KSK

First Flight (Chapter 104 - Shoulders to the Wheel)

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KSP IRL!!!!!!   They need Moar Boosters!

 

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hmmm... it's been a while since anything has happened here. weird...

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That would be due to a combination of the usual pre-Christmas rush at work, not having a huge amount of time over the holiday after catching up with family and friends, and slacking off to play a little KSP rather than write about it. :) I also needed to figure out some worldbuilding details and plot. The worldbuilding wasn't huge and was more a case of making sure that a couple of odds and ends (like kerbal military rank structure) fit in with the story so far. The plot needed some thinking about though, in particular figuring out the political ramifications of all the recent shenanigans

No promises but the next chapter should be out this weekend. Three out of five scenes are about done and one of the remaining two isn't that long. More generally, I'm hoping to step up the pace a bit over the next few months and actually get this story finished. Last chapter is done, epilogue is done, I have a roadmap for getting to there from here...*rolls up sleeves*

Oh - and a warm welcome to @Garrett Kerman - thanks for the likes!

 

Edited by KSK

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@KSK, thank you for the awesome story! I really love it! I'm still on page 33, but I hope to be caught up by tomorrow.

 

Edit: caught up! Last chapter tho...

Edited by Garrett Kerman

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So, what exactly is going to happen after the story is finished? Will there be a sequel?

Also, welcome @Garrett Kerman!

Edited by Plecy75

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1 hour ago, Plecy75 said:

So, what exactly is going to happen after the story is finished? Will there be a sequel?

Allegedly, @JakeGrey is writing a sequel. It's very good, but I don't know anything about it. :sealed:

Urgh...Doublethink is hard. :confused:

(Linking to it is a bad, but if you look back a few pages, you can find the way to find it.)

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On 12/4/2016 at 7:15 PM, Commander Zoom said:

War.  War never changes.

Never has; Probably never will

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2 hours ago, 0111narwhalz said:

Allegedly, @JakeGrey is writing a sequel. It's very good, but I don't know anything about it. :sealed:

i've read it, and (unless about a century passes and/or a lot of advancements are made in the last couple chapters) there is a pretty enormous chunk of time between the end of first flight and the beginning of the sequel. i'd say there is a pretty big story still to be told in there, perhaps 1 or 2 more stories the length of First Flight

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20 hours ago, Garrett Kerman said:

@KSK, thank you for the awesome story! I really love it! I'm still on page 33, but I hope to be caught up by tomorrow.

You're very welcome and thanks in return for dropping by to say so! I can see you're fairly motoring through it. :) 

Just for the avoidance of doubt, Jake's sequel was deemed to be forum unfriendly mainly because the language got fairly robust in several places and also because the themes for the story got quite adult. Nothing that wouldn't be safe for work mind but certainly the odd suggestion that certain kerbals weren't entirely fresh-faced and clean living. The story is called The Next Frontier and (you'll be amazed to hear) its about kerbals. That should be all you need to find it if you so wish. 

It is indeed very good. Well written, funny, really groks First Flight and I heartily approve of the directions Jake took 'my' characters - although it's fairer to say that 'my' characters owe more than a little to Jake's writing anyway.

As for my own sequels - good question. To be honest, I'm happy leaving The Next Frontier as the sequel but the First Flight universe and timeline are big enough to fit in plenty of other stories, if I can find something interesting to write about and the time to write it. After all, there's no shortage of places in the Kerbol system which the KSA haven't even thought about visiting yet! 

For example, Jake alluded to an Eve mission that didn't go entirely to plan and a couple of folks over at SpaceBattles have been kind enough to ask for my take on it. Jake's given me his blessing, so that might happen one day.

Or there's this from Jake:

Spoiler

 

Inspired heavily by the last update to First Flight. Not sure whether this will become a sidestory in the TNF-verse or the B-plot to the sequel.

Joenie Kermol took a long swig of her sapwood juice, set the glass down and adjusted her wire-rimmed glasses with a businesslike air. "The word 'ambitious' comes to mind," she said in carefully measured tones.

The neatly besuited young kerman male smiled faintly. "People said that about the Grove on Duna."

"Duna's surface was totally sterile; my team couldn't have had a better controlled growing medium if we'd bought it in bulk from a hydroponics company. Laythe is a very different problem. Not only are we introducing a Kerm to a foreign ecosystem, which for literally any other form of plantlife on Kerbin would be a massive no-no, we know even less about Laythe's ecosystem than our ancestors knew about Wakira's back in the Age of Sail."

"We have a huge array of soil samples."

"Soil samples taken from one fairly small island. Even here on Kerbin you can find ten thousand new species of bacteria or fungus in a soil sample taken from any randomly-chosen square kilometre of land, and then find ten thousand more species if you move a single kilometre in any direction, or come back to the exact same spot in a year. The variations will be pretty small, mind you, but any one of them could turn out be another Red Blight or something even worse someday. And again, that's just on Kerbin. What it might be like on a moon where life evolved totally separately in radically different conditions is difficult to even imagine."

"True. But that native life will have no inherited protection against our antibiotics."

"For the time being. And come to think of it, that's another worry. What happens if Kerm pollen or one of our artificial fertilisers proves to be toxic to native life?"

"This is why we came to you," the young kerman replied simply. "We're not a large or well-funded organisation, Dr Joenie. We've got plenty of good farmers and a couple of biology graduates, but none of us have any practical experience of establishing Groves even on Kerbin. But without a Grove, we won't have much of a colony to speak of."

Joenie nodded. "Don't get me wrong, Billick, I support your aims all the way. But it's difficult to understate what a huge undertaking this is. If any of your organisation were hoping we'd be planting a sapling as soon as we unloaded the orbiter then they're going to be sadly disappointed."

"That's pretty much what we figured." Billick sipped his coffee. "We're not planning on shipping colonists out for another two years, but we want to send an advance party at the next window in three months. Their job will be to acquire more soil and water samples, expand the existing weather station network and run extensive controlled trials of Kerbin crops in Laythe soil, as well as bolting together some prefabs for the colonists when they get there and other preliminary work."

Joenie fished a spiral notepad and pen out of her desk drawer. "That sounds pretty workable, but it's going to involve a certain amount of equipment. What kind of budget are we talking about?"

"Seventeen and a half thousand keros, plus whatever you can coax out of the university. The good news is we already have some of the equipment you'll need. The KSA had a few spare inflatable agridomes left over from the first wave of Duna colonies, and sold them to us for next to nothing 'cause they were just taking up space in storage. They're not exactly this year's model but they're in as-new condition. We also have the use of the old outpost buildings; everything portable was removed when it was mothballed but the lab facilities should still be useable."

"That still leaves most of the lab equipment itself... Hmmm. Give me a day or two to get a list of gear and tally up the price tags, then we'll have something worth presenting to the grants committee. Am I going to be the only biochemist on the team?"

Bilick smiled. "I take it that's a yes, then? And I'm not sure yet, but after this meeting I have an appointment with your colleague Dr Wickley from the Duna Grove project. I can guarantee you the services of two good biologists and an experienced hydroponics technician for your staff, though."

"Wickley van Grun?" Joenie raised an eyebrow. "Why the two of us? We were the junior members of the team by quite a margin."

"Everyone else either has dependents on Kerbin or jumped straight into a prestigious teaching or research post," Billick replied. "Besides, breaking ground on a new settlement is a young kerbal's game; there's going to be a good deal of physical labour involved in the early days and the climate isn't exactly balmy. But for someone young and fit who doesn't mind getting their hands dirty?"

"It's like Geofley Kerman said. You could have the adventure holiday of a lifetime down there." Joenie finally cracked a smile. "Count me in!"

 

Although obviously it's up to Jake how far that progresses.

I did also think about a prequel at one point, telling the story of the earliest days of the KIS, from LV-2 to Kerbal 1. I'm no longer completely sold on that - I've managed to fill in some of the backstory anyway in First Flight and I have a suspicion that a prequel would degenerate into technical monologues interspersed by exploding boosters. Plus we already know that everything works out OK in the end, which largely kills the narrative tension. 

Finally, the kerbal history which I sketched out in First Flight provides no shortage of possible story material. The Age of Sail for example could be an interesting setting, with an incipient Kerm Seeding and all the various proto-nations of Kerbin racing to secure fame and fortune in the New World.

 

Edited by KSK

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@KSK so are you leaving writing altogether? or are you just taking a break? I hope it's the latter because your writing is on par with @Just Jim's in my opinion! I would love to see more!!!

Edited by Plecy75

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17 minutes ago, Plecy75 said:

@KSK so are you leaving writing altogether? or are you just taking a break? I hope it's the latter because your writing is on par with @Just Jim's in my opinion! I would love to see more!!!

 @KSK a few months after finishing First Fight: 

t3evzz4gbm7gql9u3x2t.gif

Such is the trouble with creating Worlds... they have neither beginnings, nor ends...:wink:

 

50 minutes ago, KSK said:

The Age of Sail for example could be an interesting setting,

This is a particularly fascinating idea. Kerbals & rockets has been done to death (guilty), Kerbals before rockets... like, way before rockets, now...

Must have pirates. Everything's better with pirates. Except real life. Those pirates are bad.

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34 minutes ago, Plecy75 said:

@KSK so are you leaving writing altogether? or are you just taking a break? I hope it's the latter because your writing is on par with @Just Jim's in my opinion! I would love to see more!!!

Truth be told, I think @KSK is one of the finest authors on the forum. If First Flight is finished, then I hope he considers doing a sequel, or starts a new story. :)

Edited by Just Jim

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1 minute ago, Just Jim said:

Truth be told, I think @KSK is one of the finest authors on the forum.  :)

I agree 100%!

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2 hours ago, Plecy75 said:

@KSK so are you leaving writing altogether? or are you just taking a break? I hope it's the latter because your writing is on par with @Just Jim's in my opinion! I would love to see more!!!

Wow - thank you! On both counts!

@CatastrophicFailure pretty much nailed it. Especially about the pirates. Kerbals would make hopeless ninjas so it's gotta be pirates. But joking aside, I definitely don't intend to quit writing, although I do foresee a break once First Flight is done. For one thing, I have an idea for a non fanfic story I'd like to try out. Originality of course is a taller order but with luck I might even get there too. Tentative title "The Diamond Crown", possible tag line "a tale of clones and kings."

And, after all this time, I have become very attached to my version of Kerbin, with all it's Kerm, kerman, kermol and assorted other wildlife. Another story in the same world may well happen too. (So many worlds to write about and so little time. :) ). It'll need a hook to hang off though; a tale to tell, something to add structure and texture and purpose to the journeys of exploration, whether they're in sailing ships or spaceships. Right now I don't have much of a notion as to what that hook might be but, as the song went, "you never know till you try..." :)

Edited by KSK

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On the topic of writing, I have a short sci-fi story I wrote one time.  It's about space tourism, people, and, *cue dramatic music* an evil plot.  It's not Kerbal (although I stole the name Lumy from a kerbonaut I had).  I might post a link up here sometime but it needs editing, and it's not my top priority.  KSK, your writing is truly amazing and I hope to see more sometime.

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Misting up here. Thanks everyone, especially @Just Jim, @Plecy75 and @GKSP for those last comments. They mean a tremendous amount to me and I'm sorry for not hopping on before now to say so. However, I thought this would be the best way to say thank you.


No Borders

The gangplank shifted under Gusden’s feet. He leaned forward, balancing on the balls of his feet as he addressed the older kerbal on the quayside. “And remember your air cover. The forward operating base on Humilisia is provisioned for the next four months; fuelled and munitioned for two, assuming worst case projections. So use them.”  He smiled humourlessly. “I’m pulling rank on you, Commander. Apart from your flagship, the rest of the new corvettes are coming to the Jhazi Straits with me.”  Gusden jerked a thumb over his shoulder.  “With that old barge in tow too, hopefully they’ll be a big enough stick to keep the Firesvarn away from the west coast.  You’ll get the next lot of corvettes but they won’t be ready for a couple of weeks yet. For now, I’m relying on you to hold off our Doreni friends if they poke their bows over the horizon.”

The other kerbal stared at him impassively.  “By your orders, Fleet Commander.”

Gusden looked at her thoughtfully then dipped his head in a brief salute. “Good luck, Commander.” 

His second-in-command watched him stride up the gangplank and step through a gap in the rail around the sharply raked bow. Gusden walked briskly aft, past the stepped gun turrets on the forward deck, and through the door to the bridge.  Further aft, behind the main superstructure, a third sternward-facing turret guarded the lifeboat stations. Smaller gun barrels jutted out from recessed bays along the superstructure flanks. 

A whistle blew and two flags unfurled over the radar mast. One sported the ancient green-on-blue diagonal bars of the Regionality of Kolus. The second was a much newer addition to the Kerbin Maritime Code; it’s quartered black-on-white denoting an armed combat vessel.

—————

The mid-morning sun burned in a cloudless, azure desert sky, raising shimmering pools from the sandy ground and glaring brightly enough from the white-painted blockhouses to dazzle the unprotected eye. The cranes and floodlight poles surrounding the entrances to the Site D underground test stands shone like webs of liquid fire. Wernher sat under an awning on the western side of the main test bunker, an outsized sunhat perched atop his head and a tepid and rapidly drying towel draped around his neck. A large bottle of water and a small portable radio sat on the ground beside his camp chair.

“…that was the KBS one o’clock news. The headlines again; the death toll continues to rise as Firesvarn and Wakiran forces struggle for control of the Bouldertop hills and other key positions along the border. Meanwhile…”

Wernher reached down and clicked off the radio. Behind him the bunker door scraped open, pushing a drift of sand out of its way. Hading emerged, carrying his own dripping bottle and took one look at Wernher’s face. “That good is it?” he asked.

“And getting worse,” said Wernher. “At least around the Bouldertops and it sounds like the fighting  is spreading along the border.” He sighed. “No details to speak of - just a note that, and I quote, "the death toll continues to rise". I’m not sure if numbers would make that better or worse.”

Hading sat down heavily. “S’pose we can count ourselves lucky,” he said at last. “If they’re looking for places to plant Kerm, we’re about as far from there as you could get. Doesn’t help the poor slasherns up there on the sharp end though.” He took a long drink from his bottle. “Looks like the KNSA were right - trucking fissiles around in the current climate is just asking for trouble.”

Wernher nodded soberly. “At the enrichment levels we’re using for the LV-N reactors, it wouldn’t take too much material for a…” He paused, hunting for the right words. “ A deliberate prompt-critical excursion. Thankfully, I suspect that anyone trying to engineer such a thing are more likely to kill themselves in a variety of unpleasant ways than build a working article.”

“Not that likely,” said Hading grimly. “The Kerbin Nuclear Standards Agency commissioned any number of safety studies back when nuclear fission became a practical technology. The idea was to figure out what configurations and conditions would make a reactor go pop and then avoid them. Long story short, it would take some care during manufacture but any half-competent nuclear engineer with access to the right neutron transport codes could design something capable of going catastrophically prompt-critical.”

“If they were also completely insane,” said Wernher. “Settling a dispute over Kerm planting territory by turning it into a radioactive cinder?” He shook his head. “Utter madness.”

“Especially when they could just pack a lot of low-enriched fuel around a normal explosive charge and irradiate the place without destroying it,” said Hading.

“Blight take it, that’s even worse.” Wernher looked sickened by the thought. “There’s insanity and there’s nasty, petty “if we can’t have it nobody can” insanity. If we ever descend to that level I’ll be on the first ship out to Duna because Kerbin won’t be a place I’ll want to live anymore!”

“I’d be right behind you,” said Hading. “And speaking of trips to Duna, that last test run was no better than the rest. Control drum synching is still off, so we don’t have enough safety margin with the neutron reflectors to operate at full flow and I’m starting to think we wouldn’t get the power density even if we could.”

“Wider coolant channels?” asked Wernher.

“Looks like we’ll need them,” said Hading. “And a better cooling system for the core support. Radial power distribution still isn’t right either - we need to look at the fuel loading in the outer elements again.”

“So, a complete rebuild then,” said Wernher. “Which means we’re stuck until the KNSA release the next shipment.”

Hading nodded glumly. “At least we’ll have plenty of time to work up the new design. Whatever we do though, we’re still going to be thermally constrained. There’s only so hot we can run the thing before it melts. No way around that…” his voice trailed off. Wernher looked at him curiously. “Unless we don’t bother containing the reaction.”

“What?”

Hading raised a hand. “Hear me out. What if we build a small prompt-critical device, embed it in a block of propellant and set the whole thing off behind the spacecraft? Should give us very respectable thrust at a ridiculous specific impulse.”

“And a vaporised spacecraft,” said Wernher. To his astonishment Hading just grinned.

“Didn’t you ever put a firecracker under a tin can when you were a kerblet?” He ignored Wernher’s indignant look. “Works best if you prop the can up on something to create an air gap around the base.” Hading’s expression turned reminiscent. “You can really get some height if you use a decent sized ‘cracker.”

“I’m not sure how to tell you this,” said Wernher carefully. “But a firecracker doesn’t really compare very well to a nuclear explosive.”

“Oh I don’t know,” said Hading. “Get the opacities right and set the thing off at the right distance from the spacecraft and it might work.” He waved a hand in the general direction of the desert. “Launch from somewhere out of harm’s way of course.” 

“And sell pieces of the glass as souvenirs?” said Wernher politely.

Hading looked puzzled for a moment then caught sight of Wernher’s face. “Souvenir glow-in-the-dark night-lights,” he agreed. “Ahh, it was just a thought. The KNSA would never go for it anyway.”

——————

"…that was the KBS one o’clock news. The headlines again; the death toll continues to rise as Firesvarn and Wakiran forces struggle for control of the Bouldertop hills and other key positions along the border. Meanwhile…”

Gerselle switched off the radio and slumped into her sack chair. Across the room, Jonton lifted his head and caught her gaze briefly before returning his attention to the elastic cords tethering his feet to the wall behind him. Clenching his teeth he lowered his legs, hands pressed firmly over the waist straps holding him to the bed, squeezing them against the bandages wrapped around his middle.

Down…and hold…and slowly up…and…ow…relax. And down again. And repeat…

Gerselle saw the flicker of tension in his eyes. “Is it getting any better?” she asked.

Jonton grimaced. “Not quickly enough. Elton did his best but the scars are still tender.” He gestured disgustedly at the walking sticks propped within easy reach of the bedside. “And Kerm knows how long it’ll be before I can put those away. I don’t think we can afford to wait any longer though - as soon as I can climb into a car without tearing myself in half, we need to go.”

Gerselle nodded. “I spoke to Meleny,” she said softly. “She and Thombal will take Joenie in if anything happens.”

“And we’re still leaving the hut to her and Elton?”

“If we can,” said Gerselle. “I had Jerdin go through the Archives but he couldn’t find anything about leaving property to ‘non-legal persons’ as he put it.” 

“I didn’t think he would,” said Jonton.  “All the more reason to force the issue.” He saw Gerselle’s doubtful look. “We don’t have any choice love. If Enely’s plan works, then it doesn’t matter anyway - Awakened Kerm will have to be recognised before Grove law. On the other hand, if Enely’s plan doesn’t work then we have to make sure that Elton isn’t forgotten - and a big high-profile court case will be perfect for that.”

“If we can find anyone to file it,” said Gerselle.

“We will,” said Jonton confidently. “Jerdin knows plenty of legalists  - we’ll just introduce them to Elton and they’ll be queuing up to be involved in a piece of legal history!”

Gerselle raised her eyebrows. “You should probably see if Elton wants the hut first,” she said dryly. She glanced at the radio and a worried look passed across her face. “Has he… asked yet?”

Jonton’s face froze. “Not yet,” he said. “He hasn’t mentioned it and to be honest, I’ve been happy to leave him in peace for the moment.”

Gerselle heard the front door opening, accompanied by a clatter of footsteps and Joenie’s high speed chatter. “We haven’t got time for that either, Jonton Kermol,” she said. “We need to talk to him tonight, as soon as Joenie’s settled. All of us - you, me and Enely.”

——————

“So the LV-N programme is on hold?”

“It is,” said Lodan. “By order of the KNSA and confirmed by the Council of Twelve Pillars. Security at all open uranium mines is on high alert, supply depots are locked down for the duration, and and any and all movement of nuclear materials is prohibited until such time as a cessation of hostilities between Wakira and Firesvar is declared. Fortunately, the KNSA also had the foresight to advance the reactor resupply schedule shortly after the Kerm crisis broke, so power generation and research reactors will not be affected, although security is being stepped up there as well.”

Ademone made a note on her pad and flipped over the next page of the agenda. “Next item. In-situ resource utilisation. Otherwise known as the dirt-to-fuel programme. Dunney?”

Dunney cleared his throat. “As you’ll all be aware, Probodyne currently have a fleet of Hope probes en-route to the Duna system, tasked with pinning down the availability of raw materials for propellant manufacture. In the meantime, as a starting point, we commissioned Reaction Systems Ltd to build proof-of-concept reactors for synthesising methane and ammonia from carbon dioxide and nitrogen respectively, both of which we already know are present in the Dunan atmosphere. Preliminary experiments have gone well, demonstrating operational feasibility in a simulated Dunan atmosphere. A source of hydrogen will also be required for both reactions, which we hope to obtain that from sub-surface water. Alternatively we could transport hydrogen from Kerbin either as a gas or as water."

Dunney sipped his coffee. “Methane and ammonia are both useful raw materials in their own right but, more importantly, we believe they provide us with a tentative mission architecture for Starseed.” He nodded politely at Geneney.

“The Site D team,” said Geneney, “have been evaluating various propulsion options for the colony ships. The currently favoured option is a nuclear-thermal engine using ammonia as the propellant. In terms of raw performance, ammonia is substantially worse than pure hydrogen but still offers a significant improvement over conventional engines burning hydrogen and oxygen - hydrolox in engineering parlance. However, the logistics of using ammonia propellant are vastly more straightforward than using hydrogen and we also have some hope of extracting ammonia from Minmus which would ease the Starseed launch schedule significantly. Ideally, we’d also be able to harvest ammonia from Ike to refuel the colony ships for the return journey to Kerbin. However, manufacturing ammonia at Duna would be an acceptable backup plan.”

“The KNSA are not going to be happy about launching large numbers of nuclear engines to orbit,” said Lodan thoughtfully. “Is hydrolox the best alternative we’ve got?”

“Yes,” said Ademone. “The propellants team at Rockomax have investigated a number of…more exotic options but they’re quite frankly terrifying. And if anything, their large scale manufacture, storage and combustion pose a greater environmental and personnel risk than using nuclear engines.” She removed a stack of reports from her case and slid them across the table. “We do intend to publish our results in case anyone can build on them but for now, I think you’ll agree that these don’t solve any of our immediate problems.”

Dunney skimmed the summary page and blanched. “No indeed, he murmured. “I remember reading about some of these once and I’m fairly sure that some of them set fire to sand, let alone maintenance crews.”

Geneney’s eyebrows shot up. “I’m not sure whether to be impressed or horrified,” he said. “Either way, I’d burn a Kerm tree before putting a pilot on top of these. What about you, Jeb?”

“Hmmm?”

“These propellant combinations. Too risky for crewed flights?”

Jeb glanced at his copy of Ademone’s report. “Probably. They look nasty.”

Geneney caught Lodan’s expression and shook his head minutely. “I’d say so too. Anyway, moving on. We can use ammonia in a nuclear engine and it makes a reasonable fuel for a lox engine too although we never got it to work particularly well. Methane makes a good fuel too - we used it quite a lot in the early days for our smaller rockets. To cut a long story short, we passed our designs over to Periapsis Ltd over in Doren and set them to work developing scaled up versions of both engines.”

Geneney steepled his fingers over the bridge of his nose before resting them on the arms of his chair. “Our tentative Starseed crewed mission architecture therefore involves three stages. Standard launch to low Kerbin orbit and rendezvous with the colony ship, transfer to Duna orbit, and then transfer to the surface by reusable shuttle. Colony ships to be powered by ammonia-fuelled nuclear engines, shuttles to be powered by either ammonia or methane-fuelled conventional lox engines. Ammonia for the colony ships to be harvested at Minmus for the outbound journey and either harvested at Ike or manufactured on Duna for the return journey. All propellants for the shuttles to be manufactured on Duna.”

“Periapsis aren’t much more than a start-up at the moment,” Ademone added, “but they’re competent and they’re expanding.” She looked at Lodan. “Assigning the Duna shuttle project to Doren would give them some useful political capital and it’s not as if Rockomax have the resources to start up another major project.”

Lodan favoured her with a half smile. “Noted. Although I always thought that periapsis was the lowest point on an orbit. A strange choice of name for a rapidly growing company.”

Geneney coughed. “Without wishing to burden everyone with mathematics, various orbital manoeuvres are best performed at the lowest possible altitude. Hence their ‘rockets work better at Periapsis’ slogan and other assorted in-jokes.”

Ademone rolled her eyes. “That,” she noted, with a sideways glance at Jeb, “is what happens when you let engineers do marketing.” Jeb looked up and then, much to her surprise, shrugged and turned back to his copy of the propellant report. 

Lodan shot Geneney a concerned look. “Last item for today,” he said. “The Prospector programme. Status please.”

“Prospector 1 is on orbit,” said Geneney. “The Rockomax Stretch booster performed flawlessly, placing the empty command, habitation, and service modules into the intended orbit. The crew are on the pad as we speak, launching in a Pioneer command and service module aboard an Eve booster. Primary flight objectives: testing the new autonomous rendezvous and docking systems for future automated logistics flights, full duration test of the habitation module, crew EVA transfer testing between the command and habitation modules, full systems test and manoeuvrability test of the Prospector stack, excluding the Minmus lander. Ademone?”

“Stretch booster construction for Prospector 2 is complete,” said Ademone. “Habitation module, lander and CSM are undergoing post-assembly checkout but at the moment we’re on schedule. We’re using a Pioneer lander for expediency which gives us a considerable fuel margin for a Minmus landing. Crew training is proceeding smoothly with the first integrated sims beginning this week. Primary flight objectives: orbit Minmus and return to Kerbin. Secondary flight objectives, validate lander systems and seismograph network, landing attempt to proceed if all systems nominal.”

For a moment Dunney’s eyes sparkled. Then they clouded over again. “And after Prospector 2?” he asked.

“That,” said Lodan flatly, “depends on the political circumstances at the time. Our next priorities are the Endurance 2 centrifuge station, the on-orbit refuelling programme and ground test evaluations of the ice mining equipment. All three projects are underway. Whether our priorities will still align with Council priorities after Prospector 2 remains to be seen.

Geneney’s eyes flicked towards the wall-mounted speaker box suspended over Lodan’s head. He unclipped his pager from his belt and set it down on the conference table. “The crew should be on their way to orbit by now,” he said quietly. “Shall we?”

Lodan nodded and flipped a switch on the wall.

“…understood, Prospector. Decoupler D armed. Go for staging."

“Flight, Prospector. Second stage ignition confirmed. Launch escape jettison confirmed. Getting some real bright light through the windows, Flight.”

“It keeps getting better from here, Prospector. Copy your LES is gone.”

Lodan studied the four kerbals sitting around the table. Geneney’s and Ademone’s eyes were locked on the speaker box. Dunney stared unseeingly at his notes, frowning occasionally then nodding in satisfaction. Jeb cocked his head, lips moving soundlessly along with the reports from the capsule crew.

“We have a horizon, Flight. Guidance mode orbital.”

“Confirmed, Prospector. We’re tracking your projected apoapsis at one-eighty-five on the nose.”

“Thank you, Flight. Feels like that pogo is damping now.”

“Booster concurs, Prospector. FD calculates T plus twenty-five on second stage shutdown.”

A second voice came over the air. “Taking it slow and steady, Flight. Works for me.”

Lodan raised an eyebrow at Dunney who tapped Geneney on the shoulder and mouthed ‘who?’ at him. Geneney frowned at him, trying to understand the question. Then his face cleared and he scribbled ‘Seelan’ on his note pad. Quietly, Dunney passed the pad across to Lodan.

“We’ve got a periapsis, Flight. Standing by for shutdown.”

“Flight copies, Prospector.”

“And three…two…one…engine stop…”

“Booster separation confirmed, orbit is one-eighty-five by one-seven-nine. Orienting for sightseeing orbit!”

Dunney grinned at Geneney and Ademone and even Jeb managed a smile.

“Ohhh. Kerm is that pretty!”

“Oh wow. Got all sorts of mountains here, Flight. West coast of Doren, Humilisia if you squint real hard, but Veiid… northern Veiid js just spectacular!”

“No lines though, Flight.”

“Say again, Prospector?”

“No lines,” Seelan repeated. “No borders, no lines on the map. Veiid, Doren - it all looks the same.”

 

 

And with apologies to Bruce Dickinson: 

When I stand before you; shining in the early morning sun
When I feel the engines roar and I think of what we've done
Oh the bittersweet reflection as we kiss the earth goodbye
As the waves and echoes of the towns become the ghosts of time

Over borders that divide the Kerm-bound tribes
No creed and no religion; we the hundred willing souls
Who will ride these thunderbirds, silver shadows on the earth
A thousand leagues away, our lands of birth

 

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Ah, yes. Chlorine Trifluoride. (Pity they haven't discovered red mercury yet, of course. :D)

 

On a serious note, that last line... Wow. Puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?

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I would think Jeb would be completely on board with the whole "shooting-nukes-out-the-back" Project Orion idea. He's Jeb, after all...

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They do however present the slight logistical problem of getting the Orion-powered vessel into orbit in the first place, without letting off a bunch of nuclear warheads inside your own biosphere.

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*readsreadsreadsreadsreadsreads* ahhhhhhhhh!

But dang... a few chapters ago, your Kerbals hardly had any concept of war, now they're in fear of nuclear weapons. ;.; 

thatescalatedquickly.gif

Really dying to see how this all turns out in the end. It will be a happy ending, right? Right?!

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Thanks folks. Two somewhat related comments in return. :)

11 hours ago, KAL 9000 said:

I would think Jeb would be completely on board with the whole "shooting-nukes-out-the-back" Project Orion idea. He's Jeb, after all...

 "Amazingly enough, there are depths of suicidal idiocy that even Jeb refuses to plumb."

2 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

*readsreadsreadsreadsreadsreads* ahhhhhhhhh!

But dang... a few chapters ago, your Kerbals hardly had any concept of war, now they're in fear of nuclear weapons. ;.; 

thatescalatedquickly.gif

Really dying to see how this all turns out in the end. It will be a happy ending, right? Right?!

Fear is a bit strong - I think most kerbals would take Jake's (and Wernher's) view on this. However, the KNSA aren't taking any chances. As for the LV-N team - well they've been tasked with building something that's not terribly far away from a deliberate prompt critical device. It does tend to focus the mind when global politics goes south.

Seriously - the real-life test reactors for Project Rover were nuts - check out the power outputs for their size.

As for the ending - I couldn't possibly comment. :) 

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@KSK I couldn't have asked for a better thank you, and I shall return the favor. Sorry for not getting to it sooner

First Flight.pdf

I changed to using .pdf format so it isn't editable by third parties.

Again, I hope you continue writing, as your writing is some of the best I have ever read, not just on these forums, but anywhere I have read something.

I would also be glad to compile any of your future writings into downloadable .pdf files if you would like me to.

Edited by Plecy75

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On another note, I take it from the sudden flurry of likes I got on Spacebattles that at least one of you found the sequel. :)

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