History of the Tristellar Space Exploration Commmand - Page 4


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The Psyche Spaceplane (and its destinations)

The Psyche spacecraft, intended to supplant Horizon's role as a low-orbit crew craft, made its first test on Psyche I.
After a successful orbital test, it made an acceptable autonomous runway landing.
Psyche II continued the test campaign by performing two dockings with the Hesperia III station discarded by Horizon XVII.
Psyche III docked with Hesperia IV while the Horizon XIX visiting spacecraft was docked to it...
Leading to, as Jebediah Kerman piloted Psyche III, the use of callsigns- "Apple Scoot" for Psyche III, and "Fuseli" for Horizon XIX.
Psyche IV "Resilient" was the first crewed flight of a Psyche spacecraft, carrying a crew of three...
To a nice stay aboard Hesperia IV.
The record of correct Psyche landings continues!
Psyche V "Thunderbird" docked with Horizon XXII "Aster"'s Hesperia V, bringing the tally of people aboard the same spacecraft to an extremely cramped five.
Hesperia VI, a dedicated space study platform, was launched aboard the first Opsuni 2 rocket (a vessel that would become quite important in the coming flights).
Psyche VI "Albatross" took the first crew of three to the new station.
Psyche VII "Frigate" began a tradition of continually crewing a station with no period between stays.
Navis VI, intended as destination for Psyche VIII, failed to reach orbit...
But its sister, Navis VIa, made it.
Soon after, Psyche VIII "Petrel" made it to the observation platform.
However, its polar orbit meant the trajectory for descent went poorly...
And Psyche VIII splashed down safely, its crew recovered even as the spaceplane sank.

Horizon-D/Intrepid in Deep Space

After the near-disastrous failure of Horizon XVIII, Horizon XVIIIa carried the Hesperia IV station to orbit...
Which would host not one...
but two additional crewed, and one uncrewed missions to the same station (two of which are covered in the Psyche section).
Horizon XX "Firebird"/Intrepid I would be the first test of a new spacecraft...
A vehicle built to bring kerbals (in this case, Tamara and Shelul Kerman) safely to Kerbmun's easiest-to-reach neighbor, the little moon Troymin.
"Firebird" would fly by Troymin, while Horizon XXI "Voyager"/Intrepid II would reach orbit (with Tridan and Bill Kerman aboard)!
After a short intermission for the launch of Horizon XXII "Aster" and its Hesperia V station (covered in the Psyche section)...
Horizon XXIII "Odyssey"/Intrepid III would be the main event.
Pilot-Commander Jebediah Kerman and Flight Engineer Anemone Kerman landed on the surface of Troymin.
While locomotion is quite difficult on the surface of an asteroid like Troymin...
The crew successfully perched a science installation on a ridge, hopefully allowing for permanent line of sight contact with Kerbmun.
The spacecraft was hopped to the other side of Troymin, with the double landing allowing the following mission to focus on science rather than setting up a base. (Because Kerbal Space Program has some arcane union rules about how engineers can't do science and scientists can't set up surface science.)
One more beauty shot of the surface- with Derbin rising next to nearly-still Kerbmun.
The crew returned safely (note Mesbin's shadow on Kerbmun here), and then it was time for the fourth and final Troymin mission...
Horizon XXIV "Adventure"/Intrepid IV, carrying Valentina and Bob Kerman.
The two crew made cross-surface hops to nearby points of interest, with Bob going to the landing site of the previous mission...
And Valentina visiting Oracle VI.
"The uncounted population of a living world, two biospheres in balance... Plus six more kerbals orbiting the bright blue sphere, and G-d knows what else further beyond."
Adventure's hop took it to Oracle I...
Which provided an additional case study of the degradation of defunct spacecraft.
Note the spacecraft itself being visible in this picture from a nearby mountaintop.
The ship would gradually make its way home...
And meanwhile, new plans were being put into motion.

Intrepid-T and Dauntless

Immediately after the last flight to Troymin, plans for the next big step in space exploration went into play. First were the Intrepid-T missions...
Carrying a small, highly instrumented capsule far from Kerbmun, to prepare for deep space crewed flights.
This culminated in a Derminmus flyby, verifying that the situation on Kerbmun had not changed Kerbals so much as to make their continued survival in space unlikely.
Horizon XXV "Austringer" and Dauntless I "Goshawk" would be launched separately, then join together in orbit for the Intrepid V initial test of the Dauntless-B vehicle and procedures required to bring it to Derminmus' surface.
This included the rather ridiculous-looking Derminmus landing simulation.
Note the stage-and-a-half system that the Dauntless lander uses, with some fuel tanks carried along with the landing legs and separated for launch.
Horizon XXVI "Tiercel" would follow next, launched aboard the first crewed Opsuni 2 rocket.
The Horizon XXVI/Intrepid VI spacecraft would carry Tridan and Helgel Kerman...
All the way to Derminmus orbit and back, putting them in the history books as the first to orbit not only Derminmus, but technically another planet- Derminmus' parent world Derbin is in a binary relationship with Mesbin.
While Horizon XXVII "Carnation" carried the Hesperia VII module to Hesperia VI...
Dauntless II "Hobby" would be the final test of Derminmus systems before the true crewed landings.
Under the careful control of pilots Triford and Valentina Kerman, the first three-part Intrepid-Derminmus stack- Intrepid VII- was assembled.
The Horizon XXVIII "Falconer" spacecraft, once in Derminmus orbit, would again have to perform a complicated maneuver...
That of extracting the lander to prepare it for its mission.
Uncrewed, Hobby would travel by remote control to Derminmus' surface.
While its stay on Derminmus would be relatively short and its scientific gains limited, Dauntless II performed an important duty.
Theoretically speaking, it would be possible to complete an Intrepid-Dauntless flight by simply omitting the second return stage. This would provide not only worryingly small margins, but also a distinct lack of emergency return capability in the event of an engine failure.
The crew spent a full nine days in space before coming home.

Oracle Analysis Landers

After the initial Oracle landers were dispatched, the next step was a set of smaller single-focus landers.
These were designed to ascertain the soil composition of the nearby region, which could also help with future ISRU endeavours.
Each would perform at least one trans-surface hop to study multiple regions- though Oracle VII, shown here, did not fare so well in doing so.
As always, the progression is simple: Troymin, Derminmus, Dermun...
And a failure at Graymun. Oracle IX managed, to skim across a remarkably flat hundred-metre long of the surface for a breathtaking second before skipping into the air once more and collding with the ground.
Oracle X would be the first of a new class of analysis lander, this one designed for mobility.
After descending under its own power to the surface...
Oracle X would be damaged soon after starting its mission, leading to a loss of power after traversing five kilometres of Derminmus' surface.
Oracle XI, headed for Dermun's Isaenna craters...
Would be a resounding success, travelling a full 155.3 kilometres over a real-world month before repeated heating and cooling caused the rear wheel to finally snap off.
Its Graymunar twin would not be so lucky.
Oracle XIII is generally considered to be the final vehicle in the first stage of the Oracle lander system-
A heavy analysis lander, designed for an in-situ resource utilization test...
On nearby Troymin.
While successful, not much would come of it.

Late Spyglass

There were three final Spyglass flights- VIII, a Dermun surveyor; IX, the same for Graymun...
And X, which would orbit Derbin directly.

Navigators Head Out to the Planets!

The advanced deep space Navigator program began with two twin spacecraft- Navigators I and II.
These two craft would set out at nearly the same time, but Navigator II would reach their mutual target Reander 170 days before Navigator I.
Navigator II arced deep into Reander system...
Passing only huge Lito, a moon more massive than Kerbmun and apparently something of a cousin (in mass and composition) to boiling Imterril.
The icy world has a relatively thin atmosphere, enough for a breathtaking purple haze.
Despite the close flyby...
The only other moon visited at all closely was Dakkon, and only at a distance. Still, important information was gathered- enough to lock in the primary target for Navigator I as enigmatic, atmosphere-shrouded Totooa.
As the second spacecraft approached, observations were made of the dance of Reander's moons- a fleck visible in this image in Reander's south tropical zone is the moon Dakkon.
Navigator I approached at such blistering speed that this shot was taken just an hour from closest approach- but the spacecraft would still be more than able to collect important data.
The antenna on the Navigators is outfitted to allow rudimentary rangefinding, though it means only the secondary antenna will be pointed towards home for most of the flyby.
Indications suggest that the spacecraft's closest approach to Totooa was just barely over the edge of the atmosphere, close enough for the spacecraft to experience worrying amounts of heating.
With the spacecraft disappearing behind Totooa's tall atmosphere, important information could be gathered just by analyzing how the signal from the main antenna degraded.
Navigator I, unlike its sister, would manage two flybys- one of Totooa, and one of the inner moon Yokane.
While ground-based observatories can reveal only a yellowish tint to Yalthe, and an alternating orange-white to Yokane... probes like Navigator I can reveal so much more detail- even if they don't get too close.
Though their speeds, in this case a relative 8.5 km/s, leave something to be desired....
Closest approach would be near the Great Southern Tholus, likely one of the largest flat mountains on Yokane.
This approach would detect sulfur compounds in space this close to the planet- adding credence to the idea that Yokane (and quite possibly Yalthe) are studded with volcanoes.
But the contrasts between Yokane and what might well be its sister planet are extremely interesting- Yokane seems to be a world of shocking contrasts, but what about Yalthe?
We don't know yet, but undoubtedly more probes will be headed for the farthest of Kaywell's gas giants and its retinue of moons.
Navigator III and IV would also be twins- but of a decidedly different variety.
Each consists of two landers and a huge fuel-filled orbiter.
Navigator III's first subprobe would be targeted for Tyepolbynar itself...
"Scientific data is coming back clearly. The camera views are... indescribable. It's a sky a million times larger than any you can even imagine, and it really does look like a sky. Layers and layers of clouds, each single one a landscape unto itself.... Over four full gees of acceleration just from Tyepolbynar. It's an amazing few minutes before the spacecraft is crushed."
While Navigator III proper would brake into Tyepolbynar orbit.
Its second subprobe would descend to the shining moon, through an atmosphere considerably less substantial but almost as tall as that of Totooa.
While the unique environment on the surface of an iceball at the triple point is not too healthy for a spacecraft, quite a lot of data would be returned.
Navigator IV would spend a long time in space, having to cut along for a while to reach the largest bodies in Mesbin's lagrange points: the double planet/asteroid Wers-Vizea.
The first lander would hop around on Wers while the orbiter surveyed in a polar orbit...
"...If a landform could pose a leading question, I'd say this is the one that does it."
The delta-v requirements for exploring this system are very low, such that the Navigator IV main craft can switch orbits and even transfer to Vizea orbit.
And now, the second lander can be dispatched.
It makes its own hops across Vizea...
Though the smaller moon is less active, it's still important to visit.

Continued Personal Main