Year 21, Day 137 (Explorer 7 Returns to Kerbin from Duna!)

As Explorer 7 speeds towards it’s intercept with Kerbin, the automated systems thaw the frozen crew!

“Brr! I could use a hot chocolate!”

-Dunwin

“Me too! Waking from cryo-sleep is always so chilly!”

-Shepely

“Well, don’t worry! It’s about to get a whole lot warmer!”

-Malcolm

One by one, the crew suit up, and transfer over to the Command Module!

Once inside, everyone straps in for the re-entry!

Explorer 7 heats up, but Duna-bound spacecraft are well shielded for these fast reentries!

“Hold on! Hold on! Almost there!”

-Malcolm

The chute deploys once the spacecraft is slow enough to be safe!

“Looks like a good deploy!”

-Dunwin

Explorer 7 sets down in the grassy fields west of the Space Center! Rescue craft are dispatched to recover the three Kerbals and the trove of data recovered from Duna!

Year 20, Day 271 (Explorer 7 Departs Duna!)

After two successful Duna landings it’s time for the Explorer 7 crew to return home! Malcolm performs an EVA to give Duna Spaceport, the Advanced Duna Lander, and the Explorer spacecraft a final inspection before departing!

“Everything looks good out here! This view never gets boring!”
-Malcolm

After boarding Explorer 7, Malcolm detaches the spacecraft…

… and Explorer 7 slowly drifts away from Duna Spaceport!

“There’s only enough fuel reserves for one more landing from the Spaceport! The next mission will need to have a reserve fuel supply or KSEA needs to send another refueling mission out!”
-Dunwin

“Well if you ask me how we get here isn’t as important as getting here! The scientific data we’ve acquired this mission should keep us busy for years!”
-Shepely

As Explorer 7 drifts further and further the departure window is met, and Malcolm fires the spacecraft’s engine!

“All systems are nominal… engine burn to Kerbin nearly complete!”
-Malcolm

As Explorer 7 leaves the Duna system, the crew prepares for their EVA to the Cryonic section to hibernate for the trip home! At KSEA, mission planners are debating how to do the next mission – is it time to send the DSV’s to Duna, or continue with the Explorer program?

Year 20, Day 10 (Explorer 7 Second Duna Landing!)

Malcolm, Dunwin and Shepely head down for the second landing! Since this will be a landing at the Highlands, the Advanced Duna Lander has to expend a good deal of fuel to slow down before entering the atmosphere!

“We’re heading in! Approach looking good!”
-Malcolm

The landing parachute deploys, and the lander pitches up…. while the engine throttles up again to slow the descent!

Shepely and Dunwin head out to explore the surface!

“It’s so pretty!”
-Shepely

Next, Malcolm plants a flag….

…and the crew poses for their landing portrait!

“Mission Control has received your picture… lookin’ good!”
-Gene, at Mission Control

Shepley gets the scientific equipment set up, while Malcolm and Dunwin supervise!

Well, let’s get our little campsite going! We have a few weeks to work here on the surface!
-Shepely

Year 19, Day 214 (Explorer 7 Crew Return to Duna Spaceport!)

After 40 days on the surface of Duna, the Explorer 7 crew prepares to come home!

“All our surface experiments should be OK when we take off, as long as there isn’t too much dust kicked up!”
-Shepely

“Engines firing! All systems go!”
-Malcolm

“Looks like we’re still getting a signal from the surface… blast off must not have been too damaging! Lander systems all good too!”
-Dunwin

Malcolm pilots the Advanced Duna Lander to a rendezvous with the station…

…and docks with Duna Spaceport!

“Great work Explorer 7! Get some rest everyone!”
-Gene, at Mission Control

Year 19, Day 174 (Explorer 7 Crew Explores Duna’s Southern Basin!)

Malcolm, Dunwin, and Shepely leave the lander and set foot on the dusty red surface of Duna!

“We made it!! The satellite scans show the anomaly is 800m away … Sorry we couldn’t land closer!”

-Malcolm

“It’s ok! I can walk that far, no problem! Should be plenty of life support and EVA fuel!

-Shepely

Shepely heads west, toward the anomalous reading the survey satellite detected…

After a long walk, and a few ‘EVA hops’, Shepely arrives at the anomaly!

“Wow! It’s huge! Looks like another mysterious Monolith! The dimensions look identical to the one by the space center and I’m Mun and Minmus… Fascinating!”

-Shepely

Next, Shepely explores the region around the Monolith!

Not too far from the Monolith is a large Duna Rock!

“Hmmm… Can’t get much of a sample with my tools… We’ll need a rover arm to really get a good sample!”

-Shepely

Next, Shepely heads over to an odd rock formation…

The strange blueish hued stones are quite odd!

“Weird! These look like big stone blueberries! I’ll get a good sample!

-Shepely

After gathering some Duna Blueberry samples, Shepely heads back to the lander!

Malcolm helps Shepely load his samples into the lander, then all 3 Kerbals begin unloading the surface science equipment for Shepely to set up!

“This looks like a good spot! Good thing we brought the RTG power supplies… Not enough solar power is available down here!”

-Shepely

“Lookin’ good!”

-Malcolm

“Yeah! The ground science equipment should be fully deployed… The relay satellites in orbit should be able to have ongoing communication with Kerbin!”

-Dunwin

Before heading back to the Spaceport there’s just one thing to do…

Pose for a landing portrait!

“Smile! This is for the history books!”

-Malcolm

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!”
-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

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!”

-Malcolm

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!”

-Malcolm

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…”

-Malcolm

“I show you at .1 m/s … Alignment good…”

-Dunwin

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 19, Day 155 (Explorer 7 Crew Thaw, Prepare For Duna Mission!)

Explorer 7 is just days away from reaching Duna’s sphere of influence! Mission Control sends the automated signal to thaw the crew from Cryo-Stasis!

Mission Control this is Malcolm on Explorer 7… we’re all thawed out and ready for our mission!”
-Malcolm

“… I could use something hot to drink though!”
-Shepely

Dunwin checks over the ship’s systems and makes sure everything is looking good!

“Explorer handled the transit just fine… all systems are good!”
-Dunwin

Year 18, Day 272 (Malcolm, Dunwin, and Shepely Selected for Explorer 7 Duna Mission!)

KSEA announces that Malcolm, Dunwin, and Shepely have been selected as the crew for Explorer 7! Explorer 7 itself is rolled out to the launchpad, and the crew will board tomorrow! In the meantime, everyone’s talking about how colorful the new patches are!

Malcolm and Shepely have never been to Duna, however Dunwin, the mission engineer, is a veteran!

The Advanced Duna Lander is already in orbit, and will leave a day after Explorer 7!

The Explorer 7 Duna Mission will make use of the Advanced Duna Lander’s capabilities to target landing sites that were out of range of previous missions. Additionally, many of the new surface experiments deployed and tested on Mun by the Aurora 18, 19, 20, and 21 crews will be deployed on Duna!

Year 13, Day 402 (Explorer 5 Readied For Second Mission)

As an experiment, KSEA decides to test the capabilities of the Explorer 5 spacecraft. Having returned from Duna, is it capable of entering Duna orbit again, and returning safely to Kerbin orbit? If so it would provide a much more cost effective means of transporting Kerbals to and from the red planet.

Explorer 5 docked at Kerbin Spaceport. Discovery can be seen docked in the background.

The new Discovery-class spacecraft design is certainly capable of the trip, however it is overkill to the extreme – DSV-2 Discovery could travel to Duna, return to Kerbin, and repeat the trip without ever needing to refuel!

Gillian, Shepely, and Seely (the current crew on Kerbin Spaceport) start work refuelling Explorer 5 for it’s next mission!