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Voyages of the 7th Survey Squadron: Stock Career Run


Yukon0009
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Overview:

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

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001  Launch Abort Test

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Spoiler

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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Spoiler

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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.

 

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

 

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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).

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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)

 

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

 

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

 

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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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Posted (edited)

003 Artume 1, first boots on Minmus

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Spoiler

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. 

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

 

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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.

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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. 

 

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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. 

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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(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. )

 

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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. 

 

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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The stack approaches Minmus, the crew 

 

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

 

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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. 

 

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

 

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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. 

 

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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. 

 

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

 

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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!"

 

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And of course, the obligatory crew photo. 

 

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A view from Wyvern's windows of Lake Snowcone. 

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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

 

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

 

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Reorienting for reentry. 

 

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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.

 

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

 

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A view from the forward windows of the reentry capsule.

 

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Reentering for the second time in the flight.

 

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

 

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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.

 

 

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Edited by Yukon0009
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  • 4 weeks later...

Apologies for the lack of updates, I've been busy with other things as of late. 

 

004 Percheron F1, First flight of the new Percheron rocket

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Spoiler

Although the Iota rockets are good enough for Mun/Minmus missions, going beyond LKO will require heavier payloads, pushing them beyond the capabilities of the Iota series. Thus, a new line of rockets was developed for this duty, named Percheron after the famed racehorses. Much like the Iotas, Percheron is designed to be a modular launch system, where the number of core stages, side boosters and length of the upper stage can be tailored to the payload it has to carry.  And with the new rocket series, the naming system has been replaced for both the Iotas and Percheron, where the first digit represents the length of the upper stage, the second digit is the number of side boosters and the letter indicates whether the side boosters are solid or liquid fuelled. 

The initial launch consists of a dummy payload, a filled large fuel tank with some equipment strapped on, and uses the 42L configuration. (4 units long, 2 liquid fuelled side boosters.)

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At the crack of dawn, the first Percheron rocket rises off the launch pad. 

 

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The side boosters separate without issue. 

 

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However, disaster almost strikes during payload fairing separation. 

 

 

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One of the fairing halves has failed to separate cleanly, and remains stuck firmly on the upper stage despite the explosive bolts having been fired. Mission Control sends commands to the rocket to start rolling about its long axis, hoping to shake the fairing half off. 

 

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Fortunately, the errant fairing half comes off after a few roll maneuvers, and the rocket continues on the path to orbit with the trajectory only slightly affected by the scare. 

 

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The second stage uses the much more powerful "Skipper" engine, which is also the first stage engine of the Iota core stage. The increased power lets it carry heavier payloads to orbit at the cost of efficiency. 

 

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The dummy payload briefly fires its auxiliary thrusters to gain some clearance from the spent upper stage. 

 

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With the solar panels deployed, the dummy payload can now serve as an orbital fuel depot for future missions, also clearing the Percheron for operational payloads. 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

005 Artume 2; Fly Me To The Mun

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Spoiler

Following the success of Artume 1, a Munar mission was quickly drawn up using  the same Lander Mk1/TCS-L vehicles. The mission was simple, land on the Mun, spend some time gathering rocks, and returning to Kerbin. Even though the Munar gravity is somewhat higher than that of Minmus, the Lander Mk1 design had plenty of fuel margins to pull it off.

The mission also included the first of KSC's paying kerbonauts, willing to underwrite part of the launch costs in exchange for a seat on the mission. From the 7th's regular flight crew are Valentina and Bob, joined by "space tourists" Erbal and Zeloly Kerman. The crew names the lander Frontier, and the TCS-L Aurora. 

 

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The Iota-44S carrying Frontier sits on the launch pad at KSC, something that has become a routine sight by now.

 

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The launch is as unremarkable as a rocket launch can be, which is fine by Mission Control.

 

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As with the previous mission, the transfer stage does the final insertion burn to get the lander and itself into a stable Kerbin orbit, awaiting the arrival of the crew.

 

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Back at KSC, the second Iota rocket carrying Aurora blasts off in hot pursuit of the lander.

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A photo taken by Bob of the crew capsule's interior during the launch. 

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However, the same problem which nearly led to Artume 1 being aborted reared its ugly head again, and the Iota started oscillating along the pitch axis. But again, the cool-headed Valentina quickly turns off the pitch control on the fins and the rocket resumes normal flight.

 

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Luckily, the rest of the launch goes smoothly and the panels detach once on orbit, letting Aurora unfurl its solar wings. 

 

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Aurora catches up with the waiting Frontier in record time, and Valentina guides Aurora towards Frontier's docking port. 

 

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Almost immediately, the Munar transfer window opens up and the transfer stage's engines ignite, propelling the whole stack onwards.

 

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Bob snaps a photo of the Mun through Aurora's frontal windows.

 

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The Munar injection burn goes off without a hitch, and the crew piles into Frontier.

 

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What's left of the transfer stage's fuel is used to begin Frontier's journey to the surface, acting as a crasher stage.

 

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The target is the center of a small crater nicknamed Itomori by the crew, after a certain fictional town in a popular animated movie. Valentina aims for the relatively smooth center of the crater.

 

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The contact lights flash on Frontier's control panels, the engine cuts off and the lander settles gently onto the Munar regolith.

 

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Valentina climbs down the ladder, and becomes the first Kerbal to step foot on Kerbin's nearest neighbor.

 

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Bob takes this photo of Valentina standing on the "magnificent desolation" of the Munar surface, which eventually finds it way into The Kerbin Times' front page, making Valentina the symbol of the Artume program in the public's eyes. But that's another story.

 

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Bob comes to the edge of the massive ridge separating Itomori from its neighboring craters, pondering the meaning of life.

 

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On the way back, Bob comes across a mysterious floating boulder. He takes some samples from it, perhaps its anti-gravity nature may help in the creation of bigger and better rockets for future exploration.

 

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A view from Frontier's cabin of the Munar surface.

 

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The Lander Mk1 design doesn't have a lot of space for the crew, so after only a few hours spent on the surface, Frontier's engine comes to life and the lander begins its ascent. Future missions will have to tackle this problem somehow...

 

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Before long, Aurora appears over the horizon and comes into view.

 

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After the crew transfers over, Frontier is left abandoned in Munar orbit, as Aurora's fuel reserves are plenty enough for the trans-Kerbin injection.

 

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Kerbin in silhouette. 

 

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En route, a small trajectory correction burn is made to ensure an ocean splashdown. 

 

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The capsule slams back into Kerbin's atmosphere, while the service module breaks up right next to it.

 

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The big chutes unfurl, dropping Aurora gently into the ocean, in sight of the waiting recover vessels. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Changing the format of my posts a little bit, instead of having a spoiler for each launch I'll just have one for everything that happens in the post.

 

006 Mishaps Abound

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Spoiler

Following the success of the Artume missions, plans were drawn up for an expedition to Kerbin's nearest planetary neighbor under the aegis of the Carina program. Eve's high gravity and thick atmosphere means that returning from the surface wasn't quite possible yet, but a visit to Eve's tiny speck of a moon Gilly was very much doable. 

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The ship consists of four components, the transfer stage, a habitation module, a science package, and the TCS-L spacecraft. The transfer stage is a beefed-up version of the Iota's upper stage, using the same engines with a lengthened fuel tank. The science package consists of an instrumented pod for the TCS-L to take to the surface of Gilly,  and a pair of probes that will be released to land on Eve via parachute. In addition to this, the crew will perform various observations and experiments aboard the ship using the inbuilt telescopes and sensors. 

 

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The Iota rocket carrying the Hab blasts off the launchpad.

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The first sign of trouble comes when telemetry indicates one of the four aerodynamic fins has stopped functioning, and long-range imagery reveals that one of the SRBs impacted and destroyed the fin. While troublesome, it doesn't compromise the mission just yet, as the other three fins can compensate for it.

 

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The command is sent to deploy the fairings, and suddenly all hell breaks loose, as warning lights flash over the consoles, indicating a sudden loss of telemetry from the first stage. The fairing has malfunctioned and destroyed one of the upper stage fuel tanks, severing the connection between the Iota and the Hab module. 

 

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The Hab module is far too low and slow to be salvaged by a second launch, and the Hab carries no engines. Mission control can do nothing but watch as the expensive module burns up over the ocean, the remains slamming into the water at well over 500m/s. 

-----------------------------------------------------

Following the embarrassing incident, the engineering teams examine the remaining stock of fairings and finds the same defects that doomed the Hab module to a fiery death. Quickly, the fairings are modified and fixed to deploy properly, but Mission Control insists on further testing before the next launch. To test the new fairings in-flight, a test vehicle is rapidly assembled using an Iota first stage with the second stage replaced with dummy steel tanks in lieu of a live payload. 

 

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The test vehicle quickly ascends through the atmosphere, the dummy payload being considerably lighter than the second stage normally carried. 

 

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At 20km altitude, the fairings are deployed without incident, vindicating the hard work of the engineering teams, and the payload is left to crash into the ocean uncontrolled.

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With the new payload fairings flight-proven, the backup Hab module is stacked atop a single-stick Percheron rocket and rolled out. Although the Iota was not the cause of the previous failure, the Percheron gives greater fuel margins. 

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While the Percheron is somewhat overkill for the comparatively light Hab, it gets the job done just fine. 

 

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Mission Control erupts with cheering and applause as the payload fairings separate cleanly this time, and telemetry indicates the Hab module is in good shape. 

 

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The upper stage deposits the Hab module in orbit, which then unfolds its set of solar panels to await the other components. 

 

 

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Edited by Yukon0009
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On 6/1/2021 at 6:09 PM, Maria Sirona said:

Epicly epic epicness!

So, the new Hab got named Pegasus? Or is that the whole ship?

Just the Hab.

 

007 Orbital Construction

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Spoiler

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The Eve transfer stage is stacked atop a Percheron 32L, colloquially called the Heavy configuration by KSC engineers, staff, and the media. Its immense lifting capacities are needed to send the much-heavier transfer stage skywards, justifying the immense cost of the Mainsail engines. 

 

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Once depleted, the side boosters are blown clear of the still-burning central core. 

 

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The Skipper engine pushes the transfer stage all the way to orbital velocity, leaving the transfer stage itself to handle the delicate orbiter rendezvous maneuvers. 

 

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Using its own fuel reserves and RCS, the transfer stage is maneuvered into a rendezvous and docking with Pegasus, completing half of orbital assembly sequence. 

 

 

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At KSC, another Iota rocket carrying the third TCS-L spacecraft, Enterprise, blasts skywards with Jeb, Bob, and fresh recruit Lisble Kerman onboard. The unused crew seat is used to house scientific equipment to be deployed on the surface of Gilly, and following the near loss-of-control incidents on the piloted Iota version, modifications have been made to the fins at the base of the rocket making it more stable. 

 

 

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The modifications have functioned well, and the Iota suffers no instability during its full passage through the atmosphere. 

 

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Enterprise finishes its smooth ride to LKO and begins chasing down Pegasus and the transfer stage. 

 

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A scant few hours later, Enterprise matches velocities with the Pegasus, but the crew are forced to wait until orbital sunrise as the TCS-L spacecraft lacks blind docking radar. 

 

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With the main components of the missions assembled, the crew awaits the final module to be docked, the Gilly surface scientific package and the Eve atmospheric probes. The surface package consists of a large SCI-JR module containing various instruments to sample Gilly's surface. The Eve probes are very simple robotic explorers; only carrying a handful of instruments, they are designed to deorbit themselves with their thruster package and parachute down to Eve's surface. As the thick Eveian atmosphere frustrates efforts to image the surface, they will be Kerbalkind's first glimpse into their nearest planetary neighbor. 

 

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A much-lighter Muna rocket carries the scientific payloads into orbit, launching at night to catch the stack. 

 

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Unfortunately, shortly after orbit is achieved, KSC notices a critical design flaw in the connection between the science package and the atmospheric probes, which would render Enterprise unable to dock with the science package for the surface mission. Mission Control reluctantly commands the probe into a controlled deorbit, and engineers hurry to fix the issue before the Eve transfer window closes. 

 

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Not too long afterwards, a second Muna rocket launches with the backup payload. 

 

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This time, the probe shows no sign of any issues during the quick journey into space and it begins the process of rendezvousing with the Enterprise-Pegasus stack. 

 

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The mini-tug is guided in under remote control, delivering the atmospheric probes to one of Pegasus' docking ports, then separating and docking the Gilly surface package to the other. 

 

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Its job done, the mini-tug moves clear of the Enterprise-Pegasus stack and deorbits itself into the ocean. 

 

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The low thrust to weight ratio of the stack means that a direct transfer burn would be inefficient, thus the transfer stage initially propels the stack into a high elliptical Kerbin orbit, and a second burn is needed at the periapsis to take advantage of the Oberth effect.

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Now en-route to intercept Eve, the crew relaxes and settles in for the hundred-day long coast to Eve encounter, watching as the blue disk of Kerbin shrinks slowly behind them. 

 

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