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Upscaled Space Exploitation Commission - Preparing for Ground


Captain Sierra
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Chapter 1

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Humble Beginnings

Investor facility tour, 1/7/2021

Greetings investors! We here at U.S.E.C. are thrilled to introduce you to our operations. Chartered in 2019 under the United Kerbin Space Alliance, we specialize in extraplanetary construction & long-term operations in the most extreme, distant, hostile environments known to kerbal. Here at the start of 2021, we are proud to announce the completion of a major milestone in our Phase 1 program: the Mu Gateway space station. In addition to Mu Gateway reaching operational readiness, SAR satellites have been busily returning natural resource data from both of Kerbin’s planetary children.

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The Mu Gateway includes upgrade plans as part of the Luna program to support onsite resource operations. Up to 12 crew members can live in relative comfort aboard the station, enabling easy rotation with ground operations. The station includes room for raw material stowage and connections for fuel & processing modules on the underside of the Industrial Expansion Displacement- … yes? Oh… I see. Right away Ma’am. *ahem* Corporate has asked me to inform you, investors, that the module has been renamed to Industrial Extension Truss, and that the individual responsible for the initials “I.E.D.” has been sacked. The truss features two couplings on its underside. We currently pan to seat fuel storage and resource processing equipment in these positions in support of orbit-to-surface transit.

Primary attitude correction, thermal rejection, and electrical generation are all provided by the Service Utility Module, with the science lab receiving its own onboard auxiliary power. Habitation is provided by a rigid-wall module adjacent the command module and by inflatable living space attached to the main hub. The station currently orbits at 240 kilometers above the rocky surface and is prepared to receive crew at once.

 

Our Satellites

In addition to our crown jewel orbiting our nearest celestial neighbor, we have three operational satellites in two proven patterns deployed to our moons. Our autonomous operations provide communication relay & natural resource scanning via synthetic aperture radar.

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The Archangel (center, left) mapping satellites have already returned valuable terrain data on both Mun and Minmus and identified a number of promising deposits of natural resources using powerful synthetic aperture radar. Paired narrow-band transmitters provide low-power, high-bandwidth communications to download scan data from anywhere in Kerbin orbit, and an included boost stage provides roughly 1,670 meters per second of delta-V, in addition to the vehicle's onboard fuel supplies of 1,220 meters. With upgrades to the communications hardware planned and additional sensors in development, the Archangel spacecraft will continue to be a U.S.E.C. staple for the rest of the decade.

The smaller, lighter weight ComStar vehicle has a storied history.  Over 500kg lighter than an Archangel bus, the smaller ComStar vehicle is purpose-built for relay operations around Kerbin's moons. A smaller thruster and smaller onboard tanks provide 770 meters per second of delta-V, in addition to the upper stage it launches on. No boost stage is packaged with the vehicle, which resulted in range limitations of initial launches. Both ComStar 1 and 2 failed to insert into acceptable munar orbits and had to be terminated. ComStar 3, in conjunction with relay antennas aboard the Mu Gateway, services the far side of Mun.

 

Thank you everyone for visiting  our facilities. U.S.E.C. would like to remind all investors, current and prospective, that any information not included in marketing or promotional materials, official press releases, and legal filings is considered confidential. Thank you for your time. If you have any questions, please direct them to our fundraising director.

 

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Hi guys, editor here. These quote blurbs will be my (not-so-)little out-of-universe commentaries on whatever's relevant at the time. This time it'll be answering the burning questions of "what is this?" and "Why should I care?"

This is a hard-mode install based on Sigma Dimensions (2.5x upscale), Outer Planets Mod, and Realistic Atmospheres. That's enough to force even a veteran like me to have to relearn a lot of knowledge we take for granted. Its still the same rocket science it was before but the distances are bigger, orbits are higher, and speeds are faster. This is KSP without mercy. Without any modification to stock balance, this scale is approaching Realism Overhaul levels of difficulty, just with less complexity. (3.2x I believe is pretty much 1:1 with RO in terms of payload fraction to orbit.) The universe-altering mod combination in use can be brutal at times. Duna's atmosphere is thinned out so severely that aerobraking & capture is a razor's edge between still ejecting from the gravity well or smacking the ground at supersonic speeds. Eve's sea-level pressure is a crushing 10 atmospheres that will choke out every single rocket engine available, making a return launch genuinely impossible from all but the highest peaks. Tylo now possesses an atmosphere.

And I, not being one to know when to stop, have opted to put not just probes, not just flags, not even just stations around all of these worlds, but bases. I won't pretend some of these outposts won't be rather small, Pol doesn't deserve much more than that, but they will still be larger & heavier than any reasonable lander. Of course, all these worlds will be mine except Eve. I dare not attempt any landing there. I won't cast away kerbals to be infinitely stranded on that abysmal purple rock.

Its not all doom & gloom. Because of the sheer insanity of manned missions to the outer planets in a rescaled environment, we have some tools to assist us: bigger & better nuclear thermal propulsion, plasma electric engines, fission pulse thrusters, and fusion torch engines to take the cake. When a colony mission to Urlum takes 28 km/s of delta-V, you've exceeded the capacity of even plasma electric engines. But the infrastructure needed to fuel these monstrosities is monumental. Six thousand kg of helium-3 isn't going to mine itself! The engineering, architecture, infrastructure, and flight planning necessary is a step above anything I've ever done and you, dear reader, get to come along for the ride.

I hope you enjoy the in-universe corporate-speak style I went for, because its not going away anytime soon. Deal with it! :P The first posting is mostly catch-up on what exists in the save so far, and will also host the table of contents later. I have the next major project already on the drafting tables, so expect to see an engineering breakdown of that coming real soon!

 

Edited by Captain Sierra
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Chapter 1

Preparing for Ground

Investor briefing, 1/13/2021

Greetings investors! Before we begin, I am proud to present our new and improved brand! The marketing team is quite pleased with it.

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Now with the trimmings out of the way, allow me to get into today’s briefing. In the past week U.S.E.C. has successfully conducted two launches from our complex at Shepard Cape, including a vehicle from our new Very Heavy Launch Platform constructed at pad 17A. Able to support upwards of 800 tons, the pad easily handled the launch of our planned expansion modules for the Mu Gateway, which you may remember. Massing just under 445 tons on the pad, with 367 tons of kerosene fuel & liquid oxygen aboard, this launch vehicle is the largest launch vehicle assembled for U.S.E.C. to date.

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Carried on the launch is empty tank storage and fuel refining equipment to complete the refueling capabilities of the gateway. These two units will be fitted to the underside of the Industrial Extension Truss. Fitting the Mu Gateway with its refueling capability is an important step to the second major milestone of Phase 1: surface resource operations. In further support of this goal has demanded the development of reusable surface to orbit transport around the moon. Mun gravity is 1.63 m/s/s with approximately 850 m/s horizontal velocity required to maintain stable low orbit. A minimum capacity of 6 crew members was requested in the design requirements handed over to our Spacecraft Design Committee. Allow me to hand it over to SDC for the next few minutes.

Spacecraft Engineering

Reusability on spacecraft adds extra considerations, as well as rendezvous and docking with a station that’s considerably above low orbit. We opted to use a side saddle tank configuration in later models in order to shorten the vehicle and reduce tip over. Increased stability allowed several other reductions to save mass, all of which saves fuel. Fuel savings are good for a single trip mission but become exponentially more valuable for repeated trips. The product of all these considerations is the Armstrong Munar Surface Vehicle.

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This vehicle is able to service surface installations with +/- 20 degrees latitude, making the landing and return to orbit without refueling. For higher latitudes, it is not possible to fly round-trip without a refuel on the internal fuel load of 2,314 m/s delta-V. The thrust/mass ratio is rather low, only producing half a g of acceleration, but is sufficient for the low gravity environment. Less engine power allows finer control over the descent and reduces engine mass on the final vehicle.

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While effective and reliable, this vehicle lacks amenities like autonomous flight control or communications. Its entirely reliant on manual piloting. In-universe I attribute this to being a hurried design. It totally wasn't a design I spent all of 40 minutes on.

In addition to transport, the team has been designing surface assets and a base modularity scheme. The first draft of this scheme has been incorporated into the modules for this first base, which we are tentatively calling Luna. Below is a schematic for the drone core unit. It includes thermal control, solar power generation, electro-chemical fuel cells, fuel reserves, and communications hardware. It is fully autonomous and self-propelled via the onboard fuel stores. If the core is not central to a base, it can be refueled, launched, and relocated with ease. The other engineers are quite pleased with it.

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Other modules are still in integration testing, ensuring their thermal management & electrical systems will operate within margin. That’s all we have here at SDC.

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By "still in integration testing" I mean both fighting to balance thermal demands, and that the post-processing on these blueprint images is a pain to do. Do not expect too many of them too often.

 

On behalf of all our investors, big thanks to the SDC team for taking the time. I’m sure you will all be happy to know that the fruits of their labor have already been deployed. The Armstrong lander vehicle was launched from pad 23 just a day after the gateway expansion modules.

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The vehicle, along with the first long-term crew for the Mu Gateway, has safely docked. The crew is slated for a two-month rotation and will watch much of the construction efforts of Luna Base from up on high. The only remaining milestones for the gateway station is transport of raw materials & fuel supplies. Gateway will likely not maintain its own transports, but several will be operating around Mun at any given time at the completion of Phase 1.

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We would like to thank our partners at Kerbodyne Aerospace. Kerbodyne Aerospace produces many of our launch vehicles on-demand to cater to various mission payloads. U.S.E.C. is planning to develop an in-house line of standardized launch vehicles in the near future, but we are currently dedicating all of our resources towards developing a reliable surface construction system.

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So today was a little light on actual missions. There's a couple of reasons for that. One is that designing a surface base & infrastructure that's meant to last is time-consuming. The other is that I just haven't had a surplus of time to fly missions. The photo editing on those blueprints took a couple hours. :P Kronal Vessel Viewer is great, but there's a lot of work to do after snapping a green screen image to process into a nice blueprint.

I'm planning on getting a more standard launch vehicle put together if I'm to keep showing them. Its more realistic that way. I'm never 100% sure on how to balance things, like realism & gameplay, or technical details & pretty screenshots.

Edited by Captain Sierra
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