The Journal of Space Achievement 1967

Recording the events of 1967

Disastrous year for manned space flight

Not a single mission that left the ground with astronauts on board has seen those astronauts return safely back to their home bases. The resulting chaos has left the space race wide open with agencies previously to be at a disadvantage not launching people this year and hence not suffering from the general carnage.

Break up of the Smaug Inc. capsule

The first manned mission to launch was from Smaug Inc., whose crew of Anna Rivetti, Ben Mezera and Gunther Koska left Earth on the 11th of December on a mission to orbit the earth and attempt a spacewalk. While the launch itself was perfect, the main engine on the three person capsule failed to fire correctly and sent the craft into a spin while not providing enough thrust to allow the craft to achieve Earth orbit. The craft was still tumbling as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and the craft broke up at a height of ten miles above the ocean. As a result of the failure, Smaug Inc.'s three person capsule program will need to be researched again.

Re-entry of the SARSA capsule

Next up was a launch from SARSA on the 15th of December. SARSA's William Baxter, Thomas Wills and Deborah Ferrari were sent on a mission to make a lunar pass (presumably on a proving mission for a later lunar landing timed to beat the South African's government deadline of the 31st December 1968). Again lift off went smoothly, but the first signs of trouble again occurred as the craft attempted to make the major mission burn that gets the craft on its way to the moon. Initial attempts to get the craft to fire its main engine has no results until mission control on the ground reminded the crew that the controls had been designed to be fail-safe and that the main engine safeties need to be switch to Ready to Burn before the pilot's controls are unlocked to permit the pilot to fire the main engine1. The craft then passed by the moon and returned to the vicinity of Planet Earth. However as the craft attempt to adjust its trajectory to safely return its flight path to a standard earth orbit, the main engine burn control stayed in the Burn position even as pilot Baxter attempted to control the burn. As a result of the misfire the capsule re-entered Earth's atmosphere rather than achieving its desired orbit. The resulting high speed entry caused the heat shield of the craft to fail and the loss of another set of brave astronauts. SARSA's three person capsule thus joined the list of programs needing to be re-researched.

Possible locations of the missing ASA capsule

ASA launched a four capsule on a mega-stage rocket on the 21st of December. Captain Ken Ross, Dr. Venus, Jock Campbell and Co-Pilot Chuck were sent on another proving mission to pass by the moon in preparation (one assumes) for a later lunar landing. As with the Smaug Inc. and SARSA missions, the lift-off proceeded smoothly and in ASA case, the capsule also smoothly entered the extended orbit that increases the apogee of the earth orbit so that it passes by the moon. However problems then arose while the crew checked out the capsule systems. Despite the crew's experience they were unable, initially, to solve the problems (which the crew were reluctant to fully explain to ground control). However a quick consultation with the manufacturers of the capsule allowed the crew to bypass the faulty system2. The rest of the flight proceeded smoothly until the recovery of the capsule off of the coast of Queensland. Initial investigations suggest that the design of the floatation collar that is supposed to keep the capsule upright and afloat while the recovery ships arrived on scene have a major design flaw. It seems that the collar deployed on touchdown as designed but caused a major breach in the hull integrity of the capsule. The capsule sank almost instantly, taking the brave crew with it to the bottom of the sea.

Missions scrubbed following the disasters

Both Smaug Inc. and SARSA both scrubbed the mission that was to follow the doomed flights from those agencies. One wonders how many of the ten flights (across all the agencies) for next year will also be scrubbed.

Smaug Inc lands on the moon

A lunar probe launched by Smaug Inc landed on the lunar surface on the 10th of December reprising Smaug Inc.'s successful lunar probe landing of last year.

GOSsiP successful

Although only an unmanned sub-orbital mission to test out its Liquid Fuel Strap-On rocket engine (strapped onto a two-stage rocket) and its three person capsule, GOSsiP's only mission of the year was complete success. The success of the unmanned missions this year may go a long way to prove the benefits of robot technology for the future of space flight.

SHADO awarded profits

After what seems to have been a major boardroom struggle, the parent organisation of SHADO has awarded SHADO the profits from the hit TV program Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?. It seems that many of the tasks that the contestants have been set derive directly from both SHADO's research facilities and from its astronaut training program. As a result the $5,000,000 profits from the TV program have been awarded to SHADO3

Fuel Shortage reappears

Although supplies of rocket fuel improved during 1966, it seems that the suppliers have still not been able to expand supplies. In the resulting scramble for contracts GOSsiP was unable to secure sufficient supplies to allow it to launch more than one mission during 1968. Fortunately for the organisation it seems that GOSsiP is the only agency planning just one launch next year.

Integrated Circuits helps SARSA's satellites

In what is being billed a major advance, SARSA has announced that it has a method to space harden the recently developed Integrated circuit. The advance is expected to allow much increased reliability into SARSA's interplanetary probes and satellites4.

Smaug Inc.'s directors demand launch pause

The continuing investigation into the causes of the engine failure of Smaug Inc.'s has reached the accountants and directors of the corporation. As a result of the continued focus and analysis, the directors have demanded that Smaug Inc. refrain from any launches of any kind during 1968. The auditors have questioned the reliability of both the research results and of the accounts of the research division and have demanded that the division re-write the annual report in its entirety5.

Big science boost for ASA

Despite the final result, the big media circus surrounding ASA's recent missions has resulted in a big boost to science education in Australia. As a result the exam results from Australia's schools and universities has dramatically improved. However some claim that the improved R&D results will come more from a sighting of Dr. Von Graun in the Australian capital of Canberra6.

Auditors block over-expenditure

The auditors for several of agencies have noted attempts by the research divisions to spend money on program which were already at the maximum possible safety factor achievable by research and development work. As a result they block the additional expenditure and insisted that the funds remain as cash available for other uses7.

Launch Calendar

The provisional calendar for launches planned in 1966 (assuming none of the missions are rushed or scrubbed) is as follows:

5th Dec
SHADO
7th Dec
SHADO
11th Dec
GOSsiP
15th Dec
Smaug Inc.
17th Dec
Smaug Inc.
20th Dec
SARSA
23rd Dec
SARSA
27th Dec
ASA
29th Dec
ASA
31st Dec
ASA

Last updated: October 3, 2017 at 14:52 pm


Footnotes

  1. This used up the Earth based mission control allows a re-roll event.
  2. Thus using up the First capsule problem negated event.
  3. SHADO's cash in hand includes this additional funding.
  4. Max R&D and Max Safety of SARSA's Interplanetary Satellite and of its Lunar Probe increased by 5%.
  5. As a result Smaug Inc. may make no launches during 1968. Its planned launches will be automatically scrubbed (which may be a blessing in disguise depending on Smaug Inc.'s plans).
  6. +1 to every R&D die for ASA in 1968.
  7. In cases where your orders specified the purchase of R&D dice that would be wasted regardless of the roll (i.e., the program was already at its maximum, or was so close to the maximum that you were attempting to buy dice beyond those that would be guaranteed to take the safety factor to that maximum), I have not purchased the relevant R&D dice and refunded the money to your cash-in-hand. Remember that the cash-in-hand is how much you have to spend this year, while the budget is an estimate of how much more money your agency will get next year.

Financial summary as of 1st January 1968

Agency Cash in hand Expected Budget for 1969
Smaug Inc. $101,000,000 $91,000,000
SARSA $178,000,000 $140,000,000
GOSsiP $86,000,000 $84,000,000
SHADO $116,500,000 $73,000,000
ASA $191,000,000 $151,000,000

Click on the name of the agency to see details on the agency's safety factors, astronaut roster and hardware stocks.


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