History of the Tristellar Space Exploration Commmand

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Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program is a game about launching little green men into space, often with tragic consequences. That's not really how I prefer to play, though- I like relatively realistic progression, though I won't restrict myself with life support mods or similar- I prefer to roleplay it. I've had several dozen Kerbal Space Program games that ended quietly as I got bored, and ideally the TSEC won't just be that again- I have big plans for the future, and hopefully building the designs for those plans while I fly earlier missions should keep me away from being bored.

Whirligig World

Whirligig World is a mod that adds new planets to Kerbal Space Program- and, in my estimation, one of the best of those mods. It replaces the star system of the game with a triple-star system- Kaywell, Limnel, and Gememma (hence the name of the program). This system features dozens of planets and asteroids orbiting said stars, all varied and interesting- with one of the weirdest being the intended homeworld. Mesbin is a huge planet, a good chunk of Saturn's mass... but it's not a gas giant. Instead, it's a rapidly-spinning hamburger patty of rock- the high gravity is mitigated by the spin, making Mesbin perhaps as survivable as the Moon. The kerbals in this mod are supposed to have been on an interstellar colonization mission when they mistook Mesbin for a fully spherical world and smacked into it, and after that had to make do with living in sealed-off cave systems beneath the surface. Or, if you're a goddamn coward (like me), you can start on Mesbin's rather Kerbin-like moon, Kerbmun. The Tristellar Space Exploration Command flies from Kerbmun.

A hamburger-shaped planet (Mesbin) and its eight moons (Statmun, Thresomin, Graymun, Kerbmun, Kerbmun's co-orbital asteroid Troymin, Derbin, Derbin's submoon Derminmus, and Derbin's submoon Dermun), orbits highlighted.
Mesbin and its moons, plus Derbin's two submoons.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! Whirligig World is a mod that, if you have the time, should be looked at on your own- it's more satisfying to see a planet for the first time when you send a probe there than to see someone else do it.


The Tristellar Space Exploration Command began on January 5, 2022 (or Primember 1, Duoyear 665) with several test flights of candidate supersonic cruise vehicles and orbital ballistic rockets, the former of which universally ended in failure and the latter of which did pretty darn well, all things considered.

A rocket with wings sheds its boosters
The Bandersnatch SSC comes apart on purpose- soon after, the aircraft would tumble into the sea and come apart on accident.

Soon after would come the first really functional ballistic rockets and attempts at spacecraft:

A cylindrical satellite separates from its launch vehicle
Medea II becomes the first TSEC satellite after separating from its expended Calypso II rocket. Medea I didn't have enough fuel and crashed into the ocean.
A spaceplane carries a barrel-shaped satellite
Harpyia I is carried into space aboard its Fuscina spaceplane host, showing that spaceplanes are an effective way of launching satellites.
An octagonal satellite sits in space, solar panels spread
Trailblazer I was launched to orbit atop an all-solid-rocket Almaz Red booster.

After six initial flights, Trailblazer III was launched on a groundbreaking mission.

A tall rocket with a thick first stage launches
Trailblazer III launches atop an Almaz Yellow rocket.
An octagonal satellite flies by a near-featureless white planet
Trailblazer III speeds past the huge moon Derbin- it'll do this three times during its mission.
The satellite far from weirdly-shaped Mesbin, with three moons- one white (Derbin), one blue (Kerbmun), and one gray (Graymun) visible.
Trailblazer III passes both very close to and very far from Mesbin, getting many angles of the planet and its moons.
The same satellite with huge, weirdly-shaped Mesbin in the sky as well as the Moon-like Graymun
Trailblazer III also makes several discoveries about Mesbin as it flies closer to the great gray world than even its moon Graymun.
The same weird world from above, with a blue 'puddle' of atmosphere at the pole
Most amazingly- the discovery that Mesbin has, uh, whatever the hell that is at the pole.

Initial exploration

And with the TSEC's ability to visit other moons confirmed, the space program kicked off in earnest.

Another octagonal probe smacking into a brown moon while blue Kerbmun looks on
Trailblazer IV, intended to flyby nearby Troymin, instead crashed into it.
A tiny space probe in orbit of the same brown moon, Kerbmun and Mesbin visible
Empusa I, launched with a new Set upper stage, became the first TSEC spacecraft to orbit another moon- again Troymin.
A cylindrical space probe firing its engine to deorbit
Harpyia III became the first TSEC spacecraft to return safely from Kerbmun orbit, verifying that life could survive such a journey.
Another tiny space probe just metres above the surface of a gray moon
Empusa II also crashed into Graymun rather than entering orbit, kicking off the "Graymun curse" that has unfortunately warded off exploration of inner Mesbin system.
A set of space probes atop a barrel-shaped upper stage with tiny engines
Polycephalon I deposited several space probes into Kerbmun orbit atop the first production Chariklo rocket, including the first four KISMET satellites...
A fifth probe separates from the probe bus, bound for the ground
As well as the Tiara II biological return vehicle.
A cylindrical rocket sheds four cylindrical boosters
Empusa V became the first long-term deep-space study satellite...
A new type of octagonal probe approaches a moon-like world
By observing Graymun's surface for several full dermonths.
A very tall rocket with several sets of fins on the pad
Polycephalon III/Horizon I was an important test mission, partly because of its launch on the advanced Almaz Indigo variant rocket.
A small cylindrical satellite docks with a larger conical one while a second cylindrical satellite watches
But most importantly, it served as a docking and tracking test for future flights.
Two cylindrical rocket stages separate
Further steps towards more complex flight operations were made with the launch of Empusa VI atop the Endeis II upper stage, modified from the Chariklo upper stage and placed atop a new Calypso III booster.
Another large octagonal probe braking into orbit around a mint chocolate moon
Empusa VI also flew to Derminmus, one of two large moons that hadn't yet been visited- and the first moon visited that orbited another moon, huge Derbin.


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