Despite Limitless's rather limited supply of RCS fuel (the name is sadly not appropriate in this context) the crew managed to dock to the hibernating Anthem 1. However, attempts to reactivate it failed, and hatch opening was not attempted. All of the parts would be used on EVA.

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One of the first things the two astronauts did was build areas for them to hold onto. After that, they began assembling a solar panel boom. 

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They noted that the boom was shielding them from the sun, so they elected to place the remaining solar panels below the first ones to increase the effect.

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After assembly tests on antennas and fuel tanks had been done, it was time to attempt to move a prototype life support package around. These packages carried life support supplies, enough to support a crew of two for three months.  Space could be used more efficiently in the future.

Unfortunately, the astronauts lost it and it drifted away.

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More and more stuff was attached to the ungainly looking Anthem 1, including an experiment using fuel pipes to link craft together.

Eventually, everything that could be attached was. It would be negligent to leave such a mass in orbit, especially the 150km orbit where Skyhouse planned to launch its stations to. The crew re-entered Limitless 2. Anthem's engine was inoperable, so Limitless's engine was used to de-orbit the whole assembly.

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One continent got a spectacular light show.

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The crew successfully splashed down after an incredibly successful mission!

Shortly afterwards, the Anthem program was cancelled.

It was simply too expensive. Resupply flights to Skyhouse's initial stations would not need that much volume, and what they did need wouldn't require an entire Triumph.

A few investments had come in after Limitless 2, but in the wake of Limitless 1, it wasn't all that much. Nevertheless, it was enough to pursue a scaled down version of the already scaled down plan.

The money would pay for the next two launches, which were planned to be the first prototype space station, and Limitless 3. However, without a way to launch experiments to the station, there was little value in launching it in the first place. A smaller rocket would be needed.

Fortunately, there were plenty of old decommissioned ICBMs lying around.

 

 

 

Edited by Ultimate Steve
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III - Rainbow

Spoiler

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Early August, 1987. The launch of Rainbow 1, the world's first ever space station. Originally, it was to be called Halo 1, but that was sadly already trademarked.

A halo would symbolize a ring around Kerbin, never ending. Technically rainbows were circular, but the imagery of starting at the ground and arcing back over into the ground was not promising to say the least.

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Fortunately, Rainbow 1 was successfully orbited. It featured a service module similar to the one on Limitless, enough RCS to turn, and, rather optimistically, five docking ports.

Next up, the first flight of Melody, a small resupply vessel.

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Only a few days after Rainbow, a refurbished ballistic missile launched out of a silo. This missile type is known only as "Peregrine" by the public. The official designation is still classified.

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The first and second stages are solid fueled, the first stage being steered by gimbal and the second stage by RCS. The third stage is monopropellant.

Here we can see the Melody 1 vehicle. It has another Limitless-like service module and a small payload bay and a docking port.

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A few minutes later, Melody 1 was successfully docked!

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In late August, Limitless 3 launched, again with two astronauts.

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The launch went off without a hitch, and the crew soon docked to the top docking port of Rainbow 1.

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The crew quickly set up shop and began an EVA to set up many important science experiments - The experiments that would pay for the next missions.

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A large panel was attached to the Starboard side of the station, which would house current and future science experiments. A few Kerbin Observation experiments were attached, as was an antenna. A boom on the backside of the station was set up for solar panel mounting in the future.

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The big budget item, however, was an experiment provided by the Air Force, a space debris capture experiment, according to the official story... A harpoon was attached to the experiment rack and a plate was ejected from the side. It began to drift the wrong direction, but one of the astronauts corrected it. The operator inside the station fired the harpoon.

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The experiment was a complete success, although reeling the harpoon back in was a tad risky.

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This series of missions had been a smashing success. Melody 1 had served its purpose and was de-orbited.

Rainbow 1 had enough life support on board for up to 90 days of continuous occupation. However, as the longest time spent in space so far was significantly less than a month, the first mission was not planned to be up there that long, although mission length was flexible. Life support could be restocked, but fuel could not, as the station was not designed with refueling in mind.

Of course, that was if something critical didn't break first. The station had been having minor technical issues since day one, and the cooling system was proving to be particularly finicky.

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Early September, 1987. The launch of Melody 2 with more construction supplies and experiments.

The lid of the silo was ejected (upper right).

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Small engines were fired to clear the silo.

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Those engines were ejected, and then Peregrine's main engine lit up, sending Melody 2 skyward.

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The previous mission had paid for itself and a bit more, so on this mission more space was given to cargo, particularly assembly of a larger solar panel array, as various systems were drawing more power than anticipated.

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Two additional earth facing experiments were deployed, as was an onboard camera. An exterior indicator light was also added for navigation purposes.

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The Air Force was satisfied with the results of their past experiment, and had ordered another, this time with a better release mechanism. They also sent up another winch for testing.

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Unfortunately, the harpoon missed and precariously bounced back and forth, threatening the station. After the harpoon was collected, an astronaut went over and reset the plate for another try, from a far closer range.

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This time around, it was successful, with a very accurate hit.

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The crew, at this point, had been in space for just over a month, and living in space was proving to be a promising aspect, but the station's exercise equipment was far from adequate. The cooling system was breaking down more and more frequently. Various improvised fixes piled up on top of each other.

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In Early October, Melody 3 was sent up with a plethora of replacement parts, equipment, and experiments.

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3 of the 5 docking ports were now occupied.

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The crew had now been in space for nearly two months and were scheduled to return home soon. This mission's goal was to prepare the station for a possible second crewed mission, and the station's eventual de-orbit.

One of the first things attached was a dockable life support extension module, carrying another 90 days worth of supplies. How it fit in the container is questionable, but I guess it does.

A further two experiments were launched on this mission, a record low, as there wasn't quite as much market for that sort of stuff as it was thought. Three more antennas were attached as well, and additionally, a container mounting point. The plan was to disassemble one of the Melody spacecraft and use the payload section as permanent storage for the station.

There was also a fuel vent for the service module, to drain fuel before re-entry.

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The payload module was successfully detached from Melody 3 and attached to the station.

However, disaster struck when Melody 3 was undocked.

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It had been incorrectly attached and was ejected quickly with a loud bang, narrowly missing other delicate equipment like solar panels.

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To make matters worse, Melody 3's port was now stuck on the station's port. Another port had been converted to a winch holder, as that port was unusable because of the solar panel array. That meant that the station now only had three operational docking ports, maybe even two because the life support package took up one.

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At this point, desite the crew's best efforts, the cooling system conked out again, and this time it looked like it was for good. The crew rushed to complete their mission. Melody 2 was undocked and sent into Kerbin's atmosphere.

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The main engine was fired up, altering the station's orbit as part of a quick test.

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Limitless 3 undocked. There were many malfunctions in the capsule as well, but at least the capsule had flight heritage... It was faring better than the station, but that's not saying much.

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Fortunately, the heat shield had stood up to the harsh environment of space remarkably well.

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And after 64 days in space, the two astronauts had returned safely to Earth!

Despite the hiccups, the first mission to Rainbow 1 was remarkably successful in many ways... But one of those ways was not financially. The Starhouse Foundation made money or at least broke even on each Melody launch, but the profits did not cover the launched of Limitless 3 and Rainbow 1. The Foundation was nearly broke once more, having a little over half of the required money for Limitless 4.

Many were concerned that Limitless 4, launching to Rainbow 1, would be an exercise in futility. The station was falling apart, and who knew if the computers would even be online after the months it would take to prepare Limitless 4. In an ideal world, the Rainbow 2 station would be launched before Limitless 4, but there was simply no money for that.

A new stream of revenue was needed.

"Hey there, Brent."

"Oh, hi.. How did you get this number? And who are you?"

"Oh, I have my sources... My name is Dennis Kerman."

"Dennis Kerman? As in the multimillionaire investor Dennis Kerman?"

"Yes, that's me!"

"Oh, fantastic! I think you have the wrong number if you're looking for our investment office - "

"Oh, I'm sorry, but I'm not calling about investing in space."

"Oh." Brent's face fell.

"I'm calling about going to space."

 

 

 

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IV - Dennis

Spoiler

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December 1987. Limitless 4 launches, with one pilot and one Dennis inside. The ascent is rougher than usual thanks to the cold winter air.

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One by one the stages fall away, and Dennis got his first view of Kerbin from above.

He instantly knew that it was worth the price of the trip.

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Dennis had originally proposed a short couple days in orbit, much of that at Rainbow 1. However, given the state of the station, the Foundation had managed to discourage him from that and settle for just orbit.

However, with the way finances worked out, and what Dennis was willing to pay, the Foundation would be better off with a docking. However, nobody could enter the station without substantial repairs to the life support systems on board. At the price point of all the work required to get the station functioning decently again, it would have almost made more sense to launch a whole new station.

So, instead, the plan was to shut almost everything on the station off and use Limitless 4's life support systems. However, the big problem was the cooling system, and Limitless 4 wasn't up to the task of cooling the entire station. The whole unit couldn't be replaced either, as the components wouldn't fit in or out of the airlock.

So a temporary replacement unit would be pretty much just slapped onto the side of the station, in hopes that it would work. This would be launched by Melody 4, launching the day after Limitless 4.

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However, it lost control on ascent, managing to recover, but on an extremely low trajectory.

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The RCS could barely keep the second stage straight.

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But the spacecraft prevailed and successfully reached the station.

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At this point, the two space travelers were still in the capsule, as it was unwise to enter the station. The astronaut, a veteran of Limitless 2 (the mission to the Anthem resupply vehicle), went EVA in an attempt to install the new cooling system.

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A few harrowing hours later, and after some especially harrowing cuts into the station's hull, the system was powered up. It was clunky, but it worked.

A few hours later, the temperature had stabilized, and the crew entered the station. Dennis was definitely not impressed by the ramshackle interior, but he knew he wouldn't be. He was excited, though... He was floating around in space, inside a piece of history nonetheless! He was the fourth person ever to inhabit a space station, the first space station ever!

The mission was only scheduled to be five days long, and two of those were already up. After a rest, the next order of business was experimentation. There was a magnetometer, and another Air Force funded experiment.

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This experiment had two main goals. The first was to test the deployment of a microsatellite from the station. The second was to test the harpoon on a live satellite and not just a metal panel.

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Both tests were extremely successful.

The rest of day 3 and the start of day 4 were spent readying the station for long term unmanned observations. Nobody in their right mind would pay to put a magnetometer on a station that would be shut down days after installation.

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On day 4, the station was lowered for another test.

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A decoupler and a cubic strut were attached to the ejection platform. If all went well, due to the lower orbit, upon ejection the strut would enter the atmosphere and return to Kerbin.

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And that, it did.

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After that, the station was sent back up to its operation altitude, now fairly low on fuel.

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The crew took a rest. Right after they woke up, Melody 4 was undocked and sent back to Kerbin.

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And then, after many farewells, on Day 5, Dennis and the pilot left the station, after putting it into hibernation mode.

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Dennis got out of the capule, stretched, and looked around, then upwards.

"Holy Pol, I... I was up there!"

Dennis made a vow to go back someday... Someday when finances permitted. The trip had taken a substantial chunk out of his net worth, and his company's future was not looking the brightest...

The Starhouse Foundation now thought that they could make enough money on tourism flights to launch Rainbow 2. However, just two days after Limitless 4 touched down, a prominent news channel aired a piece on Rainbow 1, and how it fell apart. It was scathing. This knowledge propagated across the country, and dissuaded the few would-be space tourists from signing up. The Foundation was nearly broke again, until Brent got another call.

"Hello, this is Brent Kerman."

"Greetings, Brent. My name is General Wilfrey Kerman."

"General Wilfrey?"

"Yes. Your tests of our satellite grappling system have gone exceptionally well."

"Grappling system... I knew it was more than just a debris catcher!"

"Hush. That remains confidential for now."

"Are you here about another test?"

"Of sorts. We have exhausted the utility of our Rainbow 1 test rig. As you know, we had inquired into a more advanced test rig to be incorporated into Rainbow 2."

"Yes... I believe you know this already, but work on Rainbow 2 is currently suspended."

"Correct. We have elected to skip the second phase of our testing and skip straight to phase 3, and we plan to test more military technologies in space."

"Meaning?"

"We will pay for the development and launch of Rainbow 2, two Limitless missions including one Air Force pilot, and three Melody missions." Brent's jaw dropped.

"Sir... Thank you sir. Thank you so - "

"It is Christmas, Brent. But we have some conditions. Rainbow 2 will need to be modified to support the tests required."

"What sort of modifications?"

"Numerous, we are sending you a list. But the number one change is that Rainbow 2 will have to be launched into a polar orbit."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ultimate Steve
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2 hours ago, Kerballing (Got Dunked On) said:

Actions! Funness!

 

Please tell me this isn't what's taking your focus from Voyage, is it?

It might be a small part of it. The big part of it is irl stuff. Despite it being a break I had a ton of stuff going on. However the college applications struggle is mostly over and now I have to start with the scholarships struggle...

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V - Spearfisher

Spoiler

May 1988, five months after the Foundation's previous mission.

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The improved Rainbow 2 station launches from KSC.

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The ascent was nominal and orbit was achieved.

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The station had a number of improvements over Rainbow 1. There were numerous improvements to the interior systems, especially the cooling system. The integrated solar panels were much larger and hopefully wouldn't need expansion. But the most striking changes were to the rear of the station. The tiny Limitless derived service module had been replaced with a bulky purpose built one, which featured many RCS tanks, batteries, reaction wheels, a control system, and a large antenna for communication. One of the most important changes was the addition of a small amount of rear habitation space, including a sixth docking port at the rear of the station.

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Weeks later, the first crew (2 civilian pilots) were launched to the station.

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Polar orbits necessitated longer rendezvous times and more aggressive maneuvers, and this mission took the two crew higher above Kerbin than any previous mission by the Starhouse Foundation.

Unfortunately, the rendezvous was not nominal.

Limitless 5 began braking too late, and rammed into Rainbow 2 with significant velocity.

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There were visible cracks in the station, and one of the solar panels on Limitless 5 was broken.

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After a few frantic minutes, the crew docked with the forward port on the station. The news was not good. The station had completely depressurized following the collision. It could not be entered, and repair to a pressure vessel had never been done in space before. The next mission also had a mandatory air force payload on board, so there was little room in the next Melody for a patch kit.

However, with some creative engineering, both payloads were squeezed into the rocket.

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This came at a cost, however. The fairing needed to be drastically flattened in order to fit in the silo. The rocket nearly spun out of control several times during ascent.

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After the docking, one of the crew on board quickly went on EVA.

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He had two goals, attempt to patch the leak and inspect the heat shield of Limitless 5.

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The plate originally intended for experiments had to be used in the patch job, so the experiments were mounted there.

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Fortunately, the heat shield was found to be in good shape. An additional antenna was installed as well.

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The station pressurized up to operating pressure. Two days later, after many tests were made, the crew finally entered the station and set up much of the equipment. There was much rejoicing on the ground!

At this point, Melody 5 was empty and was detached from the station. The crew then docked Limitless 5 to a device known as the Spearfisher. The original intention was to ship it up in Melody 5 and assemble it in orbit, but the patch kit meant that it had to be put on top of Melody 5. Nevertheless, it was at the station, as a continuation of the Air Force's early experiments, only this time, experiments would not be against metal plates or dummy satellites. The crew would attempt to grapple Melody 5, which had been put into hibernation mode and given some spin to simulate a complete but mostly dead spacecraft.

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On the first shot, both harpoons missed the target. The harpoons were carefully winched back in.

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On the second shot, both harpoons made contact.

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The alignment was so good that the two spacecraft actually managed to dock, although it was not planned.

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Limitless 5 went back to Rainbow 2 and Melody 5 was de-orbited. While Rainbow 2 had gotten off to a very rocky start, the Spearfisher space junk capture system had a successful test. According to Starhouse, future plans included employing the system to clean up the 150km equatorial orbital band, which contained quite a bit of debris from Anthem 1 and Rainbow 1.

That was the official, story, at least.

Soon, Spearfisher would be put through another, much more demanding mission... Only this time, it would not be up against a dead friendly spacecraft.

It would be up against a dead enemy spacecraft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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