Polar Express

Mission Designation: KK-Ke-0009
Mission Objective: Inaugural flight and test of the Andromeda IIa CSM and Hercules III rocket; perform multiple polar orbits of Kerbin.

Science Objective: Study as much of our home planet of Kerbin from LKO as possible.

Mission Plan: The Hercules III rocket will lift off and carry the Andromeda IIa into a standard equatorial orbit. After achieving this parking orbit, the Hercules upper stage will be used to perform a plane change maneuver to slide Andromeda into a polar orbit. Once achieved, Jeb will perform several EVAs and record his observations of the planet.
Note: For this mission, the upper most stage of the Hercules rocket will be fitted with Sepratrons to effect a de-orbit of the spent stage; normally this clean up of debris would be taken care of by a Munar FRT.

Crew: Jeb Kerman

Status: Successfully completed.

Report: Mission Control grossly underestimated the amount of ΔV required to shift the capsule from an equatorial orbit into a polar orbit, and the upper stage of the Hercules III rocket — while more than sufficient to do the injection burn into a Munar FRT — fell short of completing the transfer. Mid-burn Jeb ejected the spent upper stage and used Andromeda’s own engine to complete the planned maneuver. Mission Control then planned another burn to bring the final inclination to just under 80°, and Jeb spent several orbits observing the planet he grew up on from a completely new perspective.

Once he had made sufficient observations, Mission Control planned another burn that sent him into a very high orbit — apoapsis over 1.5 Mm — but did not circularize; instead, Jeb was asked to perform the on-board experiments and take additional observations, then performed a de-orbit burn. The entire maneuver was carefully planned to bring him down on the northern ice cap, and after hitting the atmosphere at over 2.8 Km/s that’s exactly where he landed; he performed the final experiment there, took an ice sample, and observed the flat white almost featureless ice cap before finally returning home.

While not a major step forward for science, after the string of failures preceding the previous mission, a newly-designed orbiter and rocket performing flawlessly was exactly the morale-boosting success Kromey Kaerospace desperately needed.2013-12-13_00001

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