As the technical details of the next two primary missions (Gas Can convoy & Laythe Carrier – scroll down) are well known, let’s address the crews involved as we move towards the future glory of the Laythe Colony project.
Having failed to transfer the first two components of the Laythe station with any reserves of fuel, the first objective was to move as much fuel as possible as efficiently as possible. This could have been done better. On the positive side, Bill Kerman, waiting for the better part of two years would be reunited with his long lost friends. Sort of.
It was undisputed that Bob Kerman would lead the Gas Can mission. A young cadet, Adwig Kerman made the cut easily. The third seat, however, was uncertain. A new trio was coming along nicely, but Command imagined they would form the core of the following project, and any other cadets were out of the running for one reason or another. The deadline was getting closer, and Command was prepared to send the Gas Can Convoy with only two crew members when a familiar looking Kerbal appeared in the Astronaut Complex lounge. Despite all expectations (or logic), the mysterious figure was the spitting image of Jebediah Kerman. Bob was overjoyed, Adwig was in awe, and Command was deeply concerned. This was impossible, they claimed. KSS 7.2 was still transmitting from across the solar system, the life support had cut out years before, surely killing Jebediah, and no other ships had ever gotten near the drifting derelict.
Tests were performed. Terrible, invasive, creative tests were performed. Was this Jebediah? How could it possibly be? But if not, who else could this stranger be?
Jeb, if it was him, kept up his trademark grin through it all.
Eventually, Command threw up their collective hands in frustration. This obvious fraud could not possibly be Jebediah, hero of the Kerbal Space Program, lost these many years through no one’s fault, it was just one of those things, you know? On the other hand, he passed all the tests, possessed an unrivaled knowledge of the material required, and screw it, we need a body for that third seat.
Newly dubbed JebClone (for lack of a more reasonable alternative), the stranger was added to the KSP roster. Awkwardly, his name was written in the slot for the flight commander’s seat, and as no one could find one of those erasers that work on pen marks, the assignment stood.
Thus the crew of the Gas Can Convoy was Bob Kerman, Adwig Kerman, and JebClone. On the long flight to Laythe, an interesting dynamic evolved. Eager to prove that he could have commanded the mission, Bob gradually became overly critical of his former colleague. Adwig, enamored with the resurrected hero was loath to side against him, but couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right with the perpetually grinning pilot. JebClone was having a wonderful time, smiling away throughout the trials and tribulations of the Gas Can mission.
One moment of note was written into the Book of Standard Maneuvers – that reference of approved responses to the various crises that may crop up during a flight. Having spent much more of the store of fuel than Command imagined, the mission was in danger of suffering the same fault as the first two flights to Laythe. Thinking quickly, Jebclone grabbed the KerMan comic book Adwig was reading, leaving the junior Kerbalnaut with several nasty papercuts. In a flurry of scribbling, JebClone sketched out a wholly untested maneuver – areobraking through the upper atmosphere of the gas giant, Jool, shedding speed in a pyrotechnic trade-off with physics.
The areobraking worked, much to the surprise of everyone but JebClone, who was too busy plotting out a way to duplicate the feat in the atmosphere of Laythe. KSP Command was livid. No one had authorized such a reckless use of resources, but in a touching show of solidarity as JebClone struggled to execute the second of the dangerous decelerations, KSP Command’s admonitions were silenced when Bob switched off the radio.
When contact was reestablished, the Gas Can Convoy was in place in high orbit above Laythe, awaiting the arrival of the next flight to make use of the fuel Adwig, Bob, and JebClone had successfully managed to bring so very far.
And still, JebClone was having a wonderful time.