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- Type: VAB
- Class: ship
- Part Count: 26
- Mods: 3
- Bluedog DB
- Squad (stock)
While a moon landing program had been in the works for a number of years it didn’t really take off until JFK’s famous address on May 25th, 1961 and with that there had to be a decision on how such a landing would take place. The original plan was for a single spacecraft to directly ascend to the Moon, land, and takeoff back to Earth which is known as direct ascent. This would require an extremely large and powerful lifter of which in many proposals was commonly known as the Nova rocket. The opposite approach known as earth orbit rendezvous would use numerous launches to assemble, and possibly fuel, the vehicle in low earth orbit. A third approach, initially deemed extremely risky, was lunar orbit rendezvous which separated the ship into two vehicles, a Command/Service Module, and a lunar lander which would be used exclusively for the landing. This plan additionally called for it to be handled with only a single lifter, the eventual Saturn V.
Both earth orbit rendezvous and lunar orbit rendezvous required NASA to develop procedures and astronauts to develop experience with rendezvous and docking between two vehicles operating under orbital mechanics. This would also be a requirement if NASA or the USAF were going to develop any reusable space stations which were already in the works. An important step was a doctoral thesis on manned orbital rendezvous by NASA astronaut and future moon walker, Buzz Aldrin. This eventually led to the first serious rendezvous attempt with Gemini 4 where it attempted to station keep with its spent upper stage however this failed. The first successful rendezvous eventually occurred on December 15th, 1965 between Gemini 6 and Gemini 7.
The Agena upper stage first flew in 1959 and was primarily used for spy and other reconnaissance satellites until eventually designs were made for the standardized Agena-D meant to reduce costs and improve reliability which first flew in 1962. Several years later it was chosen to serve as the basis for the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) which would allow astronauts to develop an array of skills necessary for the Apollo program. The early key goals were for reliable rendezvous and docking with an unmanned vehicle with other goals including using the GATV’s engines to significantly alter the combined vessel’s orbit, conduct a variety of experiments, and provide much needed EVA experience.
Unfortunately the first GATV exploded during its launch on its Atlas rocket but the second GATV with the historic Gemini 8 mission became the first successful docking of a manned vessel with an unmanned one in space as commanded by the future first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. The docking was short-lived because of problems with the Gemini thrusters but there would be three more successful missions with the GATV which closed out the Gemini program.
The Bossart is Bluedog Design Bureau’s second approximation of the Atlas rocket and a replacement for its older Muo design. It is a stage-and-a-half design which should get the payload through its ascent and into a LKO (Low Kerbin Orbit). The fairing and booster engines should be decoupled upon hitting the upper atmosphere although depending on your mission it may be fine to leave it on all the way into orbit but you’ll probably cut it close because of the added weight of the fairing.
The Belle Target Vehicle (BTV) adds a few additional parts to the Belle-D which are both approximations of the GATV and Agena-D from Bluedog Design Bureau. The additions are a docking adapter for a Leo Vinci capsule, also from Bluedog Design Bureau, a boom antenna, and a materials bay. It can operate remotely but is intended to perform most of its operations while docked with a manned vehicle.
The typical mission profile would be to use this with a single Leo Vinci capsule for rendezvous and docking, perform an EVA to the materials bay, and use its engines to boost the combined vessel higher into MKO (Medium Kerbin Orbit) then lower its altitude again so the Leo Vinci can safely undock and land. However since the engine can be restarted indefinitely it could be used for multiple missions, as a long-term docking target, or even as a limited space tug for any vehicle that uses the proper docking adapter.
Built in the VAB in KSP version 1.6.1.
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