The second Laythe Crew Vehicle spaceplane is launched from KSC!
The spacecraft enters orbit… and waits!
Resolute will leave Kerbin in about 400 days for an express trip to Jool/Laythe. This new Laythe Crew Vehicle is almost identical to the current LCV-1 Endurance, but with improved science payloads (including water detection systems) and improved power systems. The solar panels have been removed, and the craft’s onboard power supply has been buffed up to survive longer on 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 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
The X-10 Wanderer is done, and having passed basic safety tests is ready for a test flight! Val, Glenica, and Dunwin prepare to take the plane on a test flight – first to test basic landing systems, then to test a water landing! This will also be a good training flight for future crew to Laythe!
The VTOL Aerospikes work well enough on Kerbin to provide vertical thrust, however the plane can only maintain vertical flight for a short time!
“Let’s head over to the pyramids, that should be an interesting place to land!” -Val
Val sets Wanderer down right next to the pyramids! Unlike Endurance, Wanderer has much bigger parachutes to deal with the higher gravity of Kerbin!
Val, Dunwin, and Glenica all get out…
…and have a good look around the pyramids!
“Wow, these are right near the Desert Site! Hey, we should call it the ‘Pyramid’ Launch Complex!” -Glenica
After everyone has a good look around, Wanderer takes off!
“Everyone keep hold of your life preservers! We should set down slow enough, but I have no idea if Wanderer is going to even float!” -Val
All horizontal thrust is cut, and Wanderer slowly drifts down to the water!
With a loud “kursplursh!” the X-10 sets down in the water!
“Oh wow! I can’t believe it worked! If the X-10 sets down slow enough, it’s just fine!” -Dunwin
Indeed – Val gets out and confirms the space, er, watercraft, is just fine!
After a little VTOL blast to get out of the water, Wanderer heads back to the Desert Site… now called the Pyramid Launch Complex!
“Pyramid Launch Complex… I’m in the pipe, five by five!” -Val
Wanderer touches down, right where it took off! KSEA relays the information back to Laythe, however engineers are divided on actually trying this stunt 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
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!
The next spacecraft in the convoy heading to Laythe is the X-Laythe Spaceplane Endurance! It’s engines fire and the spacecraft is captured into a circular orbit of Laythe!
Later in the day, the Laythe Spaceport also finishes circularzing Laythe! The final orbit of the Spaceport is intended to be 60k, so the engines fire again to change the orbit!
Success! The Spaceport is put in a 60k orbit. The transfer stage (and the only engine on the station) will remain in place until it’s fuel is spent by the X-10!)
“Discovery – our boards show Laythe Spaceport is in it’s required orbit – you are clear to rendezvous!” -Gene, at KSC
Discovery performs multiple maunevers as it moves to rendevous with Laythe Spaceport!
After a few orbits, Jeb pilots Discovery to within 100m of Laythe Spaceport!
“It was a good idea putting those great-big RCS thrusters on these DSV’s… it feels just like I’m manuevering an Aurora Crew Vehicle!“ -Jeb
“Almost… almost… got it! Docking complete! Discovery is now docked with Laythe Spaceport!! -Jeb
“Alright – we need to start getting ready for the X-10’s arrival! Power down nuclear reactor… switching power supply lines to Station Power…. tape put over all throttle controls, engines disabled!” -Bill
After a very long journey, Discovery finally arrives at Laythe! With a loud “ding!” the cryogenic systems finish thawing all three Kerbals: Jeb, Bill, and Bob! Mission Control has started the insertion sequence to capture into Jool’s orbit – and now the engines fire to transfer into a Laythe orbit!
“Wake up guys! The computer says we’re here!!” -Jeb
“I’m awake… I’m awake!!” -Bill
“Me too!” -Bob
“Mission Control – Discovery Crew here – we’re doing good! Assuming control of DSV – firing thrusters to enter Laythe orbit! “ -Jeb
Success! Discovery has circularized it’s orbit around Laythe, a pleasant 60k altitude above the moon!
“It almost looks like Kerbin!” -Bob
In mere days the Spaceport, and the X-10 Laythe Spaceplane will perform similar maneuvers to enter Laythe orbit!