Apr 20 2017

KerBalloon & Genesis Programs Planning First Mission Collaboration

The time has come at last to bring together two Programs being run by the KSA and C7 Aerospace Division for mutual benefit. The mission calls for a high-altitude survey of temperatures over the region code-named Kirrim’s Dawn by Rokea Inc. Currently our only platform for upper atmospheric research is the KerBalloon Program, which unfortunately suffered a loss of two vehicles in its UTV fleet earlier this year. Due to the limited range of the UTVs and the lack of extra vehicles to carry additional fuel, the long trek out to Kirrim’s Dawn would be impossible without the purchase of additional UTVs. While this is still something the KerBalloon Program wants to do to restore its ground vehicle fleet, the deficiency has opened up an opportunity which the Genesis Program noticed it could cover by mounting the KerBalloon probe beneath its Civvie aircraft. After testing a lighter-weight under-slung payload earlier this month and then performing a successful drop earlier today, both programs have agreed to proceed with the full mission tomorrow.

The entire day will be dedicated to this mission, starting at second sunset with the preparation of the recovery team, including Specialists Bill and Bob, to depart at second sunrise on their 180-200km journey over land to the drop zone, skirting the mountainous terrain to the west. It will take them approximately 4.5-5 hours to make the journey and all three UTVs will be utilized. Two will carry extra fuel while the third meant for the payload recovery also carries collapsible fuel containers that will be empty by the time they are ready to return. Since the KerBalloon is lacking its bulky truss and nosecone parachute, a single UTV can carry the case and instruments back rather than needing two.

After the UTVs depart we will focus on getting the Civvie ready for its own departure, re-mounting the high-altitude KerBalloon unit that was drop tested yesterday. At third sunrise Captain Jebediah will pilot the aircraft out over the mountains to Kirrim’s Dawn, which is 92.7km direct northwest of KSC. To clear the mountains in the quickest manner Jeb will use a pass through the tallest peaks for the most direct route possible. After he drops the probe, which will inflate itself and begin its ascent, he will circle around to confirm it is rising then continue back eastwards towards Site TTNC, where he will take a crew report of the area before heading back over the mountains and home.

By the time Jeb lands we should have a direct telemetry link to the balloon to better monitor its progress. We have already made it clear to Rokea Inc. that we will not be waiting on any weather tomorrow and will be going with what we get, so they are prepared for the balloon to not make it all the way to optimal altitude and are willing to compensate us accordingly. Assuming the balloon climbs to near its maximum altitude of 24.9km the recovery team will be in the area by the time it begins to descend back to the surface, and they will track its beacon to find it and recover it once it lands. They will then begin the journey home, stopping overnights to make navigation safer. They will have basic camping supplies to make themselves as comfortable as possible while they await the sun’s return.

During this entire mission we will have an airship stationed over the mountains so communications can be relayed from the recovery team on the ground and also the Civvie once it has passed to the backside of the range. Since the last long land journey ended in a disaster, Flight Director Lanalye would not let Head of Finances Mortimer refuse her request for comms support this time. While the airship will not be equipped with the ability to relay data signals such as photos or telemetry, the ability to keep in touch with and monitor the progress of the recovery team will be an assurance the controllers back at KSC will find comforting during this extended mission, the longest yet planned by the KSA.

Good luck to us all!