Year 21, Day 15 (Upcoming Explorer 8 Mission to Duna Delayed!)

KSEA is disappointed to announce that the upcoming Explorer 8 launch to Duna has been delayed! The next window to Duna won’t be for another year, which has many astronauts upset!

The delay is due to construction time for the spacecraft, which took longer than planned!

“I know it’s disappointing everyone, but we’ve got to keep our eyes on the prize! We’re investigating other options for Duna Missions in the meantime!”


Year 19, Day 171 (Explorer 7 Arrives at Duna Spaceport!)

Explorer 7 performs a circularization manuever as it passes it’s closest point with Duna!

I’m showing a circular orbit – nice work!”

Next, Malcolm performs the rendezvous maneuver, and intercepts Duna Spaceport!

Firing thrusters… just need to get lined up with the docking port!”

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!”

“Be careful out there!  There’s a lot of hardware operating very closely!”

“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!

Year 18, Day 274 (Explorer 7 Launches, Heading to Duna!)

Malcolm, Dunwin, and Shepley all board Explorer 7! Outside the rocket, the loudspeakers count down to launch!

“10… 9…8…7…6…ignition sequence start….5…4…3…2…1…IGNITION!”

“We have liftoff!”

The powerful Sarnus Va rocket lifts Explorer 7 higher and higher!

Until orbit is reached! Then, with just 3 minutes to spare until the transfer window, Malcolm fires the engines!

“Engines firing…. We’re on course!”


Explorer 7 soars past Mun on its way out of Kerbin’s SOI!

Hours later, the Advanced Duna Lander departs for Duna! The two spacecraft will arrive at Duna in 208 days!

“Ok, we’re on our way! Mission Control, we’re handing over vehicle control to KSC!


“That means it’s time to head over to the Cryo Section… And take a little nap!”


The 3 Kerbals prepare to head over to the Cryo Module to enter Cryo-Stasis! The mission schedule has them starting suspension tomorrow!

Year 17, Day 173 (Explorer 7 Design, Blueprints Released!)

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!

Year 16, Day 165 (Explorer 6 Rescue Mission!)

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!”

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!”

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!”

“I’m just eager to get back to train for the next Deep Space mission!”

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!”

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!

Year 16, Day 164 (Explorer 6 Returns to Kerbin from Jool!)

Explorer 6 enters Kerbin’s gravitational sphere of influence, and fires it’s engines to circularize its orbit!

“This is the first time a crewed vessel.. or really any vessel, has returned ot Kerbin orbit from Jool! Fuel will be a little tight, but I’m sure we’ll make it to orbit!”

“Hmmm. that fuel guage is getting pretty low Mitster!”

E stands for ’emergency supply’… right?”

Suddenly, Explorer 6’s fuel shuts off!

“Well… good news and bad news! We made orbit! The bad news is we don’t have enough fuel to dock with the Spaceport, and the orbit is fairly eccentric!”

My calculations show we’re still in range of a rescue from one of the Aurora Crew Vehicles! What do you think Mission Control?”

We need to do a little mission planning, but we agree that’s the best rescue plan we have! We’ll be in touch!
Gene, at Mission Control

Year 14 Day 267 (Explorer 5 Reaches Duna… and Keeps Going!)

Critics of reusing Explorer 5 were correct! The spacecraft didn’t have enough deltaV to overcome the high speed approach of Duna. Perhaps KSEA should have known better!

“Hmmm. Well, we all make mistakes! Back to the drawing board! It would be nice to have a spacecraft that can reach Duna without being quite a DSV-class vehicle!”


To that end, KSEA begins work retooling what would have been Explorer 7 to use the Explorer design but with a more re-usable layout in mind!

Year 14, Day 1 (Explorer 6 Leaves Laythe)

Explorer 6’s mission at Jool’s tempting moon Laythe is complete – and it’s time to come home!

It’s a shame we have to leave.. but don’t worry. We’ll be back!


As Explorer 6 drifts past Laythe for the last time, the crew prepares to return to cryogenic sleep for the long trip back to Kerbin!

“It’s a good thing we’re heading back to cryo-sleep… we just finished the last snack!”


“The sooner we go back into cryo-stasis the sooner we can get on the next Deep Space craft headed back… this time with a lander! By the time we’re back at Kerbin I bet Laythe Spaceport will be ready!