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First Flight (Epilogue and Last Thoughts)

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If you need a commotion to catch a Gronnek, wouldn't a rocket launch be putting the Gronnek 'into' the bag? Seriously though, this world you're building will need an Encyclopedia of its on - kudos on making me think about Kerbal culture beyond 'put them in the rocket and point towards space!'

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I'm currently compiling every single chapter made so far, as you don't seem to be doing that currently. I'm trying to not change much but i'm fixing obvious mistakes. Microsoft word needs an English dictionary for us Canadians...

Once i'm ready, I could send upload it for everyone else while keeping as updated as I can, but by then, I would like to have your permission to do so.

Edited by Agent30632
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I think this story would make a great ebook! If we could get someone on this forum who is talented at art (unlike myself), I think some simple, handdrawn illustrations would really add to the atmosphere and style of said book - eg. The Moho 1 launch from 5km away, or the first picture of kerbin from space, etc. Nothing that really requires any specific details, or would mess with what the author and the readers pictured, but something nice nonetheless.

But seriously, I've read lesser writers than KSK who also happened to be published authors with a decent fan base.

BTW, random question - is the entire planet of Kerbin united, or have we only been hearing about a small part (country, continent?) of it? If so, is there a chance that beyond the Rockomax competitors and Kerm culture (forgot what it was called), that an even greater complication/challenger will arise? If you plan to write about it later, don't bother spoiling it, BTW. As always, I present to you the most annoying/stressful compliment - keep it up!

Edited by Exsmelliarmus
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I appreciate the sentiment and an ebook would be a tremendous compliment but we'd also need to get permission from Squad before doing anything like that, as the story is based on their work. Probably best to keep it as fan fiction for now :)

Illustrations would be great though if anyone cared to try their hand at them!

As for the random question, yes - the idea is that Kerbin is united. There will probably be other references to the governmental structure later in the story but the Council of Twelve Pillars is the top of the hierarchy and consists of an elected Kerman president and a chief Kermol ambassador, from each of the six regionalities of Kerbin. There are other levels of government of course but generally decisions are devolved down to the lowest practicable level and government as a whole is pretty light touch. There are reasons why that works well for kerbal society and I hope to draw those reasons out later in the story.

But yes - there will be a rather large complication/challenge arising over the next several chapters!

Edit: The Council of Twelve Pillars includes 6 Kermol chief ambassadors too.

Edited by KSK
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It all makes sense now!

A random (and off topic load of questions), but do Kerbals name Kerm seeds? Does Santa-kerbal sit in a rocket in a polar orbit, constantly de orbiting presents over populated areas? Do Kerbals use compasses for navigation, or do they follow the stars? And, most importantly, what snacks did Jeb have in the Moho 1? Sorry if I got carried away, I just love being able to talk to a really good writer!

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Note that there's a difference between offering the story as a download in formats most ebook readers can handle and actually charging for it. Once the story's finished, and if enough people are interested, I don't mind donating a few MB of my Dropbox account to the cause.

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That's a good (and much more realistic) point Jake but I think I'd still be more comfortable clearing things with Squad before taking the story off-forum in any way. I would hope there wouldn't be any objections but you know - their game, their rules. Then again, there are other KSP inspired pieces out there (most notably the loading screen painting) so maybe clearance is not required. I'll have a think but in the meantime, offer of Dropbox space is much appreciated!

Edit: <facepalm> Not to mention The Next Frontier which has been cross-posted across a couple of forums. OK, maybe I'm being a wee bit paranoid about not taking First Flight off forum. :)

Exsmelliarmus - heh :) In order; No comment in case of spoilers; I had considered some kind of kerbal-Santa, mainly to fit in a reference to Jim Lovell's 'Please be advised - there is a Santa Claus' from Apollo 8 :); both compass and stars and finally none sadly, although this will clearly need to be remedied for future missions.

Agent30632 - not sure I'm getting what you mean by compile? Is that taking the actual story text from this thread, merging them into one continous piece and then correcting stuff like typos, grammar and continuity errors? I ask because a) that would be really helpful so many thanks and B) I've been wondering what to do about this myself. As far as updates go, I think that last chapter marks the end of Part 1, so if the compilation is up to date so far, you could maybe draw a line under it and start with a new compilation for Part 2?

Edited by KSK
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Agent30632 - Is that taking the actual story text from this thread, merging them into one continous piece and then correcting stuff like typos, grammar and continuity errors? I ask because a) that would be really helpful so many thanks and B) I've been wondering what to do about this myself.

Yep, basically what i'm doing is what you typed.

As far as updates go, I think that last chapter marks the end of Part 1, so if the compilation is up to date so far, you could maybe draw a line under it and start with a new compilation for Part 2?

Yeah, I can do that

EDIT: I'm done compiling everything. Now, do you want what I have now uploaded?

Edited by Agent30632
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Yep, basically what i'm doing is what you typed.

Yeah, I can do that

EDIT: I'm done compiling everything. Now, do you want what I have now uploaded?

I've pm'd you - or at least I think I have. Let me know if it hasn't arrived.

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My pleasure GDJ!

Just as a quick update, I've started a forum blog as somewhere to store the consolidated version of First Flight, as very kindly put together by Agent30632. I'm not planning to update it that often, this thread will still be the first port of call for story updates but if anyone wants to read the story end to end - well there it is.



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Hey Warriorbulb! Thanks for dropping in and glad you like the story. Next piece coming right up!

This one is for Jake. I never really thought about this setting for a flight planning meeting before but it definitely fits the KIS atmosphere...

It's also a bit of a milestone piece in some ways. Partly because the view count for this thread has now edged over 10,000 - which just knocks me over! But mainly because according to my word processor and the Nebula Rules, First Flight is now officially a novel :) (or perhaps, 'novel length' would be a better way of putting it.) Granted, I think most folks these days would feel a little cheated by a 40,000 word 'novel' but there you have it.



Jeb knocked three times on the door, waited and then knocked twice more. He could hear muffled shouting from inside accompanied by the clanging of pots and pans. When it became clear that nobody had heard him, he banged more vigorously on the door in the same pattern and was rewarded by a sudden drop in the culinary noise level followed by the sound of hasty footsteps.

The door swung open and Jorfurt poked his head out slightly breathlessly. "“Ahh, there you are, Jeb. And the rest of the boys too I see. Good, good, come on in."

The others quickly followed Jeb into the hallway, sniffing appreciatively as the smells from the kitchen drifted towards them. Jorfurt closed the door behind them. "The usual room then, boys?"

Jeb nodded. “If you don't mind, Jorfurt. It's been a busy day - I don't think any of us are ready for the main bar tonight."

“You know the way. Make yourselves at home - I'll be up in a minute or two." Jorfurt hurried off back to his kitchen. Jeb led the way up a narrow staircase and along a gently curving passageway, his boots thudding on the heavy wooden floorboards. The door at the end of the passage had been left ajar and a flickering light spilled out around it. Inside was a snug room with a low beamed ceiling and a fire crackling in the grate set into the far wall. The familiar low wooden table sat in the middle of the floor, with the usual scattering of scuffed and patched sack chairs around it. The kerbals left their boots at the door before sinking gratefully into the comfortably baggy old chairs.

The six friends sat in companiable silence, each of them content to sit with his own thoughts for a while and just sit and look into the fire. They barely moved as Jorfurt whisked into the room and set a clean blue cloth, napkins and six steaming finger bowls down on the table.

“Right then, boys. What will it be to drink?"

Wernher stirred in his chair. “Nothing too strong for me, Jorfurt. Do you have any of that prickleberry cider left?"

“Certainly. Iced?"

“Yes please."

Bob sat up a little straighter. “Iced prickleberry cider sounds good. Make that two please, Jorfurt."

“Two it is. How about you, Mr Bill. We don't have your usual in tonight I'm afraid but we do have a new citrus wine in, which I'd value your opinion of. Whatever you did to the television in the bar worked a treat by the way, I've not had a bit of trouble with it since."

Bill smiled. “I'm glad to hear it, Jorfurt and the citrus wine sounds delicious."

Jeb sat forward in his chair, the pellets inside rustling against the sack lining. “I'm in the mood for something a little more malty I think. What have you got brewing this week, Jorfurt?"

“A couple of new experiments, Jeb but the RT5 looks particularly promising if I do say so myself."

Jeb blinked. “RT5?" he asked.

Jorfurt kept his face carefully deadpan. “A good solid brew with plenty of kick to it. One will make you wobbly, four will probably put you into orbit."

Geneney burst out laughing. “I like it!" he said, “but I don't fancy getting mashed into my chair tonight. What else have you got, Jorfurt?"

“Well there's always the 905, Geneney. So called because it's slower, smoother and not as punchy as the RT5."

“Perfect. I'll try a mug of that."

Lucan and Jeb were nodding. Jorfurt glanced around. “Three mugs of 905 it is then."

The room was rather more lively as Jorfurt bustled back in with a large tray. He put everyone's drink within easy reaching distance before setting out a large platter of djan chips, hot smoked kaya jerky and crisp luffa-eye peppers on the table. He poked the fire, threw another log onto the embers and then bustled back out again.

Jeb took a deep swig of beer and smacked his lips happily. “That's not bad at all. Although if this is the less punchy one, it's probably just as well that we're not on the RT5 tonight." He chuckled. “You know a town has got a good case of space fever, when the local bars start naming drinks after rocket engines."

Wernher raised his eyebrows. “If they're naming the beers after rocket engines, remind me not to try any of the spirits for a while!"

Bob was carefully piling squares of jerky on top of a particularly large djan chip. He popped the assembled snack into his mouth and a look of bliss spread over his face. “I don't know what old Jorfurt puts in that spice dusting he uses but he still does the best djans around."

Beside him Lucan was happily crunching away on a handful of peppers. “Yup - and you should give these a try too, Bob. Sweet as any I've tasted for a long time."

Bill sighed as he stretched luxuriantly and took another sip of citrus wine. The liquid fizzed slightly as it washed against the chilled rim of the glass. Intrigued he canted the glass towards the fire and swirled it round, watching as the bubbles sparkled and scattered soft orange firelight through his drink.

Once everyone had had a chance to fortify themselves, Jeb tapped his mug on the table for attention. “Right, guys, I think we all know what this meeting is about, so lets make a start."

Geneney swallowed a mouthful of chips. “The Probodyne Prizes?"

“Exactly. Whoever they are and whatever they are, the Probodyne Foundation appear to be spaceflight enthusiasts. So much so in fact that they are putting up some substantial prize money for two rather challenging flights. No apparent restrictions on who can compete but it's winner takes all. The first person or organisation to carry out the flight gets the money." Jeb took another sip of beer. “Flight 1 is a long duration orbital mission. Four kerbals in orbit for four weeks in one contiguous vessel."

He cocked an eyebrow at the others. “The rules don't say anything about bringing those lucky kerbals home again but speaking personally, I think we should see that as part of the challenge. Flight 2 is 'simply' to send pictures of the far side of the Mün back to Kerbin. Probodyne didn't say anything about how this was meant to be done but KBS have announced that competitors can use their facilities to receive the images from the spacecraft and re-broadcast them."

Wernher crunched thoughfully on a pepper. “That's an easy decision really, Jeb. Mün first and then we maybe have a go at the orbital mission later, if nobody else has claimed that prize by then. At a pinch we could do two kerbals in orbit for four weeks by extending the Moho 5 / Moho 6 flight from rendezvous and station keeping to rendezvous and docking. I wouldn't much fancy sitting in a Moho capsule for four weeks - or being on the ground crew that opened that capsule after four weeks - but it could be done. Four kerbals though is not something we can realistically pull off with Moho hardware."

Geneney nodded. “Camrie and I have some very preliminary plans for a three kerbal orbital capsule that would do the job but it's not something that we're going to have the resources to build for quite a while. Plus, the capsule alone is a lot heavier than a Moho, let alone the service and propulsion module that we were thinking of. It's going to take something a lot bigger than a Moho booster to get the whole ship into orbit."

Jeb looked intrigued. “I'd like to see those plans when you have a spare moment, Genie. In the meantime - I'm thinking that the Mün is looking like our best bet too. Anyone else have anything to add?" He glanced around the table but nobody else spoke up. “Right then - the Mün it is. So the next questions are how do we get there and what hardware do we need to do it?"

Lucan reached for another piece of jerky. “Once we get to Kerbin orbit we basically need two burns to get to the Mün. One long one to put the probe - at least I assume we're going for a probe - into a transfer orbit with a high enough apoapsis for a Munar encounter and then one shorter one to decelerate into Munar orbit. We should leave enough fuel for correction burns along the way but I don't think we should worry about our orbital inclination at the Mün. Unless we somehow manage to wind up in a polar orbit, we should get some good pictures of the far side whatever we do. If we're broadcasting the data rather than using film return like we did with the Kerbin 2, we don't have to worry about getting the probe back again either. Lucan looked at Wernher. “Leaving the probe in Munar orbit saves a lot of fuel and gives us much more margin for error with the trajectory calculations."

“Agreed," said Wernher. “As far as hardware goes, I think we have most of what we need already. We can use the same probe chassis that we used for the Kerbin 2, although we'll need to figure out a proper guidance system for it this time. We don't need the heatshield so that will save us some weight but we're going to need a proper electricity supply."

Geneney sat up. “I think we've got an old solar charger somewhere on the shelves, Wernher," he said, “we could probably strip the panels out of that and fit them to the probe."

“Perfect." Wernher said. “We should include one battery to smooth out the current supply a bit but solar panels should be a lot lighter than an entire flights worth of batteries. Then, if the propulsion module we built for the Kerbin 2 will do for braking into Munar orbit, the only other thing we need is a third stage for the Moho booster, to launch the probe out of Kerbin orbit. If two stages plus lateral boosters are enough to put a capsule into orbit, they should be enough to put a small probe plus boost stage there too."

“I'll have to check the delta-v budget," Lucan said, “but off the top of my head, I think we might need to build a stretched version of the Moho booster to give us more fuel in the second stage. I'm fairly sure the Kerbin 2 propulsion module has enough delta-v for Munar capture, although I can't guarantee there'll be much left for fiddling around with whatever orbit the probe ends up in."

At that moment, there was a knock on the door and Jorfurt came in with a tray to gather up all the empty glasses.

“Can I get you boys anything else?"

“No more cider thanks, Jorfurt," said Wernher, “but a sapwood would go down nicely. Water not milk please."

Jeb stifled a belch. “Sapwood for me too please, Jorfurt. Big day of testing tomorrow, so I'd better have a reasonably clear head in the morning. Which is a pity because otherwise I'd be asking to try the RT5 about now! That reminds me though - when would be a good time to bring those souvenirs over for the main bar?"

“Oh any time you like Jeb," said Jorfurt comfortably. “Couple of hours before opening time would be good, so I can get them installed before the evening starts but other than that, whenever works for you."

“I'll see what I can do. Milk in my sapwood please."

Bob, Lucan and Geneney all ordered sapwood juice too. Bill gave one forlorn look at his empty citrus wine glass, sighed and ordered a glass of water. Jorfurt chuckled. “I'll take that as a good opinion of my citrus wine then, Mr Bill?"

Bill smiled. “Very much so, Jorfurt. I know what I'll be ordering next time but I'll need a clear head tomorrow as well."

Jorfurt bustled out and returned a few minutes later with fresh glasses, a half bottle of sapwood syrup and pitchers of milk and water. He discreetly handed Jeb a small slip of paper before nodding to everyone and backing out of the room.

Geneney looked at Jeb curiously. “Souvenirs?" he asked.

Jeb grinned. “You remember those Trashcan casings we fished out of the sea?" he said. “I've cleaned them up a bit, stenciled our logo on the side and welded some legs onto them so they're not just balancing on the the exhaust nozzle. Left enough rust on them to make them look genuine though - I thought they'd make a nice set of bar tables for Jorfurt."

Geneney looked slightly relieved. “Oh those. Good idea, Jeb - they weren't any good for re-purposing anyway." He poured a splash of syrup into his glass and topped it up with milk. "Back to the Mün probe then. If we have a plan for the hardware, I guess the last question is when? When do we try the first launch?"

Jeb looked thoughtful. “Mohos 2 and 3 are about finished," he said, “and the Booth Crew reckon that Camrie is almost ready to fly. Wilford is about checked out on the capsule systems and starting to pick up on simulator time when Camrie isn't in there. There's certainly no point in keeping her waiting and I'd prefer not to disrupt Wilford's flight either if we can help it."

Geneney nodded. “We should also get some good data on the RCS system and 905 engine performance from their flights, which may help Lucan when he's planning for the Mün flight. If nothing else we could use some good delta-v checks to see if the probe propulsion module will actually work for Munar capture."

“The Moho 4 is only half finished," said Wernher. “We could easily reschedule construction to build a stretched upper stage if Lucan thinks we'll need it and repurpose the current upper stage as the Munar boost stage. Plus Bill, Neling and Edsen will need some time to build and test the probe, not to mention its guidance system. That's going to be the tricky part and we can't launch without it."

“Adelan is going to be disappointed," said Bob quietly, “She'll understand why we're postponing her flight but she won't like it."

“I know," said Jeb unhappily, “but we can't really afford to wait until the Moho flights are finished. I think we've got a lead at the moment but Rockomax will be working hard on the Probodyne Prizes too and they could be working on their own Munar probe as we speak."

Lucan took a sip of watered sapwood. “Actually, it might take them longer than you think to put that together," he said. “I think I've finally worked out what their launch pad systems are all about."

Everyone put down their glasses and gave Lucan their full attention as he continued. “It took some time - and a lot of replaying that video of their last launch but if you look very carefully, those gantry arms are holding the booster down at a slight angle. You can see it dip slightly at lift off too before it builds up enough speed. Last but not least, that thing went straight off the pad. Nice ballistic trajectory - with no obvious deviations after launch!"

Wernher got there first. "So the booster is just aimed off the pad, with no active guidance system in flight?"

“Exactly!" said Lucan. “It has fins on the bottom of course for stabilisation but as far as I could see those were fixed. I didn't see any steering capability to speak of. They managed to put that satellite of theirs into a pretty circular orbit, so they're either doing something very clever with the thrust from their solid motors, or they've got some small liquid fueled engines as well to neaten up their orbital insertion. But I'd be surprised if their guidance and control systems are good enough to get to the Mün yet."

Jeb nodded firmly. “I think that decides it then, guys. It's still a bit of a gamble but we launch Mohos 2 and 3 and then put Moho 4 on hold and use the next couple of boosters to try for the Mün! I'll speak to Adelan myself - and I'll have a think about pepping up her flight a bit. What was the original plan for Moho 4?"

Geneney frowned. “Basically just a progression flight from Moho 3. Moho 2 is going to be a simple up, round and down flight to test the updated systems. Moho 3 was going to be a test run of the RCS for orbital maneuvers and Moho 4 was going to be a longer duration Moho 3, with some Kerbin observation experiments thrown in."

Jeb tapped his fingers on the table. “Hmmm OK. I'll have a think about that and see what I can come up with."


<< Chapter 13  ::     Chapter 15>>

Edited by KSK
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Oh, hell yes! This piece made me grin the whole way through; Bill as a connoiseur of fine wines and Gene as a Real Ale fan hadn't previously occurred to me, but somehow it fits perfectly. And never mind flags and footprints, you know you've made your mark on history when you get a beer named after you!

Liking the sound of the Probodyne Prizes as well; adds a reason besides mere prestige for both sides to be keen on achieving a couple of firsts.

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In a way this makes sense (the competitors rocket). Most sounding rockets are fairly simple when it comes to launch pads. They are just really REALLY big versions of what my Rocketry club uses for our HPR flights: Solid base, 10-10 or 15-15 rail, and lots of speed so the fins grab enough air to keep the rocket straight. Good story, and a good addition.

Edited by GDJ
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As always, great chapter, can't wait for more!

The RT5 beer made me thing of a really small RT5 booster with beer in it...

Heh - sounds like something else for the KIS museum and gift shop :)

Bellino - thank you! Hope the rest of it lives up to that.

GDJ - thanks for that - very interesting and glad that part of the story was vaguely plausible! Just as an aside, the Rockomax launch facilities were inspired by Misha's Petals for the R7 and its derivatives. Apparently the whole arrangement was mounted on a giant turntable to point the rocket in the right direction (see the General Information part of that page), for launch. Actually, from reading those websites, I think Lucan was getting a little carried away - Rockomax would need some kind of steering to get into orbit but then again, he was extrapolating from a relatively short video clip :)

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Don't want to dig too deeply into this right now because of possible spoilers but it was good to sort some things out in my head. Turns out a bit of a rethink was needed on a couple of points, which should make things a bit tighter going forward. Too bad the rethink occupied most of my lunch hour - goodness knows what IT services will make of my internet logs if they ever check them!

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This is fantastic! I just got up to date with Jake Grey's story on Friday and started this during breaks at work. After finishing this today I second (or third, or whatever it is now) the idea of formalizing this into ebook format. So far the turns of plot, the emotion and the characters seem very vivid. Very well done sir!

I'm still hoping to do my own story. Started one a while back based on an AAR Grand Tour, but that whole thing got put on hold. Maybe this can be an inspiration for me to start up again. Get Jeb back on the deathslide. :)

(Edit: and subbed. I always forget that!)

Edited by Patupi
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