Monthly report to the Ministry of IT regarding the activities of the space programme over the past month.
November saw limited notability in its launches, although the month began by launching a third MapSat over Earth, this one able to scan with instruments beyond radar, giving us a map of what the various areas of the planet is beyond just the height.
The map was complete and sent to the science division shortly before this report.
The only other launch was the KSS Computer Core, which is not attached to the station as planned, providing direct computational power to the science teams, instead of having to transmit data for calculation in computers on the planet. The KSS-CC is also capable of providing autonomous guidance to the KSS pilot and commander, assisting in maintaining the correct altitude and heading for KSS.
The last event worth mentioning is the arrival of Venus-4, to begin a high-resolution mapping procedure of the planet.
“Welcome to today’s technical briefing everyone. I will begin simply by announcing the 3 month mark of KSS being live and manned, and then I will hand you over to Wernher to explain our long term plans for KSS, while you see the newly added Laboratory Module docking to the station”, Gene announced.
“Thank you Gene”, Wernher began, “now as far as the plans for the station, those are permanent plans – we don’t intend to de-orbit the station any time soon, and we expect it to be manned constantly. As to the future plans, we now have all our plans finalized and in various stages of construction – but the final station should look like this”.
“Besides additional power and cooling, you can also see the recyclers attached on the top and bottom of the Supply Module, along with the tool-kit on the side”.
“Opposite the SM, you see the newly added Laboratory Module, with two advanced laboratories to be staffed. Extending out from the LM is the Laboratory utilities, including a particle accelerator. Off the side of the LM, the Computer Core Module is attached”.
“What you don’t see here is the return transports, where the first one is attached off the Habitation Module”.
“We are of course considering various additions later, such as a medical bay, more laboratories, more crew space and so forth – possibly even a workshop with limited prototyping capacity – but all those things are off in the future at this point – they are still possible though, as you can see numerous available docking ports for additional modules”.
With the technical explanation out of the way, Wernher indicates that he is ready to take questions. The first reporter immediately puts up his hand.
“How many kerbonauts are you planning to have on the station?”
Smiling, Wernher begins his reply, “the permanent crew will be 9 in total. The station commander and her right hand man, Two engineers to maintain the station and five scientists working in the labs. The living quarters for now support a total of 12, allowing room for crew exchanges without it having to feel rushed – but the space and life support can in theory support as many as 30 kerbonauts at the same time”.
“But what if something goes wrong?”, another reporter asks.
“Then the engineers are there to fix it, under the diligent watch of the station commander or her deputy”, Wernher begins, “there is a reason why there are at least two in any position – both allowing 24/7 running of the station, but also to always have someone who knows what to do if things go wrong”.
“Of course, if worst comes to worst, they can evacuate the station. And even here, we have additional safety measure, as the 9 kerbonauts have a total of 4 pods, each holding 3 – so even if a pod malfunctions, there is enough to evacuate everyone safely”.
“Right, before we begin the main event, I’ll just summarize the month so far”, Gene began the conference.
“We got a nice big box of tools up to KSS, but have postponed the rest of the launches a bit, due to technical issues. Jebediah, Bill and Bob cam back from spending a month in orbit of the Moon, and are no worse for wear, all wanting to get back out there again as usual”.
“Last, we come to the main event, which some of you witnessed the launch of two days ago”.
“I am proud to announce that the Hunter-1 probe has made contact with the unnamed asteroid it was targeting after only two days worth of manoeuvring towards intercept”.
“The probe carried a small disposable Kamera with a transmitter, which took a couple of snapshots as it was released and sent those to the probe, which then relayed them back here”, Gene said, as be pressed the remote, showing the images.
“This is all the photos we’re getting though, as the disposable Kamera have now not only run out of battery, but also drifted away. We do have some data received from the probe, and can continue to use the probe to monitor the asteroid, as it passed within less than 15.000 km of the Earth”.
“That’s all we have, and we are looking at about a month before we have our next launch as well – the rest of the year not looking quite as hectic as it has been so far”.
Here follows the monthly report of the Kerbinian Space Programme, by Director Gene Kerman.
August was a quiet month, even though it started out with the launch of the KLS-Transport, taking Jebediah, Bill and Bob to our newly established Kerbinian Lunar Station (KLS) for a one month stay.
The launch itself didn’t garner much media attention though, and neither did the other two major events of the month.
Firstly we made a slight course correction on the Saturn-1, putting it into an almost perfect angle of entry for the probe. The remaining adjustment we are planning to do in orbit.
Secondly, the Mars-2 entered orbit around Mars, or rather the radar-tracking confirms that the pre-programmed manoeuvre executed roughly on schedule – but we do not have contact with the probe due to the alignment of the planets. Our Mars-3, awaiting a good launch window, do have more powerful antennae, and will be able to serve as a relay for Mars-2 as well. Until then, we can only wait for better positioning before we regain control and can try the lander.
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.
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.
“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.
“Well, I hope everyone enjoyed the launch last night”, Gene began the conference, while showing images of the slide on the presenter.
“The trusty Proton-5 rocket launched the latest addition to KSS into orbit, and overnight our flight crew have been putting the new pieces into place”.
“And yes, I say pieces in plural, as the payload was no less than 4 separate modules for the station as you can see on the schematics of the payload behind me”.
“The payload consisted of an RCS tug to be used in docking smaller modules, where each launch has several modules to be placed at different locations. The first such launch is the primary power supply, consisting of three identical modules”.
“The Power Modules each has six 1 kW solar panels and two radiators for the cooling systems, with one power node connected to the KSS Core Module, and the other two extending out from the first module to either side – with plenty of room for future expansions”.
“This completes phase 1 of the Kerbinian Space Station, making the station fully operational and ready for a crew. The parting orbital stage got in a few shots of the station as well”:
“As you can see, a few solar panels and a single radiator has not been extended*, but when we launch the inaugural KSS crew tomorrow they will extend them manually once they arrive at the station”.
“To get a better view of the station, we also have a schematic of the station for you – both as it were assembled, as well as the final look with all power and cooling extended”.
“As you can see, the RCS tug is not currently in its planned position, but will be moved as well by the crew once they arrive”.
“Now to give a bit more of explanation, we also have a schematic where each module is shown apart, so that I can explain to you all exactly which module are up now, as well as with we are currently building or planning”.
“Starting with the KSS Core Module in the middle, which has the four Cupola viewing modules, this part of the station is the living room and station operations area. Here the commander of the station makes sure everything is running smoothly, and any work without dedicated workspaces takes place here, as well as recreational activities”.
“The latest addition is the three Power Modules to the front of the KSS CM, that is the upper left, these provide power and heat control for the station. Behind the KSS CM, that is the lower right, is the Habitation Module, providing living quarters for no less than 12 Kerbals at a time for the station. The KSS HM will also be where crew will be arriving”.
“Off to the side you see another large module, which is the Supply Storage Module. Here supplies are stored, such as food, water and oxygen, as well as those extra things required to keep the life support systems running. At the end of the KSS SSM, the RCS tug have it current designated berth”.
“Recycling Modules are being constructed and planned, and will be docked at the side-ports of the KSS SSM, along with a large toolbox with various useful tools for the station crew to work on the station outside. With the recycling modules, further Power Modules are also planned”.
“Lastly, opposite the KSS SSM, a number of laboratories and scientific facilities are currently being constructed – to allow us to better learn more about space itself, but also about living in space for extended periods. All in all, we believe we are entering an exciting age, where we will be advancing the scientific knowledge of all of Kerbalkind”.
“That is it for today ladies and gentlemen, I hope you’ve enjoyed this press conference, and have plenty of material for your various endeavours”, Gene ended the conference.
*: The age old bug of not being able to extend them due to being “shielded” in the payload still had to be corrected manually in the save file.
“Welcome back to Satish ladies and gentlemen – it fells like you just left here”, Gene began the conference with the best smile he could muster.
“Today we’re launching a big one. One that was actually ready a week ago, but which we’ve had on hold because we didn’t want its mission to possibly interfere with the Venus window, forcing us to run two missions actively at the same time”.
“This one has been held unannounced so far, only appearing very briefly in some papers as the ‘KLS’. Well today I am proud to unveil the Kerbinian Lunar Station. Ok, I admit, I won’t actually be unveiling the station – just the rocket we’re about to launch it on top of – though I promise to forward you the picture of the station once it’s been placed into orbit”.
“So, without further words, shall we go watch the launch, and then come back for questions later?”, Gene ended his speech, indicating that they really had to go see the launch now, or they’d miss it.
“I hope you all enjoyed the launch, and I know that a couple of you have a few questions”, Gene began after the successful launch, noting the reporter from the Kerbinian Technical Journal being the most eager.
“What were those engines Gene? And also, what didn’t we see of engines?”, the reporter asked, clearly with a technical mindset.
“Well, the 4 main engines are a new, more powerful variant of the F-1 engines, and the boosters you of course know. But from there on up, it’s pure Hydrolox for efficiency. The second stage takes a page out of the, generally crude, Illyrien design manual of pure numbers as it consists of a full 16 of our LR-87 engines”.
“The third stage has 4 of our new J-2 engines, which is re-startable, and allows us to make a much more circular orbit as well as de-orbit the third stage after orbital insertion of the payload. The last stage pushing the station to the Moon and inserting it into a low orbit has two of the same J-2 engines – although here we were required to modify the decouplers, and basically add a second one* due to the engine shape – again the re-start ability allowed us to make the intercept burn, circularize and de-orbit the booster stage onto the Moon”.
At the wealth of technical details, the reporter becomes very busy noting it all down, while another indicates a question.
“Were there people on the station? You didn’t mention that, but it seems like there ought to be on a station?”, the reporter from the Kerbinian Gazette asked.
“No, the station is unmanned, but in about 1½ months, we are sending up the first crew, to study the Moon from orbit for about a month. Later the station may be expanded to a midway point for landing missions, but that will require a lot more infrastructure and expansions for the station”.
As no more questions were forthcoming, Gene simply promised to send them all a picture of the station taken by the de-orbiting booster stage as it lesf the station to crash into the Moon.
A week later, Gene sends the photo to the reporters, noting the nice and nearly equatorial 66 by 72 km orbit.
*: 90 % of the time it seems the J-2 stick to the fairing/interstage base no matter what. Only solution seems to be a regular decoupler on the J-2/above tank and then the base onto that – because the decouplers seem to decouple just fine *shrug*.