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Voyages of the 7th Survey Squadron: Stock Career Run

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The 7th Survey Squadron is an expeditionary unit tasked with the duty of general surveying, which includes everything from exploring Kerbin's uncharted waters to the furthest reaches of the Kerbol System. Its main facilities are at the equatorial Kerbal Space Center, and its rockets can launch from leased launch facilities at Woomerang Space Launch Center and Baikerbanur Launch Complex. Its unique status stems from its lineage as a formerly military-run endeavor, its mantle passed on to the various scientific organizations united together as one.

The goal is to explore in detail all of the planets and moons within the Kerbol System, so that colonization and settlements can be built in the future.



This mission report thread will not start at the beginning of the career save, because the early game stuff was just the usual suborbital missions, and I found those uninteresting. Also, this save is one I started much earlier, played up to early-mid tech tree and abandoned when I got bored of it, which is why it starts at that point in the tech tree. 

Mods: OPM, Spectra, Scatterer EditorExtensions, Mechjeb. 


Mission log



001  Launch Abort Test




Considering I'm running a no-revert career save, safety for my Kerbals is a big concern, which is why my new crew transfer vehicle needs a launch escape system. The abort test rocket is a very simple affair, just an RT-10 solid rocket booster with wings attached for stability. If something goes wrong it's considered expendable.


Once the rocket reaches its maximum velocity under SRB boost, the abort motor, which is a Flea SRB mounted under the capsule, ignites and carries the unmanned capsule away from the rocket, performing flawlessly.






The capsule splashes down just a few kilometers from the KSC, and is fished out of the water by recovery boats. With this important qualification complete, Squadron Command moves on to the next step: an orbital test flight.




002  TCS-O1  Orbital Flight Test




Jeb and Bill are piloting the spacecraft, now christened with the provisional name of TCS (Transfer-Crewed Spacecraft). The mission, designated as TCS-O1, is simple, to take it to orbit and back while making sure the spacecraft doesn't have any significant problems.



In addition, this is Bill's first flight, as the previous capsules in this save were one-seaters.



The booster is a standard Iota-02S medium lifter. The first digit denotes whether the first stage is extended or not, the second digit denotes the number of side booster and the letter indicates whether they are solid fueled (S), liquid fueled (L) or absent (N).







The booster puts the TCS in orbit with plenty of fuel to spare.





Once the flight computers confirms the spacecraft is in a stable orbit, Jeb pulls out a corned beef sandwich from his flight suit, much to Mission Control's chagrin.



The TCS is designed to be easily modified to whatever mission it is needed for, whether it be shuttling crews to LKO or munar and interplanetary missions. This flight uses the LKO shuttle configuration, with seats accommodating up to 5 kerbals and a simplified service module. Normally seating 4, the extra command pod to house the 5th kerbal can be removed for weight savings and additional delta-V.







Jebediah decides to perform an EVA to inspect the TCS, giving it a quick fly-around.






Having found the spacecraft to be satisfactory, Jeb clambers back into the capsule.



After an orbit or two, the crew fires the orbital maneuvering engines, dropping it into a suborbital trajectory.



Here, the launch escape motor is clearly visible in the center of the service module.






The crew holds their breath as the spacecraft plunges through the atmosphere, leaving a fiery trail behind. If the aerodynamics of the capsule makes them go nose first in the upper atmosphere, it will not slow down in time for the parachutes to open. (Found this out the hard way on another career save)



Fortunately, the capsule holds steady and deploys its drogue chutes as the engineers watching at Mission Control heave a sigh of relief.



Main chutes deploy, and the capsule slows to a gentle 7m/s.



Splashing down in the middle of the ocean, the crew waits for the recovery boats to appear over the horizon.



Edited by Yukon0009
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003 Artume 1, first boots on Minmus



With the basic design of the TCS proven, munar missions were quickly approved under the new Artume program. 

Mission planners determined that it would be more efficient to utilize two of the existing Iota boosters to launch a modified TCS and a lander with its transfer stage separately, than developing a super-heavy version of the Iota, which would have required further development and delaying the missions. A new heavy-lift rocket will have to wait for the next round of missions. 

Artume 1's crew consists of Jebediah, Bob, Bill, and Valentina, with Bob on his first flight. Jeb, having flown the TCS-O1 mission previously, is the designated pilot for the TCS-L while Valentina pilots the lander. The mission also marks the first time the crew give their spacecraft individual names, making communication between Mission Control and the crew easier, thus the orbiter was named Merlin and the lander Wyvern.

The new TCS-L design is a stretched version of the TCS-O, with an extended service module carrying additional fuel as well and the addition of a pair of deployable solar arrays increasing its ability to operate beyond low Kerbin orbit. 


The TCS-L1, named Merlin by its crew, sits on the launch pad atop an uprated Iota-12S booster.



But barely a minute into the flight, all kinds of alarms sound out in the capsule and Mission Control as the rocket begins careening wildly, wobbling about on both the yaw and pitch axes. Jeb quickly deactivates the autopilot and reverts the craft to manual control as he eyes the abort switch.


Thinking quickly, Jeb disables the yaw control on the Iota's core stage, which slows down the oscillation somewhat. A little bit of fiddling with the controls, and the Iota is steady once again, the little scare having caused Mission Control quite a panic. 



The rest of the ascent fortunately goes nominally, with nothing much to note apart from the KSC engineers examining the lander's Iota booster more carefully. 







Even with the additional unplanned maneuvers during ascent, the Iota is still slightly overpowered and Merlin makes it into orbit with some fuel leftover in the upper stage.




T+ 4 minutes. The fairing covering the solar panels is jettisoned, and Merlin separates from the spent upper stage, moving away using its RCS thrusters. 



(Here you can see the brand-new solar arrays. I don't have deployable solar panels unlocked yet, so I had to improvise using the fixed ones and some servos. )








Back at KSC, the currently-uncrewed Wyvern and the transfer stage sits atop an Iota-04S. The two additional solid rocket boosters are needed, since the extra fuel in the transfer stage and the mass of the lander pushes it beyond the limits of the 02S. 





The launch goes off without a hitch, and Wyvern rises into the sky. 



T+ 90 seconds, the quad SRBs are jettisoned. They are ejected in pairs which stay connected even after staging, this design being chosen as 4-way mounting would potentially lead to the ventral SRB slamming back into the core stage after staging.




Fairings are jettisoned, and Wyvern sees the light of day.



The transfer stage is based on an extended version of the Iota's standard upper stage, powered with a twin-nozzle variant of the Poodle engine. 







Having performed the rendezvous under remote control from KSCWyvern switches into target mode and Merlin moves in under manual guidance for the final docking. 










The transfer stage ignites, and the stack begins the trans-Minmus injection burn.









Bob goes on EVA to recover some of the samples from the Mystery Goo canisters while in deep space, en route to Minmus.



Floating several thousand kilometers above the surface of Kerbin, Bob suddenly feels very small in the grand order of things. 



The stack approaches Minmus, the crew 






The transfer stage's remaining fuel is used to start the Minmus capture burn.




The empty transfer stage is jettisoned, and for the first leg of the capture burn, Wyvern's engines and fuel are used as it has a particularly large reserve, the delta-V requirements of Minmus landing being as pathetic as it is. 



Slowing down into low Minmus orbit, using Merlin's engines this time. 



The crew transfers into Wyvern through the rear-mounted docking port/crew access tunnel, and Merlin is left uncrewed in a low Minmus orbit, to await their return from the surface visit in a lonely vigil. 



The targeted landing site is promptly named Lake Snowcone by the crew, one of Minmus' massive frozen lakes. It provides the crew with a target which should prove easy to land on for the first trial of the new lander design. 




Valentina expertly guides Wyvern in for a gentle landing right in the middle of the frozen lake.



Jeb becomes the first Kerbal to set foot on Minmus, with the memorable words "Hey, the engineers forgot the ladders! I had to use my jetpack to get down here!"



And of course, the obligatory crew photo. 



A view from Wyvern's windows of Lake Snowcone. 



Taking advantage of Minmus' low gravity, Bob uses his EVA jetpack to fly around in search of interesting surface features to investigate. 



Bob takes some samples from one of the large boulders scattered around the landing zone. Storing them in the pouches of his EVA suit, he suddenly has to resist his craving for mint flavored ice cream.




After checking the fuel levels, the crew realizes that they have an excess of delta-V thanks to Minmus' low gravity, giving them enough margins to "hop" to a flat peak on one of the surrounding mountains for further science. 





The crew takes some time to engange in some low-gravity shenanigans, testing the jetpacks by flying around close to the surface. 






After stowing away the many surface samples in the onboard freezer and logging all of the data from the scientific instruments, Wyvern blasts off from Minmus' surface.



Passing dangerously close to a mountain during the ascent- just a few more degrees of inclination and the lander would be smacking into the side of said mountain.



After a few orbits, a rendezvous with the orbiter is sucessfuly arranged. 




In low Minmus orbit, Bill takes this photo of Merlin from Wyvern's windows as the lander does a fly-around, inspecting the orbiter for any signs of damage.



The docking goes off smoothly, and the crew transfer the precious surface samples to the reentry capsule.




For the first stage of the Minmus ejection burn, the lander's remaining fuel is burned off to save some of the fuel in Merlin's fuel tanks.



The remainder of the ejection burn is performed by Merlin, with Wyvern being left in a highly eliptical Minmus orbit, leaving it availible for future Minmus missions to recover and refuel should they need it. 



The return flight to Kerbin was relatively monotonous for the crew, broken only by the occasional round of onboard Kerbopoly. 



(Spectra is a really visually stunning mod, and it runs quite good as well.)



Reorienting for reentry. 



Just before entering the atmosphere, the remaining 100m/s or so of delta-V and the RCS fuel are burned off to slow the capsule down more.





Unexpectedly, the lift generated by the capsule is enough to lift it briefly upwards into the upper atmosphere, before coming back down.



A view from the forward windows of the reentry capsule.



Reentering for the second time in the flight.



Chutes open at around 1500 meters, and the capsule slows down to a gentle 7 m/s.



The capsule splashes down in the sea west to KSC, bringing an end to the highly sucessful Artume 1 mission. Even as the crew is whisked back to the space center by helicopter, mission planners are already drawing up plans for Artume 2, which will be a Mun mission. It will also feature the first paying Kerbonaut, who underwrote some of the mission's costs in return for a seat on the mission, easily ensured with the TCS-L's large crew capacity. At the same time, studies are drawn up for the first foray into interplanetary exploration, the Eve-focused Carina program.







Edited by Yukon0009
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