Explorer 4 fires its engines and starts the journey home! Much like the journey to Dres, it will be a year long journey back!
Val and Orlas take the Explorer 4 Lander and do a short jump across the surface of Dres!
The lander travels in an arc across the surface….
Touching down at the Midlands, where Orlas and Val hop out!
That’s probably it for landings, we don’t want to stretch the fuel reserve out too much!
That’s a shame, it may look a lot like Mun but scientifically it’s quite distinct!
If you say so Orlas… the crew readies themselves to return to orbit in a matter of days!
Dunwin, Mitster, and Kimmy work on refueling the Duna Research Lander for what will be the last landing before returning to Kerbin! This time, a crater east of the second Explorer 2 landing has been chosen. Explorer 2’s last landing will be done by Mitster and Dunwin.
“Wow, you can see the crater’s outline as we come down!”
Mitster and Dunwin set down in the Crater, and prepare to head out of the lander.
The guys smile for the camera, then get to work gathering important Science!
Mission planners have picked a site for the next Explorer 2 landing, the center of the Northern Basin! Orbital scanners have also detected an odd anomaly at this site.
The landing is scheduled to take place in a few weeks – in the meantime Kimmy and Mitster rest up for the mission!
The next Explorer mission is green-lit, Explorer 4! This will be the first exploration craft to Dres, and will also be testing the Explorer Crew Vehicle, the successor to the Duna Crew Vehicle, with greater range and more advanced life support systems.
Explorer 4’s mission will be to reach and orbit Dres, land on the surface, return to the Crew Vehicle, then return to Kerbin! For fuel purposes the lander will remain in orbit of Dres.
Val has been chosen as Mission Commander, Orlas will be the Engineering Specialist, and Robart will be the Mission Science Specialist!
Another awesome patch is commissioned for the crew:
Mitster and Kimmy head down in the upgraded lander that was painstakingly upgraded by Dunwin using extra parts from Duna Spaceport!
You should be set to go! I’ll monitor things from up here!
KSEA has chosen the Midlands Sea as the next landing site!
The lander retracts its antenna and solar arrays for the entry into Duna’s atmosphere.
The lander touches down, and the solar arrays are deployed!
Kimmy climbs out of the lander, then Mitster – who pose for the traditional flag portrait! Kimmy and Mitster are the first Kerbals to ever set foot on the Midlands Sea!
KSEA announces that mission planning for the next Duna crew has begun! Explorer 3 will be piloted by Edan, with Glenica as the mission Science specialist and Sean as the mission Engineering specialist!
On board Duna Spaceport, the crew of Explorer 2 prepare for the very first Duna landing! Mitster will pilot the vehicle to the surface, with Dunwin providing the engineering expertise to deal with any unforeseen issues the lander might have. Once the craft has proven itself Kimmy will head down in the next landing. A lot of consideration was given to the first crew to head down, and the pilot/engineer combination was chosen in deference to safety, as the Duna lander hasn’t been tested “live” before!
Kimmy watches from the Observation Lounge as the lander moves away from the station…
“I can tell you now, we’re not setting down where Mission Control planned – we’re moving too fast, and if I don’t slow us down … well, it won’t be pretty!”
Mitster fires the landers engines, slowing the vehicle down enough to engage the parachute…
The parachute deploys!
“Oomph! That really took the wind out of me!”
The lander slowly descends to the surface…
At the last moment, the engines fire again, to set the lander down gently…
“Duna Lander to Kerbin – we have set down on Duna and all systems are go!”
Dunwin climbs out!
Followed by Mitster, who plants the first flag on Duna!
Cheers are heard throughout Mission Control – amazing!
“We still have some samples and exploration to do before we head back, so let’s get busy”
The lander overshot its landing at the anomaly by 17km – a distance much farther than walking would allow. Mission Control decides that while a small “hop” is conceivable however crew safety is paramount, so a future landing can be done to investigate the lowlands – there will be no hop!
“This lander handles much differently in an atmosphere than it did on Mun, I’m not even sure I could pilot us effectively over to the lowlands… the return to orbit will be tricky enough! ”
The lander will remain on the surface for a few days, then head back to Duna Spaceport!
Orlas, Mitster, and Chrisnic finish their research on Gilly, and head back up to dock with Explorer!
They were able to visit every biome on Gilly, and gathered a phenomenal amount of data on the seismic properties, atmospheric properties, and temperature of this small moon. After all the excitement, the heads back to Kerbin. The burn trip home will take roughly 200 days, and require just under 1700 d/v of fuel… sadly Mitster’s conclusion was correct, the Explorer will not have enough fuel to be saved. The LARC will eject from Explorer and head home, while Explorer goes into a solar orbit!
Meanwhile on Kerbin, three more Kerbin Surveyor vehicles are built.