Explorer 7 performs a circularization manuever as it passes it’s closest point with Duna!
“I’m showing a circular orbit – nice work!” -Shepely
Next, Malcolm performs the rendezvous maneuver, and intercepts Duna Spaceport!
“Firing thrusters… just need to get lined up with the docking port!” -Malcolm
Explorer 7 moves in to dock…
…and makes a solid connection with the spaceport!
“OK! Time to get out there and reposition the Advanced Lander!” -Malcolm
“Be careful out there! There’s a lot of hardware operating very closely!” -Dunwin
“It’s beautiful out here! The station and lander look to be in great shape! Hard to believe the Spaceport has been here for 13 years!
Malcolm uses his EVA pack to maneuver over to the Advanced Lander…
…then grabs the handholds and climbs inside!
“It’s nice and roomy in here! Much cozier than the Mun Landers!”
Using only RCS thrusters, Malcolm detaches from the Ground Science cargo payload that came with the lander (and will remain attached to the Spaceport, to be used on future missions) and moves away from the station!
“The lander is oriented away from the station, and momentum is carrying us away… ejecting engine fairing!”
The interstage fairing protecting the engine (which allowed the Ground Science payload to be carried inline with the lander) ejects! The momentum away from the Spaceport will carry the fairing out and away from the station!
The Advanced Lander drifts slowly over the spaceport!
“RCS thrusters firing… Forward momentum should be enough to dock…”
“I show you at .1 m/s … Alignment good…”
With a loud ‘CLUNK!’ and some mechanical ‘whirs’ Explorer 7 is docked and securely attached to Duna Spaceport! Malcolm climbs over and the Explorer 7 crew prepares for their landing!
The next Explorer spacecraft is designed, Explorer 7! This spacecraft was designed as a lower cost spacecraft that would require fewer launches to prepare. Previous Explorer spacecraft required two launches: one for the spacecraft and another to deliver crew.
This was largely due to the nuclear fuel component that was part of the Pathfinder-derived vehicles.
The new design features a new Mk10 crew module at the top, which allows emergency escape options on launch. Once in orbit, the crew fires a transfer burn to Duna, then exits the vehicle and climbs from a ladder into the cryogenic stasis chamber. They’ll reverse the procedure once they arrive at Duna Spaceport!
Explorer 7 costs less than 1/10th the cost of the much more versatile and longer range Deep Space Vehicle Discovery, and is more suited to visiting Duna (and possibly Eve) than further flung missions such as Jool and beyond!
The next Duna Mission won’t be for another year – once the launch is closer, a crew will be chosen and a new mission patch will be released!
The Aurora Crew Vehicle docked at the Kerbin Spaceport undocks – this fully fueled vehicle has been at the station for quite a while, and was intended as an emergency lifeboat for the station crew in a crisis. Mission Control has decided the spacecraft will be remotely piloted and docked to the stranded Explorer 6 crew – marooned in an eccentric orbit around Kerbin!
The ACV activates it’s engine and blasts away from the station – changing it’s inclination to match Explorer 6!
After the rendezvous maneuver is complete, the ACV is within sight of Explorer 6!
“I see it! We’re saved!” -Sean
The Aurora Crew Vehicle docks with Explorer 6!
“Looks like a solid connection! Let’s get that hatch open and transfer over! Don’t forget all the science!” -Mitster
Glenica does a thorough search to make sure they haven’t left anything behind – then is the last one to head over to the Crew Vehicle!
The Crew Vehicle detaches from Explorer 6, and heads back to Kerbin!
“Explorer 6 was a good ship! Maybe someday we can refuel it for another adventure!” -Mitster
“I’m just eager to get back to train for the next Deep Space mission!” -Glenica
The Aurora Command Module heats up as it burns through Kerbin’s atmosphere!
Until it finally splashes down in the ocean – just east of the Space Center!
“Rescue boats are on the way! Just sit tight and we’ll get you home in no time!” -Gene
Explorer 6’s crew finally returns home! Not quite like they expected, but they proved KSEA’s equipment and crew were ready for the very long duration missions to Jool – and beyond!