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The Scrape of Things to Come - Phase 6: Interplanetary Probes


TheSaint
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So, a little while ago in the "What I Did In KSP Today" thread I threatened to make a mission report thread. And, since I'm not one to make idle threats, here it is.

A little bit about the save. It's a sandbox save, no fund or science restrictions. I'm just setting my own restrictions and goals, doing my own thing. I kind of view it as my own little virtual model train set, but in space. With little green aliens running it. Additionally, I'm autopiloting almost everything with MechJeb and Kramax. It's not that I can't do this stuff. It's that I've been doing it all for over eight years now, and it's not my favorite part of the game. So, if any of this makes the scenario uninteresting to you I apologize in advance.

As far as mods, here's the mod list:

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Mostly parts and visual mods. Oh, and OPM. Let's try to get out to Sarnus this time, shall we?

As far as the name of the save, I was sort of thinking of a bit of this, combined with a bit of this.

So, with the "truth in advertising" part out of the way, let's get on to the actual stuff:

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After the success of the Kerpollo Mun landings, the leadership of the Kerbal Space Agency began to plan the future of their space program. After many executive retreats, consultant-facilitated mission statement exercises, and constituent focus groups, they settled on the following goals for their long-term operations in space:

1. Create a transportation system that will facilitate regular, low-cost access to space, in order to,
2. Construct and maintain permanent stations and bases in low Kerbin orbit and at other locations in the Kerbin system, in order to,
3. Foster exploration of the Kerbin system, and the other planets, to expand scientific knowledge and the frontiers of Kerbal civilization.

So, in support of their first goal, they submitted an ambitious proposal to Kongress. They wished to create a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane to carry Kerbonauts and cargo into orbit in order to support their future plans for space exploration. Their proposal was for the Independence-Class spaceplane.

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Independence-Class Spaceplane Specifications

Crew: Three to Seven: Commander, pilot, flight engineer, up to four mission specialists
Passengers: Twelve
Length: 41.6 m
Wingspan: 20.3 m
Height: 8.5 m
Empty Weight: 91.148 tons
Gross Weight: 240.197 tons
Maximum Payload to LKO (100 km): 59.5 tons

The response was...mixed.

The good news: Kongress granted full funding for the spaceplane program, and for the follow-on space station and base programs. The program managers were overjoyed, and immediately set to work translating their marketing brochures and digital presentations into actual engineering documents.

The bad news: Well, actually there was quite a bit of bad news. For starters, Kongress made it plain that, as far as launch vehicles went, they were only going to provide budget for the spaceplane. All other previous launch vehicle programs would be retired, and there would be no other launch vehicles forthcoming. So, in the immortal words of trainee engineer Araceli Krebs, "If it don't fit..."

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"...it don't ship." Everything that would be lifted into space would be limited in size and weight to the payload capacity of the spaceplane. This was to give the engineering managers of the space station and Munar base programs no end of consternation.

Additionally, Kongress reasoned that since the spaceplane program had entailed such an unreasonably high research and development cost, and that such cost had resulted in the vehicle's reusuability and return payload capacity, they decided that one of the ongoing goals of the program should be to reduce ongoing costs by maximizing the reusability of the other components in the space infrastructure. Therefore, Kongress has ordained that component waste should be minimized to the greatest extent possible, and that all components that would otherwise be discarded, such as fuel tanks, structural adapters, etc, should be returned to Kerbin on the spaceplane, to the greatest extent possible. (Whether or not this requirement actually saved the program funds was a matter of eternal debate. But the mandate stood nonetheless.)

In any case, after weeks of development, the first spaceplane, christened Independence, rolled out of the production plant and onto the runway, ready for it's first flight. Because of the radical, untried nature of the vehicle, the upper management decided that the first flight should be a minimally kerballed test flight. A shakedown cruise, of sorts, to work out any bugs in the various systems and ensure that the extensive engineering behind the craft was sound. And so the intrepid first crew of the Independence taxied their vessel out to the runway for its maiden flight...

Edited by TheSaint
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On a late morning, Independence is rolled out to the end of the runway for its maiden flight.

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Onboard for the test flight are the first crew:

Commander Jane Knoll
Pilot Juliana Koontz
Flight Engineer Dwayne Kohler

The computers are aligned. The throttles are set. The brakes are released. And Independence roars down the runway.

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As she gains speed, she rotates and gradually leaves the ground. Liftoff! Commander Knoll flips a switch and the gear folds into their housings as they leave KSC behind.

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Independence cruises effortlessly through Mach 1 and continues to gain altitude. After only a minute of flight, the engines reach their peak thrust, pushing the crew back into their seats with over 4Gs of force. As the vessel gains altitude and speed, the thinning air and increased speed take their toll on engine efficiency, and thrust begins to drop. But they still keep accelerating all the way to hypersonic speeds.

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As they approach Mach 4, 20,000 meters over Kerbin, the time comes to change engine modes, from open-cycle air-breathing to closed-cycle using internal oxidizer. Although this has been tested many times, this is still considered to be a critical moment in the test flight. Flight Engineer Kohler reviews his checklist, runs down his list of critical parameters from the engine readouts, and gives Commander Knoll a "Go" for closed-cycle. With a flip of a switch, the engines close their air intakes and begin consuming liquid oxygen. Independence continues its climb to orbit.

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Finally, as they reach their target speed, the main engines cut out and Independence cruises on its arc out of the atmosphere. The crew floats weightless in their seats, with the cooling fans removing the mild heat that accumulated in the cabin during their ascent.

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Upon exiting the atmosphere, the crew sets about rigging the ship for orbital operations. They open the cargo bay doors, extend the wing-mounted solar arrays, and deploy the ship's docking port. Although most of these systems won't be used on this flight, testing them is still considered to be critical to the test flight.

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As they reach their apoapsis, they burn Independence's main engines to circularize their arc. They have achieved orbit! The crowd in mission control goes wild!

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After checking out the shipboard systems and receiving a go-ahead from mission control, Independence burns once again on the night side of Kerbin to raise it's orbit to 400 km, the planned orbit of the space station that the spaceplane will soon begin construction of.

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Once at their full orbit, the crew begin to make more planned tests of the spacecraft systems, including the reaction control system.

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With all of their objectives completed, the crew settle in for a good night's rest before their return to Kerbin the next day.

After being awakened by mission control, the crew prepare for reentry. They bring Independence around to face retrograde, and then at the prescribed moment they fire the main engines again to bring her back down into the atmosphere.

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As Independence glides down towards Kerbin, the crew prepare for reentry. They bring her around to face prograde with a nose-up attitude. They close the payload bay doors and docking port, and retract the solar panels. Since the main engines are no longer needed in closed-cycle, they jettison all of the oxidizer to reduce the ship's mass. They shift the remaining fuel around in the tanks to adjust the ship's center of gravity. And, finally, they reconfigure the ship's computers for atmospheric flight. As they settle into their seats for reentry, Independence begins streaking through the upper atmosphere.

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The crew are pressed down in their seats, feeling weight for the first time in a day, as Independence enters the thicker parts of the lower atmosphere and begins shedding speed. Finally, when they reach 28,000 meters, they begin to take control and guide the aircraft. The engines are once again switched back to open-cycle mode, and they begin to bring the vessel onto the glide path to KSC.

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As Independence drops below 10,000 meters, her speed drops to around Mach 0.8, and she begins to handle like a regular aircraft. A large, unwieldy aircraft that is low on fuel. As they pass over the mountains west of KSC, the crew makes their final adjustments to their flight path to line up with the runway.

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Everyone is heaving sighs of relief as Independence appears to have survived the worst of the trials she had to face. However, she is not on the ground yet. Commander Knoll lowers the landing gear and brings her ship in on final approach.

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And touchdown!

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Independence rolls down the runway and comes to a stop. Mission control breaks out in cheers as the crew exchange fist bumps in the cockpit.

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Independence's maiden flight has been a rousing success, and the program is ready to start hauling hardware into orbit.

 

 

Edited by TheSaint
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10 hours ago, FleshJeb said:

I'm a big fan of sandbox and self-imposed restrictions. :D

I know, right? I've never been a fan of career or science in KSP. I'm hoping that will change in KSP2, but I'm also not basing my happiness on that.

10 hours ago, FleshJeb said:

I will lightly suggest that your landing gear is a bit tall and narrow and may cause you headaches.

So, here's the thing: It has to be tall, otherwise I get tail strikes on the lower engines when it rotates for takeoff. And it's actually reasonably stable as long as you land relatively level. Kramax puts it down flat every time, so it's not really a problem for me in this save, but if I were going to fly it manually a lot I'd probably end up putting a couple landing gear on the bottom outboard of the lower engines to act as training wheels.

Besides, it's not without precedent:

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10 hours ago, FleshJeb said:

Are those the schramjets? They're FUN.

They put the go-go in the zoom-zoom! :D

Edited by TheSaint
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4 hours ago, TheSaint said:

Kramax puts it down flat every time

Nevermind then! :D

5 hours ago, TheSaint said:

They put the go-go in the zoom-zoom! :D

Bah, I thought those were OPT engines. I think they're actually NFA Broadswords. I haven't used them, but I took a look at the thrust curves on github--All I can say is YES. Also:
"The Broadsword is large and terrifying. So terrifying, in fact, that our engineers have postulated that it works by so deeply frightening the ground that the entire planet tries to run away."

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3 minutes ago, FleshJeb said:

Nevermind then! :D

Bah, I thought those were OPT engines. I think they're actually NFA Broadswords. I haven't used them, but I took a look at the thrust curves on github--All I can say is YES. Also:
"The Broadsword is large and terrifying. So terrifying, in fact, that our engineers have postulated that it works by so deeply frightening the ground that the entire planet tries to run away."

Yes, those are Broadswords. They definitely have enough umph for the application. Especially four of them.

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Phase 1 - Kerbin Station

The first task for the newly minted spaceplane is to begin construction of Kerbin Station, the first permanent space station in low Kerbin orbit. Kerbin Station is to serve multiple purposes:

  • Provide a platform for conducting microgravity and Kerbin sciences research.
  • Provide a location in LKO to assemble cargo loads destined for other locations in the Kerbin system.
  • Provide a facility to refuel and resupply spacecraft in LKO with consumables lifted from the surface of Kerbin.

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Kerbin Station will be assembled from a variety of standardized modules that will be flown into orbit by the spaceplane fleet.

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Kerbin Station Statistics

Mass: 111.345 tons
Length: 65.4m
Width: 46.6m
Height: 33.4m
Permanent Crew: 12

So, after Independence had been given some routine maintenance and refueled, her initial cargo was loaded, and the first mission of the new Kerbal adventure was launched.

Edited by TheSaint
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Mission 101 - Kerbin Station Core

In the first mission of Phase 1, the goal is to lift the core module of Kerbin Station into orbit, as well as the first Cargo Drone.

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The cargo drone is the first in a fleet of standardized vehicles for moving cargo and personnel around the Kerbin system. Cargo drones are specifically designed for moving modules around in close proximity to stations and bases.

Early on Day 2, Independence is taxied out onto the runway with her first cargo in her hold.

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Aboard is her flight crew:

Commander Cleveland Kauffman
Pilot Gavin Kenney
Flight Engineer Herman Kinney

And her first compliment of specialists:

Payload Specialist Dwayne Kohler (a veteran of Independence's maiden flight)
Mission Specialist Lily Kemp
MIssion Specialist Edwin Klinger (recently promoted from Corporal)

Commander Kauffman raises the throttles to 100%, then releases the brakes.

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Independence surges down the runway and takes flight.

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Independence once again cruised effortlessly past Mach 1.

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As Independence reaches further towards space, her engines push harder and harder, peaking at roughly 3.5G. But as the atmosphere thins, and her speed increases, their thrust slackens. And at about 20,000m, Commander Kauffman switches the engines to closed-cycle and Independence continues her climb to orbit.

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Finally, Independence reaches her orbital velocity, and Commander Kauffman cuts out the main engines. Independence cruises to apoapsis, then burns her main engines again to circularize her orbit.

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After she has achieved orbit, the crew rigs Independence for orbital operations, deploying her solar panels, and opening the cargo bay doors and docking port.

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Soon after achieving orbit, the crew once again burns the main engines to raise the ship's orbit to 400km, the operational orbit of Kerbin Station.

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After Independence is at her final orbital altitude, the crew releases the struts holding the station core module in place, then activate the cargo erector to raise it into its deployed position.

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Once the station core has been erected, Payload Specialist Kohler takes control of the cargo drone to dock it to the core module's zenith port.

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Once the cargo drone has taken hold of the core module, Kohler uses it to transfer the core module to Independence's docking port.

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Once the core module is docked, the crew boards the new station module and begins pushing buttons and pulling levers to test all of the new station's systems. After several hours of testing, the new module is deemed accepted for service, and the crew goes to sleep for the night, waiting for their reentry opportunity the next morning.

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After receiving their wakeup call from mission control, the crew prepare for reentry. Separating from the newly christened Kerbin Station, Independence orients retrograde and activates her reaction control system.

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After a brief burn, Independence is once again heading home.

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After the burn, the crew prepares for reentry. They reorient Independence prograde with a nose-up attitude. They retract the solar panels, and close the cargo bay doors and docking port. And then, after the rest of the housekeeping, Independence enters the outer atmosphere. As the plasma forms around the shuttle, she begins to rapidly lose speed.

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After Independence has lost her velocity and dropped below supersonic speeds, Commander Kauffman begins maneuvering the great craft to bring it in line with the KSC runway glidepath.

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Independence cruises over the western mountains and down to the KSC runway. And Commander Kauffman brings Independence down to a textbook touchdown.

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As Independence completes its rollout, the staff in mission control celebrates the first complete mission of the spaceplane program.

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In orbit, the kernel of Kerbin Station orients itself. At this point, all of the station's power and guidance is provided by the cargo drone. But that will soon change.

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Mission 102 - Kerbin Station Center Truss and Escape Pod Hub

During the next station construction mission, Independence will be lifting the station's center truss and its escape pod hub. The center truss is a critical part of the station's structure, providing a backbone for the trusses that will provide solar power to the station, as well as housing the station's batteries, reaction wheels, and it's probe core for remote operations when there are no personnel on board. The escape pod hub provides a central docking location for the four escape pods which will provide emergency evacuation for station personnel.

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Because this is the first mission that will rendezvous with the station's core module already in orbit, the crew has been training for days on orbital rendezvous procedures. And on how to spell rendezvous. The crew for this mission:

Commander Jane Knoll
Pilot Jackie Kimball
Flight Engineer Araceli Krebs
Payload Specialist Andrew Keene
Mission Specialist Keisha Keene (no relation)
Mission Specialist Lea Kimbrough

So Independence was brought out yet again for her next mission. Her engines roared to life, and she lifted off from the runway.

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The crew guided her through the atmosphere and out to the edge of space once again.

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And as they circularized their orbit at 100km, they settled in and configured the ship for orbital operations. They had an hour before the first burn to roundevous rendezvous with Kerbin Station.

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Finally, after an hour of spinning in their chairs important scientific observations, they reached their maneuver point and burned for station rendezvous.

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Independence comes right in alongside Kerbin Station, and the crew burns to match their velocities.

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Now they must begin the process of docking. Pilot Kimball assumes control of Independence from the docking control station and the ship orients itself towards Kerbin Station. Meanwhile, Payload Specialist Keene takes control of the cargo drone attached to Kerbin Station and uses it to reorient the station core module for docking. Kimball uses Independence's RCS to draw the two craft closer together.

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And then, with a clunk and a thunk, the two craft are docked.

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Now that the station and spaceplane are hard docked the team can begin transferring Independence's cargo. They begin by erecting the station modules in the cargo bay, first the escape pod hub, and then the center truss.

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Then Andrew Keene once again takes control of the cargo drone and undocks it. He then deftly maneuvers it around to dock with the escape pod hub.

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Once the drone is docked to the hub, they release the clamps holding the hub to the cargo erector, and the drone carries it over and docks it to its permanent berth on the core module.

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Now the center truss must be moved. Keene undocks the drone and maneuvers it around to dock with the truss adapter attached to the end of the center truss.

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And again, the clamps are released and the cargo drone gently carries the center truss over to attach to its port on the core module.

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After a very stressful hour operating the cargo drone in orbit for the first time, Andrew takes a breather and breaks open his Basic Alcohol Ration (BAR).

So now the crew continues to work inside the core module, checking on the new systems that have been added to the station. Then they bed down for the night ahead of reentry tomorrow.

After a good night's sleep, the crew aligns the station for undocking. With a burst of RCS, Independence separates from the station and begins its journey home.

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With a well-placed burn, Independence begins its reentry.

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Independence plunges through the atmosphere surrounded with an envelope of searing hot plasma. 

(Author's note: I never get tired of watching this thing reenter.)

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After shedding their velocity and settling into their flight path, Independence cruises over the western mountains.

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And then, with a skilled touch, Commander Knoll set Independence down lightly on the KSC runway and brought it to a halt at the end of its rollout.

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So now, Kerbin Station has many of it's major systems. But it still requires power, life support, and emergency evacuation options before it can support a permanent crew.

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Mission 103 - Kerbin Station Port Radiator Truss

Finally, after a grueling three days of work, Independence's first sister ship, Liberty, has rolled off of the production line. Her first mission will be to deliver Kerbin Station's port-side radiator truss. This truss will support one of the stations two main radiator arrays, and provide structural support for the port side solar truss which will be delivered later.

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The crew for Liberty's maiden flight will be:

Commander Juliana Koontz
Pilot Mercedes Keegan
Flight Engineer Andrew Keene (pulling a back-to-back after his Payload Specialist role on Mission 102)
Payload Specialist Gilbert Keenan
Mission Specialist Bianca Kimmel
Mission Specialist Ben Kunkel

After the tug has pulled Liberty out to the end of the KSC runway, the crew completes the pre-flight checklist. When all of the parameters are in spec, Commander Koontz gives a "Go", and Liberty roars down the runway to liftoff.

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Liberty's first flight is picture perfect. She soars upwards to orbit, and after their circularization burn the crew rigs the ship for orbital operations.

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Once in orbit, the crew begins preparations for their rendezvous burn, which is only 13 minutes after their circularization burn. Panic ensues. But after a pep talk from Commander Koontz, some soothing words from Mission Control, and the mysterious disappearance of Pilot Keegan's BAR, the crew rally and the rendezvous burn takes place without incident. Soon, Liberty is approaching Kerbin Station.

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With Pilot Keegan guiding Liberty, Payload Specialist Keenan guiding Kerbin Station via the cargo drone, and Mission Specialist Kunkel providing dulcet tones on his saxophone, soon the two craft are lined up and ready to dock.

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After docking, the radiator truss is erected for removal from the cargo bay.

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Keenan undocks the cargo drone and guides it, with its attached truss adapter, to dock with the radiator truss.

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The radiator truss is released from the cargo erector, and then Keenan guides the drone to dock the radiator truss to the port side of the central truss.

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Once the assembly is completed, the crew checks the newly added systems, and then settles in for the night.

The next morning, they bid goodbye to Kerbin Station and ready Liberty for reentry.

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The reentry burn goes off without a hitch, and the crew reorients Liberty and rigs her for reentry.

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Liberty passes through the fire of reentry without incident, and the crew brings her around into the flight path to KSC.

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With a skilled hand, Commander Koontz brings Liberty in for a landing, completing her first mission.

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Kerbin Station is reoriented to maximize the input from the cargo drone's solar panels. The radiator panels on the new truss section will remain undeployed until the habitation module has been berthed in its location.

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Mission 104 - Kerbin Station Port Solar Truss

So Independence is back up to bat for this mission. This time they will be bringing up the port-side solar truss which will provide half of Kerbin Station's total power.

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The crew for this mission:

Commander Barney Kearney
Pilot Eli Koonce
Flight Engineer Jaime Kent
Payload Specialist Rachel Killian
Mission Specialist Blair Kovach
Mission Specialist Norman Koontz

Early on the morning of Day 4, Independence is once again rolled out to the runway and lifts off to Kerbin Station.

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After the climb to orbit and circularization, the crew settles in to wait for their rendezvous burn that will bring them to Kerbin Station.

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After the rendezvous burns, Independence once again finds itself approaching Kerbin Station, and the crew sets about to docking.

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Now that the crew have docked, they erect the truss in the cargo bay, then bring the cargo drone around to dock with it.

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Extracting the truss from the cargo bay, Mission Specialist Killian brings it around and docks it to its location at the end of the port-side radiator truss.

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After making quick work of their mission tasks, Killian remarked, "Wait? That was it?"

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The crew once again performs their system checks to ensure that the new truss is properly installed. Then they settle in for a good night's sleep.

The next morning Independence once again breaks away from Kerbin Station.

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The crew executes a flawless reentry burn, and after braving the heat of reentry Independence is once again on the flight path to KSC.

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After cruising over the ever familiar sights of the western mountains, Commander Kearney brings Independence in for a spot-on landing on the KSC runway. Another mission complete.

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So now the port truss of Kerbin Station is complete. On the next flight, the habitation module and the first supply module will be added.

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Mission 105 - Kerbin Station Habitation Module and Supply Module

For Liberty's second mission, she will be lifting the habitation module and supply module to Kerbin Station in advance of the station's first permanent crew.

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This will be the first flight crew rotation, with the following crew members from Indpendence's initial cargo flight taking the yoke on Liberty this time:

Commander Gavin Kenney
Pilot Cleveland Kauffman
Flight Engineer Dwayne Kohler
Payload Specialist Herman Kinney
Mission Specialist Edwin Klinger
Mission Specialist Lily Kemp

With what is becoming boring regularity, Liberty lifts off and soars to orbit.

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After waiting through two revolutions of their 100km parking orbit, the crew performs their rendezvous burns and then moves in to a perfect docking with Kerbin Station.

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After docking, the crew erects the habitation module and supply module in the cargo bay.

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Then Payload Specialist Kinney takes control of the cargo drone and brings it around to pick up the habitation module. He carries it up to its permanent berth on the station's core module.

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After the habitation module has been docked, the cargo drone is brought around again to pick up the supply module and bring it around to its berth on the core module.

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Now that the habitation module has been placed in its permanent location, the crew can extend the port radiator and solar panels. The station will no longer be dependent on the tiny panels on the cargo drone for power.

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Having finished their extensive tasks for the day, the crew settles in for a well deserved night's rest.

The next day, the crew breaks Liberty away from Kerbin Station again and prepares for reentry.

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After their reentry burn, the crew of Liberty brings her in to yet another successful landing.

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Kerbin Station is almost ready to receive its first permanent crew. They will arrive on the next flight, along with the escape pods that will provide their emergency Kerbin return capability requirements.

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Mission 106 - Kerbin Station Escape Pods and Initial Crew

Kerbin Station has finally reached a point where it is able to support its first crew, with the exception of the escape pods which will allow the crew to return to Kerbin in the event of an emergency on the station. So the next spaceplane mission will lift both the escape pods and the first crew.

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The flight crew for Independence will be:

Commander Gavin Kenney
Pilot Jane Knoll
Flight Engineer Sierra King
Payload Specialist Araceli Krebs
Mission Specialist Keisha Keene
Mission Specialist Lea Kimbrough

The first crew for Kerbin Station consists of the following veteran kerbonauts:

Captain Juliana Koontz
Executive Officer Mercedes Keegan
Chief Engineer Andrew Keene
First Engineer Gilbert Keenan
Chief Scientist Bianca Kimmel
Assistant Scientist Ben Kunkel

The crew taxis Independence out to the runway on a clear morning. After the pre-flight checks, Commander Kenney releases the brakes and brings the throttles to full power. Independence surges down the runway and takes flight, rapidly climbing to orbit.

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And, again, after about an hour, two rendezvous burns bring Independence to Kerbin Station. And after some brief maneuvers the two are docked.

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The first order of business is to transfer the escape pods to their docking ports on the escape pod hub. The crew erects the escape pods in the cargo bay.

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Then Payload Specialist Krebs brings the cargo drone around to dock with the first pod and carry it to the hub.

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Once the first pod docked, Krebs brings the drone around again to pick up the second escape pod and dock it to the hub.

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And now, in accordance with space program regulations, the cargo drone cannot remain parked on an escape pod. So they bring it around and dock it to the open port on the supply module.

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So now that the escape pods have been successfully transferred, the new crew of Kerbin Station can officially move in to their new home, where they will spend the next 90 days.

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But Independence will be going home the next morning. The crew says their goodbyes, then undocks from Kerbin Station and fires her main engines to begin reentry.

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And after yet another unremarkable reentry and landing, Independence rolls to a stop at the end of the KSC runway.

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Meanwhile, on Kerbin Station, the crew settles in to their new routine of maintaining station systems. The next spaceplane flight will begin to bring up the starboard side truss assemblies to provide additional power and cooling for the new science lab and docking modules to be brought up later.

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Mission 107 - Kerbin Station Starboard Radiator Truss

After another three days of production, the third Indpendence-class spaceplane rolls out of Building 23 at Consolidated Kerbal Aerospace Industries. Christened Freedom, she, like her sister ships, is a marvel of modern Kerbal technology. But, unlike her sister ships, she still has that new spaceship smell.

For her first mission, Freedom is tasked with lifting Kerbin Station's starboard radiator truss into orbit. Like the port radiator truss, this truss will provide heat removal for the station, and also provide structural support for the starboard solar truss. Once the starboard solar truss has been added the station will be deemed at 100% of its cooling and power capacity, although the docking ports on the ends of the trusses will allow for additional truss segments to be added later if necessary.

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Freedom's first crew consists of:

Commander Eli Koonce
Pilot Barney Kearney
Flight Engineer Rachel Killian
Payload Specialist Jaime Kent
Mission Specialist Norman Koontz
Mission Specialist Blair Kovach

Freedom is towed out to the KSC runway, carefully, since the ground crew are very afraid of scratching the brand new paint job.

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Commander Koonce releases the brakes and pulls back on the throttles. They don't move. He realizes that he needs to pull the cardboard shipping spacers out of the throttle levers. Then he pulls the throttles back and Freedom rolls down the runway and takes flight.

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Freedom climbs to orbit, then performs her circularization burn. The crew opens the cargo bay doors, and once the cloud of packing material disperses Freedom is ready for orbital operations.

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After an hour of peeling plastic film off of Freedom's control panels, the crew performs their rendezvous burns and then brings Freedom in to dock at Kerbin Station.

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After saying their hellos to the Kerbin Station crew, they get to work. Kerbin Station XO Keegan brings the cargo drone around to pick up the truss adapter docked at the end of the port truss.

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While Payload Specialist Kent erects the radiator truss in the cargo bay.

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Then the cargo drone is brought around to dock with the radiator truss.

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And the radiator truss is brought up to its berth on the center truss.

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Once the truss is in place, the crew verifies its systems are connected and functioning. Much the same as the port radiator truss, the starboard radiator panels won't actually be extended until the laboratory module has been docked to its permanent berth on the core module on a future mission. For now, the crew breaks out their BARs in celebration, and then settles in for a good night's sleep.

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The next morning, the crews say their farewells. Then they close the hatches and Freedom breaks away from Kerbin Station.

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A short while later, Freedom burns its main engines to begin its reentry.

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Freedom reenters the atmosphere and as her structure heats up the smell of burning plastic begins to permeate the cabin. The crew initially panics, but after a minute or so they realize that maybe the factory workers just forgot to remove the protective film from the heat-resistant tiles on the hull. The smell abates after a few minutes, and Freedom settles in to her flight path to KSC.

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With a shriek of rubber on concrete, Freedom touches down on the KSC runway. As the rollout completes, the crew celebrates their successful mission, and the ground crew comes out to tow Freedom back to the hangar for a wash and wax.

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Kerbin Station continues to orbit, her crew settling in for another wait until the arrival of the starboard solar truss.

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Mission 108 - Kerbin Station Starboard Solar Truss

Independence's sixth mission will deliver Kerbin Station's second solar truss. This truss will provide the second half of Kerbin Station's power requirements, bringing it to 100% of the power required to meet its full operational capability.

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Because one of the flight crews were taken out of the rotation to become the first crew of Kerbin Station, a crew of new recruits will be flying this mission. This flight crew is:

Commander Keith Kilpatrick
Pilot Charles Kern
Flight Engineer Clarice Kopp
Payload Specialist Selma Knotts
Mission Specialist Garry Knight
Mission Specialist Cleo Kiser

On a clear Day 8 morning, Independence is rolled out to the runway. Commander Kilpatrick releases the brakes and runs up the throttles, and Independence takes flight once more.

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Independence performs her circularization burn, and the crew rigs the ship for orbital operations. Their rendezvous burn is almost two hours away, so they sigh and pull out a deck of magnetic cards....

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After an hour and a half, Payload Specialist Knotts has successfully defended her title as KSP Spades Champion. The crew take their seats again and perform the rendezvous burns. Independence approaches Kerbin Station for docking.

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Now that Independence is docked, the work can begin. Payload Specialist Knotts erects the truss in the cargo bay while Kerbin Station Commander Koontz guides the cargo drone around to dock with it.

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Then the cargo drone brings the solar truss around to its permanent berth on the end of the starboard radiator truss.

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Once the starboard solar truss is docked, the crew performs their system checks to ensure that it is functioning properly. Then they have a hearty celebratory (re-hydrated) dinner with the Kerbin Station crew and settle in for a good night's sleep before reentry the next day.

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The next day, the hatches are closed and Independence breaks away from Kerbin Station once again. Their reentry burn goes off without a hitch.

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Independence passes through the fire of reentry then glides in to a landing on the KSC runway.

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Now Kerbin Station has all of its power and radiator capacity. But, because of clearance issues, the starboard radiator and solar arrays cannot be deployed until the starboard docking port on the core module has been filled. So the next mission will deliver the laboratory module, which will be placed on the starboard docking port of the core module.

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Edited by TheSaint
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Mission 109 - Kerbin Station Laboratory Module and Cargo Drone

The next step in construction of Kerbin Station is to deliver the laboratory module, where the mysteries of SCIENCE! will be explored.

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Additionally, this mission will bring up a second cargo drone, to provide redundancy. After extensive polling, a social media campaign, and online voting, the name selected for the new cargo drone was, "Cargo Drone 2".

The crew for this mission is:

Commander Cleveland Kaufman
Pilot Gavin Kenney
Flight Engineer Herman Kinney
Payload Specialist Dwayne Kohler
Mission Specialist Lily Kemp
Mission Specialist Edwin Klinger

Liberty is rolled out to the end of the KSC runway for her third mission. As Commander Kaufman releases the brakes and brings the throttles to full power, Liberty takes flight.

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Liberty climbs to orbit, and after her circularization burn the crew rigs the ship for orbit. With only an hour until the first rendezvous burn, the crew barely has time to relax.

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The rendezvous burns go well, and soon Liberty is closing in on Kerbin Station once again.

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After docking, the crew give their greetings to the Kerbin Station crew, then everyone gets to work.

Payload Specialist Kohler releases the clamps and erects the laboratory module in the cargo bay.

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Captain Koontz pilots the new cargo drone around and docks it with the laboratory module.

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Then the laboratory module is extracted and docked to its berth on the core module.

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Once the laboratory module is docked to its berth, Cargo Drone 2 is moved to a parking berth on the escape pod hub.

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Also, to prevent any clearance issues after the radiator and solar arrays have been deployed, Cargo Drone 1, with the truss adapter, is moved to a parking berth on the end of the center truss.

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With all the necessary preparations made, the crew extends the starboard side radiator and solar panels.

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Now, Kerbin Station is at 100% of its design capacity for power and heat removal.

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After an exhausting day's work, the crew exchange some fist bumps, eat some hastily prepared snacks, then settle in for a well deserved night of rest.

The next morning, they close the hatches to Liberty and break the spaceplane away from the station for reentry.

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The crew brings Liberty about and burns for reentry.

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After they rig for atmosphere, the ship plunges homeward.

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Liberty soars over the western mountains, and Commander Kauffman brings her in to her third landing at KSC.

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Kerbin Station is now nearing completion. The crew spends their next day unpacking the various experiments in the laboratory module. The next mission will bring up the second half of the crew complement.

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Mission 110 - Kerbin Station Escape Pods and Crew

Freedom's second mission will carry two more escape pods to Kerbin Station, along with six more crew members, bringing it to its full compliment of 12.

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Freedom's flight crew for this mission is as follows:

Commander Jane Knoll
Pilot Jackie Kimble
Flight Engineer Araceli Krebs
Payload Specialist Sierra King
Mission Specialist Keisha Keene
Mission Specialist Lea Kimbrough

The additional crew being brought to Kerbin Station are:

Assistant Pilot Barney Kearney
Assistant Pilot Eli Koonce
Assistant Engineer Jaime Kent
Assistant Engineer Rachel Killian
Assistant Scientist Blair Kovach
Assistant Scientist Norman Koontz

The tug tows Freedom out to the end of the runway on a bright sunny morning. Commander Knoll gives a wave, runs up the throttles, and with a roar Freedom takes flight.

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After they reach space, the crew performs their circularization burn and rigs the ship for orbital operations.

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With no time to lose, since the first rendezvous burn is in only half an hour! They hurry through their preparations, and the burn is executed flawlessly. Soon, Freedom is approaching Kerbin Station for docking.

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After docking, the new arrivals begin moving their possessions and equipment into their new home. But the rest of the crew gets to work transferring the escape pods. First, Payload Specialist King releases the clamps and erects the escape pods in Freedom's cargo bay.

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Then Commander Koontz brings Cargo Drone 2 around to pick up the third escape pod and carry it to its berth on the escape pod hub.

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Then the drone is brought around again to pick up the last escape pod and berth it on the hub.

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Finally, the cargo drone is undocked from the escape pod and brought around to a parking spot on the end of the escape pod hub.

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Now, after a good day of work, everyone settles down to the largest gathering of Kerbals in space ever. The wardroom in the habitation module is packed to the rafters.

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After a good night's rest, Freedom breaks away from the station and burns for reentry.

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After braving the heat of reentry, Freedom lines up with the flight path for the KSC runway, and Commander Knoll brings her in for a perfect landing.

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Meanwhile, back in orbit, the crew of Kerbin Station are bringing the station to full operation. Now that they have a full complement of crew and the science lab, they can begin to conduct scientific experiments. Their first course of experiments will be to determine why the plastic packets their food rations come in are so hard to open.

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The next mission will see the debut of the fourth and final Independence-class spaceplane, and will begin construction of the Kerbin Station docking complex, which will facilitate the assembly of cargoes destined for other locations in the Kerbin system.

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Mission 111 - Kerbin Station Docking Complex Spine

Now Kerbin Station is fully kerballed, and is conducting full science operations. The next step is to equip it as a staging point for operations throughout the Kerbin system.

And, with much fanfare, the fourth and final Independence-class spaceplane is commissioned into service. Christened Opportunity, she will bring the first modules of the new Kerbin Station docking complex into orbit on her maiden voyage.

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Opportunity's first crew are rookies as well:

Commander Dominic Kozak
Pilot Elaine Kohn
Flight Engineer Clayton Kilgore
Payload Specialist Judi Keith
Mission Specialist Phillip Kemper
Mission Specialist Irwin Kimmel

Clouds are gathering over Kerbal Space Center today, but mission controllers decide that the weather is still clear enough for launch. Commander Kozak guides Opportunity through a clean takeoff, and after the closed-cycle transition she climbs smoothly into space.

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After performing their circularization burn and rigging for orbit, the crew waits an hour and a half for their first rendezvous burn. They pass their time by playing "I Spy", which reveals at least six different control buttons they had never seen before.

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After their pause, they buckle in again and perform their maneuvers. Then they cautiously approach Kerbin Station and bring Opportunity in to dock.

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The crew of Kerbin Station greet the new flight crew, and after exchanging some pleasantries, they all get to work. Payload Specialist Keith erects the new docking complex modules in the cargo bay.

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Then Captain Koontz brings her cargo drone around to dock with it.

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The next part is tricky. You see, the docking complex is supposed to be berthed at the nadir port of Kerbin Station's core module. But, right now, Opportunity is docked at the nadir port of the core module. This was the most intense part of the crew's training, and resulted in many aborted attempts to balance the docking complex spine on Opportunity's nose in the simulator. But the final plan that was selected was to dock the spine at an unused port on the station, then wait until Opportunity had returned to Kerbin to place it in its final position. Sierra King was awarded "Engineer of the Month" for this solution. She won a certificate printed out of Powerpoint and a Karbucks gift card. Captain Koontz guides the cargo drone, laden with its unwieldy load, to dock at the vacant port on the truss adapter berthed at the zenith of the center truss.

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Their cargo thus delivered, the crew of Opportunity settle in with the crew of Kerbin Station for the rest of the day. They bring news of home, exchange jokes and stories, marvel at whatever the heck it is that is going on in the science lab, and share their rations and BARs. Then they settle in for a good night's sleep.

The next morning, the crew of Opportunity bids farewell to Kerbin Station, closes the hatches, and fires the RCS. They drift away, then line up and burn for reentry.

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After reentry, Commander Kozak lines Opportunity up with the flight path for the KSC runway, and brings her in for a perfect landing.

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Opportunity's first mission has been a great success. Commander Kozak and his crew enjoy a warm welcome home. But back in orbit, the job isn't quite finished yet...

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Kerbin Orbit Operations - Y1 D12

Meanwhile, back at the station, Captain Koontz is getting work done.

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First, Cargo Drone 1 is undocked from its parking spot on the escape pod hub and brought around to dock with the docking adapter that is berthed on the nadir port of the core module.

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Then Cargo Drone 1 removes that docking adapter from the nadir port and moves it to the docking port on the escape pod hub. This clears the core module's nadir port for the docking complex spine.

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Now she takes control of Cargo Drone 2 and uses it to remove the docking complex spine from its parking spot on the central truss. She then maneuvers it to the opposite side of the station and docks it to its permanent location, the nadir port of the core module.

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Once the spine has been docked, all that remains is to move CD2 back to its parking spot to clear the new docking adapter at the end of the spine, which will become the new standard docking location for spaceplanes arriving from Kerbin.

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So now the docking complex spine is in its permanent location and Kerbin Station is ready to receive its next shipment of modules. Only two more spaceplane missions will be required to complete the construction of Kerbin Station!

 

Edited by TheSaint
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Mission 112 - Kerbin Station Docking Complex Arms

The penultimate Kerbin Station construction mission will lift the arms for the docking complex. These will provide additional docking ports for the docking complex, allowing it to host a multitude of spacecraft and payloads in the future as Kerbin Station becomes an orbital dockyard for cargo traveling throughout the Kerbin system.

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The flight crew for this mission is as follows:

Commander Charles Kern
Pilot Keith Kilpatrick
Flight Engineer Selma Knotts
Payload Specialist Clarice Kopp
Mission Specialist Cleo Kiser
Mission Specialist Gary Knight

Independence is rolled out to the runway for her seventh mission. Commander Kern takes the yoke and runs up the throttles, and Independence takes flight once more and quickly pushes through Mach 1.

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Cruising smoothly through her flight phase, Independence reaches space. After her circularization burn, the crew rigs her for orbit.

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After a brief delay, the crew performs their rendezvous burns, bringing them to within 175 meters of Kerbin Station. Then Pilot Kilpatrick takes the conn at the docking station and brings Independence in to a graceful first docking with the new Kerbin Station docking complex.

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After docking, Payload Specialist Kopp gets to work erecting the new expansion modules in the cargo bay.

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Then Assistant Pilot Kearney takes control of Cargo Drone 1 and brings it around to dock with the new docking adapter on the end of the starboard docking complex arm in the cargo bay.

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Releasing the clamps which hold the starboard arm in place, the cargo drone extracts it from the cargo bay, and Kearney guides it around to dock the arm in its berth on the docking complex spine.

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Now Kearney takes command of Cargo Drone 2. He undocks the drone and its attached docking adapter and brings them around to dock with the port docking complex arm.

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Extracting the port arm from the cargo bay, he maneuvers it around and connects it to the port side of the spine. The day's work is done.

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Taking stock of a long day of work, the crew open all the hatches into the docking modules and look out of all the windows. Then they enjoy a delicious nutritious 100% reconstituted meal together and settle in for the night.

The next morning they break Independence away from Kerbin Station and burn for reentry.

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After braving the hot plasma once more, Commander Kern guides Independence into the KSC glide path, and then brings her down for a perfect landing on the runway.

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Kerbin Station is now almost complete. Only the cupola and airlock modules remain to be added, and those will be brought up by Liberty on the final construction mission, lucky number 13!

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