Jun 30 2017

Interplanetary Probe Program Formed

We are excited to finally announce the formal creation of the Extremis program! We have been teasing this program for several months now, and numerous setbacks in the Progenitor program have continually delayed us from focusing on the endeavor. With the earliest launch window fast approaching at the end of 2018 we have decided we need to really start dedicating time & effort towards finalizing our plans for this ambitious undertaking. The goal of the Extremis program is to explore the entire Kerbol system – and beyond! All of the currently planned missions will fly by several of the planets in a series of gravity assist maneuvers that will ultimately fling the probes out of the Kerbol system entirely and into the void of interstellar space. You can see the route each probe will take on the program patch to the right. The colors of the lines are a mix of all the colors represented by the planets visited on their trip. So yes, they don’t look very pretty but that’s functional design for you 🙂

The patch design may be subject to change in the future however; although our original flight plans are represented in the current patch, our astrodynamicists have made great improvements to their software since late last year & we will be running some more simulations over the coming months to see if there are better fly by possibilities. As things stand now however, our current departure times are:

Extremis 1: 11/29/18 | Extremis 2: 9/2/19 | Extremis 3: 8/31/20

Does this all seem a bit premature given that we haven’t even reached space (although we have proven we are capable of doing so) or announced our orbital program? Well, not really considering the amount of preparation that will be required to get these probes to the launchpad, let alone into space. We are deferring all launch and orbital aspects of the program for now and are solely focused on determining the delta-v requirements for each mission and the technologies that will be required in order for it to succeed. We already mentioned that our mission planners will be looking at various scenarios over the coming months, so let’s talk now about the key technology being researched for Extremis: Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators.

Powering these probes will be a huge issue. Prior to being forced underground and relying mainly on keothermal power, society largely burned fossil fuels and natural gas. There has not been development of a suitable power source for a space probe traveling far from the energy of the sun (or near the sun for that matter, but nascent solar panel technology will be for our orbital program discussion). However living underground has also provided us with a solution to this problem. Several decades ago in the process of excavating a new community cavern at Sheltered Rock workers encountered high amounts of radiation, which unfortunately was poorly understood at the time and so was not detected until kerbs began getting sick and dying. The area was closed off and even scientists had trouble accessing it for many years until proper safeguards were developed to protect them from the deadly emissions of the rock now known as Kuudite.

Currently we don’t know how much power we will be able to produce using the heat from the radioactive decay of this rock, but that is currently being researched. Scientists are also fielding proposals on what kinds of instruments the probes should include. Our deep space communications network is still under construction. Our orbital program has yet to get off the ground – literally and figuratively. A lot of pieces will need to come together in order to allow us to meet the first launch window at the end of 2018 – if that is indeed our first best shot. Expect much more news to be coming related to this program now that a formal team has been assigned to really get things rolling.