Pushing the frontier

October 25th, 1960; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

“Welcome everyone”, Gene began the press briefing to the assembled reporters.

“Unfortunately there was not much to see this time around, as we had to launch last night – and although it was a rare occurrence of launching an interplanetary probe from the Kosmodrone, we didn’t have much of a choice given the busy schedule around the Satish site and the Mars window”.

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Uranus-1 launching upon a Kosmos-2 lifter.

“We simply did not have time to build the payload and rocket on time at Satish for the launch window – so the decision was taken to give it a shot here at Baikonur, despite the unfavourable launch angle”.

“To put it simple, it was a resounding success, and the brand new design for a Hydrolox engine performed superbly. The probe is now on its way towards Uranus, and with luck it may even be able to make orbit”.

“The probe is a bare-bones scientific probe as you can see from these images, where it was placed on 4 legs for final inspection before being mounted on top of the rocket”.

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“Like the Jupiter and Saturn probes, it is powered by RTGs, but has an antenna even more powerful than these – to allow us to maintain contact whether we make orbit, or the probe is boosted out of our solar system entirely”.

“The probe has an almost full scientific package, although it is eschewing certain atmospheric instruments due to weight restrictions – now any questions?”

“Andrej Kerman, Moskov Times”, a reporter began when Gene nodded at him, “you say make orbit, but the Illyrien probe for Neptune barely had fuel to get there, how can this be? Is Kerbinian design really that much better?”

“Excellent question”, Gene began answering, “the probe as you see it in the picture actually has enough fuel to just barely make it from orbit of the Earth to orbit of the Moon – all of this fuel is available, save a tiny amount for a planned course correction”.

“Still, after this course correction, the probe has enough fuel to make a fly-by of Jupiter from Earth orbit. So it actually has a lot – and our main concern is whether we can burn fast enough to achieve orbit – but we will know in 10 years time, when we’ve made our course correction how things look”, gene finishes with a smile.

“Right, way superior engineering”, Andrej mumbles while scribbling notes.

“Bob Kerman, Kerbinian Tribune”, the next reporter begins as he’s indicated to ask his question. “Is this a one-off, or are there further plans?”

“Many plans”, Gene begins answering, “without divulging too much of our future plans, I can say that we are of course developing several more probes to send on at least fly-by of every planet in the solar system – and make orbit where possible. We are even considering building a couple to send towards Jupiter and Saturn, as they have large moons that may hold interest as well – and the probes may have enough fuel to get to all these places”.

“Any more questions”, Gene asks, looking at the assembled reporters.

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