May 3rd, 1961; Baikonur Kosmodrone, Gene’s office.
Gene: “Alright Wernher, the Illyriens again made a big announcement that seems like a really good idea that we’re not doing. Why didn’t you guys think of that?”.
Wernher: “Well, there are several reasons, but it’s a waste really – even for Hydrolox engines to do it”.
Gene: “Wait, what? That makes no sense Wernher”.
Wernher: “It makes perfect sense Gene. They’re carrying much more into orbit than they need – they’ll be throwing away a bunch of oxygen into space when they split the water”.
Gene: “Why? I know it takes a lot of energy to split it that way, but they seem to have plenty of power there, but isn’t burning it just the reverse?”.
Wernher: “Not exactly Gene, if they do that, they have very inefficient rockets. To get the efficiencies we have in our Hydrolox rockets, the mix needs to be fuel rich and have an overabundance of Hydrogen – which means throwing away a bunch of the oxygen from the process, except the small parts that may be used to fill up the life support systems that is – but that’s only a small part of what needs to be thrown away”.
Gene: “Ah, I see, and in any case, I guess with our hopes of good nuclear engines it would make even less sense. We need to have a look at their power systems though do we not?”.
Wernher: “I don’t see why, it’s clearly an error of units. KSS have superior power generation with its current old panels as far as we can tell – and the science department tells me that they’re looking at some bigger and better panels in the not too distant future that will allow us to upgrade KSS significantly on that topic”.
Gene: “Ah yes, the vaunted upgrades of KSS – you still feel we should be doing a more general overhaul?”.
Wernher: “Yes, a number of parts are showing their age and with the way we built it we should be able to upgrade it one section at the time. If we begin with the power section and replace that, we can then do the other sections one at a time. While we could keep the central section, we may want to replace even that with some of the designs that are in the pipeline over the next couple of years”.
Gene: “So basically a completely new station and infrastructure as I hear you describe it?”.
Wernher: “In time, yes. Early on we may need some docking adapters between old and new sections, but we have much improved docking ports on the drawing board, that would simplify the daily operations of the station immensely. Coupled with improved solar panels, habitation, storage, recycling and more lab sections we are looking at a lot of potential. Even the lab computer section is ancient compared to our newer designs”.
Gene: “Alright, I’ll try and put continuous upgrades into the budget. You take a look at optimizing the launches. they’re cheap, but maybe we can make the powers that be happy by making them more efficient, they like that word”.
Wernher: “I already have planned improvements for the supply vessel. The crew capsule can likely be improved if we start using our flimsy landing cans for atmospheric reentry as well as the Illyriens have always chanced – but I never liked that idea much Gene and you know it”.
Gene: “Yes, I know, aerodynamic stability and all that – still, look into it, will you?”.
Wernher: “I will Gene”.