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Loosing the Mün


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Hello KSP Community,

I've been lurking here for a while and finally decided to post something, just for fun.

As usual with writing, it's for writers to write and for readers to reject :)

And I'm sorry for some less-than-smart humour. Really, sorry :)

Loosing the Mün

"A pleasant, joyful ride all the way up to the Mün, they said. A great and scientifically rewarding experience, they said", Wurt Kerman uttered as the g-forces squeezed him into the seat again. For a whole minute the hand of accelerometer stayed in the red zone as if it was its rightful place, and then, suddenly, the bone-crashing vibration of the solid rocket engine stopped, replaced by the weightlessness which made pieces of yesterday's meal rotate and tumble in his stomach.

"Flight control, this is Unity-5, please confirm escape velocity, preparing to jettison direct ascent stage, over."

"Unity-5, this is Control, escape velocity confirmed. Ascend stage separation in two minutes 30 seconds, over."

Aldred Kerman, the ship’s captain, turned off the transmitter, set up the counter and began reading the check-list. Wurt, once again feeling his stomach's protests against rapid changes in acceleration, and quiet and calm Gimbal, the youngest of them, started to rotate dials and press buttons, answering captain’s commands.

It went like this:

Switch to on-board power? - Done.

Main computer? - Turned on.

Ascent stage ASAS & on-board computer? – Disconnected. Separation program entered.

Attitude control? – Set to automatic. RCS slaved to computer control.

Two rolls of toilet paper, three big tomatoes, a bottle of milk... – WHAT??! – Oh, sorry, that was my wife’s shopping list…err…

Main thrusters? – Ready to ignite.

Wurt did all this almost automatically, just repeating patterns he’d learned during his year-long training period, which consisted mostly of drinking beer on the beach near the Space Centre. If you’re good enough, they said, you’ll get the hang of it the moment you see it.

Sometimes he thought he wasn't.

“Good, now we’re ready to goâ€Â

Aldred radioed ready to go status back to Control. As final seconds flew by, Wurt thought that when, or, rather, if it’s over, he’ll resign his commission and go somewhere quiet to live. Maybe he’ll marry Melody, his school friend, and they’ll have children and a small garden and he’ll grow flowers far away from the vast coldness – or cold vastness (or both) of space. And just as he started remembering Melody’s beautiful eyes the counter hit zero. Wurt readied himself, praying the decouplers won’t blow up the entire ship, when a sudden wave of deceleration threw him forward, and he landed head first on the ship’s forward window.

It was over as quick as it started. “What the Hell was that? – Gimbal, check the engines, Wurt, check the ascent stage. I have a nasty feeling about this.â€Â

Wurt stared at the intensely flickering display. “It shows the ascend stage is disconnected. Is it?†– “How would I know? We don’t have, you know, rear view mirrors†– “Thrusters didn't fire, cap, there’re no problems with lander whatsoever. Yet.â€Â

“Ok, err, Control? We appear to have a li’l problem with our ascend stage. Please confirm separation, over.â€Â

“This is Flight Control to Unity-5, say again?â€Â

“Unity-5, this is Control, we now appear to have a fix on your position. Ascend stage separation not confirmed, repeat, NOT confirmed, over.â€Â

“Control, this is Unity-5, we sent Wurt on the EVA, and he should check separation visually. We’ll route his comms via main channel, over.â€Â

“This is Wurt Kerman to Control, do you copy?â€Â

“This is Control, loud and clear. What’s the status of ascend stage?â€Â

“It’s still attached to the lander, though all electrical connections were severed. Trying to de-attach it manually gives no results.â€Â

“This is Control, Chief Mission Engineer speaking. Wurt Kerman, our tech advisors advise returning to your ship. Chances of surviving impact inside the spacecraft are 4,867*10-8 % bigger than in your spacesuit.â€Â

“Unity-5 speaking, why don’t your techies do something useful for a change? Like, calculate whether we have enough delta-V to land on the Mün?â€Â

Their ship was gliding silently through the cold vastness of space at the breathtaking speed of 3680 with something meters per second. The huge solid rocket stage that allowed them to obtain such tremendous speed was just a dead weight now, hanging helplessly on the mess of wires and metal shreds connecting it to the lander. Retro-rockets, responsible for the ascend stage separation, were empty and silent now. Mün’s cratered surface was getting closer with each second, bringing imminent death to everyone aboard.

“Unity-5, Control here, we advise firing the side-mounted engines. It may finally disconnect the ascend stage, and also by going upwards you’ll avoid collision with the Münâ€Â

Now, let’s talk about directions. Jebediah Kerman, the first kerbal ever to go into space, defined “down†as the direction his feet dangled over the edge of his bed in the morning. We’ll stick to that definition, not only because it provides us with a useful frame of reference, but also because it clearly shows that in space “down†is just a general direction your toes are pointing at. While this is pretty clear for every kerbal who’s been there, it still remains somewhat of a mystery to those who work on the ground. It’s just another example of how the special case hinders the understanding of a general theory.

Being said, it explains the reaction our brave kerbonauts had from their discourse with the Flight Control crew.

“Unity-5 to the flight control, DEFINE “UP†YOU IDIOT!!!!! And get someone useful on the line, for God’s sake! We’re in emergency situation here!â€Â

Then it became very, very quiet. And then another shout ripped the silence apart.


“Gimbal, shut up! We won’t die today! We won’t crush into the Mün!â€Â


“Yes, believe me, we won’t! There’s just enough fuel for our side-mounted engines to get us clear of it! And we’ll commence the burn as soon as those idiots on the ground tell us exact directions.â€Â

“Oouh. Ouh. Ok. Ok. We won’t die today. Ok.â€Â

“Yes, not today! We’ll die somewhere in the solar orbit when we run out of food and water.â€Â


A new voice, sounding worried, entered the conversation.

“Unity-5, this is Crew Health Monitoring, we detect excessive sweating in the crewmember Wurt. Could you please tell him to sweat less?â€Â

“Why don’t you check crewmember Gimbal’s EKG instead?â€Â

“It’s not very interesting, going flat all the time…wait! Is he dead already? This is the most remarkable… â€Â

“AAAAHHHH! I’m NOT dead!!!â€Â

“Health Monitoring, did you hear that? That was Gimbal’s cry.â€Â

“Oh, come on! Your cheap tricks can’t beat science! Err….Captain, why your EKG is also flat?â€Â

Wurt closed the channel. It became silent again, except for Gimbal’s sobbing and unpleasant, mechanical noise of life support system rushing oxygen into the crowded cabin.

Physicists believe gravity to be one of the weakest forces in the Universe. Apparently, they've never been stuck in the rocket that ran out of fuel while trying to land on the Mün’s surface. Even if they did, they never lived long enough to initiate that much-needed change of paradigm in the modern academia.

When Wurt almost did all delta-V calculations himself, Flight Control called again.

“Err, Flight Control speaking, guys, we've made our calculations, and you actually have just enough fuel to land on the Mün even with the ascend stage still attached. You’ll heat the Mün a bit hard, at 25 meters per second, but I’m pretty sure the capsule will survive. You won’t have much fuel for return trip anyway, so you’ll have to wait for the rescue mission.â€Â

“Unity-5 to Control, are you nuts? We know these “rescue missions†of yours. Bill Kerman lived in those caves on Duna for three years! And those guys on Laythe, they’re still growing chlorella, what is it, sixth year they’re stranded there or what?â€Â

“Err, Unity-5, wait a second, it seems we haAAAH!â€Â

They've heard some noises, and then a new voice, fresh and confident, entered the conversation.

“Unity-5, this is Flight Control, Jebediah Kerman speaking.â€Â

Aldred’s expression changed to that of silent, deathly horror, as if Space Kraken was staring him in the face. Gimbal started his sobbing again.

“Let’s get rid of this ascend stage, guys!â€Â

Having multiple stages is important for almost any spacecraft. When Konstantin Kerman, the grand-grand-father of modern space exploration and rocket design, came up with the idea, he was laughed at. A lot. People of his generation imagined spaceships as huge chunks of metal, all shiny and pointy, with nice aerodynamic fins, going up using one tremendous explosion they called “a blast-offâ€Â. But then the idea of riding up a continuous explosion and throwing away the dead weight to get even more explosions became much more attractive. Spandex spacesuits became obsolete approximately at the same time, opening the way to the true space exploration.

Sometimes (fairly often, actually) incorrect staging or even simply having more than one stage resulted in huge problems both for the crew and the Flight Control. Jebediah Kerman knew it perfectly well. He also knew all the solutions.

“Captain, do you see this shiny blue-brown ball ahead of you?â€Â

“Do you mean, the Mün?â€Â

“No, I mean, the blue-brown ball with numbers, on the instrument panel.â€Â

“Oh my God! How did you know it was there? What is it, anyway?â€Â

Jeb’s voice trailed off, but a second later he regained his composure.

“Ok, never mind. Just strap yourself into the seat, disengage computer control, and set RCS to manual. We’ll shake this stage off using centrifugal forces.â€Â


“Now turn the ship all the way down and keep on turning.â€Â

She ship went down spinning. Wurt felt his yesterday’s food trying to come out, and then he actually saw it floating around the cabin together with un-strapped Gimbal. Then, somewhere far away, he heard Jeb’s voice ordering computer control and maximum engine burn. Without thinking, he reached for the lever and pushed it all the way forward. His other hand reached for the ASAS button and pressed it hard. Acceleration pushed him into the seat, and Gimbal’s foot hit him in the face. The last thing he heard was a rasping sound of something breaking off.

When he regained consciousness the ship was slowly tumbling around. Engines were silent (he or the captain must have turned them off), and computer control was disengaged. In the side window he saw the face of the Mün, now dangerously close.

“How long have I been off?â€Â

“Unity-5, this is Control, please respond!â€Â

“Oh. Yeah. Control, this is Unity-5, what’s going on?â€Â

“Unity-5! Bastards, were have you been? I've missed my dinner because of you! Err…you shook off the ascend stage. Now – do you see this glowing blue-brown ball?â€Â

“Yes, it’s mostly brown now. What is it for?â€Â

Jeb sighed.

Several hours later, Unity-5 was going around the Mün. Wurt, with a black eye and a visible footprint of Gimbal’s boots on the forehead, almost uninjured Aldred and beaten to Hell Gimbal were looking out through the window, seeing mountains and plains below. When the huge, green-blue Kerbin showed on the münar horizon, the first message to come was from the Space Program’s financial department.

“Unity-5, this is Mitt Kerman, space program financial director, you’ll be fined for using your spacecraft to circumnavigate the Mün instead of landing on it, over.â€Â

Aah, not this idiot again, thought Gimbal.

Go to Hell, thought Aldred.

I’ll retire anyway, thought Wurt.

The End.

Anyway, thanks for reading, happy launching!

Edited by sal_vager
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Not-bad story, but "defined “up†as the direction his ***** " Is not very "friendly", because this is a family forum Ive heard, and we are trying to keep "Inappropriate" things out of the forum.

Edited by Ascensiam
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I'm not sure it was ok to use myself, to be honest. The joke is from the real life (I'm so tired of explaining that there's no "up" and "down" in space...), so I've put it in. I think I won't do it again for a long, long time since it's not exactly how I write or think.

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  • 6 months later...

And so, Wurt retired, Gimbal was fired, and Aldred punched the director in the face. And in a moment of Kerbalness minds, Aldred was made the new director (They ARE Kerbals. Random thoughts everywhere.) Gimbal was rehired, and Wurt won the 2013 Kebin Golf Championship (He's retired.).

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