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!
What started out as mild vibrations on the station have grown and grown over the last half – the station crew, mid rotation with just Sean and Jeb on board, have been working on troubleshooting the strange shaking with Mission Control!
“We verified that RCS isn’t firing from any thruster, station or docked…and our SAS systems all show normal… Jeb and I can’t figure out what’s causing it… wait, just a second… the station is shaking even worse now! I think the vibration is increasing exponentially…”
*loud cracking noise, alarm klaxons* “..There’s… been a breach! Jeb! Launch the Intrepid quick!”
Back at KSEA, sensors report what can’t be correct – loss of direct connection between the Lithium tanks and the upper docking and habitat section! Immediately ground crews start making calls and Gene assumes the worst … and gives the evacuation order!
“Start emergency evacuations! Intrepid get that ship out of there! Sean get to the nearest Crew Vehicle and undock now! Look alive people this is an emergency! What crew shuttle is ready to go up there? Get it up there….!”
-Gene, at Mission Control
Thankfully Jeb was quick with his reflexes and activated the emergency decoupling process – detaching the massive Deep Space Vehicle Intrepid from the station and reverse firing the orbital thrusters to push away from the station!
“This is Jeb on Intrepid – the DSV is clear of the station! I’m fine… it was a close call, the station was spinning out of control! Sean are you OK?” -Jeb, on DSV Intrepid
Sean didn’t wait a second, and pushed himself to the nearest crew vehicle, hopping in Crew Vehicle 6, and decoupling! The whole time the station is violently rotating, and as the Crew Vehicle departs, it impacts the the spinning orbital ring!
“That was a bumpy ride … but I got out! The Crew Vehicle impacted the station on the way out but … I’m not seeing any indication of leaks… what’s the plan?”
“OK – Sean, Jeb – let’s get your two vehicles docked – then do a full diagnostic of Intrepid. We’ll figure out what to do from there! We’re all relieved you’re safe up there!”
-Gene, at Mission Control
Sean maneuvers Crew Vehicle 6 to a rendevous with Intrepid!
“I see you Sean! The Crew Vehicle looks good, just some scuffs! You’re good for docking!”
Intrepid and DSV 6 dock! Jeb and Sean give each other quick hugs, relieved!
“That was a close one!”
“Yea! I like some excitement on my missions… but not like that!”
As the situation normalizes, everyone catches their breath! While Sean and Jeb do a full diagnostic of both Intrepid and the Crew Vehicle, Mission Control starts working on disaster planning to see how bad the damage is at the Spaceport!
“Ground radar and space assets show Intrepid should be safe – I want to get some Kerbals up there to get a closer look but I don’t think Sean or Jeb should do it, they’re both pretty shaken up and need to get down to the surface to be checked out! A Crew Shuttle can check out the station, then return Sean and Jeb!
-Gene, at Mission Control
As the day goes on, KSEA decides to send up the revamped (and recently tested) Crew Shuttle Adventure! A large crew is needed for the mission as it’s not just a rescue, but crisis/damage assessment, and recrew of Intrepid!
After the successful test of the Adventure crew shuttle, KSEA has begun construction of a brand new, duplicate Crew Shuttle… named CTS-2 Pioneer!
A larger variant of the crew shuttle is also under development, however no plans are ready to be released yet! The craft is tentatively called the Heavy Crew Shuttle!
Research and development is nearing completion for a new Duna lander as well. If KSEA is to have a permanent habitation on the surface of the red planet, a reusable lander is needed… The existing Advanced Duna Lander has not performed as well as hoped, providing barely enough DeltaV, and a landing process that has been described as “consistently unreliable” by pilots!
Finally, mission planners are almost ready to announce DSV-5 Intrepid’s first mission! Intrepid was launched in mid Year 21, and cleared orbital tests later that year. Mission planners keep insisting they didn’t just forget about it!
KSEA engineers are excited to reveal the refit of the Crew Shuttle Adventure! The entire Crew Shuttle Program was shut down in Year 17 after the CTS-3 Intrepid suffered a major catastrophe – major nose cone damage from re-entry heat that nearly destroyed the spacecraft! Val is widely credited with saving the entire crew with her calm handling of the disaster!
Since then, engineers have been working on a way to make a safer Crew Shuttle – the result is the refit of the only surviving Crew Transport Shuttle – Adventure! (Intrepid was badly damaged, and Endeavor was dismantled!)
The new Crew Transport Shuttle launches using the Nebula Rocket as a re-usable lifter, which should make the entire Crew Shuttle mission reusable! The vehicle is en route to the White Mesa desert launch facility for initial testing.
“If everything works out with Adventure we’ll see about adding a few new space-planes to our roster! We’ll need some new names though – the DSV fleet took ‘Endeavor’ and ‘Intrepid’ for their latest vehicles!”