Everything Under The Sun... And Then Some!

Monday, May 28, 2018

What If Apollo Never Died? Part 2

WHAT IF APOLLO NEVER DIED? Part 2: Hitting Their Stride

A few Author's Notes before we begin. I mentioned the names of several astronaut crews in the last post (which you can find here) but things get somewhat conjectural as we get to this post's Apollo 16 (what would have been Apollo 18 in real life). These crews are based on the flight rotation system that Deke Slayton laid out so they SHOULD be the crews that would have flown, but we can't be totally sure. Also, I failed to mention the Skylab crews in the last post. Many astronauts, especially the scientist-astronauts that were hired in 1967, gradually realized chances to fly were becoming more and more scarce and left the program or had to wait for years until the Space Shuttle was operational. In this timeline that wasn't a problem so the first group of scientist-astronauts were promised moon flights at the earliest opportunity. The other scientist-astronauts would mainly fly to Skylab first before getting a shot at the moon. For completion's sake, I'll post the Skylab crews now.

Skylab 2 (SL2): Pete Conrad (who really did fly the first manned Skylab mission), Karl Henize, William Lenoir

Skylab 3 (SL3): Alan Bean (again, really did fly this mission), Donald Holmquest, Robert Parker

Skylab 4 (SL4): Jim McDivitt, Joe Allen, Philip Chapman

It should be noted that these are all actual NASA astronauts, however, once we start getting past a certain point, I won't worry as much about who would have stayed and who would have left and who would have joined. That's a little bit too much speculation.
One last note, the Skylab 4 crew was the first all-rookie Apollo crew. 

Lastly, I'm going to assume for the most part that the majority of these missions will go according to plan; space travel is a dangerous business and not everything ends up alright in the end. But for the sake of brevity, we will assume that most of these missions won't have any major Apollo 13-type glitches. And now, on with the show!


This year was when plans that had been set in motion, some as far back as 1967, began to mature. In February, the third Skylab crew returned to Earth, completing the tour of duty for America's first space station, although it was predicted to not fall back to Earth until later in the decade. Just two weeks later, Saturn IB SA-209 boosted a new spacecraft into orbit for its shakedown run. This was the first of a new series of lunar modules, designed and built by Grumman Aerospace to expand the capabilities of Apollo. Based on designs first conceived of before Neil Armstrong even set his boots on the Moon, Grumman came up with three new designs originally called the LM Taxi, LM Truck and LM Shelter respectively. Now the modules had been rechristened the Advanced Lunar Module (ALM, pronounced A-lem), the Lunar Cargo Lander (LCL, pronounced El-cell) and the Lunar Surface Module (LSM, pronounced el-sem). The initial versions of the ALM and LSM would allow astronauts to stay possibly up to two weeks on the Moon's surface, while the LCL was basically a slightly upgraded LM Descent Stage with a cargo pallet on top instead of the manned Ascent Stage. It would be able to land a variety of payloads on the surface for the astronauts to use including large drills, cranes, new Lunar Rovers and/or miscellaneous supplies.
This flight , Apollo 18/B2, was the first test flight of the ALM, to see if could function in the space environment, go dormant for one week and then be re-powered and separate its stages as if it were on the moon.

Things were relatively quiet until late April when the second Skylab space station, officially named Skylab II (SL5), was launched on April 25. The station's launch went much smoother than the first, with no damage to any of the structures including the new telescope mount above the docking tunnel. The launch vehicle was the first of the new lot of Saturn V rockets that had been purchased. Von Braun and his team weren't remaining idle and had been kept busy finding new ways to improve their moon rocket. This resulted in the second lot being eventually broken up into three lots of five. The first five rockets, numbers AS-516 to 520 were of the same type as the rockets previously used, no major alterations. The second lot were known by the internal designation of Saturn V MLV (modified launch vehicle). Numbers AS-521 to 525 would have stretched first stages equipped with the new F-1A rocket engines. These engines would generate 1.8M lbsf. of thrust each, for a grand total of 9M lbsf at liftoff. The second stage would also be modified, lengthened by about 41 inches but with the same five J-2 engines. The third stage would be strengthened but would otherwise be normal. This version of the Saturn V would be capable of putting a larger amount of weight into Earth orbit but only 3 tons more to the Moon. Still, with the way the new LMs were configured, this would likely be enough.
The last lot of Saturn Vs would receive a new designation: Saturn V-B. They would not only incorporate the new modified first stage but would use a whole new engine in the second and third stages, the HG-3, which had begun test firings in 1971. The Saturn V-B, with F-1A and HG-3 engines would be able to put roughly 90,000 lbs more into Earth orbit and a full 42,000 extra pounds to the Moon. There was even hopeful talk that the first few V-Bs might be used for a manned Mars mission...

On May 1, the Skylab 5 (SL6) crew was launched on SA-211 (SA-210 was still being reserved as the Skylab Rescue launcher, semi-permanently parked at Pad 37B), consisting of John Young, Story Musgrave and William Thornton (with this, all of the second group of scientist-astronauts had flown). They would open Skylab II with a 90-day stay on the station and even be visited by a second astronaut crew a month and a half in. This was partly to gather as much medical data on long-term space travel as possible and also to use up the last few Saturn IB rockets quickly. Another improvement coming to the program was the Saturn IC, which would have the same S-IVB-200 stage as the IB but the first stage would be something that hadn't been seen in the program before: a monolithic, 260-inch-wide solid rocket motor for the first stage.

These would start being used on rockets SA-215 and onwards.

North American Aviation had also been hard at work during this time. They were the designers and builders of the Apollo CSM and had taken a lot of flack for what happened concerning the Block I Apollo which had ended up killing Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. However, the Block II spacecraft had been performing beautifully and now they aimed to build an even better Apollo: the Block III. This version of the CSM would first fly on June 14, when the all-rookie crew of Karol Bobko, Robert 'Bob' Crippen and Joe Kerwin visited Skylab II. Their Skylab 6 (SL7) spacecraft was what North American called the Block IIIA Apollo. This version was optimized for work in Earth orbit and was specifically designed to be able to stay dormant for long periods of time while docked to the station. It was equipped with only one fuel cell, augmented by a pair of solar panels and super-efficient batteries and new consumables and propellant tankage. The dormancy capability also dovetailed into the Block IIIB version, which, as you might have guessed, was designed for Moon exploration. The maiden flight of a new version of the Apollo spacecraft called for an extra touch of ceremony and the crew named their ship the Argo, after the constellation and mythical ship.
The visiting crew would stay for three days, retiring at night to their CSM and once Joe Kerwin, who was trained as a physician, checked out the Skylab 5 crew, the Skylab 6 crew undocked from the station and returned to Earth. Later that month, SA-213 would propel the first LCL into Earth orbit for an unmanned test, Apollo 19/B3, which it passed with flying colors. Since the LCL had no astronaut-carrying capability, one fantastically successful test flight was enough to confirm its space-worthiness. As the summer of 1973 wound down on August 30, SA-214 would loft the first LSM into Earth orbit. The mission objective for this flight, Apollo 20/B4, would be to evaluate if the new LSM could start up, maneuver, ignite its engines, then go into "surface mode" for two weeks. Unfortunately, NASA lost contact with the LSM 3 days into the mission and it was mandated that one more test flight be flown before it was used.

The Soviet Connection

The US's old rivals in the Kremlin weren't dormant either. Though in later years they would claim that they had never been trying to beat America to the Moon, in reality the Soviet Union built their own super rocket to take Cosmonauts to the Moon, the N1-L3.
In real history, the N1 failed all four times it was test-launched. That, combined with the US landing on the Moon in 1969 (the second N1 failed about 2 weeks before the real Apollo 11), led to the cancellation of the program.
In our timeline, despite severe POGO oscillations (vibrations from top-bottom along the axis) that threatened to shake the rocket apart, the fourth N1 flight in November 1972 was successful, causing wild celebrations in the Soviet space program. Though the government was already allocating funds to the Salyut space station project and interplanetary probes, they tentatively agreed to have a fifth (and final) test launch in May, 1973. If this was also successful, the N1 would be declared fit for use.

Now the time had come. Perched upon launch pad 110 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the N1 rocket designated 8L was ready to go. Even though this was considered a test flight, the rocket itself was an N1F, the definitive flight version of the vehicle, incorporating all the knowledge gleaned from the previous four test flights and their failures. Additionally, it had 10% greater liftoff mass due to the use of super chilled propellants and a new suite of engines in the first stage.
The countdown for the launch lasted for about 80 hours as the Soviet engineers tested, re-tested and triple-tested the systems to make sure that everything would go right. They watched, some literally biting their fingernails, in the blockhouse as the countdown ticked down to 30 seconds... then 20... then 10 and... IGNITION! The 30 engines in the first stage belched out fire and smoke as the rocket slowly began to rise off the pad. It continued to fly, arcing over to align with its course into Earth orbit and beyond, though many in the blockhouse, including Sergei Korolev, did not relax until 3 days later when the fifth stage of the rocket fired to arc its payload, a fully-functional but unmanned Soyuz spacecraft and the LK lunar lander around the moon and out into inter-solar space.
In the real world, Sergei Korolev had died due to surgical complications in 1966. In this timeline, he did not and continued to shepard his moon rocket project, though the previous three failures of the four N1 launches had nearly had his hated rival, Valentin Glushko, replace him.
But now, the N1 had finally proven itself, at least tentatively, so the Soviet Moon program could finally proceed. On July 20, 1973, the moon-optimized Soyuz, officially known as the Soyuz 7K-LOK, was launched with two cosmonauts onboard by a Proton-K rocket into Earth orbit. The LOK was too heavy for the regular Soyuz rocket to launch, so they used the Proton, which had once been unreliable but now had become a workhorse for the Soviet program. The mission was given the official designation Soyuz L1. The Cosmonauts spent 8 days putting the new spacecraft through its paces and also depressurized the orbital module so that one of the Cosmonauts could also test the Krechet spacesuit, that would be used on the Moon. Despite some minor glitches, the spacecraft was declared ready for lunar missions.

A Little Competition

The resurgence in the Soviet lunar program meant that a strange convergence occurred around the Moon in November of this year. In the US, the Apollo program was getting ready to enter the next phase of its explorations, the K-class missions, which would involve the aforementioned ALM, LCL and LSM.
Out at Kennedy Space Center, for the first time ever, two Saturn Vs stood sentinel on the launch pads, AS-516 and AS-517. AS-516 would launch the new Block IIIB Command Module Castor and its ALM Pollux towards lunar orbit but before that AS-517 would lob an LCL named Conestoga directly to the chosen landing site, the Aristarchus crater. Transient Lunar Phenomenon had been observed there, particularly on Apollo 9's landing mission, and it was time to go check it out. On October 28, AS-517 thundered forth from Pad 39B and its S-IVB third stage fired Conestoga  directly to its landing spot three and a half days later. A week after that, November 4, the three astronauts of Apollo 21 (K1) arrived at launch pad 39A to begin their mission. Those astronauts were Fred Haise, Bill Pogue and Owen Garriot. Haise, as has been mentioned, was the Lunar Module Pilot on the ill-fated Apollo 11 mission (real-life Apollo 13) and had been robbed of a chance to walk on the Moon, but not this time. 
But strangely enough, as their Saturn V rocketed away from KSC on the morning of November 4, another spacecraft launched from Baikonur, also heading for the Moon. This was a modified Soyuz spacecraft known as a Soyuz 7K-L1, specifically designed to do one thing and one thing only: fly two Cosmonauts around the Moon and back to Earth. And so it was that Soyuz L2 and Apollo 21 ended up flying together, relatively speaking (the two spacecraft were about 100 miles apart). The two crews exchanged greetings, some occasional jibes, stories of their families and experiences as pilots and astronauts and generally got on pretty well with each other. This would lead to some thawing in the Cold War, at least between the two space programs. It also provided incentive for America to keep its lead.

As Soyuz L2 arced back to Earth, Apollo 21 entered lunar orbit and then sent the ALM Pollux down to the landing site, Haise and Carr performing a pinpoint landing almost exactly one mile from the LCL Conestoga. This was thought to be a safe enough distance so that debris kicked up by the ALM's descent engine wouldn't damage the LCL and its cargo. 
The LCL not only contained extra oxygen and supplies for the astronauts, but also a larger Mk. II Lunar Rover and a large drill used to obtain deep core samples of the lunar crust. Haise and Carr spent five days, the longest so far on the Moon, experimenting with the drill, and searching for the elusive Transient Lunar Phenomenon. Although they didn't find anything conclusive, there were enough strange readings to perhaps warrant a return to Aristarchus in the future. They might have been able to stay longer but the ALM and LCL were not carrying their full loads as they had been designed for the more powerful Saturn V variants.

Back in September, the next space station crew, Skylab 7 (SL8) blasted off from Pad 34 on the AS-215C Saturn IC. The new 260-inch solid rocket first stage, officially called the SRS-I, had an effect on ignition, as astronaut Rusty Schweikart described, like 'being kicked by a horse.' Despite the abrupt liftoff, the Saturn IC delivered Schweickart, C. Gordon Fullerton and Bob Overmyer to Skylab II for a 120 day stay. They carried with them a new module in the shroud connecting their CSM to the Saturn IC second stage, the Payload Module. After S-IVB shutdown, they separated the CSM from the shroud and docked with the PM, just like on a lunar mission. They then docked the PM to one of Skylab II's outboard docking ports, undocked from the SCM and docked to the forward port. 
The Skylab 7 crew were visited on Halloween by the Skylab 8 crew (SL9, SA-216C), consisting of Gerry Carr, Don Lind & Paul Weitz, who returned to Earth on November 3, just before the launch of Apollo 21. Schweickart, Fullerton and Overmyer returned to Earth on New Year's Day, 1974.


By this point in our fictional timeline, the Apollo program has begun to fully mature. The year started off with the Skylab 9 (SL10) crew arriving at the station for a 150-day stay, which would end the station's primary lifespan. They would be visited by two, two-astronaut crews at Day 50 and Day 100 respectively. The crew for SL10 consisted of Henry Hartsfield, Dick Truly and Don Peterson. The mission launched on March 1, 1974 on the SA-2.

Earlier, in February, two rockets had been launched from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg AFB.  One was a Saturn IC, SA-217C, with a Centaur stage mounted on its S-IVB stage and the other was a new Titan IIIE expendable rocket. The two rockets had launched a pair of Communications satellites to a semi-stable orbit at the Earth-Moon Lagrange point 2. The Lagrange points are areas of space in the orbital system between the Earth and Moon where objects could orbit without being unduly influenced by either body. The L1 and L2 points are located in front of and behind the Moon respectively, the L3 point directly opposite the Moon and the other side of Earth and the L4 and L5 points are located at equidistant positions on the Moon's orbital path to the relative left and right of the Moon. 
These satellites' position at the L2 point would allow them to relay signals from the Moon's far side, not only allowing orbiting spacecraft to maintain contact with Mission Control but it would also allow the next lunar landing mission to do something that had never been done before; land on the Moon's so-called dark side. The dark side, now called the far side, had very few mare, compared to the near side and it was a point of scientific interest to know why. Add to that the mystique of exploring a part of the Moon that astronauts had previously been unable to go and it was all a very neat package.

Also in February, Apollo 22 (D2) was launched on a Saturn IC rocket (SA-217) from Pad 37B. This was the second test flight of the LSM, which was made possible by the increased thrust of the Saturn IC (3.5Mlbsf. compared to the IB's 1.5Mlbsf.) The IC's payload to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) had been increased from 46,000 lbs to 75,000 lbs, which allowed it to boost a 35,000 lbs. Block IIIA CSM and the 31,000 lbs. LSM into orbit together. The crew of Alan Bean, Charlie Duke and Robert Cripen put the LSM through its paces over the course of two weeks and proved that it could do what it was designed to do and that the previous failure had just been an anomaly.

In March, the Soviets reminded everyone that their circumlunar flight hadn't been a fluke by launching another flight around the Moon, Soyuz L3. The next mission would be a dress rehearsal for a landing attempt.

Apollo 23 (K2) began on April 15, with the Saturn V AS-519 lofting an LCL (this one with no name) to the chosen far side landing site, the Tsiolkovsky crater, using a a radio/radar beacon that had been launched by a Delta I 2910 rocket. Three days later, AS-518 lifted off from pad 39A with the Apollo 22 spacecraft, Enterprise & Voyager, and the crew of Stuart 'Stu' Roosa (who had been the CMP on the Apollo 12 mission with Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell), Paul Weitz and Jack Lousma. Roosa and Lousma landed 1.1 miles away from the LCL, just like Apollo 21 had done, but with a certain amount of fanfare befitting the first landing on the far side. Roosa and Lousma's Mk. II Moon Rover had been further improved with an RTG (Radio-isotope Thermal Generator) and a tank for onboard oxygen, allowing the two astronauts to not only spend more time roving outside their ALM but for the walkback limits to be relaxed. (the walkback limit was a mission rule that stated that the Lunar Rover could not travel further from the lander than the astronauts could walk back and the limit decreased as the astronauts used up their oxygen and cooling water). This proved handy when Roosa and Lousma hit an unexpected drop during their driving and tumbled over it. Two of their rover's wheels were broken and they would have to walk. They took on oxygen from the rover's surge tank and then used their buddy hoses, not so much because their suits were damaged (although Lousma's gold visor was shattered) but because of mission rules. After a 3.5 mile bouncing jog, they arrived back safe and sound to Voyager and finished their mission without the rover.

In May, the eyes of the world were drawn to the Soviet Union again as, in an unprecedented withdrawal of secrecy, they broadcast the launch of N1F rocket 9L as it boosted a complete N1-L3 complex into orbit and then towards the Moon. On May 15, Soyuz L4 fired the engine of its Blok D fifth stage to put it in lunar orbit, marking another first for the Soviets, even though this was old hat to the US by now. Just as had been done on Apollo 8, the Soyuz crew performed a practice landing attempt; after separating the LK lander/Blok D form the Soyuz, one of the Cosmonauts spacewalked over and powered up the lander. he then fired the Blok D to bring him within 50,000 feet of the lunar surface. At that point, the pilot separated theLK from the exhausted fifth stage and continued descent. At an altitude of 4 miles or roughly 21,000 feet, he fired the pyrotechnics to separate the landing legs from the lander and ratcheted the throttle up to full to pull away from the Moon. There was a bit of drama when the Soyuz's docking probe failed to engage the docking grid on the flat top of the lander but that just meant the Cosmonaut in the lander had to make a space hop to the Soyuz. The lone Soyuz then returned to Earth three days later amidst great fanfare in the USSR. Strangely enough, in order to ensure that the Cosmonaut flying the LK lander didn't get it into his head to try and become the first Soviet on the Moon, they deliberately under-loaded the lander, which is actually what they did on the Apollo 8 rehearsal landing.

On April 20, The Skylab 9 crew hosted their first week long visitor crew of Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan, (Skylab 10/SL-11/SA-218C)who brought with them another Payload Module for the station and both crews reported that the station was functioning at 100%. On May 9, the second visitor crew of Bill Anders and Bruce McCandless visited the station (Skylab 11/SL-12/SA-219C) and after the evaluations they made and with input form the NASA flight surgeons, after the long-term mission of Skylab 9 ended, NASA decided that only one, maybe two, of the astronauts of the long-term crew would stay for months at a time, in case of health issues. When the Skylab 9 crew returned to Earth, using Skylab 10's CSM, they were weak enough that they had to be helped out of the capsule. This occurred on July 29, ending Skylab II's primary mission. However, NASA wasn't going to get rid of it just yet. On September 7, the crew of Skylab 12 (SL-13), Dick Gordon and Joe Engle, returned to Skylab II for a short, 14-day mission to evaluate the chances of re-powering the station after primary mission end. They also carried with them a solid fuel propulsion module in the spacecraft adapter on their S-IVB, which they docked to Skylab II's forward port. This module was used under remote control after the crew left to boost Skylab II into a higher orbit that was calculated not to decay until around 1984, give or take a couple of months. Wether it actually would be re-occupied or used as the base for a much larger space station was up in the air, however. 

The year finished off quietly for the US. On October 21, the last of the original design Saturn Vs, AS-520, lifted off from pad 39B to deliver the very large Mars orbiter and lander Viking 1 on their way to the Red Planet. The probe arrived on June 2, 1975 and thrilled the world with the first pictures from another planet.
On the Soviet end of things, it was finally time to attempt to plant the hammer and sickle on the Moon. N1F rocket 10L stood ready on the launch pad for Cosmonauts Valery Bykovsky and Alexey Leonov. Both of them were part of the original Cosmonaut group selected in 1960 and now they would make this historic flight for their homeland, lifting off during a spectacular night launch on November 4, 1974.

The flight was not without its share of close calls. The POGO oscillation returned during the launch into Earth orbit and the Cosmonauts reported more strange vibrations when they fired the fourth stage to send themselves off to the Moon. After arriving, there was a pressure valve problem that prevented them from depressurizing the orbital module of the Soyuz so that Leonov could spacewalk to the LK lander. The lander had an electrical short that filled the cabin with smoke, causing Leonov to have to depressurize and then repressurize in order to clear it. Another problem was the choice of landing site. The Soviet authorities had decided that the site of the first Russian landing had to be in the Mare Moscoviense aka Sea of Moscow. there was just one problem with that though. The Sea of Moscow was on the Farside of the Moon. Which meant that they would have to use the new American communication satellites at the Earth-Moon L2. And of course the systems were incompatible. For the first four lunar orbits of Soyuz L5, they were out of touch with their mission control and at least one accusation was fired across international phone lines of the Us government and NASA trying to interfere with the first Soviet landing. But at last, the problems were sorted out and Alexey Leonov was given the go ahead to attempt the landing. 
After moving far enough awy from the Soyuz orbiter, which had the callsign Stalin (very subtle), the LK lander, callsign Lenin, fired the Blok D engine of the N1 fifth stage and began its descent. The LK lander used a similar method of landing as the NASA LCL did, using a small, soft-landing probe to act as a radio/radar beacon to help guide in the lander. This meant that the landing attempt went somewhat more smoothly than NASA's first attempt with Apollo 9, although the mission controllers in Baikonur were practically biting their nails until the lander separated from the Blok D stage. The seperation was successful, however, and Leonov continued to guide his lander down closer to the surface until some fateful words were spoken: "Kontakt ... dvigatel' zakryt... myagkaya posadka. Ura! My zdes', tovarishchi!" (Contact... engine shutdown... soft-landing. Hurrah! We're here, comrades!)

Soon afterwards, Leonov depressurized his lander, opened the hatch and planted his booted feet on the lunar soil to wild celebrations in the Soviet Union. It was almost as if the Americans had never actually landed on the Moon, though admittedly, the Soviets had something of a harder time getting there. Leonov actually spent more time on the surface than Armstrong and Aldrin did, bouncing around, collecting samples and raising the Soviet flag for about six hours. Later, Leonov would recall that the actual toughest part of the mission was trying to get some sleep in the cramped confines of the lander!

The next day, Leonov was able to launch from the lunar surface without problem and though there was a little difficulty getting the lander and the Soyuz to rendezvous with each-other, they were able to meet up, dock and Leonov returned to the capsule with his precious cargo of samples from the Mare Moscoviense. The two Cosmonauts ended up being feted through the streets of Moscow and other cities around the Union. But even as their landing was celebrated, there was still some doubt about the Soviet lunar program. As it stood, they could only send a single Cosmonaut to the surface, have said Cosmonaut bounce around for a few hours and collect a few meager samples. Extra equipment would have to be launched on separate rockets and there was doubt that the Politburo would fund two N1 launches at the same time. The Americans, at this time, were planning possible lunar bases, so the novelty of a Cosmonaut wandering around on his lonesome would quickly wear off. They were going to have to catch up to the US, if for nothing else, than to maintain parity with their rivals. Rocket designer Korolev knew what that would entail. The Soviet program was going to have to conquer liquid hydrogen.

Join us next time for the conclusion to my little jaunt through speculative history in Part 3: The Old Man Walks.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018




Guess it can't be too far in the future then.

Let the parade of cameos begin


Man, I want a holodome

It's that one Princess SD Gundam... thing. Sorry, i don't know SD Gundam stuff.


Not sure what this one is off the top of my head.

Wait, why are they putting his face in shadow? We already know what Kyoya looks like...

And this will be our Mystery Girl© for this series.

When I first heard the opening chords to this song I was like, "Holy crap this is going to SUCK."

And they start with a shot of Nanami's chest, of course.

Calling it now: There will be a beach and/or onsen episode where she will get put in a bikini.

No, I'm not ready yet, quit asking!

A RIVAL has appeared

Mysterious hoodie is mysterious.

Hmmm, not sure what that is.

ERMINE Rommel-san

I shall call him FOX BOY

OK, Banrise.... I know you'll never actually do this but can we please get rid of the rule that says girls can only pilot cutesy and/or SD gunpla? Now, there's nothing wrong with SDs in and of themselves, especially in a series based on Gunpla, but it is a problem when they keep getting assigned to the girls.

Case in point

I shall call him GLORFINDEL

Oh hey, it's Fox McCloud's big brother


Muh eyes glow.

This guy, Magee, reminds me a lot of Bobby from Macross Frontier


Hmmm, wonder what this flower motif means?

A custom GN-X for the bad guys

Oni guy. Yeah, they haven't given a name for him yet


I really like Yuuki's GM-III

Villain line-up

Hero line-up

Hmm, so which one is the purple one?

OK, let's do this

I'm pretty sure that's a foul

And where the heck's the goalie?

Suddenly Momoka gets scary




This reminds me of that Star Trek: Voyager episode 'Scorpion' where there was a similar pile of dismembered Borg.

The Beast of Possibilities

She's a cute onee-chan



Looks like there is a ghost in the machine

Case of Gundam Wing models including the Tallgeese.

Destiny, Er, the concept, not the Gundam.

So it begins.


Nanami onee-san is a little thin on Gundam knowledge

Well that was random

Riku already has a collection

Have we mentioned she's cute?

Now we will take the forms of these Gundams and move undetected amongst the earthlings though we be robots from the planet Cybertron.

Starting the Newtype Naked Space© early

Hey' it's Monique Cadillac.

You can barely see him but Patrick Colasour from Gundam 00 is about to walk into frame.

Avatars wearing clothes from SEED and SEED Destiny.


Don't make me start an ass counter gag.

Magee is a bro.



Firing beams

Why'd they have to go and ruin the Leo by putting that huge, goofy eye on it?

A little Itano Circus for flavoring


It has a giant hole through it! How is it still moving?!

A fated meeting

Admittedly this is a really dumb and naive way to get tricked. Way to go, Riku.

That was my reaction as well.

Don't make faces like that, your face will freeze.

Shouldn't his legs be off?

Nice planning, Yuuki.

So Dodge had about three or four seconds to react there and somehow he still gets shanked?

I question being able to block a sustained beam like that with just a beam saber.


Tanoshii Gunpla!

A Dom Scouser or something.

Ooh a sniping GN-X next episode?

Aaaaaaand, the after-episode commercial completely spoils the upgrades that the 00 Diver is going to get. Thanks for that, Bandai.