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First Flight (Epilogue and Last Thoughts)

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1 hour ago, 0111narwhalz said:

As long as you don't get filler putty and hull sealant confused, you're good.

Not a problem - the hull sealant is the edible stuff right?

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I've mainly been reading from my email forum section so I had no way to press like.  Nice job KSK.


On 4/24/2017 at 4:45 PM, KSK said:

Not a problem - the hull sealant is the edible stuff right?

I put it in the food cabinet in the hitchhiker.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/27/2017 at 12:48 AM, GKSP said:

I've mainly been reading from my email forum section so I had no way to press like.  Nice job KSK.


I put it in the food cabinet in the hitchhiker.

Thanks - and thanks! :)

Sorry this one took so long but... the next chapter is up.

The Skies of Minmus

A blotchy black and white landscape rolled past outside Prospector 2’s windows, softened slightly by an ephemeral haze of dust, gases and tiny ice particles. Not at all, Barrie thought, like the Mun. She glanced around the cramped lander cabin, her eyes resting briefly on Wilford standing calmly at his station. When they said Minmus had an atmosphere, I didn’t expect it to be so damned visible. Didn’t sign up to fly this tinfoil spacecraft through it either. She stared out of the window. Thank the Kerm we’re not orbiting this dirty snowball at much of a speed. Too slow for dust to do any damage anyway. She shuffled her feet in their restraints. “Any word on that Button, Flight?” Silently, she counted off the handful of seconds in her head, the delay a palpable reminder of quite how far from home she and Wilford were.

“Comsats have acquired a carrier wave, Prospector. Surface team are waiting for it to mesh with the network. Flight dynamics are prepping your DOI update.”

“Ready when they are,” replied Wilford. “How’s Milden doing?”

“All set up for the wave-off rendezvous,” said Nelton. The radio link fell silent and Barrie clenched her jaw in frustration. “Which won’t be required. Button 3 is online and meshed. No above-background activity showing on any of the seismometers.”

“Good to hear, Flight,” said Wilford. “We’re Go for DOI on the next pass?”

“That’s affirmative, Prospector.”

Barrie clicked her microphone over to the crew channel. “And thank the Kerm for that,” she said, “The view was real nice and all, but none of us came all this way to be stopped by a busted sensor.” She flipped over to the air to ground loop. “Thank you, Flight.”

Prospector 2 flew onwards. Wilford’s gaze flicked restlessly over his instrument panel, both Barrie’s and Milden’s breathing sounding loudly in his ears. A brief burst of colour filled the cabin as Kerbol dipped below the horizon and then he was plunged into darkness. He blinked away the afterimages, pulse rate beginning to climb. 

“Okay, spacecraft alignment is good,” Barrie said quietly. “Throttle mode zero, SAS in auto. Go for DOI.”

Wilford took a calming breath through his nose and blew it out through his mouth. The luminescent dials and switch guards on his instrument panels glowed softly in the Minmusian night. “Alignment confirmed,” he replied. “Guidance is green, descent engine armed. Standing by for ullage burn.” A blue light blinked on above the flight computer screen, familiar from long hours spent in the simulator. Wordlessly, Barrie leaned forward and pushed a button. The reaction control system fired a brief burst, settling propellants in their tanks and Wilford into his foot restraints. Then the descent engine lit, throttled briefly up to half thrust and closed down again. Wilford’s fingers raced over his keyboard. The computer screen lit up in response and he nodded in satisfaction “Periapsis eight dot six kilometres. Residuals nulling.”

Barrie grinned for the first time since their undocking from the command module. “Hardly had time to get started. How’s the tracking, Milden?”

“It’s fine, Comm…Barrie. I have a strong radar return on you and your delta-V matches Wilford’s calculations. We’re approaching reacquisition of signal too.”

Barrie opened her mouth to reply when suddenly Kerbol swept over the horizon, banishing the glow from the lander instrument panels and casting sharp edged shadows from switches and button guards. Wilford’s glanced at the flight clock, confirming Milden’s reply for himself.

“…Prospector. Come in, Prospector.”

“Prospector reading you loud and clear on high gain two, Flight!” Wilford replied. “Going three-way on omni beta.”

“Copy, Prospector. Milden, do you read?”

“I read you, Flight but you’re very noisy. I’m switching antennas.”

“I think we’re looking pretty good from up here,” Barrie broke in. “What say you, Flight?”

“We concur, Prospector. Flight dynamics aren’t seeing any trajectory deviations, Surface confirms landing zone status is green.”

“Outstanding. Please advise Lander that if we’re getting any buffeting, it’s too small to notice. Our descent engine is armed, throttle mode zero, SAS in auto. Ready when you are, Flight.”

Wilford scanned his side of the instrument panel. “Attitude confirmed, guidance is green, tank pressures nominal.”

“Copy, Prospector. You’re Go for Powered Descent. Ignition at two minutes on my mark. Mark.”

Barrie grinned at Wilford and gave him a quick thumbs-up before turning her attention back to her instruments, her voice calm and studied. “Proceeding at sixty seconds, Flight.” She scanned her navball and rate indicators, one hand gripping the attitude hand controller, the other hovering over the manual ignition button. Both kerbonauts felt the sudden kick from the manoeuvering thrusters. “Ullage burn…and ignition. Throttle in auto-one. Rendezvous radar to standby, landing radar to auto.”

Wilford barely felt the descent engine rumble to life beneath his feet, although a quick check of his instruments told him that the braking burn was proceeding as expected. The reaction control system fired a brief burst, easing the lander over. The radar contact light flickered then steadied, data scrolling up his computer screen in response. Another burst from the thrusters and the horizon crept into view over the windowsill.

“Sighting angle check please, Wilford.”

Wilford keyed in the request. “Fifty two degrees,” he reported.

Barrie tilted her head, peering carefully through the graticule scribed on the lander window. “That’s not bad,” she said calmly. “Trajectory team caught the edge of that snowfield nicely. I’m going to bring us round a couple of degrees and land us closer to that frilly looking area. Flight?”

“Receiving you, Prospector.”

“No debris on the snowfield, Flight, but there could be fifty metre rocks hiding in those dark regions for all I can tell. I’m re-designating the landing site by a degree or two. Barrie paused. “I’m telling you, Flight, this landscape is just plain weird. Looks like spilled milk on charcoal dust.”

“Looking forward to the holiday snaps, Prospector. You’re Go for landing. Sixty seconds to terminal guidance initiate.”

The faint rumble from the descent engine fell silent. Both kerbonaut’s eyes snapped to their instruments but a reassuring lack of warning lights confirmed that it was still lit. Wilford felt a brief flutter in the pit of his stomach as the lander fell away from underneath him.  “Sighting fifty-six degrees. Eight hundred metres, down seven dot two. Horizontal velocity eighteen on the mark.” His eyes were fixed on the computer display as Prospector 2 fell towards the surface, engine throttled back to minimum thrust. "Four hundred metres, down eleven dot one, forward fourteen.”

The even, white snowfield gave Barrie no sense of scale or speed as it rushed up to meet them, which, she thought was probably just as well. Even so, her hand twitched towards the manual controls, like a nervous passenger riding in a fast car. “Landing site clear at four hundred,” she reported. “Go for Auto.”

“Two hundred metres. Down twelve dot three, forward ten dot six.”

The lander tipped back, shedding the last vestiges of its velocity over the surface, the descent engine throttling up with a welcome rumble through the cabin floor. Barrie blew out her cheeks in relief and Wilford wiped his glove across the front of his visor. “Throttle up! One-twenty metres, down nine dot eight, horizontal velocity in the noise.”

Barrie stared fixedly out of the window, both hands gripping the edge of the instrument panel resisting the urge to reach for the Abort Stage button. Punching out at this height, she knew, would be more dangerous than crashing. Beside her, Wilford counted off the last few seconds of their flight.

“Sixty metres. Down six dot five…”

“Thirty metres. Down two dot eight.

The final moments of the landing blurred past too quickly for Wilford to keep up. The altimeter spun down past fifteen metres, the contact light flared, the vibrations from the engine dipped and then cut out completely. He turned to face Barrie, both kerbonauts waiting tensely. Then a set of four indicator lamps lit up. Barrie flashed him a triumphant grin, hands already moving over the instrument panel. Wilford began working through the checklist with her, confirming essential switch settings, shutting down the descent engine and preparing the lander for emergency liftoff.

“…descent stage overpressure valves to auto. External cameras on.” Barrie paused. “Flight, Prospector. Solid contact on all legs. We’re down on the snow.”

“We see you down, Prospector. Fine flying.”

“Not much flying to do, Flight. We owe the guidance and control team one though, that’s for sure.”

“We’ll pass that on for you, Prospector. Confirm you have a Stay from all controllers and you’re clear for surface EVA. Incidentally, according to KBS News, you two are running almost neck and neck with Pioneer 4 for viewing figures.”

Barrie blinked. “Good thing we got Milden to write some words for the flag then. Thanks, Flight – we’ll try not to let them down.”


“Well said, team,” Nelton called. “You’re looking great out there – just great!”

“Feels great too!” answered Barrie. “This gravity makes everything a breeze – way easier than training!”

Wilford’s eyes sparkled behind his reflective visor, his face split by a huge ear-to-ear grin. He peered down through his helmet into the viewfinder mounted on top of his chest camera. “Hold it there, Barrie – that’s perfect.” He snapped off a shot of Barrie standing by the flag of all Kerbin, its bright greens and blues a bold splash of colour against the black and white landscape. “Have to get some of you by the lander later – they’ll be perfect for Jeb’s office wall!” He retrieved a sample bag from his belt and clipped it over the end of his scoop. “Okay, Flight, I’m heading over to clean ground for the snow sample. Don’t want to pick up any contamination from the engine exhaust.”

“I’ve got an exposed patch of dark material over here,” Barrie reported. “Hard to see much but it feels pretty loose through the scoop, like a gravel maybe. It’s not sticking to the sample bag either – must be pretty dry.” She stuck the sealed sample bag to a fabric patch on her shoulder before retrieving a narrow-bladed shovel head from her belt and screwing it onto the free end of her scoop handle. She scraped out a shallow trench in the dirt, aimed her chest camera at it and clicked off a set of pictures. “Yep – definitely dry. Trench walls keep collapsing. Bottom of the trench is as dark as the surface material. I’m going back for a core tube.”

“Copy that, Barrie. Surface team are requesting you take a deep core if possible.”

“I’ll do what I can, Flight – be good to find some ice down there. I’m sure burnt space gravel is real exciting for the geologists but I’m pretty sure you can’t turn it into rocket fuel.”

“Apparently that depends on the gravel,” Nelton said dryly.

Barrie thrust her shovel into the dirt and bounded back to the lander. “Ohhhh – yeah! Hey Wilford – don’t jump too hard else you’ll be back upstairs with Milden!”

Wilford laughed. “You can really get some height can’t you? I’ve got a good bagful of snow here – time to get started on the surface science package.”

Barrie peeled back a section of insulating material from the lander descent stage, revealing a tool rack and a hand cart. She unclipped a core sample tube and mallet from the rack and bounced back over to her shovel. Working awkwardly, in her pressurised suit gloves, she wrestled the tube into the ground beside her trench, twisting it back and forth and pushing down on it as best she could. She stopped to catch her breath, sweat trickling into her eyes, then resumed her efforts. “Okay, that seems to be staying put. Commencing percussive geology.” Stiffly, she raised her hammer and brought it down on the core tube, frowning as it hardly moved. “Getting...oof…quite a lot of…bah…resistance here, Flight.”

“Take it easy, Barrie. We can scrub some of the other objectives if you need more time for this.” Nelton paused and Barrie heard muffled voices in the background. “Ahh. Surface are saying it might get easier the further down you go. They’re thinking any large gravels have probably been shaken up to the surface over time, leaving the finer stuff underneath."

“That would be real nice.” Barrie took a swig of water from her helmet spigot then picked up her hammer again. “These suits weren’t exactly built for this. Oh come on. Get in there you miserable snake-kissing…hunk…of…junk!”

“Snake kissing?”  Even across the radio gulf to Kerbin, Barrie could hear Nelton’s raised eyebrows.

“One of Jeb’s expressions,” she answered, breathing heavily. “Or so Sherf tells me. Useful for hot mike situations apparently.”

Nelton sighed. “And soon to be a flight controller favourite too, I expect.”

Barrie grinned. “Better that than…woah! Looks like Surface were right - this just got a lot easier all of a sudden.” She hammered the last few centimetres of core tube into the ground and stepped back to photograph her work. “This be one crazy frozen munlet, Flight.”


A frozen world – but not a dead one. Beneath a sooty, rocky shell, intricately folded layers of ices lay hidden. Constantly kneaded by the combined gravitational forces of Kerbin and the Mün, compressed by the weight of ice above them and warmed from below by the faint radioactivity of still deeper rocks, the lower strata of ice float on the dark, ammonia-rich seas of Minmus.

Tidal forces and convection currents driven by pockets of relative warmth, tug on the ice layers, calving them into vast, slowly moving plates. Where the plates grind together, the relentless pressure creates sufficient heat to melt the ice in localised ‘hot spots’ More often than not, the resulting trickles of liquid simply refreeze, bonding the plates together still more tightly. Occasionally, a particularly long-lived flow lubricates the labyrinthine interfaces between the plates, allowing them to scrape past one another in a brief, juddering burst. Over time such small movements act as a safety valve, releasing the tremendous pressure of the depths in a constant stream of micro tremors.

But sometimes the right trickle of liquid finds a channel to flow through. Rich enough in ammonia to remain liquid despite the freezing temperatures, it drains through one of the myriad fracture patterns cobwebbing their way through the ice, before finally re-freezing and forcing those fractures a little further apart. By itself a single such event is barely noticeable over the ceaseless grinding background, but over time, repeated cycles of freezing and thawing broaden - and deepen - the fracture network, splitting the ice around it and driving a channel down to the sunless seas below…


The duty controller from the Surface team looked up at the quiet beep from her console and frowned at the jagged bursts scribbling their way across several of the seismometer readout displays. She paused for a second, mentally converting ID codes to map coordinates, then sat up straight, giving the screens her full attention. The console beeped again, more insistently this time. The controller leaned forward, fingers racing across her keyboard, calling up a set of analysis programs.“Flight, Surface.”

“Go ahead, Surface.”

“Picking up above-background activity in sectors delta and echo, Flight.”

“Patch me in,” Nelton replied crisply. “Do we have enough signal to triangulate?”

“Working it, Flight, but I’d say…” A louder, two-tone beep sounded and amber warning lights flashed on across the Surface console. “Oh, Kerm.  First pass error ellipse is too large to call it, Flight but that’s way too close for comfort!”

The repeater traces on Nelton’s console spiked upwards. Nelton took one look and cut in the all-controllers and ground-to-air loops. “EVA1, EVA2. Abort to orbit - landing zone Red, repeat Red!”

On the surface, Wilford looked up in surprise. He opened his mouth to reply then snapped it shut again as the ground shivered beneath his feet. Eyes widening in sudden alarm, he dropped his armful of spindly rods and gold foil and kicked off for the lander. “Copy that, Flight. Returning to base!” He skidded across the ground, boots churning up a double plume of frozen powder as he kicked off again. “Barrie – where are you?”

“Out by Danfen’s Dip and heading home at speed. You?”

“Nearly there.” Wilford bent his knees to absorb his landing and ran on towards the lander in an awkward lope. He sprang up the ladder, clearing half the distance to the cabin in a single bound, scrambled up the rest of the way and squeezed through the open hatchway. No sooner had he wedged his feet into their restraints when the lander shook beneath him, landing legs creaking alarmingly.

“Speak to me, Barrie!”

“Got a faceful of snow but nothing cracked or broken.” Barrie fought to keep her voice level. “Which is more than I can say for the landscape out here.” Wilford heard her panting as she she scrambled to her feet. “That checklist better be clear!”

“Working it.”

“How bad is the cracking?” Nelton cut in.

“No idea, Flight,” gasped Barrie, “Lander is clear which is…oof… all I really…ooof… care about right now.”

“Hold onto that thought,” said Nelton grimly. “Surface is tracking minor shocks in Charlie and Foxtrot sectors. Prospector – are you clear for launch?”

Wilford flipped the last of a series of switches and checked his computer display. “ATO is in, Flight.” He made a mental note of the calculated launch azimuth and throttle settings before leaning forward and very deliberately pushing the ‘Cancel’ button. The flashing blue light on Barrie’s instrument panel went out. Abort stage to manual. He flicked a glance at the throttle settings, one hand resting by the engine start button, the other clenched around the attitude controller. Blight it, Barrie, where are you?

The cabin lurched sideways. Wilford snatched his hands away from the controls, gritting his teeth as something thudded into the descent stage beneath him. Metallic scrapes, clinks and heartfelt swearing filled his ears.

“I’m clipped on! Go, go, go!”

Wilford’s head snapped round. “On the ladder?! It’s not designed for loading under thrust! Get up here – quick!”

“Yeah well I’m not designed for flash freezing! Get us out of here. Now!”

Wilford grabbed the attitude controller, pulled the throttle to minimum takeoff thrust and slapped the engine start button. Hypergols sprayed into the combustion chamber and exploded into flame, throwing the lander skywards in a cloud of rapidly freezing vapour. Attention riveted on his instruments, Wilford rolled his spacecraft onto its launch heading and cautiously fed power to the engine. “Hang on!” He twisted the controller, yawing the lander inverted, then pitched up onto a flatter trajectory, skimming over the icy plains. “Barrie?”

“Still with you. Thanks for the ladder-up manoeuvre.”

Wilford’s knees almost gave way. “How’s the ladder holding up?” He shook his head angrily. “Blight it – how are you holding up?”

“Thanking the Kerm for a two-hop mission profile and an overpowered lander,” said Barrie. “Not to mention ladders that you can wedge EVA boots into. Shoulders are going to be like a gronnek with toothache tomorrow but I’ll worry about that once we get to tomorrow.”

“Can they take more acceleration now? We’re not going anywhere on this trajectory!”

“Yes they can and no we’re not. Do it…”

Behind them, the sky flared brilliant white. Instantly, Wilford pushed both hand controller and throttle lever forward. The lander soared upwards, racing the storm of ice and vapour erupting from Minmus. The ragged edge of the shockwave buffeted them, tiny frozen particles sparkling in their exhaust plume and puffing into vapour as they struck the lander hull. Then they were through, horizon curving away beneath them, reflected sunlight washing out the stars.

“…I’ll tell you if my arm falls off,” Barrie finished.

Wilford set the autopilot to attitude hold then punched in a trajectory request. The computer flashed up a predicted apoapsis and he drew a deep shuddering breath. “Okay, Flight, we’re on track for abort mode two-beta. Prepping for descent engine shutdown and requesting burn update for transfer orbit insertion.”

“Flight dynamics are on it, Prospector,” came the clipped reply. “Barrie – what’s your status?”

“Ready to come aboard,” said Barrie. “Suit pressure nominal, both arms intact. And whichever of Bob’s team glued this ladder on…” her voice tailed away. “Well they went above and beyond – and thank the Kerm that they did.”

The fuel quantity light glowed on the instrument panel and Wilford promptly eased the throttle back against its stops. Barrie sensed the deceleration in the pit of her stomach, her feet briefly lifting out of their boots. She braced herself, gritting her teeth as her bruised and aching arms took the strain. Exactly ninety seconds later the descent engine shut down. Swallowing blood from a bitten through lip, she squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head to dislodge the tears clinging to the corners of her eyes.

“Can you throw your tether up?”

Barrie tipped her head back. Wilford was leaning out of the lander hatch, gloved hand outstretched, EVA tether snaking back into the cabin. “I don’t know about throwing it,” she said. “But as long as you can catch it.” She took a firm grip on the ladder rung, unclipped her own tether and propelled it clumsily towards him.

“Gotcha!” Wilford snagged a twisting loop of safety line over the crook of his arm and promptly hooked it in. Carefully he retreated into the cabin, unclipped his own tether and attached Barrie’s in its place. “EVA 1 secure, Flight!”

“And on her way!” added Barrie. Moments later her head poked over the hatch sill and she began wriggling her way inside, guided by a perspiring Wilford. Both kerbonauts shuffled over to their places behind the instrument panel. “Flight, Prospector – all crew aboard!”

Nelton’s voice was barely recognizable. “We…we all copy that, Prospector. Got a lot of kerbals down here breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

“As well as one kerbal up here, Commander,” said Milden in a choked voice.

There was a long, heartfelt pause then the flight director’s brisk tones crackled across the radio. “Okay team, we’ve got that transfer burn for you as soon as you lose the descent stage.”

“Copy, Flight.” Wilford glanced at Barrie who nodded in reply. “Jettisoning descent stage… now.” The decoupler fired with a sharp crack and the lander cabin lurched under them, RCS thrusters firing in a staccato rattle to compensate. Wilford nudged his hand controller, setting the ascent stage into a slow roll. “Hey, that’s a bit sportier now… and we have a visual. Okay, Flight, separation confirmed. What’s the plan?”

“Straight burn at the top with the ascent engine, into a phasing orbit. Telemetry review after insertion to evaluate restart options. Flight Dynamics and Lander are working the options for rendezvous - if need be, Milden will fly the final approach and docking.”

“You can count on that, Commander,” said Milden firmly.

“I know I can,” said Barrie simply. “Ready to take down that burn update, Flight.”


“…and shutdown. Ascent engine safed. How are we looking, Milden?”

“You’re looking good, Barrie. Predicted apoapsis within acceptable margins.” A worried tone crept into Milden’s voice. “But according to the radar your inclination is off. Do you have tracking figures, Flight?”

“We do,” said Nelton, “And Flight Dynamics concurs. Prospector – please confirm RCS propellant reserves.”

“We’re at eighty-two percent, Flight. Good thing we’re not running a plane change out by the Mün.”

“That’s affirmative, Prospector. Okay, Lander is recommending you re-route propellant from the ascent propulsion system through the RCS tank and fly all manoeuvres on the thrusters. We’ve spoken to Bob’s team and they concur. Primary APS valves are not rated for relight and the risk of a stick-on is too high.”

Barrie swapped a concerned look with Wilford. “Understood, Flight. I take it we’ll be changing plane at the descending node to buy us more time?”

“Correct. I’ll pass up the burn updates as soon as the Flight Dynamics team have them. For now I’m putting Lander on-loop to run through your valve settings for the reroute.

“And Wilford is standing by for that,” said Barrie. “I’m going to close the hatch and repressurise this cabin. Getting mighty tired of my own company inside this helmet.”

Nelton gave a startled laugh. “Copy, Prospector.”


Prospector 2’s ascent module arced out into space. Incapable of returning home to Kerbin on its own, it was a spacecraft in the purest sense – a metal bubble, pared down to the barest essentials needed to keep its crew of two alive for two days on the surface of Minmus and return them to their crewmate in orbit. Slowing, it reached the highest point on its orbit and began to fall back to the distant munlet. Thrusters fired, tipping the spacecraft back until its cabin windows faced forward along the direction of flight, two glassy, triangular eyes watching the way ahead. The spacecraft waited, gathering itself then, at the appointed moment, the thrusters fired again in a sustained blast, four jets of fire bracketing the silent main engine. The fire winked out but the spacecraft flew on.


“…transfer valves closed, APS override in. Propellant reserves: seventy percent in the RCS tank, APS gauge bottomed out.”

“Good burn, Prospector. Relative inclination zeroed out and Flight dynamics confirms your margin for rendezvous. You won’t have a lot left in the tank but you’ll get there.”

Barrie ran her hands through her hair. “Best news I’ve had all day, Flight,” she said sincerely. She peeled her squeeze bulb of water off the cabin wall and took a long drink. Letting the half-full bulb float freely by her head, she rummaged in the storage locker by her waist, emerging triumphantly with a bag of waxy, golden brown cubes. She popped one into her mouth and chewed on it happily before offering the bag to Wilford. “Sapwood toffee?”

Wilford’s eyes lit up. “Forgot we had those onboard. Mmmm, those aren’t bad at all! Wonder if Derny’s tried making crunchy ones?”

Barrie made a face at him. “You can keep your candied insects in your own spacecraft thank you very much."  She was interrupted by a sudden cry from the radio.

“Cloud! Great Kerm above it’s covered in cloud!”

Barrie’s head snapped up. “What is? Milden – report!”

“Minmus is! I’m flying over the landing site and I can’t see a thing – it’s all buried under a great dome of cloud!” Milden caught her breath. “Sorry, Barrie,” she said contritely, “Sorry, Flight. Spacecraft systems are nominal – I think I’m too high for the plume to reach me, even in Minmus’s gravity. But, Kerm – that’s a lot of ejecta. No wonder the seismometers went crazy.” Milden swallowed hard. “And thank the Kerm you and Wilford got out in time.”


<< Chapter 75:     Chapter 77>>

Edited by KSK
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You maniacs! You blew it up! Gosh darn you both to heck!  :D

So this confirms you went with the "dirty snowball" Minmus hypothesis instead of the usual "cosmic dessert." Nice. As I recall you've painted the Kerbin/Kerbol system as earth sized, so how many seconds would the comm delay actually be at a 10x-ish Minmus orbit?

Also wondering if you're going to mention how ice can stay frozen that close to the sun. :wink:

I can see how that chapter might have been a pain to put together, especially with pesky real life distractions in the middle. Well done.


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4 hours ago, MaxL_1023 said:

Do I sense some "Martian" style exposition?

It seems that Kerbals are very good at causing things to explode - not even small moons are immune!

"It wasn't our fault, Flight. We just landed here - honest." :)

Thanks for dropping by Max! I wasn't consciously riffing on The Martian but given the number of times I've read that book, it's maybe no surprise that I've picked up some of it's style along the way.

1 hour ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

You maniacs! You blew it up! Gosh darn you both to heck!  :D

So this confirms you went with the "dirty snowball" Minmus hypothesis instead of the usual "cosmic dessert." Nice. As I recall you've painted the Kerbin/Kerbol system as earth sized, so how many seconds would the comm delay actually be at a 10x-ish Minmus orbit?

Also wondering if you're going to mention how ice can stay frozen that close to the sun. :wink:

I can see how that chapter might have been a pain to put together, especially with pesky real life distractions in the middle. Well done.

:D They never did find a statue anywhere - expect it got blown into space a while back.

On a more serious not - thanks. Real life certainly got in the way not least the weather rather bizarrely. It's been unseasonably mild and sunny lately, so I've been spending a fair amount of time straightening the garden out before normal Scottish summer weather resumes.

Figuring out some of the fine details of the last chapter took a while too. It took a good few sheets of scribbled calculations before I found a reasonable landing profile for example - Wilford's altitude and rate-of-descent reports on the way down aren't quite pulled out of thin air. :)

Comm delay is another one of those details - finding a plausible orbit for Minmus in an Earth sized solar system was trickier than I thought. Scaling it directly from the game would put Minmus just inside Kerbin's Hill Sphere but orbits that far out are unstable once you take perturbations from other bodies into account. I think I settled on a Minmus apoapsis of about 1 million kilometres in the end, so the round trip  signal delay would be approximately 6-7 seconds. Assuming my Monday morning, pre-coffee mental arithmetic is correct.

You'll note that the exact travel time to Minmus has been glossed over a little. :) 

There may well be a bit more to come in-story on Minmus meteorology and cryovolcanology but the short answer is that the ice is largely hidden underneath the black gravel that Barrie found. Apparently that's fairly typical for 'dirty snowball' comets. The white snowy patches are (as you've probably figured out already) the ejecta from previous eruptions and they're not stable. Over time, they'll sublime and contribute (briefly) to Minmus's atmosphere - they're actually the main reason why Minmus has an atmosphere at all. And in turn it's the ionization of that tenuous atmosphere that gives Minmus its blue colour, at least from a distance.

If you look up the Wikipedia article for comets, the picture of comet 17P Holmes and other similar pictures on the web inspired that particular line of fridge logic!

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8 hours ago, KSK said:

On a more serious not - thanks. Real life certainly got in the way not least the weather rather bizarrely. It's been unseasonably mild and sunny lately, so I've been spending a fair amount of time straightening the garden out before normal Scottish summer weather resumes.

Ah yes, we have this too in my land. One day everything in brown and dead and the next you're in the middle of a flarping Pandoran jungle. :rolleyes:

4 hours ago, Commander Zoom said:

"Sir, it's quite possible that this asteroid is not entirely stable."

"'Not entirely stable'?  I'm glad you're here to tell us these things!"

Followed by the obligatory "that's no mün... it's a space slushie!"

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On 5/10/2017 at 6:37 PM, Plecy75 said:

And that concludes Volume I of the downloadable file!

Here is the finished Volume I, at 75 Chapters, 609 pages, and 281,929 words!

First Flight Volume I.pdf (3.88MB)

Next chapter will be the beginning of Volume II!

And unless this thing goes wildly off-piste (again), Volume II is gonna be a whole lot shorter. :) Thanks again for keeping on top of this @Plecy75!

Edited by KSK
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2 hours ago, KSK said:

And unless this thing goes wildly off-piste (again), Volume II is gonna be a whole lot shorter. :) Thanks again for keeping on top of this @Plecy75!

awww... i was hoping for a trilogy...

Don't worry, it's fine! I just thought this would be a lot longer lol

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11 minutes ago, 0111narwhalz said:

>started four years and 300000 words ago

>Volume I

>"I thought it would be longer."

i know, i know, i'm weird. i just like reading a lot.

Honestly i only split it into volumes because word was crashing when it tried to save it. i know, Microsoft sucks

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9 hours ago, KSK said:

Volume II is gonna be a whole lot shorter. :) 

That's what I said once upon a time, too. :wink:

Tho I really, really, REALLY! want to see how you pull all this together. Rule of Drama says that any moment now, something's gonna go REALLY! wrong. :o

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1 hour ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

That's what I said once upon a time, too. :wink:

Tho I really, really, REALLY! want to see how you pull all this together. Rule of Drama says that any moment now, something's gonna go REALLY! wrong. :o

I remember thinking at the end of Part II that another 40,000 words - assuming that I could get that far without excessive padding - would do nicely. Three sections, 120,000ish words - that's a bit of writing a man could be pleased with I thought.

Umm, yeah. About that. :) 

Anyhow - the next couple of chapters are quite 'plotty' after our spaceflight interlude. Hopefully they should tie a couple of the extant story threads together and give you some idea of where things are going next...

And I can personally guarantee that you've got at least another 8,000 words worth to read (final chapter and epilogue) - because they're sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to catch up with them! They're also two of my favourite parts of this whole thing which I really, really want to share with you all - which is a definite incentive to keep on writing. :) 



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well then, i may have to restructure the volumes a bit when it's all done! It would be weird if one was a lot shorter than the other!

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Okay, this is a public safety announcement. 'Snake kissing' is an in-story pseudo expletive that kerbonauts occasionally use over open mike. Actual snake kissing can be dangerous and is not recommended in the slightest by this author.

TL: DR  - don't be like this person. :o

Edited by KSK
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12 minutes ago, KSK said:

TL: DR  - don't be like this person.

That was less than 100 miles from here and all over our local news.... :rolleyes:

Bad things happen to those that kiss the wrong snake.... :P

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Yeah. I mean.... yeah. *shakes head* I don't mind snakes - corn snakes, the smaller constrictors - fascinating animals to handle. But a rattler? I ain't going near no rattler. Kissing is Right Out!

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8 minutes ago, JakeGrey said:

In other words, don't be Florida Man.

Oh, man... you wouldn't believe half the stuff that happens down here... :confused:

Edited by Just Jim
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Eh. I was in school with a guy who got a literal Darwin Award (remember that site?) for posing for a picture with a lit firecracker clenched between his teeth, which he failed to spit out in time.

(Have I mentioned I'm from a town so ghastly that I willingly moved to Luton to escape it? Because I did.)

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