As long as there's nothing interesting going on in the Jool system, let's check up on Desdin, our plucky colonist on Eve.
Just kidding. But also not kidding...since our story actually started with Desdin on Eve. The boys at KSC recently sent him a new mobile base (a duplicate flight article of the Laythe Base 2, but refitted for Eve). It's so much easier to go to Eve than to Jool... the Nuclear Tug only used the fuel from its rear drop tank to get the ship into Eve orbit and positioned for the drop to Desdin. Below we see the base entering Eve's atmosphere.
The new base was needed because of changes in the terrain on Eve that made the lake Desdin was camped near disappear... and that was a shock to him when he woke up from a couple-week-long meditation trance, let me tell you. It was also just time to send Desdin some more consumables, improved recycling systems, and new scientific equipment. Below, the base settles to the surface of Eve on its landing legs (to protect the wheels). These were the hefty old-style legs...not the mushy ones the contractor provided KSC in the most recent order. After landing, the legs were retracted, and the base drove down to the lakeshore of the largest remaining lake in the region.
Desdin hopped into his Fido rover and sped the 89 kilometers to his new lakeshore residence. It's also closer to the highest elevation mountains in the region (which is important because whatever caused the lakes to disappear also caused the slumping of the previous high-elevation site that was to eventually be used to drop a lander to return Desdin to Kerbin, should he ever desire to leave Eve).
But the whole point of this is that Desdin has been spending a lot more time being active on Eve and less time in his meditation trances... and part of his regular set of experiments is to observe Kerbol. Thus it was Desdin who first spotted the unusually large outbreak of sunspot activity, and he was able to warn Kerbal Space Center about this in a timely fashion.
As we can see from the diagram below, Eve was located on the opposite side of Kerbol from Jool and Kerbin, and this allowed Desdin to give KSC a heads up about the developing magnetic anomaly two days before the superspot region rotated into view from Kerbin. Kerbol rotates with a period of 5 (Earth) days, in case you are wondering.
The boys at KSC sent out warnings about increased activity on Kerbol to its deep space explorers in the Jool system, but their more immediate concern when the growing superspot region came into view was for the six astronauts on Minmus moonbase. Commander Nedmy Kerman was ordered to perform an emergency evacuation of the moonbase and return all crew to Kerbin in the minimum possible time, using any fuel needed and expending equipment as required. Below, the crew scrambled onto the ladders of the Fido Mini 2 for the 2.7 km dash to the Landers.
NOTE: For this exercise, I gave myself a time limit in which I had to return the crew to beneath Kerbin's atmosphere before a hail of high energy particles would come sleeting into the Kerbin system to impinge on the hulls of their ships, screeching to a halt and dumping energy in the form of Bremsstrahlung X-rays that would rip to tatters all sorts of important organic molecules inside our jolly little kerbals. As you may know, it typically takes about two days to go from Minmus to Kerbin... but I figured that with some delays in recognizing the danger posed by the expanding superspot region, and delays caused by bureaucratic intertia, I gave myself a deadline of 12 hours. And if some cute little kerbals had to be fried dead in the interest of making an exciting narrative for our Jool mission, then so be it.
Whoa! Once they knew I was serious, the moonbase crew headed off to the Landers. Oh, look: an ancient RCS-powered rover...how quaint. But that baby can move on the frozen lake flats of Minmus, and it got the crew to the Landers in a matter of minutes. The Landers were located away from the moonbase to decrease lag...er...to decrease the danger of landing accidents damaging the moonbase...but Mission Controllers may want to re-think that policy.
First into Moon Lander 1 were Merfred, Rodgan, and Dilger Kerman. And here we see why I'm actually fairly confident I may be able to save our little green explorers from the approaching storm of ionization radiation: These general purpose Moon Landers were designed to work on both Minmus AND the Mün with capacity to spare, so they have a metric shipload of fuel on board: three Rockomax X200-16 tanks, currently filled to 89% capacity. Oh how the Press scoffed at the wastefulness of using such overpowered landers on Minmus.... but this excess fuel is the only thing that might save our kerbals' bacon.
Below, Moon Lander 1 lifts off. There was no leisurely boosting into orbit and plotting an efficient Trans-Kerbol-Injection maneuver. Merfred just pointed the ship somewhat left of Kerbin and kicked the Poodle up to full power. "Somewhat left" was to kill off Minmus's orbital velocity...but most of the fuel was burned heading right at Kerbin...or slightly to the side of it for an atmospheric entry with a targeted periapsis of around 23 km. And all the fuel was burned, except for 100 units or so, in case a course correction was needed.
The ship streaked away from Minmus with a speed of over 3200 m/s at engine cutoff, as the angry face of Kerbol watched on. As soon as I had the Moon Lander 1 on course, Nedmy, Milski, and Rodmy Kerman repeated the maneuver in Moon Lander 2, leaving Minmus at about the same velocity.
Below, Moon Lander 1 plummeting toward Kerbin's atmosphere. The speed was over 4,000 m/s before entry... but the Mk1-2 capsule has shown it can stand up to faster speeds than that on some interplanetary returns I've done. The side tanks were separated, and then the center tank was dropped, and all the parts put on a nice show of reentry flames.
The capsule landed safely in some foothills. The total time from evacuation alert to landing on Kerbin: 4 hours and 9 minutes. Well! Even I was impressed.
Moon Lander 2 came burning in 20 minutes later, and made a safe landing in the ocean. I was planning on replacing these old Landers with new, more efficient models, but I don't think those would have gotten the crews back in such a short time. Maybe Minmus Moonbase will get a single high-speed escape ship that's kept close to the base, and smaller, more efficient landers for the regular duty of shuttling passengers between the surface and orbit.
After studying the superspot region for another day, the kerbol-astronomers predicted there might be some magnitude 5 eruptions, so the warning was passed on to the explorers in the Jool system. So the sudden spreading of the superspot region and massive ejections of magnitude 9 or 10 sort of took them by surprise. As Kerbin was lashed by the initial bursts of high energy particles, wreaking havoc with radio communications and power grids, the boys at KSC tried to send a warning to the Vall Expedition. Use all the antennas! Redline the transmitters! But would the warning get through?
Which, of course, takes us up to the end of the last episode, when our heroines on Vall did indeed receive the warning. The safest place to be in the Jool system if a huge coronal mass ejection hits is on Laythe, under its 0.8-bar atmosphere. Laythe is located deep in Jool's radiation belts, to be sure, but unlike the surfaces of the Jovian moons such as Io and Europa in our solar system, which have negligible atmospheres, the surface of Laythe is protected by its surprisingly thick atmosphere that can stop the high energy electrons, protons, and small numbers of heavier nuclei in their tracks. But can our heroines reach the safety of Laythe's surface in time?
So let's discuss the time limit I set for myself before our valiant Vall explorers would become irradiated corpses. Coronal Mass Ejections from our Sun travel at an averge speed of 500 km/s...but they can be as fast as 3,000 km/s. Yes, that's KILOMETERS per second. The distance from Kerbin to Jool can be found using all the other wonderful data about the Kerbol system in the Kerbal Celestials section of the Wiki (http://wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/Category:Celestials), and it works out that a super-high-speed ejection could cross that distance in a little over 5 hours. Looks grim. But the superspot region (currently spewing bursts of high energy particles at Kerbin) won't be pointed at Jool until Kerbin rotates another 26 degrees...and that takes 8.33 hours. So...over 13 hours total. But I've said the superspot region is spreading...so knock off a bit for that. Let's call it 12 hours until irradiation hell time. That was enough time for our boys on Minmus... but I often spend DAYS dicking around getting ships to encounter moons after an aerocapture at Jool. But 12 hours it is. The die is cast.
Hellou: "Emi! I'm in and strapped down!"
Emilynn: "Standby, Chickadee. The station is around the back right now. We have to wait for 30 minutes before it's in position so I can boost."
Hellou: "Ah. OK. I'm unstrapping...I'm going to recheck the equipment and sample stowage since we have time. Give me a five-minute warning before we need to boost."
Kurt: "Laythe Base to Vall Lander. Laythe Base to Vall Lander."
Emilynn: "Hey there, Jaymak. We may be coming to visit. But I'm too busy right now to chat."
Kurt: "Hawk...We have been monitoring the emergency transmissions from KSC before they went off the air. Thombples and Aldner are computing possible transfer orbits for you now."
Emilynn: "Well bless their little hearts, Jaymak! The navi-comp here tells me I won't get a window to Laythe for 12 hours, and I haven't had time yet to convince it otherwise."
Kurt: "Roger, Hawk. We don't think there's time to wait for and perform a standard Hohmann transfer. We are looking at faster options. We have the specs for your ship, but please confirm: is your Tug fully fueled? Are you planning on carrying your lander along?"
Emilynn: "Affirmative on the Tug, Jaymak. Fully fueled. But we will not bring the Lander, just the Vall Station. OK, this takes a load off my mind...I'll concentrate on the boost and rendezvous for now."
Kurt: "Roger. Good luck, Hawk."
Thirty minutes after the clock started ticking, Emilynn fired the engines of the Vall Lander and headed for space.
Below is the plot showing the liftoff and rendezvous maneuver. The solid trajectory shows the result of the initial burn that placed the Lander's apoapsis on the 165 km orbit of the Vall Station. Then the maneuver node was added and tweaked to get the intercept shown (0.2 km separation). At the intercept point, Emilynn burned to match velocities with the Station.
This was not one of those nice, sedate docking maneuvers. Instead it was: blast toward the Station at what would normally be considered unsafe speeds...brake...use RCS fuel like it's going out of style...and slam the ships together at over twice the speed I normally use. The result? Emilynn had the ships docked 43.5 minutes after zero time. And remember: 30 minutes of that was spent sitting on the ground waiting for the Station to pass overhead.
Emilynn: "Chickadee, we are docked. Transfer over to the Station. Take only what you can carry in one trip. I'm setting the Lander for remote
control. All your samples will stay safe and happy in the fridge until we or somebody else comes back to collect them."
Hellou: "Roger. Heading over now."
Emilynn: "Vall Station to Laythe Base. We are docked. Talk to me, boys. What trajectory have you got for me?"
Kurt: "Damn, you rock, Hawk! You have 40 minutes before first burn opportunity. Let me know when you are in the Station control module and ready to receive data."
Emilynn: "I'm already moving, Jaymak. Chickadee, you can have 20 minutes to make additional transfers of anything you want."
Hellou: "Roger, Emi. Thanks."
Below, Hellou transfers a second set of samples to the Vall Station habitat module.
Emilynn: "Hawk to Jaymak. I'm in place and systems are all green. Show me what you have."
Kurt: "Sending to your Navi-comp now. You'll fire straight retrograde from Vall, and drop in for a fast lap around Jool at a 2500 km periapsis, then out to Laythe for aerocapture."
Emilynn: "OK, I see the figures. Is this as fast as you've got? How about if I burn retrograde and KEEP burning retrograde until I start heading the other direction and meet Laythe coming around the other way."
Kurt: "That's a crazy idea, Hawk. But Aldner already thought of it and ran the figures. It would be faster, and your ship would barely have enough fuel to do it, but the aerocapture at Laythe would smash you at over 80 Gs."
Emilynn: "Roger, Jaymak. I'll go your way. Can we cut some time on the other side burning toward Laythe? This maneuver will leave me with lots of fuel."
Kurt: "It wouldn't save a lot of time, and the aerocapture would get worse. We'll look into it."
With Hellou and her samples safely strapped down, Emilynn separated the Vall Lander from the station and moved away.
The burn for Laythe took place when the Station was approaching the spot on its orbit right under Jool. Unnoticed in the background was an occultation of Tylo by Laythe.
Below, the burn for Laythe continues under the malevolent gaze of Kerbol.
Below, the Vall Station successfully on its trajectory to Laythe. If you haven't noticed already, I'm using my favorite Conic Draw Mode 0, so the encounter line showing the projected path past Laythe is drawn over where Laythe is NOW, and not where it will be at the time of the encounter. This could have been a much shorter trip if only Laythe had been in the right spot to meet Vall Station when it first crossed its orbit...but a better alignment of the moons was just not in the cards for making it a very short trip...and waiting for a better alignment would have taken more time than this trajectory.
Meanwhile, over at Laythe Base in the early dawn, the boys are taking a snack break now that they'd done what they could to help our heroines on their way.
Aldner: "OK, Cap'n Orbit, now that we have a time for a breather, explain what's going on. You roll me out of bed at
Oh-Dark-Hundred to help you calculate trajectories...how serious is this kerbol-flare thing?"
Thompbles: "We will be OK here on Laythe because of the atmosphere, but the Vall crew was exposed in the vacuum of Vall, so their best hope is to get here before the mass ejection hits."
Aldner: "Won't Jool's magnetic field deflect the blast?"
Thompbles: "Mostly, but the plasma of a BIG mass ejection can compress Jool's magnetosphere and raise the energies of its radiation belts a lot."
Aldner: "What do you mean by 'BIG'?"
*Thombles picks up the creme-filled snack cake that Aldner was about to eat*
Thompbles: "Well, let's say this Kwinkie represents the normal amount of particle energy in Jool's radiation belts. According to the predictions for this mass ejection, it would be a Kwinkie 35 feet long weighing approximately 600 pounds."
Kurt: "That's a big Kwinkie. Reference!"
Aldner: "Wait... What about Nelemy? He was planning on flying back here to Laythe Base later today."
*Thompbles switches on the transmitter*
Thompbles: "Laythe Base calling BirdDog 3. Nelemy, come in. Laythe Base calling BirdDog 3. Nelemy, do you copy?"
Nelemy: "Dude! It's like the middle of the freakin' night. What's up?"
Thompbles: "There is probably a huge Kerbol mass ejection heading toward the Jool system. The Vall Expedition crew is on their way to Laythe trying to beat it. You should stay on Aldner Island until this blows over."
Nelemy: "What? Dude, no! I want to come home and meet the girls!"
Thompbles: "Nelemy, we don't know when this will hit, but it will probably be a big one."
Aldner: "Tell him about the Kwinkie."
Nelemy: "What about the Kwinkie??"
Nelemy: "Look, Dudes...if the Vall girls are flying over here, I easily have enough time to make it back. I can leave right away! I'm all fueled up and everything!"
Thompbles: "OK. You know the VanAllen meter that's installed in your cockpit?"
Nelemy: "Yeah, Dude. I have that thing turned off. It's always making clicking noises when I'm at high altitude. Makes me uneasy, Dude."
Thompbles: "Well, turn it on. What reading does it say now?"
Nelemy: "Hold on. Um...it says '5'... is that good?"
Thompbles: "Leave it on while you are flying here. When you are at 10 or 11K, you are above most of the atmosphere, and it reads higher because of that."
Nelemy: "Dang right, Dude. It's normally at 150 or so. And making those spooky clicking noises."
Thompbles: "Yes, well it will probably be higher, now. A few hundred is OK, but if it jumps up to over 1000, I want you to dive for the deck as fast as you can, and then stay below 500 meters."
Nelemy: "Dude...I'll get lousy fuel efficiency down there."
Thompbles: "That's fine. You probably have enough. Land on an intervening island if you have to. But stay down low. If you'll do that, then you can come back now."
Nelemy: "OK, Dude! I promise!"
So Nelemy took off from Aldner Island, heading east, and climbed to 11,000 meters, listening to the annoying meter click its way up to a reading of 250. Sorry about the dark images... Normally I try to avoid a lot of night shots, but I didn't have a lot of choice in this mission.
Below, Nelemy climbed rapidly at 2/3 throttle. Did I ever mention how much I like the changes to the engines so that they have those nice glows in their nozzles? The devs did a great thing when they added that a couple releases ago. I wonder if any devs read my little stories... if so, great job, guys!
Unfortunately we lost the cheery engine glow once Nelemy throttled down to 1/3 for his cruise. The flight to Laythe Base was pretty dull, actually, with no scenery to look at. But eventually Jool and the rosy light of dawn poked above the eastern horizon. Well, I assume it's a rosy glow (I'm colorblind).
Dawn comes a little later than it should at Laythe Base because we have to wait until Kerbol rises above Jool, which permanently sits on the eastern horizon from that location. Nelemy landed safely and not heavily radiated. But he WAS heavily annoyed that he used 98 units of fuel to get from Aldner Island back to Laythe Base, so he again failed to beat Aldner's fuel usage record of 93 units for the same run.
Aldner: "Nelemy has landed and says he's going to GasStation 2 to refuel."
Thompbles: "Good. Now is actually the worst time of day to be flying if the mass election hits."
Aldner: "Why? Kerbol is behind Jool right now, so shouldn't the planet protect us?"
Thompbles: "Well, not only does the mass election compress the sunward side of Jool's magnetic field, the plasma stream also drags out the opposite side of the magnetosphere far away from Jool. When that happens, magnetic reconnection in the magnetic tail can accelerate charged particles back toward the planet. This scientific paper I'm reading says the power levels could reach 1.21 times 10 to the twelfth Watts."
Aldner: "One point twenty-one Gigawatts!?"
Aldner: "Kurt, why do you keep saying that?"
Kurt: "Um...I'm not sure. Sorry."
Thompbles: "No, it's one point twenty-one TERAwatts...that's a thousand times more."
Kurt: "Well, we sure are learning a lot about the interactions of kerbol mass ejections with magnetospheres from this event."
Thompbles: "Just part of my job."
The boys pass a tense Laythe day and then into the next Laythe night as the Vall Station rounds Jool and heads toward its encounter with Laythe, not yet fried. Emilynn already pumped fuel from the Tug's tanks up into the tanks surrounding the Habitat module to provide more radiation shielding for Hellou, just in case.
Emilynn: "Chickadee, I want you to transfer over to the escape capsule now before we reach Laythe."
Hellou: "Are we not going to take the whole Station Habitat-lander down?"
Emilynn: "No...we'll use the capsules. Once this things blows over, if we can borrow some fuel from the boys on Laythe, we could potentially return to Vall and finish our mission. But if we take the whole Vall Station-lander down, we are stuck until a return ship gets sent from Kerbin, and they may decide the mission is over."
Hellou: "Why do you need me in the capsule now?"
Emilynn: "After aerocapture, I'll need to wait to circularize the orbit. Right after I circularize, you'll be able to separate and head down to the surface right away. I'll have to button things up as fast as possible and then get to the other capsule...so there will be less to worry about if I know you are already taken care of."
Hellou: "OK, if you say so. I'll transfer now."
Emilynn: "Good. Read the manual to refresh your memory on how to fly the capsule. It will be just like in the simulators."
Hellou: "I wish I had paid more attention to those simulator runs. I never expected we'd have to do this under rushed circumstances."
Below, we see the Vall Station's icon approaching Laythe along a hyperbolic path...but properly targeted at the right periapsis for aerocapture.
The Vall Station hit Laythe's atmosphere traveling at about 3,500 m/s, which is faster than my normal Laythe encounters, but the deceleration was only a few Gs. Emilynn didn't wait until apoapsis to pull the ships periapsis out of the atmosphere, but made a burn with a radial component as the ship was approaching the terminator line.
Emilynn: "OK, Chickadee, go! I'll get to my capsule now."
Hellou: "Emi...somethings wrong. I'm getting lots of warning lights. Main Bus undervolt. No control."
Emilynn: "Damn! What does your battery indicator read? Let me get back to the monitor panel."
Kurt: "Hawk! This is Jaymak. I have a good telemetry lock on Chickadee's capsule, and I see the problem. I'll handle this. Get to your own capsule."
Emilynn: "Arrgh. Roger, Jaymak. But if you fumble my Chickadee, I'll kick your ass!"
Kurt: "Agreed. Chickadee, the telemetry shows that your power system is fine, but you probably just had a control system glitch on separation. Try setting SCE to Aux."
Hellou: "SCE to Aux? What's that?"
Kurt: "It's on the panel to the lower left of the seat."
Hellou: "Roger. SCE to Aux. OK! the warning lights are cleared. But I still have no attitude control!"
Kurt: "Chickadee, stay calm. We have whole minutes to get you lined up for retro burn. Remember to set your hand controller switch to ENABLE."
Hellou: "Oh! Yeah, sorry. OK...responding now. I'm getting lined up on the retro indicator."
Kurt: "Good job. On my mark, you'll need a 5 second burn at full power. We'll make corrections after we see what the IMU predicts for your landing coordinates."
Below, Hellou makes her retro burn on time and at the correct attitude. (I forgot to put any MechJeb units, which I usually rely on to help me target precision landings, on these emergency capsules...so I had to fall back to my old methods of targeting the ship in for a landing on Dansen Island by aiming for a certain point beyond Mariliza Island...and the icon of the flag Nelemy had planted there was invaluable while doing this, since Dansen was in darkness. But I've had a lot of trial and error experience in where to target the landing point of capsules coming in to Dansen Island.)
Kurt: "Chickadee, your landing point looks good. Remember to separate your retro pack before entry. I won't be able to remind you
when the entry ionization hits. Deploy your parachute above 2000 meters."
Hellou: "Roger, Jaymak. Thanks for the help."
Aldner: "Hawk...We don't show any indication that your capsule has separated. Is there a problem?"
Emilynn: "No problem Buzz. I was just monitoring Chickadee's entry. I'll go around and bring my capsule in on the next orbit."
Thompbles: "Aldner...send her landing data for Aldner Island and Fredoly Island landings just in case the radiation levels spike before she comes back around."
Aldner: "Already on it, Boss Man."
Again, sorry about the nighttime images, but that's because of the timing constraints of the mission. Below we see Hellou's capsule passing through the entry fire with her retro pack leading the way.
Hellou's parachute was good, and she came in for a successful landing about 7 km from Laythe Base. Total time from GO: 10 hours and 9 minutes. She was down safe under Laythe's atmosphere within the time limit.
Back at Laythe Base, Thompbles scrambled Nelemy to the rover to go out and pickup Hellou.
It turns out that the Fido's batteries are not really up to making a mad dash of that distance in the dark, so Nelemy had to stop for a couple minutes along the way to let the RTGs recharge the batteries. But he got to the capsule and, much to his delight, had the honor of meeting the first female kerbal on Laythe.
Hellou: "Hi, Nelemy! Thanks for coming to get me. Do you know if Emilynn is OK?"
Nelemy: "Oh, sure, Dude...ette...er...Hellou. She's just coming around. It won't take long. I'll drive you to the base now, Du...Hellou."
Hellou: "OK. I'll get in the hab module in the back."
Nelemy: "The what?"
Hellou: "Oh...your Fido is different...OK, I'll get in the rear cockpit."
Nelemy turned the rover around and headed back to base.
Hellou: "Hey, we just passed a boulder!"
Nelemy: "Um, sure...um, Hellou. Lots of rocks in the hills here."
Hellou: "Can we stop? No...nevermind. I'll have time later."
Nelemy: "Sure thing, Du...Hellou."
Hellou: "Nelemy, you can call me Dude if it makes you happier."
Nelemy: "Oh, hey...thanks, Dude!"
Below, Hellou climbs into Laythe Base
Up in orbit, Emilynn EVA'd over to the remaining landing capsule. (OK...the whole thing about Hellou's problem with her capsule was just to provide a reason why Hellou and Emilynn didn't both enter and land at once, since I can't do that in KSP. But I promise I won't let her fry because of the extra orbit.) Emilynn separated the capsule and prepared for retro burn.
The map view below shows Emilynn's entry trajectory, targeted out to about twice the distance from the Fido Bay area to the flag on Mariliza island. The black dot against Jool in the entry image is her jettisoned retro pack. She landed about two kilometers beyond Hellou's capsule. Total time from GO to safe under atmo: 10 hours and 56 minutes.
Emilynn: "Hey, boys! Nice planet you got here. Where's my limo service? It's not polite to keep a lady waiting."
Kurt: "Nelemy is on his way, Hawk. He should be there in a few minutes. Assuming he doesn't get lost."
Emilynn: "Thankie, Jaymak. Ah...here he comes now."
Emilynn: "Hey there, Nelemy. Nice to meet ya! Thanks for picking me up. How about a big hug!"
Nelemy: "Oh..." *squeezed* "Uh, thanks, Emilynn Dude. The other guys are always weirded out when I try to give them hugs."
Emilynn: "Ah, they're just insecure in their dudehood. Let's go see this base of yours!"
Nelemy: "Sure, hop in, Dude. Um...we have some boulders along the way."
Emilynn: "Yeah? Well careful not to hit 'em! Oh, hey...a full set of driving controls in back here as well! Let me try out your wheels, Nelemy."
So Nelemy and Emilynn returned to Laythe Base, and all six kerbals had a celebratory dinner that couldn't be beat.
About an hour after Emilynn landed, Thompbles popped up to the Control Module to check on communications with KSC.
Thompbles: "Hey boys and girls, I don't mean to interrupt the party, but you may want to step outside to see an amazing sight."
So the crew went out for a look...
Emilynn: "Yeah...that about sums it up. All I can say is that I'm happy to be down here with you guys."
For anybody who thought I was a weenie for not trying the Retrograde Route to Laythe, here's the maneuver plot below. This is what you get if you do a very long retrograde burn at Vall that brings the ship to a complete stop and heads off in the retrograde direction around Jool. The fully fueled Nuclear Tug has enough delta-V to handle this with a little fuel to spare for course corrections and some orbital maneuvers at Laythe.
Below, thanks to the power of f5/f9 replay, we see the Vall Station making the big retrograde burn. This is a very long burn (almost 26 minutes), and you can see from the orbit plot that the ship has to start firing well before the maneuver node, and its trajectory deviates a long way from the original 165 km orbit, dropping to a periapsis of 73 km before pulling away from Vall.
The kicker, of course, comes when the ship reaches Laythe, which is orbiting around Jool in the opposite direction, so that they meet head-on at over 7,300 m/s. You can see in the second image that the G meter is pegged. When I was plotting the aerobraking, MechJeb was listing maximum expected G forces between 60 and 100 Gs. That might seem like nothing to you guys who regularly come burning into the Jool system at interplanetary speeds with a direct aerobraking at Laythe, but it makes me cringe.
Anyway, below we see the capsule containing the alternate timeline Hellou (or maybe containing Hellou-flavored jam) descending onto Laythe. Total time from GO to safe landing on Laythe: almost exactly 8 hours.
Because it appeared that I was going to make it in under the deadline with the prograde route, I went that way instead.