Going even further

March 11th, 1959; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

“Welcome all to today’s launch everyone”, Gene told the assembled reporters. “Today you’ll the sister rocket to the Jupiter-1 from January launch – although it is heading a bit further out. This time, aiming for Saturn”.

“Orbital Dynamics estimate that with the planned launches, we’ll intercept the planet closely, and be able to establish a highly eccentric polar orbit inside the planetary rings – so we’re of course hoping for some good shots – in about 8 years that is”, Gene ended with a wry smile.

“Any questions before we head out?”, he asked as a single reporter raised his hand, seemingly to the chagrin of the remaining reporters.

“Sir, no one has touched upon this, but nearly two and a half months ago, the Illyrien presses reported discovering many new planets, have you found those as well?”.

“Well, I think I’ll let Wernher answer that one, Wernher?”, Gene answered her, indicating for Wernher to provide an answer.

“Yes, we have been tracking these for nearly two months as well – though they are not planets, merely large rocks. We are currently tracking two near Earth, and are contemplating if we should try to intercept one of them once we have an available spot in our launch schedule – which we do not anticipate for a while yet”, Wernher answered the reporter.

“Only one of them, why not both?”, the reporter countered.

“Well, because the other one looks to be hitting the northern part of the planet in a few weeks, a good ways north of the Arctic Circle. Don’t worry, we are tracking it, and it is quite small. It is very likely that it will burn up in the atmosphere as a shooting star – but in any case, we are tracking it, and will of course make sure to evacuate any areas if it is large enough to land. On the other hand, if it lands, we won’t have to make a rocket to go examine the other one I guess?”, Wernher ended – with Gene quickly taking over and ushering people to the launch to take their mind off impending doom, while briefly giving Wernher a menacing brow.

Going further and faster

January 26th, 1959; Baikonur Kosmodrone.

In Gene’s office, Wernher and Gene have their monthly meeting, taking stock of the situation of the space programme.

Gene: This is good Wernher, besides the issues with reading the fuel levels on the Mars-2 probe*, this month looks great so far!

Wernher: Yes, the Mercury launch on the 9th went without a hitch, though we still don’t think we can get an orbit – even if we drop the lander payload.

Gene: The lander payload?

Wernher: Yes, the Mercury-2 is basically the back-up rocket for Venus-3 in case that launch failed – so it also have a lander payload as well, even though it’s absolutely useless there.

Gene: I see, of well, maybe someone will come up with a use for it. And Mars-2 is on course as well after the issues were resolved and the burn finally done on the 14th?

Wernher: Yes, we even managed to adjust the course to coming in low, for a good polar orbit. We still need to do a minor correction with the RCS system when closer though, to get the precision just right. But it should arrive on schedule, and be able to begin mapping the planet, as well as try the experimental lander.

Gene: Good, and today seemed to go well also, how did the final adjustments work out?

Wernher: Oh they worked great, and the astrodynamics people were right all along, this was indeed the right time to launch – the Ministry will be very happy indeed.

Gene: Oh, how happy?

Wernher: Oh, almost half a year’s worth of happy I’d say. We calculate just under 600 days until we pass below the southern pole of Jupiter and we are fairly confident that we can make at least a highly elliptical orbit.

Gene: So, we launched some 380 days after the Illyriens? And need 600 days to get there? That’s 980 compared to their 1114? So about four and a half month before them? Excellent – this should give us some goodwill with the Ministry even though we’re putting all the resources into the KSS that we are.

Wernher: Yes, both the KSS and KLS programmes are proceeding on track, and the Saturn-1 is also ready for roll-out in a month or so. We’ll see how that works out in regards to intercept time as well.

Gene: Alright, I guess next month will be a rather short meeting, given that those larger launches takes longer to prepare then?

Wernher: Yes, but we can still discuss the progress of the science team, and their goals. They’re swamped right now with a massive number of projects that all seem to be priority – we should probably get that coordinated better?


As the meeting ends, Gene begins on his official report to the Ministry of IT, in particular detailing the planned beating of the Illyriens to get to Jupiter.



*: The switch to KSP 1.2.2 have introduced weird bugs in regards to evaporation of cryogenic fuels during time warp, requiring editing of the save-file to get the fuel back shortly before burns – as everything evaporates in days all of a sudden. The alternative solution of just not time-warping does not seem appealing.