With the disappointing missed time window of Explorer 8, the Astronauts sat around Mission Control scratching their heads trying to figure out a way to get a crew back to the red planet without waiting a whole year for the next launch window!
“What if we… you know… just go REALLY fast!” -Jeb
“That’d never work – the Explorer spacecraft doesn’t have that kind of fuel supply!” -Mirphe
“No… but one of the DSVs should! Can we take one!?” -Tamre
After some debate (and a mission simulation or three) Gene gives the green light! Tamre will be the scientist, Seely the mission Engineer, and Mirphe will command the mission!
“We barely had time to get these Mission Patches sewn! Get on a Crew Vehicle asap and get up to Spacedock!” -Gene
While trying to find a good spot to land the Harmony Station Lander, Tamre makes an interesting discovery… there is not only a Great Flats on Minmus, but there is also an unexplored region known as the Greater Flats – unexplored mostly due to Mission Control not noticing the extra two letters in the name!
“Huh. Guess that’s our spot then!”
Indeed! Mission Control gives the go-ahead, and the crew heads down!
The Harmony Station lander heads toward its landing site – HSSL05, the Greater Flats!
“That looks like the landing site! Lives up to its name too!”
Mirphe sets the lander down on the surface!
Tamre jumps out first and has a few hops around the surface!
Mirphe hops out next, and the crew poses for their landing portrait!
We need to do a few quick hops around Minmus before heading back! I’ve been reviewing the science reports from the previous missions and a few things were missed!
The Minmus lander jumps to the highlands, then the Great Flats, as Tamre and Mirphe carefully gather science data that was missed in previous missions (and occasionally stopping for moments of poignant self reflection).
Until it’s time to return to Harmony Space Station!
We spent so much time hopping around Minmus I’m afraid we ate up most of the snacks… and the water… and the oxygen!
Uh oh. We’re going to try a very, very fast return to Kerbin. It’s our only chance!
The ACV expends all of its fuel, and the return to Minmus takes only 2 days!
Re-entry heat on the ACV is intense… thankfully these are the same vehicles that are made to survive interplanetary journeys, which approach even faster!
The Aurora Command Module gently glides down…
… and sets down in the Highlands of Kerbin!
“We made it!”
“So this is what gravity feels like…. exhausting!”
Piloted by Mirphe, an ACV launches from KSC carrying Orlas and Kimmy to Kerbin Spaceport to lead the team working on the Cyclotron!
The Mk7 ACV is proving to be a very reliable and capable space vehicle!
Mirphe rendevouses the ACV with Kerbin Spaceport…
…and docks! Orlas and Kimmy transfer over, and then Kimmy undocks the ACV!
Time for the second part of the ACV mission… a quick trip to Minmus!
KSEA is sending Mirphe to Harmony Space Station at Minmus to recover Tamre, who has been taking part in one of KSEA’s long term space habitation studies. (KSEA again stressed that this did not mean anyone forgot about Harmony Space Station or Tamre onboard!)
Aurora 18 arrives at Minmus, where Samner and Shepely are both very excited to see their ride home! Tamre will stay on the station for a short time, until her research partner (who has not been selected yet) arrives!