February 5th, 1961; Gene’s office, Baikonur Kosmodrone.
“Alright people, time for another engineering meeting, although this time sans Bill, Bob and Jebediah – although Jeb rarely has much input here. Two out of the last three launches have had issues, minor and somewhat major. First things first Wernher, what happened with the Neptune trajectory?”, Gene began the meeting.
“Aye, it looks like a slight misalignment in the planes that the guidance people compensated for by doing the ejection burn slightly early, which in turn made them compensate and make it longer, thus overshooting Neptune. I think we need tighter margins on our launches themselves to actually correct this problem, sadly.”, Wernher explained, before interjecting a last comment, “at least it looks to be arriving around the same time as the Pluto probe”.
“Not exactly what I’d like to hear Wernher, let’s schedule another for the next window and see if we can’t improve things. How are we on payloads and rockets, now that we’ve established an actual standardized type and payload for these deep-space missions?”.
“On that front we’re doing better – we have the next Pluto and Neptune launchers in production, and are making a spare that we will try to slingshot fully out of our solar system, if the other launches goes well. We may even put another couple of spares into production once the finances allows it, simply because they’re as useful as they are – we may even update them at some point with new instrumentation if it looks promising”.
“Well, at least we’re ahead there, now Valentina the Venus 5 course adjustment went as scheduled?”.
“Yes Gene, it went perfect, telemetry even shows that we’re expecting it to be less than one degree off from a perfect equatorial orbit, and fuel levels looks good for getting the orbit we need – so all in all just by the book”, Valentine replied, smiling. After all, she were pretty much reporting the only thing that went without a hitch.
“Alright, last one back to you Wernher – what went wrong with the latest KSS resupply mission”.
Wernher looked at a couple of papers before replying “Well, first off, it was able to complete its mission, but it seems like the cone-tank was only filled on one of the boosters – the whole thing have fuel to spare, so it was mostly scary when we had to detach a still-lit booster to prevent it from tipping the rocket over. We have added this as item 417c on out checklists”, Wernher ended his explanation.
“Alright everyone have Monday off, it’s bee too long a weekend anyway with all this catching up on issues”, Gene ended the meeting, on the late Sunday afternoon.