The original Explorer was the first Deep Space Vehicle constructed by the KSEA. While it was ultimately a flawed design in many respects, it was the start of the Explorer program to explore the solar system! The next true DSV was DSV-2 Discovery, the test bed for a truly reusable interplanetary space ship. Most of Discovery’s systems were implemented in the Horizon Class Deep Space Vehicle, named after DSV-3 Horizon – Horizon Class ships have become the workhorses of the Kerbal Space Program and comprise the bulk of the DSV Fleet! The Kerbal States now has four Deep Space Vehicles and will soon be adding a fifth!
Honoring the legacy of the DSV program, the next DSV will be named Explorer, and retain the DSV-1 number, but with an “A” indicating it’s the second ship to bear the name! Construction has already begun – and the next mission has already been chosen – a journey to Sarnus!
Val and Robart climb into the cockpit of the Endurance, while Kerlorf squeezes into the small crew compartment at the back of the spaceplane!
“Everybody secure? Disconnecting docking clamps!”
Endurance slowly drifts away from Laythe Spaceport!
“Systems nominal – what a view!”
The Spaceport grows smaller and smaller, set against the impressive sight of the giant green planet of Jool!
Endurance is scouting a site for a future colony on Laythe! One promising (and scenic) site is Crater Island!
“Readings show we’re on the right course – cloud cover’s still too thick for visual confirmation!”
Endurance finally drops below the clouds, and Crater Island becomes visible!
“We’re lined up with a good flat landing spot – deploying chute! Horizontal engines are switched off – activating VTOL pods!”
The spaceplane’s parachute deploys, it’s air brakes lift, and the VTOL pod doors open – providing the final bit of thrust needed for a safe landing!
Endurance touches down! Robart is the first out!
“Incredible! You’d almost forget this was another world until you look up!”
Kerlorf plants the Kerbal States flag, and the crew sets up a camera to take the traditional “landing portrait!” The Endeavor crew will be busy for the next few days, setting up science equipment and experiments on the surface, as well as checking out the landing site!
“Ok – we have about 20 days to investigate this site – let’s get working!”
The challenge of exploring Laythe led to the most complicated engineering project that KSEA had ever done: the X-10 Laythe Spaceplane! This engineering marvel is capable of delivering three Kerbals from Laythe orbit to the surface and back!
There are actually two X-10 Laythe Spaceplanes now – the LCV-1 Endurance, which is currently docked at the Laythe Spaceport, and the LCV-2 Resolute, which is en-route to Laythe now!
Previous flights of the X-10 have followed the above flight plan, and the Endeavor crew will follow it for their upcoming mission! The only question for the Endeavor crew is… where to land! Thankfully mission planners have some ideas!
The first landing site proposed is Crater Island – The second is the Crescent Bay/Crescent Sea area! The landing at the Crescent Bay may involve a water landing, however engineers aren’t sure the craft can survive that! During the design phase it was considered but not actually planned for. And with no other ships or crew nearby if anything went wrong there might be a very big problem! Some engineers want to try a water landing on Kerbin before authorizing one on Laythe!
Ultimately, it’s hoped that a good spot for a research base can be found!
In Kerbin orbit, Jeb and Sean prepare DSV-5 Intrepid for it’s new crew! Instead of taking Crew Vehicle 6 back to the surface, the spacecraft is sent back to the surface – Jeb and Sean will take Crew Vehicle 1 back to Kerbin once it arrives! Meanwhile, Jeb pilots Intrepid to a higher orbit, 600k!
Crew Vehicle 6 sets down just west of the space center!
“Alright everybody, now’s the tricky part! Keep focused!”
-Gene, at Mission Control
For the first time, a Sarnus Va rocket will be used to launch a Nebula Crew Vehicle! The mission will carry Carson, Bob, and Sondo up to the Deep Space Vehicle Intrepid– as well as multiple mission payloads – a Modular-Payload Vehicle (MPV) loaded with Lithium and Monopropellant, a science satellite, and a new lander/rover combo!
“Engines are go!”
Crew Vehicle 1 launches into space! The fairings eject once the spacecraft reaches a safe altitude and the engines fire, carrying the spacecraft to a higher than average orbit, 600k!
Carson rendezvouses with Intrepid, then separates to move clear from the stack!
At the last moment it was decided the fuel budget had room for a Modular Payload Vehicle loaded with Lithium Fuel and Monopropellant! It separates from the stack, and docks with Intrepid, topping off it’s fuel supplies!
After fuelling up Intrepid the crew will transfer over to Intrepid, swap places with Jeb and Sean! Then, the nose-science unit will attach to the front of the DSV. Finally, the most challenging task will be docking the new lander in the cargo bay!
With the Lithium fueling complete, Carson, Bob, and Sondo head to Intrepid!
“Ok – forward RCS thrust is active… systems are nominal…”
“Oh wow – I saw Intrepid during assembly – to see it in space is quite a sight!”
Jeb and Sean shake hands with Sondo, Bob, and Carson! Then Jeb and Sondo head back to Kerbin!
“Good luck! Bring back some cool rocks from Moho!”
…setting down right by the Space Center!
With crew loading complete, it’s time to dock the nose science unit!
“This part will be easy, that lander’s going to be tricky though I just know it!”
“I’m showing a good connection!” -Bob
After a short maneuver, Carson docks the satellite with the docking port of Intrepid!
“Ok – the communications dish has been retracted! You’re good to go Carson!”
Next, the most difficult part… docking the new lander!
“No problem guys – it’s just like docking the Crew Vehicles – only in an infinity smaller space with no margin for error! Hmm.”
As the lander slowly moves into Intrepid‘s docking bay, there is a distinct metallic scratching noise as the landing gear scrape against the back of the cargo bay! The DSV-mockup at the Space Center isn’t perfect, and it turns out the lander fits much easier in the designs than actually docking!
“Tight fit… but we’re almost there! Nothing’s exploded yet!”
Success! The lander fits snugly, but perfectly, into the cargo bay!
“Getting it out will be a lot easier once we’re at Moho!”
Bob and Sondo check out the crew area of the Deep Space Vehicle, and make sure everything is ready to go!
“RCS fuel – check… extra snacks… check…”
“The reactor is functioning normally – Sean did a great job starting it up – radiators, generator, it all checks out!”
“Looks good! Let’s get up front and get the mission to Moho started!”
After prelaunch checks are complete, Intrepid fires it’s Colossus Engine!
“Fuel flow is good – temperatures are nominal!”
Intrepid speeds away from Kerbin!
“The transit burn to Moho was perfect! “
“Ok everyone – get on your mittens, it’s time to get in the cryobeds!”
“Looks, uh, comfy!”
The cryobeds freeze over, and Mission Control takes full control of the spacecraft! Intrepid will arrive at Moho later this year, on Day 383!
DSV-5 Intrepid’s first mission has now been fully planned, and a crew selected! Carson will be mission commander, Bob will be the Science specialist, and Sondo will be the Engineering Specialist!
For the first time a Sarnus Va rocket will deliver both the crew and the mission payload – Crew Vehicle 1 was designed initially as the replacement for the Aurora Crew Vehicle, but this is the first time it will be fully integrated into the stack!
This will also be the first test of the DSV-Lander – designed to fit into the DSV Payload bay! The Sarnus Va launch will also include the new DSV Science & Relay Satellite, that will be docked with the nose of the spacecraft and deployed in orbit of Moho!
Undeterred by recent setbacks, KSEA is excited to announce a new mission – Far Horizons – the first orbital mission to Plock and Karen! Set to launch on a massive Nova Rockets, the mission represents both the most distant and most difficult challenge to date!
Plock and it’s moon Karen are so distant that the KSEA’s Deep Space Relay Network couldn’t reach it on it’s own – so Far Horizons will be equipped with an unprecedented 11 RA-100 Relay Antennas!
The design utilizes multiple subsystems from the Deep Space Vehicle Program – notably the Discovery Class Nuclear Reactor that has been powering the DSV fleet since DSV-2 Discovery! The reactor is required both for the massive amounts of energy required for the Magenetoplasmadynamic engine (aka the Colossus, first used on DSV-3 Horizon) as well as the long term power needs of the communication relay systems.
Far Horizons will consist of 3 distinct phases:
Orbit Plock: Far Horizons will first orbit Plock, deploying it’s micro lander. While in orbit Far Horizons will use onboard systems to scan and image the surface! If the lander is successful, crews will then determine if another probe should land on Plock, or if phase two should commence!
Orbit Karen: If it is determined the second lander should be deployed at Karen, Far Horizons will transit to Karen orbit, deploying it’s second micro-lander to the surface. Orbital science and surface imagine will also be conducted!
Once both Plock and Karen have been scanned and imaged to the extent that mission coordinators are satisfied, the spacecraft will transition to it’s final phase, serving as an ultra-deep space extension to the Deep Space Relay Network, allowing ongoing communications to Kerbin with all hardware deployed in the Plock system!
Construction has begun on both the rocket and the payload at the VAB – construction will take 92 days and should be complete by the end of Year 22!
KSEA decides to send Carson, veteran astronaut Bill, and two (formerly!) ground engineers: Rozer and Sondo to investigate the wreckage of the Spacedock facility, and see what can be salvaged!
“Crew Vehicle 3 is away!”
“CV3 – launch operations show all systems nominal. Good luck up there!”
The Crew Vehicles have become a critical part of the Kerbal States mission in space! The latest iterations, capable of carrying 4 Kerbals and with integrated launch escape systems, along with the Nebula Rocket, a reusable booster, are now the most used method of getting Kerbals to space – although engineers are very eager to re-introduce the Crew Shuttles!
The Crew Vehicle separates, and the Nebula Rocket turns around, and returns to Kerbin – for a propulsive landing east of the Space Center!
“I thought it would be bumpier… but this isn’t so bad!”
“Yea! It’s just like the simulations!”
Crew Vehicle 3 reaches a 200k orbit!
“Ok – all systems are go. Let’s go find out how bad the damage is at Spacedock!”
The scene at Spacedock is pretty grim!
“Uh oh. Looks like the lower fuel modules have broken away… those might be salvageable… the upper habitat section looks like it’s separated from the habitat ring though…”
Carson maneuvers past the various Lithium Fuel Tankers… only one looks like it can be saved!
“It looks like this is the module Sean was able to detach before he escaped the station! We should be able to remotely take control and stabilize it!”
After a few minutes, Rozer and Sondo are able to establish a connection!
“There we go! Attitude adjustment complete – communications are not perfect with the surface, but acceptable, and orbital communications look good enough. The fuel here should be good to use for future missions! Shame about the other modules though!”
Next, Crew Vehicle 3 drifts toward the command tower.
“The lower docking module is damaged… but the crew docking modules look functional! I’m going to do a close inspection though before we dock!”
“No problem… matching speeds… you’re good to head out!”
Rozer does an orbit around the tower to check things out – determining a docking is safe!
“Docking complete! Good luck over there guys!”
Bill, Sondo, and Rozer head over to the habitat section and check things out!
“It looks like the centrifugal habitat section is still spinning out there, I can barely see it from here. We could check it out.. but with all these maneuvers we’re pretty tight on fuel…
Carson does some calculations, and delivers the bad news…
“We’ll have to skip it this mission. We don’t have the fuel to head over there and be within safety margins. I don’t want to push our luck!
“We should disconnect Crew Vehicle 2 and return it remotely to the surface… it looks pretty good, and if it survives the reentry we’ll know for sure, and ground crews can check it out!”
Crew Vehicle 2 is disconnected… the abandoned Crew Vehicle 4, sheered off in the disaster, floats in the background!
“Done! Crew Vehicle 2 is away! Mission Control, do you still have connection?”
“We are tracking it, and have control… we’ll take care of rentry!”
-Gene, at Mission Control
While the crew checks out the destroyed Spacedock facility, Crew Vehicle 2 is returned successfully to the surface! Eventually, the crew departs…
…and rendevouses with Crew Vehicle 4!
Sondo goes on an EVA, to inspect the spacecraft!
“Moving in for a closer look…”
“Oh gosh.. .I’ve been so busy up here I haven’t noticed how pretty it is!”
“That never gets old!”
“Hmm – the docking clamp looks good – given that it was ripped off the station though, I’d want to replace this on the ground! The protective cover is functional though… and the craft has good communications. I think we’re good to send this one down too!”
“I’m heading back! CV4 checks out!”
While Sondo returns to Crew Vehicle 3, ground control takes over and brings the vehicle back to the surface!
… where it’s recovered safely!
The next morning, the crew prepares for the return home! The lower half of the Crew Vehicle (the only disposable part of the Nebula Launch System, detaches…
… and the rentry engines fire!
“We have a good burn! All systems are good… we’re in the pipe, five by five for a landing at the Space Center! Hold on everybody!”
Sondo and Rozer hold on to their chair grips tightly, while Bill enjoys his orange-colored space drink!
After a fiery rentry, Carson fires the engines one last time before activating the parachute, to ensure getting as close as possible to the Space Center!
“Almost! I was aiming for the runway! With enough practice we’ll get this down though!”
Launched in Year 19, Kerbin Spacedock was meant to last at least 10 years! While everyone is relieved that no one was hurt in the accident, a full review has determined that the station itself is not salvageable – and will be officially decommissioned!
“After a thorough analysis, we determined the station was impacted by an unexpected gravitational anomaly that caused physics near the station to “glitch!” This resulted in the heavier parts of the station, the fuel tankers, oscillating wildly, and eventually tearing the station apart! We think that the massive quantity of fuel and thus mass may have contributed to this mysterious phenomenon… so we’re going to make sure future stations have a smaller amount of fuel on board – perhaps only one of the Lithium Tankers at a time! In the end our proper procedures and well trained crew made sure that the only loss was hardware – I’m really proud of all you guys!“
The replacement for Spacedock, tentatively titled “Spacedock 2” is still under design, but until then fueling at the remaining Lithium Tanker should keep the DSV fleet’s needs met for the next few years!
The new crew shuttle Pioneer is complete, and ready to transport west to White Mesa!
“I’m glad we finished revamping the Crew Shuttles when we did… with the disaster at Spacedock we’re going to need extra vehicles on hand!”
The crew shuttle is un-fueled, and protective covers have been put over the front heat shield as well as the rear engines! Carson will be flying the mission solo to White Mesa, where the crew program is based!
“The X-5 is airborne! That Crew Shuttle really makes this plane perform sluggish!”
Carson slowly brings the X-5 around and heads west, flying past the space center!
“Pretty view from up here!”
“X-5 checking in – aircraft performance…. nominal… crew shuttle seems to be holding up well!”
The X-5 reaches its maximum altitude, and begins the descent toward White Mesa!
“I’ve passed the terminator into night… switching on internal lighting!”
Carson brings the aircraft around and lines up with the White Mesa runway… about 11km from the facility!
“I’m in the pipe, five by five! Setting her down!”
The X-5 touches down and comes to a full stop! Soon the aircraft will taxi to a hangar, where the Crew Shuttle Pioneer will be separated, inspected and prepared to launch on a Nebula Rocket! Pioneer‘s twin, the original Adventure, is already stacked on a Nebula Rocket, and is being prepared for a launch!