Today’s historic first launch of the Mark program was marred by a near disaster, with the craft tumbling out of control and failing to achieve a fifth of the intended altitude. Only the quick reflexes and remarkable piloting skills of the Kerbonaut Jebediah Kerman (no relation) prevented his untimely end.
The day dawned clear and bright on this day, the day when we would finally see Jebediah Kerman attempt the first rocket flight in Kerbal history. All systems had been checked, and everything appeared correct. The last minute checks were underway while Jebediah had a breakfast of steak, eggs, and orange juice.
After breakfast, Jebediah Kerman headed over to the Kerbonaut Complex to don his flight garments and pressure suit. Meanwhile, the pad crew finished up their checks and pronounced the Mark One ready for flight.
Jebediah then did the long march out to the Mark One and proceeded to board the craft and strap in. All final last minute checks were completed and the count down began. Everything was going perfectly according to plan. No deviations from expected norms was observed.
As the countdown progressed, Jebediah waited in the capsule, checking systems and communicating with the ground crew. Soon the countdown reached the final minutes. “T-Minus ninety seconds,” came the announcement over the Mission Control public address system, “All systems nominal.”
“T-Minus sixty seconds. T-Minus thirty seconds. All systems look good. T-Minus twenty seconds. Ten. Five. T-Minus three… two… one… Launch!”
Almost immediately there were indications of trouble. The craft was not accelerating as fast as expected, and there seemed to be indications of off center thrust. “I have a serious problem here,” came the terse message from the capsule. “I have a chute deploy indicator.” Examination of the launch photos showed that the parachute had indeed deployed.
The chute caught in the exhaust plume of the rocket, and began dragging the craft off course. The pull altered the angle of the rocket thrust, causing the entire craft to tumble end-over-end.
“Jebediah Kerman (no relation) was unable to correct the roll, which is not unexpected once the craft began to tumble,” said Walt Kerman (no relation), Kerbal Space Center spokeskerbal. “However once the RT-5 engine ran out of fuel and ceased thrust, Jebediah was able to bring the craft under control and return the craft to the ground safely.”
A thorough investigation will be undertaken to see what went wrong before another attempt to launch will occur. The fact that the capsule and systems were returned uncrashed will greatly aid in this investigation.
Overall, the flight reached a height of 992 meters, falling far short of the stated goal of 5,000 meters. The flight lasted a grand total of two minutes and ten seconds.
Due to the fact that the emergency occurred so quickly after launch, no science objectives were accomplished.
Jebediah Kerman is reported to be in good health and spirits, and is expected to undergo a physical to ensure that no lasting damage was done.