Has ASA been faking its successes?
Questions have been raised about the reported successes of the Australian Space Agency following recent events in the agency. While the agency has admitted that all of its three launches failed, it claims that mission that used the four person capsule didn't kill anybody and has even had the crew attend a post mission press meeting on the 26th of December.
The first Australian mission of 1969, a manned lunar pass using the agencies' three person capsule has been admitted by the agency to have a catastrophic failure when the capsule carrying Lieutenant 90, Zak Zodiac and Mel Bourne exploded as it attempted to leave Earth Orbit to commence its journey to the moon. It is conjectured that the fuel pipes of the main rocket engine must have suffered a breakage quite near the fuel tanks. In any event when the command to fire the main engine was sent to the craft, it burst into flames (fuelled by the capsules reserves of oxygen) and the cabin quickly became unsurvivable.
It was ASA's second mission that has caused all the controversy though. This mission, a manned lunar orbit using the four person capsule/module (and hence unaffected by the failure of the three person capsule) was going smoothly until the second orbit around the moon. The crew failed to respond to a scheduled communications call between mission control and the capsule and all attempts by ground control to re-establish communications failed and the atmosphere at Woomera became even grimmer as the prospect of the loss of the third manned mission in a row loomed. However the crew of the capsule (Croc Hogan, Dingo Dan, Bob Hoskins and Larry Hoskins) were able to continue the mission and there was jubilation when the australian radar picked up the capsule back in earth orbit and as the craft safely re-entered the earth's atmosphere and the crew of the capsule recovered from the Pacific ocean1.
Doubts about the mission have been spread by the other agencies who point to the lack of direction at the top of ASA during the last year mean that the odds that the mission will be discovered to be a massive conspiracy and cover-up by Harold's Bar as a publicity stunt to drive up sales of the amber liquid have been rated as low as 8 to 1 in the betting shops of Sydney2.
ASA's third launch of the year was a lunar probe lander. This crashes into the Montes Alpes area surrounding the Plato crater after the craft was unable to locate a safe landing site.
Spacewalk by GOSsiP's Maja Hansen
Maja Hansen has become only the second person to float freely in space following the successful Manned Orbital and Spacewalk mission launched by GOSsiP this year. This success continues a trend for GOSsiP making them back into challengers for the space race to the moon (and back of course!).
SHADO has men in orbit too!
SHADO appears to have finally decided that not everything can be done by robots and has launched a successful manned orbital mission. Walter Clark and Judith Harris now become experienced astronauts! SHADO is not finished with its robot explorers however as its mission launched during 1967 returned lots of useful data from Mars.
SARSA loses Lunar Probe
SARSA sent a lunar probe to attempt a landing on the lunar surface but the probe has steadfastly refused to head in the direction of the moon and is stuck in earth orbit after the rocket motor on the probe failed to fire to take the probe out of earth orbit.
Concern at lack of docking
A review of the agencies' strategies suggests that many of them may be overlooking the importance of docking during most of the mission profiles that will take a person to the moon and back safely. With the exception of ASA's four person combined capsule/module, the trip to the moon and back requires two docking manoeuvres, one in earth orbit where the capsule is docked with the module so that it can carry it to the moon (the module does not need to be launched by the same rocket as the capsule but in every case the module is not launched pre-docked with the capsule - that said if a docking module is required3 it can be either separately launched (which would require an additional docking manoeuvre to collect) or launched pre-docked with the lunar landing module.
A second docking manoeuvre is required once the lunar landing module leaves the lunar surface and to allow the brave astronaut to return to the capsule for the return to Earth.
As yet no space agency has successfully performed a docking manoeuvre. Simulations suggest that it's more complicated that just pointing your space vessel at the target and firing your rockets (by doing so, you go faster and hence into a higher orbit. As the higher orbit has a longer orbital period you end up just getting further away from your target!)
Another engineering advance for SHADO
SHADO's engineering division has again been able to significantly cut costs for the rest of the organisation and have offered, for the next year only, to half the charges made to acquire new hardware made to the rest of the SHADO organisation. Officials have refused to allow the division to be audited to see if this price cut (and that available for 1963) could be made permanent! The engineering division has also denied that this is an attempt to get their hands on the spare $500,000 that has been sitting SHADO's balance sheet for many years4.
More animals at SARSA?
SARSA is again considering the use of the animals to test some of its equipment in future missions. While it isn't clear which animals are under consideration (some wags have suggested that maybe certain government ministers who have interfered with SARSA's plans are the potential candidates for the missions)5.
Smaug Inc.'s Oscar Hudson killed
As a result of car crash as he was heading to New York City's JFK airport to catch a flight on the journey to Smaug Inc.'s launch site, Smaug Inc. is mourning the loss of Oscar Hudson, one of the agency's astronaut crew. No foul play is suspected in the crash despite the likelihood that his death will have an impact on the launches planned by Smaug Inc for next year6.
South African spies still at work?
GOSsiP has admitted that there is a minor problem with its lunar probe that means that its safety factor will be reduced by 10% on its next mission. The agency is apparently considering spending $10,000,000 to rectify the fault, but others in the agency point out that the error could be solved fairly simply if only they could determine the exact flaw and its effect by just launching the probe on its way. SARSA has denied that its agents (if it had any) had anything to do with the problems with the probe7.
Hold up at ASA
The Australian ground control has announced a new concept for the agency's management of launches. It now has the ability to announce a
hold on one of its launches. This will increase the safety factor of the rocket used on that launch by 10%8. The hold will delay the launch by several days however and it is expected that the engineers will quickly learn how to take advantage of the possibility9.
The provisional calendar for launches planned in 1970 (assuming none of the missions are rushed or scrubbed) is as follows:
Last updated: December 21, 2021 at 19:38 pm
- 1st Nov 2017
- Make text into a footnote as intended
- 14th Nov 2017
- Fix wording of footnote 9 and fix typo
- Although the crew returned safely, this mission does not count as a success and hence does not earn any mission budget increases but instead causes a $10,000,000 budget cut (but does not impact the safety factor of the four person capsule/module). ↩
- Note: no orders received from ASA for this turn, but there was sufficient equipment in stock to proceed with the launches. I did apply research to the four person capsule/module to keep the game competitive - but did not plan any future launches. ↩
- A docking module is required to dock between a two-person capsule and a one-person lunar landing module. ↩
- All hardware purchased by SHADO in 1970 will be half price. ↩
- Yes SARSA can again, one time only, plan a manned mission to take animal passengers instead of human. The mission provides the usual 1% improvement to safety factor to any equipment used without (most of) the risk of a catastrophic failure. A successful mission will improve the agency's budget as if the mission was a
subsequent mission. A failed mission will decrease the budget by the standard $3,000,000 (assuming the rocket didn't kill people on the launch pad). ↩
- If Oscar Hudson was planned to take part in any of the three launches planned by Smaug Inc. for 1970, that mission will be scrubbed. ↩
- Unless GOSsiP pays $10,000,000 its next lunar probe that it launches will be at a 10% penalty. This money will not go to SARSA, but is simply spent. ↩
- for that launch only ↩
- One time only, ASA can delay a launch of one of its missions and gain a 10% safety factor on the launch. ↩
- Will be automatically scrubbed if GOSsiP doesn't buy a second launch facility. ↩
- Will be automatically scrubbed if GOSsiP doesn't buy a third launch facility. ↩