May 11th, 1957; Baikonur Kosmodrone.
Today we’ve launched our first step towards learning more about space. Our brand new 3-man pod along with an advanced habitation test module has been launched on top of a Proton-3 rocket.
The mission: To stay in orbit for a full two weeks.
They have the supplies, they have the power (and a stupendous number of solar panels) and they have the space to move around. The launch was also not only recorded by the usual man from the Ministry, but we also had a jet in the air, that caught the function of the new booster separation system, much to the delight of the man from the Ministry.
The launch went smooth, and the crew is now preparing to try a couple of different orbits during their two week mission.
2 weeks later, in the KSA control room.
“Control this is Landon Kerman, we’ve, uhm, we’ve eeeh, lost all control of the pod, over”, came the sudden and horrifying message from the Orbiter-3, just as it was about to re-enter the atmosphere.*
“Orbiter-3, this is KSA control, please repeat”, the puzzled operator replied.
“Control, this is Orbiter-3, we’ve lost all control of the pod”, came back – sounding much more calm than the operator felt.
“Orbiter-3, this is KSA control, roger that, please confirm successful separation” the operator replied, waving frantically at the engineers staring at their screens arguing all of a sudden.
“Control, this is Orbiter-3, separation confirmed successful, but we are entering the atmosphere uncontrolled, and can’t even retract the solar panels”.
“Orbiter-3 this is Flight Engineering, most of the electronics for control was in the jettisoned sections, that’s why you don’t have control”, the flight engineer interrupted over the channel.
“Uhm, control this is Orboter-3, how the heck are we supposed to land safely then”, the now nervous sounding pilot came back.
“Orbiter-3 this is Flight Engineering, did you arm the chutes prior to initiating de-orbit burn as the check-list stated?”, the engineer asked back.
“Control, this is Orbiter-3, yes, chutes are confirmed armed”.
“Orbiter-3, this is Flight Engineering, you’re all good then, the pod will right itself, just sit back and enjoy the ride. We’ll put on the check-list to retract the solar panels before separation in the future”.
“Control, this is Orbiter-3, uhm, roger that, I guess”.
*: Someone decoupled the extra habitations, and all kerbals went on strike immediately… Luckily someone had pre-armed the chutes out of habit with probes loosing signals, and had, also by luck, managed to design a rather aerodynamically stable pod righting itself – only costing the remaining solar panels.-