Attention shifted back to Kerbin orbit after the two successful Shuttle transfers to Laythe. Tomtrey had docked with the Laythe orbital station, and Raylo was sitting comfortably in high orbit, waiting to be useful.
KSP Command understood that public opinion would not allow the Laythe Carrier to sit unused after the numerous launches required to put it in orbit in the first place. However, there was no getting around the fact that the ungainly vessel was inherently unstable. The Laythe Carrier mission was scrapped, and a new use would need to be found for the hardware. First up, the Laythe rover needed to be moved out of the way. Getting it out was no easier than getting it in had been.
Nails were bit, edges frayed, and those grey hairs became a little more prominent. (Come on! Who designed this thing?! We have to take it out sideways?? We’ve got, like two meters of clearance, here!)
Everything worked out fine. Once the rover was undocked and slapped onto a temporary thrust module, it was moved into a higher orbit out of the way. Command noted in the files of several engineers an unhelpful and possibly disruptive attitude.
Next was getting rid of the girders that had connected the bow to the stern of the ship – the arrangement was blamed for the unstable nature of the Carrier. The fact that a custom-built transfer ship picked up both girders flawlessly, only to snap cleanly in half trying to change direction too quickly, casting the gathered girders down into a de-orbiting spiral of death turned out for the best. True, the engineers had felt particularly clever in coming up with a list of possible future uses for the re-appropriated girders. On the other hand, when the plan was reevaluated later, everyone agreed that the original girders were far too ornate (the part-count was way too high for their function), so a redesign was sorely needed.
But that was a problem for a few hours later.
In the meantime, Command got the engineers to work on what to do with the defunct Carrier hardware still left in orbit. Predictably, an intern came up with the best idea – that the Laythe Colony would always be hungry for fuel, and that repurposing the Carrier for fuel delivery wasn’t a bad idea. In short order, massive amounts of fuel and monopropellant were launched to rendezvous with the Carrier frame.
The first attempt left a bit to be desired in terms of improving stability.
Oddly enough, the solution came from a cadet waiting to be assigned.
“Why does it all have to go as one flight?”
It was true that the Gas Can Convoy mission was horribly inefficient, delivering a small portion of the cargo to Laythe. Forced to use much of the fuel reserves, the Gas Can Convoy had been helpful, but not what you’d call desirable.
And so the Carrier was split in half, extra components were launched to flesh out the two ships, and a second crew, Lemdon Kerman, Harsey Kerman, and Hadrie Kerman (no relation) were picked to pilot Refuel 2. Thompbles, Newrey, and Hans, decommissioned as part of the Carrier mission were already sitting in the newly renamed Refuel 1 high over Kerbin, so only a small minority among KSP Command argued for their replacement.
It is worth noting that while Lemdon and Harsey were prime examples of the KSP astronaut training program, Hadrie was surprisingly competent. Both courageous and brilliant, the idea to split the former Carrier mission into two fuel deliveries was, in fact, Hadrie’s sugegstion. Clever, clever. It may turn out that Hadrie Kerman, uncommon in many ways, had an agenda of his own.
As Refuel 2 prepared to head to Laythe, Refuel 1 entered into orbit around the enticing moon. A significant flaw was realized at this point. To fit the hardware from the Carrier mission, fuel tanks with very large docking ports were used. It did not occur to anyone that the Laythe Habitat did not actually have any docking ports this size.
Oh, wait! Those girders!
A quick redesign later, and docking expansions were on their way to Laythe.
All of KSP Command waited eagerly for the new hardware to arrive at the distant colony, and while Lemdon and Harsey were able to muster little more than vacant stares from their seats aboard Refuel 2, Hadrie watched with anticipation.