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[AAR] The Grand Tour - Voyage To The Planets

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The book you're thinking of is called The Martian.

A book which I heartily recommend. Great story, good humour, plenty of sci-fi stuff... what more could you want?

As for the Grand Tour... we've reached the epilogue? Oh my...

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Is... Is that a Soyuz I see, docked to the station? I don't think it was there originally. And why is there an orbiting probe near the Mir-2?

:dun dun dun:

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I can feel something terrible will happen to Jeb, there will be one final death, and then KSC's just going to go, "What the hell happened here?!"

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How many parts will the epilogue be in 64? *crosses fingures* Please please please!

Great work as always.

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Just have to drop in and say this is still the most amazing AAR I've ever read. Sad to see it ending, but there's always another story to tell.

So, when are you getting published? :) Because I'll sign up for that!

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Just have to drop in and say this is still the most amazing AAR I've ever read. Sad to see it ending, but there's always another story to tell.

So, when are you getting published? :) Because I'll sign up for that!

I too could get behind some sort of official Squad publishing thing, or publishing deal. There are some stories on these forums that could be publishable.

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A book which I heartily recommend. Great story, good humour, plenty of sci-fi stuff... what more could you want?

As for the Grand Tour... we've reached the epilogue? Oh my...

I downloaded it and read whole of it yesterday - brilliant piece of hard s-f! Towards the end there was kinda too much unexpected incidents (like in "Gravity really - the Universe hates Watney) but hey, I'm the last one to criticize this story device :D

Yes, we have :(

Is... Is that a Soyuz I see, docked to the station? I don't think it was there originally. And why is there an orbiting probe near the Mir-2?

:dun dun dun:

No comments :)

I can feel something terrible will happen to Jeb, there will be one final death, and then KSC's just going to go, "What the hell happened here?!"

Whatever is going to happen, KSC is going to be surprised... unless all of this was Just As Planned! :P

How many parts will the epilogue be in 64? *crosses fingures* Please please please!

Great work as always.

I can't say BUT after the Epilogue (part 2) it'll be rather obvious. And thanks! :P

Just have to drop in and say this is still the most amazing AAR I've ever read. Sad to see it ending, but there's always another story to tell.

So, when are you getting published? :) Because I'll sign up for that!

I too could get behind some sort of official Squad publishing thing, or publishing deal. There are some stories on these forums that could be publishable.

Thank you Raptor831 :) Yeah, about that:

IMPORTANT! PEOPLE WHO WOULD LIKE TO HELP ME WITH EDITING (GRAMMAR AND STUFF) "THE GRAND TOUR" PLEASE PM ME!

If you enjoyed the story and if you are in a generous mood, you can always donate some monies for a noble cause (me!) - there's a new DLC for "Europa Universalis 3" coming out soon so I could use some foreign currency ;)

Oh and BTW, the Epilogue_2 is coming VERY soon - here's the next screenshot:

HqVGtuA.jpg

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[picture]

Well, Proteus does not look like it's going to Eeloo just yet, or is that just me again? :D Anyway, looks like Payload C was not reprogrammed by BERTY (yet)...

Oh, and about this whole end of story thing, are you still working on that secret project you kept teasing us about? Because your stories are addicting :D

I would help you with grammar and stuff, but i'm very bad at noticing mistakes, I would be a very bad teacher I guess^^

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I fully support Ned's idea to not only get home, but get home in style. :cool:

Krussian style. Like flying an interplanetary Lada.

Just look at this thing, it's absolutely stylin'.

1.jpg

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yEdh07v.jpg

EPILOGUE - PART 2

THE GRAND TOUR

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***

Ned's log, entry 1 (T+3d)

We're frakked.

The plan was simple – go to derelict ship, take CO2 scrubbers and supplies, get back to DSS, jury-rig connection with Payload B Transfer Module, wait for transfer window to Kerbin, fire the engines and finally come back home. Okay, maybe it isn't that simple with hindsight but it doesn't matter since we can't do it. Turns out Soviets were using square CO2 cartridges (yes, we found LOTS of them). No big deal, right? Wrong. Duna Space Station uses round cartridges, so we can't use Soviet scrubbers. To make things worse, we're out of duct tape – if we had it, we would perhaps be able to do some magic and fit square peg in a round hole but of course it's not an option. We're en route to DSS right now; when we arrive, we're going to brainstorm a little but frankly I don't see any solution to this. And to think that only three days ago we had LAMGML and whole frakking „Proteusâ€Â. Today all we have is DSS with atmosphere slowly becoming toxic, cramped DAV with no solar panels, Transfer Module which – thanks Kod – is still working and gigantic useless relict of a Cold World orbiting Ike. Huh. It's quite a lot actually. Maybe we'll figure out something after all?

Why have you left us?

Ned's log, entry 2 (T+4d)

We're still frakked but now it's getting even worse. Transfer window (Hohmann) to Kerbin opens in 128 days, the whole transfer is going to take 63 days. That's 191 days from now. And we have oxium supplies for 180 days – or rather we had three days ago, which leaves us with 177 days of breathing. So the good news is we don't have to worry about CO2 scrubbers at all – but the bad news is that we are going to suffocate 14 days before our closest approach to Kerbin.

We counted on finding some oxium on board Mir-2 but we didn't. Why? Whatever happened there, the hull was punctured, so there goes the atmosphere. Soviets knew that this could happen and they prepared for unexpected depressurization – Mir-2 has enough oxium to replenish the atmosphere twice. The problem is that backup oxium is in tanks in module contaminated by hydrazine – we can't use the computer to get the ECLSS or whatever the frak Krussians call it to repressurize the vessel because, first of all, we don't want this, and second of all, we want liquid oxium in tanks, not breathable atmosphere on this piece of junk. And we can't access them of course without swimming in hydrazine – and of course if the contaminated spacesuits were to get back to DSS, we would all die. Do I have to mention we can't clean the spacesuits from this toxic crap? Because we can't.

So there's the progress – we don't have the CO2 scrubbers and now we know we don't have oxium either.

Ned's log, entry 3 (T+7d)

We've been brainstorming for the past three days and we still have nothing. Dan thinks that we can modify Hohmann transfer so that we arrive in Kerbin SOI faster but by doing so we won't have enough fuel to slow down when we get there and for obvious reasons fly-by is not an option. Cambo proposed that we use morphine and other drugs to induce comatose in one or two of us so that the total oxium consumption would be lower. According to Mal, we can use some of our water supplies to produce oxium using electrolysis. Johnny prefers to come back to Mir-2 to search it thoroughly once again and Rozer supports modified Hohmann transfer idea. I suggested we threw him out of the airlock but it didn't get much support.

The through is, all of these ideas suck. If we put some of us in coma, they may never wake up. If we use electrolysis to make oxium, we're gonna end with lots of hydrogen in the atmosphere, thus turning the whole DSS into one big bomb – all it would take is a little spark to blow the station up. If only our ECLSS could deal with hydrogen that would solve the problem but of course it can't and we can't vent it into space without loosing the same oxium we want to preserve. And although throwing Rozer out of the airlock is very appealing, I must agree with this son of a gun on one thing – we need each other right now. More than ever.

Which means we're going to Mir-2 soon.

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Ned's log, entry 4 (T+9d)

Mir-2 is in a quite good condition – apart from the obvious things like being based on technologies from the eighties and spending the last Kod-know-how-many years in space. Luckily for us, Soviets really preferred simple and sturdy approach to their spacecraft.

Like it's predecessor in Kerbin's orbit, Mir-2 consists of several modules which are basically the same as the ones used in the first station with some modifications. And some of them are still working! How do I know this? Well, not only I happen to know Krussian (together with Dan, who was learning it during our transfer to Jool) but Johnny managed to get access to the main computer's database. So what Mir-2 has to offer? Crapload of supplies, that's what! Unfortunately some of them are inaccessible and some are surely contaminated plus I wouldn't trust the food after what, 20 years in space? Good thing we don't have problems with that – at least we'll suffocate after having a decent meal.

Anyways, all what we need right now is to get access to the oxium and we may live through all this.

Ned's log, entry 5 (T+9d)

Here's the status of the Soviet giant:

1. Main core module – control equipment for life support system (broken), science hardware (broken but not important), crew rest locations (aka „sleeping bagsâ€Â) and most importantly, main computer which apparently is still working! (but in stand-by mode);

2. Second core module – secondary life support system (?), more science hardware and a really big hole in the window;

3. „Spektr†module – automatic standardized docking port (working), even more science hardware and cargo (mostly water and food);

4. „Priroda†module – liquid oxium! If it's still in pressurized tanks it would be alright even if the heating stopped working; of course, this is the same module which is contaminated flooded with hydrazine;

5. „Kristall†module – more supplies (food, water etc.);

6. „Kvant-2†module – supplies and radiation cellar (I really hope we won't need it);

7. LOK-derived landers and „Progress†resupply ship - no idea but we're not going to need them unless they have some parts we may cannibalize

8. Solar panels – at least some of them are still working since the main computer is on stand-by, which means the electronics weren't destroyed, which means the heating is working, which means (we hope) life support system is not damaged;

9. Soyuz-TMA – no data; if it's working, we have second vehicle to move between DSS and Mir-2

10. Proton-derived stages – full of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide and in unknown conditions

Conclusion: we're still frakked.

Ned's log, entry 6 (T+10d)

We have found a solution. Well, actually we were forced to choose it. It's the most simple, the least reliable and probably the most deadly solution there but that's all we have left.

We are going to fly back home in Mir-2.

This sounds crazy but, as it turns out, even if we finally get access to the oxium in „Priroda†module we won't be able to transport enough of it back to DSS without being forced to use Transfer Module once again. And the reason for this is that there are four of us in the DAV right now and that these Soviet tanks are huge – there's simply not enough space to take all of them with us right now. But if we come here again, then we won't have enough fuel in the Transfer Module to slow down during Kerbin encounter.

So we are basically going to just lit 30-year old Soviet engines running on an extremely toxic and explosive chemical compound and hope for the best. That is, not dying during the transfer burn but rather later when some vital piece of this prehistoric equipment inevitably break down. Assuming we could even make it work.

Holy crap.

Ned's log, entry 7 (T+13d)

We've used Transfer Module to get here – we don't have fuel to get in Kerbin orbit. We don't have a choice now.

Today we start the repairs.

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Ned's log, entry 8 (T+17d)

Good news – the hull is patched (mostly). Bad news – we have to make a hole in it. Why? Well, we need that oxium and there are craploads of hydrazine in the module were the oxium tanks are. It's sealed and the hatch looks solid but as soon as we turn the life support on, the hydrazine spreads everywhere. We can't vent the module but we can release some oxium and nitrogen from the tanks using the computer – by the way, Johnny and Dan did an incredible work bringing this old unit back to life. So we have to increase the pressure inside „Priroda†(carefully so that the hydrazine won't react with these gases – and by react I mean blow up the ship), then make a little hole and let the difference of pressure do its work. The problem is that, first of all, the hull is thick and we don't have tools to get through it, so we have to use the window – which means we won't be able to use „Priroda†during the flight at all. If something breakes down, we would have to depressurize main core module and go to „Priroda†in spacesuit (is this EVA when you're inside the ship?). But there's also the other thing – whoever is going to make that hole, is going to be floating in space right next to a geyser of hydrazine for a few seconds. And we have to do this if we want to have life support.

Frak.

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Ned's log, entry 9 (T+23d)

We've got rid of hydrazine! No explosions, no injuries, everything went just as planned – hard to believe in it. We're working on getting life support system back online. There are big problems with, well, basically everything. Solar panels are working but after years of exposure to radiation and micrometeorites they are giving barely enough energy to support main computer, not to mention heating and cooling the whole spacecraft or providing enough juice for the ECLSS. Luckily we're not going to need any of the science experiments. We also need only two core modules pressurized and with controlled temperature, so that's even further decreasing our energy consumption. On the other hand, this means that we'll have to live in even smaller space then on DSS, not to mention „Proteusâ€Â.

We have no idea what's going on with our old home. We don't have any working comms system which would be able to establish connection with the ship and if it's still in one piece I'm sure BERTY won't allow any communication with us. But what's really driving me crazy is Jeb. Is he even alive? Why did he restarted BERTY? What he really wanted to achieve? What he said to me before he left didn't make much sense but again, we're all in a really bad shape and I think all of this influenced him the most. Was there some plan or did he just lost it? If he's alive, then why BERTY is keeping him that way? Where are they going? What BERTY wants to achieve? Complete the mission? With one crew member? A pilot without a lander?

Why did you leave us, Jeb?

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Ned's log, entry 10 (T+36d)

Life support is working! Not only that, but we managed to squeeze enough electricity from the solar panels to keep the whole environmental control part working too. We're still having tons of problems – yesterday Mal was trying to open the hatch to the airlock leading to the landers and it just broke off. We're completely insane to think we're going to survive the journey back home in this but still, it's all we have. There's no turning back now.

What's really scaring the crap out of me are the engines. Yes, they are hypergolic but they weren't used in years. Even if they lit, will we able to control the throttle or thrust at all? Chemical engine is basically a controlled explosion, it's far from the sophistication of fusion-powered „Proteus†engines. Even simple NTR is far more elegant then this and in this case, much safer.

We have 95 days to left before the transfer burn. I fear that when the time comes we'll just blow ourselves up. Still, it's better than suffocating.

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Ned's log, entry 11 (T+46d)

Payload C have arrived.

It has a powerful nuclear thermal rocket engine working in a prime condition and a lot of fuel, more than we need to get to Kerbin with DSS and Payload B Transfer Module. Docked to it is AMU with tanks full of kethane – kethane we could use to produce water and propellant for the Payload C. Both of the spacecraft have solar panels designed to operate far from the Sun, which means here they are producing much more power than they need. We could strip them and use to power the DSS or even this damned Mir-2 if we decide for some reason that we prefer getting back home using technologies from the 80' than modern equipment. It has everything we may need to survive.

And we can't use it.

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We knew that it was coming. It was all part of our plan after all – come to Duna, save the crew, refuel, go to Kerbin. Easy. What we didn't account for was, well, basically everything what happened since our arrival in Duna SOI. With no long range communication we couldn't send any orders to the Payload C earlier – we had to wait until it's close. We even managed to make short range comms system of Mir-2 work again. We programmed the computer to send patch to Payload C forcing it to execute Duna insertion burn.

Obviously, it didn't work out.

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It was probably the first thing BERTY did – repair the comms system and reprogram the Payload. It didn't slow down during closest approach to Duna but accelerated. Powered gravity assist. Wherever BERTY sent Payload C it doesn't matter – it may as well be in orbit above Jool.

It's out of our reach

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Ned's log, entry 12 (T+54d)

We can't get rid off these damned landers. For some reason they are locked and computer requires password to let them go because of their „mission critical†status. Obviously there are not mentions about the mission of Mir-2 – after we've rebooted the system we found no data concerning any activities of the crew. Just like on DSS and in the base on Duna – database is completely clean. Does this mean there is a connection between Mir-2 and what happened to our crew on the planet? Mal and Cambo have some theories about this but I try not to think about this. I also try not to think about the fact that we didn't find the crew. Yes, there must've been some vehicle docked to the ship since there is an unoccupied docking port nearby the modified LOK landers (big docking port, I should add) but what was it we don't know. And it couldn't have been big since it would mess with the center of the mass so much that even RCS won't help. Perhaps this was another lander but where could they land with it? On Duna or on Ike obviously, but if they did why the database is clean? What the hell happened here?

I should get back to work – RCS thrusters 8 to 12 are still not operational.

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Ned's log, entry 13 (T+71d)

Only 60 days left and Mir-2 is still in no condition to execute transfer burn. Hell, it's in no condition to even orbit Ike. Corrupted data in the software, problems with insulation, some RCS thrusters non responsive, dead gyroscopes, SAS working erratically and without precision – station-keeping is impossible. Not to mention these damn engines. It would take thousands of man-hours and a legion of engineers to fix it completely and that's assuming they have proper tools and spare parts. We don't obviously – most of electronics from DSS is incompatible with this Soviet crap. We cannibalize the other modules and landers to make some petty excuse for a jury-rigged workaround but I wouldn't want to drive a car in this condition and we're going to fire the frakking rocket engines. Good Lord.

On the other hand, life support system is working quite well, as well as the environmental control. But it's all what's working well. We're working in shifts all the time, two of us strapping DSS from useful equipment and four of us trying to do the impossible with Mir-2. But with only 2 months left I don't know whether we'll make it.

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Ned's log, entry 14 (T+73d)

„Progress†is working! This is great news – it would make transporting stuff from DSS to Mir-2 much easier and much safer.

Ned's log, entry 15 (T+75d)

Minor depressurization happened today. By minor I mean we managed to find the leak and seal it before dying from suffocation (asphyxia, according to doctor Cambo). Holy crap, this ship is already falling apart and we didn't even move it from the orbit yet. And we'll have to – we for sure won't perform successful transfer burn from retrograde inclined orbit.

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Ned's log, entry 16 (T+89d)

The good news is that there are just a few dozen EVAs ahead of us – and thank Kod! Being in such low orbit there were several sunsets and sunrises every hour, which means that we were forced to work in the dark half the time (we still didn't fix the external lightning). But the reason while there are just a few EVAs left is not the one we would like it to be. We didn't finish all the repairs – we're far from it to be honest. But our Manned Maneuvering Unit („jetpackâ€Â, in layman's terms) are breaking down too. There were some spares on the DSS but we already used them.

Which means that, first of all, we have to chose which systems to repair and which to leave as they are (broken, that is) and, second of all, that if something happens on our way to Kerbin (it will) we may not be able to fix the malfunction.

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Ned's log, entry 17 (T+101d)

Only 30 days left and we've just completed our final EVA. By final I mean we can't EVA anymore. We fixed the connection with Soyuz-TMA – it'll be our lifeboat in case anything happens. Considering we would survive maximally 24 hours in it if anything happens before we reach Kerbin we're dead anyways. And only 5 people can fit inside.

But it isn't important. We're finally done with EVAs. After months of hard work Mir-2 changed it's status from „useless Soviet junk†to „Soviet junkâ€Â. It's not that bad actually, we've been living in main core module for quite some time now – and we only almost died once. It's a shame that waste disposal system is still a piece of crap. Just like what Soviets designed to be a bathroom. But waste aint's such a problem – we have lots of plastic bags and we can put them inside the landers. Which we still can't remove and which are adding useless mass to our ride to home, thus lowering our delta-v, so we can just as well fill them with crap. Bathroom is a bigger problem – after two months without a shower the atmosphere is surely going to be, well, enriched with new elements.

We have only 30 days left and there's still loads of work ahead of us. What if we don't make it? We're gonna die, that's what. Frak me.

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Ned's log, entry 18 (T+109d)

We're in orbit above Duna. Nice frakking equatorial orbit.

It took days and almost all of the monopropellant from DSS but we did it. We just used RCS thrusters to accelerate prograde to escape from our orbit above Ike and then adjust the inclination. We did it. Well, Rozer and Dan did the piloting but we all were fixing this piece of crap day and night. Moving the ship (!) proves that RCS is working and that we really accomplished a lot during these few months. 22 days left before the burn but we still have a lot to do – we're probably going to continuously patch and jury-rig this humongous spacecraft until we arrive in Kerbin SOI. Assuming it won't kill us before we reach it. And there's also a risk of a solar proton event which would probably kill us all anyways no matter how much time and effort we would spend on fixing Mir-2.

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Ned's log, entry 19 (T+130d)

Transfer burn in T minus 17 hours. We released DAV and it scared the crap out of me. I know that in 17 hours we all may be dead due to engine malfunction (aka really big explosion) but for some reason undocking DAV really freaked me out. We've left DSS days ago and now we all are here, on board of a primitive relict from a distant past of space exploration somehow still functioning despite spending decades in deep, deep space. And we've just throw away the only equipment we have which was designed after the Cold War.

We are insane. I know we had to do this (center of mass versus center of thrust) but it doesn't change the fact that it was a complete madness. But to be honest all we did during these last few years wasn't really reasonable. And to be really honest, we with his right mind would agree to be sent so far from home for so long? We were all mad deep inside before we even left Kerbin – only a madman would leave the only planet which supports life to venture in the depths of empty space. And now we're here, counting down to the transfer burn and hoping we would survive it due to some incredible luck.

We won't reach Kerbin in it. No way we're going to survive this. We were never lucky. We should have just take the morphine and be done with it the moment Jeb abandoned us. Rozer made us to continue this hopeless struggle and for what? Is there anyone who really believe Mir-2 engines are going to work?

I wish I never left Kerbin.

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Ned's log, entry 20 (T+131d)

They worked!

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Ned's log, entry 20-A (T+131d)

And the first stage separation was successful! Holy crap, I can't believe it – 30-year old chemical engines and staging still works! I love you, Soviet Krussia! Now we only have to wait until we leave Duna SOI to calculate whether the transfer burn was successful too – and if it wasn't screw this, we can correct with RCS!

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Ned's log, entry 21 (T+131d)

We're off only 105,4 meters per second! That's amazing! We can easily correct this with RCS 25 days from now for maximum efficiency. We're going home, we really do! I bet these Krussians had something to drink hidden here somewhere but we couldn't find anything. Anyways, it's time for a koddamned celebration! And that's why I'm changing the time reference:

T+131 days and 5 hours after BERTY restart = T-63 days and 19 hours until Kerbin encounter

Frak me. WE'RE GOING HOME!

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Ned's log, entry 22 (T-57d)

Today the environmental control system stopped working. I'm trying to put it mildly, because what really happened is that temperature in „Kristall†reached 39 degrees Celsius before we even understand that something is wrong. We've sealed the module for now and we're working on a solution. In the meantime the temperature is still rising. Frak this. And I thought for a moment that everything is going to work out. I'm an idiot.

Ned's log, entry 23 (T-56d)

We fixed this but we lost all the food we were storing there. Well, it could've been worse.

Ned's log, entry 24 (T-53d)

It is worse. We're getting problems with temperature in every module (save for „Prirodaâ€Â, which still has a decent hole in the window). Since every module is pressurized (save for „Prirodaâ€Â) to make moving around the ship and repairs easier, we have to either fix the root of the problem or move all the supplies we need into the second core module, thus changing it into cargo module. But that would leave us with 50% less living space and would force us to store the waste in the second module too, right next to our food and water. Which means every time we're going to throw the garbage out someone will have to get into the spacesuit, go through the airlock, move through the unpressurized module (vacuum) and finally put it inside one of the landers.

Ned's log, entry 25 (T-50d)

We couldn't repair it. So now every walk to the garbage disposal is effectively a spacewalk inside the ship. I can't help it but to imagine the smell. Between storing waste in second core module and no showers it's going to stink like hell. Wonderful.

Ned's log, entry 26 (T-42d)

We almost died today. It was either a micrometeorite or this piece of junk is just slowly falling apart (or both) but we got a leak in the second core module. We dealt with this (which is rather obvious since I'm writing these words now). The irony was that Johnny used bag filled with waste to plug the hole for few dozens of seconds before Dan and me came with tools to patch it up. We're alive thanks to our own crap. Okay, I'm exaggerating a little but still how messed up is this that we avoided major loss of pressure thanks to garbage we live with. Five days until the correction maneuver.

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Ned's log, entry 27 (T-40d)

That was a close one. We detected a solar proton event moments before it hit us.

Alright, it didn't. But environmental control gave us balmy 5 degrees today. Which lowered to at least -30 before we managed to (probably temporarily) fix this. Honestly, after what we've been through to die because of broken air conditioner would be rather disappointing. I'm sure that whatever is going to end this journey is going to be rather spectacular. Or will we survive?

By the way, we have no more stress pills – only morphine. Which isn't a bad idea considering the effects of the non-lethal dose but we have to stay vigil all the time. There are minor repairs all the time. I don't mention them because if I were to this journal would be just a long list of chores. And it already resembles such a list way too much.

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Ned's log, entry 28 (T-37d)

We are on a frakking course! It took longer than expected since all the RCS thrusters in „Kristall†died during the correction. We also lost power from „Kristall†solar panels and docking port probably stopped working but who gives a crap – we're on course! And we're closer to the Sun with every day which means we can lose even four more solar panels before we die! Isn't that great?!

Ned's log, entry 28-A (T-37d)

Jokes aside, only now for the first time I realized that we may actually survive all this. Sure, we're in a worse shape than Mir-2 is but this crazy idea of getting back home on board this bunch of leftovers from the Cold War may actually work.

Perhaps I should start thinking about the future.

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Ned's log, entry 28-A (T-35d)

It's not only me – everyone looks, well, not depressed. Sure, we may die due to some malfunction at any moment but since we left Kerbin there was always the risk of quick death. Granted, it was smaller on board „Proteus†with all the cutting-edge technology and so on but still it could happen at any moment. And it did many times. But we're still here. We're alive. What the hell was I thinking?

Ned's log, entry 29 (T-21d)

Two weeks without a major malfunction (major = imminent death). Why? Did everything which could break down already did? Or are we just lucky? That would be a completely new experience.

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Ned's log, entry 30 (T-20d)

Only twenty days before the encounter! We're all incredibly excited. Johndon spends all his time with the computer trying to make sure that the comms system will work. Dan and Rozer are practicing orbit injection burn and calculating possible approaches and orbits while Johnny is asleep. Cambo even says that Dan is healing better than expected.

Things are going well. I can't believe this.

Ned's log, entry 31 (T-18d)

We've lost the atmosphere today. All of it.

We barely managed to put the helmets on. Thank Kod we are sleeping in them (Rozer's idea), otherwise Dan and Cambo would be dead. Mal's eardrums ruptured before he suited up but that's about that. Luckily we had enough oxium and nitrogen to replenish the atmosphere after patching the hole in the hull. Bad news is that we don't have much oxium left and that this accident finally killed our environmental control system. We now have 40 degrees here and we can't get lower no matter what we do.

The smell is terrible.

Ned's log, entry 32 (T-14d)

Two weeks. Two weeks!

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Ned's log, entry 33 (T-10d)

We're frakked.

Rozer wanted to check the engine today, run some tests. He run the tests. The engine is non-responsive.

We can't slow down.

Ned's log, entry 33 (T-9d)

We were doing our best to fix the problem – and we set the main module on fire. Not for long, luckily. How was this possible? Well, in this temperature the pressure inside plastic waste bags build up big enough to rupture at least one of them. It stinks like hell so we weren't able to notice this. As it turns out, among other things also methane and hydrogen are one of the byproducts of explosion of life in our bags. Thus miracles of biochemistry created gases which mixed with our atmosphere created explosive combination. When Rozer and Dan were trying to fix some cables leading to the engine a short circuit must've happened.

We disposed the garbage in the landers immediately.

Ned's log, entry 34 (T-8d)

Still nothing. Which leaves us only one option – EVA. Without MME (jetpack).

I just knew it.

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Ned's log, entry 35 (T-7d)

Spacewalk was a moderate success – Rozer is still alive. And it would take only one handle to break away to make this spacewalk last eternity. But it didn't happen and now we know what's wrong with the engine.

The hydrazine leaked out. We were getting false readings all the time. There was never enough fuel in Mir-2 to take us back home. We are doomed.

One week left.

Ned's log, entry 36 (T-5d)

It couldn't possible get worse than that, right? Wrong – another short circuit fried our comms system. Not completely, mind you – we can receive but we can't send anything. We turned it off for now. We have five days to figure out something. After that we may spend our last moments listening to some jazz radio station while getting lethal dose of morphine. But we have to stay focused now.

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Ned's log, entry 37 (T-4d)

A little more than three days left. I can see Kerbin through the window. After more than four and a half years I can see it with my own eyes. Frak the morphine. If it comes to this, I'll walk out and die looking at my planet. Our home. Kerbin.

Ned's log, entry 38 (T-3d)

There is one thing we can do. The only thing we can do apart from giving up and dying. The worst idea I've ever heard about.

We're going to aerobrake. With the whole. Frakking. Station.

Even Soyuz-TMA doesn't have enough delta-v to get into orbit. Plus it would mean leaving one of us on board and Rozer refuses to consider this. He prefers to put the whole Mir-2 on aerobraking trajectory.

He's insane.

Ned's log, entry 39 (T-2d)

He's a frakking crazy son of a gun. Not even Jeb ever came up with such ridiculous idea. And you left us with him, you old frak. If you are still alive, I hope you already realized what have you done to us.

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Ned's log, entry 40 (T-1d)

One day left. We voted and he won. We're doing it.

Ned's log, entry 40-A (T-1d)

If there's a slightest chance of us surviving this we have a lot of work to do and just few dozens of hours to prepare for it. I can see the frakking Mun out of the window. This may be my penultimate entry.

It's your fault, Jeb. It's your fault.

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Ned's log, entry 41 (T-15h)

We've entered Kerbin SOI. We had to perform small correction with RCS. We did it.

We've secured what we can. We pressurized all the modules – it makes work easier and if we won't make it then it makes no difference if we have something to breath later or not. We prepared the Soyuz-TMA – fuel, monopropellant, food, few oxium tanks so that we can refill our spacesuits and obviously morphine. We should do something with solar panels but we can't perform EVA. The g-force is going to be significant but we figured out that even if the ship is going to fall apart it doesn't matter as long we're inside Soyuz-TMA.

Which has room for five.

They wanted to draw lots. I volunteered to stay in the main core module. They think that's noble of me but they don't know the truth. They say that by now KASA or some other space agency must've noticed us – Mir-2 is not only big but also very reflective because of the solar panels. They say that I will be rescued within hours after them.

Assuming any of us is going to survive this. And if Mir-2 burns, then Soyuz-TMA burns too.

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Ned's log, entry 42 (T-5h)

This is it. We die or we live, there's no other option. I'm alone now in the main core module. Finally some living space! Too bad I'm getting my own room hours before the house is set on fire.

We didn't say goodbyes. Not because we hope to survive this but because what one can really say in a moment like this? „It was a pleasure� „Good luck� Corny empty phrases. We've spent the last fours years together, almost five years actually. We're like a family right now. How can one say goodbye to his family knowing they can die?

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Ned's log, entry 43 (T-3h)

Technically I'm in charge now as the last crew member on board the ship. Which means I'm the commander. Huh.

I prepared everything. On the odd chance we did survive, the message is ready. Everyone will know. They have to know. It's the only way to make it fair. To make their sacrifice matter.

Ned's log, entry 44 (T-1h)

What did we achieve? We were suppose to gather invaluable scientific data from all the system. Perhaps even – if this was the true goal of our mission – to discover alien life. To prove that we're not alone and that there is intelligence somewhere between the stars. That when we look up at the night sky there's someone who's looking back. And what did we achieve? Most of us are dead now. Prototype artificial intelligence went rogue and captured multi-billion spacecraft, perhaps crippling space exploration for decades if not forever. And instead of bringing samples and data from all the planets and muns in the system we're bringing bags filled with garbage and waste.

Was all of this in vain?

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Ned's log, entry 45 (T-50m)

They came back. Said that they won't leave me. I told them they are frakking suicidal morons. Kod, I'm shaking and crying like a little girl when I'm writing this down, I can't-

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Ned's log, entry 46 (T-10m)

This is my last entry. Whatever happens next, our journey ends here. The grand tour of Solar System is over.

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The planet is magnificent. The blue oceans, green and brown continents. White clouds. We live in a paradise. In a tiny oasis of life in the middle of infinite vastness of space. Priceless jewel in the dark. Maybe that's what counts. This one thought. Our pale blue dot.

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We're finally coming home.

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***

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MISSION STATUS

***

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Edited by czokletmuss

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Aerobraking with solar panels deployed.

You're brave. And... why not just dump the, ah, waste out of an airlock?

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I don't think that the motors for the solar panels were working. However, I see it as a flaw that the Soviets did not have a backup electricity generator. They may have only added necessary things, but a shielded, fixed panel would have helped.

There are no failures or accidents in Soviet Krussia. There is only sabotage. Therefore, I blame BERTY for anything that went wrong with Zvezda. (Mir-2)

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