July 26th, 1955, Satish Dhawan Launch centre, Kerbinia.
“Ok people”, Gene started out, “just what exactly happened with the lunar launch yesterday?”.
“Well, our old problem with interstage fairings seems to have returned” Werner provided as an answer. “But on the positive side, aside from this, the new Proton-3 heavy lifter performed superbly.”.
“But I thought we fixed that long ago?”
“No Gene”, Werner replied with an apologetic gesture. “We fixed it by switching to decouplers whenever a failure came up, but our newer rockets have worked fine with interstages so far”.
“It kinda also worked with the first one” Bill unhelpfully supplied.
“It was still stuck to the rocket and only worked because the rocket literally melted it off”, Werner almost shouted looking at Bill.
“It still worked by proxy”, Bill insisted. “Anyway, the really weird thing was the second one not melting off – although it was only an LR105 – so could be because of the less powerful engine”.
“So, we’ve fixed it for the next launch, and can actually launch our Lunar lander then” Gene asked Werner.
“Yes Gene, though Bill was sorta right, we only fixed the worst one, takes less time that way”.
“And the lander will definitely not crash”, Gene asked.
“We can’t guarantee it absolutely Gene”, Werner replied, “but it survived fine when Jeb pushed it off the roof of the VAB to test it”.
As Gene was simply staring at a proud Jebediah, who rightly felt that he had contributed immensely to the engineering of the probe with his rigorous testing regime, the meeting slowly came to an end. Still when they were leaving and Valentina asked why he had not just dropped it from a plane instead, Jebediah’s smile faded slightly as he replied “they wouldn’t let me”.
Play note: Lunar burn stage was stuck to interstage fairing, and didn’t budge an inch in orbit, while burning off nearly 3500 m/s