Val, Robart, and Kerlorf have been selected for DSV-4 Endeavor’s upcoming mission to Laythe Spaceport!
The crew will pilot the Laythe Spaceplane Enduranceto 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
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
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
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!”
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!
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!
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…
“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!
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!