The Kerbal Space Center announced it’s next mission in the Mark Program, the Mark Three flight. This is the first flight since President John F. Kerman (no relation) delivered his lofty goal of a Mun landing. To achieve this goal, great strides are going to have to be made in space flight, and the Mark Three launch is the next great stride to be taken.
Standing more than three times taller than the Mark One and Two vehicles, the Mark Three will be testing out multiple new technologies developed at the Research and Development Department of the Kerbal Space Center (see our coverage here). The goals for the Mark Three launch are also bold, foremost hoping to get a Kerbal into outer space, a region where the air pressure drops below measurable levels, around seventy kilometers in altitude.
Arguably the most daring decision made in the design of the Mark Three is the concept of “Planned Disassembly,” where the vehicle in flight will use multiple rockets on top of rockets, lighting them one after another and then discarding the weight of the spent rockets. The term St.Ag.E (Strong Again Engine) or “STAGE” was created for each of these rockets. The process of disassembling the rocked and dropping off the used portions is called “Staging.”
Staging will be accomplished by the TR-18A Stack Decoupler using carefully measured amounts of explosives to cut the rocket into portions.
The first stage will be the new RT-10 “Hammer” Solid Rocket Booster and four basic fins with Go Faster stripes. It will be followed by the second STAGE proven RT-5 “Flea” Solid Rocket Booster, configured with the same four basic fins and Go Faster stripes. The third STAGE consists of the experimental LV-T45 Liquid Fuel Engine and it’s associated fuel and oxidizer tanks. This fantastically complex engine will be flown for the first time during this mission. The engineers suspect that this engine might have valuable uses in the space program, if they can figure out how to make it reliably not explode.
The Mark Three will carry it’s pilot in the same Mk1 Capsule as the Mark One and Two. It will have the scientific payload directly attached to it’s exterior. Three Mystery Goo Containment pods will be mounted equilaterally on it’s sides, and the 2HOT Thermometer will also be mounted on the side to monitor the temperature of the capsule throughout it’s flight. As an added safety precaution, an additional TR-18A will be placed between the capsule and the experimental liquid fuels and engine. This will allow the engine and it’s fuel to be ejected in case of an in-flight emergency or explosion. It is because of this potential ejection that the scientific payload is directly attached to the Mk1 Capsule.
The Kerbal Space Center did not answer questions as to whom would be assigned as pilot, nor exactly when the launch would be. With the advanced assembly of the Mark Three in the Vehicle Assembly Building though, we should not have to wait long to find out.