Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

Imaginary_Chair_6958 t1_j9pqeyd wrote

An astronaut who lost his arms and two other crew members in an explosion has to fix the hole in his orbiting spaceship or he’ll never make it back to Earth alive. He only has enough oxygen for another day.


28th_Stab_Wound OP t1_j9q4tsq wrote

Its the year 1977

Apollo 25 has just made the disaster of 13 look like a little booboo. Oh god, how bad it can get.

After attempting to undock the Heavy Lunar Module (HLM) 'Liberty' from the Orbiter for the Lunar descent, a failure to close an air seal caused an explosive decompression in the HLEM, killing the two crew there and damaging the Orbiter along with it.

This is the story of Leman Reynard of Apollo 25.

He woke up head spinning, still strapped in his seat. Blinking to alertness, there was a million things already not going right. The instrumentation was going haywire! Light flooded in spinning columns from the sunlight. Oh. Oh shit!

Leman noticed, much to his horror, that the Orbiter was spinning! He grabbed onto one of the controls, burning the attitude control thrusters on the extremities of the the ship to kill his rotation. One axis after another stabilised. Lateral, horizontal. Alright, great. No longer spinning. He sighed leaning back and fiddling with the radio link. Sure, the Orbiter was currently on the side of its orbit where the Moon blocked sight of Earth, but when it rose in a handful of hours, he had to let Ground Control know what'd happened.

Liberty had gone kaput and now his ship was damaged to an extent he could not fully determine.

Scanning his instrumentation again, he took tally of his fuel. Sure, after Apollo 21, the tanks has self-sealing material, but he had still lost a good amount of liquid fuel to the vacuum of space. Along with two good men and entire lander. All in all, taking it into account... well he should have enough to at least escape the lunar gravity and enter the originally intended trajectory to re-enter Earth's atmosphere. At least that was good. Enough good news to sleep on, for the moment.

Leman awoke to the sound of the radio repeating messages. Peering outside the viewport of the capsule, he watched as the blue-white shape of Earth rose silently above the barren Lunar surface. It was his goal now. Picking up the radio, he responded to the hail, finally getting his first words of with Ground Control in Houston, Texas.

"Houston, this is Reynard. Liberty's been lost with all hands. Its a hell of a problem."


Some time has passed, and the intended burn on the near side of the Lunar orbit has placed the Orbiter of Apollo 25 and its sole occupant back into a intercept course with the Earth's atmosphere in approximately three days.

One small problem. The Service Module has vented far more oxygen than expected from the explosion. Leman has counted along with the boys on the ground; he has about a day and a half worth of oxygen left. He'll return to Earth as a suffocated corpse.

He was fiddling with one of the specialised zero-gee pens as he contemplated his next course of action, if he was to die, when the radio blared again. Picking it up, he was greeted by a very animated young voice. As he explained;

'Captain Reynard, there's a course of action you can take that might just save your life!'

"Wha- who is this? Where's the rest of Mission Control? I- what did you say?"

'W-well. I am just the janitor for this room while everyone's out, b-but! But! I've been studying the design of your mission's service module by looking over the shoulder of some if the engineers, and I have an idea to extend your oxygen supply!'

Leman paused for a moment. Was he really gonna trust this kid with his life like this? Someone who wasn't even trained in any of this spaceflight business? He was a janitor for Gods sake! What could he do?

Though, what did Leman really have to lose. Ground Control proper hadn't given him any possible solutions, so even if something went wrong and blew up on his face, he'd be dead anyway.

'So, Captain, are you willing to hear me out?' Came the young man again.

"Sure. Alright, kid, what've you got?"

'Oh- wait, really? I- okay... Okay! Alright, here it is. You've got some spare oxidizer from your fuel tanks right? Only the propellant was vented, yes? According to your reports.'

"Yep, I that's right. I have no real way to vent it out so its just dead weight now that I've burnt off most of my propellant already."

'Okay, gotcha, so, the Service Modules of all the Apollos since 21 are using Liquid Hydrogen - Liquid Oxygen mix right?'

"Yes, that's... That's right."

'Okay, so this is the crazy part. You need to draw oxygen from the LOx tank and vent it into your capsule to keep breathing.'

"What?! Are your crazy that's- wait..."

There was silence for a good half-minute.

'Uh, sir? Are you-'

"That's genius! I- I could make this work! Alright, thank you, uhh, what's your name?"

'Jeb, sir, why do you ask?'

"Well, thank you Jeb, I hope Mission Control informs you of the outcome of your plan."


The capsule of Apollo 25 would jettison the service module minutes before striking the first layers of Earth's atmosphere. Its ablative heatshielding pointed against its velocity, capsule blazed through hot gas like a bullet as slowly but surely it decelerated from nearly 10km/s to only a handful of times the speed of sound.

Drogue chutes deploy in a cluster of three to slow its decent. The capsule lurches and groans under the sudden strain of parachutes.

Barely a km off the ground, the drogues are cut and the landing chutes deploy in a cluster of three. Apollo 25 has slowed to barely four metres per second of descent velocity. The heatshield, blackened and burnt, is jettisoned into the water has slowly the Capsule lands among the waves beneath a blue sky.

The flotation devices burst from their small housings on the bottom edges of the capsule as a barely standing Leman, straining to stand from nearly a week in zero-gee, looks out through the viewports at Earth once again.


Imaginary_Chair_6958 t1_j9qecs3 wrote

Far exceeded my expectations. I made it needlessly difficult with the loss of his arms, which made no sense anyway. So bravo. Impressive.


28th_Stab_Wound OP t1_j9qojed wrote

Thanks! You reawakened the latent spaceflight nerd in me for this one!


Nexmortifer t1_j9ugycb wrote

Do I detect a bit of KSP leaking in? Because if so, that's great, and if not, it's a hilarious coincidence.