The Long Dark

July 26th, 1959; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

As the reporters sit in the lounge hearing the last of Wernher’s explanations of the earlier launch, while showing pictures and video from it, Gene is standing off-stage waiting for confirmation from the flight controller.

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As Wernher progressed in his speech, he touched both the re-fuelling issues* that had delayed the launch almost a week, as well as the generally successful design of the Proton-2a, although the boosters broke apart on separation and the first stage was not recovered due to coming to a too high speed. As such, it was not a rocket that would be likely to see much use, as the payload capacity was comparable to the updated Proton-3 – which was also cheaper.

As the flight controller signalled Gene, Gene in turn waved to Wernher giving a thumbs up, prompting Wernher to end his presentation.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, I will hand you over to Gene”, Wernher said, moving away from the podium.

“Thank you Wernher”, Gene began, as he moved towards the podium, pressing a button on a remote to change the pictures being shown.

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“Commander Cericca, congratulations on arriving at KSS and beginning your mission. How are things up there?”, Gene asked into a headset.

“Thank you Gene, and everything is as it should be”, the speakers in the room reported with a female voice.

“As you can see from the pictures Flight Engineer Sanlinne took, she was able to manually extend the last panels and we have retracted the parts of the cooling system that we don’t need until phase-2 is well under way”, it continued.

“Good”, Gene commented, “How is the supply situation, all as expected as well?”.

“Indeed Gene, Maalla has made an inspection while waiting for the laboratory to finish and launch, and it’s all in good shape – so we should have enough for 2-3 years for now. Though the recyclers on phase-2 should ensure that we just require more food mostly, with the occasional top-up of water and oxygen”, the speakers finished.

“Good to hear Commander. I’ll let you all get back to work now, and we’ll also get back to getting phase-2 under way down here so you can start working in earnest up there. Gene at mission control out”, Gene ended the conversation, turning around to the assembled reporters to take questions with a smile.

 

*: When editing the transport ship to change the fairing, two of the tanks suddenly had no fuel, and re-adding it took a few days extra.

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The Bear has landed

January 21st, 1957; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

“We are live here at the KSA main mission control in the Kosmodrone, and while the main area of mission control is currently closed off, we have been told that the doors will be opened shortly and we can come back in – nothing should have gone wrong, but they wanted absolutely no distractions for some very demanding manoeuvres”, the KNN reporter said, while looking into the Kamera.

A few minutes later the doors and shutters are opened, allowing reporters to see what’s going on, as well as the Kameras to see the main screen of mission control. At the same time, Gene Kerman tells them that they might want to check out the feed from the space centre, showing a ship on what looks like the surface of the Moon.

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Bear-1 landing module on the surface of the Moon.

As speculation runs rampant among the reporters, Gene has gone back to the control room and can now be heard on the audio feed from the space centre.

Gene: “Alright Jebediah, we have the picture, so the Kamera is set up as it should be. Come around and say hello to the world”.

Jebediah: “On my way Gene, and hello world, and everyone at the KSA mission control”.

As Jebediah’s voice comes over the audio channel, a lone figure can also be seen making long slow strides from the position where the Kamera is at, towards the landing module, only to turn around to smile and wave at the Kamera.

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Jebediah next to the Bear-1 LM.

Gene: “Al-right, now that we have that out of the way, we have a lot of work to do – instruments and samples must be set up and gathered – this is for science after all”.

Jebediah: “I’ll get right on it, I know Bob is sitting with a rather long check-list of things for me to do, Jebediah out”.

As Jebediah begins his work, Gene once again goes into the reporters lounge to assure them that they will get to talk to Jebediah later – maybe while he’s still on the moon, but otherwise once he’s back. The science and actual work of getting him back takes precedence after all.

I can’t see my house from here!

March 1st, 1953, Kerbinia Mission Control; live on national radio.

Gene: “How does it look Valentina”.

As the public affairs officer is about to ask why there is no reply, Gene holds up his hand, and Werner quickly whispers in his ear that there’s a few seconds delay each way, so talking must be done in a special way, which Gene and Valentina have practised.

Valentina: “Well, it’s quite cool and all being here, but it honestly looks like a big rock that got hit too much by other smaller rocks. Earth is more beautiful, although the Moon does have the same sort of beauty as the Kiberian wastes in the dead of winter”.

Gene: “How’re things going with the payload”.

Valentina: “The experiments have worked like a charm, and I’m finishing up my reports after this broadcast. All of it should be of interest to the boys in the lab”.

Gene: “Alright, I have promised our glorious leader to congratulate you on your achievement and that he is looking forward to meeting you after your safe return”.

Valentina: “I am looking forward to it as well, Valentina out”.

As the radio broadcast switch to commentaries from the Ministry of Information and Truth, the PA officer gives Gene a thumbs up, and as he leaves, the radio is turned back on.

Gene: “OK Val, nice show there. Got an update from flight, and it looks like the free-return trajectory isn’t as exact as calculated, so flight is going to give you some burn instructions to ensure that you end up back here on time, without burning up or being completely smooshed”.

Valentina: “Appreciate it, see you when I’m back down Gene”.

I’m bored!

August 20th, 1955 – a few hundred kilometres up and going fast to the right-ish.

Gene says I have to write these things twice a day, but they’re boring!

There’s nothing to write here, because I’m bored!

I’ve been zipping along for 7 days now, and I’m bored!

I can’t even go play outside, because those big solar panels are blocking the hatch. Note to Werner: DON’T BLOCK THE HATCH!

Gene says I have to stay for another 5 days to set some sort of record. What sort of record? Being bored for the longest time? It’s all fun and games the first day, but I have to strap in to the seat to sleep – and it’s not a comfortable seat to sleep in! Another note to Werner: SPACEBEDS!

I can see why they made me do this thing – no way Jeb would have been as patient.

I’m gonna go count my snacks for the 723rd time and then eat one, so I can count them again – I’m not doing those silly puzzles Werner and Gene wants me to, they can do those themselves. Note to self: Bring a book next time.

 

Signed,

Valentina Kerman – The most bored kerbonaut.

 

 

Play note: While trying to set a record in space with Val, I accidentally forgot about the Hab-limit, so she went grumpy. Luckily I could still remote-manoeuvre the pod back down.