Jump to content

The Sunset is but the Dawn: A Journal of a Space Program.

Recommended Posts

The Mun, our nearest neighbor, has secrets of its own as well. The mystery began with Merlin VIII, which delivered one of the first landers to the Mun. It discovered a strange, "geological formation" as termed by the Program. The lander, the ATLT was sent not just to prepare for an eventual munar landing, but also to investigate a strange rock formation due just northeast of the (then-planned) landing site of the first manned munar landing, Sharp Crater. Its discovery left even the chattering braniacs at the KSC speechless. The picture revealed an Arch, utterly inexplicably standing there under its own weight. Scientists and Geologists immediately began rushing to find an answer. Scrutiny of previous images taken by the MASS probes revealed several more of these arches scattered around the Mun. Theories abounded: frozen lava flows, primordial "bubbles" floating up to the surface while the Mun was still molten, exposed rock formations, even perhaps the Mun having a thick, primordial atmosphere that sculpted these strange features before being lost to space. But, these theories either don't explain the arches, or why there aren't more of them.


The Distant Whispers program was created to rebuild our completely defunct Munar mapping operation. Although numerous probes have been sent there in the past, not even a single operational probe remains in orbit today. Launched onboard Accipiter, Distant Whispers 1 and 2 consist of both an orbiting satellite and a rover equipped with robotic arms, a drill, and a chemical analysis lab. DW1 is designed to visit these arches for the first time, and sample material directly from them, the holy grail of Munar Science.


After Accipiter returns to the KSC, the probes set out on their mission to explore the Mun. They begin by inserting themselves into low orbit around the Mun, allowing the rover to attempt a landing under its own power.


However, due to the tight fuel budget onboard the lander, we are forced to land around 15 kilometers away from the target site. However, this isn't a problem because of our rover wheels, which will enable us to drive the distance.


After testing the robotic arm and drill on a nearby crater, the rover sets out for the Arch.



Finally, after several hours of driving, the rover reaches the Arch. Here, its true scale is revealed. Standing on a ridge overlooking one of the eastern nearside crater, as well as the nearby Sharp Crater, where kerbals first walked on another world. Now, for the main mission of DW1: sampling the arch.


Strangely, as we approach the arch, the robotic arm inexplicably fails to recognize the enormous arch ahead of it. However, it was just used several times - why was it unable to recognize anything to commence the analyzation sequence? Could it be magnetic material within the rock causing it to go haywire? A few minutes checking a nearby confirms the robotic arm is working.


However, the scientists are still able to deploy the drill, which successfully drills into the arch, and collecting nearly half a kilogram of material for the onboard chemical lab to dissect. However, if we really want to analyze it further, we'll need to return this material to Kerbin. Whether that's by kerbals or by a robotic mission, we don't know. However, the DW1 mission was incredibly valuable because we were able to finally able to see the Arch up close and even sample it, but as for data, it opened up more questions than it answered. The mystery of the arch, it seems, will continue to baffle kerbalkind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


The A-19 Aquilae, fresh from two test flights, is now ready for its first expedition: a mission to Azimov. There were some difficulties, such as learning the action group for the elevon-airbrake system was reversed, but the A-19 bore the crew of three well.



The purpose for our visiting here is threefold: the first, to see whether it could be done safely, the second, to make necessary maintenance to Azimov and conducting inspections, and the third, to supervise the docking of the next Foundation module, the Utility Module.


After an unexpected delay of about a week, the module, which will store the bulk of Foundation's electrical supplies and monopropellant, has to dock in a quite tight space. Therefore it was decided that it was safest for kerbals to supervise the docking. As the A-19 is sitting in a hangar, ready to launch (as always), it was the best fit for the job to conduct this mission. It also glimphses a new future: where space travel is not an incredibly laborious and well-planned affair, rather, kerbonauts are the go-to for solving difficult problems in low orbit.



Under the watchful eye of Kimny the Radiologist and a crewmen on EVA, the module is carefully slid into position. Once success is achieved, the crewmen put Azimov back into hibernation, seal the airlock and prepare to leave.




Finally, the three land back on the KSC, the first official expedition complete.



Meanwhile, to fit in with the theme of "mundane matters," they are being attended to elsewhere in the Kerbin system. A scheduled resupply mission, the third such mission, arrived at Cornerstone in LKO to refill its food sources. At Minmus, Shelvan and Newory are sent down to the surface to check out the premier landing site of our future mining base on Minmus: Citadel. It was selected both for its sky-high ore content (11%), and its flatness. Surface conditions are nearly perfect for a base: they confirm the high ore concentration, as well as the nearly flat surface, with only a 0.6 degree slope downward. There are several clearings among the large boulders that litter Minmus' hills that could be good spots for a base, and the smooth, icy surface is ideal for landing legs to have full purchase on the ground. Their mission completed, the general lander rejoins Agamin at Foundation Station.

Edited by DunaManiac
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Serenely floating, far away from the hectic launch schedule of the KSC, lies JMC, which is about to get its first good look at Tylo.




Tylo is a rather interesting moon. Although not as mysterious as Laythe or Jool, it also has an air of mystery about it. Unlike most celestial bodies in the kerbol system, Tylo's surface appears to be old. Very old. Craters practically cover the surface, but unlike the Mun, there are also mountain ranges and canyons. However, its biggest mystery is its size: it is the size of kerbin! Unlike icy Vall and Laythe, multispectral scanners aboard JMC reveal it is relatively rocky, meaning it is not as dense as Kerbin. How it formed as well, is a mystery. It is far too massive to have ever realistically formed in the Joolian system. Along with its composition, it would appear that Tylo did not, in fact, form around Jool, but was instead a failed gas giant that formed a rocky-ice core, but for whatever reason, never attracted a gaseous cloud around it to become a true giant. That leads us to the second mystery of Tylo, the inverse of Laythe's situation: why does it not have an atmosphere? Surely a moon of this size would have attracted some form of atmosphere, and the fact that it does not even possess one is a question in itself.

Rie9Ta4.png                   3iZfNUx.png

It also has several interesting features, such as a mountain range in the southern hemisphere, and a large crater in the northern hemisphere. All in all, the surface is filled with deep crags, canyons, and covered in craters. However, despite its potential scientific value, it's probably best viewed from afar. Its mass and punishing gravity makes it prohibitively expensive to attempt even an unmanned landing.


yNXjsSd.png    eBANPZ7.png

However, Tylo's massive gravity is a boon for us: its gravitational pull is enough to swing us around Jool, and out towards Vall, the second moon from Jool. What's immediately clear about it is that it has a blue hue, coming from the ice that makes up its surface. Unlike the apparently geologically dead Tylo, Vall has enormous amounts of cryovolcanism, creating an exospheric "halo" around it, similar to the one around Minmus. The false color image on the right makes the halo much more clear. Vall is also quite a large moon, larger than the mun but smaller than its two neighbors. JMC was able to get within 300 kilometers of its surface, allowing us to make more detailed readings of its surface than we were able to gather around Tylo. The mass spectrometer reveals that Vall's halo contains significant amounts of ionic compounds such as sodium chloride, (salt), but predominately composed of water vapor. This appears to show that Vall is not frozen through, like Laythe, it may also have its own ocean, but merely submerged. However, the high salt concentration may indicate a mechanism for how Laythe has oceans: the freezing point would be lowered, allowing Laythe's frigid seas to stay liquid far past 0 degree centigrade.


The Vall encounter is enough to give us two more Laythe encounters, which will kick up our orbit out to Tylo, which will allow us one more close flyby before we get slingshotted out into the totally unexplored outer regions of Jool's moons. However, these two flybys were much closer than the first, at 60 kilometers and 115 kilometers above datum (respectively).





The angle of these images allows us to see the separate layers of Laythe's atmosphere, including its cloud formations and the clouds of glowing organic materials. The mass spectrometer is deployed to great effect during the brief moment that the sun directly shines through the atmosphere, allowing us the best-yet picture of the atmospheric composition. Yes there is oxygen, nitrogen, and traces of organic compounds, but we are able to gauge Laythe's atmospheric properties with a lesser margin of error. It appears the exosphere ends at approximately 50 kilometers above Laythe's sea level, and its atmosphere is correspondingly thinner than ours.


Our second flyby is slightly farther out, but it allows us to use our radar, multispectral scanner, and composition scanner much more effectively.


l00eqPM.png        kJSMNhl.png    

On this flyby, we uncover two major discoveries. The first, is a large, ominous storm. Based off its appearance, it resembles a familliar tropical storm on Kerbin. The thinner atmosphere, despite the high winds, would lessen the impact of any storm, but the discovery that these do happen is quite signifcant for a future colony. If we want to land kerbonauts here, we'll have to be ready for them. The other discovery is a large land-mass grouping, a boon for scientists, who based off the previous two flybys believed that Laythe was 90% water. However, this land-mass does suggest a much more violent past for Laythe. It appears to be an ancient volcano, stretching across 2% of Laythe's surface, that would have belched noxious gasses all across Laythe. Perhaps it is fortunate for us that most of Laythe's major volcanoes are inactive.

Ultimately, the exploration of the three moons are revealing more and more about them. No longer are they enigmatic specks of light, they are now fully fledged worlds. But only one satellite cannot provide all the answers. If we want to learn more, and solve these mysteries, we'll have to send a fleet of landers, orbiters, aircraft, rovers, and perhaps one day, scientists.

Edited by DunaManiac
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the Kerbin system, Azimov has recieved the launch of two more components of Foundation Station.







Beginning implementation is Citadel Base on Minmus, the first two being launched directly to Minmus via Harrier II rocket, and the other 5 modules being transported aboard Azimov during Phase III. The plan, as I have already stated, is for the core module to rendezvous with Foundation Station, detach the Minmus General Lander, and use it to transport the module to the surface in the proper location.



However, when we attempted to dock the Citadel core module with the MGL, for whatever reason it couldn't fit inside. I had tested this and it had worked in testing. Whether I was wrong, or circumstances were bad, or the kraken insidiously altering my designs, I don't know. No matter how hard I tried, it seemed like the communications dish was just large enough to wedge the module with the fuel tanks. With really no other options, I had to send Agamin kerman on EVA to use Kerbal Inventory System to manually move the communications dish so that it could be docked. Not the height of realism, but I decided that it was better than simply giving up.



Agamin and Shelvan pose in front of Citadel's core module. It contains the primary ISRU unit, secondary power, primary communciations, a small pressurized space, and will function as the center of Citadel.

However, the hiccups weren't completely over. Once we arrived at the site and deployed our cargo, it was time to move the dish back to where it was before. This took a number of times because kerbals can only move things within a 3 meter radius, and repeatedly, trying to put the dish in place caused the explosion of the craft (Giving me flashbacks to when a single misplaced part via KIS destroyed an entire space station, killing its crew and taking out a long-range SSTO with it). But after everything was said and done, there is nagging problem. It appears that the base is oscillating ever-so-slightly from one side to the other, or perhaps sliding down the 0.6 degreee slope. It's not huge but it might be a source of general annoyance down the line.




Meanwhile, JMC has relayed its first closeup images of Pol. After being swung into the far reaches of the Joolian system by a close encounter with Tylo, JMC was able to pass within 40 kilometers of Pol and map 8% of its surface in detail. Its colors appear to be predominantly yellow, with some darker orange areas and pale green mountain ranges. These colors are highly unusual: there are not many known chemicals that could be present past the snowline that could be capable of producing this coloration. The moon itself is unique, for it teeters right on the point of which gravity is enough to pull the moon together into a sphere rather than an irregular lump. As a result, the terrain on the moon is quite extreme, with enormous mountain ranges towering above the surface. A similar analogue would be Miranda in our own system, and perhaps a similar event happened to this moon that happened to Miranda in our own solar system, causing it to have some of the most extreme terrain in the Kerbol system.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


DAphS4k.png      T1HNxQs.png

After some more time spent among the inner Joolian moons, JMC prepares to head out into far reaches of the Joolian system to get a glance at the last unexplored moon of Jool: the mysterious Bop. Several highlights are shown here: top image is an exceptional image of Laythe. JMC's mangetometer reports that Laythe does indeed have a signifcant magnetic field. The powerful aurorae are not caused by the solar wind, rather, by Laythe's magnetic field interacting with the charged particles captured by Jool's much more powerful magnetic field. Despite most of the inner regions being part of Jool's massive radiation belts, Laythe's magnetosphere creates a "safe harbor," screening out the charged particles absorbed by Jool. Combined with the atmosphere and possibly an ozone layer, radiation levels on Laythe's surface would not be extreme, and life may lurk in the deep oceans. Exemplary here is Laythe's clouds, their wispy effect being caused by extremely fast winds in the upper troposphere, a large extinct volcano, its mysterious glowing clouds, and its poles, which appear to be frozen water ice, not unlike Kerbin. Both bottom images are taken from Tylo, clear evidence of the age of Tylo's surface: craters identified here are Ida Planitia and Grissom Crater, respectively. Don't let the small size of the images confuse you, Grissom Crater alone is tens of kilometers wide!


Bop, like Pol, is strangely colored and shaped for its size. Despite being larger than Pol, and indeed Minmus, since it is less dense it also sits at a similar point to Pol, right at the point where gravity is enough to coalesce the body into a sphere.


Its surface appears to be quite featureless, and its apparently icy density doesn't explain its dark, almost charcoallike texture. Bop appears to be a large chondritic, rubble-pile asteroid: a term for a body composed of smaller boulders held together by their mutual gravity, and covered with a thin layer of dust. Its chondritic nature would appear to explain both its color and featureless terrain: this is merely a layer of dust. Hints of brighter ejecta seen in some images would appear to support this idea. Only one flaw: chondritic asteroids do not appear this far out in the solar system! How then, could Bop have reached the Joolian sytem?



Back around Kerbin, Accipiter XIV has launched another Eve probe. The mission will deploy a lander to Eve's surface, rather than the ocean we sampled by EASO. The aim is to determine what Eve's surface is actually like: is it muddy or sandy, meaning we have to make sure our landing gear will not sink into the ground? Or is it rocky, and our chief worry will be whether our landing gear will be smashed by sharp rocks on touch down? It is the aim of the probe to find out. We intend to operate it on the surface for approximately a week, before the lander shuts down from our fuel cells running out.


As for Phase II: I have not forgotten about it. A time table has been set for 45 days, which will be when the IKS Azimov will be the in the best position to leave. Crewing Azimov will be a coordinated affair: two SSTO flights carrying 6 kerbonauts each, full capacity for the A-19 Aquilae. Two launches remain before Phase II will be completed, and when our Minmus colony gains its first expansion. The next post will have more details.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phase II Overview

The objectives of Phase II are simple. We expand Foundation Station in Minmus orbit. We set up the first two modules of our new surface base in the highlands of Minmus, Citadel. We relieve the current crew of Elysium Surface base and Foundation. We will replace Accipiter with our A-19 Aquilae SSTO as our primary method of conducting crew transfers.


IKS Azimov Crew Manifest:
IKS Azimov Operators:
Mission Commander: Sherdon Kerman
Senior Azimov Helmsman: Nelbro Kerman
Azimov Engineering Specialist: Bill Kerman

Foundation Crew II
Minmus General Lander Operator: Isapond Kerman
Foundation Engineer: Vermund Kerman
Foundation Scientist: Dundock Kerman
Foundation Scientist: Claugel Kerman
Foundation Exobiologist and Agroponics Specialist: Jerry Kerman
Chief Cryologist: Triburry Kerman

Elysium Crew II
Base Commander and Engineering Specialist: Isalin Kerman
Science and Geology Specialist: Lobas Kerman

Surface Operation Specialists:
Drill Specialist: Girick Kerman

Returning Crew

Elysium Crew 1: Lemore Kerman
Elysium Crew 2: Rovin Kerman
Foundation Crew 1: Agamin Kerman

Foundation Crew 2: Newory Kerman
Foundation Crew 3: Shelvan Kerman




Seen here is the final design for Foundation Station in Minmus orbit. A separated view shows its true complexity. The core module, delivered by the final mission in the Nova-E program (tasked with landing the first kerbonauts on the Mun and Minmus) and the MROM, Logistics, Fuel Storage module, Science Array, and General Quarters are already in place. Phase II is tasked with delivering most of the remaining modules, and laying down the groundwork for a self-sufficient fuel operation here at Minmus. To do this we will be fitting Foundation with the largest gravity wheel ever constructed to function as sleeping quarters, providing numerous docking receptacles, expanding the science array, and nearly doubling its crew capacity. The remaining modules, namely the 4 orange tanks, will be delivered during Phase III.


What is the science array? The bottom port where the Minmus Reconnaissance Observation Module, containing most of our Minmus study array, will be occupied by a node, and the MROM itself beneath it. Since we have no bottom docking port on MROM we’ll have to do a complicated operation where the node inserts itself between the two modules, via two avionics and monopropellant packages attached to the sides. These will be ejected once the array is completed. Here, we will mount the Agroponics module, containing crops which will be grown in situ to supplement the crew’s rations, as well as a third science lab, containing a smaller Agroponics module, a larger scientific observatory, and most importantly: a cryo bay. This is where Triburry Kerman will test our cryogenic bay, allowing her to effectively place in suspended animation biological samples, small animals, even a kerbal.

The second major component of Phase II is setting up the core modules of Citadel Base. In Phase III, it will be expanded even further.


Although the core module has already been launched, the drill unit will be launched after Foundation finishes construction in Minmus orbit. This is where our drill specialist, Girick, will come in handy: she will help the drill unit be attached to the core module, and engage the drill for the first time.




Last but not least, the final preparations. The last rocket launch is that of the Agroponics Module, as well as the science array node.




Also necessary will be two SSTO flights, each carrying 6 kerbals to Azimov. This will be the first time our first full SSTO, the A-19 Aquilae will be used in an official capacity: including a crew transfer to our LKO station Cornerstone, it will make three flights in the next few days.

Edited by DunaManiac
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phase II: Foundation Operations

Setting out from Minmus is the IKS Azimov, for its second mission to Minmus. It carries 9 modules in total: all to expand our little "Mir-esque" outpost into a proper gateway.




Learning from the mistakes of the chaotic Phase I burn, the ejection time was planned in advance, and our Aquilae SSTO was able to quickly transport all 12 crew of IKS Azimov Mission 2 within a few days. After an arrival time of 9 days, IKS Azimov arrives at Minmus and successfully rendezvous with Foundation Station in Minmus Orbit. Foundation Station, originally set up by Phase I, will be the primary focus of Phase II.



First to be undocked is the long, spindly truss module that will form the backbone of our station. It is quite long: nearly the same length as the already enormous IKS Azimov. However, several modules of IKS Azimov will be unloaded before it is able to dock with Foundation to simplify the reconfiguration process. In the meantime, the IKS Azimov will stay within a few hundred meters of Foundation.



Now for the docking of the Autonomous node section: Which is quite difficult to attempt. Because the MROM module has no bottom node, it will be undocked and moved away to create a space for the autonomous node module, and then be reinserted to the station. As expected, a mission this complicated will always have a few small mistakes: I forgot to put reaction wheels on the two avionics pods. I could still steer with RCS thrusters but now it was going to be much harder to dock. After several minutes going back and forth, the Autonomous node was able to dock to Foundation, meaning that we can now insert the two extra science modules onto Foundation.


Next up is the Agroponics module. It will carry a large avionics bay, which unlike the others, is not intended purely for science: it will feed the crew of 6 and supplement their rations. This will be critical for long duration space travel. It also contains the much-anticipated cryology lab, which will be able to study suspended animation technology.



Not long after, the IKS Azimov is docked to the station via its main docking port, and the Utility module is maneuvered to its prescribed spot.



After that, the tug is deployed to maneuver the three logistics modules to their designated locations on Foundation's truss module.



Finally, the expanded science array and the rest of the station has been completed. Now for the ancillary operations: the autonomous avionics packages will be jettisoned as well as the remaining OMMs, the Minmus General Lander will be moved to its new permanent spot, various RCS thrusters, and remaining structural braces. After that, the new solar panels will be deployed and supply most of Foundation's power, and Azimov itself will be maneuvered to its new port.


The dance of the two vessels is a long and complicated dance: the 70 meter long Azimov and 50 meter long Foundation slowly maneuvering into position.


And with that, they ahve been docked. Foundation operations involving spacecraft are now mostly complete, all thats left is to start moving the new crew to their new stations, transferring new supplies to Foundation, removing samples collected by the MGL crew of Minmus' surface, and packing up the old crew and their belongings.

The next part of the mission is two-fold: we will set up the new Citadel  Minmus Surface Operations Center (M-SOC), and extracting the beleagured Rovin and Lenmore Kerman from Elysium surface base, and replace them with a new crew of two. Afterward, Phase II will be completed, and all that will be left is to bring the returning crew home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phase II: Citadel Operations


The final component of Phase II launches from Kerbin directly to minmus, left to find its own way to Minmus. Above is the Citadel Drilling Unit. This contains most of our power production, a low-gain antenna for routine computer commands, a radiator, and most importantly, a large drill. This drill will bore directly into the surface of Minmus to extract material, which will eventually be refined into liquid fuel to propel our Minmus operations.




Once at Minmus the CDU rendezvous with Foundation-Azimov, still in Minmus orbit, for delivery to the surface via the Minmus General Lander. The crew supervising the deployment is Shelvan, chief scientist at Azimov, Isapond, our new dedicated lander pilot, and Jerry Kerman. Now the question you may be asking is this: what is Jerry doing here? Didn't I say I was going to bring down our dedicated drill specialist to supervise its deployment?


Basically I misclicked and accidentally transferred Jerry into the pod instead of an engineer, Girick. Now I have to write some reason why Jerry was there instead of Girick.


Girick Kerman, just hours from when the Citadel team was preparing to make its excursion to the surface, developed an illness known as the "Orbit Sickness," as dubbed by the very first crews of our first station in LKO. Without warning, severe motion sickness would afflict the patient. Aside from dehydration, it's harmless and fades away within several days. However, as the unexperienced Girick Kerman (IKS Azimov Mission 2 is her very first flight) had developed the Orbit Sickness and the CDU couldn't be "put on hold" as it were, it was declared that Girick would be in no condition to attempt a complicated Minmus landing. Instead, it was decided that Jerry Kerman, a scientist, would take Girick's place due to his specialty in spacewalks and vacuum experiments.





Although the CDU-BAV had landed succcessfully, it didn't take long for the team to notice an alarming lean of the Citadel Core. Upon closer inspection it appears that some sort of Minmus seismographic event had caused it to lean over, coming close to completely falling over. It highlighted the need for more seismographic coverage on Minmus. However, the apparent seismic event that  the Core had suffered must have been much larger than even the largest ones recorded by various unmanned seismometer stations and the crew at Elysium base. Could it be that for whatever reason, seismic events are more severe in the Minmus highlands as opposed to the flats. It would certainly explain why the flats had never cracked and broken due to seismic stresses and instead remained perfectly smooth.


The team poses to commemorate the occasion next to the CDU-BAV.



Under the careful supervision of the crew, the BAV drives the CDU to the appropriate docking port using its wheels. After several minutes, docking is achieved. The second base assembly has just occurred on another world.


Jerry and Shelvan Kerman test the enormous drill unit for the first time,yielding over 100 kilograms of fuel-containing regolith in just a few minutes time.


The crew maneuvers the MGL closer to Citadel to facillitate the first refueling to ever occur on another world. Although Citadel may consist of just the barebones at the moment, it does have all the components necessary to attempt a refueling operation for the MGL. It has a drill facility, power, radiators, a small pressurized cabin, and even a state-of-the-art ISRU unit, which will be able to sift out the rocks to access the fuel-containing compounds, purify them, and chemically synthesize liquid hydrogen, which our nuclear-powered MGL will be able to use. One of the most advanced machines ever built, it requires two kerbonauts to operate it, forcing them to sit in the tiny lander can no bigger than the crew cabins of the Nova-E missions, which brought the first kerbals to the Mun and Minmus 10 years ago. Also important is the fuel hose receptacle installed on both Citadel and the MGL to allow a transference of fuel.


After several days, the team takes off to Foundation-Azimov. Jerry returns to the station, while Shelvan is left on the surface to monitor Citadel as well as watch for any potential seismographic disturbances. Unfortunately, this means he was left for several days on the surface alone, until the MGL can return with Girick and Isapond. However, a major concern remains on the organizers of the Program's minds: how much fuel the IKS Azimov has. It was originally planned that the IKS Azimov would have enough delta-v to conduct two round trips and a third trip to Minmus. Yet as of now fuel levels are looking dangerously low: at just 18.6%. With that much, it's below the margin of safety for a return mission, let alone another trip to Minmus fully-laden. Of course there is always the option of sending up more fuel to Azimov in LKO, but this was viewed as the absolute last resort. The entire Minmus Colonization Initiative was created with the promise that fuel would never have to be launched from Kerbin in large quantities, and all of it would come from self sufficient mining operations on Minmus. Along with more and more thorny questions about whether the entire program was worth the cost and whether IKS Azimov's duties could just be filled by advanced Kerbin-Minmus SSTOs, it was critical that the Program not renege on its promise of self sufficiency. As a result, the MGL was used for a purpose it was never intended to act as: a fuel tanker for IKS Azimov. Even though MGL's fuel is just a drop in the bucket for Azimov: just 8% of Azimov's total tank volume, if the MGL makes 4 round trips to Minmus' surface it will be able to fill the tanks of IKS Azimov to roughly 50%, more than enough for another trip to Minmus. Once Phase III is delivered to Minmus we will complete Citadel and bring along a tanker to refuel Azimov much more efficently.




The first refueling mission brings along our recovered drill specialist Girick Kerman, and Isapond kerman to recover poor Shelvan Kerman at Citadel. One of the most important orders of business is to set up a small science station at Citadel to monitor surface conditions and seismic activity in the area. Due to the astonishingly rich concentration of the regolith in refinable compounds, refueling the entire MGL will take just a couple of Kerbin days. In the meantime, the crew settles in for the long Minmus night, waiting for the orbits to allign and we can bring our precious fuel to IKS Azimov. The first fuel-mining facility has been established on Minmus' surface, and in a few short years when we return, it will be expanded into a proper 4-kerbal center of surface exploration.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phase II: Further Surface Operations




Four times the MGL flew to Foundation, each time transferring most of its fuel into Azimov's tanks, with a meager remainder being just enough to return to Citadel to top off its fuel tanks. By the end, Azimov's fuel tanks were at 49.6% capacity. This well satisfied concerns that Azimov would not have enough fuel to complete another round trip. Once it returns for Phase III, we will have a tanker to refuel it properly. However, with just a few days left for Azimov to stay, our mission still is not completed. The final objective of Phase II is to transfer our crew at Elysium Base, left by the last crew in Phase I.



The new crew, Isalin and Lobas, take a shot at Citadel base with lander pilot Isapond Kerman.

Counterintuitively, our first destination on the way to Elysium is Citadel base. The sole purpose is for us here to refuel the MGL after we used it to refuel Azimov for the final time. One of the most frustrating things about Citadel is its apparent bugginess. I think it's linked to the fact that I had to arrange the landing gear the way I did in order to allow the bottom section of the core. The game must not like how they are not technically attached to the node, they are attached to the lander can and offsetted somewhat so that they appear attached to the core. For some strange reason, if I engaged the USI ground-tethers on the landing legs, the parts would simply explode, or the base would be dragged by the cable as if they're being towed by a truck. The solution is to turn off ground-tethers on the landing gear on both vessels, then dock them together. If you try to re-engage the described problem will occur. This mostly works but then it causes both vessels to jump when timewarp is stopped, causing Citadel to constantly change position. Honestly, I appreciate that USI has the ground-tether feature but it makes more problems than it solves.



After a couple hours spent filling up the fuel tanks onboard the Minmus General Lander, Isapond, Isalin, and Lobas set out for Elysium. Elyisum, our original base on Minmus, is designed to be occupy two kerbals for a grueling two year term. It is intended to be shut down after Phase III is completed, after having operated for 4 years. It currently has operated for a year and a half. Acting as our base of operations on Minmus' surface, it has living quarters for two kerbals, enough supplies to last them four years, various sample collection and analyzation experiments, a small science lab, and a rover to explore the nearby areas around the site. It's based in Flat Grande, not far from the very first manned landing on Minmus, Nova-E IV. Even though there is very poor ore content here, it was never intended to be a refinery base like Citadel, it is instead dedicated to analyzing the flats of Minmus: what they are, what they're made of, why they're perfectly smooth, and why they're here. Isalin and Lobas are here to replace our original crew at the site, Rovin and Lemore kerman.


The crew stand for a portrait: the largest gathering of kerbals ever on Minmus' surface. Seen here, from left to right, is Lemore, Rovin, Lobas, Isapond and Isalin. Behind is the Wanderer, the first pressurized rover.

Both of the new crew are veterans: Isalin was the first kerbal ever to set foot on the Mun, together with the legendary Jebediah Kerman in the Nova-E I mission. The new scientist and part-time geologist, is Lobas Kerman, one of the very few kerbonauts who flew on the original Merlin missions, and a veteran of the first crew onboard Cornerstone. Both were picked for their experience, and Lobas' experience in long-term isolation in a cramped space. Elysium, however, is far more remote than even Cornerstone is.


As the crew explore their new surroundings (seen here is Lobas checking out Elysium's famous sky cupola), preparations are being made to transfer Lobas and Rovin onboard the MGL. We'll take the MGL to orbit, and not long after that, bring them back onboard IKS Azimov, and then bring them back to Kerbin for a well-deserved rest. With them goes various samples, equipment, data, and items they collected over their 18 month long stay at Elysium. Before we leave, we'll set up a couple of ground experiments (including a seismometer to monitor seismic activity even long after we abandon Elysium), say our goodbyes, and return to Foundation Station, where we'll finally be ready to leave Minmus and commence our long-awaited return to Kerbin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phase II: Final Operations and Return


Rovin and Lobas construct a small unmanned science station next to Elysium base


After staying for several hours, Rovin, Isapond, and Lemore are finally ready to leave Elysium. With Lobas and Isalin left to their work, and the new science stations brought by the MGL, the crew settles in for their flight to Foundation Station.


Taking off a a high angle, we leave our first manned outpost on Elysium behind.



Back in orbit, the crew have begun the final preparations for Azimov's departure for Kerbin. Onboard is the old crew of Foundation, Elysium, the Azimov Operations crew, and our drill specialist, all exhausted after years in cramped spaces and eager to return home to Kerbin. With our fuel tanks now at an acceptable capacity, thanks to the tireless efforts of Isapond and Shelvan Kerman, there is no longer any fear of not being able to get home.


Remaining structural braces are ejected from the station, originally designed to stabilize the superstructure during launch, now useless in the vacuum of space.


Seen here is one of the brand new science modules attatched to the station. Triburry Kerman, chief medical officer and cryologist, has already begun to conduct tests on the biological samples Azimov has brought.


After finally transferring the new crew aboard Foundation, and the old back aboard Azimov, we depart. Foundation now has a six strong crew, 3 more than last, and we have set out what we wanted to do: expand Foundation into a proper outpost. It now is our largest station, has ample supply and fertilizer reserves, can sustain itself for years purely based on its own onboard agroponics, and it has the largest gravity wheel ever built.


The station seen here: it is not yet complete at the moment. The last major addition will be completed during Phase III, when we will add an aft fuel storage area, capable of holding 4 Jumbo-64 tanks, equivalent to 80% of Azimov's fuel capacity.


However, a major setback rears its ugly head: the deployment of the Gravity wheel was postponed till after Azimov had left, due to the fact that there wasn't enough clearance between Azimov and the gravity wheel when fully deployed. The gravity wheel was designed to be inflatable, allowing it to be deflated during flight, before inflating once in place. This meant that it could be easily launched, but meant that deploying the gravity wheel safely would be a major challenge. However, as an inflatable gravity wheel on a smaller scale had already been tested on Cornerstone, little difficulties were expected. As planned, Foundation chief engineer Vermund, the only qualified engineer onboard the station, planned to inflate the section, the crown jewel of Foundation Station, and containing most of the crew's living quarters. However: disaster struck. The wheel simply would not inflate. An external inspection by Vermund revealed that there was some design flaw in the wheel that meant that the locks meant to hold the gravity wheel in place were stuck, and to deploy the wheel one would have to manually interface on EVA and managing the controls inside. However, given the risks involved, including permanently damaging the wheel or even total loss of atmosphere for the vessel, it was decided that two qualified engineers would be necessary to deploy the module: one more than we had. Despite the program's leaders being furious that Azimov's crew was just there, it couldn't be helped: Azimov was already en route for Kerbin. Fixing the gravity wheel will have to wait for Phase III.


Foundation Station as of Year 12 after completion of Phase II


Final envisioned design approved year 9

Despite this disappointment, the crew decide to complete their mission as planned. After two 3 minute orbital insertion burns, Azimov finally returns to LKO. It has been away for 45 days.


The remaining crew onboard numbers 8: two more than the maximum passenger capacity of the A-19 SSTO. As a result, the A-19 will have to launch twice to recover the crew in stages. This can be done extremely cheaply and easily thanks to its SSTO design.



Flown by Pilot Lemnand Kerman, the first launch brings home 5 crewman: our drill specialist Girick, the original Elysium crew, and the original Foundation crew brought by Phase I.



The second crew finally departs Azimov only a day after the first crew. Flown by Lomal kerman, the last to leave are Agamin Kerman, Mission Commander of Phase I, and the Azimov Operations crew. The Operations crew spent the last day on Azimov hard at work at putting the station to sleep. After their last few hours in space, Azimov is left alone in space, devoid of crew. It is left in orbit until another mission may call it. Despite being cooped up on Azimov for over a month, the Operations crew still pays tribute to their time on Kerbalkind's first true spaceship.



Returning on the second crew is Sherdon, Nelbro, Veteran Bill, and Agamin Kerman.

In conclusion, Phase II was just as complicated, if not more so, than Phase I. We expanded our station in Minmus Orbit to the largest station ever built by the Program, we built our first fuel-mining outpost on Minmus' surface, we completed the first spacecraft refueling not on Kerbin in history, and we returned our long-suffering crew of Elysium to Kerbin. We now have an 8 strong contingent of crew left at Minmus, with more on the way. Most importantly, Phase II shows that refueling in space is in fact practical: an important condition for the next phase of the program: Phase III, where we will expand our orbital prescence yet again, establish our largest and first permanent manned facility on Minmus, and solidify the self-sufficency long envisioned by the Program. Then, we can move on to yet greater sights: the stars.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the KSC, considerable thought was put into how exactly fuel would be transported and refined. The major debate was whether it was more economical to mine ore on the surface and transport it directly to Minmus orbit to refueled on orbit, or whether to refine ore on the surface and transport and store purely fuel on Foundation. The science team at the Program dedicated to study the matter after studying samples brought back from Citadel's landing site believe that the latter option is more efficient. In addition, there has already been consideration put in to IKS Azimov's next mission. After the gravity wheel debacle was revealed the Program began to push for splitting Phase III into two missions: the first with the secondary focus of bringing another engineer to deploy the gravity wheel, and the second mission to primarily fulfill Phase III's objectives.

What the crew came up with was the Azimov Dual Moon Study Mission - the first mission ever to visit both Minmus and the Mun. Planned for roughly one year from now, it will take advantage of the gargantuan radar array installed on Azimov that has as of yet sat unused. We will use it to conduct the most in depth study of the Mun and Minmus ever attempted in history. It's even a propaganda boon: spaceflight to the Mun and Minmus has finally become routine!

However, onto more practical concerns. This is the Azimov-Foundation Adapter Module, or AFAM. Seeking to alleviate the issue of the lack of clearance for Azimov when the gravity wheel is deployed that hindered us from discovering the fatal error in the gravity wheel, a new module will be installed that will add that clearance, as it were. It's not a waste of money, however, because it will serve two purposes: the first is to ease the transfer of crew and equipment from Foundation to Azimov by including a small module to add more storage space.


Seen here is a clear demonstration of the clearance it will provide. The front node of Azimov is shown docked for reference. However, the second purpose of the module is to include a specialized receptacle for a new spacecraft: the Skipper. The skipper was intended to fill the role of a small craft to be ordered around wherever it didn't make sense to send the large, nuclear powered MGL. Its main purpose would be to help service our small satellite fleet in Minmus orbit that requires servicing every few years, especially the MASS 5 and MOCX probes, with the latter providing the "brains" of our entire Minmus operation. A secondary purpose would be to assist in extracting crew in an emergency, or to land at a small site of scientific intrest too far away from any base to study. Two designs were submitted to the program.

Design 1 seen here. Design 1 has a unique spherical capsule design capable of holding two kerbonauts. It requires external RCS thrusters and is less responsive to controls, but it has the advantage of being able to use a standard docking port.


Design 2's primary disadvantage is the need for a specialized docking port to be inserted aboard the AFAM. However, it has built-in RCS thrusters into the capsule and is somewhat smaller, while it can still hold two kerbonauts.


Bill Kerman seen here evaluating a simulation of the interior of Design II, smiling wildly for the camera.

To decide, a simulation of both designs were produced. Crews rated the performance of Design II much more highly over Design 1, complaining of cramped interiors and extremely poor visibility in the latter. In addition, based off of performance reviews, Design 2 was ultimately selected to act as the Skipper.


Given our purpose is to study Minmus, it was decided that a complimentary probe would be brought aboard Azimov to Minmus orbit, and be released to continue the study after we've gone. Don't let the proportions fool you: this is the largest probe ever designed by the Program. Christened the Minmus Comprehensive Resource Study Orbiter (CRSO), it was designed primarily to showcase Azimov's ability to launch large spacecraft to places that it would be impractical to transport directly. It is outfitted with a large camera, an enormous multispectral and resource scanner to study Minmus, a kerbnet scanner, various smaller cameras, and a large radar dish.


CRSO was also designed with future servicing in mind: an area to interface with the central computer has been provided so that future kerbonauts aboard the Skipper can service the vessel. Experimentally, it has the capability to be tied to a visiting spacecraft via a tether, ensuring that the Skipper does not waste precious fuel maintaining separation.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

As this is the Dual Moon Study Mission, landing on the Mun was also a priority.


The vessel designed by the Program is the Unmanned Sample Return Vehicle. It's mission, as suggested by the robotic arm, is to collect samples from the surface of the Mun. A question many asked is: why send a probe to collect samples if Kerbals can? Indeed, there was a heated debate in the bowels of the Program boardrooms. Kerbals haven't set foot on the Mun since Nova-E II, one side argued. However, a robotic mission was chosen for the main purpose of preparing for a future sample return mission: at Laythe. See, at Laythe, it will be quite some time before we are capable of sending a kerballed mission to Laythe, so our near-term solution is to send a robotic sample-return mission to the far-flung moon. As a result, it was imperative to test a robotic sample return mission much closer to Kerbin, at the Mun.



An artist's conception of the USRV in action

The robotic arm uses a unique sample-collection method. As opposed to a simple robotic arm to scoop up material, our arm instead is fitted with a small compartment. In order to collect the samples, the surface will be "stamped" by our arm, which will collect our material. There will be less than a proper arm, just a couple of grams, but this method is far cheaper and more reliable. Once the arm is finished with its work, the arm will transfer the regolith into the upper stage, which will then rendezvous with Azimov in orbit for return to Kerbin.


Federation Geostationary Communication Network Satellite, 6 currently in service in Geostationary Orbit, placed by Merlin VII, Accipiter V, VI


Minmus Total Coverage Project Satellite

Another late addition to the Dual Moon Study Mission is the Minmus Total Coverage Project. The aim is to solve the problem of spotty coverage around Minmus, especially due to the fact we are now maintaining an 8 kerbal outpost. The people behind the MTCP had been pushing for the Program to approve a mission for years: and the response was "not enough money, tough luck." However, the MTCP was finally approved as two satellites to be brought along by Azimov, to be inserted into geostationary Minmus orbit. This will solve our communication problems, establish the first communications network beyond Kerbin, and at the lowest possible price.


The result of these deliberations is that all these probes will be attatched in this configuration to a service hub, designed to maintain the onboard computers of the spacecraft until they reach their destination.


However, the most ambitious part of the Dual Moon Study Mission is this: the Minmus Resource-to-Orbit Transfer System. Fully fueled, ROTS can transfer up to 4 orange tanks: 150 tons of fuel up to Foundation Station. It will operate as the workhorse of the Minmus colony. It will handle transfering fuel from Citadel to Foundation and transfer life support supplies and other essential cargo down to the surface. Plus, it is fully autonomous, allowing the tanker to operate without without direct kerbal control. Fully fueled, it can weigh nearly 200 tons. Its dry mass is 50 tons.


In conclusion, the modules, probes, and landers that we will be sending on the Dual Moon Study Mission will be arranged in this configuration. We plan to have this completed in a year and a half, or even less. In the meantime however, we'll be stepping our robotic exploration of the nearby planets, and gearing up for our next objective beyond the Kerbin system.

Edited by DunaManiac
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/29/2023 at 11:38 PM, TwoCalories said:

This is a cool mission report but there's a lot to read so I just started reading from the last few chapters. Is there anything that I should know about the story/progression going forward?

Sorry for the relatively late reply. Basically, in the short term my plan is to complete my outpost around Minmus. My station is mostly complete, and the final phase of my plan to colonize Minmus will be to finish Citadel base on the surface. I've already brought the core module and drill module.

In the longer term I plan to build two more large motherships to explore Eve and Duna, perhaps build an outpost. But the main goal will be to eventually set up a colony in the Jool system, likely around Laythe and Pol.

Edited by DunaManiac
That's what I get for typing on mobile
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A priority for the future is robotic exploration of the Nearby Worlds: Eve and Duna.

The RED Program, or Robotic Exploration of Duna Program, seeks to lay down the groundwork of a manned mission to Duna. It will consist of a series of probes launched in groups at the upcoming launch windows.

Objective: Study atmosphere, surface conditions, planetary composition, and magnetic field strength of Duna. Will create a small satellite constellation around Duna, explore two Points of Interest for a future manned landing

REDP1: Duna Atmopsheric Survey Orbiter. Due to launch within the next few days. Despite its name, DASO's purpose in addition to studying Duna's atmosphere in great detail to prepare for REDP4 and the future landings is to study the surface and help pick out landing sites. The DICE orbiter, currently in orbit of Ike, has mapped most of the southern hemisphere of Duna, but the northern hemisphere remains mostly unexplored. DASO will aim to explore the unexplored regions in much greater detail.

REDP2: Duna Operations Command eXplorer (DOC-X). In a similar vein to the idea of the original Moon Advanced Survey Strategy (MASS) 5 Minmus Operations Command eXplorer, MOCX that operates to this day, DOCX will in the short term conduct an intense exploration of Duna's surface. It will deploy a large radar antenna to study Duna in greater detail than we currently have, and bring along a resource scanner to study Duna's surface for refinable ore deposits. This knowledge will be critical in the future exploration of Duna.

REDP3: Duna Weather Monitor and Surface Exploration Vehicle (DWM-SEV). The aim of the Weather Monitor-SEV is to study in great study one of the Points of Interest that the combined work of DICE and DASO will discover. It will be a dual mission, not a stranger to the Program, which will aim to land a lander and a rover at Point of Interest 1. The lander, the Weather Monitor, is intended to be more important and will do what its name suggests: monitor Duna's weather from its location. It will also take seismographic readings and atmospheric readings, all of which will go into our decision for picking a final landing site. The rover on the other hand, will sample the surface and test out surface conditions directly: is it rocky and filled with boulders that would make landing difficult? Is it sandy and will make our craft sink? Or is it nice and flat?

REDP4: Duna High-Flying Glider. This mission, unique among the others, is a plan to use a propellor to power a glider on Duna. This will allow us to explore large swathes of the surface, but would be quite technically difficult to accomplish. However, the glider will be sent to analyze the second point of interest, and hopefully join our other probes at the other Point of Interest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

A small update, as lately I have little time to play KSP for the past few weeks.


The latest probe to arrive at its destination is ESAI: Eve Surface Atmosphere Investigator. Unlike the original Eve landing mission, ESAI, as its name suggests, aims to land on Eve's surface rather than its water. Towards the extreme north of scanned terrain is a relatively flat area near one of Eve's largest lakes. The team hopes that landing ESAI here will allow us to get the best of both worlds from Eve's surface and ocean: we'll hopefully be able to study both in detail. The closer ESAI lands to coastline, the better.



At Eve, the aeroshell rockets through Eve's thick atmosphere at over 5 and a half kilometers per second: nearly double Kerbin's orbital velocity!



At approximately 25 kilometers up, the heatshield is detatched, exposing the bottom of the craft. A small camera wakes up, and begins taking pictures of the ground below. The images are notably featureless due to Eve's thick cloud layer.



As the craft continues to descend, the details of the clouds become more clear. Interestingly, these clouds look quite different, as is clear by a side-by-side comparison with images collected by the Eve Atmosphere Probe and ESAI (EAP on left, ESAI on the right). This may result in a significant breakthrough being made in the study of Eve's atmosphere.


Several hundred meters above the surface parachutes are deployed and landing gear extended. Surface is mostly featureless, but notably has boulders of a much brighter color.




Several moments later, we touch down. As part of the startup procedure, the metal covers protecting the sensitive equipment onboard is lowered, and the first grainy photos can finally be taken from Eve's surface.ElE0pDS.png

The spacecraft itself, visible here, has a number of important experiments onboard. It has a small sample collection mechanism to analyze surface composition, several science cameras pointing in two directions (though its purpose isn't to take pictures), and a small radar scanner to scan its immediate surroundings. The landing site is approximately 750 meters above Eve's sea level. What's clear is that the surface is not rocky like the KSC had feared. Instead, the surface is smooth, with a thin layer of sand above a smooth, rocky surface. The surface even seems somewhat moist, as if it had rained recently. Whether it does, in fact, rain on Eve is an important question to be asked. However, it is clear that the probe will not last particularly long. The probe's reinforced body can only last a few days before being crushed by Eve's thick atmosphere, and its fuel cells will not last much longer than that. However, the achievement is undeniable: our second probe has been successfully landed on Eve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...