An Unexpected Detour (KSP short story for Zaune)

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An Unexpected Detour (KSP short story for Zaune)

Postby Napoleon the Clown » 2016-09-15 10:15pm

Chadton Kerman waddled excitedly toward the passenger compartment on the space program's newest rocket. This was going to be the first time tourists were ever taken into a complete orbit of Kerbin, and Chadton was delighted to be one of the lucky few. Sure, he had had to send one of his children to participate in parts testing, but dammit he was going to space!

The burgeoning space program was growing at an unbelievable pace, and there hadn't been a single accident so far. Okay, so there'd been less than a dozen launches between the program starting and the legendary Jebediah Kerman achieving a stable orbit. That's not much of a sample size. But dammit, they can push the boundaries that far and not have a single accident? This is going to be as safe as walking to the supermarket! Chadton thought.

Sitting down in his seat, Chadton fastened his safety harness and pulled out The Kerbol, his favorite magazine. The stories were, as a rule, sensationalist as hell and often bore only the most passing semblance to truth, but they were at least a fun read. So long as you remembered to take them with a substantial grain of salt. "Space Program Directors Manipulate Time, Erase Accidents from Existence!" was sprawled across the front. Beneath the headline was a claim that a tell-all investigation had been conducted and there was incontrovertible evidence that there had been countless accidents. Chadton just chuckled to himself, and waited for lift-off.

A fellow passenger sat beside him, giving a smile. "Isn't this amazing? We're gonna be the first kerbals to go to space as tourists!" she exclaimed.

"It is. I had to take out a loan, and send my kid to help test experimental parts but I'm sure it'll be worth it. I'm Chadton, what's your name?"

"Annestead Kerman. I won my ticket. Is that The Kerbol you're reading? Ugh, such a dumb magazine. It scares me anyone believes a word in it."

"Oh, definitely. I don't know what they're smoking there but it's at least good for a laugh."

"This is your captain speaking, we will be lifting off soon. If you haven't secured your restraints do so now. Thank you for being part of this historic mission." The voice came across the intercomm, her voice sounding vaguely familiar.

After a few minutes Chadton heard the engines roar to life, followed by the docking clamps releasing. The rocket quickly began building speed, pushing him into his seat. A moment of terror swept over him as the rocket shook and accelerated, a corner of his mind unconvinced by the program's perfect history of launches. Watching out the window, attempting to quell his fear Chadton watched with wonder as the curvature of Kerbin became apparent. The rocket steadily built speed, climbing ever higher. The engines shut down, followed by the thud of the rocket staging. After a brief moment, the second stage kicked to life accelerating the rocket even faster. Chadton thought he saw a white shape fly past his window and felt a sharp jolt. The rocket rotated sharply, pointing toward the ground. Chadton let out a scream of terror as the ocean approached at three times the speed of sound.

"...you're captain speaking..." Chadton could only make out blurbs of the voice over the intercomm over his and Annestead's screams. "...minor error in staging, our parachutes deployed early." The Kerbol had escaped Chadton's grasp and was pinned to the floor. "...be sure we will recover." Chadton couldn't tell if she had said she would be able to recover, or if she had said she would not be able to recover. Chadton closed his eyes and bid his family a silent farew-

...

"This is your captain speaking, we will be lifting off soon. If you haven't secured your restraints do so now. Thank you for being part of this historic mission." The voice came across the intercomm, her voice sounding vaguely familiar.

After a few minutes Chadton heard the engines roar to life, followed by the docking clamps releasing. The rocket quickly began building speed, pushing him into his seat. A moment of terror swept over him as the rocket shook and accelerated, a corner of his mind unconvinced by the program's perfect history of launches. Watching out the window, attempting to quell his fear Chadton watched with wonder as the curvature of Kerbin became apparent. The rocket steadily built speed, climbing ever higher. The engines shut down, followed by the thud of the rocket staging. After a brief moment, the second stage kicked to life accelerating the rocket even faster. Before Chadton knew it, the rocket was horizontal, building speed at an increasing rate.

"Uh, Annestead? Did you notice something weird just now? For just a minute there I had the strongest case of de javu..."

"Nothing weird happened. It's probably just the adrenaline." She responded dismissively, eyes fixed at the window as superheated air rushed by.

The engines shut down, and the captain came back onto the intercomm. "Apoapsis has now cleared the atmosphere, I'm gonna coast us out of the atmosphere before beginning circularization. Please keep your safety restraints buckled until we have obtained a stable orbit."

The rocket slowly began to rotate into position for the burn to bring them into a proper orbit. After a few short minutes, the engines roared back to life, pressing Chadton back into his seat. A minute later the engines cut off once more. "This is your captain. We are in a stable orbit about Kerbin's equator. Orbital radius is eighty kilometers. We've received a request from KSP Command to make a few orbital surveys of Mun. We have plenty of fuel for getting into a nice, stable orbit around Mun that'll give us a flyby of each location. In about half an orbit we should be able to extend our orbit out far enough to be captured by Mun."

"Bonus!" Annestead shouted, pumping a fist in the air.

A few hours of awkward conversations and reading later, the engines roared back to life. Not long after the burn began, the second stage engines died. With a jolt, the rocket staged and the third stage sprang to life. The third stage engine wasn't nearly as big, but its nearness made it seem so much louder than the prior stages, drowning out any chance at conversation. The burn continued for several minutes, before shutting down and leaving the craft to quietly drift toward Mun. Halfway there the maneuvering thrusters gave a short, small kick to adjust the orbital insertion.

After a peaceful ride, Mun came into full view, taking up the entire window. The engine roared back to life, slowing the rocket down until it was in orbit of Mun. "Passengers, we're successfully in orbit of Mun. The good news is, this bonus destination is free or charge since we decided, 'Eh, what the hell. We're up here, someone wants pictures.' We're gonna be up here a few orbits, so get comfortable."

Chadton got to the cover story from The Kerbol and shook his head. The description in there sounded a lot like his experience... Coincidence, that's what it is.

"This is your captain again. We'll be making our escape burn in a few minutes to head home. Remain seated, and thank you for flying with us." A few moments later, the engine roared back to life. This time it burned for only a short time before going quiet. Something about how it went quiet was different from the others...

"Uh, Valentina here again. I might have goofed that burn there. But never you worry! We've got just enough RCS to push our aerocapture altitude high enough we probably won't burn up." Valentina... Oh shit, that's who our captain is?! She's more reckless than Jeb! Chadton thought back to the news story of Valentina Kerman deciding to attempt to rendezvous with the Minmus orbiter using her RCS pack.

Ever so gently, the rocket slowed down. Well, she knows what she's doing, I guess... Chadton thought.

"So, I mighta fucked up there. I overshot the braking and ran us out of RCS fuel, and we're not escaping Mun's gravity... Quite the opposite. We're going to be experiencing a small touch of lithobraking in a few minu-"

...


"Uh, Valentina here again. I might have goofed that burn there. But never you worry! We've got just enough RCS to push our aerocapture altitude high enough we probably won't burn up." Valentina... Oh shit, that's who our captain is?! She's more reckless than Jeb! Chadton thought back to the news story of Valentina Kerman deciding to attempt to rendezvous with the Minmus orbiter using her RCS pack.

Ever so gently, the rocket slowed down. Well, she knows what she's doing, I guess... Chadton thought.

"Great news, folks! Our entry into the atmosphere will be ideal. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride home."

Chadton couldn't brush off the feeling that maybe the magazine was onto something... Twice in one flight?
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Simon_Jester
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Re: An Unexpected Detour (KSP short story for Zaune)

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-15 11:14pm

I should write the REAL stories of what happened on two of the flights that inspired some of the bits of this. :D

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Re: An Unexpected Detour (KSP short story for Zaune)

Postby U.P. Cinnabar » 2016-09-16 09:07am

Simon_Jester wrote:I should write the REAL stories of what happened on two of the flights that inspired some of the bits of this. :D


The rocket went up. The rocket came back down. The Kerbals went splat. The End. :lol:
"When you send a man out with a gun, you create a policymaker. When his ass is on the line, he will do whatever he needs to do.

And, if the implications of that bother you, the time to do something about it is before you send him out."
—David Drake


"Oh, but you did! You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But, since that's a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around, then, you've got no place here. You did it to me, Jayne, and that's a fact."

—Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly-class hauler Serenity,in a nutshell

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Re: An Unexpected Detour (KSP short story for Zaune)

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-16 11:50am

On the contrary, on one of the flights, the kerbals went thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud, and I was thus able to avoid splat.

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Re: An Unexpected Detour (KSP short story for Zaune)

Postby U.P. Cinnabar » 2016-09-16 12:56pm

Simon_Jester wrote:On the contrary, on one of the flights, the kerbals went thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud, and I was thus able to avoid splat.


One of the program's more sucessful launches, then.
"When you send a man out with a gun, you create a policymaker. When his ass is on the line, he will do whatever he needs to do.

And, if the implications of that bother you, the time to do something about it is before you send him out."
—David Drake


"Oh, but you did! You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But, since that's a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around, then, you've got no place here. You did it to me, Jayne, and that's a fact."

—Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly-class hauler Serenity,in a nutshell

Simon_Jester
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Posts: 28546
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Re: An Unexpected Detour (KSP short story for Zaune)

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-16 03:22pm

For some reason, almost all my ridiculous Kerbal comedy failures are confined to unmanned space launches and airplanes (invariably manned). When something goes wrong on a manned mission above the atmosphere, the result is some kind of bizarre lunatic version of the Apollo 13 story with heroic improvisation and Stupid Shit That Just Barely Worked.

Meanwhile, INSIDE the atmosphere... I have successfully landed an airplane ONCE. Everything crashes, almost no matter what I try. It got so bad I finally gave up and attached enough parachutes to all my planes that they can just kill the engines and parachute to the ground. Safer that way.


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