Year 13, Day 95 (Laythe Mission Planning)

With the successful test of Discovery KSEA now has a way to deliver Kerbals to Jool and return them (with their scientific findings!) to Kerbin. The last several weeks have been spent working out the rest of the landing plan. The landing target was an easy choice though….

Laythe! All of Kerbin was fascinated by the amazing photos sent back from Pathfinder 6, so that’s an easy choice! The next important decision is HOW to land.

The Super Duna Lander was the obvious first choice – this lander has been used over and over again by Explorer missions on Duna. Unfortunately the math just doens’t work out. Laythe is just too similair to Kerbin: high gravity, thick atmosphere. The more engineers looked at the problem the more thought a spaceplane might be the right answer. But which?

Despite KSEA’s large selection of spaceplanes, only one is truly a “SSTO” or “single stage to orbit” – the X-9! This plane will be the basis for the X-10 – a spacecraft designed specifically for landing and launching from Laythe! KSEA engineers have already started!

The Laythe Spaceport (also under design) will serve as a fuel and crew hub, with Discovery taking crew back and forth to Jool, and the X-10 operating as the primary lander. The chance to fly a plane on another world has sent applications to KSEA soaring!

“heh – soaring!”

Year 9, Day 195 (Aurora Crew Vehicle Upgrades)


In addition to development of the X-9 crew vehicle KSEA has also been developing the next generation of Aurora Crew Vehicles, the Mk7!

The Mk7 Aurora Crew Vehicle, or ACV, has been developed to provide a 30 day life support system that can safely reach not only Kerbin orbit but Mun and Minmus as well. The Aurora Command Module has been a critical component in KSEA’s crewed spaceflight program, and this latest development makes little changes to the pod itself.

Instead, advances have been made in fuel storage and design of both the Aurora Rocket and the ACV itself – one striking feature is the Service Bay, which protects Life Support System and the fragile solar panels during launch but opens in space.  The craft also has a newly balanced RCS system that improves docking performance.

The main limitation of the X-9 has been its range – while the craft has a maximum orbit rated at 100k, in reality the craft can only reach an orbit of 80k when the mission profile calls for rendezvous with another spacecraft (which was the main goal of the X-9 program.)

The ACV is a superior spacecraft with only one problem – cost.  The X-9 has trivial costs to refuel and refurbish the vehicle, whereas the ACV costs just under 50,000 each launch.

NOTE:  reaches 178k orbit to rendevous.



Year 9, Day 40 (X-9 First Flight!)

screenshot92.pngConstruction is complete on the X-9, and the new craft is rolled out to the runway! Veteran pilot Mitster and rookie Malcolm will be taking the SSTO up on its first mission.


“OK, engines are GO….. let’s see what the X-9 can do! ”


screenshot96.pngThe X-9 climbs to the limits of the atmosphere, then the R.A.P.I.E.R. engines switch to rocket mode, and take the craft up to orbit!


“Wow!  Seemed to work great!  Now what? ”



“Now we see if the craft handles on a landing! ”


screenshot102.pngThe X-9 completes an orbit around Kerbin, then Mitster fires the engines to begin the spacecraft’s return to Kerbin!


“OK, reentry put us a bit off angle, not a problem… switching the X-9’s engines back to air-breathing mode!”


Mitster performs a slight adjustment to the X-9’s approach!


“OK – that did it. We’re in the pipe… five by five!”


“What’s that mean anyway? Five by Five?”


“It’s just something we say when we’re landing that sounds cool!”


“Oh – cool!”



The X-9 sets down successfully!


Mitster and Malcolm climb  out and congratulate eachother on a good flight!


“Thanks Mitster, the simulator didn’t do the excitement of a landing justice!  I can’t wait to fly the next one!”


Year 9 , Day 14 (X-9 SSTO Announced!)


KSEA releases designs for their new aircraft, the X-9 SSTO Crew Vehicle!  The X-9 is the first aircraft to utilize the revolutionary R.A.P.I.E.R. engines, a dual mode engine that uses liquid fuel for atmospheric flight and can switch over to standard rocket fuel once the altitude makes the rocket mode more efficient.

Designed to succeed the current Crew Shuttles, this sleek jet has been designed to reach orbits up to 100k, dock, then return safely to Kerbin.

Production has already begun, and crews will begin testing soon!