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?
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!