Hatsunese Space Program - HASDA (Japan-like) | 1989-03-12 | Saki-09, first Phobos/Deimos landings

Phase 2 - 15 - M-1A, first spacewalk (1971)
  • Phase 2 - 15

    1971-08-03 - Utahime-02 was piloted by Marumi Nabatame, who had Micronesian and Hatsunese ancestry. She performed Hatsunia's first extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk, on the second orbit. Unlike the Mercury capsule, which had a hatch that was bolted on before launch, the Utahime capsule had a hatch which could be opened during flight. The EVA lasted over 30 minutes (mostly over Asia), with Marumi testing the flexibility and handling of her thin, lightweight spacesuit (similar to the ones used on the Gemini missions), which also had small thrusters using nitrogen gas. During the EVA, the vehicle was stabilized by the onboard avionics. After climbing back into the vehicle, she would stay in orbit until one day had elapsed to evaluate life support systems, before returning to Earth southeast of Negishima Space Center.

    The "Rocket Women," from left to right: Yuzuki Morita, Marumi Nabatame, and Akari Miura


    Marumi on EVA (you can pretend there is a tether)


    (note: the Realistic Progression mod disables EVAs for the single-person capsule, like the real-life Mercury. To re-enable, I had to remove "ModuleNoEVA" from the "mk1pod_v2" part in [KSP folder]\GameData\RP-0\Tree\TREE-Parts.cfg)



    Marumi exits the vehicle


    Using nitrogen thrusters over India


    Viewing Minamikushi Prefecture/Negishima Space Center


    Over the Philippines


    Suez Canal









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    Phase 2 - 16 - M-1B rocket with hydrolox upper stage (1972)
  • Phase 2 - 16

    The M-1B launch vehicle replaced the hypergolic upper stages of the M-1A with the first Hatsunese cryogenic stage, which used the LE-05 engine fueled with liquid oxygen and hydrogen. The higher specific impulse (444 s vs 311 s) of the LE-05 meant that the payload capacity could be approximately doubled from 2800 to 4800 kg to low Earth orbit. Without boosters, up to 1900 kg could be launched. Only two stages were needed to send most payloads destined for geostationary transfer orbit and beyond, so the shorter version of the M-1A fairing could be used. The second stage was also longer due to hydrogen's low density, but was still light enough to be lifted by a single LE-04 core stage. The development and operation of such an engine and its associated infrastructure had significant costs, due to the very low temperatures of liquid hydrogen which made it difficult to store, but they were considered worth it for launching larger or longer-range interplanetary probes without completely redesigning the rest of the vehicle. Insulation and white paint were used to mitigate the evaporation and leakage of hydrogen when in orbit.

    edit: the hydrolox upper stage was nicknamed "Hakuba" (白馬) or "White Horse."



    1972-01-09 - The M-1B launched the Neginohana-3 test satellite to geostationary orbit. The LE-05 ignited at almost 100 kilometers, with a flame that was faint but packed a lot of energy. It burned again to deliver the satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit. After separation, Neginohana-3 used two burns: the first burn to raise its orbit slightly so that by the next time it reached apogee, it was above East Asia and Australia.




    First/second stage separation


    GTO burn


    Second geostationary insertion burn


    Neginohana-3 in geostationary orbit


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    Phase 2 - 17 - M-1A/B, Sun/Earth observatory, 3-day crewed mission, 2nd lunar orbiter probe (1972)
  • Phase 2 - 17

    1972-04-17 - "Taiyou" was a spacecraft launched by a single-core M-1B to study the Sun's effects on the Earth's upper atmosphere (using an ultraviolet spectrometer), magnetic field, and plasma environment. It also tested a heavier and more sophisticated live camera.



    1972-08-09 - Utahime-03, piloted by Akari Miura, tested the endurance capabilities of the spacecraft's life support systems. She spent over three days in orbit photographing the stars and Earth and recording her medical status, as the alkaline fuel cells produced power from the reserves of liquid hydrogen and oxygen, generating water in the process. Due to the small space of the capsule, a person could not psychologically handle being in there for longer periods of time.





    1972-11-21 - M-1A launched Usagi-7, Hatsunia's second lunar orbiter. The probe had higher-resolution instruments compared to its predecessor, a slightly longer structure to hold these instruments, and spherical propellant tanks. It used the camera to select sites for future lunar lander probes.






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    Phase 2 - 18 - M-1A/B, Geostationary network, first crewed rendezvous, first Mars orbiter (1973-1974)
  • Phase 2 - 18

    1973-01-04 to 1973-10-22 - Sakura-5a, 5b, 5c, and 5d were launched by M-1B rockets and their "Hakuba" hydrolox upper stages to form a new geostationary communications network spanning most of the globe. Advances in antennas made longer-range applications of communications satellites possible. The network was used to maintain almost-constant connections for future satellites launched into Earth orbit. It was also used for communications between places on Earth during emergencies, or to remote areas. Sakura-5a was positioned over Hatsunia and the western Pacific Ocean, 5b over the Middle East, 5c over the Atlantic Ocean, and 5d over the eastern Pacific Ocean.

    Sakura-5a (5b, 5c, and 5d)


    1973-04-01 to 1973-04-08 - Utahime-04, Yuzuki Morita's second flight, was launched by a triple-core M-1A to perform the first crewed rendezvous. The reason why leading zeroes were used for human missions was that the number "4" could be pronounced similarly to the word for "death" (shi) in Hatsunese* (an alternate pronunciation for 4 was yon). The destination was the Rendezvous Target Vehicle (RTV-1) which had launched a week earlier by a single-core M-1A to a 300 kilometer orbit. It only consisted of the M-1A upper stage and a basic cylindrical structure with solar panels to keep the batteries alive. Utahime-04 launched into a 200 kilometer orbit and was behind the RTV, but since a lower orbit is faster, the capsule gradually caught up. It performed a transfer burn to intercept the RTV, then another burn to slow down relative to the target. Morita was assisted by radar systems and some visual aids to maneuver the capsule in front of the RTV and proceed forward as if to dock, stopping only a few meters short, then backing away. After station-keeping for about an hour, she initiated the Earth return sequence and splashed down almost 21 hours after launch.

    [*supposedly this is why the video game "Ace Combat 04" is specifically named that way, at least according to TV Tropes]

    (pretend that the capsule has forward-facing windows)


    Utahime-04 launch


    "This is Utahime commander Yuzuki Morita. I am entering the transfer orbit, now"


    Slowing down relative to the RTV









    1973-08-05 to 1974-02-28 - Nozomi-2 or PLANET-C was HASDA's first Mars orbiter, launched by an M-1B rocket on a seven month journey. On 1974-02-28, the spacecraft arrived at Mars and inserted itself into a 300 by 3400 km polar orbit. It built an extensive map of the Red Planet as it observed craters, deep valleys, inactive volcanoes, polar ice caps made of frozen water and carbon dioxide, and dust storms. Implications of past liquid water were seen in what looked like dried out rivers and lakebeds. The upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and the magnetic and gravitational fields of Mars were also studied.



    Trans-Mars injection with a significant normal (perpendicular) component, so it is tilted at an angle from the prograde/forward direction


    Path from Earth to Mars (the purple line is the orbit it would have if it continued to fly past Mars instead of entering orbit)


    Mars approach and insertion


    Above Martian south pole



    In orbit



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    Phase 2 - 19 - M-1A/B, Launch of Mercury flyby, first docking (1974) [VIDEO]
  • Phase 2 - 19

    1974-03-13 - The Mercury flyby probe "Mio" (PLANET-D) was launched by an M-1B. The name, meaning "waterway," represented the journey it would take through interplanetary space and the solar wind, as it would conduct the first gravitational assist at Venus en route to Mercury. This would save propellant and Delta-v requirements by transferring some of Venus's orbital energy to change the spacecraft's velocity. The name also reflected the Chinese and Japanese names for Mercury, which meant "water star" (水星) as it represented one of the five elements in Chinese philosophy. The probe was due to arrive at Mercury in January 1975.





    1974-06-18 - Utahime-05 was piloted by Marumi Nabatame to conduct the first orbital docking with the second Rendezvous Target Vehicle. This required the attachment of a small docking port at the end of the cylindrical structure that normally detached when the launch escape system was jettisoned. The procedure for carefully approaching the target, moving into position, and docking was partially assisted by computers to compensate for limited visibility from the capsule. Once docked, Nabatame performed an EVA to test satellite inspection and repair operations. Afterwards, she undocked from the RTV and returned to Earth about a day after launch.




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    Phase 2 - 20 - M-1B, Venus swing-by to Mercury, first lunar lander probe (1974)
  • Phase 2 - 20

    1974-08-24 - Mio got a gravity assist at Venus on its way to Mercury, passing as close as 600 kilometers from the planet.


    1974-10-10 - M-1B launched Usagi-8, Hatsunia's first (robotic) lunar lander, which arrived on October 14. The design of the lander was an adaptation of the Usagi-6 and 7 orbiters, with larger propellant tanks to be able to decelerate into lunar orbit and land on the surface, extendable leg structures to support the vehicle once landed, and solar panels angled to receive some light when the Sun is low in the sky. The landing site was a relatively flat area in Mare Humorum (Sea of Moisture), a basaltic plain which has been estimated to be 3.9 billion years old. Data about local magnetic fields, high-resolution images of the surrounding area, and regolith composition were transmitted. The probe's systems had to hibernate during the half-month-long lunar night.




    Lunar orbit insertion


    Descent and landing








    Regolith scoop

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    Phase 2 - 21 - M-1B, Mercury flyby, launch of Venus orbiter and Jupiter/Saturn flyby (1975)
  • Phase 2 - 21

    The development of HASDA's mass and volume-constrained interplanetary probes was becoming part of the revolution that was making computers smaller and more convenient for public use. Computers across the country were also starting to be connected in what was known as the "Hatsu-net" project, started earlier in the decade for use by universities and the military.

    1975-01-07 - Mio arrived at Mercury, but was only within the sphere of influence for four hours. It observed Mercury's craters and escarpments (cliffs formed at fault lines, suggesting geological activity in the distant past), a trace atmosphere of helium, a magnetic field implying a large iron core, and large temperature variations between the night and day sides (-183 °C to 187 °C). It also measured the plasma of the solar wind at a much closer distance compared to Earth. Small course corrections put it on a path to visit Mercury again in approximately six months (2 Mercurian years), but due to Mercury's 3:2 spin-orbit resonance (3 rotations for 2 orbits around the Sun), only the same portions of the surface would be visible. Data from Mio complemented NASA's Mariner 10 probe, mapping some parts of the planet that were in shadow when it passed by Mercury.






    1975-06-08 - Akatsuki-2 (PLANET-E) was launched to Venus, where it would perform an orbital insertion at the end of October to study the Venusian atmosphere at different wavelengths. Shaped as a rectangular prism with two solar arrays, it contained metal balancing plates etched with images of Hatsune Miku (like all Hatsunese probes) and thousands of submissions from the public for a "Send Your Name to Venus" campaign.

    (real life inspiration: http://wiki.nicotech.jp/nico_tech/index.php?HatsuneMiku_to_Venus)






    1975-07-02 - Mio made its second flyby of Mercury, passing closer to the southern hemisphere.

    1975-07-02 - Watarimono (渡り者, "wanderer") or PLANET-F was launched as Hatsunia's first probe to the outer planets, specifically Jupiter and Saturn, using a design similar to Pioneer 10 and 11. After using the Hakuba hydrolox stage, the spacecraft was boosted by a Star-39H solid kick motor borrowed from Thiokol, as it had a high propellant mass fraction in a small, compact package. It provided the majority of the 6390 m/s required to get to Jupiter, where it would be redirected to Saturn by its gravitational field. Because solar panel power generation is too weak at those distances, two SNAP-19 radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) were used. The Plutonium-238 fuel in the RTGs was expensive to produce, and used a significant but not excessive portion of HASDA's budget, but provided higher power density and safety compared to alternatives. This mission was done in preparation for a Grand Tour of Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune which would occur in the late 1970s with a larger next-generation rocket. Watarimono was expected to reach Jupiter in December 1977, and Saturn in May 1981 with a flyby of its atmospheric moon Titan. (a closer flyby of Saturn was prioritized instead)





    Separation of Star-39H solid kick motor


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    Phase 2 - 22 - M-1A/B, Final Utahime mission, Venus orbiter, 2nd lunar lander probe (1975-1976)
  • Phase 2 - 22

    1975-10-02 - Utahime-06, piloted by Akari Miura, was the final mission in the Utahime program. After docking with the third Rendezvous Test Vehicle 300 kilometers above Earth, Miura waited for almost a day before using the RTV's propulsion system to raise the apoapsis to 1039 kilometers where she could view most of Hatsunia. Then she returned to a 300 x 300 kilometer orbit before undocking and performing the last re-entry and splashdown of an Utahime capsule, which would be replaced in a few years by a newer, bigger crew vehicle that was being developed along with its launch vehicle.







    1975-10-31 - Akatsuki-2 performed Venus orbit insertion, which mostly took place while Venus was blocking communications signals to and from Earth. The final orbit had a periapsis of 539 kilometers and an apoapsis of over 9000 kilometers. The spacecraft observed the thick, dense, and hot CO2 atmosphere and its cloud layers in visible, infrared, and ultraviolet spectra, while mapping the topography of the terrain and measuring the ionosphere and magnetic field around Venus. The orbiter discovered an equatorial jet stream, and a large atmospheric wave in the region of Aphrodite Terra nearly stretching from pole-to-pole.






    1976-07-19 - Usagi-9, HASDA's second lunar lander probe, went to Ina, a shallow crater in Lacus Felicitatis (Lake of Happiness) considered to be one of the Moon's lowland regions. The surface was porous from ancient volcanic activity, with high levels of titanium.



    Orbit insertion


    Landing burn

    Phase 3 - 01 - M-2 rocket, Saki Orbital Flight Experiment (1977)
  • Phase 3 - 01

    The development of the M-2 rocket had several motivations. The Hatsunia Defense Forces and Cabinet Intelligence Office needed to lift large reconnaissance satellites with telescopic imaging capabilities. On the civilian side, scientists desired a rocket that could lift probes such as Mars landers or spacecraft to the outermost planets in the Solar System. HASDA was also planning a successor to the Utahime crew capsule with more living space for astronauts. This was known as Saki, named after the tallest mountain in Hatsunia at 3939 meters. The M-2 thus became a launcher with similar capabilities to a Titan III with solid rocket boosters.

    The M-2 had a 4.39-m-diameter core stage with five LE-04 engines, which could be augmented by up to four 2.39 m LE-04 liquid rocket boosters identical to the ones used on the M-1A and M-1B rockets, bringing the total to nine. To carry large payloads to Low Earth Orbit (up to 7 to 12 tonnes), a cheap high-thrust second stage was needed. Using another LE-04 on the second stage was considered to reduce development and manufacturing costs. But without the ability to throttle, this would result in the stage having excess g-forces and vibration near the end of its burn, especially for a crewed launch. Instead, three LE-02B engines (derived from the first stage engine of the Negi-2 sounding and orbital rockets) were used. Optionally, a hydrogen/liquid oxygen third stage with its additional efficiency and expenses could be added for payloads going beyond Low Earth Orbit (up to 3 to 6 tonnes). This was a 3.9-m-wide version of the M-1B "Hakuba"/"White Horse" stage called "Hakuba-A," with the same burn time. It had relatively lower thrust, so it was not practical for large LEO payloads.

    M-2 configurations were designated "XY" in which X represented the number of stages, and Y the number of liquid rocket boosters. For example, an M-2 24 had two stages and four boosters, while an M-2 30 had three stages and zero boosters.

    To reduce the strain on the government's space budget, a decision was made to privatize launch operations and promote them to an international market. Mikubishi Launch Services was formed as the world's first commercial launch provider, selling rides for geostationary communications and broadcasting satellites on the M-1B and eventually the M-2 series as subsequent satellites grew in mass. The late 1970s also saw the formation of Europaspace, a European launch company that Mikubishi would compete head-to-head with throughout the 1980s, as they both used native-built engines based on the American LR79.


    1977-02-17 - The first launch of the M-2 (24 configuration) carried the Saki Orbital Flight Experiment (SOFLEX) and Vehicle Evaluation Payload (VEP). SOFLEX was an uncrewed prototype version of the Saki Core Module, a 3.7-m-wide capsule that was flat and wide like the mountain it was named after. This shape was designed to reduce g-forces during re-entry with a shifted center of mass. However, after the M-2 upper stage performed a de-orbit burn before one full orbit was completed, SOFLEX re-entered ballistically with higher g-forces as it tested the durability of the heat shield and control systems. It deployed a large parachute and splashed down south of Negishima. Below SOFLEX was the box-shaped VEP, which acted as a mass simulator for heavy cargo.

    (Utahime probably had uncrewed prototype tests, too, I just didn't simulate or depict them)

    (I am now using the Waterfall mod, which produces engine exhaust effects with better framerates compared to particle-based effects)







    De-orbit using only one LE-02B engine


    SOFLEX re-entry


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    Phase 3 - 02 - M-2, dual-payload test, Jupiter flyby (1977)
  • Phase 3 - 02

    1977-05-31 - Neginohana-4a and 4b were communications and engineering test satellites launched by an M-2-30 (three stages, zero boosters) with a Payload Append System (PAS), an additional fairing structure designed to contain one satellite and support a second satellite on top. The satellites tested a new standardized bus for geostationary applications, with three-axis control and sun-tracking solar panels. 4a and 4b were respectively placed above the western and eastern sides of the Pacific Ocean.




    Burn to Geostationary Transfer Orbit


    Partially-circularized transfer orbits






    1977-10-02 - Watarimono arrived within Jupiter's massive sphere of influence. Over the next two-to-three months, it would approach the largest planet in the Solar System, getting as close as 12000 kilometers from the cloud tops, and reaching a speed as high as 56 kilometers per second. About a week before the closest approach on December 27, it crossed the orbit of the moon Callisto. The trajectory of the spacecraft took it within Jupiter's equatorial radiation belts (of solar particles captured by the planet's magnetic field), which were ten thousand times stronger than the Van Allen belts surrounding Earth. The probe's camera took close-up views of the swirling cloud bands in Jupiter's atmosphere, including the centuries-old storm known as the Great Red Spot. The four Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto) were also imaged, but from a farther distance. Jupiter was used for a gravitational assist to reach Saturn in 1981. (The Titan flyby was cancelled as a closer approach to Saturn was prioritized. The moon of Mimas would be flown by instead.)

    The shadow of Europa is visible on Jupiter

    (default TUFX)


    Entered sphere of influence

    One week from closest approach - Jupiter can be distinguished from the four Galilean moons


    Six hours from closest approach


    Closest approach






    Next stop: Saturn (in 1981)

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    Phase 3 - 03 - M-2/1B, advanced recon sat, 3rd lunar lander probe (1978)
  • Phase 3 - 03

    1978-05-09 - An M-2-24 launched the first Advanced Information Gathering Satellite (IGS-A) for the Cabinet Intelligence Office. Many details of its capabilities and operations are still kept secret, but it is believed to have a similar design to the "Stargazer" space telescope launched several years later. Much larger than the last IGS generation, it does not rely on film that has to be returned to Earth in a capsule, but instead uses electro-optical digital imaging.




    1978-07-23 - Usagi-10 was launched to land in Aristillus Crater on the Moon, located in Mare Imbrium (the "Sea of Rains"). The landing site was between the crater rim and the peaks of the impact site at the center.





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    Phase 3 - 04 - M-2, automated docking test (and some pop culture) (1979)
  • Phase 3 - 04

    1979-04-07 - The engineering test satellite "Neginohana-5" was launched by an M-2-20. The mission would evaluate automated rendezvous and docking technology (Utahime dockings were conducted with partial autonomy but still required a person for final guidance) with a pair of identical subsatellites. They were nicknamed "Orihime" and "Hikoboshi" after the two separated lovers in the Hatsunese adaptation of the Chinese folk tale "The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl," who are celebrated in the Tanabata festival. They are also the Hatsunese names for the stars Vega and Altair, respectively. A similar feat was performed in the previous decade by the Kosmos 186 and 188 satellites of the Soviet space program. Once reaching space, Orihime boosted to a higher orbit to act as the target satellite, while the chaser satellite Hikoboshi waited two days in a lower orbit to catch up. Hikoboshi then performed a transfer burn and rendezvous with Orihime before docking. Navigation was assisted by geostationary satellites. At close range, internal radar systems within Orihime and Hikoboshi were used for telemetry and guidance.

    On the same day of the launch, an animated series known as "Mobile Suit Zaku"[1] aired for the first time. The premise involved giant humanoid machines or "mecha" used for construction and combat in space, and the relations and conflicts between the democratic Federal Republic of Shion, living in large space colonies in the Earth-Moon Lagrange points where the gravitational fields of the two bodies cancel out [2], and the more corrupt and hegemonic Terran Sphere. The franchise would popularize the idea of millions of people working in space habitats like O'Neill cylinders [3], envisioned earlier in the decade, and the use of robots to construct even larger megastructures like Dyson swarms to surround and collect the Sun's energy, trillions of times more powerful than what the Earth alone could support.

    The Orihime and Hikoboshi satellites were just the beginning of robotic space assembly.

    [1] Yes, this is a Gundam mirror universe. Because of a number pun in which "Za-ku" = "3-9" = "Mi-ku." And since the Principality of Zeon is a literal Space Nazi faction, it has to be a mirror universe.
    [2] which are not simulated in KSP unless you use the Principia mod, which is more processor-intensive and makes planning and doing missions much more complicated.
    [3] The idea that a colony could be dropped on Sydney is not as emphasized. Because civilian applications of giant robots are shown more, there is more of an unironic "wow, cool robot" effect.




    Separation of Orihime


    Orihime in a higher orbit


    Hikoboshi transfer burn after two days of catching up



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    Phase 3 - 05 - M-2, launch of Jupiter/Uranus/Neptune flyby (1979)
  • Phase 3 - 05

    1979-11-05 - In the last major launch of the 1970s, HASDA took advantage of a rare opportunity (once every 175 years) to send a spacecraft to Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. After the M-2 rocket had been proven over two years, Watarimono-2 ("Wanderer-2") or PLANET-G was launched by an M-2-34 rocket early in the morning. From low Earth orbit, the kerolox second stage burned its remaining fuel for about 15 seconds, then the "Hakuba" hydrolox third stage burned for over 7 minutes, boosting the spacecraft's velocity by over 7200 m/s. This would put it on a course to visit Jupiter in May 1981 (concurrent with Watarimono visiting Saturn), Uranus in January 1986, and Neptune in August 1989. The Uranus and Neptune encounters would occur slightly before the arrivals of NASA's Voyager 2, which was launched two years earlier. Afterwards, it would continue into interstellar space. Watarimono-2 had a large 4-meter high-gain antenna transmitting in the X-band frequency (8-12 GHz) to be able to send lots of data from 4 to 5 billion kilometers from Earth, and was powered by two multi-hundred-watt radioisotope thermoelectric generators (MHW-RTGs).


    (A course correction would be needed later to reduce the distance to Neptune)




    Maneuver plan




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    Phase 3 - 06 - M-2, Saki crewed spacecraft - minimum system (1980) [VIDEO]
  • Phase 3 - 06

    1980-03-24 - An M-2-20 launched Saki-01, Hatsunia's next-generation crewed spacecraft, named after the tallest mountain in the country. This would be the final flight of the three "Rocket Women," Yuzuki Morita, Marumi Nabatame, and Akari Miura, who were now in their 30s and ready to pass the torch to the next generation of astronauts. Unlike NASA, which was going to launch a large reusable spaceplane (with expendable tank and boosters) known as the Space Shuttle next year, HASDA chose a smaller, disposable capsule design like Apollo to reduce development cost and time. During the launch, 2 out of 5 first stage engines and 1 out of 3 second stage engines were cut off later in the burn period to prevent the acceleration from exceeding 4 Gs [1] . Saki-01 was in the "minimum system" configuration, consisting only of a Core Module (flat capsule to reduce deceleration forces during reentry to 2.4 Gs) and a small Service Module (with fuel cells, RCS thrusters, and propellant for maneuvers). The life support systems were meant to support 3 people for 24 hours in orbit. The living room was larger than that of Utahime, but it was still a tight space. Re-entry and splashdown occurred in southwestern Hatsunia on the next day. The Saki "standard system," to be launched later in the decade, would add an additional Expansion Module and Propulsion Module for longer-term stays in orbit.

    [1] Using kOS scripts (for the first time) to disable engines (and jettison the launch escape system) using action groups





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    Phase 3 - 07 - M-2, 4th lunar lander probe, Earth observation satellite (1980)
  • Phase 3 - 07

    1980-07-02 - An M-1B rocket launched Usagi-11, the fourth lunar lander probe. Its destination was the southern rim of Tycho crater, to analyze the composition of regolith just outside the main impact zone (similarly to the Surveyor 7 mission). It was at a higher latitude compared to previous missions (45 degrees south), so sunlight was hitting the vehicle at a lower angle and power had to be conserved more often. Anorthosites with high levels of aluminium were detected.





    1980-10-12 - An M-2-20 rocket launched the Advanced Marine Investigation and Ground Observation Satellite (AMIGOS), which was nicknamed Aomidori (blue-green), to a sun-synchronous orbit almost 800 kilometers above Earth. It was used to take imagery and collect data of Earth for civilian purposes such as farming, land-use planning, fishing, environmental protection, and climate research, to make sure that Earth's natural resources were being used wisely. To do this, it used an near-infrared imaging spectrometer to measure differences in surface temperature, and a new type of small optical camera to take many high-resolution images of forests, urban areas, etc. all over the globe for public and private use.




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    Phase 3 - 08 - M-2, Saki-02, 2nd Jupiter flyby, 1st Saturn flyby (1981)
  • Phase 3 - 08

    1981-02-14 - After the retirement of the original three "Rocket Women," Saki-02 launched with the first of a new generation of Hatsunese astronauts: Hitomi Kuriyama, Haruyoshi Yasukawa, and Tomohiro Sasaki. The latter two were the first male astronauts in Hatsunia. They also spent 24 hours in orbit before returning east of Negishima.




    1981-05-28 - Watarimono-2 passed by Jupiter on its way to Uranus and Neptune, which would be reached in 1986 and 1989, respectively. It arrived in its massive sphere of influence on 1981-04-11. It could take pictures of Jupiter and its moons in greater detail compared to its predecessor, such as the swirling storm clouds in Jupiter's atmosphere, as well as the thin ring surrounding the planet. However, the trajectory and closest approach had to be farther away, passing as close as the orbit of Europa. Continuing observations made by Voyager 1 and 2 two years earlier, it saw the battered surface of Callisto, the grooved terrain Ganymede, the streaked icy surface of Europa, and volcanic activity on Io from far away.





    1981-05-30 - At around the same time as its successor's flyby of Jupiter, Watarimono flew by Saturn, having arrived in the sphere of influence on 1981-03-20. It observed Saturn, its prominent ring system of small particles, and its magnetic field, but was only able to do so with a resolution similar to the Pioneer 11 probe which reached Saturn two years ago. It also zoomed by the moon of Mimas for a few seconds. However, it was not able to see its most famous feature (discovered a year earlier by Voyager 1), Herschel Crater (which made it resemble the Death Star from Star Wars), from up close as it was on the night side.

    Saturn would be the final planetary destination for Watarimono almost 6 years after launch, but it would not reach interstellar space because it passed in front of Saturn's path around the Sun, thus reducing its velocity. Instead, it would go into a highly-inclined (almost-polar) elliptical heliocentric orbit which would return to a distance between Earth and Venus in 1987. From there, it could measure the Sun's magnetic field from a new perspective.


    Mimas encounter






    Heliocentric orbit after Saturn flyby

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    Phase 3 - 09 - M-2, launch of Mars lander and Jupiter orbiter (1981-1982)
  • Phase 3 - 09

    1981-11-29 - An M-2-32 rocket launched the MELODI (Mars Exploration with Lander-Orbiter Data Interactions, a.k.a. PLANET-H) spacecraft. Similar to the Viking spacecraft, the vehicle consisted of a orbiter with solar panels and a lander component powered by RTGs. After entering an elliptical Mars orbit in September 1982, MELODI would observe potential landing sites and wait for the right conditions, then release the lander which would enter Mars's atmosphere in a protective aeroshell (similar to the fairing for the Saki crewed spacecraft) which would deploy parachutes and be jettisoned before a propulsive landing.





    1982-01-04 - The Jupiter orbiter "Mokume" (PLANET-I) was launched by an M-2-34 rocket. Its name meant "wood grain" in reference to Jupiter's Hatsunese name, Mokusei (木星 or "wood star," another one of the Chinese five elements), and the fact that Jupiter's swirling clouds as observed by the Watarimono probes coincidentally resembled a wood grain. Its literal meaning of "wood eye" (木目) also represented the probe's mission to observe Jupiter and its moons. Unlike the Galileo spacecraft which NASA would launch later, Mokume did not carry an atmospheric probe and was thus lighter, being able to launch directly to Jupiter using the M-2 rocket and its Hakuba hydrolox upper stage. Mokume would enter Jupiter orbit in July 1984. In some aspects, Hatsunia was starting to pull ahead in the space race.





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    Phase 3 - 10 - M-2, Saki-03, 5th Moon lander, 1st Mars lander (1982) [VIDEO}
  • Phase 3 - 10

    1982-04-26 - An M-2-20 rocket launched Saki-03 with Tomohiro Sasaki, Kosuke Kokubun, and Yayoi Mimura. The latter two were new astronauts.




    1982-08-07 - Usagi-12 was launched by an M-1B rocket to the bright lunar crater of Copernicus, which is thought to have formed relatively recently (800 million years ago) compared to the 4-billion-year age of the Moon.





    1982-09-17 - MELODI (Mars Exploration with Lander-Orbiter Data Interactions) performed an insertion burn to enter an elliptical polar orbit (approximately 300 km x 30000 km) around Mars. The orbiter observed Mars for over two weeks before making a small de-orbit maneuver on 1982-10-05, releasing the lander in its aeroshell, then returning back to orbit. The lander itself entered the atmosphere of Mars and was slowed down by the 4-meter-wide shield without excessive heating. At a speed of about 300 m/s, the aeroshell and lander separated from the heat shield using small retrorockets (slightly imbalanced to prevent the shield from coming back and colliding). Parachutes deployed 12 to 6 km above the surface, but it was still traveling at about 50 m/s.

    After the landing legs (which had triple symmetry like the Viking landers) were deployed, the lander dropped from its aeroshell to peform a soft propulsive landing. The landing site was in Amazonis Planitia, a flat region northwest of Olympus Mons that formed with volcanic activity about 100 million years ago. The camera took high-quality images of the surface, while a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer and a sample digging apparatus measured the composition of the Martian regolith, mostly made of silicon, oxygen, and iron. No organic compounds were detected. Data was relayed to the orbiter, which could transmit back to Earth using its larger antenna.



    Mars orbit insertion






    Phase 3 - 11 - M-2, Saki-04, 1st Venus lander (1983) [VIDEO}
  • (Sorry for the wait, I took a break to play other games like Project Wingman and the Halo MCC, and to take care of other stuff as well. I was thinking of waiting to get a new PC since it's sluggish when making videos, and I have to go through this lengthy process to have an okay framerate, but I decided to upgrade my PC's RAM instead as a stopgap measure since these mods use a lot of it.)

    Phase 3 - 11

    1983-01-28 - Saki-04, the final flight of the Saki minimum system (before the launch of the standard system next year), with Haruyoshi Yasukawa, Kikuo Kanezawa, and Motoko Katagami.




    1983-06-07 - Akatsuki-3 (PLANET-J) was launched by a M-2 32 rocket to orbit Venus and deploy a lander, similar to the Soviet Union's Venera program. It also had a similar mass and engine configuration to the MELODI Mars probe. On 1983-10-30, almost five months later, the spacecraft entered an inclined retrograde elliptical orbit around Venus (500 km x 20000 km), such that the periapsis (low point) was on the day side. At the apoapsis (high point) of the orbit, the spacecraft performed a de-orbit maneuver to lower the periapsis to 100 km before releasing the aeroshell containing the lander. Afterwards, the orbiter raised its periapsis to 3000 km to be able to act as a relay with line-of-sight communications with Earth as the lander descended.

    Because of Venus's thick atmosphere, a more sturdy heat shield was needed to withstand entry. About 70 km above the surface, the lander was released from the aeroshell and fell at about 100 m/s through the increasingly thick atmosphere. Parachutes, made of kevlar to withstand the heat, deployed a few kilometers above the surface before the lander touched down in Themis Regio at around 4 m/s. The lander was spherical to reduce structural weak points in a place with high pressure differentials, and was surrounded by smaller spherical landing supports. It took images and samples of the volcanic regolith, and recorded the sounds of the wind as well. After approximately an hour, the lander succumbed to the harsh pressure, heat, and corrosion of the Venusian atmosphere [not simulated in KSP].






    Venus orbit insertion




    Lander aeroshell released



    Lander uncovered



    Only small parachutes were needed due to the dense atmosphere




    The orbiter relaying data from the surface

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    Phase 3 - 12 - M-2, 1st lunar rover (1984)
  • Phase 3 - 12

    1984-03-15 - Usagi-13, Hatsunia's first lunar rover, launched on an M-2 30 rocket. The ~300 kg rover was equipped with similar instruments to previous Usagi landers, but with a more advanced camera, and on a six-wheeled vehicle with the same solar panels. It was carried to the surface by a lander (total mass of ~3 tonnes) with folding ramps (Infernal Robotics mod) and seven engines, with a flat and wide shape to reduce the slope of the deployed ramps. Landing occurred in 1984-03-19 (local time) in Sinus Medii, near the sites where Surveyor 4 crashed and Surveyor 6 landed, and where Earth can be seen directly overhead from the Moon's tidal lock. Final descent used two out of seven engines. The rover drove for over 4 kilometers to different sites of interest, taking images and analyzing lunar soil composition.





    Entering lunar orbit



    De-orbit and landing




    Ramps deployed



    Driving away

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