Year 21, Day 35 (Crew Selected for Endeavor Mission to Laythe!)

Val, Robart, and Kerlorf have been selected for DSV-4 Endeavor’s upcoming mission to Laythe Spaceport!

The crew will pilot the Laythe Spaceplane Endurance to the surface and continue scouting the planet for future colonies. KSEA is also hoping to launch an additional Laythe Spaceplane in time for the mission!

Oh wow! I can’t wait!”
-Kerlorf

Robart, already at White Mesa, starts packing his bags for the trip!

“I can’t wait to blast off! This desert assignment has been pretty dull!”
-Robart

Year 17, Day 357 (DSV-2 Discovery Leaves Laythe!)

Jeb and Bill transfer over to Discovery… while Bob makes sure that every bit of science is taken on board!

“That should be the last of it! Let’s head out!”
-Bob

“Moorings are clear… Discovery is clear of the Spaceport!
-Jeb

Discovery fires it’s three atomic engines, and the massive spacecraft rockets away from Jool!

The journey back to Kerbin will take a little over 2 years – longer than Discovery’s life support reserves will last – so Jeb, Bill, and Bob transfer over to the Cryonic chamber to survive the long trip!

“See you soon Discovery!”
-Gene, at Mission Control

Year 17, Day 350 (Endurance Returns to Laythe Spaceport!)

With the transfer window back to Kerbin rapidly approaching, Jeb decides it’s time to take Endurance back to orbit!

“Pack up all the science and snacks! It’s time to take off!”
-Jeb

Endurance lifts higher and higher…

… eventually reaching orbit!

“That loud pop noise was Endurance running out of primary fuel! Just in time too, we should have enough monopropellant to slow down the final leg of the rendezvous with Laythe Spaceport!”
-Jeb

Thankfully, there’s enough monoprop for both slowing down, and maneuvering!

Jeb docks with Laythe Spaceport!

“You know… these missions have all been really close, let’s call it good and not try a water landing this time?”
-Bill

“I dunno, I’m down for it! What’s the worst that could happen!?”
-Jeb

“Hmmm… maybe Bill’s right – let’s get ready to head back to Kerbin… we can try a water landing next time!”
-Bob

Year 17, Day 331 (Exploring Laythe, Continued!)

“I’m going to check out that water!”
-Bob

Bob takes off in a run, heading toward Laythe’s Sagen Sea!

“Oh hey! A Laythe Stone! They’re looking for one of these back at the Science Center! I better get a big sample!”
-Bob

Bob keeps running, until he finally gets to the shore…

“I never thought I’d see an ocean on another world! Only one thing to do…”
-Bob

“Go for a swim!!”
-Bob

Bob jumps in the water, and tries to swim out a little bit…

“Oh boy! This is cold water! Salty too! Just like the shore… “
-Bob

“…brrrr! I’m heading back to Endurance to warm up!”
-Bob

Before going inside, a very chilly Bob plants a flag!

“These samples just aren’t enough.. to really get a good sample of the Sagen Sea I’m afraid we’re going to need to land in it!”
-Bob

“LAND in the SEA?”
-Bill

“This isn’t a boat… but it might be possible! Let’s see what KSEA says!”
-Jeb

Year 17, Day 331 (Discovery Crew Boards Laythe Spaceplane ‘Endurance’ – Then Lands on Laythe!

Jeb, Bill, and Bob board LCV-1 Endurance and head down for another landing! The discovery that Laythe has a breathable atmosphere has caused a bit of a commotion back on Kerbin – talk of a permanent colony on Laythe has begun!

“Ok – hold on! We’re setting down right by the coast so if we overshoot the landing site, we’ll need to be ready to blast off back into orbit… this plane isn’t rated for a water landing!”
-Jeb

It looks like the approach was spot on! Endurance activates it’s landing parachute, and the VTOL Aerospike bays open!

Endurance slowly sets down, aided by the VTOL system and the parachute!

“Endurance has landed! Let’s get out and see what’s out there!”
-Jeb

Jeb and Bill climb out and take in the sights, with Bob right behind them!

“Hey guys! What’re you standing there looking at!?”
-Bob

“Oh! The Sagen sea is so pretty! You’d almost think it’s Kerbin!”
-Bob

Year 17, Day 228 (Endurance Returns to Laythe Spaceport!)

Bob plants a flag and places the plaque for the second landing site! Bob insisted that they ‘suit up’ as the temperature was getting cold enough it might be dangerous!

Then, all three Kerbals climb back into Endurance. Bob is so captivated by all the new science data he doesn’t even complain about the tight science bay! Next, Jeb opens the VTOL bays, and fires Endurance’s aerospike VTOLs!

“Fuel flow is steady… we have good lift… brakes off, gear up… here we go!”
-Jeb

Endurance blasts off, it’s air-fueled engines taking it higher and higher!

Once high enough, the RAPIER engines switch over to full rocket mode!

“We’re almost to orbit!”

-Jeb

Endurance reaches the Spaceport and docks!

“We’re getting so much interesting data here! We have to go back down as soon as possible!”
-Bob

“We need to be more careful next time though, these missions keep using up almost all of Endurance’s fuel! We barely had enough to get back!”
-Jeb

KSEA engineers start running simulations to see if there’s an ideal flight profile to take to save fuel! Meanwhile, Bill oversees the refueling of Endurance!

Year 17, Day 170 (Endurance Lands at Laythe’s Peaks and Makes Important Discovery!)

Mission Control OK’s the next landing, at Laythe’s peaks, along the equator! As the Laythe missions progress, a few things are already clear: solar panels do NOT work well this far out, and the Deep Space Relay Network needs significant improvements around Laythe! In fact, once the Endurance lands, all communications is lost with Kerbin! A new X-10 is under construction, that will launch to Jool at the next window to supplement operations and provide a backup!

Jeb, Bill, and Bob fly through the alien atmosphere, until they spot the landing site!

“That’s the spot! “
-Jeb

The X-10’s dual mode RAPIER engines allow very specific landing selection, something that can be tricky on atmospheric planets! Jeb pilots Endurance until it’s right on top of the target!

“Chute deployed – airbreakes deployed… VTOL bays open, firing vertical aerospikes!”
-Jeb

Endurance slowly decends to the surface!

“Hey, I see Vall back there!”
-Bob

“Huh? Val’s back on Kerbin!”
-Bill

“No silly! Vall with two ‘L’s’! The moon!”
-Bob

Endurance lands safely, and after getting all that sorted out, Jeb leaves to inspect the landing site!

“Hey! I just noticed, the indicator on the suit says the air here is close to Kerbin! I’m gonna take my helmet off!”
-Jeb

“You don’t know if it’s safe!”
-Bob

Jeb takes his helmet off and takes a few breaths…

“Seems fine!”
-Jeb

Bill and Bob climb out! Bill repacks the parachute, and checks on the X-10, while Bob starts taking samples!

“Remarkable! The air here seems very close to Kerbin! We might even be able to set up a sustainable colony here!”
-Bob

Jeb, Bill, and Bob excitedly discuss the possibilities opened up by the discovery that Laythe has a breathable atmosphere!

Year 17, Day 158 (Exploration Begins on Laythe!)

Jeb climbs out of Endurance to set foot on Laythe!

Looks just like the deserts back on Kerbin – except for the big Jool in the sky!”
-Jeb

Next, Bill squeezes his way out from the Science Bay into the cockpit, so he can get outside!

“That science bay has a seat, but that’s about it! It’s good to stretch my legs! Time to get this parachute repacked… easier here than up in orbit!”
-Bill

Bob decides to walk around the landing site to see what’s nearby!

“There seems to be a lot of … stuff!… on the surface…”
-Bob

“Oh hey – it’s a rock!”
-Bob

Bob does a thorough examination of the strange Laythe rock… but mostly plays ‘king of the hill’ and tries to plant a flag on top!

“Bah! The stone is too strong! I can probably chip away some sample bits though!”
-Bob

“Hey – speaking of flags, we need to plant one here!

Jeb plants the flag of the Kerbal States on Laythe, and everyone poses for their landing portrait!

“Once we get communications back with Kerbin, they’re gonna flip!”
-Jeb

Indeed – communication from the surface appears impossible, at least with the equipment Endurance brought along!

After a full survey of the landing site, the crew heads back up!

“Ok – future missions will be longer, but the mission plan is a quick down and back! Opening VTOL bays… activating Verticle Lift Aerospikes!”
-Jeb

“Fuel flow looks good!”
-Bill

Endurance slices through the sky, until the friction heats up the spaceplane!

Once the atmosphere is thin enough, Endurance’s RAPIER engines switch to orbital mode, and power the rest of the flight, to circularize the orbit around Laythe!

“OK… RAPIER engines switched to off… orbital maneuvering for Laythe Spaceport!”
-Jeb

Endurance reaches the spaceport, with just enough fuel to do so!

“That was a close call! We only had about 30 d/v left! We’re going to need to be careful and not stray too far from equatorial targets!”
-Bob

Jeb docks Endurance at the spaceport, and the crew warms up some snacks!

Year 17, Day 158 (Laythe Spaceplane ‘Endurance’ Lands on Laythe!)

After years of designing, preparation, and waiting, the day is finally here… the Discovery crew will leave the Spaceport and take their Spaceplane ‘Endurance‘ to land on Laythe!

Even the mission profile has been carefully planned, as no spaceplane has ever landed on another planet!

“OK – ‘Endurance’ is undocked from the Spaceport… using maneuvering thrusters to reach safe distance to activate engines!”
-Jeb

Endurance’s solar panels deploy to soak up as much energy as possible, while the orbital maneuvering engine fires to drop the craft out of orbit!

“So far so good!”
-Bill

Airbrakes deploy to create more drag, slowing the re-entry of the spaceplane! From inside the cramped science bay, Bob is growing concerned:

“What’s going on!? It’s getting hot! I can’t see anything from this seat!!”
-Bob

“Everything’s fine! We’re through the worst of the heat now – on course for a chain of islands near the equator!”
-Jeb

“Switching RAPIER engines to ‘air-breathing‘ – looks like a lot of flat desert down there, setting down shouldn’t be so bad!”
-Jeb

“Slowing our speed, deploying Air Brakes… starting landing procedures. Hold on everyone!”
-Jeb

Endurance needs to be going as slow as possible before it deploys it’s landing parachute. On Kerbin this parachute wouldn’t do a very good job of slowing an X-10, however on Laythe (combined with the VTOL engines) it should do the job just fine!

The Air Brakes retract, and the parachute deploys! The aircraft pulls up until it starts to even out…

“Ahhhhhh!”
-Bob

“Hang on back there! We’re almost down!”
-Bill

The VTOL bays open, and the aerospike rockets fire to slow the spacecraft! The housing of the chambers is thermally lined to protect the rest of the spacecraft, nonetheless, the rockets aren’t meant to be fired for anything but short bursts!

Just about there! VTOL is slowing us down to about 5 m/s…. we’re in the pipe, five by five!”
-Jeb

“Why do all the pilots say that before they land!?!”
-Bill

Endurance sets down on Laythe!

Finally! What a rough ride! Opening science bays… deploying ladders… antennas and solar panels deploying!”
-Bob

The crew will do tests for a short time before heading out to the surface!

Year 17, Day 138 (Laythe Spaceplane Rendezvouses With Laythe Spaceport!)

With Discovery now docked at Laythe Spaceport, the X-10 is remotely piloted to Rendezvous! With it’s transfer stage still attached the spacecraft is very unwieldy – but it’s important to use every bit of fuel – refills are hard to come by in the Jool system!

Endeavor arrives at the Spaceport!

“This is going to be a tricky docking… I better EVA over and do it manually!”
-Jeb

“OK – I have stepped outside the hatch… rocket packs on… heading toward the X-10!”
-Jeb

“Oh wow guys! Are you seeing this!?”
-Jeb

“…roger that Jeb – we see you!”
-Bill

“This thing is a lot bigger in person!
-Jeb

Jeb detaches the X-10 from it’s transfer stage, and pilots it to the station! The inline docking port makes the procedure a little more challenging than normal!

“We read a solid connection – good job!”
-Bob

With that, all the components of the Laythe Mission are in place! The crew will start checking systems, and prepare for their first landing!