Oct 24 2019

KSA Suffers Deadly Attack on Kerbed Space Mission

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Earlier this week during the pre-launch operations leading up to the 3rd kerbed space mission, at approximately 16:17 UTC after tanking operations had completed and pre-flight was well underway, a Deuce aircraft came gliding in out of the darkness and slammed into the rocket. The impact was almost right in the center of the fuel tank by the aircraft’s outer left wing, causing a huge explosion. The aircraft was spun flatly around and slammed into the ground about a dozen meters away where its own fuel tanks crumpled and exploded as well. As soon at the wing penetrated the rocket fuel tank exterior however, this severed the continuity wires and triggered the automated Launch Abort System, firing the rockets in the escape tower atop the capsule to send it up and away from the resulting explosion. The chutes deployed shortly afterwards and the capsule landed hard but without injury to the occupant, Captain Jebediah, roughly 800m from the launch pad, which had gradually become engulfed in a raging ground fire as fuel and oxidizer continued to burn off. Emergency crews rushed to the scene in order to help rescue any survivors of the launch pad crew that were still working during the explosion but were unable to get close enough to fight the fire and found no one on the periphery. The 12 dead pad workers is the greatest loss of life on a KSA mission to date.

During the emergency response and the recovery of Jeb from the capsule, a general evacuation order was given for KSC and the surrounding area. The stealthiness of the aircraft’s approach meant that not many kerbs knew it was an attack, and once Flight Director Lanalye realized what had happened she immediately recommended that word about this not be spread so as to avoid a panic during the evacuation. Operations Director Drew readily agreed and the majority of KSC staff and visitors knew only the rocket had exploded on the pad and a precaution against toxic fumes from the fire was being taken in removing everyone from the area. Jeb was evacuated with everyone else as soon as he was removed from the capsule and the last group of kerbs to the Umbarg access tunnel were the first responders to the launch pad fire, doing all they could to find any survivors. The entire area was cleared out in about 2 hours without further loss of life.

The Threat

Once the evacuation was complete and everyone safe, the upper management convened at KSA corporate headquarters here in Umbarg to begin piecing together what had just happened and issue a statement by the end of the day. However shortly afterwards KNN received a video tape, which they of course promptly broadcasted to their entire network – something we are still rather incensed about given that they are the single major news network and certainly don’t need the ratings.

The video opened with a shadowed face, whose disguised voice spoke in deep menacing tones: “we are the ones cast out, who have reached from afar to enact our will upon those who would seek to destroy all on Kerbin. We have sent our messenger to strike down the wicked vehicle that would carry a heathen up into Their realm.” The view then changed to a poor-quality video of the launch pad from one of the public viewing areas, zooming in just in time to see a plane enter the floodlights and smash into the rocket, with the resulting explosions captured in the same tight frame. The video cuts back to the shadowy figure, who continues to speak: “we have set free the soul of the heathen, so that he may receive judgement from the Monolith and show Them that we remain opposed to the trespass of Their realm so that They may favor us upon Their return. We have laid low the road that carries infidel travelers to the Beyond in search of Them. Any further attempts to bring about Their wrath shall first be met with ours.” The video ends. (Transcript provided with the assistance of Monolithic followers).

The broadcast obviously caused quite a stir, forcing us to release a short statement that we already knew it was attack and that Jeb was indeed alive and well (the escaping capsule could not be seen in the video). We were soon also in contact with religious leaders given that the speaker’s words were obviously one of Monolithic beliefs. The Presider himself was soon also knocking on both our doors looking for answers. It was quickly decided that everyone would pool their collective resources for a joint investigation into the incident. In the days that followed, under pressure from both us and the government, religious leaders cracked and revealed information that brought greater understanding to us all, which we will now share with you.

The Schism

Everyone believes the Monolith is an alien object. That is no question. What remains the greatest question however is its purpose. Those who believe the Monolith is responsible for restoring our world after the asteroid impact also believe the beings who created it will one day come back to collect those who are worthy and take them up into the stars to populate other worlds they have also prepared. Everyone else, including us at the Kerbal Space Agency, believe we still do not know the exact purpose of the Monolith and that the answer is one we have to learn for ourselves by exploring the heavens. This is not where the conflict lies however, because those following the original Monolithic belief of salvation do not require everyone work to be saved – just those making their beliefs known through worship of the edifice and piety in keeping the surface world clean would be chosen. They will be taken and the non-believers left behind. However once our first flight into space in mid-2017 triggered the Monolith into what appeared to be a violent outburst, which affected both followers and non-followers, a different belief has begun to take hold, which says if anyone tries to explore space in search of answers, everyone will suffer at the hands of those who remade the world. Monolithic followers began to split into these two beliefs and the schism was born.

(For more information on the activation of the Monolith and events that followed, you can read this report).

At first those who opposed what we were doing at KSC did so peacefully. While security did not initially allow them to get on KSC grounds, eventually when we allowed visitor days on weekends some attempted to use it as a way to reach the Monolith. Elsewhere in Umbarg outside our HQ and in other caverns followers organizing into protests with signs and pamphlet handouts were occurring regularly. We respected their right to protest but did not engage with them or alter our goals to reach and explore space. Unable to stop us through these means, they upped the ante while still remaining peaceful by parking a ship offshore in an attempt to stop a rocket launch. They did succeed initially and delayed the mission but were unable to maintain their position thanks to government intervention.

Building frustration among their ranks led to further escalation, especially since by now the government was enacting strict control over who would be allowed to visit the Monolith after it was declared off limits to the public when it activated. It all came to a head when the registration office in Umbarg where followers could petition for visitation rights was violently attacked at the end of 2017. Things calmed down for a time afterwards before another incident occurred in May of 2018, thankfully not resulting in any serious injuries this time. Earlier that same month a kerb attempted to lead other religious followers in a rush to the launchpad and prevent yet another launch.

Things were getting out of hand and religious leaders – all of whom remained followers of the original beliefs – were growing tired of covering up after the increasing number of radicals becoming more and more convinced that if we were not stopped at all costs the whole world would perish. Plans were set in motion and they used their significant levels of combined influence to secretly round up all involved in the violent sect and give them a choice – be purged or be banished. It was an inquisition of grand scale carried out under the nose of the government, who obviously were not very pleased once they learned what had happened in the days following the recent attack on our launch pad.

Banishment & Salvation

It was now mid-2018 when the final judgment was chosen and the violent sect was banished to the Great Desert on the other side of the world – told that if they were meant to survive in the endless wastes they would indeed do so. A fair amount of supplies and provisions were granted to them but they were still all left otherwise to their own devices near the eastern edge of the vast sea of sand once the airships dropped them off and flew away. From here we have only conjecture but everyone agrees it likely that afterwards they began to travel westward further inland towards the mountains in search of caverns. There they happened across a lost tribe of kerbals who had somehow managed to survive since the great impact – the same tribe we also discovered earlier this year.

Other than the video tape, there has been no direct contact with either the religious radicals or the lost tribe. A recent attempt to bring them aid before we suspected they may be affiliated with the banished Monolithic followers was turned away violently. Whether those of the lost tribe have been converted and also believe in the power of the Monolith or have found the newcomers to be more knowledgeable, granting them power, is unknown at this time. Religious leaders are working with the government on a new mission that will attempt to re-open a dialogue and get some answers, beginning with tracking down the violent members that must obviously still exist within their ranks or have become converted in the time since the banishment.

Continuing Investigation

Other questions also remain to be answered as well, such as where did that Deuce come from and who was piloting it? The Air Safety Administration grounded all aircraft shortly after the incident and conducted its own investigation to ascertain the whereabouts of all pilots and registered aircraft. None were missing. Was this really an attack from the far-flung banished kerbs or are they just taking credit for someone who acted on their own? Are there any other plots in motion, given that Jeb’s mission was actually moved up several weeks? Law enforcement is working with us to brainstorm a vast number of possible other ways an attack could damage the KSC other than a suicide pilot in an airplane.

To help with early warning against any further attacks by air, a ground radar station is being constructed on the hills west of KSC to give us a wide coverage of the area to track airships and aircraft. The ASA has granted us a 20km exclusion zone around KSC at all times except for specially-registered air vehicles. We wanted larger, but the ASA refused to force airships traveling between Umbarg and Sheltered Rock or Ockr to have to detour around the mountains to avoid our exclusion zone. The ground station should be completed by next week. Until then KSC will remain unoccupied except for volunteer teams performing necessary duties around the campus.

Since video is already out there of the incident, we have gotten permission from the families of those lost on the pad (who thankfully are not visible in the darkness) to release footage from our own cameras.