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Launch 91: LES-1 / Titan IIIA-1 (Titan LV14)-Transtage 4
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Communications satellite to high Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 6.4Mm x 1.2Mm, 32 deg inclination.
Payload: Lincoln Experimental Satellite-1 - Manufactured by Lincoln Laboratory for ARPA.

The launch of LES-1 marked the beginning of an ARPA initiative to create a global communications network. The Lincoln Experimental Satellite was a test bed for the proposed network's relay technology. It was also demonstrator for a large and dedicated military communications satellite.

The mission featured the first use of the full Titan III, called the Model A, which featured a full two-stage Titan booster below the Transtage. The payload would be placed into a high orbit to test signal strength above and below keosynchronous altitude. LES-1 became the most powerful communications satellite of its day. It would replace the primitive Courier as the fourth active military relay and act as the predecessor to the Initial Defense Communications Satellite Project (IDCSP) series.

Launch 92: Dyna-Soar-2 / Titan IIICs-4 (Titan LV15)-Transstage 5
Mission: Longest duration solo flight of 11 days. First return to Kerbin on a different vehicle than the one launched on.
Manned spaceplane to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 202km. Docked at Pegasus on Day 257, Year 2. Departed on Day 278 onboard Pegasus Lifeboat. Splashed down in Booster Bay, 305km east of KSC.
Payload: X-20B Dyna-Soar NR3 "Dawn" - Crew: Jerrie Kerman

Dyna-Soar-2 was the second flight of Dawn and the first time a spacecraft had been sent into space twice. Aboard Dawn was KASA Test Pilot Jerrie Kerman. Her refurbished spaceplane had one major difference from the previous flight. The dummy docking port that had been mounted atop the fuselage had been replaced by an Apollo Active docking port, to match the passive ports on Pegasus station.

Titan launched Dawn into a 110km parking orbit. The Transtage separated and took over from there, raising the orbit to 202km to create an encounter with the space station. A few hours later, Dawn successfully docked at the forward port. Like the Gemini missions, Jerrie performed an EVA transfer to the station's airlock. The spaceplane also delivered a supply of consumables and an experimental mini-Recycler for testing.

Jerrie's initial duties were to assist in the Greenhouse module, working opposite shifts with Collins Kerman. She also performed an EVA to inspect the docking connection for signs of stress. After ten days, the Gemini 10 crew loaded up and departed for Kerbin after a record setting 29 day stay. 

Jerrie would remain in isolated comfort for a further 11 days, tending to the Greenhouse module, stowing the supplies she had brought on Dawn, and making observations from the crew module. These 11 days would set the record for the longest solo duration in space. Bridge Kerman was often the CAPCOM for her during the mission and gave her a surprise when he had her check one of the supply bags. Inside was a ring and Bridge would make the first marriage proposal from Kerbin to space. After a long pause with no reply transmission from Pegasus, she said yes.

On Day 278, it was time for Jerrie to depart. She would not leave the same way she came. The Apollo program would soon begin flights with a crew of three. The space station however, had been designed with a Lifeboat Gemini that could only carry two kerbals to safety. As such, it was time for the Pegasus Lifeboat to be replaced. Jerrie climbed into the cockpit and fired up the Gemini that has spent 256 days in orbit.

After 21 days in space Jerrie splashed down in the eastern edge of Booster Bay, 305km east of KSC. This was an intended landing point in order to give the Navy's team a practice recovery in the event of an emergency. Bridge Kerman was waiting for her aboard the recovery vessel.

Launch 93: OGO 2 / Thrust Assisted Jupiter SLV2A-42-Agena D 17
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Scientific experiment satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 658km x 181km, 87.3 deg inclination.
Payload: Orbiting Geophysical Observatory 2 - 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 second OGO satellite was launched from Woomerang Space Center. The mission was launched into a polar orbit from where to make its observations. Like its predecessor, OGO 2 was designed to collect data in an effort to accurately map and model Kerbin's magnetosphere and its interactions with the Sun.

Launch 94: IDCSP 1 (IDCSP-1 through 8) / Titan IIIA-2 (Titan LV16)-Transtage 6
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Military communications satellite network launch to keostationary orbit.
Orbital Information: 3.4Mm x 2.86Mm, 0 deg inclination.
Payload: Initial Defense Communication Satellite Project - Communications relay and antenna. Manufactured by Philco-Ford for ARPA. IDCSP-1, IDCSP-2, IDCSP-3, IDCSP-4, IDCSP-5, IDCSP-6, IDCSP-7, IDCSP-8.

The first arm of the Initial Defense Communications Satellite Project (IDCSP) network was the deployment of an equatorial keostationary network of eight orbital relays. Boosted into orbit aboard a Titan IIIA, the Transtage separated and fired several burns to place itself into a resonant orbit. Over a period of eight days, one IDCSP relay would be deployed at periapsis. The IDCSP satellites featured a small maneuvering thruster to circularize and fine tune their position into a keostationary orbit.

The final satellite of the initial network, IDCSP-8 , was placed into orbit on Day 258. The IDCSP Transtage was orientated for de-orbiting and fired its engine to end the mission. IDCSP became the first dedicated relay network that spanned the entirety of Kerbin. Sharing the same orbit were Syncom 2 and 3 as well as Early Bird. America now enjoyed un-interrupted world-wide communications from a constellation of 11 keostationary satellites and six additional relays.

Launch 95: Gemini 11 (Pegasus 4) / Titan IIGLV 17
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Manned crew ferry to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 202km. Docked at Pegasus on Day 292, Year 2. Departed on Day 341, Year 2. Landed at KSC.
Payload: Gemini 11 "Cerberus" - Crew: Rush Kerman, Young Kerman

Gemini 11 was the first Block IV three-seat variant. The affectionately named "rumble seat" was behind the two pilot seats and did not feature an ejection seat in the case of emergency. ARPA had begun a limited project to develop a launch escape system for the three-seat Gemini, but at the time of Cerberus' flight this was not necessary. Their mission was to prove out the extended capsule design as well as the new Ferry Equipment module and docking port.

Like every previous expedition, Gemini 11 was launched preceding a Saturn launch from Kerbal Space Center on the same day.

The Cerberus crew's first mission was observing the arrival of Saturn SA4 and the docking of the new forward half of the station. The three-man lifeboat and habitation module were added without incident. Young Kerman, like the scientist kerbonauts before him, took to the lab where the Dorian cameras were re-loaded with film and analysis could resume in the laboratory. Again, Dorian was used for more scientific purposes than general reconnaissance in an effort to find use for the large camera system. During their tenure, Young would perform two long duration EVAs to inspect the Solar array for damage as part of the Pegasus Experiment. 

Rush Kerman was an engineer who has served at KSC modifying the Dyna-Soar airframe for space. One of his primary duties was to inspect Dawn for micrometeoroid damage as well as its general health. He also performed a re-docking of the spaceplane, moving it to reside on the end docking port of the right wing. The allowed for a second spacecraft to dock at Pegasus and make use of the pressurized crew passage, a feature Dyna-Soar could not utilize. This small re-arrangement left Pegasus ready for a visit by the planned Apollo 1 spacecraft in the future.

Cerberus departed after a record setting 49 days in space, largely in part due to the expanded comfort of full private cabins for the crew, fresh vegetables from the Greenhouse, and ARPA's overall experience in mitigating much of the stress on kerbonauts in zero gravity. Gemini 11 would end its successful mission by landing several hundred meters from the Launch Pad at Kerbal Space Center.
Rush Kerman, left. Young Kerman, right.

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Launch 96: Saturn SA4 (MOL 5) / Saturn IB-1-4
Mission: Deliver Lifeboat and Habitation module to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 202km.
Payload: MOL Lifeboat II and Habitation II module, and two small-scale Recyclers. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

Saturn SA4 was the first flight of the Saturn IVB second stage. Unlike the hastily designed S-IV, this model was engineered for heavy payload transit duty. IVB was intended to be the third stage of the Apollo Mun rocket, but Von Kerman also proposed other applications for the design as a frame for future space stations and habitation modules.

The mission's goal was to deliver a new three-seat Gemini Lifeboat to the station, along with a larger two-cabin Habitation module and an EVA accessible service bay. The new module featured greatly expanded long-range communications equipment, two small scale Recyclers, and additional batteries for the space station. Like the previous Saturns, SA4 was lofted into a 92km parking orbit before boosting to 202km to create an encounter with Pegasus.

Arriving the day after Gemini 11, the new forward section of the station was slowly guided into place. Young Kerman observed from the Habitation module as the automated docking system performed the largest autonomous docking to date. After hard lock was achieved, the SA4 was released and de-orbited itself shortly after.

Launch 97: Corona KH-7-9015 /  Atlas SLV3 33-Agena D 18
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 112km x 80km, 89 deg inclination. SRV-1 splashed down in Booster Bay, 83km east of KSC. SRV-2 landed 87km north of GSPG.
Payload: Corona-9015 - KH-7 Gambit camera system and two SRVs.
        Pundit-1 - Manufactured by Lockheed for the USAF. Orbit is 245km x 126km at 89 deg.

Corona-9015 was the first reconnaissance satellite to carry a small sub-satellite payload. The mission began with a launch into a higher orbit of 126km in order to release the Pundit-1 sub-satellite. Pundit featured a small solid motor that fired to raise its orbit to the intended operational altitude.

Like the SOLRAD series of satellites, Pundit was an Electronics Intelligence gathering platform for detecting specific enemy radar transmissions. Also like the previous series, the data return capability of the sub-satellite was extremely limited.

After deployment, the Agena was fired twice to lower Corona to its intended reconnaissance orbit. The satellite's lifespan was shorter than usual because it carried less monopropellant for the Fuel Cell. The first SRV was released after two days in orbit to splash down in Booster Bay. The second was released after four days total, preceding de-orbiting and the end of the mission. SRV-2 landed 87km north of Area 42 and was retrieved by Seahawk.
Recovery Flight



Recovery Flight: C-182H Seahawk
Location: Area 42
Mission: Recover Corona-9015 SRV-2.
Crew: Cross Kerman

For all of its incredible capabilities as a reconnaissance satellite, the Gambit series was the first to have repeated problems with delivering SRVs to their intended landing sites. On Day 312 of Year 2, Cross Kerman took off from Area 42 to make a swift recovery of Corona-9015's second return capsule.

The mission was without incident and after a brief flight to the north, Cross landed his craft in the green sands of the Great Kulge desert. He loaded the capsule by hand to the Grabbing Claw and made a vertical take-off to return to the Air Force base.


Launch 98: Gemini 12 / Titan IIIGLV-1 (Titan LV17)-Transtage 7
Mission: Manned spacecraft to medium Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: 2.7Mm x 249km, 0 degrees inclination. Landed 1km east of KSC.
Payload: Gemini 12 "American Eagle" - Crew: Frank Kerman, Stafford Kerman

Gemini 12 was initially launched into a 85km parking orbit. After a full circuit. Stage II was fired to raise the craft to 250km where it coasted to apoapsis. Stage II was fired again to simulate a Mun transit burn until it was expended and the Transtage took over to completed the burn. The initial higher start altitude would leave the discarded Titan Stage II in an orbit that would unlikely interfere with any future missions.

For this simulation a highly elliptical orbit to near synchronous altitude was selected. This allowed for a sharp return angle, as would be from a Munar flyby as well as a plausible return scenario from a mission to repair a satellite in keosynchronous orbit. The pair of kerbonauts would achieve the record for the highest altitude Kerbin orbit. Over a period of hours, they would watch the planet grow smaller and then larger as American Eagle traversed its arc.

After a little over a day in space, American Eagle fired the Transtage to de-orbit. The Equipment/Transtage module was discarded and Frank and Stafford endured the hotter than normal re-entry to make a perfect landing one kilometer east of Kerbal Space Center.
Stafford Kerman, left. Frank Kerman, right.

Launch 99: Hugin / Atlas SLV3 34-Agena D 19
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Communications satellite to high Mun orbit.
Orbital Information: 669km x 200km, 90 deg inclination.
Payload: Hugin - Manufactured by Lockheed and modified by ABMA for ARPA.

Project Surveyor and Apollo involved landings on the Mun and later Minmus. In order to support communications with landed probes and spacecraft, Von Kerman's team modified a reconnaissance satellite design (codenamed Strawman) under development in order to mount a large RA-2 Relay dish along with a support relay and omni-directional antenna. The completed satellite was the first of two planned launches and represented the most powerful communications satellites so far developed. They would be named Hugin and Munin, after the ravens that served the Norse god Odin.

Hugin was launched first and its destination was the Mun. The Atlas booster orbited the craft with the Agena stage performing the transit. After arriving at the target's sphere of influence, the Agena was fired multiple times in order to place the relay into an elliptical polar orbit that would maximize the satellite's stay time over the northern hemisphere.

Launch 100: Surveyor 1 / Atlas LV3C 2-35-Centaur D 2
Mission: First probe lander to Mun. Science experiment probe lander to land on Mun.
Orbital Information: Landed in the Northwest Crater, north of the equator on Day 327, Year 2.
Payload: Surveyor 1 - Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

Centaur was finally called into action for the 100th launch of the American space program. JPL's venerable Ranger probe bus formed the basis of the Surveyor lander and Hughes Aircraft loaded it with as many science experiments as could be fitted to its frame. The Atlas rocket was entrusted for the 35th time to launch a payload into orbit. This spacecraft would be the first to make a controlled landing upon another world.

After a day in transit, Surveyor separated from Centaur and burned to de-orbit itself. The Centaur stage would be ordered shortly after to fire its engines for a collision with the Mun to dispose of it. Surveyor successfully landed on the Mun on Day 327, Year 2 in the Northwest Crater.  The craft proved that landing on Mun was possible and that the surface was indeed viable. It utilized its bevy of experiments to return valuable scientific data to KSC. The relatively flat area of the Northwest Crater was identified as a possible ideal place for a future mission to land a kerbal on the Mun.

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Launch 101: Saturn SA5 (Apollo 0) - Saturn IB-2-5
Mission: Unmanned test launch to Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit achieved was 550km. Landed 5km west of KSC.
Payload: Apollo 0 - Manufactured by North American for ARPA.

The fifth Saturn booster was the first mission that was not destined for Pegasus station. SA5 was an unmanned proving flight of the Apollo Command and Service modules as well as the petal-arranged adapter the spacecraft rested upon. For this flight the adapter was empty, but with the power of the Saturn V rocket the Landing Excursion Module (LEM) would be contained inside.

After launching into a 110km parking orbit, the autonomous Apollo spacecraft detached from the IVB stage. To minimize space debris the adapter opened in a petal arrangement, though a version where the petals separated away from the craft was also available. The Service module used its RCS to move away from the transit stage. The discarded IVB stage would de-orbit itself shortly after.

Apollo 0 would fire the Service module engine (called the SPS) four times during the test flight. First to raise the orbit to 550km and again circularize. At apoapsis, the spacecraft was ordered to lower its orbit to 100km. Near this new periapsis, the SPS was fired for the last time to de-orbit. The Service module was discarded and the autonomous Apollo would endure the violence of re-entry and make a parachute landing 5km west of Kerbal Space Center. Total mission time was a little over half day.

Launch 102: OAO 1 / Atlas SLV3B 1-36-Agena D 20
Mission: First space telescope. Space observatory satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 342km x 341km, 35 deg inclination.
Payload: Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 1 - UV Photometry/Gamma Ray telescope. Manufactured by Krumman Aerospace for ARPA.

The orbiting of America's first telescope in space featured the first use of the Atlas SLV3B launcher. Externally similar to the Centaur variant, the Model B was a wide top Atlas with a large fairing around an Agena second stage. This allowed the delivery of wider payloads while still keeping to the same tried and trusted launch vehicle.

OAO was placed into a nearly perfect circular orbit. The satellite featured large fixed solar panels and precision RCS thrusters to orientate the telescope. The observatory was used in a vast array of astronomical studies and observations in association with various universities and laboratories. KASA pined for the responsibility, but ARPA ultimately assigned the Navy the task for coordinating the use of OAO as part of the newly formed Naval Space Command. This unified office would initially shepherd the Transit GPS, Nimbus meteorological program, and the space observatory.

Launch 103: Munar Orbiter 1 / Atlas SLV3-37-Agena D 21
Mission: Reconnaissance probe to medium Mun orbit.
Orbital Information: 499km x 17km, 12 deg inclination.
Payload: Munar Orbiter 1 - Dual-lens camera system, multispectral camera, and Geiger Counter. Manufactured by Boeing for ARPA.

The Munar Orbiter was essentially a reconnaissance probe sent to orbit the Mun. The camera system was based on NRO/Air Force designs used in Project Corona and featured a dual-lens system for low-resolution mapping and high-resolution picture capabilities. The mission's primary goal was to identify and collect data on suitable landing sites for the Apollo Mun landing missions.

The Atlas-Agena launch vehicle orbited and transited the spacecraft to the Mun. The Agena was set on a collision course and was discarded with the Munar Orbiter using its engine to finalize its trajectory into an elliptical orbit. From its vantage point, the camera system operated nominally. The probe was also used to take the first photos of Kerbin from Munar orbit.

Launch 104: Gemini 13 / Titan IIIGLV-2 (Titan LV18)-Transtage 8
Mission: First manned flyby of Mun. Manned mission to fly-by the Mun and return. Encountered the Mun on Day 365, Year 2.
Orbital Information: Farthest distance from Kerbin was 15.7Mm. Landed on the southwest rim of Kraken Peninsula.
Payload: Gemini 13 "Astra" - Crew: William "Gus" Kerman, Chaffee Kerman

The last major accomplishment of Project Gemini was a manned mission to encounter the Mun. The flight was as much a publicity stunt as it was a major feat of making the most out of existing technology. Visually, Gemini 13 and Gemini 11 were of the same design and the earlier flight had been a successful proving flight for the combined Equipment/Transtage. In Astra's case, every effort was made to lower the spacecraft's weight. Supplies and equipment were reduced to minimum, along with structural changes to conserve weight that added up to savings of half a ton. The Titan III first stage was lengthened to provide 12% more fuel. Even with these changes, Gemini 13 was a risky undertaking with little margin for error.



Behind the scenes, Gemini 13 was an inter-service prestige bid that oversold the capabilities of a spacecraft. The US Air Force had proposed the mission as a capstone for the Gemini program and bring a historic first with kerbonauts performing a flyby of the Mun. This would galvanize popular support for the upcoming Apollo missions and the very costly Saturn V rocket needed to conduct them. Let alone the millions of dollars spent funding Von Kerman's (the Army) development of the F-1 engine and all of the various technologies the Saturn series utilized.

A Gemini using the Transtage and the Titan III booster were calculated as able to perform the mission at half the cost of fitting a Gemini to Saturn I. The mission would use only existing technology and would provide and act as a proving vehicle for a very capable Blue Gemini spacecraft. The President signed off on the two-launch proposal (Gemini 11 and 13), which in retrospect should have utilized a Titan IIIC launch vehicle for the Munar flyby. Using Titan IIIC would also have meant the use of the not-yet developed Gemini Launch Escape System. By the time of the flight, KASA and Air Force engineers strained to create a viable flight plan without being forced to postpone and ask for more funding. Of primary consideration was completing the mission prior to the launch of Apollo 1 and any chance that the Army might be tasked to perform a manned orbit of the Mun instead.  


The kerbonauts for this mission were rookie scientist Chaffee Kerman and veteran engineer William "Gus" Kerman. They departed Kerbin on Day 364 of Year 2 into a low 82km parking orbit. Stage II was fired to perform the transit burn until it was expended and discarded into Kerbin orbit. Transtage finished the maneuver that would place Astra on a course to intercept the Mun and skirt past it.

After just under a day in transit, Astra would close to within 40km of the Mun, collecting data with its limited science experiments. Near their closest approach, Elliot performed the only EVA of the flight, snapping unobstructed pictures from her vantage above the Mun and performing a zero-gravity experiment. Gus was tasked with capturing images himself through Astra's window, but including taking one of his partner in space above the Mun's surface.

All too quickly their fly-by was nearly complete and the Transtage was fired to alter their course into a large elliptical orbit that was bring them back to Kerbin over a period of three days. During this time, the kerbonauts were given light duties comprising of mostly of celestial photography, obtaining images of the distant Mun and Kerbin, and monitoring their exposure to cosmic rays.

After over four days in space, Transtage burned the last of their fuel to bring them down for re-entry. Astra separated to suffer a violent high-speed re-entry and came down over the Kraken Sea. A splashdown had been expected, but their trajectory brought them down miraculously onto the skinny strip of land of Kraken Peninsula, the southwest rim of the ancient crater. The mission was a crowning achievement for the "Gus Bus" and the kerbal who had been so instrumental in its design.
Chaffee Kerman, left. William "Gus" Kerman, right.

Launch 105: Surveyor 2 / Atlas LV3C 3-38-Centaur D 3
Mission: Scientific experiment probe lander to land on Mun.
Orbital Information: Landed in the northwest of the Southwest Crater, southern hemisphere of the Mun.
Payload: Surveyor 2 - Radar Altimeter, Micro Goo Radiometer, Geiger Counter, Ion Trap chamber, Micrometeoroid detector, and television camera. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

The second Surveyor mission followed a similar profile to the first. Launching on an Atlas-Centaur rocket, the lander made a day transit from Kerbin to Mun orbit. Surveyor 2 detached and fired its engine to align its orbit to intercept the Southwest Crater. A second burn began its descent the Munar surface where it successfully landed in the northwest portion of the crater.

Over the next few hours, the probe conducted various experiments and transmitted the data back to Kerbin. It then settled in to collect long-duration data and entered low-power mode.

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Launch 106: Corona KH-7-9016 / Atlas SLV3-39-Agena D 22
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 81km x 80km, 93.8 deg inclination. SRV-1 splashed down 115km east of KSC in Booster Bay. SRV-2 landed 5km south of GSPG.
Payload: Corona 9016 - KH-7 Gambit camera system and two SRVs.

The sixth and final KH-7 Gambit reconnaissance satellite was launched from Woomerang Space Center into very low circular orbit at a high inclination. It's classified primary mission involved obtaining high quality photos of foreign installations on the West Kulge continent.

The first SRV was released on the fourth day of the mission and splashed down in Booster Bay for recovery. The satellite would remain in orbit for nearly a week before de-orbiting and releasing SRV-2 to make a perfect landing 5km south of Green Sands Proving Grounds.

Launch 107: Gemini 14 (Pegasus 5)/ Titan IIGLV 19
Mission: Longest duration in space. Manned crew ferry to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 202km. Docked with Pegasus on Day 391, Year 2. Departed Day 34, Year 3. Landed at KSC.
Payload: Gemini 14 "Endurance" - Crew: Robert C. Kerman, Donn Kerman

Gemini 14 was a Block IV ferry spacecraft that was named Endurance by her crew, a name inspired by the expedition's primary goal of a record setting long duration in space. The mission featured a two-man crew; veteran kerbonaut scientist Robert C. Kerman and rookie pilot Donn Kerman. "Bob" Kerman would be the first kerbal to fly into space for a third time. The "rumble seat" for this flight was again empty was used to carry additional supplies for their extended stay.

After arriving into orbit, Stage II fired to raise their orbit to 202km to create an encounter with the space station. The arrived a few hours later and performed the first "night" docking. Prior to this mission docking procedures had always been delayed in the absence of sunlight. This fifth expedition to Pegasus was also the first not immediately followed by a Saturn rocket delivering a new module for the station.

Bob Kerman's primary duties involved the use of the Dorian camera system. An ample supply of available film had been provided to make full use of Dorian during the mission. ARPA had openly called upon universities and research laboratories to request specific uses of the imaging system for scientific and geographic study. Any and all opportunities to use the large and expensive camera system were entertained for what would be the final operation of the Dorian module.

Donn Kerman was tasked with two long duration EVAs to inspect the station's solar arrays for micrometeoroid damage as part of the Pegasus Experiment. He would also tend to the Greenhouse module; their extended stay meaning that a great variety of vegetables could be grown, analyzed, and consumed during their stay. A third EVA saw him inspect Dyna-Soar Dawn for any damage.


21 days into their mission, Pegasus would enjoy a visit from Valentina Kerman and James Kerman aboard the Apollo 1 spacecraft. During this time the crew's work load was reduced, giving them ample time to be social and treat their guests with some of the first set of grown vegetables. Bob Kerman would perform his only EVA of the mission during this time, performing maintenance on Pegasus' battery bay in tandem with Valentina Kerman. After three days, the distraction was over and the crew settled in for their remaining month and a half in space.  

The Endurance expedition would see eight space launches, two manned Apollo missions, and the first space probe visit an asteroid during their tenure in space. They would also celebrate the station's first anniversary in orbit. At the very end of their mission, the arrival of Gemini 15 would make them the first to meet two different spacecraft in orbit and the first to meet their replacements before departing the station.

In the days before the end of their mission, Donn planted new vegetables for the next crew while Bob unloaded the film canisters of the Dorian along with certain classified materials that would return to Kerbin onboard the Endurance. Giving their well wishes to the three-man crew of Falcon, Gemini 14 departed after spending 69 days in space. The OAMS was fired for re-entry and they would make a perfect landing only a few hundred meters from the launch pad at Kerbal Space Center.
Robert C. Kerman, left. Donn Kerman, right.

Launch 108: Munin / Atlas SLV3-40-Agena D 23
Mission: Communications satellite to medium Minmus orbit.
Orbital Information: 200km x 20km, 90 deg inclination.
Payload: Munin - Manufactured by Lockheed and modified by ABMA for ARPA.

Munin was the second of two powerful relay satellites intended to provide near constant communications across Kerbin and its moons. Named after one of the ravens that served the Norse god Odin, Munin was boosted into orbit using the Atlas-Agena launch vehicle. After an eight-day transit, the Agena fired several times to place Munin into an elliptical polar orbit the with its apoapsis above the moon's north pole. Together with the IDCSP relay network, Hugin and Munin provided near constant relay capability across the whole Kerbin system.

Launch 109: Explorer 11 / Delta D 3 (Jupiter LV43)
Mission: Scientific experiment probe to high Mun orbit.
Orbital Information: 2Mm x 300km, 147 deg inclination.
Payload: Explorer 35 - Dual folding Magnetometer booms. Manufacture coordinated by KASA for ARPA.

Explorer 11 was jointly developed by KASA and the Langley Research Center. The design was the fourth in-house KASA project and was essentially a lightened Explorer 10 satellite with the Rubidium Magnetometer removed. The probe's primary goal was the detection and mapping of the Mun's magnetosphere.

The launch featured use of the Delta D launch vehicle to orbit and deliver Explorer 11 to the Mun. Delta would fine tune the probe's closest approach before separating from the payload and firing its engine to place the transit stage on a collision course with the Munar surface. Explorer 11 would utilize a small solid rocket to establish itself into elliptical retrograde orbit and begin collecting data from its science experiments.

Launch 110: Apollo 1 / Saturn IB-3-6
Mission: Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 203km. Docked with Pegasus on Day 412, Year 2. Departed Day 415. Landed 10.4km northwest of GSPG.
Payload: Apollo 1 "Providence" - Crew: Valentina Kerman, James Kerman

The maiden voyage of the Apollo program was crewed by veteran kerbonauts Valentina Kerman and James Kerman. They rode the sixth and final Saturn I booster into low Kerbin orbit. The IVB stage was fired to raise their orbit to 203km to create an encounter with Pegasus station. They would arrive half a day after launch and separated from the transit stage to perform the docking using Providence's RCS thrusters. The IVB would drift away and de-orbit itself on command.

During their three-day stay, Valentina Kerman joined Gemini 14's Robert "Bob" Kerman in a double EVA to perform maintenance on Pegasus's main battery cluster. The station had been in orbit for almost a year and had fared better than hoped against the harsh vacuum of space. The crews also enjoyed eating fresh vegetables that had been grown in the station's greenhouse.
Robert C. Kerman, left. Valentina Kerman (with stripe), right.

On day 415, Providence undocked from the station and backed away. The SPS was fired to bring them down over the desert flats north of Green Sands Proving Grounds. They landed 10.4km northwest of the base and were recovered shortly.
Valentina Kerman (with stripe), left. James Kerman, right.

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Launch 111: Hitchhiker 1 / Atlas LV3C 4-41-Centaur D 4
Mission: First encounter and landing on a solar orbiting asteroid. Scientific experiment probe to grapple onto asteroid JQL-401.
Orbital Information: Grappled to JQL-401 on Day 424, Year 2. 15.7Gm x 13.2Gm at 0.5 deg inclination solar orbit.
Payload: Hitchhiker 1 - Advanced Grabbing Unit (Jr), UV Spectrometer, Micrometeoroid Detector, Geiger Counter, Thermometer, Seismic Accelerometer, Micro Goo Radiometer, Hemispherical Ion Trap, and Surface Hydrometer. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

The powerful Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle was tasked to launch the Hitchhiker probe on an ambitious mission. This was the first anti-spinward launch of the space program, lifting off towards the west from Kerbal Space Center. The flight was coordinated to parallel the path of asteroid JQL-401 as it drew near Kerbin. At its closest point, the asteroid passed inside the orbit of the Mun.

Hitchhiker was a modified Mariner B space probe, taking design features from the Surveyor lander. It mounted a similar grapple claw as used by the Seahawk H recovery VTOL. Originally launched into a 90km parking orbit at 158.5-degree inclination, Centaur would fire to create an rendezvous with the asteroid on its way out of the Kerbin system. The two would meet near the orbital distance of Minmus about a week after launch.

JQL-401 is a 39-ton Class C solar orbiting asteroid. Centaur delivered the probe in close proximity where it was released to perform the grapple operation. Hitchhiker carefully closed in and latched onto JQL-401 on Day 424. It used its extensive payload of science experiments to collect data about the asteroid and interplanetary space in general. Hitchhiker will remain a rider as the asteroid orbits the Sun.

Launch 112: IDCSP 2 (IDCSP-9 through 16) / Titan IIIA 3-20-Transtage 9
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Communications satellite network launch to high polar Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 3.4Mm x 2.86Mm, 90 deg inclination.
Payload: Initial Defense Communication Satellite Project satellite - Manufactured by Philco-Ford for ARPA. 
        IDCSP-9, IDCSP-10, IDCSP-11, IDCSP-12, IDCSP-13, IDCSP-14, IDCSP-15, IDCSP-16

The second ISCSP satellite launch was tasked with deploying a polar network of eight satellites over Kerbin. The mission began using the Titan III launch vehicle to deliver the IDCSP 2 Transtage into a 90km parking orbit. A series of transit burns placed the spacecraft into a resonant orbit above keosynchronus altitude where an IDCSP relay would be deployed at each periapsis.

Over a period of the eight days, one satellite was positioned until the final member of the IDCSP polar network came online on Day 8 of the third year of the Space Era. America now enjoyed an extensive network of relays surrounding Kerbin.

Launch 113: Apollo 2 / Saturn V 1-(Saturn IVB 4)
Mission: Manned mission to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 251km. Landed 5.5km west of KSC.
Payload: Apollo 2 "Vanguard" - Crew: Deke Kerman, Lovell Kerman (LEM), White Kerman (CSM)
        LEM 1 "Explorer" - Manufactured by Krumman for ARPA.

Fitting for the first launch of a new year, the maiden voyage of the Saturn V represented the original ultimate goal and ambition of KASA, ARPA, and Werhner Von Kerman. The Saturn V weighed 588 tons and could loft three kerbals to the Mun, land two of the upon it, and return them home to Kerbin. The proving flight would test the full functionality of the launch vehicle and the LEM while still in Kerbin orbit.

Deke Kerman commanded the mission of all veteran kerbonauts, joined by Lovell Kerman and White Kerman. Deke named the Apollo and LEM spacecraft used in the mission in tribute to America's first two satellites. The Saturn V rocketed them into space with a power the dwarfed any other rocket in existence, depositing the Saturn IVB third stage into a high 150km parking orbit.

For this launch, the breakaway version of the adapter was used. This was an unfortunate addition to existing orbital debris, but there were concerns that the delicate LEM could be damaged during retrieval. This caution seemed to be unfounded when White Kerman docked Vanguard to Explorer and deftly pulled the combined craft from its mooring. The RCS system proved to be able to keep good stability and it was decided that the petal adapter would be used for the missions destined for the Mun. Deke and Lovell would transfer to Explorer to begin dual craft operations.

As this was the proving flight for the LEM, Explorer would fire its descent engine to push the combined craft into a 250 km x 150km orbit. Afterwards, the two craft separated and drifted apart for an orbit. Lovell was then tasked to rendezvous with Vanguard and fired the LEM's decent engine several times to perform the maneuver.

After closing to within 40 meters, the two spacecraft were left to drift apart until they reached the next apoapsis. At this point, the LEM burned for a sub-orbital trajectory and jettisoned the Lander stage. The ascent engine was fired to again rendezvous with Vanguard over a series a several burns in a rough simulation of returning from the Mun. While the standard procedure was envisioned to be the CSM being the active docking vehicle, Explorer performed all docking maneuvers in order to prove out the capabilities of the LEM.

Following a rest period during the second day, Deke and Lovell performed a double EVA on the third day. The primary goal was to test out the reinforced Mun landing suits and their known rigidity. It also allowed for a test of the LEM egress and re-pressurization systems. Lovell was given a handheld camera to take photos of Kerbin and evaluate the difficulty of use before a similar camera would be used on the Mun landings.
The remainder of the mission involved systems checks of the LEM's condition and some celestial photography. After spending a total of five days in space, the SPS was fired for de-orbiting and Explorer was discarded to burn up in re-entry. Vanguard landed 5.5km west of Kerbal Space Center. With the mission fully successful, the path was clear to send an Apollo mission to the Mun.
Lovell Kerman, left. Deke Kerman (with stripe) center. White Kerman, right.

Launch 114: Surveyor 3 / Atlas LV3C 5-42-Centaur D 5
Mission: Scientific experiment probe lander to land on the Mun.
Orbital Information: Landed near the middle of the East Crater, near the equator, on the Near-side of the Mun.
Payload: Surveyor 3 - Radar Altimeter, Micro Goo Radiometer, Geiger Counter, Ion Trap chamber, Micrometeoroid detector, and television camera. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

Surveyor 3 was the final planned mission bound for the Mun. Calling again on the powerful Centaur transit stage, the probe lander was placed into a 90km parking orbit before being hurtled towards its objective. Less than a day later, Surveyor 3 arrived over the Mun and entered into a 50km circular orbit.

Several hours later, the probe detached while it was on the Far-side of the Mun and performed several maneuvers to land on in the East Crater of the Near-side on Day 19. Centaur would be commanded to de-orbit and crash after passing back to the Far-side. The lander itself collected data from its landing site and transmitted the data back to Kerbin. Afterwards, like its siblings, it entered low power mode for long duration data collection.

Launch 115: Corona KH-8-9017 / Titan IIIB 1-21-Agena D 25
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 115km x 95km, 94 deg inclination. SRV splashed down 99km south of Woomerang on Day 33, Year 3.
Payload: Corona 9017 - KH-8 Gambit camera system and SRV.

The NRO/Air Force reconnaissance program launched its first long duration design with the mission of the first KH-8 Gambit satellite. At this iteration, the camera and supporting systems were twice the size of the Agena transit stage. Titan would act as the launch vehicle and the KH-8 design would incorporate solar panels to augment the Fuel Cell system allowing for missions to last much longer.

The initial flight differed from the following missions in that Corona-9017 carried only one SRV. Lifting off from Woomerang, the satellite was placed into a low polar orbit by a Titan IIIB booster. The Model B was nothing more than a Titan III that did not feature a Transtage. After over six days in space, the SRV was released to return and splash down 99km south of the launch site to allow for a Navy recovery.

Corona-9017 itself would remain in orbit for an additional three days until USAF engineers were fully satisfied proving out the new model. On command it de-orbited and burned up in the upper atmosphere, ending the mission.

Edited by USKnight
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Launch 116: Gemini 15 (Pegasus 6) / Titan IIGLV 22
Location: GSPG Launch Pad
Mission: Manned ferry mission to Pegasus station in low Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: Highest orbit was 202km. Docked at Pegasus on Day 33, Year 3. Departed Day 94. Landed 1km west of Woomerang.
Payload: Gemini 15 "Falcon" - Crew: Cross Kerman, Evans Kerman, Bridge Kerman

Gemini 15 was the last planned mission to Pegasus station. It was the first Block IV Gemini to carry three kerbonauts and the first to utilize the recently developed Gemini Launch Escape System. KASA Lead Test Pilot Cross Kerman commanded the mission accompanied by Bridge Kerman of the Dyna-Soar team and rookie Evans Kerman, the first of the Fifth Class of kerbonauts to fly into space.

Falcon was placed into a standard 92km parking orbit and used the Titan Stage II to raise their orbit to 202km to create an encounter with the space station. A few hours later brought the spacecraft to rest at the forward dock of Pegasus. The crew of Gemini 14 greeted them and together they shared a meal and de-briefing.

Praying for their safe return, the crew of the Endurance departed the next day leaving the sixth Pegasus expedition with the unenviable task of preparing the station for decommissioning. Cross Kerman and Bridge Kerman would perform alternating daily EVAs during the first week inspecting Dyna-Soar Dawn's condition and bringing the spaceplane and its Transtage back from hibernation. The test Recycler in spacecraft's utility bay was checked for corrosion and wear, the elevators and rudders were cycled and the craft's primitive avionics computer was tested for proper navigation.

Evans would tend to the Greenhouse during the first weeks, planting and cultivating the last cycle of vegetables. His task was also to remove and stow any non-essential items aboard the station into the Logistics module or for return on Falcon. The "rumble seat" would be open for their return, allowing for cargo in place of a kerbonaut.

As the first month of their mission came to close, the crew celebrated with the entire world on the success of the Apollo 3 Mun landing. In the following week, Bridge performed an EVA to stow soil and plant containers in Dawn's cargo bay for return. He and Cross went over a final system check before Bridge ate his final meal with his crewmates. On Day 67 Year 3, Bridge EVA transferred to the Dyna-Soar and undocked to return to Kerbin. Cross playfully radioed him permission to depart, telling Bridge to "go home to his wife".

The Transtage de-orbited the craft and was discarded, allowing Dawn to streak across the sky and over Booster Bay. The Dyna-Soar performed admirably and fired up its jet engine to make a powered flight and landing on the runaway at Kerbal Space Center.

The final month on Pegasus was spent double-checking that everything was in order. Cross cleaned out the habitation modules and prepared the Greenhouse for hibernation. He would be responsible for retracting the High Gain antenna and bringing the communications suite offline. Cross would also provide support for Evans. His partner proved to be so diligent in his tasks that he earned the nickname "Captain America" from the KASA and ARPA ground controllers.

Evans performed two EVAs to check the Dorian module and its Transtage for damage. He would rouse the Transtage's control system from a year of slumber and run diagnostics against it. Another EVA saw him install protective coverings over the windows the Gemini lifeboat as well as pen the central utility bay and shut down the two Mini Recyclers. Evans disconnected many of the station's batteries to preserve them. On yet another EVA he latched the inflatable airlock shut to protect it.  

Immediately in the wake of the excitement of the second Mun landing, on Day 94 the Dorian module was released from the station. It was the last piece of the original MOL and had spent one year and 70 days in space. On command, Transtage fired to de-orbit the module where it burned up over the Ocean of Smiles. Evans performed one last EVA to inspect the empty back half of Pegasus to ensure the docking mechanism had suffered no damage.

He returned to the docking bay and joined Cross aboard Falcon. After a 61-day tenure, it was time to say goodbye to America's first home in space. Gemini 15 thrusted away from the docking port and swung around to capture a parting picture. The OAMS was fired to bring them home where they landed only a kilometer west of Woomerang.
Cross Kerman, left. Evans Kerman, right.

Interlude – Day 94, Year 3


Author’s note – This historical footnote takes place after the events of both Apollo 3 and 4 Mun landings.

Officially the station's mission was complete. The Air Force had originally supported the station as a manned reconnaissance platform. The KH-10 Dorian had proven to disappointing and relatively expensive to support. The station's orbit was also not ideal and could not be changed. The station's second purpose has been to be a base for multiple Dyna-Soar spaceplanes. Aside from their military value as an orbital threat, Dyna-Soar had proven to be too heavy, expensive, and less efficient as a space vehicle than Gemini which meant that only one was ever launched.
The Air Force was "done" with Pegasus. With Von Kerman's (the Army) larger equatorial orbiting space station on the horizon, Pegasus was no longer of use even for scientific purposes. The decision to leave it in orbit was in hope that an alternative use for the expensive station could be found in the near future. The public and the President himself were fond of the station and its accomplishments and ARPA was not hasty to destroy it.

On the night Falcon landed, it was said the Von Kerman looked up in to the night sky towards the Mun. His brother Magnus asked him what he was looking at. The elder Von Kerman replied, "the future".

Launch 117: Munar Orbiter 2 / Atlas SLV3 43-Agena D 25
Mission: Reconnaissance probe to medium Minmus orbit.
Orbital Information: 84km x 29km, 11.3 deg inclination.
Payload: Munar Orbiter 2 - Dual-lens camera system, multispectral camera, and Geiger Counter. Manufactured by Boeing for ARPA.

The second Munar orbiter was identical to the first, but destined for distant Minmus. It was launched using the venerable Atlas-Agena into a 95km parking orbit. Agena separated from the booster and burned for an eight-day transit. 

After arriving in orbit around Minmus, Munar Orbiter 2 was released from the Agena and moved to photograph the surface of the moon. The transit stage fired its engine for a collision course with Minmus and was destroyed on impact. The Orbiter would search for topographical features of interest, primarily for prospective sites for a future Apollo landing.

Launch 118: IDCSP 3 / Titan IIIA 3-23-Transtage 10
Mission: Communication relay network deployment to medium Mun orbit.
Orbital Information: 200km x 200km, 0 deg inclination.
Payload: Initial Defense Communication Satellite Project satellite - Manufactured by Philco-Ford for ARPA.
        IDCSP-17, IDCSP-18, IDCSP-19

Before America would send kerbonauts to the Mun, a proper communications network would be completed in order to minimize any communications black outs or disruptions, especially on the Far-side. A three-satellite equatorial constellation would be deployed, each member able to communicate with the rest. The polar orbiting Hugin relay would provide long distance transmission capability.  

A Titan III booster placed the IDCSP 3 Transtage into a 90km parking orbit. From there it completed a day transit to Mun and placed itself in a resonant orbit with a periapsis of 200km. At each of the following periapsis, one relay was released. After deploying all three satellites, the Transtage burned for a collision course with the Mun and was destroyed on impact on the Far-side.

The final member of the triangular formation was brought online on Day 50, Year 3.

Launch 119: Biosatellite 1 / Delta G 1 (Jupiter LV44)
Mission: Biological experiment satellite to low Kerbin orbit and return.
Orbital Information: 133km x 128km, 33.5 deg inclination. SRV landed 23km east of GSPG.
Payload: Biosatellite 1 - Biological exposure experiment package. Manufactured by Kerbal Electric for ARPA. 

The Delta G was another improvement in the life extension of America's first launch vehicle. The Model G featured a wider second stage mounted atop a thrust-assisted Jupiter booster stage. The new stage was derived from a similar design called Ablestar that has been proposed, but never used. As the Able had been improved into Delta, an improved Ablestar was now Delta G.

Biosatellite was a relatively cheap biological exposure experiment using the proven SRV capsule from the Air Force's Project Corona. Kerbal Electric designed the satellite control core. The experiment package itself was coordinated by KASA from various university and medical agencies and included various seed, plant, and biological components.

The satellite was launched into low orbit and deployed. The Delta second stage de-orbited itself on command, leaving Biosat to circle Kerbin for the next three days. After the allotted time, the SRV decouple from the carrier and fired its solid rocket for re-entry. The capsule slightly overshot Green Sands Proving Grounds, coming to rest in the desert 23km to the east. It was recovered shortly and handed over the Air Force's Aeromedical division for analysis.

Launch 120: Apollo 3 / Saturn V 2-(Saturn IVB-5)
Mission: First manned landing on Mun or any exoplanet. Manned mission to land on Mun and return.
Orbital Information: Landed in the Northwest Crater, north of the equator on Mun on Day 60, Year 3. Splashed down in the Kraken Sea, off the coast of the Kraken peninsula.
Payload: Apollo 3 "Columbia" - Jebediah Kerman (LEM), Eliot Kerman, Eugene Kerman (CSM)
        LEM 2 "Eagle" - Manufactured by Krumman for ARPA.

The big one. The Mun shot.

The all veteran crew of Apollo 3 consisted of Jebediah Kerman, Eliot Kerman, and Eugene Kerman. Jebediah had been the first kerbal in space on Mercury 2. Eliot had performed the first science in EVA on Gemini 7. Eugene had spent 19 days in space aboard Pegasus station as part of Gemini 8. All three were now prepared to depart Kerbin for another world.

The second enormous Saturn V rocket boosted its payload into a 110km parking orbit. The IVB stage decoupled and fired to send them on a five-hour transit to the Mun. After crossing the sphere of influence, Saturn would make two burns to bring them into a 50km orbit.

Now at their destination, Eugene guided Columbia away from the IVB adapter and swung around to dock with Eagle. The combined craft backed away from the transit stage and Jebediah and Eliot transferred to the LEM to prepare it for landing. Their target site was the Northwest Crater, chosen because it was relatively flat and the conditions of the area was relatively well known thanks to the Surveyor 1 lander.

Eagle separated from Columbia and orientated to first change its inclination to line up for landing and then perform the de-orbiting burn itself. The ground controllers at Kerbal Space Center could only hold their breath and the LEM made its slow and controlled descent, coming to rest upon the Munar surface on Day 60 of the third year of the Space Era. Thanks to Hugin and Kerbin's extensive relay network, millions of kerbals at home made this the most watched television event in history.

Jebdiah Kerman suited up and made a historic climb down the ladder to stand upon the foot of Eagle. The first step on another world was accompanied by the words, "This is one small step for a kerbal, one giant leap for America."

As planned, the LEM had landed in close proximity to Surveyor 1 lander. Eliot was tasked with assessing the state of the lander as well as retrieving any data that remained in its science experiment payload. Surveyor has been exposed to the harshness of space for over one hundred days. Jebediah set up a small ground station, consisting of a control unit, Mystery Goo experiment, worklamp, and a Seismic detector. Eliot would use her skills as an engineer to properly deploy a small solar panel unit to provide power. The remainder of their mission involved taking pictures of their surroundings and retrieving rock and soil samples to bring back to Kerbin.

Everything in place, the duo performed one last ceremony before returning to the LEM. Eliot positioned the Mystery Goo experiment camera for a shot of their landing site. Jebediah planted the flag of the United States and saluted. The captured image was the perfect realization of everything the American Space Program had accomplished from the launching of Explorer 1 to landing on the Mun.
Jebediah Kerman (with stripes), left. Eliot Kerman, right.

Returning to Eagle to rest for a few hours, Saturn IVB-5 was commanded to de-orbit and crash into a crater north of their landing position. The Seismic detector would capture data from the resulting impact for and transmitted that data back to Kerbin. In orbit, Eugene was very busy with photography tasks, especially pictures of what could be seen of the sunlit portions of the Far-side. Celestial photography was another major focus of his efforts.

After less than a day on the surface, Eagle's ascent stage blasted off from the lander and returned into Munar orbit. Several maneuvers aligned their inclination to Columbia and put them on a course for rendezvous. Eugene piloted the CSM to dock and the trio were re-united after over a day. He then would use the SPS for a transit burn to return Apollo 3 to Kerbin.

Jebediah and Eliot stowed the return samples into the Command module made their re-entry preparations. Columbia fired the SPS again at periapsis to de-orbit the spacecraft. Eagle was released to burn up in the atmosphere. The Command module would streak across the night sky and splash down off the coast of Kraken peninsula. In coincidence, precisely where the Gemini 13 Mun encounter mission had intended to land.

The kerbonauts were recovered shortly by the Navy and in good spirits. One of the greatest accomplishments in the history of kerbalkind had been achieved. The crew of Apollo 3, joined by hundreds of sailors, and millions around the world looked up into the night sky to see an American moon.

Edited by USKnight
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A Message from the Author

Kerbin Orbital Tracking View - Day 120, Year 3


I've always liked the idea of a Mission Report series that would go from the beginnings of rocketry to interplanetary travel and maybe even beyond. Sure, Scott Manley's Re-usable Space Program is a classic and holds a special place in my heart, but the stories that inspired me the most were @Brotoro and his Mission Reports.

When I started America Rising, I had no idea it would take 120 launches, over a half dozen Dyna-Soar test/Seahawk recovery flights, and I don't want to know how many game hours (400+) to land the first kerbals on the Mun. Heck, I don't think I've ever seen a mission report series where someone was stupid enough to actually fly over a hundred missions. Apollo 3 was the culmination of my efforts, starting and achieving the classic NASA development run from satellite to the Moon.

This series is not over, but I just wanted to share my thoughts to any of you who might read it. I hope that in some small way, my story entertained or inspired you like Brotoro's did for me. Thank you, for your time.

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3 hours ago, USKnight said:

Heck, I don't think I've ever seen a mission report series where someone was stupid enough to actually fly over a hundred missions.

In my sandbox playthrough, it took me around 25 missions to land a Kerbal on the Mun, and about 90 to Duna. To explore the whole Kerbol system with the Outer Planets mod took 270 missions (counting launches plus round trips of interplanetary spacecraft). I appreciate your dedication!

Edited by Pipcard
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Thanks for the notice, @Pipcard. Looks like I have some KASDA reading to do without spoiling too much of OPM to myself. Related to my inspirations, I must say HASDA and your Hatsunia wiki exist on a higher plane of existence from America Rising, or most Mission Reports in general.

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Launch 121: Nimbus 2 / Super Jupiter SLV2G 1-45-Agena D 26
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Meteorological weather satellite to medium Kerbin orbit.
Orbital Information: 494km x 468km, 99.9 deg inclination.
Payload: Nimbus 2 - SNAP-19 RTG, Nimbus Satellite Infrared Scanner, and two Hi-Resolution IR Radiometers. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

In the wake of excitement following the Apollo 3 Mun landing, ARPA tried to slow its cadence of military launches to allow for more commercial access to space. The first of these flights would be the Nimbus 2 satellite.

The second Nimbus was built upon the first frame as the first, but featured no television cameras and instead relied upon Infrared optics. A SNAP-19 RTG power unit was installed to the torus top as an engineering test. This design was proposed to power the next generation of deep space exploration probes. Lastly, the launch of Nimbus 2 was the first use of the SLV2G Super Jupiter booster. This configuration of the venerable Jupiter incorporated a stretched main fuel tank in addition to the three solid boosters. 

The payload was placed into a medium polar orbit from which to observe the world's weather. Agena decoupled from the satellite and de-orbited itself on command.

Launch 122: Intelsat 2-1 and Intelsat 2-2 / Delta G LV2 (Jupiter LV46)
Mission: Communications satellites to keostationary orbit.
Orbital Information: 3.97Mm x 2.86Mm, 0 deg inclination.
Payload: Intelsat 2-1 "Blue Bird", Intelsat 2-2 "Lani Bird" - Manufactured by Hughes Aircraft and launched by ARPA.

The second Delta G launch vehicle was entrusted with the dual satellite launch of the second generation of keostationary television communication satellites. The Intelsat 2 design incorporated a much strong transmitter than the Syncom series or Early Bird. While still able to only handle one live television feed at-a-time, the signal provided was far stronger, clearer, and could be transmitted further.

After launching into a 90km parking orbit, Delta G would fire several burns to place itself in a resonant orbit with the periapsis at keosynchronous altitude. Each satellite when released would circularize and fine tune itself into keostationary position. Over the next three days, "Blue Bird" was be deployed over the center of the Gnosis continent and "Lani Bird" over Booster Bay. Its mission complete, the Delta G stage burned to de-orbit and was destroyed during re-entry.

Launch 123: Strawman-1 / Super Jupiter SLV2G 2-47-Agena D 27
Location: Woomerang Space Center
Mission: Classified primary mission.
Orbital Information: 314km x 299km, 75 deg inclination.
Payload: Strawman-1

The second Super Jupiter rocket was tasked with the launch of the NRO/Air Force's newest electronics intelligence gathering satellite, Strawman.  Neither the mission, nor design were public knowledge. The Hugin and Munin communication relays owed their core design to the development and prototype model of Strawman.

The satellite featured an extensive array of electronics detection equipment and was designed to spend at least half a year in orbit. Agena would insert the payload into an inclined medium orbit. From this vantage point, Strawman began its watch.

Launch 124: Apollo 4 / Saturn V 3-(Saturn IVB-6)
Mission: Manned landing on Mun and return.
Orbital Information: Landed on Day 91 in the East Crater, south of the equator on the Mun. Landed 7km west of KSC.
Payload: Apollo 4 "Dauntless" - Crew: Gordo Kerman (LEM), Pete Kerman, Collins Kerman (CM)
        LEM 3 "Intrepid" - Manufactured by Krumman for ARPA.
        Particles and Fields Subsatellite 1 - Gravitational field experiment. Manufactured by TRW for ARPA. High Mun orbit of 298km x 295km at 8.7 deg.

Apollo 4 was a return to the Mun. The mighty Saturn V lifted off from Kerbal Space Center carrying a three-kerbal crew of veterans. Gordo Kerman was the first to fire the GATV to boost Gemini 7 to high orbit. Pete Kerman was a veteran of the first docking in space aboard Gemini 4. Collins had spent over three weeks on Pegasus during the third expedition on Gemini 10. It was now their turn to visit Kerbin's closest neighbor.

Launched into a 110km parking orbit, the IVB transit stage flared to life to take them on a course to the Mun. The five-hour transit passed without incident and the IVB fired twice more to place them into a high 300km orbit.

Dauntless uncoupled from the adapter and turned around to retrieve Intrepid from its bay. Gordo and Pete transferred forward and prepared the LEM for operation. In a matter of hours the two craft separated and Intrepid fired the descent engine for a landing on the Munar surface. They would land on a safe incline, near Surveyor 2 in the East Crater on Day 91 of Year 3.

As an engineer, Pete was tasked with visiting the Surveyor lander and retrieving any data its experiments still carried. He also gauged its general condition and took pictures. Gordo set about deploying a control station, Mystery Goo experiment, and a Seismic Detector. Pete would make the final adjustments to deploy and align the Solar power unit to bring their ground station on-line.

The rest of their short time on the Mun involved photography tasks and the collection of Munar rock and soil samples. Like Jeb and Eliot before them, Pete swung the Mystery Goo experiment camera around to take a photo of himself and Gordo planting the flag of the United States upon their landing site.
Pete Kerman, left. Gordo Kerman (with stripe), right.

The duo returned to Intrepid to rest and during this period, the IVB stage was commanded to de-orbit. It would align vertical before collision and fired its engine to slam into the Mun kilometers to the north at the edge of the East Crater. The seismic event was picked up not only by the Apollo 4 station, but the Apollo 3 sensor as well.

In orbit, Collins released the PFS 1 subsatellite from Endeavor's Service module bay. The subsatellite would remain in approximately the same orbit and featured a gravity measurement experiment. From his high vantage point, Collins was tasked with obtaining high quality pictures of the Mun during the sunlit pass, and celestial photography as he passed through darkness.

Gordo and Pete awoke to "On a Clear Day" by Goulet Kerman beamed to them from Pegasus station in Kerbin orbit. It would be the last long distance transmission before Cross and Evans de-commissioned the space station. After nearly a day on the surface, Intrepid's ascent module blasted off to reach Endeavor. After stabilizing its orbit, Gordo aligned for a rendezvous burn and expended all of their remaining fuel bringing the two spacecraft near each other. Collins took over, using the CSM to perform the docking and a following transit burn to bring them back to Kerbin.

Four days after they had departed, Endeavor fired the SPS to bring them on a sub-orbital trajectory and released Intrepid to a fiery fate. The Command module landed safely, 7km west of Kerbal Space Center.
Gordo Keman (with stripe), left. Collins Kerman, middle. Pete Kerman, right.

Launch 125: Surveyor 4 / Atlas LVC3 6-44-Centaur D 6
Mission: Scientific experiment probe lander to land on Minmus.
Orbital Information: Landed in the Great Flats of Minmus on Day 105, Year 3.
Payload: Surveyor 4 - Radar Altimeter, Micro Goo Radiometer, Geiger Counter, Ion Trap chamber, Micrometeoroid detector, and television camera. Manufacture coordinated by ARPA.

The fourth Surveyor probe lander was bound for the distant moon of Minmus. It followed a similar profile to its siblings and used the Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle to enter into a 90km parking orbit. Centaur then performed a transit burn for an eight day journey. 

Reaching their destination, the transit stage placed Surveyor into a 25km circular orbit before parting ways. Centaur was de-orbited to collide with the moon's surface while Surveyor positioned itself to make a landing near the equator in the region called the Great Flats. Like its name implied, the site was uniformly level and composed mostly of ice. It was seen as an ideal landing place for a future Apollo mission.

Surveyor 4 conducted its experiments at the landing location and transmitted its findings back to Kerbin through the Munin relay. It then went to sleep with the expectation that kerbonaut explorers would one day visit.

Edited by USKnight
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