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Kānāwai: Ares to Mars

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In 2010 the Constellation program was cancelled with the only things to show for it was a prototype of the Ares I launch vehicle and a semi developed crew capsule, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. The program had a quite a bit of lofty goals, having to develop new large launch vehicles using the knowlege gained from the Shuttle and Apollo programs as well as creating new crew exploration vehicles that could be used for LEO, the Moon and eventually Mars. It became an extremely costly effort leading to it's eventual demise. Thanks to KSP and a variety of totally rad mods from around the community, here is a somewhat Kerbalized set of events if the Constellation program continued into the next decade and beyond.


Mods and stuff:


KSP 1.7.3 
2.5x Rescale

Main Mods:

B9 Partswitch
Bluedog Design Bureau
Blackheart's Decals
Kerbal Atomics
Kerbal Konstructs
KSC Extended
Making Alternate History
Modular Launchpads
Near Future Construction
Near Future Electrical
Near Future Exploration
Near Future Launch Vehicles
Near Future Solar
Procedural Fairings
Rescale + Sigma Dimensions
Kerbal Alarm Clock

Enviromental Visual Enhancements - Default config
KS3P - Zorg's config
Light Fixer


Edited by Jay The Amazing Toaster
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Ares I-X, October 28th, 2009.

Utilizing the existing Shuttle pad, the prototype LV lifts off from pad 39B. Testing the feasibility of using a shuttle SRB as a first stage and the overall areodynamics of the vehicle.





With a nonfunctional second stage and payload the primary mission is complete.

Fun fact: On the IRL mission, the first stage suffered issues, first it recontacted the dummy second stage and then with the parachutes, one failed to open, while another only opened part way causing the SRB to hit the ocean way faster than intended.

Edited by Jay The Amazing Toaster
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Ares I-Y High Altitude Abort, 2012

3 years after the launch of Ares I-X and 1 year after the retirement of the space shuttle, the launch tower was revamped to make way for the next crew LV.
Launching from Pad 39B, Ares I-Y sports the first use of a 5 segment shuttle SRB. Along with that, it also carries a boilerplate Orion crew capsule to test for a high altitude abort scenario.








After successfully not having the parachutes disintigrate from SRB exhaust, the program is ready for a crewed flight to the International Space Station.

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Orion 1, First Crewed Orion flight to the ISS, 2015

After years of testing, the program is confident in crew launch capability. A flight will be conducted to the international space station to test crew operations for low orbit.
4 Kerbals embark on the voyage to the station for the first time since the retirement of the shuttle program.


Always love having the VAB in the background :D




First flight of the new J-2X engine




Orbit Achieved




Approach to the ISS






After spending a couple days at the ISS, the crew departs having fully tested the new crew vehicle for low orbit operations.







Successful splashdown!



With a successful test of the new crew vehicle, the goal still looms in the background to return to the Mun and beyond.

Sorry for the image heavy post, the mission just looked really good! Future posts will have less images for more routine missions going forward.
I'm also slowly developing the ships as I go so you might notice small details and changes in the crew and launch vehicles as I improve on them over time.

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13 hours ago, Heliotrope said:

Made an account to show my appreciation of this! I bookmarked it, very excited for more!!


2 hours ago, Fenisse said:

What?! I absolutely need more images, not less! :)

Oh, and congratulations on the TOTM! Plainly brilliant work you've got here.

Haha, thank you both! Still got plenty more coming down the road till we get to Duna. @Heliotrope Welcome to the forums :sticktongue:

Edited by Jay The Amazing Toaster
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Orion 2 to the ISS, Late 2015

Following the events of the first mission, a second flight of the Orion and Ares takes off later that year.

Among some of the upcoming improvements, I forgot that Tundra's launchpads have an option for the lightning masts and as such I've switched over to them for historical accuracy.








After a couple of weeks, the crew departs the ISS and returns home.





The flight proved the use of Orion for the second time and will now be considered an operational crew vehicle, continued flights will prove the further longevity of Orion for months at a time to keep a permenant crewed presence at the station. Once Orion is considered truly reliable, mission will take place to return Kerbals to the Mun.

Edited by Jay The Amazing Toaster
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Orion 3 and 4 to the ISS, Early 2016

Starting off first official operational flight of the Orion, it now begins on it's third flight to the space station and is shooting for a multiple month long stay on the ISS.


Some improvements have been made to the LV, you can see some of them up close here. Restock sepatrons and Near Future Launch Vehicle RCS.





The crew of this flight is shooting for about 100 days on the station to continue to test long duration crewed flight for both the crew and the Orion.


After their main goals on Orion 3 are complete, Orion 4 is prepared for the ISS to begin crew rotation.

Orion 4 to the ISS, mid to late 2016

Starting off as the first night launch Orion, this is the first time the space program has had 2 separate crewed vehicles on orbit since the days of the Leo program (Gemini).








After a couple of days together on orbit the crew of Orion 3 departs from the station and safetly returns to Kerbin




Long duration flight will be critical to the continuation of the program and a lot is to be learned before the eventual flights to Duna.

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On 2/6/2020 at 12:07 PM, DylanSemrau said:

ehh... it's ok :p seriously tho what the hecc man this is too good

On 2/6/2020 at 2:56 PM, Kuiper_Belt said:

This is one of the most wonderful threads ever! The time and care you are putting in to those images are astounding! I really appreciate it!

5 hours ago, Ash Hightail said:

Those shots look stunning! Awesome camera work

Frick u Dylan >:P but thanks yall it means a lot, many hours go into this so it's nice to see people enjoy it.

Also as an update, due to the fact that the next couple of missions are mostly the same as Ares 3 and 4, I'll probably dedicate a little more time to development of hardware on the ground such as Altair and Ares V in addition to the missions going on. In all honesty I highly doubt it'll be quite accurate as to what might've actually gone down due to the sort of unpredictable nature of NASA's R&D. (Example being James Webb and SLS) We don't quite know how certain things would've been developed or delayed as time went on so development of certain hardware I'm just going to guesstimate when and how it would've probably happened. For the missions though, I'll probably just continue with the loosely based Feb 2009 timeline plans I found on wikipedia lmfao.



Edited by Jay The Amazing Toaster
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3 hours ago, moguy16 said:

any idea how constellation was supposed to get to mars?


Kind of a complicated question, but through the use of several Ares V launches it's able to send a variety of payloads such as fuel tanks, nuclear transfer vehicles, crew cabins, a mars ascent vehicle, a mars habitat, and anything else they might need into orbit. 

@winged did an amazing demonstration of this in their video here in RO/RSS


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This thread is wonderful, your images are just outstanding. It's almost as if they are real pictures from an alt-history timeline! Can you provide a modlist for visuals and parts? 


EDIT: apologies, I've only just seen the spoiler in the OP. Thank you for providing it! 

Edited by PeteKonrad
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Sorry to double post, but I was just reading through this fantastic thread again this morning and had a question regarding the Orion 1 mission. Do you think it is perhaps a bit risky for NASA to allow the first flight of a new engine (J2-X) on a rocket with 4 crew members aboard? Especially given the increased safety culture after Columbia, I wonder if they would perhaps go for an unmanned flight of the whole Ares I stack before allowing it to be flown with crew. 

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