More Moon

July 31st, 1961; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

“Greetings everyone, and welcome to a short briefing on a bit of a mission that we’ve done before, and went right according to the book, even with the new launcher”, Gene began the press conference.

“As you know, we we launched the Lunar Lander-3 mission a few days ago, and while we didn’t actually make a big thing out of the launch, we did save a few pictures for everyone”.

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As the assembled reporters observe the slide show, Gene continued: “As you can see it has the same core as the Kosmos-3 launcher, however an experiment was done to see if it made sense to use liquid fuelled boosters – though we do not plan on doing that again, as the design was inherently inferior to the Kosmos-3 design”.

“The landing on the moon went perfect, and the lander arrived in the contracted region, even finding a nice slope to land on to really test that the new lander design was rock-solid. As you can see from the next image that we got back only an hour ago, it landed well, and Valentina and her crew went about setting everything up, with the new lander having instruments developed since last time we were on the Moon”.

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The crew planting the KSA flag, inspecting the engines and initiating the scientific experiments.

“The experiments will last almost 3 days, after which the our kerbonauts will return”, Gene ended the press briefing.

 

Later in Genes office.

Gene: “I have a complaint from Mauzy on the mission experiments Wernher”.

Wernher: “Oh, what is that? Did everything not work perfectly?”.

Gene: “Apparently not, the drilling experiment at the ladder apparently needs air to work, and they had no way to reach the laser experiment mounted to offset the weight as there were no ladder on the rear side”.

Wernher: “Could they not just jump? The gravity is lower up there!”.

Gene: “Not that high while also doing delicate experiments. Luckily they were able to transmit the data through the built-in short range antennae, so there were no loss – but the air-needing experiment won’t be needed in the future”.

Wernher: “Al right, maybe I’ll find something else to stick onto it, and a small ladder as well”.

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Working at Venus

May 15th, 1961, Baikonur Kosmodrone.

 

“Welcome everyone to a brief press conference about our current activities around Venus, for which I will start by putting up a nice picture for you, that Bob took yesterday when he were on a short spacewalk to take scientific readings, when the Venutian Discoverer passed low above Venus”, Gene began the conference, while pressing a button to show the picture.

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The Venutian Discoverer passing close to Venus.

“Yesterday, our Venus-5 probe also got into a good parking orbit above Venus, and we’ll be adjusting it down to its final scanning orbit over the coming weeks. The inclination was almost spot on this time, being the third surveying satellite we have in orbit – but the intercept was rather close to the Venutian Discoverer’s arrival which is why the probe was merely put into a parking orbit for now”.

“Since the pass yesterday, our scientific and engineering staff have also double checked the gravity assist that the ship has received from Venus, and confirmed that it was indeed more than were needed, as our initial calculations showed”.

“This means that tomorrow, the ship will fire what is likely its last major correction burn, lowering the orbital time and adjusting around 1 degree in misalignment to ensure the arrival of the crew back on Earth 264 days from today”.

“The central tank has yielded invaluable data on evaporation so far, and we are expecting to have some theories confirmed on the way back, with the last of the fuel as the remaining fuel continues to evaporate”.

“Now, are there any questions?”, Gene ends the conference, picking the first of the inquisitive reporters.

“Jack Kerman, The Kerbinian Engineer”, the reporter begins, “what are the remaining fuel levels, are they in line with expectations and what is the evaporation rate?”.

“Well now”, Gene begins, “the central tank has around 15 % of its fuel left, which is below the expected amount – but on the other hand, we have gotten the return adjustment burn done in a single go, and are not going to have another mid-course correction as originally expected – so all in all I’d say we’re about as expected which was 20 % minus evaporation at this point”.

“As for your question about evaporation, that is a closely guarded state secret for now, although I can tell you that we appear to have been able to confirm that moving closer to the sun exacerbates the phenomenon, next question”.

“Gilly Kerman, The Kerbin Star. How is the crew doing? Any stress or other issues?”.

“There are of course minor things all along, but even Jebediah who is the most restless of the three have found that taking short walks outside does wonders for his mood, combined with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet. We are currently examining the long term effects in space on KSS as well, and are of course also looking at Valentinas upcoming Lunar mission and have further plans for a long term mission as well in order to have examined the complexities on both all male, all female and mixed crews for optimal crew composition in the future”, Gene answered the question with a slight smile – knowing that Gilly’s follow-up question would have been about women in space, and whether they would not be better fit psychologically.

Reporting routine

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.

Visiting other planets

January 16th, 1961; Kerbinian Capital.

“Welcome everyone to the Kerbinian Ministry of Information and Truth. Today we have a rather grand announcement to make, and before I hand you over to Gene Kerman – who have flown in from Baikonur early this morning – I just want to express my admiration of the achievements of the Kerbinian Space Agency. Now, here’s a picture of the launch, unfortunately at night, while Gene comes on stage”.

With that Ali Kerman, the Minister of IT leaves the stage, and Gene Kerman comes up instead and walks to the microphone.

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The large rocket launching during the night.

“Thank you Minister, and my apologies to everyone if I look and sound a bit tired – I have been up all night for the launch and start of the mission, as well as the launch of our latest Venus-5 probe to improve our knowledge of Venus further”.

“Now, what mission? Well before I explain that, let me just mention that it was launched upon our newest and most powerful series-produced launcher to date – the Kosmos-3 – capable of lifting a full 220 tonnes to low orbit”.

“The launch went quite fine, as you can see on the pictures taken by Jebediah when he did an external inspection of the Venutian Discoverer after getting into orbit”.

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“As you can see, the more than 200 tonne ship looks quite advanced – but more than looking it, it is quite advanced. It has life support and recyclers to support the crew for more than a year in space – taking all our lessons learned on KSS into account, and even including back-up for all the critical life support equipment”.

“Now, the name of the ship and time in space capacity probably gives away the mission – and I may as well confirm it before you start speculating. Yes, Jebediah, Bill and Bob are currently on their way to Venus – not to stay, but to make a manned fly-by and return to Earth. They will return to us in a little over a year”.

“But that is not all, as you may have noticed, there are 5 large tanks, and only a single engine – that is the debut of a new way of propelling spacecraft that we have worked on for a while – the Venutian Discoverer is propelled by our mark 2 nuclear engine – and I have some pictures of the Earth ejection burn taken by a number of disposable camera probes launched”.

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“The outer tanks are made to be detached once they’re empty – leaving the central tank, which is better insulated and cooled for the long trip, as the only one with propellant in it. While the mission is designed as a free return trajectory, the ship do have enough fuel that it could in theory make orbit around Mars if that was where it was going”.

“For that reason, the outer tanks weren’t emptied entirely, and will be used along with the central tank to further refine our knowledge of working with the most volatile cryogenic fuels during space travel”.

“Now, I will leave the answering of questions to the Minister, as I am rather tired, and we have a launch tonight of our newest Lunar scanner that I have to be awake for again – you are of course all welcome at the launch facilities at every launch, even one as mundane as a lunar probe later today”.

“With that, I will be taking my leave, with a picture of the Venutian Discoverer taken by Bill, when he went on an EVA to examine the nuclear engine after the initial burn”.

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The Venutian Discoverer, having left Earth orbit and on its way to Venus.

As the Minister comes on stage again, he smiles as he starts speaking into the microphone.

“Yes, Kerbinia is as always the pioneers in space travel – just as we were when landing on the Moon and countless other times. Now did I see some questions?”.

The furthest reaches

January 10th, 1961; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

The KSA is going to have to renegotiate the contract with the Ministry regarding the Pluto fly-by. While we did get a bad intercept profile that will take 60 years, we estimate that the shortest possible intercept is around 20 years – far in excess of the time allotted in the contracts.

We plan to re-attempt another probe at a better launch time at the next coming Pluto launch window – but that is for science only, as we cannot accept the horribly unrealistic contracts proposed from the Ministry.

 

Signed,

Gene Kerman

10 years already?

January 1st, 1961; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

The annual new years party of the Kerbinian Space Agency has been moved one day this year, to make room for a much more momentous occasion – the 10 year anniversary of the KSA and its leading figures.

Gene, Wernher and Valentina have just come down from the podium, after Gene have given the annual speech regarding the space programme, reminding everyone that they would have to be sober again and back in a couple of days for the next launch – with a smirk-y smile on his lips.

“It’s too bad Jeb, Bill and Bob can’t be here – this looks to be one heck of a party”, Valentina told the others with a smile hinting a slight sadness.

“We know”, Wernher began looking serious as always, “but the pre-mission quarantine is more important now than ever – at least for KSS we can get people back fairly quick, even though it does cost a lot more”.

“I know”, Valentina answered, “At least I have a possible Lunar mission to look forward to with my crew next year – if you ever get around to re-designing the lander again”, she continued, looking at Wernher with a resigned look – due to his constant re-designs.

“It is important to be efficient, while still having a flexible design – our constant progr…” Wernher began explaining before Gene cut him off.

“We know and it gets better and safer each time – lets just hope the next one is more useful as a series production craft. But while the Moon is important, we can’t dwell there. The Illyriens are already sending consumables to Mars – we need to be ready for the next window – as they’re constantly ahead of us there”, Gene said, looking at both of them.

“I know”, Wernher began, “and with our current research track, and Project VD, we do believe that we have solved some of our main issues – combined with everything on the way there, we may catch a lucky break. I just wish we had sent surveyors to the moons as well, as extracting water from there for the long term planned orbital facilities would have been much easier”, he ended, looking at Gene.

“I know Wernher, but we can’t think of everything ahead of time – nor can we afford it. After January, we look at getting Valentina and her crew on the Moon, and then we start looking towards the next Mars window – we have to be ready”, Gene said, with a serious look on his face.

“For now, let’s enjoy the party and maybe go say hello to Jeb, Bill and Bob later”, Gene ended their serious conversation, lifting his glass, “to another decade of success and leaving the Illyriens in the dust”, he yelled.

 

 

End of year status:

Funds sitting at just above 1.2M – with science a whopping 5000 and techs queued for more than half a year.

Employees: 1900.

Scientific progress 6.8 TB of data processed per day.

Satish VAB: 27/18/18.

Baikonur VAB: 16.5/15.6/15.5

Supplemental signals

December 5th, 1960; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

I am pleased to report to the Ministry of IT that the new geostationary kommunication satellites ordered are already in place – filling the previous gap in our global coverage that had occurred due to the existing set drifting off slightly (as became evident during the Mars launches).

Global cover is now re-established, and the new set even have a large amount of reserve fuel for either station keeping or orbital adjustments – due to being designed as a hybrid between our old satellites and our long range probes.

In short, they have the same communication capacity as the old network, mounted on the same carrier-platform as our long range probes.

This concludes the planned launches this year, but we expect to forward plans beyond January around the same time as the 10th year anniversary is celebrated.

 

Signed,

Gene Kerman