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America Rising

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Game Mode: Science Sandbox. Jingoist mode; on. 

 

Table of Contents

Chapter One - The First Steps
Missions 1-5: Explorer 1, Vanguard 1, Explorer 2, Pioneer 1, SCORE
Missions 6-10: Vanguard 2, Corona KH-1-9001, Explorer 3, Transit 1, Big Joe 1
Missions 11-15: Vanguard 3, Explorer 4, Pioneer 2, TIROS 1, Corona KH-1-9002
Missions 16-20: Transit 2-SOLRAD 1, Courier 1, Pioneer 3, Corona KH-1-9003, Explorer 5
Missions 21-25: Mercury 1, Explorer 6, Corona KH-5-9004, Mercury 2, Explorer 7
Missions 26-30: Ranger 1, Mercury 3, Corona KH-5-9005, Ranger 2, Mercury 4

Chapter Two – Aiming Higher
Missions 31-35: OSO 1, Corona KH-4-9006, Ranger 3, Mercury 5, Mercury 6
Missions 36-40: Pioneer 4, Corona KH-4-9007, Mercury 7, Telstar 1, Ranger 4
Missions 41-45: Mariner 1, Mercury 8 MML, Corona-KH-4-9008, Alouette 1, Gemini 1
Missions 46-50: Ranger 5, Ranger 6, Gemini 2, Corona-KH-4-9009, Relay 1
Missions 51-55: Gemini 3, Explorer 8, Syncom 1, Explorer 9, Corona KH-4-9010
Missions 56-60: ATDA 1, Gemini 4, Gemini 5, Mariner 2, Telstar 2

Chapter Three – A Home in Space
Missions 61-65: Syncom 2, Corona-KH-4-9011, Dyna-Soar-0, Explorer 10, Syncom 3
Missions 66-70: MOL (Pegasus), Gemini 6 (Pegasus 1), Saturn SA1 (MOL 2), Corona KH-7-9012, Nimbus 1
Missions 71-75: GATV 1, Gemini 7, OGO 1, Ranger SD-1, Gemini 8 (Pegasus 2)
Missions 76-80: Saturn SA2 (MOL 3), Corona KH-7-9013, Mariner 3, Mariner 4, Dyna-Soar-1
Missions 81-85: Transit3-SOLRAD-2, Quill-1, GATV 2, Gemini 9 (Blue Gemini-1), Intelsat 1
Missions 86-90: Corona KH-7-9014, Mariner 5, Gemini 10 (Pegasus 3), Saturn SA3 (MOL 4), Relay 2

Chapter Four – An American Moon
Missions 91-95: LES-1, Dyna-Soar-2, OGO 2, IDCSP 1 (IDCSP-1 to 8), Gemini 11 (Pegasus 4)
Missions 96-100: Saturn SA4 (MOL 5), Corona KH-7-9015, Gemini 12, Hugin, Surveyor 1
Missions 101-105: Saturn SA5 (Apollo 0), OAO 1, Munar Orbiter 1, Gemini 13, Surveyor 2
Missions 106-110: Corona KH-7-9016, Gemini 14 (Pegasus 5), Munin, Explorer 11, Apollo 1
Missions 111-115: Hitchhiker 1, IDCSP 2 (IDCSP 9 to 16), Apollo 2, Surveyor 3, Corona KH-8-9017
Missions 116-120: Gemini 15 (Pegasus 6), Munar Orbiter 2, IDCSP 3 (IDCSP-17 to 19), Biosat 1, Apollo 3

Chapter Five – In Space to Stay
Missions 121-125: Nimbus 2, Intelsat 2-1 and 2-2, Strawman 1, Apollo 4, Surveyor 4

 

 

Launch 1: Explorer 1 / Jupiter LV1 
Mission: World's First Satellite. Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbit Information: 643km x 155.5km, 32.6 deg inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Explorer 1 - Twin Geiger counters. Manufactured by JPL for ABMA.

The World's First Satellite was launched by a three-stage Jupiter rocket developed under the supervision of Werhner Von Kerman of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA). The first stage consisted of the Army's Jupiter IRBM while the second consisted of 11 Sergeant solid rockets arranged in a crown. This bundle boosted a final stage of a single Sergeant rocket mated to the Explorer 1 science payload into orbit. 

The political background that led to the launch is a storied event, but can be summarized as the result of Presidential intervention on the inter-service rivalry that erupted between the United States Army, Air Force, and Navy on the development and future of American rocketry. Each service proposed their own vision of the future and asked for the funding to make it possible. In the end the Army won the prize of launching the World's first satellite.

It must be stated that Von Kerman had originally pitched to launch the first satellite as soon as kerbally possible using the less capable, but available Redstone rocket and a three-stage arrangement of Sergeant rockets. He had been denied, as the President sided with the Army on further development of space launch vehicles and wanted it "done right" using the more powerful Jupiter rocket. Readings from the Explorer satellite would show the existence of two separate bands of higher radiation in orbit, now known as the Van Kerman radiation belts. Explorer would provide radiation data until its batteries depleted.
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Launch 2: Vanguard 1 / Jupiter LV2 
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbit Information: 895km x 248km, 33.8 deg inclination.
Payload: Vanguard 1 - Temperature sensor, and radio transmitter. Manufactured by NRL.

In light of the decision not to develop the Navy's proposed Vanguard rocket, the Army agreed to orbit NRL's satellite series. Vanguard was the first use of the four-stage arrangement of the Jupiter launch vehicle. In this configuration, the 11 Sergeant rocket crown would detach itself from a three Sergeant stage, before terminating with a single Sergeant and the Vanguard 1 payload. Unlike the Explorer, a decoupler was used to detach Vanguard to orbit alone after the rocket was depleted. Vanguard itself took initial orbital temperature readings and had a repeating transmitter which was used to in an effort to correlate the size and shape of Kerbin. Vanguard was the first satellite with small solar panels which allowed it to recharge its batteries.
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Launch 3: Explorer 2 / Jupiter LV3
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit. Classified military secondary mission.
Orbit Information: 930km x 114km, 49 deg inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Explorer 2 - Twin Geiger counters. Manufactured by JPL for ABMA.

Explorer 2 was the second launch using the Jupiter four-stage arrangement. This allowed Explorer 2 to reach a higher orbit than its predecessor. Publicly the satellite was used to reinforce the discovery of the Van Kerman radiation belts and provided a second series of data in which to map the radiation belts. Secretly, Explorer 2 was also used to detect radiation levels in space as part of Operation Argus. During the operation, a nuclear warhead was detonated at high altitude to measure the Christofilos effect. Explorer 2 continued to send back data until its batteries depleted.
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Launch 4: Pioneer 1 / Jupiter LV4-Able 1
Mission: First space probe to encounter and orbit the Mun. Scientific experiment probe to high Mun orbit.
Orbit information: 1.69 Mm x 1.44Mm, 11.6 degree inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Pioneer 1 - Infrared television camera, Geiger counter. Manufactured by Space Technology Laboratories for ABMA.

The Jupiter-Able rocket was the first of what could be called a traditional two-stage rocket. Able was derived from the second stage of what would have been the Navy's Vanguard rocket.  In cooperation the two branches had worked to mate Able with Jupiter.  

After being placed into a 100km orbit, the Able transit stage was fired and hurled Pioneer towards the Mun. The probe hibernated during transit due to its limited power supply. After crossing the sphere of influence, the last of the transit stage's fuel was depleted and the solid rockets mounted on the probe were used to circularize its orbit. After taking initial temperature readings, the IR imaging scan was operated until the power supply was exhausted. The fuzzy images it provided were the first ever glimpse of the Farside of the Mun.
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Launch 5: SCORE / Atlas B LV1
Mission: First communications satellite. Communication relay satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbit Information: 645km x 80km, 32.3 deg inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment - Twin antenna relays and dual tape recorders for store and forward transmission capable of messages up to four minutes long. Manufactured by the US Army SRDL for ARPA.

SCORE represented the first project overseen and coordinated by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), tasked by the President to coordinate space rocket development and space exploration between the three branches of the Armed Forces. The mission represented a collaboration of a USAF launch vehicle and a US Army payload. SCORE also accomplished the feat of orbiting a satellite that weighed 5.6 tons; dwarfing anything placed into orbit previously or even on planning board at that time. SCORE carried a message from the President that became the first transmission broadcast from space.

"This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and to all kerbalkind, America's wish for peace on Kerbin and goodwill toward kerbals everywhere."

While of limited use as a relay due to its extremely limited transmission size, SCORE would be used as a test for sending and receiving messages to the later Transit 1 and 2 satellites amongst others. The satellite operated for 212 days, at which point its primitive solar panels failed and the spacecraft's battery depleted.
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Edited by USKnight
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Launch 6: Vanguard 2 / Jupiter LV5-Able 2
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbit Information: 801km x 244km, 32.8 deg inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Vanguard 2 - Two optical telescopes for measuring planetary albedo. Manufactured by NRL.

Vanguard 2 was the second of NRL's research satellites to be orbited by the Army. Unlike its predecessor and like most early satellites, Vanguard 2 operated solely on internal power. The small optical telescopes mounted in its body were used with a light sensor that activated when the probe was on the sunlit side of Kerbin. During this part of the orbit, Vanguard 2 monitored the albedo of Kerbin to measure the cloud density patterns of the planet. Vanguard 2 would operate until its batteries were depleted.
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Launch 7: Discoverer 1 (Corona KH-1-9001) / Jupiter LV6-Agena A 1
Mission: First recovery of a spacecraft from orbit. Publicly a scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit and return. Classified primary mission.
Orbit Information: 500km x 116km, 80 deg inclination. SRV landed at Area 42.
Payload: Discoverer 4 (Corona-9001) - Keyhole (KH)-1 Corona camera system and Satellite Recovery Vehicle for returning the exposed film. 

Project Corona was a joint USAF / National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) series of satellites publicly known as Discoverer. The official mission description was that the Discoverer series were orbital biological and scientific exposure experiments that could be recovered to analyze their results. This first mission was supposedly a test of the recovery system and carried no experiments.

The Agena transit stage developed by the Air Force was very advanced. It was far more powerful than the Able and featured a Fuel Cell that could produce power for the spacecraft while in orbit. Equally as cutting edge was the Keyhole-1 panoramic camera system that could capture ground images from space.
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After two days in orbit, the Agena fired a course correction and de-orbit burn. The Satellite Recovery Vehicle (SRV) separated and made a perfect night time parachute landing in the grass just short of the runaway at Area 42. Unfortunately, it was found that exposure to the vacuum and pressure of space made the film too brittle and it had snapped and ruined. Kerbal Eastman company was set to the task of developing film that would survive the extreme rigors of spaceflight and recovery.
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Launch 8: Explorer 3 / Jupiter LV7-Able 3
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to high elliptical Kerbin orbit.
Orbit Information: 18.2Mm x 113km, 47 deg inclination. Contact Lost, circa Day 424 Y2
Payload: Explorer 3 - Television camera, Geiger counter, and Magnetometer. Manufactured by JPL and TRW for ABMA.
 

Explorer 3 was initially launched into a 113km parking orbit. On the following orbit the Able was fired and propelled the satellite into a highly elliptical orbit in order to gather scientific data from space far from Kerbin, beyond even the Mun's orbit. The satellite featured deployable solar panels that used light exposure to track the sun and provide power for its experiments.

Nearly two years later, all contact with Explorer 3 was lost after asteroid JQL-401 made a transit through the Kerbin system. While the satellite was notably in the vicinity of the asteroid it not believed that the two made an unlikely collision. Regardless, all contact with Explorer 3 ceased and the spacecraft is considered lost.
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Launch 9: Transit 1 / Jupiter LV8-Able 4
Mission: First navigational satellite. Navigation satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbit Information: 524km x 260km, 51 deg inclination.
Payload: Transit 1 - Navigation beacon transmitter and real-time communication relay. Manufactured by APL for the Navy.
 
The primary objective of the Transit satellite was a proof of concept for the use of satellites to aid in maritime navigation. A navigation beacon from space on a known orbit trajectory could be used to aide a vessel in identifying its current position. Transit could also act as a very basic communications relay for military transmissions. In both of these mission profiles, Transit proved the military value of satellites.
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Launch 10: Big Joe 1 (Mercury 0) / Atlas D LV2
Mission: Unmanned test launch to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 158km. Splashed down 114km NE of Kerbal Space Center in Booster Bay.
Payload: Big Joe 1 - Mercury spacecraft boilerplate. Manufactured by McDonnell for KASA.
 
Big Joe 1, also known as Mercury 0, was an orbit and re-entry proving flight of the Mercury spacecraft. Project Mercury's ultimate goal was the launching of a kerbal into orbit and their safe return to Kerbin. The flight was of paramount importance to the fledgling Kerbal Aeronautical and Space Administration (KASA) who had bid and lost in their effort to take control of space exploration and administration from ARPA. The President had allowed KASA to form, but its task was to develop manned spacecraft and perform aerospace and biomedical research as a public facing entity in concert with the military. 
 
The effectiveness of the spacecraft's flight profile, shape, and heatshield ablator were of primary concern. Theory and design needed to be validated in reality. The recovery of Big Joe did much to reassure KASA that Mercury development was on the right track in getting the first kerbal into space.
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Edited by USKnight
The fate of Explorer 3 was updated.
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Launch 11: Vanguard 3 / Jupiter LV9-Able 5
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbit: 1.43Mm x 223km, 33.3 deg inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Vanguard 3 - Magnetometer. Manufactured by NRL.

Vanguard 3 was the final satellite in NRL's series of scientific payloads. The primary goal of the satellite's experiment was to measure Kerbin's electromagnetic field, in particular defining the edges of the Van Kerman belts. Like many early satellites, Vanguard 3 operated solely on internal batteries until their depletion.
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Launch 12: Explorer 4 / Jupiter LV10-Able 6
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 722km x 502km, 50.2 deg inclination.
Payload: Explorer 4 - Infrared spectrometer. Manufactured by JPL for ABMA.

Explorer 4's primary mission was an attempt to measure Kerbin's heating and cooling rates from orbit. Its design kept to the early standard of a spheroid derived shape and also featured solar panels to supplement the internal batteries. The most major findings from Explorer 4's experiments were the role of clouds in absorbing radiated solar energy.
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Launch 13: Pioneer 2 / Atlas D LV3-Able 7
Mission: Scientific experiment probe to high Mun orbit.
Orbital Information: 263km x 23km, 0.7 deg inclination.
Payload: Pioneer 2 - Geiger counter, television camera, and micrometeoroid impact detector. Manufactured by TRW for ARPA.

Drawing upon the success of Explorer 3, TRW designed Pioneer 2 as a similar though larger design. The Able transit stage and the space probe's internal thruster completed its insertion into Munar orbit where it began sampling the local radiation levels and detecting micrometeoroid impacts. Through successive orbits the internal television camera would reveal the major topographical features of the Farside of the Mun.
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Launch 14: TIROS 1 / Jupiter LV11-Able 8
Mission: First meteorological satellite. Weather monitoring satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 328km x 300km, 48.3 deg inclination.
Payload: TIROS 1 - Two television cameras for cloud cover imaging. Manufactured by RCA Astro for the Navy.

The main aim of the TIROS satellite was a proof of concept for the use of satellites in gather meteorological data. The two television cameras transmitted visual cloud cover data directly back to ground stations or stored the data to tape recorder for later transmission. It was found that the satellite was effective in identifying and tracking the course of major weather patterns across Kerbin and enhanced traditional ground-based findings. This data and TIROS's success, was of particular interest to the Navy.
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Launch 15: Discoverer 2 (Corona KH-1-9002) / Jupiter LV12-Agena A 2
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to low Kerbin orbit and return. Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 256km x 77km, 80 deg inclination. SRV landed 3.2km south of KSC.
Payload: Discoverer 2 (Corona-9002) - KH-1 Corona camera system and SRV.

Kerbal Eastman company had developed a special film based on polyester made by DuPont. This new film not only was supposed to withstand the extremes of space, but also weighed half as much as traditional film.

After two days in orbit, Discoverer 2 burned for de-orbit and deployed the SRV. It landed 3.2km south of Kerbal Space Center. After recovery it was verified that the contents of its film reel were intact. Analysis of the film produced incredible results that validated Project Corona and the continued use and development of reconnaissance satellites. More images, at a higher quality, of foreign territory were contained inside Corona 9002's SRV than of all traditional airplane reconnaissance flights combined.
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Launch 16: Transit 2 - SOLRAD 1 / Jupiter LV13-Able 9
Mission: First dual satellite launch. Navigation satellite to medium Kerbin orbit. SOLRAD-1 primary mission classified.
Orbital Information: 455km x 288km, 66.6 deg inclination.
Payload: Transit 2 - Manufactured by APL for the Navy.
        SOLRAD-1 - X-ray imaging scope, SIGINT receiver. Manufactured by NRL.  Derelict

The second launch of the Transit series satellites was placed into orbit after the success of its predecessor and gave US naval vessels a second orbital navigational beacon. In addition, a small satellite was mounted on top of Transit 2.

Released once in orbit, SOLRAD was a small enigmatic satellite whose publicly announced mission was to measure galactic background radiation. In reality SOLRAD was the first Signals Intelligence satellite, set to attempt to detect foreign radar transmissions. SOLRAD was successful in this task, but its small transmitter did not have the power capacity to return most of its data collections back to ground stations. As such SOLRAD was considered only a partial success. Much later, near the middle of Year 2 of the Space Era, Blue Gemini-1 would visit the satellite and retrieve its transmitter and data recorder. While its data was recovered, SOLRAD became inoperable.
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Launch 17: Courier 1 / Jupiter LV14-Able 10
Mission: First active link communications satellite. Communications satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 538km x 404km, 28.3 deg inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Courier 1 - Manufactured by Western Development Labs for ARPA.

As a follow-up to SCORE, Courier was a dedicated communications satellite capable of storing teletype messages and transmitting them at high speed. It was capable of simultaneous sending, receiving, and storing of 68,000 coded words per minute. Design wise, Courier was spherical in shape and covered in small solar panels. The satellite proved to be a valuable method for sending "real-time" government and military transmissions between ground stations when its orbit was overhead and paved the way for further development of orbital communications.

Courier would be utilized less and less in its operational life until it was de-activated from service in the middle of the second year of the Space Era, following the launch of LES-1.
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Launch 18: Pioneer 3 / Atlas D LV4-Able 11
Mission: First space probe to encounter and orbit Minmus. Scientific experiment probe to low Minmus orbit.
Orbital Information: 189km x 26km, 6 deg inclination.
Payload: Pioneer 3 - Geiger counter, television camera, and micrometeoroid impact detector. Manufactured by TRW for ARPA.

The third Pioneer satellite was identical to its predecessor in design. For this launch the Able was called upon to ferry its payload to the distant moon of Minmus. After a week in transit Pioneer 3 was placed into an elliptical orbit. It would send back the first close, if not fuzzy, images of Minmus's topography during each orbital pass. The other experiments included radiological and micrometeoroid data.
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Launch 19: Discoverer 3 (Corona KH-1-9003) / Jupiter LV15-Agena A 3
Mission: Biological exposure experiment to medium Kerbin orbit and return. Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 428km x 80km, 81.7 deg inclination. SRV landed at Woomerang Space Center.
Payload: Discoverer 3 (Corona-9003) - KH-1 camera system, Mini Mystery Goo radiometer, and SRV.

For the third Discoverer, it was decided to include an actual biological experiment to promote the ruse of the satellite's scientific purpose. Ironically there was no room to mount the experiment inside the return capsule, but the acquired data from the experiment would be recorded to the capsule and returned along with the KH-1 film.

Two days after launch, Discoverer 3 orientated and burned for de-orbit. The SRV detached and would land 640 meters from the under construction Woomerang Space Center and was recovered in short order. Both the Mystery Goo data recorder and the film canister were returned intact and ready for analysis.
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Launch 20: Explorer 5 / Jupiter LV16-Able 12
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 998km x 180km, 49.8 deg inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Explorer 5 - Ionization and electrostatic sensors. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

The main goal of the Explorer 5 satellite was to take measurements of Kerbin's ionosphere. Despite some problems with data return, valuable readings on electron concentrations, ion mass, and more were transmitted back to ground stations. As a design, Explorer 5 was the last of the early satellites to be powered solely by internal batteries. Explorer 5 operated until its power supply expired.
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Edited by USKnight
Updated Courier 1 to "derelict".
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Launch 21: Mercury 1 / Atlas D LV5
Mission: Unmanned test launch to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit 97km. Splashed down 214km NW of Kerbal Space Center, SE of the Kulge Strait.
Payload: Mercury 1 - Manufactured by McDonnell for KASA.

The first official Mercury Program mission was a full unmanned rehearsal flight of a single orbit and return. This was the same mission profile that would be used to be put the first kerbal into space. Aside from the engine cutoff missing the mark by a second which brought apoapsis slightly higher than planned, the Mercury proving flight progressed and ended without issue.

To simulate an emergency or unplanned re-entry, Mercury 1 was de-orbited early and splashed down far from KSC. This allowed the Navy to practice search and recovery procedures if called upon for future Project Mercury flights.
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Launch 22: Explorer 6 / Jupiter LV17-Delta 1
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to high Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 78.3Mm x 148km, 32.9 deg inclination.
Payload: Explorer 6 - Charged particle detector. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

Explorer 6 was the first launch of the Jupiter-Delta rocket. The Delta transit stage featured an improved engine, but was otherwise similar to the Able stage before it. This new configuration would be tasked to launch a satellite into an extremely elliptical orbit, short of breaking from Kerbin's sphere of influence and into interplanetary space. 

After nearly 20 days of travel, Explorer 6 was detached to orbit alone. The experiment package was intended to collect data on the shape and extent of Kerbin's ionosphere. The Delta fired its engine briefly to alter its course for de-orbiting.
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Launch 23: Discoverer 4 (Corona KH-5-9004) / Jupiter LV18-Agena B 1
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to low Kerbin orbit. Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 271km x 182km, 82.2 deg inclination. SRV landed at KSC.
Payload: Discoverer 4 (Corona-9004) - KH-5 Argon camera system and SRV.

Discoverer 4 incorporated two improvements over its predecessors. First was the Agena B transit stage which featured an improved engine and an elongated fuel tank. The KH-5 Argon system was a low-resolution mapping camera which also included a single frame camera for limited use over targets of interest. Unlike the KH-1 series, Argon's primary purpose was the mapping of foreign terrain as opposed to direct reconnaissance.

After two days in orbit, Discoverer 4 orientated for a re-entry burn and detached the SRV. It landed 2km north of KSC. All film contents were recovered successfully.
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Launch 24: Mercury 2 / Atlas D LV6
Mission: First kerbal in space. Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 93.5km. Completed a single orbit. Landed 2km west of KSC.
Payload: Mercury 2 "Morning Star" - Crew: Jebediah Kerman

"Let's light this candle!" exclaimed Jebediah Kerman as he anticipated the liftoff of Mercury 2. Already famous as the first kerbal to break the sound barrier in level flight, Jebediah was the foremost of KASA's original kerbonauts known as the Mercury Seven. His launch vehicle was the USAF's Atlas rocket and not an Army design, much to that branch's satisfaction.

The first kerbal into space rode his spacecraft for a full orbital revolution of Kerbin. During his forty minute flight, Jebediah spent over twenty minutes in zero gravity. He noted the sensation of weightlessness and reported that it gave him no discomfort. All too soon it was time for him to orientate and fire his retro-rockets and re-enter the atmosphere.

Morning Star's ablative heat shield protected the craft through its descent and both the drogue and parachute deployed automatically. With one last thump of the capsule landing, Jebediah Kerman returned to Kerbin safely as a living legend.
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Launch 25:  Explorer 7 / Jupiter LV19-Able 13
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 476km x 133km, 28.8 deg inclination. De-orbited.
Payload: Explorer 7 - Gamma Ray Spectrometer. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

Explorer 7's primary mission was to measure the arrival and directions of high energy gamma waves in an attempt to discern energies that did not originate from Kerbin, but any specific cosmic source. The last fabricated Able transit stage was chosen due to the satellite's low weight. Explorer 7 was mated to the Able to allow for the orbit to be changed. 

It was found that despite the satellite's experiment functioning as a detector, its gamma ray telescope was insufficiently sensitive for the task. It was also believed that the satellite's orbit was too close to the inner Van Kerman radiation belt. The decision was made that due to poor performance Explorer 7 would be de-orbited as opposed to raising its altitude. The Kerbal Institute of Technology (KIT) would use the spectrometer's results to create an improved model for a future satellite.
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Edited by USKnight
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Launch 26: Ranger 1 / Atlas D LV7-Agena B 2
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to high Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 78.7Mm x 25.5Mm, 32.8 deg inclination.
Payload: Ranger 1 - Magnetometer, gamma ray spectrometer, ultra violet telescope, micrometeorite impact detector, and electrostatic analyzer. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

The first launch that combined the power of the Atlas and the Agena B transit stage, Ranger 1 was first orbited into a 193km parking orbit. After performing a system check, the Agena performed two burns that raised its orbit to a point between the Mun and Minmus with an apoapsis near the edge of Kerbin's sphere of influence. From this distant orbit, Ranger conducted its experiments far from the influence of Kerbin's atmosphere.

The satellite proved its worth as a heavy payload fame that could ferry many experiments. It acted as the prototype for future Ranger missions to Mun and Minmus as well as the planned Mariner Project missions to other planets.
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Launch 27: Mercury 3 / Atlas D LV8
Mission: First female kerbal in space. Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 92km. Completed three orbits. Landed 3.5km west of KSC.
Payload: Mercury 3 "Freedom" - Crew: Valentina Kerman

Due to the power draw requirements of the Mercury spacecraft, Freedom's retro rocket pack was fitted with three additional batteries developed from the Ranger program. Valentina's orbital profile was identical to the Jebediah's flight, but she remained in orbit for three revolutions before aligning for retrofire and re-entry. During her time in orbit, Valentina took pictures from her window and attempted to identify landmasses and terrain features. 

Total mission time was just under two hours when Freedom landed safely, west of Kerbal Space Center.
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Launch 28: Discoverer 5 (Corona KH-5-9005) / Jupiter LV20-Agena B 3
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to low Kerbin orbit and return. Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 307km x 100km, 82.9 deg inclination. SRV landed 5.5km south of KSC.
Payload: Discoverer 5 (Corona-9005) - KH-5 Argon camera system and SRV.

With the construction of Woomerang Space Center complete, Discoverer 5 was the final reconnaissance satellite launched from Kerbal Space Center. The flight followed a similar profile to its predecessors; launching at night into a near polar orbit and using the Argon camera system to refine and update maps of specific areas of Kerbin's surface.

After the typical two-day duration in space, the Agena de-orbited the combined craft and the SRV was released to land south of KSC for recovery.
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Launch 29: Ranger 2 / Atlas D LV9-Agena B 4
Mission: First probe to land on the Mun. Scientific probe to low Mun orbit.
Orbital Information: 19km x 19km, 1 deg inclination. Rough Lander landed in the Munar Midlands, near the equator, Nearside of the Mun.
Payload: Ranger 2 - Gamma ray spectrometer, radar altimeter, electrostatic analyzer, television camera, and Rough Lander with a seismometer. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

The second Ranger was a Block II design that incorporated the ambitious goal of landing a Rough Lander capsule on the surface of the Mun. The powerful Agena transit stage delivered the probe into an almost circular Munar orbit after a day of transit. Ranger 2 underwent a system check and deployed its experiments. From low orbit the altimeter began crafting the first true topographic map of the Munar surface.
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After several orbits, the Rough Lander was released to fire a small solid rocket for a collision course with the Mun. Near the point of impact the Rough Lander was thrown clear of the booster in hopes that it would survive the literal rough landing of impact. The primary objective of the Rough Lander was its enclosed seismometer in order to gauge the hardness of the Mun's surface. It wasn't known if landing on the Mun was even possible or if a craft would disappear under a layer of dust.

Somehow, the Rough Lander bounced and rolled until it came to a halt in the Munar Midlands. The internal transmitter sent back limited data about the impact it had endured to Ranger 2, which in turn sent the packet back to Kerbin. The probe would go on to complete a radar survey of the equatorial region.
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Launch 30: Mercury 4 / Atlas D LV10
Mission: Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 92km. Landed at Kerbal Space Center.
Payload: Mercury 4 "Aurora" - Crew: Robert C. Kerman  

The mission known as Mercury 4 was originally Mercury 5. The original Mercury 4 mission had been slated to be a repeat of the previous flight with a three-orbit duration and return carrying kerbonaut William "Gus" Kerman into space. KASA physicians however were no longer as fearful of the immediate effects of zero gravity on kerbal physiology. This cleared the way to begin testing the limits of longer durations in space. The original flight was cancelled and Gus Kerman was reassigned as a lead engineer for the Project Gemini spacecraft.

Robert C. Kerman would spend an entire six-hour day in orbit. During that time his visual acuity was tested as he was tasked with identifying land masses and rivers as he passed overhead. During one pass on the nightside of Kerbin a ground station turned searchlights skyward to see if Bob could identify them.

Aurora's landing was the closest yet to Kerbal Space Center, touching down just outside the base's grounds. It was a crowning achievement for America's space program. The first steps had been taken in reaching the stars.
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Edited by USKnight
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Launch 31: OSO 1 / Jupiter LV21-Delta 2
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 235km x 222km, 31.8 deg inclination. 
Payload: Orbiting Solar Observatory (OSO) 1 - Solar observation instrument suite. Manufactured by Ball Aerospace for ARPA.

The Orbiting Solar Observatory satellite was a unique design. It used sun-tracking to orientate a sail section that would keep the satellite's instruments facing the Sun. As its name implied, OSO featured X-ray, Gamma ray,  solar spectrometer, and solar wind experiments to collect focused data about our closest star.
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Launch 32: Discoverer 6 (Corona KH-4-9006) / Jupiter LV22-Agena B 5
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to low Kerbin orbit and return. Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 230.9km x 80km, 73.4 deg inclination. SRV landed 2km south of Woomerang.
Payload: Discoverer 6 (Corona-9006) - KH-4 Mural camera system and SRV.

The flight of Discoverer 6 represented a shift in the joint USAF/NRO Corona program. It was the first rocket launch from Woomerang Space Center which had been built specifically for high inclination and polar orbit launches. In the upswell of national pride stemming from Project Mercury, it was the first Discoverer to feature the Air Force symbol openly painted on the side of the Agena stage. This launch was also the last mission to launch under the ruse of the scientific Discoverer program.

The satellite itself was the first KH-4 model reconnaissance satellite, featuring the "Mural" stereoscopic camera and the index single frame camera from the KH-5. This flight was also a return to traditional intelligence gathering over foreign territory as opposed to the previous terrain mapping focus.

After spending four days in orbit, the Agena burned for re-entry and released the SRV. It would land 2km south of Woomerang.
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Launch 33: Ranger 3 / Atlas D LV11-Agena B 6
Mission: Scientific experiment probe low Minmus orbit. Rough Lander landed in the Minmus Midlands, near the equator.
Orbital Information: 21km x 21km, 10 deg inclination.
Payload: Ranger 3 - Gamma ray spectrometer, radar altimeter, electrostatic analyzer, television camera, and Rough Lander with a seismometer. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

The third Ranger was a Block II spacecraft with a Rough Lander. Its mission was to gather scientific data around Minmus, obtain high quality images of the equatorial region, and attempt to deploy the Rough Lander on the moon's surface.

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The Agena delivered Ranger into a low circular orbit after an eight-day transit. After two orbital passes to collect experiment data and identify a potential area to attempt a landing, the Rough Lander was decoupled and fired its down-rated rocket for de-orbiting. Even more so than its predecessor on the Mun, the Rough Lander bounced and rolled until it came to a stop in the Midlands, resting on the incline of a hill. The seismometer retuned data to Ranger whose High Gain antenna transmitted it back to Kerbin.
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Launch 34: Mercury 5 / Atlas D LV12
Mission: Manned orbital mission to low Kerbin orbit and return. Landed 2.8km from KSC.
Orbital Information: 92km x 90km, 0 deg inclination
Payload: Mercury 5 "Delta" - Crew: Deke Kerman

The mission of Mercury 5 was an endurance test of both kerbal and spacecraft. In order to power the spacecraft for three days, six additional Ranger batteries were fastened to a Z-100 rechargeable battery mounted on top of the Atlas and below the capsule. The three separation solid rockets were also removed from the spacecraft's retrofire pack to save space and weight in the very crowded coupling section. Delta would remain attached to the Atlas for the duration of the flight until it was time for de-orbiting. Delta was painted white and orange for high visibility and would also act as a rendezvous target for Mercury 6 which launched half an hour later from GSPG.

As an engineer, Deke was tasked with evaluating the spacecraft's condition during the flight. He was the first kerbal to sleep in space and the first to have multiple meals instead of merely snacks. Because of the cramped conditions, Deke's work load was kept light. He was also the first kerbonaut to have wake-music transmitted to him from KSC when CAPCOM Wally Kerman played the song "Hello Dolly" to his friend in orbit. What began as a prank would become a KASA tradition.

After enduring three days in his spacecraft, Deke de-coupled from his booster and orientated for de-orbiting. He would land not far from Kerbal Space Center and was very happy to be able to stretch his legs.
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Launch 35: Mercury 6 / Atlas D LV13
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: First orbital rendezvous. Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return. Landed 3.4km from KSC.
Orbital Information: 92km x 91km, 0 deg inclination
Payload: Mercury 6 "Faith" - Crew: Gordo Kerman

Part proof of concept, part publicity stunt, Mercury 6 blasted off into space from Green Sands Proving Grounds half an hour after the launch of Mercury 5. This was the first non-suborbital test flight conducted from the Army's launch pad and the first time two kerbonauts were in space at the same time. The launch was intended to minimize the amount of maneuvers needed in order to rendezvous with Mercury 5 and was also the first that re-utilized the Atlas in orbit, as opposed to only firing the booster to de-orbit itself after being discarded.

Faith was launched into a lower orbit to "catch up" to Delta. Gordo orientated his combined craft for several short engine burns that brought the two craft into a passing rendezvous. At their closest, Faith and Delta were close enough for the two kerbonauts to wave to one another. They quickly drifted apart and after the better part of a day, Gordo detached his spacecraft from the booster and de-orbited.

Faith landed not far from Kerbal Space Center with a beautiful pre-dawn sky before him.
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Launch 36: Pioneer 4 / Atlas D LV14-Agena B 7
Mission: First Interplanetary probe, first probe to leave Kerbin's sphere of influence. Scientific experiment probe to Jool.
Orbital Information: In transit for 2.5 years. Will encounter Jool on Day 13, Year 4.
Payload: Pioneer 4 - Geiger counter and magnetometer. Manufactured by TRW for ARPA.

The fourth iteration of TRW's Pioneer series was very much in keeping with its predecessors as a spherical core with four extendable solar panels. The probe's primary purpose was to collect scientific data from interplanetary space by accomplishing the feat of being the first kerbal-made object to leave Kerbin's sphere of influence.

It was determined that the Atlas-Agena launch vehicle could theoretically send Pioneer 4 to Jool, accomplishing another "First". Instead of merely launching the probe into Solar orbit as originally proposed, a planetary transit was attempted. An extendable DTS-M1 High Gain antenna was attached to the Agena body and a third-stage Star 31 solid booster was added below the space probe.

The Deep Space Network at Kerbal Space Center was the only relay capable of communicating with Pioneer 4 during the first leg of its journey up to and after a planned course correction burn. Final instructions to the probe were sent for an attempt to enter a high elliptical orbit around Jool before contact with the probe was lost.

It is hoped that in the future, advances in the DSN will allow ARPA controllers to reach Pioneer 4 and verify if it successfully inserted into orbit.
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Launch 37: Corona KH-4-9007 / Jupiter LV23-Agena B 8
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 147km x 83km, 74 deg inclination. SRV landed 4.3km south of Woomerang.
Payload: Corona-9007 - KH-4 Mural camera system with SRV.

The seventh Corona reconnaissance satellite was the first launched without the Discoverer moniker. Largely, launches from Woomerang became unannounced events with vague descriptions of their mission profiles. They were not entirely kept secret and the US Air Force emblem was proudly painted on the sides of the Agena stage.

Corona-9007 spent three days in space before it de-orbited and detached the SRV. The capsule landed four kilometers south of Woomerang and was recovered without incident.
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Launch 38: Mercury 7 / Atlas D LV15
Mission: First spacewalk. Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: 92km x 91km, 0 deg inclination. Landed at KSC.
Payload: Mercury 7 "Sigma" - Crew: Wally Kerman

Wally Kerman became the first Kerbal to exit his spacecraft and "walk" in space. Sigma was launched into an equatorial orbit and would remain attached to the Atlas during most of its mission. On the second orbital pass on the sunlit side of Kerbin, Wally opened the hatch and performed the first tethered extra-vehicular-activity (EVA).

Wally did not remain outside his ship for long, but he enjoyed the thrill of the experience for six minutes before returning to the hatch. Poor quality black and white video of the event was taken and made available to the public. What happened afterwards is largely glossed over.
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The pressure inside Wally's suit made his gloves rigid and it became more and more difficult for him to move. He could not re-seat the hatch or manipulate its handles. He began perspiring heavily from the exertion and KASA doctors became alarmed at his bio-medical readings. If Wally could not seal Sigma, he would not survive re-entry.

Finally, it was suggested to Wally to vent his spacesuit to space to release the pressure. Difficult at first, Wally was able to manipulate the relief valve and re-gain enough use of his gloved hands to close the hatch properly. Relieved and exhausted, Wally slumped into his seat.

It was decided to end the mission early, as its primary objective had been accomplished. On the third orbit, Wally detached his spacecraft from the Atlas and de-orbited. As a final trick of fate, Sigma's landing ended up directly above Kerbal Space Center and came to rest directly next to the Mark I Monument outside the Vehicle Assembly Building.

A known prankster, Wally would jest that he was trying to courteous and "drop the Mercury back off at the VAB".
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Launch 39: Telstar 1 / Jupiter LV25-Delta 3
Mission: Communications satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 2.5Mm x 412km, 44.8 deg inclination.
Payload: Telstar 1 - Manufactured by KT&T and launched by ARPA.

America's largest telecommunications company saw the future that satellites could provide. Telstar was created to be an active relay for trans-continental live television broadcasting. The image quality was poor, but represented that first time that an event could be "experienced" in real-time on both sides of the ocean.

At this early stage of the space program a great amount of cooperation existed between ARPA and KT&T during the satellite's development. Even so, Telstar could be considered the first commercial satellite launch.
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Launch 40: Ranger 4 / Atlas D LV16-Agena B 9
Mission: Scientific experiment probe to low Mun orbit. Rough Lander landed in the Munar Midlands, south of the equator, Nearside of the Mun.
Orbital Information: 20km x 16km, 61.5 deg inclination.
Payload: Ranger 4 - Gamma ray spectrometer, radar altimeter, electrostatic analyzer, television camera, and Rough Lander with a seismometer. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

Ranger 4 was the third Block II spacecraft and the second sent to the Mun. It would be inserted into an inclined orbit in order to create a larger altimetric map of the Munar surface north and south of the equator. Ranger conducted its experiments and detached the Rough Lander for de-orbiting south of the equator.

After a heavy impact and subsequent bounces and rolls, the Rough Lander came to a halt in the Munar Midlands near the edge of the Nearside.
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Launch 41: Mariner 1 / Atlas D LV17-Agena B 10
Mission: First space probe to Duna. Scientific experiment probe to Ike flyby and high Duna orbit.
Orbital Information: Encountered Duna on Day 106, Year 2. Encountered Ike on Day 159. Final orbit around Duna was 1.49Mm x 134km, 0.6 deg inclination.
Payload: Mariner 1 - Magnetometer, Radiometer (IR, Microwave), Ion Trap Chamber, Cosmic Dust Detector. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

The initial model Mariner series of interplanetary probes were based on JPL's successful Ranger chassis. As the most powerful available launch vehicle, the Atlas-Agena was again tasked with the mission of sending a robotic explorer to another world.

Mariner was launched in to an initial 80km parking orbit before making an interplanetary burn for Duna. The transit would take 294 days with the probe entering Duna's sphere of influence on Day 106 of the second year of the Space Age. At the closest approach to the planet of 300km, the Agena burned to capture Mariner in a highly elliptical orbit.
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After passing close to Duna for a second time, the Agena was fired to reduce Mariner's apoapsis to the orbit of Duna's moon, Ike. This led to a flyby encounter on Day 159 with the probe passing within 199km. Leaving the moon's sphere of influence, Mariner altered its course a final time into a stable elliptical orbit around Duna. The mountain of scientific data returned by Mariner is considered one of the most significant accomplishments of the entire space program.
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Launch 42: Mercury 8 MML / Atlas D LV18-Agena B 18
Mission: First kerbonaut transfer from a command module to a mission module. Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return. 
Orbital Information: 93km x 91km, 0 deg inclination. Landed 1.6km south of KSC.
Payload: Mercury 8 "Theta" - Crew: Frank Kerman
        Mercury Manned Laboratory

The final mission of the Mercury program was also its most ambitious. The proven Agena transit stage would be tasked with orbiting a heavy payload into low Kerbin orbit. Mounted atop was the Mercury 8 spacecraft and the Mercury Manned Laboratory. Aboard Sigma was Frank Kerman, first of the "New Nine" Group 2 kerbonauts to fly into space.

The objective of the MML mission was a long duration endurance test of a kerbal in space and its effects on physiology. A projected manned mission to the Mun would be five or six days. Tasking a kerbal with sitting in the confines of the Mercury spacecraft for a week was deemed unacceptable. Deke Kerman's three-day mission had been unbearable enough. The Laboratory therefore was designed to be large enough for free movement and allowed for a "shirt-sleeves" environment. In other words, the kerbonaut could take his spacesuit off during his stay in the MML and greatly add to his comfort level.
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After achieving an almost circular orbit, Frank performed a tethered EVA transfer to the MML. Once inside he enjoyed the relative comfort of a small room for eight days. He ate a variety of packaged meals, slept in a space hammock, made observations from the port hole, and performed countless bio-medical tests including exercising in space. 

Frank endured his tasks with gruff professionalism and when the time came, he returned to Sigma and detached his spacecraft for de-orbiting. The CAPCOM at the time was Gordo Kerman who asked him, "I bet you're glad you didn't have to spend a week in there (Sigma)." Frank responded only with a short, "Yeah."

Out of his view, the Agena de-orbited itself and the MML to burn up in the atmosphere. Frank and Sigma would land just over a kilometer and a half from Kerbal Space Center. Standing on his own two legs outside his spacecraft, Frank Kerman had proven that a kerbal could survive in space for significant periods with only minor side effects. The path to landing a kerbal on the Mun was opening.
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Launch 43: Corona KH-4-9008 / Jupiter LV24-Agena D 1
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 163km x 87km, 76 deg inclination. SRV landed 1km south of Area 42.
Payload: Corona-9008 - KH-4 Mural camera system with SRV.

Corona-9008 was a KH-4 reconnaissance satellite mission that launched from Woomerang Space Center. The flight was fairly routine at this point using a proven mission profile, launch vehicle, and payload. The USAF/NRO cadence called for one reconnaissance launch about every four-six weeks. The images Corona-9008 captured were used to maintain up-to-date information on areas of interest over foreign territory.

Corona-9008 is notable only as it was the first use of the improved Agena D stage that featured a more powerful engine and improved electronics. The satellite spent nearly three days in orbit before orientating for de-orbit and releasing the SRV. This would land a kilometer shy of the runway at Area 42 and its contents were recovered intact.Svx4zPw.png
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Launch 44: Alouette 1 / Jupiter LV25-Agena B 19
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 441km x 429km, 80 deg inclination.
Payload: Alouette 1 - Charged particle detector. Manufactured by DRDC and launched by ARPA.

Alouette was the first satellite developed by a country other than the United States. It represented the first joint ARPA program with an allied foreign power. Agena was tasked with putting the satellite into a medium orbit and the Jupiter booster chosen for its lower cost in comparison to Atlas.  For this launch, the Agena featured the flag of Canada on its sides.

The Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC) agency of the Canadian military constructed Alouette and would run the ground stations used in communicating with the satellite. At its time, Alouette was a very advanced and relatively heavy payload. The Charged particle detector was bleeding edge technology for obtaining data on Kerbin's ionosphere.
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Launch 45: Gemini 1 / Titan IIGLV 1
Mission: Unmanned test launch to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 92km. Landed at KSC.
Payload: Gemini 1 - Manufactured by McDonnell for KASA.

Project Gemini was essentially Mercury II. Both spacecraft were of similar shape, but where Mercury was a capsule with the kerbonaut largely along for the ride, Gemini was a two-seat spaceship with multiple thruster banks, a docking port, ejection seats, and a dedicated Equipment Module that allowed the craft to perform orbital maneuverers. William "Gus" Kerman had been instrumental in the cockpit arrangement and engineering of Gemini, so much so that it was commonly referred to as the "Gus Bus". 

Gemini 1 was an unmanned three-orbit proving flight. It represented the first use of the Air Force's Titan II two-stage launch vehicle, which like Atlas, was directly derived from the inter-continental ballistic missile of the same name. At the time of the launch Titan II was the most powerful rocket in the world.

Titan orbited the spacecraft to a 92km parking orbit where it detached from the upper stage. The Equipment Module featured two Orbital Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) thrusters and these were fired several times for testing, lowering the spacecraft's altitude. On the third orbit, Gemini used the OAMS for de-orbiting and discarded the Equipment Module. The emergency de-orbit solid rockets mounted below the Gemini were also fired as part of the test flight. Gemini 1 finally plummeted through the clouds and released its parachutes to land near the crawler-way at Kerbal Space Center.
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Interlude: Dyna-Soar Development

Spoiler

 

Test Flight Series 1: X-20 Dyna-Soar NR1
Location: Area 42
Mission: First test flight series of the Dyna-Soar aircraft.
Crew: Cross Kerman

The Air Force's competing pitch against Project Mercury had been a design concept called Dyna-Soar, a manned glider boosted into orbit on a Titan (I) missile. The craft would de-orbit and return to Kerbin akin to a traditional aircraft; gliding and landing on a runway or the flats of the Great Kulge desert. While the President ultimately chose KASA's Project Mercury to loft the first Kerbal into space, Dyna-Soar would live on in an even more ambitious form.

The Air Force and KASA were tasked with developing a full jet-powered aircraft that could be launched into space on a rocket and deploy itself anywhere over Kerbin. It could de-orbit deep inside the defenses of any foreign power and continue to fly under its own power to any location. Such an aircraft, especially one armed with a nuclear weapon, could be a powerful projection of force.

The first Dyna-Soar was a small, squat, and relatively quick jet fighter. It was designed to be narrow, short, and of a low-profile. The plane featured a cargo module behind the cockpit that could be used to ferry experiments or supplies. One of the project engineers was Cross Kerman, KASA's Lead Test Pilot.

The first flight of the prototype X-20 took place at the Air Force's secluded Area 42. Cross flew the aircraft for about an hour as he tested its capabilities and flying qualities. The plane had trouble in level flight and required its nose raised. This was in spite of the forward winglets that were part of the design to assist with this specific aerodynamic issue. Not surprising, at slow speeds the plane tended to lose altitude due to its narrow wing span. 

Overall, Cross found Dyna-Soar to by flyable and relatively nimble. His feedback would directly lead to the Air Force's decision to manufacture a second prototype, the Model A.
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Edited by USKnight
Corrected the description of Launch 43: Corona-9008
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@Starhelperdude, that is a fantastic mod suggestion. I really wish I had known about it before spending... a lot of time running "simulations" and totally not crashing dozens of times trying to create a flyable "Dyna-Soar" of my own. Thank you very much for making me aware of it. I will be adding this mod to my game for Research and Development.

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Launch 46: Ranger 5 / Atlas D LV19-Agena B 20
Mission: Scientific experiments to low Minmus orbit
Orbital Information: 20km x 19km, 69 deg inclination. Rough Lander landed in the Minmus Lowlands, north of the equator.
Payload: Ranger 5 - Gamma ray spectrometer, radar altimeter, electrostatic analyzer, television camera, and Rough Lander with a seismometer. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

Ranger 5 was the final Block II space probe of JPL's Ranger series. The flight was a repeat of the previous Block II/Rough Lander missions and followed an eight-day transit to Minmus. Like Ranger 4, the space probe entered into an inclined low orbit in order to create an altimetric height map over successive orbits across the majority face of the moon.
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The Rough Lander was released on the third orbit, aiming to land in the smooth Minmus Lowlands in the northern hemisphere. Using the same stunted solid rocket to de-orbit as its predecessor, the Ranger 5 Rough Lander would roll a very significant distance before coming to a stop on the flat icy terrain. Having survived, the seismometer data was beamed back to the Ranger orbiter and transmitted back to Kerbin.
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Launch 47: Ranger 6 (Ranger 0) / Atlas D LV20-Agena B 21
Mission: Scientific experiment probe to Mun flyby and low Minmus orbit.
Orbital Information: 22km x 17km, 127.4 inclination.
Payload: Ranger 6 (Ranger 0) - Magnetometer, gamma ray spectrometer, ultra violet telescope, micrometeor impact detector, and electrostatic analyzer. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

The final Project Ranger mission was an opportunity to utilize a space probe that had JPL had on-hand. Two prototypes of the original Ranger had been crafted in the event that a mishap had occurred. With the successful orbiting of Ranger 1 into high Kerbin orbit, the question of what to do with its doppelganger remained.

JPL was busy developing further Project Mariner spacecraft as well as design studies for moon landing capable probes called Project Surveyor. The decision was made for a final Ranger mission to launch the on-hand scientific experiment probe to Minmus.

Like its predecessors, Ranger 6 was ferried by the venerable Atlas-Agena launch vehicle. This time however, it was a two-leg journey.
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From parking orbit, instead of using its remaining fuel to de-orbit itself, Atlas was fired to send Ranger 6 on a flyby of the Mun. It would pass within 60km of the surface and perform experiments both far from and near the Mun's surface. Ranger 6's trajectory would take it past the Mun where Atlas was fired again to perform a course correction for transit that would take weeks to properly align with Minmus.
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A final course correction after almost a month in space placed Ranger 6 on a collision course with Minmus and the Atlas was detached for its terminal flight. The transit stage would perform the approach correction and capture burns placing Ranger 6 into a low orbit from which to conduct its experiments.
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Launch 48: Gemini 2 / Titan IIGLV 2
Mission: First two-kerbal spacecraft mission. Manned spacecraft to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 93km. Landed at KSC.
Payload: Gemini 2 "Liberty Bell" - Crew: William "Gus" Kerman, White Kerman

The last of the Mercury Seven kerbonauts who had not flown a mission was William "Gus" Kerman. Aboard the spacecraft affectionately nicknamed the "Gus Bus", two kerbonauts would ride into space together for the first time.

Liberty Bell was lofted into a 93km orbit where it remained attached to the Titan upper stage. Like previous EVA operations, it was felt that the larger the spacecraft the less likely any adverse rotation would affect the kerbonaut. During their first day in orbit the hatch was opened and White Kerman performed a tethered spacewalk, complete with full color photos and video. 

White would benefit from the lessons learned from Mercury 7 and maintained full use of his hands though-out his eight-minute spacewalk. He was very disappointed when the order came for him to return and close the hatch. Even so, White was exhausted and covered in sweat from the effort it took trying to orientate himself in zero gravity.
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On day two, Liberty Bell decoupled from the Titan II upper stage. The RCS thrusters and the OAMS were used to perform orbital maneuvering, including practice rendezvous and docking movements with the upper stage. Liberty Bell would close within six meters of the Titan. Afterwards they thrusted away from the Titan before it de-orbited itself. The Gemini drifted in orbit for the rest of the day performing system checks and inspecting the overall health of the spacecraft.

The third day was reserved for largely observational tasks before preparations were made for their return. Gus Kerman orientated the craft for de-orbit and fired the OAMS to return them to Kerbin. The Equipment Module was discarded as they entered the atmosphere and the duo would land inside the grounds of Kerbal Space Center, 633 meters from the launch pad they had left from.
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Launch 49: Corona KH-4-9009 / Jupiter LV26-Agena D 2
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 183km x 90km, 83 deg inclination. SRV landed 4.7km north of Woomerang.
Payload: Corona-9009 - KH-4 Mural camera system and SRV.

The ninth reconnaissance satellite in the joint USAF/NRO Corona series was the second launch using the improved Agena D second stage. An otherwise standard Corona mission, the satellite would spend three days in orbit before orientating for de-orbiting. The SRV was released and landed not far to the north of Woomerang. It and its contents were recovered promptly for processing.
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Launch 50: Relay 1 / (Jupiter LV27) Delta B 1
Mission: Communications satellite to high Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 3.3Mm x 574km, 47.5 deg inclination.
Payload: Relay 1 - Manufactured by RCA Astro and launched by ARPA.

Relay 1 was the second commercial satellite developed by an American telecommunications company and placed into orbit by ARPA. Relay 1 was more powerful the previous Telstar satellite and its much higher orbit gave it longer "up-time" for relaying live television signals from one continent to another.

To attain such an altitude, the Able transit stage was slightly lengthened, given a more powerful engine, and used higher-energy oxidizer. The new stage was christened the Delta which would become the name of the entire launch vehicle to differentiate it from the earlier Jupiter-Able. Relay 1 was launched on the production version of Delta, the Model B. Through difficulties with the Explorer 8 satellite that caused it to be delayed, the Delta B actually flew before the prototype Model A.

Later in Relay 1's service life, it would partner with the Syncom-3 satellite to provide the first satellite-to-satellite live television feed to travel from one end of Kerbin to the other, showing live coverage around the planet of the Olympics during Year 2 of the Space Era.
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Edited by USKnight
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Launch 51: Gemini 3 / Titan IIGLV 3
Mission: First untethered EVA. Manned spacecraft to low Kerbin orbit and return. 
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 92km. Landed 3.5km south of KSC.
Payload: Gemini 3 "Morning Star II" - Crew: Jebediah Kerman, James Kerman

The flight of Gemini 3 was a storied event long before the third Titan II rumbled into orbit. Jebediah Kerman was a National Hero and KASA argued that he should never fly into space again. His demise in an accident could cause irreparable harm to KASA and the space program as a whole. Not one to hid from danger, Jebediah petitioned the President of the United States to intervene. In the end, a memo from the President to Dryden Kerman was sent in order for the first kerbal in space to be cleared for flight status.

Morning Star II blasted into the standard 92km parking orbit used for manned flights and jettisoned the Titan upper stage. The rest of the first day was spent checking over the spacecraft, testing the OAMS, and the kerobnauts performing some celestial photography and observation on the night-side of Kerbin.
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During the second day, Jebediah Kerman suited up for the first un-tethered EVA, wearing his famous red, white, and blue spacesuit. For maneuvering he wore a back-mounted "jet pack", not unlike the RCS thrusters used by the Gemini spacecraft. Jebediah carried a small hand canister of emergency propellant in the event that the EVA jet pack failed. To minimize risk, he was also ordered to maintain a close distance to Morning Star during his eight-minute space walk and returned to the hatch before they crossed into the night-side. From the cabin, James captured images of Kerbin and his partner in space.

The remaining day and a half of the mission consisted of taking the first orbital pictures of zodiacal light, the gegenschein, and other observational tasks. The OAMS was used to de-orbit the spacecraft and Morning Star would land 3.5km south of Kerbal Space Center. Total mission time was just under three days.
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Interlude: Dyna-Soar A Development

Spoiler

 

Test Flight Series 2: X-20A Dyna-Soar NR2
Location: Area 42
Mission: Test flight series of the Dyna-Soar Model A aircraft.
Crew: Cross Kerman

In order to increase aerodynamic lift and maneuverability, Dyna-Soar A featured larger vertical stabilizers and control surfaces. Taking off from Area 42, Cross Kerman reported that level flight was much easier in the Model A and required less nose lifting. The aircraft was more stable at low speeds during takeoff and landing. The Model A also added a retractable crew ladder to ease boarding the aircraft. 

After the successful test flight, the Model A would serve as the production template for a proposed orbital capable Dyna-Soar.  
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Launch 52: Explorer 8 / (Jupiter LV28) Delta A 1
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to high Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 9.4Mm x 1.1Mm, 42.8 deg inclination.
Payload: Explorer 8 - Magnetometer, Ion Trap chamber, and Geiger counter. Manufactured by KASA for ARPA.

The launch of Explorer 8 was delayed due to difficulties with its Magnetometer boom. It was the first satellite constructed by the KASA team at Kerbal Space Center. The launch was originally intended to be a proving flight of the improved Jupiter-Delta A launch vehicle which featured a more powerful second-stage. Due to the delay, the Delta A prototype stage would not be tested until after the first production Delta B has lofted the Relay 1 satellite into orbit.

Explorer 8 was loosely based on TRW's Pioneer series and had experiments for observing Kerbin's magneto-sphere, solar winds, as well as data related to radiation and magnetic storms. The Delta performed admirably, placing the satellite into high orbit with an apoapsis not far from the distance to the Mun.
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Launch 53: Syncom 1 / (Jupiter LV29) Delta B 2
Mission: First Keo-synchronous satellite. Communications satellite to near Keo-synchronous orbit over the Crescent Mountains, west of GSPG/Area 42.
Orbital Information: 2.91Mm x 2.86Mm, 33.3 deg inclination.
Payload: Syncom 1 - Manufactured by Hughes Aircraft for ARPA.

The Delta launch vehicle was tasked with attempting to orbit the first communications satellite into keo-synchronous orbit. The chosen location was to place the satellite in position on the opposite-side of Kerbin from Kerbal Space Center. As a first attempt, Syncom was delivered into a near synchronous orbit that would drift in time due to its orbital period being seconds too long compared to Kerbin's sidereal rotation. From the ground, the spacecraft moved in a figure-eight pattern above and below the equator throughout its orbit.

It was not possible for Delta to make the precise fine tune maneuvers needed to perfect the orbit. The payload was detached and Delta de-orbited itself. The oversight of not giving Syncom its own thrusters for fine tuning would be corrected in later models.
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Interlude: Dyna-Soar A Development, Part 2

Spoiler

 

Test Flight Series 3: X-20A Dyna-Soar NR2
Location: Area 42. Landed at KSC.
Mission: Test series flight of the Dyna-Soar A aircraft.
Crew: Jerrie Kerman

KASA Test Pilot Jerrie Kerman was selected to fly the Dyna-Soar A on an endurance flight from the Air Force's Area 42 and deliver the aircraft to KASA at Kerbal Space Center. A variety of scientific experiments were loaded into the cargo bay of the aircraft in order to collect data during the flight. Fuel drop tanks from Raptor Aerospace were also used to provide additional fuel.

Jerrie would fly southeast, eventually taking scientific readings over the Southern Ice Shelf before turning northeast to complete her journey. The flight lasted a total of two hours and fifty minutes from takeoff to touchdown.
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Launch 54: Explorer 9 / (Jupiter LV30) Delta B 3
Mission: Science experiment satellite to low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 398km x 109km, 57.6 deg inclination. Derelict.
Payload: Explorer 9 - Electrostatic analyzer, pressure gauges, and Ion Trap chamber. Manufactured by KASA for ARPA.

KASA's second satellite, Explorer 9 was a two-part experiment to compare atmospheric and geomagnetic data for one day from both ground and orbital data collection. Explorer 9 transmitted recorded data in a constant stream to ground stations where its data and those taken on the ground were compared in real-time. Explorer operated for the day as expected before its batteries depleted and the satellite went silent.
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Launch 55: Corona KH-4-9010 / Jupiter LV31-Agena D 3
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 169km x 83km, 65.4 deg inclination. SRV landed 5.6km north of Woomerang.
Payload: Corona-9010 - KH-4 Mural camera system and SRV.

Corona 9010 was a typical KH-4 reconnaissance mission. It is notable only for experiencing a power draw during operation that caused the Mural control system to use excessive power. The onboard batteries and Fuel Cell were rapidly depleted causing the mission to end after half the planned duration.

After less than a day and a half in orbit, Agena burned to de-orbit the spacecraft and the SRV was released to land 5.6km north of Woomerang Space Center. Despite the shorter mission, 9010 still provided valuable data to the NRO.
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Launch 56: ATDA 1 / Atlas SLV3 21
Mission: Docking Target to low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 128km x 126km, 0 deg inclination. De-orbited.
Payload: Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA) 1 - Micrometeoroid collector, Materials Exposure bay, and Radiological Exposure package. Manufactured by McDonnell for ARPA.

The ATDA was a rendezvous and docking assembly for use with the Gemini 4 mission. It was largely a battery and Fuel Cell mounted inside an Agena core with a docking port and lights for visual acquisition. It was very similar to the parallel developed Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) which would be used in later Gemini flights.

ATDA was delivered into orbit atop the first Atlas SLV3 model booster. The Space Launch Variant (SLV) series of Atlas were the first purpose-built Atlas boosters designed strictly for the space program and not essentially re-purposed military ballistic missiles. The SLV featured up-rated engines and increased thickness of the upper tank walls to support heavier second stages. After delivering the ATDA into a higher than normal parking orbit, the payload was detached and the Atlas de-orbited itself. The ATDA would wait in orbit for four days.

The flight was also notable as the first in a rapid series of coordinated launches from Kerbal Space Center and one from Green Sands Proving Grounds. The KASA/ARPA ground crew was tasked with three launches in eight days.
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Launch 57: Gemini 4 / Titan IIGLV 4
Mission: First docking of two craft in outer space. First work performed in EVA while in orbit. Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 128km. Landed 1.4km southwest of KSC.
Payload: Gemini 4 "Freedom II" - Crew: Valentina Kerman, Pete Kerman

The second spacecraft to bear the name Freedom blasted off into the noon sky for a launch-to-orbit rendezvous attempt with the ATDA. The launch was the second in a three-launch series from KSC, following only four days after the previous mission. Once in orbit, Valentina engaged the Titan upper stage engine to perform several short rendezvous burns. Pete would coordinate with Ground Control to remotely orientate the ATDA docking port to face the Gemini as they approached. The RCS thrusters on Freedom took care of the rest as Valentina guided the spacecraft's nose into the docking port and confirmed a hard lock.

The rest of the first day was spent testing the linked controls of the combined craft including electrical power transfer and the balance of ATDA's RCS thrusters.
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The second day involved an EVA to perform the first work in space. Valentina suited up and donned the EVA jetpack before opening the hatch. Her mission was to retrieve data from three experiments on the ATDA, a task relatively easy on Kerbin, but far more difficult in zero gravity. Very fine control of the EVA jet pack was necessary and Valentina found herself with few options for grabbing ahold of the smooth body of the ATDA. She found it easy to slip away, flailed often, and became exhausted after retrieving the Micrometeoroid and Materials packages. Most concerning was her visor fogging up and restricting her vision. Paired with her racing heat-rate, the EVA was cut short and Ground Control asked her to re-enter the spacecraft.
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Pete would hold her legs for stability and Valentina reported difficulty bending in her rigid space suit along with pain and heat along her back. Finally, the hatch was closed and she rested, her partner assisting with stowage. It would be found later that a small tear in the insultation on the back of her suit had allowed intense heat build-up. This coupled with her exertion easily defeated the already inadequate suit cooling system. The remainder of Day 2 would involve a rest period as well as synoptic weather photography.

On the third day, the crew of Gemini 4 received visitors in the form of Gemini 5. This provided an opportunity to take high quality photographs of another spacecraft in orbit as well as Robert "Bob" Kerman during his EVA. Following the encounter, Valentina would perform an open hatch standing EVA late in the day to take some celestial photography.

Day 4 included a rest period and featured four undocking and docking cycles with the ATDA as a proving test of the system's design. Other experiments included dim-light photography and biomedical tests.

The final day of the mission involved the orbital observation of the launch of Mariner 2 from Kerbal Space Center. The military in particular was very interested in the difficulty of observing and identifying launches and their profiles from space. On the following orbit, the Titan upper stage was discarded and de-orbited. The OAMS was engaged to bring Freedom home and the ATDA was left on a sub-orbital trajectory to burn up in the atmosphere. Valentina and Pete landed safely on the beach southwest of KSC.
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Launch 58: Gemini 5 / Titan IIGLV 5
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: First EVA work performed on a separate craft in orbit. Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return. Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 201km. Landed 763m from KSC.
Payload: Gemini 5 "Friendship" - Crew: Robert C. Kerman, Lovell Kerman

The primary mission of Gemini 5 was to rendezvous with its sister flight Gemini 4 and perform a cross-spacecraft EVA. Launched from Green Sands Proving Grounds, Friendship was launched into a higher orbit to align for a rendezvous burn. One of the goals of the flight was extensive use of the OAMS. The Titan upper stage was discarded for de-orbiting and the spacecraft's thrusters would perform the orbital maneuvers to approach Gemini 4.
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After several hours the two Gemini were together, Valentina and Lovell maintaining a close distance. Robert "Bob" Kerman suited up for an un-tethered EVA that would cross from Friendship to the ATDA docked with Freedom. His task was to retrieve the Radiological package from the rear of the ATDA as well as mimic the same retrieval tasks that Valentina has performed the day before.

Bob and Buzz Kerman, a junior in Kerbonaut Group 3, had trained extensively for the EVA in a pool underwater. Buzz advocated that underwater training could simulate a zero gravity environment and that slow and methodical movement was the key. Bob showcased this technique during his EVA and performed his tasks dutifully and without becoming exhausted. Pete Kerman was able to capture a full color picture of Bob near the ATDA that would become one of the most iconic images of the early Space Era.

Crossing the void back to Friendship, Bob closed the hatch and the two spacecraft drifted apart. For himself and Lovell, their mission was at a close. The heavy use of monopropellant to perform their orbital maneuvers left Gemini 5 with little in the way of excess. The Fuel Cell could extend the duration of their mission, but their primary tasks were complete. On the next available orbit the OAMS was used to de-orbit the craft. Bob and Lovell would land less than a kilometer from the launch pad at Kerbal Space Center.
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Launch 59: Mariner 2 / Atlas SLV3 22-Agena D 4
Mission: First scientific probe to Dres. Scientific experiment probe to Dres. 
Orbital Information: In transit for 1.5 years. Will encounter Dres on Day 138, Year 3.
Payload: Mariner 2 - Magnetometer, Radiometer (IR, Microwave), Ion Trap Chamber, Cosmic Dust Detector. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

Mariner 2 was the third and final launch from Kerbal Space Center in an eight-day period. Its successful launch was a point of pride for the exhausted KASA/ARPA ground crew and a mark of their professionalism. The second Mariner was identical to the first. The spacecraft was bound for the dwarf planet Dres on a journey that would last a year and a half.

The Atlas booster would fire almost all of its fuel on the escape burn away from Kerbin. Mariner 2 would perform a course correction over half a year later, on Day 262 of the second year of the Space Era. This date is notable because after the burn the spacecraft's experiments were tested. Analysis of the readings detected three never before discovered contacts near Dres for further investigation.
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Launch 60: Telstar 2 / (Jupiter LV32) Delta B 4
Mission: Communications satellite to high Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 4.7Mm x 425.1km, 42.7 deg inclination.
Payload: Telstar 2 - Manufactured by KT&T and launched by ARPA.

Telstar 2 was nearly identical to the original Telstar satellite. It had the added provision that scientific telemetry could be transmitted from the satellite as well as the intended live television feed. The Telstar transmitters were relatively weak and provided poor signal. Despite this, they represented the first steps towards a global communications network. When Telstar 2 came on-line, it was the third commercial communications satellite in orbit and the fifth total in operation.

There were no less than four different heavy rocket projects in development by the USAF and Army at the time the thirty-second Jupiter took flight. At Green Sands, Werhner Von Kerman was busy developing the most powerful rocket engine ever designed. As access to space was becoming more routine, America's space program was aiming higher.
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Interlude: Dyna-Soar B Development

Spoiler

 

Test Flight Series 4: X-20B Dyna-Soar NR3
Mission: Test flight series of the Dyna-Soar B aircraft.
Crew: Bridge Kerman

The staff at Kerbal Space Center had to adapt the Dyna-Soar so that it could be mounted on top of a rocket and withstand the violence of spaceflight and return. The resulting aircraft was the Model B, which weighed half a ton less than its more nimble predecessor. Most of this weight savings came at the cost reducing the size and power of the jet engine in order to fit inside an Agena based collar. This vastly reduced Dyna-Soar's aerial performance. It was also found that the forward winglets of the Model A would not withstand the temperatures of re-entry. This meant that the geometry and aerodynamics of the airframe had to be completely changed as well as the angle and fit of all the aircraft's wings.

Bridge Kerman was the test pilot for the proving flight of the Model B. Where the Model A had proven to be relatively quick, the B was slow. It could not attain the same altitude and its endurance range was much shorter. It was however flyable and very stable. On return, Bridge would park the Model B next to the Model A for a publicity photo shoot alongside test pilot Jerrie Kerman. With this proving flight complete, Dyna-Soar was ready for space.
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Dyna-Soar A, Jerrie Kerman, left. Dyna-Soar B, Bridge Kerman, right.
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Dyna-Soar B, left. Dyna-Soar A, right.

 

Launch 61: Syncom 2 / (Jupiter LV33) Delta B 5
Mission: Communications satellite to keosynchronous orbit over the Twin Oceans.
Orbital Information: 292Mm x 2.79Mm, 33.1 deg inclination.
Payload: - Syncom 2 - Manufactured by Hughes Aircraft for ARPA.

The second Syncom satellite differed very little from the first. Where the former mounted a solid rocket to assist in placing the satellite into orbit, Syncom 2 mounted an internal monopropellant engine that could perform precise maneuvers. After Delta delivered the satellite to the correct altitude, this engine would be used to fine tune the orbit to precisely the correct period.

Syncom 2 was not placed into an equatorial orbit and thus was not truly keostationary. Its orbit would not drift and it would maintain its position over Kerbin making it the first fixed communications satellite and the sixth overall. The Syncom satellites were used for priority military and government traffic, but were borrowed to the commercial sector often for television signal relay.
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Launch 62: Corona KH-4-9011 / Jupiter LV34-Agena D 5
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 118km x 82km, 65 deg inclination. SRV landed 5km southwest of KSC.
Payload: Corona-9011 - KH-4 Mural camera system and SRV.

The flight of Corona-9011 was a return to routine. It was a reconnaissance mission of the standard KH-4 profile and duration conducted by the USAF and NRO. The satellite orbited for three and a half days before orientating for de-orbit burn and releasing the SRV. It would land 5km southwest of Kerbal Space Center and was recovered shortly.
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Launch 63: Dyna-Soar-0 / Titan IIICs 1 (Titan LV6)-Transtage 1
Mission: Unmanned orbiter mission to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 121km. Landed on the runaway at Area 42.
Payload: X-20B Dyna-Soar NR4

Constructed in parallel with the first Model B, Dyna-Soar Number 4 was intended for an unmanned remote spaceflight. The spaceplane was mounted atop an upper stage developed by the USAF Titan team that was simply called Transtage. Un-original name aside, Transtage was an advanced low-profile hypergolic liquid fueled transit stage that could ferry large payloads to high orbit.  It was designed to be mated to a space launch purpose-built Titan II first stage, called Titan III.

Mounted on both sides of the Titan were two enormous UA1205 Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs). The SRBs would ignite at lift-off and hoist the Titan skyward until they were expended and detached. The Titan core stage would ignite and deliver the combined Transtage/Dyna-Soar to a circular 120km orbit. Orbital maneuvering was accomplished using Transtage's twin engines or its RCS thrusters for orientation. For this first flight, a short test burn was conducted before orientating Dyna-Soar for de-orbiting after a single revolution of Kerbin.
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The autopilot fly-by-wire controls were very sluggish. A runway landing of the remote Dyna-Soar was considered dangerous prompting the flight plan to call for the landing attempt to take place at Area 42. This left plenty of open desert for the plane to crash in the event of a mishap. After surviving the perils of re-entry and scorching across the sky over Area 42 during its deceleration, Dyna-Soar fired its jet engine to life and turned back to approach Area 42.

In the chase plane for this mission was pilot Cross Kerman and engineer Rush Kerman who monitored the autopilot's flight path for major errors. They would tail Dyna-Soar until it touched down successfully on the runway. The orbiter was towed to a hanger for an extensive inspection of its condition. It would be dismantled and every component evaluated before the first manned Dyna-Soar would fly.
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Launch 64: Explorer 10 / (Jupiter LV35) Delta B 6
Mission: Science experiment satellite to high Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 83.19Mm x 2.56Mm, 35 deg inclination.
Payload: Explorer 10 - Extending Rubidium Magnetometer, dual folding Magnetometer booms. Manufactured by KASA for ARPA.

KASA's third in-house engineering project was Explorer 10. An improvement upon the Explorer 7 design, the satellite's experiment was referred to as the Interplanetary Monitoring Platform (IMP). The IMP used multiple magnetometers to study energetic particles, cosmic rays, and magnetic fields.

By coincidence the launch took place on the first anniversary of the launch of Explorer 1, the world's first satellite. Delta would deliver the satellite into a high elliptical orbit with an apoapsis near the edge of Kerbin's sphere of influence. Explorer 10 was released at its furthest point with the Delta performing a de-orbit burn afterwards.
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Launch 65: Syncom 3 / (Jupiter LV36) Delta D 1
Mission: First keostationary satellite. Communications satellite to keostationary orbit over the northern Ocean of Smiles.
Orbital Information: 2.88Mm x 2.84Mm at 0 deg inclination.
Payload: Syncom 3 - Manufactured by Hughes Aircraft for ARPA.

As the first and least powerful of America's launch vehicles, Jupiter was also its cheapest. Commercial access to space depended on price and ABMA sought low cost ways of improving the Jupiter's capabilities without interfering with the development work being done by Von Kerman and the majority of the Army staff for Project Saturn. While the Delta second stage had been a major improvement, the Model D was an attempt to upgrade the booster stage.

Syncom 3 was the first satellite launched on a Delta D rocket. This configuration added three Castor I solid rocket boosters to assist the first stage during lift-off and increase the capacity the rocket could deliver to high orbit. Syncom would be delivered to keosynchronous altitude where its maneuvering engine would be used to place it as the first keostationary communications satellite. It resides in the sky over the Northern Ocean of Smiles, south of the Kulge Strait, west of Kerbal Space Center. 

Paired with Relay 1, Syncom 3 was part of the first satellite-to-satellite live television feed of the Olympics across Kerbin only weeks after coming on-line.
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On 3/19/2021 at 3:02 PM, USKnight said:

@Starhelperdude, that is a fantastic mod suggestion. I really wish I had known about it before spending... a lot of time running "simulations" and totally not crashing dozens of times trying to create a flyable "Dyna-Soar" of my own. Thank you very much for making me aware of it. I will be adding this mod to my game for Research and Development.

I run KSP from my laptop and do not have a joystick. So I use MechJeb to handle the detail work of flying. I have the X-20 mod and found it nearly impossible to fly from the keyboard. I encountered a lot of “dutch roll” style oscillations with MechJeb engaged.  So I disengaged MJ and the oscillations went away, but it was still uncontrollable. I asked in the X-20 thread for some suggestions, but didn’t get any useful answers.  It is a fantastic looking mod, but I have shelved it for now. 
 

BTW, your work here is fantastic! Very interesting historical variations. Keep it up!

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Posted (edited)

@DaveyJ576, thank you for your feedback and support. I too, am a dirty MechJeb player and a very poor aircraft pilot. My earliest attempt to recreate a Dyna-Soar look-a-like was a glider that dropped like a brick. This led me to add a jet engine and pitch the project as an orbital deep-insertion jet plane instead of a glider. I thank you for the warning about the possible aerodynamic difficulties the Moroz mod may have. 

As you noted the ahistorical variance of this playthrough, I wanted to elaborate on the origins of America Rising. Like any space enthusiast, I wanted to re-create an American Space Program that had its eyes on goals past the Apollo Moon Landing. The setting is still very much Kerbal Space Program with its nuances such as a lack of orbital decay, omission of part failures, and lack of fuel boil-off.  This is a story about jingoist American Kerbals with a goal of conquering space.

Spoiler

The launch of A4/V5 from Kerbal Space Center, two years before our story begins. This was the second A4 rocket to reach the edge of space and was adorned with "The Girl in the Mun 2".
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The scenario begins with two decisions. The first was that in the year preceding the story that Von Kerman "won". The Army is awarded the first satellite launch and to continue to develop large space launch vehicles (not ICBMs). Vanguard and Thor are thus never developed. The second decision was that NACA's bid to take over the space program and make it a civilian institution failed. KASA forms, but really so the kerbonaut corps is not a military organization under de facto control of the Air Force. The rest of the space program is run by the military coordinated by ARPA. This leads to a growing number of variances as our timeline unfolds.

Edited by USKnight
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@USKnight, you may already know this, but the external MechJeb module is no longer needed. If you right click any pod or C&C part it will indicate that it is MJ enabled even without the external module.  I no longer put it on any of my spacecraft and MJ works fine!

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Posted (edited)

Launch 66: MOL "Pegasus Station" / Titan IIICs-2 (Titan LV7)-Transtage 2
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: First space station. Space station to low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 98km x 86km, 51.6 deg inclination.
Payload: Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) - KH-10 Dorian High Resolution Imaging system, MOL Laboratory, and Gemini Lifeboat.

The Manned Orbital Laboratory began life as an USAF/NRO project to launch a manned reconnaissance platform into orbit. The advanced high-resolution KH-10 Dorian camera system featured an attached processing laboratory for in-orbit photographic analysis. The question at hand was whether the cost of maintaining a manned orbital station produced significantly better results over the lower-cost automated Corona Project.

The project was changed when Von Kerman and his associates lobbied that MOL could be more than a single mission platform. The design was changed to allow MOL to be broken apart in order to allow a central adapter module to be added once in orbit. MOL became an expandable space station and ARPA immediately asked for additional module proposals. 

The nearly 10-ton MOL was launched into orbit by a Titan IIICs launch vehicle on Day 22, Year 2 from Green Sands Proving Grounds. It was placed into an inclined low orbit that was viable for reconnaissance purposes. The Transtage was not removable and would remain fixed to the Dorian module. Two sun-tracking solar arrays were unfurled from the station's sides to provide power. Aside from automated system checks, MOL would remain dormant for a week until the arrival of its first crew on Gemini 6. 

The crew of Bellerophon would expand MOL and also give it a name. MOL became Space Station Pegasus.
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Launch 67: Gemini 6 (Pegasus 1) / Titan II GLV 8
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: First crew of the Pegasus space station. Manned crew ferry to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit and return. Docked on Day 29, Year 2. Departed on Day 42, Year 2.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 150km. Landed at GSPG.
Payload: Gemini 6 "Bellerophon" - Crew: Deke Kerman, Neil Kerman

Gemini 6 was the first Block II Gemini spacecraft which incorporated a number of improvements. Most notably, the monopropellant capacity was quadruple the Block I. This allowed for far more orbital operation as well as a vastly increased Fuel Cell duration. Gemini 6 was launched from Green Sands Proving Grounds as the first of two coordinated launches, the second being Saturn SA1 from Kerbal Space Center.

Bellerophon was placed into an intercept orbit with MOL and rendezvoused in short order. Neil Kerman maneuvered their craft to dock at the starboard connection of the Dorian Laboratory after remotely ordering the starboard Solar array to retract. Bellerophon was placed into hibernation mode and one-by-one Neil Kerman and then Deke Kerman made an EVA transfer to the Laboratory egress hatch. Once safely inside, the two kerbonauts christened their new home as Space Station Pegasus and began the process of bringing the station to life.
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Hours after their arrival, the first Saturn rocket arrived bearing the MOL Adapter and Logistics module. Neil transferred forward to the Pegasus Lifeboat and detached the forward section of the station from the Dorian module. This began an ambitious double docking procedure using the station's docking radar and visual assistance from Deke in the after section.

Neil guided the forward section to dock with the payload delivered by SA1. He then carefully guided the newly combined front half of the station to reattach to its other half. The retractable hard lock seals were engaged and Pegasus station grew to its intended configuration, complete with an inflatable airlock. The three hard mount docking collars on the adapter module would allow the station to continue to expand. The Logistics section brought the two-man crew months of provisions and life support.
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During the first expedition's stay, Deke used his skills as an engineer to assess the general heath of the station as well as test the Dorian camera system. Early in the mission, he would perform an EVA to inspect the Dorian's mirror operation while Neil orientated its controls. Neil's duties were focused more on monitoring the life support system and conducting bio-medical tests. He would also perform an EVA near the half-way point of their stay to inspect Bellerophon for micrometeoroid damage.

While spacious by the Gemini's standards, Pegasus lacked a dedicated crew berthing. Neil and Deke slept in hammocks in Logistics and Lab modules respectively and had a rudimentary shower/hygiene stall in the Logistics module. These conditions were subpar, but both kerbonauts were highly trained professionals. 

After 13 days in space, the duo transferred back to Bellerophon. The scientific and photographic data they had collected during their tenure on Pegasus was stored aboard to return to Kerbin. The station itself was placed into low power mode to await its next crew. Backing away from their home in space, Neil fired the OAMS for de-orbiting. Gemini 6 topped off their stellar mission by landing next to the launch pad they had departed from at Green Sands Proving Grounds.
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Deke Kerman, left. Neil Kerman, right.

Launch 68: Saturn SA1 (MOL 2) / Saturn I LV1
Mission: Deliver space station module to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit. De-orbited.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 202km.
Payload: MOL Adapter and Logistics module.

The SA1 mission was the first use of the Saturn I booster and its Saturn IV (S-IV) second stage. It represented the most powerful single rocket created to date and the first use of clustered engines for each stage. From its beginning, Von Kerman envisioned Saturn I as a compromise design of existing and prototype hardware that would bring heavy rocket engineering experience to his team. The Saturn booster was essentially a Jupiter fuel tank surrounded by eight Redstone fuel tanks. The first stage was powered by a cluster of eight H-2 rocket engines. 

The S-IV second stage had six RL10 engines in its cluster and was designed to be both powerful and simplistic. The stage itself came as a late design when the Air Force's Project Centaur transit stage failed to materialize on schedule. This prompted Von Kerman to design his own LOX/LH2 fueled upper stage and deliver a complete Saturn I launch vehicle on schedule.

Initial plans called for the S-IV to fully orbit itself as an engineering proving flight. However, the flight presented an opportunity to use the powerful rocket to deliver the MOL Adapter and Logistics module to the space station. The launch of SA1 was coordinated to take place hours after Gemini 6 blasted off from GSPG. 

From a 92km parking orbit, the S-IV would raise the altitude to 202km to create an encounter with Pegasus station. The S-IV would burn several times to perform the rendezvous and close to within 150 meters. After Neil Kerman detached the Adapter and Logistics module from SA1, the rocket drifted away before firing for de-orbit and ending its mission as a total success.
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Launch 69: Corona KH-7-9012 / Atlas SLV3 23-Agena D 6
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 92km x 80km, 95.3 deg inclination. SRV-1 splashed down in the Ocean of Smiles, south of KSC after two days in orbit. SRV-2 landed 3.5km west of Area 42.
Payload: Corona-9012 - KH-7 Gambit camera system and two SRVs.

Corona-9012 was the first KH-7 Gambit reconnaissance satellite. Representing a major upgrade over the Corona/Mural system, Gambit featured a high resolution camera superior to even Pegasus station's Dorian in resolution. The satellite was larger than the KH-4 system and was launched into orbit using the Atlas SLV booster.  It also featured precision thrusters and had two SRV capsules for film recovery. One would return film after the first few days in orbit followed by the second at the completion of the Gambit's mission.

The satellite would spend nearly five days in orbit. The first SRV splashed down in the ocean after two days in order for the Navy to practice recovery procedures. After burning for de-orbiting, the second SRV landed in the desert, west of Area 42. The film recovered from Corona-9012 was considered of the highest quality by the NRO.
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Launch 70: Nimbus 1 / Jupiter LV37-Agena D 7
Mission: Meteorological weather satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 409km x 407km, 98.6 deg inclination.
Payload: Nimbus 1 - Two Hi-Resolution IR Radiometers and the Nimbus camera torus. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA. 

Nimbus was a second-generation weather satellite that served as a Kerbin-orientated platform for observing cloud coverage and collecting meteorological data. The satellite was large by the standards of its day. It was engineered by Kerbal Electric and RCA Astro with the Navy as the primary sponsor.

Nimbus was placed into a near circular polar orbit by a Jupiter-Agena launch vehicle. It would serve in place of the primitive TIROS as the leading source of weather forecasting around the globe. Observations from Nimbus' sensors and cameras would be considered invaluable to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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Launch 71: GATV 1 / Atlas SLV3 24-(Agena D 8)
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Deliver GATV to low Kerbin orbit. Orbital transit stage for Gemini 7.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 517km. De-orbited.
Payload: Gemini Agena Target Vehicle 1 - Materials exposure bay, Micrometeoroid impact detector. Modified by McDonnell for ARPA.

The Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) was developed in tandem with the ATDA used with Gemini 4. It could be said that GATV was an ATDA mounted onto the front of an Agena transit stage. The payload was intended to be used as an orbital maneuvering vehicle that could boost a Gemini spacecraft to higher altitude.

GATV 1 was launched into a 130km circular parking orbit from Green Sands Proving Grounds. The mission was the first in a tandem mission with Gemini 7 which would launch later the same day from Kerbal Space Center. It would wait several hours in orbit until Faith II rendezvoused and docked.
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Launch 72: Gemini 7 / Titan IIGLV 9
Mission: Manned spacecraft to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit 572km. Splashed down 3.6km east of KSC.
Payload: Gemini 7 "Faith II" - Crew: Gordo Kerman, Eliot Kerman

Gordo Kerman returned to space for his second flight accompanied by rookie kerbonaut Eliot Kerman. Their mission began with a launch into a 92km parking orbit. The Titan II upper stage would boost them to 201km to create an encounter with the GATV for docking. After performing a system check, Gordo fired the Agena and boosted their combined craft to a 517km orbit.
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Most of the first day was spent performing system checks and monitoring the radiation dosimeter. One of KASA's prime concerns was radiation and cosmic ray exposure to kerbonauts in medium or high orbit. No indication that the Agena was having any trouble was found and the Fuel Cell was generating power as expected. Gordo would conduct a standing EVA from the cockpit and captured images of the southern starfield with an ultra-violet camera. He also captured an image of a color plate mounted on the side of Faith in an experiment to see if film produced true color results in space.

The second day saw Eliot perform the first science experiments in EVA. She also retrieved the Materials Exposure experiment and the Micrometeoroid collector from the GATV. Eliot's tasks were performed without the fatigue experienced by many of her predecessors thanks to Buzz Kerman's underwater training. Her suit was also more flexible with a better cooling system. She wore a dosimeter to measure her exposure. The latter part of the day was a rest period.
Day three involved releasing a small subsatellite from the bottom of Faith's Equipment module and allowing it to drift away. Eliot would attempt to locate and track the subsat visually while Gordo performed an EVA to practice orientation in space using the EVA jetpack. He followed the subsat and practiced rendezvousing with it. He also visually inspected the condition of the GATV before returning to the hatch. From the cockpit, both kerbonauts would conduct Synoptic terrain and cloud photography later in the day.
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The fourth day called for a return to low-orbit with GATV firing to bring the combined craft back to a "standard" 92km orbit. With their position stable, the kerbonauts enjoyed a rest period. A navigation experiment was conducted on the night side later in the day to practice manual orientation and plotting using star positions. 

As the fifth day began, GATV was discarded and burned to de-orbit itself. The OAMS fired to bring Faith home and the duo splashed down 3.6km east of Kerbal Space Center. They were recovered in short order.
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Launch 73: OGO 1 / Atlas SLV3 25-Agena D 9
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to high Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 81.1Mm x 123km, 31.2 deg inclination.
Payload: Orbiting Geophysical Observatory 1 - Folding Magnetometer boom, Twin radio plasma wave detectors, Ionization and Electrostatic analysis boom, two Mass spectrometers, Ion Trap boom, and a Gravimetric scanner. Manufactured by TRW for ARPA.

The Orbiting Geophysical Observatory was a large science experiment satellite developed for a long duration study of Kerbin. The Agena transit staged placed the satellite into a highly elliptical orbit before releasing it and burning to de-orbit. OGO extended its many arms and began collecting data on Kerbin's magnetosphere, including mapping its interaction with the Sun.

OGO transmitted a wealth of data proving the value of a large and expensive satellite platform.
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Launch 74: Ranger SD-1 / Atlas LV3C 1-26-Centaur D 1
Mission: Scientific experiment probe to Minmus flyby and return.
Orbital Information: Re-entered Kerbin's atmosphere on Day 88, Year 2.
Payload: Ranger SD-1 - Television camera, Micrometeoroid impact detector, Radar altimeter. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

The flight of Ranger SD-1 was also the redemption of Project Centaur. Long maligned as the Air Force's black eye of the space program, the first successful Centaur was the Model D. The launch featured the use of the non-tapered Atlas SLV booster modified for use with Centaur, the LV3C model.

Ranger SD-1 was a prototype of the Project Surveyor spacecraft. SD-1 was not intended or capable of detaching from the Centaur stage, but included the lander legs and scientific payload being developed for the moon lander. Centaur itself was a powerful cryogenic propellant driven transit stage intended for interplanetary duty and heavy satellites. Its development was quite behind schedule and the Air Force was very interested in proving the worth of their investment.

After launching into a 92km parking orbit, Centaur fired a transit burn for Minmus. It would arrive eight days later and swing around the moon while SD-1 conducted its experiments from low orbit. Centaur would fire again to return to Kerbin. Arriving seven days later, the combined craft orientated for a sub-orbital burn and was destroyed during re-entry.
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Launch 75: Gemini 8 (Pegasus 2) / Titan IIGLV 10
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Manned crew ferry to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit and return. Docked on Day 84, Year 2. Departed on Day 103, Year 2.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit 202km. Landed in the Great Kulge desert, 214 miles from GSPG.
Payload: Gemini 8 "Constellation" - Crew: Eugene Kerman, Gordon Kerman 

Gemini 8 was a Block II Gemini and the second expedition to Pegasus station. Like its predecessor, the mission was the first of a tandem launch with Saturn SA2 from Kerbal Space Center. Gemini 8 launched into a typical 92km parking orbit before using the Titan upper stage to boost to 202km to create an encounter and rendezvous with the station. Constellation successfully docked hours later on Day 84, Year 2.
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Not long after their arrival, Saturn SA2 rendezvoused to delivered the MOL Solar power array and Recycler module to the station. Eugene Kerman oversaw the radar guided docking procedure. For safety, the original station solar panels were retracted during the procedure. The new section increased the station's battery life to a maximum of 14 days in an emergency. The Recycler module provided waste water reclamation that cut daily supply losses to one quarter, but its power draw was so large it could only be run during times of direct sunlight.
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Gordon loaded the film containers for the Dorian module and spent most of his time analyzing photographic data from orbit. His findings would confirm much of what was expected, the KH-10 was an excellent wide angle imaging system, but its resolution was inferior to the automated Gambit reconnaissance satellite. Dorian's main feature was that it could be directed at any point of interest in its path, making it adaptable on-the-fly. Gordon could also develop film on-site making initial analysis very quick.

Days into the mission, Eugene would perform an EVA to inspect the base of the Solar Power wing and its connection to the station. This included operating the utility doors of the power module to inspect the rechargeable batteries arranged in a ring inside. Two later EVAs were spent taking celestial photography on the night side from the open Airlock and a third EVA to visually inspect Constellation's condition.

Over 19 days, Eugene and Gordon endured the spartan conditions of their home in space. The duo EVA transferred to Constellation with the Dorian film canisters and detached for home on Day 103. After the events of Corona-9013, it was decided to bring the kerbonauts down over the Great Kulge desert to practice Air Force emergency recovery procedures. They landed 241km northeast of Green Sands Proving Grounds. Their nightside re-entry was observed by Jerrie Kerman flying in Dyna-Soar NR2.

Jerrie radioed in their touchdown before landing her aircraft nearby. She taxied the plane up to their capsule and greeted the two astronauts who were both weak from their extended stay in space, but glad to feel gravity beneath them once more. The trio were joined shortly by the recovery team.
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Launch 76: Saturn SA2 (MOL 3) / Saturn I LV2 
Mission: Space station module to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 201km.
Payload: MOL Solar Power array, Battery section, and Recycling module.

The second launch of the Saturn rocket was tasked with delivering the Solar Power and Recycling module to Pegasus station. Launched later the same day as Gemini 8, SA2 would go from a 92km parking orbit and boost to an altitude of 201km to create an encounter with the space station.

The S-IV stage would perform an automated radar guided docking under the supervision of Eugene Kerman from Pegasus. The Solar Power array and Recycler module would become the left wing of the station. After hard lock was achieved, SA2 back away from the station and drifted in orbit until it was commanded to burn for de-orbiting.
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Launch 77: Corona KH-7-9013 / Atlas SLV3 27-Agena D 10
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 83km x 83km, 9 deg inclination. SRV-1 landed 292km northwest of Area 42 after three days in orbit. SRV-2 landed 5.7km south of Area 42.
Payload: Corona-9013 - KH-7 Gambit camera system and two SRVs.

The second Gambit reconnaissance satellite blasted off from Woomerang Space Center into a nearly perfect circular orbit. Corona-9013 operated as planned and seemed to be on track as a perfect mission. After three-and-a-half days, SRV-1 was released to return the first exposed film canister to Kerbin.
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The retro rocket firing timing was incorrectly set and SRV-1 de-orbited far too early. It landed deep in the Fang Mountains, far to the northwest of Area 42/GSPG. It marked the first time a sensitive SRV had been lost. The Air Force however, would not give up on SRV-1 easily and quickly drew up plans for a daring recovery mission.

Corona-9013 would continue its mission and orientate to burn for de-orbiting after nearly six days in space. SRV-2 was released and landed on target, shy of 6km from Area 42's runway. The capsule was recovered swiftly without incident.
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Spoiler

 

Recovery Flight: C-182H Seahawk
Location: Area 42
Mission: Recover Corona-9013 SRV-1.
Crew: Bridge Kerman

In the days after the loss of Corona-9013's SRV-1 and the sensitive film it contained, the Air Force drew up a plan to use a modified Raptor Aerospace C-182 Seahawk recovery VTOL to retrieve the capsule. The Model H was fitted with a Kerbal Motion junior Advanced Grabbing Unit on the bottom of the airframe. Monopropellant tanks was stored in the unused crew compartment and RCS thrusters were mounted fore and aft of the airframe to assist in the difficult VTOL maneuvering.

KASA's lead Test Pilot Cross Kerman volunteered for the mission, but his impending space fight aboard Dyna-Soar would not permit risking his life. Bridge Kerman was selected to perform the recovery flight, taking off from Area 42 for the Fang Mountains.
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Flying into the night, Bridge located the SRV's radio beacon and switched into hover mode. With utmost skill he landed the VTOL nearly on top of the missing capsule, despite the uneven ground. Driving the craft forward, he secured the SRV in the grabbing unit's claws before firing his vertical engines to full power. Bridge set a course for the long flight back to Area 42.
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Launch 78: Mariner 3 / Atlas SLV3 28-Agena D 11
Mission: First space probe to Eve. Scientific experiment probe to Gilly flyby and high Eve orbit. 
Orbital Information: Encountered Eve on Day 299, Year 2. Encountered Gilly on Day 306, Year 2. Final orbit around Eve was 10Mm x 349km at 12 deg inclination.
Payload: Mariner 3 - Extending Rubidium Magnetometer, Ion Trap chamber, Geiger counter, Cosmic Dust detector, and Zufar film camera. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

Mariners 3 and 4 were Block II space probes assembled in parallel. Two interplanetary transit windows were nigh and ARPA aimed to send a mission to both. The first of these was the planet Eve and the launch of Mariner 3.

The Atlas-Agena rocket placed the probe on a 175-day interplanetary transit. Mariner 3 entered Eve's sphere of influence on Day 299, making it the third space probe to reach another world. The Block II Mariners were the first interplanetary probes that featured film cameras. Thus the probe would transmit back alien images of a cloud covered world, coming as close as 368km. After passing the planet, the Agena fired to make a plane change maneuver to match the orbit of the moon Gilly.
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On Day 306, Mariner 3 performed a flyby of Eve's only moon. The closest approach was a mere 5km as the probe sped past gathering all the data it could. Visual images along with its eccentric orbit seemed to confirm that Gilly is in fact a captured asteroid. In the following two days after the encounter, the Agena burned twice to stabilize Mariner 3 into a parking orbit around Eve.
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Launch 79: Mariner 4 / Atlas SLV3 29-Agena D 12
Mission: First space probe to reach another world and first to Moho. Scientific experiment probe to flyby Moho.
Orbital Information: Arrived at Moho on Day 247, Year 2. Closest approach was 76km. Left Moho's sphere of influence on the same day. 
Payload: Mariner 4 - Extending Rubidium Magnetometer, Ion Trap chamber, Geiger counter, Cosmic Dust detector, and Zufar film camera. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.

Mariner 4 was the second Block II space probe and the second interplanetary explorer (after Mariner 1) to arrive at another world. Unlike its predecessor, a FM1 Mite solid booster third stage was mounted on top of the Agena. Liftoff went without incident and the total transit time was a comparatively short 114 days to encounter the innermost planet of Moho.

ARPA's leading scientists had calculated that it would take an enormously powerful rocket to enter into orbit around Moho due to the proximity and influence of the Sun. Mariner 4 was planned as a flyby that would perform its experiments and collect as much data as possible in a short amount of time. The Agena performed a course correction burn before the encounter to ensure the probe passed on the sunlit side. Mariner 4 encountered Moho on Day 247 of Year 2. Using the Zufar camera, the first pictures of another world were transmitted back to Kerbin. 

All too quickly the flyby was complete and Mariner 4 found itself in a solar orbit. It would transmit some data from its position in the lower solar system while ARPA scientists calculated what little, if anything, could be done to extend the probe's mission. It lacked enough fuel to encounter Moho again and while it was determined that the probe could attempt to pass by the planet Eve years later, it was decided that by then there would be little value from its primitive instruments. Mariner 4 was placed into hibernation with a final course command that if the probe still functioned two years later, it would expend its fuel to make a flyby of Kerbin.
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Launch 80: Dyna-Soar-1 / Titan IIICs-3 (Titan LV11)-Transtage 3
Mission: Manned orbiter to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 99km. Landed on the runway at KSC.
Payload: X-20B Dyna-Soar NR3 "Dawn" - Crew: Cross Kerman

The Dyna-Soar Model B was mated to Transtage NR3 and stacked upon a Titan IIICs launch vehicle. Aboard was Cross Kerman, Lead Test Pilot at KASA and the one of the most experienced kerbals assigned to Project Dyna-Soar. As was tradition in the space program, Dyna-Soar was given a name. Cross Kerman called his spaceplane, Dawn.

The Titan would deliver its payload to an equatorial orbit just shy of 100km. Transtage separated from the booster and briefly fired its engines as both a test and put distance between the two craft.
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Reminiscent of the earlier Mercury missions, Dawn would spend three orbits above Kerbin. During this time, Cross used the Transtage's RCS thrusters to practice orientating the combined craft. His main task was to assess the health of the Dyna-Soar's systems and check for any signs of suspected damage. Like any first time kerbonaut, there was also a small amount of time for Cross to just enjoy the view. 

Near the end of the final orbit Dawn orientated for de-orbit and fired the Transtage engines. The combined craft re-orientated for re-entry and the transit stage was discarded. Dyna-Soar suffered the heat and violence of re-entry and streaked eastward past Kerbal Space Center and over Booster Bay. After it expelled supersonic velocity, the jet engine was engaged and Cross circled back to land at KSC runaway.
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Author's Note: The modified C-182 Seahawk used in this story was developed by @Raptor9 of Raptor Aerospace. His KerbalX page can be found at https://kerbalx.com/Raptor9

Edited by USKnight
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Launch 81: Transit 3 - SOLRAD-2 / (Jupiter LV38) Delta B 7
Mission: First nuclear-powered satellite. Navigation satellite to low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 435km x 385km, 66.8 deg inclination.
Payload: Transit 3 - SNAP-3 RTG. Manufactured by APL for the Navy.
        SOLRAD-2 - X-ray Imaging scope, SIGINT receiver. Manufactured by NRL for ARPA.

The third Transit satellite was designed to not only increase the Navy's global positioning network, but also act as a test bed for the SNAP-3 radioisotope generator. Transit 3's nuclear power source was a contained in a small globe mounted on the bottom of its frame. Like its predecessor, mounted atop the satellite was the diminutive SOLRAD-2.

Lofted atop a Delta launch vehicle, Transit 3 and SOLRAD-2 were delivered into an inclined orbit. The SNAP generator operated nominally as a successful technology demonstrator. SOLRAD-2 was released to orbit separately and collected information on foreign radar transmissions. As it was identical to the first SOLRAD, its transmitter was poor and the majority of the data could not be returned to ground stations.
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Launch 82: Quill-1 / Super Jupiter SLV2A 1-39-Agena D 13
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Altitude mapping satellite to low Kerbin orbit. Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 115km x 104km, 70 deg inclination.
Payload: Quill-1 - Dual SAR-X radar panels, four SNAP-3 RTGs, and an SRV.

Quill represented a proof of concept for a radar-based reconnaissance satellite that could see through clouds and operate on both day and night sides of Kerbin. Publicly, it was announced that the radar would only be operated over the United States to test its resolution and capabilities as an altitude mapping satellite.

The launch featured the first Super Jupiter launch vehicle, which was less a new vehicle as it was a name to identify a thrust-assisted Jupiter-Agena from the Delta D. The ascent went without issue, but during Agena separation from the booster stage, the folded starboard OX-4W solar panel was struck and shattered. 

This left Quill in orbit with half its ability to generate power for its high energy radar system. Only one of the two SAR-X panels could be operated at a time. The remaining solar panel was enough to keep the satellite in service and conduct operations. Initially it performed mapping tests of known areas in the United States. Quill would eventually create an altitude map of the majority of Kerbin's surface.

As a reconnaissance satellite, Quill was a disappointment. The dream of a spy satellite that could operate both night and day in any conditions was not achieved. Quill gave poor resolution in the test images it returned. The led to the SRV not being used to return data. An initial pitch to use a Gemini or Dyna-Soar mission to repair the satellite was also discounted.
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Launch 83: GATV 2 / Atlas SLV3 30-Agena D 14
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Deliver GATV to low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 457km. De-orbited.
Payload: Gemini Agena Target Vehicle 2 - Materials exposure bay and Micrometeoroid impact detector. Modified by McDonnell for ARPA.

The second GATV was launched into a circular low parking orbit of 88km from Green Sands Proving Grounds. It was the first in a two-launch series with Gemini 9 to act as the docking target and orbital maneuvering vehicle for the mission. Identical in construction to the original GATV, the only real notable difference in the missions was the relatively high inclination of its orbit.

GATV-2 would wait in orbit for about a day until the arrival of Wally Kerman and Scott Kerman aboard Orion.
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Launch 84: Gemini 9 (Blue Gemini-1) / Titan IIGLV 12
Mission: Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return. Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 457km. Landed 1.4km from KSC.
Payload: Gemini 9 "Orion" - Crew: Wally Kerman, Scott Kerman

Gemini 9 was the first manned mission operating under a ruse for its primary objectives. It was also the first flight of the Gemini Block III spacecraft, which had longer ranged communications capabilities and four OAMS thrusters instead of two. Publicly, Gemini 9 was a repeat of Gemini 7 for manned operations in medium orbit using the GATV. The only real difference was the unusual inclined orbit, unlike the equatorial orbits of most manned missions. The reality was that Gemini 9 was actually Blue Gemini-1, a military mission conducted by two military kerbonauts to retrieve highly sensitive data from SOLRAD-1. 

Gemini 9 was boosted into orbit to rendezvous with the previously launched GATV-2. The inclination of both craft matched the target satellite's orbit. The normally jovial Wally Kerman kept his attitude serious as he docked Orion to the GATV smoothly. Calculations were verified groundside and only a short time later, GATV's engine flared to life to boost the combined craft into an intercept with SOLRAD-1.
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Several orbital maneuvers later, Wally and Scott strained to make visual contact with their target. As Wally would later say in his de-briefing, "it was like trying to find a beach ball in the middle of the ocean."

The combined craft's RCS thrusters were used to bring them into close proximity with SOLRAD and Scott donned his spacesuit and EVA jetpack to make the first encounter with a satellite in orbit. SOLRAD has not been designed with the idea that its limited data recorder would be retrievable. With precision that came from much training, Scott sheared off one of the satellite's covers and removed the data transmitter and recorder, effectively disabling SOLRAD-1.

Scott returned to Orion with his bounty and Wally fired the Agena to bring them back to low orbit. Their mission complete, GATV-2 was discarded to de-orbit itself. The OAMS thrusters brought the duo home where they landed less than a kilometer-and-a-half from Kerbal Space Center. Their mission had lasted nearly a day.

Data analysts were able to piece together much of SOLRAD's data, learning much about the location and prevalence of foreign radar installations and their density. While the public could not know about their true mission, Wally and Scott were ecstatic over their accomplishment.
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Scott Kerman, left. Wally Kerman, right.

Launch 85: Intelsat 1 "Early Bird" / (Jupiter LV40) Delta D 2
Mission: Communications satellite to keostationary orbit over central Gnosis.
Orbital Information: 3.1Mm x 2.5Mm, 0 deg inclination.
Payload: Intelsat 1 "Early Bird" - Manufactured by Hughes Aircraft and launched by ARPA.

Intelsat was the next iteration of the Hughes communication satellite series. Larger and more capable than the Syncoms, Intelsat had a stronger transmitter and could handle one live television feed or up to 240 voice circuits at one-time. Nicknamed Early Bird, the satellite was placed into keostationary orbit by a Delta D launch vehicle. It's final position was essentially the original intended location of the first Syncom satellite, opposite the globe from KSC.

Early Bird was the fourth commercial satellite and the seventh active communications satellite at the time.
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Launch 86: Corona KH-7-9014 / Atlas SLV3 31-Agena D 15
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information:  116km x 80km, 90 deg inclination. SRV-1 landed 5.6km north of GSPG. SRV-2 landed 2km south of Woomerang.
Payload: Corona-9014 - KH-7 Gambit camera system and two SRVs.

Unlike any previous reconnaissance flight, Corona-9014 was launched into a polar orbit. From this position, the Gambit had several opportunities to gather intelligence from any location on Kerbin during its six-day mission. The camera was also used to provide detailed topography of the polar regions themselves.

The first SRV was released after the first three days and landed on target. SRV-2 was released just before Corona-9014 de-orbited and set down only a few miles from Woomerang.
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Launch 87: Mariner 5 / Atlas SLV3 32-Agena D 16
Mission: Scientific experiment probe to Jool.
Orbital Information: In transit for almost three years. Will arrive Day 96. Year 5.
Payload: Mariner 5 - Magnetometer boom, Radiometer, Cosmic Dust detector, Electrostatic Analyzer, and television camera. Manufactured by JPL for ARPA.  

Mariner 5 was a Block B space probe engineered on the same chassis design as the original Mariner. Whereas the Block II had opted for a simple octagonal body and four solar panels, the Block B had more in common with the Ranger and Surveyor series. The probe was the second bound for the planet Jool. The long transit meant that Mariner 5 was launched long before the primitive Pioneer 4 ever reached Jool's sphere of influence.

The venerable Atlas-Agena launch vehicle performed the orbiting and transit. A solid Mite third-stage was included in this mission. Atlas burned until its fuel was expended and was discarded into solar orbit. Mariner 5 would hibernate until the early parts of Year 3 when the Agena would perform a course correction burn. The probe will arrive at its destination early in the fifth year of the Space Era.
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Launch 88: Gemini 10 (Pegasus 3) / Titan IIGLV 13
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Manned crew ferry to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 203km. Docked with Pegasus station on Day 238, Year 2. Departed on Day 267, Year 2. Landed on the runaway at Area 42.
Payload: Gemini 10 "Covered Wagon" - Crew: Collins Kerman, Buzz Kerman

Gemini 10 was the third expedition to Pegasus station. Aboard the Covered Wagon was pilot Collins Kerman and EVA-specialist Buzz Kerman. As the name of their spacecraft might hint, the goal of their mission was an extended stay in space. Their flight was the first in a tandem mission with Saturn SA3 that would launch the following day from Kerbal Space Center.

135 days had passed from the time Constellation had departed the space station and the arrival of Gemini 10. In all that time, Pegasus had remained dormant, drifting in orbit in hibernation. After EVA transferring to the airlock, the astronauts' first duties were to see to the health of the station and bring her systems back on-line. This would take up the majority of their first day.
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The following day, Saturn SA3 arrived at Pegasus bringing the right wing of the station. The Habitation section contained a bunkroom for the astronauts as well as a purpose-built space bathroom. Attached was the Greenhouse Bio-Lab to facilitate the experimenting with growing plants in space. At the end of this module was the Docking port, featuring two passive docks designed for crew transfer with future spacecraft. The end port was of the same design, but for craft that lacked transfer capability. Namely it was intended for use with Dyna-Soar.
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One of Buzz's long duration tasks was the inspection of the solar arrays for micrometeoroid damage as part of the Pegasus experiment. During the station's long period without habitation, the solar arrays had been left static and deployed. The prevalence of micrometeoroids and the damage they might cause to future stations, moon missions, and interplanetary craft needed to be determined. As the leading trainer of EVA activities at KASA, Buzz was highly qualified for the long and careful task ahead of him. He would also spend some time in the Dorian laboratory, but unlike the previous expedition Buzz's assigned objectives were largely scientific in nature.
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During their 29 day stay in space, Collins' time was split between conducting greenhouse experiments and utilizing various station systems. No spacecraft had ever spent the amount of time in space that Pegasus had and ARPA engineers were very interested in assessing its condition. Both kerbonauts enjoyed the relative luxury of the Habitation section and the benefit of eating fresh vegetables near the end of the mission.

After over three weeks in space, the crew of Covered Wagon EVA transferred to their spacecraft and waved goodbye to their home in space. The OAMS thrusters were fired and they entered Kerbin's atmosphere. Overall, the mission proved that given proper conditions kerbals could work and live in space for extended periods of time. Their mission ended with a touch down only meters from the runway at Area 42.
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Buzz Kerman, left. Collins Kerman, right.

Launch 89: Saturn SA3 (MOL 4) / Saturn I LV3
Mission: Deliver Habitation and Greenhouse module and Docking port to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 203km.
Payload: MOL Habitat and Greenhouse module with Docking port.

Saturn SA3 was the final launch using the S-IV second stage. Originally intended as a stop-gap for the delayed Centaur stage as well as engineering practice by Von Kerman's team, the S-IV was due to be replaced by the IV-B, the same stage slated for use with the massive Project Apollo Mun rocket.

As a heavy lift vehicle, SA3 was tasked with delivering the MOL 4 payload consisting of the Habitation and Greenhouse module and Docking port to Pegasus station. After reaching a 90km parking orbit, the S-IV boosted to 203km to create an encounter with the station. Several hours and a few maneuvers later brought the rocket to its destination where Collins Kerman observed the automated docking of the payload as the new right wing of Pegasus

After detaching from the payload, the SA3 backed away and drifted from the station until its engines were fired for de-orbiting.
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Launch 90: Relay 2 / (Jupiter LV41) Delta B 8
Mission: Communications satellite to low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 3.3Mm x 853km, 46 deg inclination.
Payload: Relay 2 - Manufactured by RCA Astro and launched by ARPA.

The second satellite in the Relay series was identical to the first and was lofted into high orbit by a Delta B rocket. It became the fifth member of the growing constellation of commercial communications satellites in orbit. Relay 2's inclined orbit gave the satellite significant uptime, but even at the time it was launched it was outclassed by Early Bird and its planned sisters.

The launch was routine and overshadowed by more the more prominent missions that came before and after it. The first voice circuit relayed by the satellite was a test from ground controllers at GSPG. Their connection was not to another ground station, but to Buzz Kerman and Collins Kerman aboard Pegasus station, America's home in space.
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