100 Kerbals to Duna (and Beyond)

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This is a continuation/expansion of a Challenge posted a while back by  @jasonden reacting to Elon Musk’s scheme to launch 100 passengers to Mars and return to Earth in a reusable spacecraft. The original is here:

The goal is simple: Take 100 Kerbals (or more) to Duna and return them safely to Kerbin in a reusable (or mostly reusable) spacecraft.


The Rules Are:

  1. No Cheating (Debug menu, Hyper-edit, Hacking the save file, any “cheaty” mods, etc.)

  2. Informational and control mods are OK. Purely visual mods are OK. Entries using modded parts will be scored separately. (Unless the difference is really small)

  3. Kerbals must be in pressurized containers, at least during atmospheric flight and interplanetary travel.

  4. Scoring is based on cost per Kerbal, which is:  Fuel Cost + Cost of any parts launched but not recovered on land*

  5. One Craft To Duna. Multiple Launches are OK, Multiple Landings are OK, but the sections must constitute a single craft for the trip to Duna and the trip Home.

  6. Fuel Recovered doesn’t count against cost.

  7. ISRU is OK except on Kerbin. (i.e. no launching the ship empty, drilling for fuel, then claiming you have no fuel costs)


*As discussed in the original, rockets recovered from the water aren’t really reusable, so to count, it has to land on land. Exceptions include: Landing on a floating platform, some other landing scheme where the rockets are protected and you can tell a good story about why they would be OK


For my first attempt I copied Musk’s Plan as closely as I could, but there were other good solutions too! Be creative!


I’m getting the scoreboard started by pulling in the entries from the original, but hopefully we can add to it!


I also want to open it up to other planets/moons as well, so If anyone wants to have a go, I’ll put up some separate categories:


Easy Mode: Mun, Minmus

Laythe Mode: Laythe

Little Moons:  Ike, Gilly, Pol, Bop, Vall

Big Rocks:   Moho, Dres, Eeloo

Bigger Rock: Tylo

Expert Mode: Eve**


**Before I get too many replies saying “You Maniac!” Yes, I realize it is quite impossible (or at least wildly impractical) to have a reusable ship to Eve and back. But therein lies the challenge! Sure, you’ll need some monstrous beast that sheds most of its stages to get to orbit, but how cheap can you make those parts you leave behind? I don’t know, let’s see if anyone can do it at all first.


Score Board:


Duna - Stock:

  1. 462: NoobTool --- 150 Kerbals. Single Launch in a fully reusable Spaceplane

  2. 532: Clancy --- Followed Musk’s Plan, No wheels, No Parachutes. Landed Booster on floating platform, refueled with 2nd Launch. Lots of careful aerobraking

  3. 1640: Thomas H. --- One launch, SSTO booster, Minmus refuel, careful atmospheric entries to avoid needing heat shields

  4. 2240: burner_nn --- Many distributed launches, modular design, link up in LKO for Duna transfer, modules separate again for Duna/Kerbin EDL

  5. ---


I’ll add and update the score boards as more entries come in.


Happy travels!

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Posted (edited)

Re-posting my entry with a few pictures:






I tried to stay as close to Musk’s plan as I could. Stick a big ship on top of a big booster. Land and recover booster. The main ship uses most of its fuel getting to orbit, where it waits to be refueled. Meanwhile, the booster is re-used to launch another ship which is filled with extra fuel. The refuelling ship docks with the main ship to give it enough fuel to get to Mars (or in this case, Duna) Then the refueller lands back at the Space Center. Now the main ship rockets off to Mars (Duna) (at the appropriate launch window) and Aerobrakes and lands on the surface. Fuel and Oxidizer are mined and processed from the planet’s surface. When the tanks are full again, (and the launch window rolls around) the ship lifts off and heads home. It Aerobrakes at Earth (Kerbin)

 I gave myself additional restrictions to follow Musk’s plan: No parachutes, No wheels, Everything lands tail-first, Chemical rockets only.  The refuelling ship had the same form and same mass as the Main Ship like Musk envisioned to save on engineering and parts (not that those savings show up in KSP) It also meant the booster took the same ascent profile, so I didn’t have to move the drone ship between launches.







Here’s the summary:

Drone Ship:  89,445 Funds

Mass (Empty):  185.3t

Liquid Fuel:  2,160

Fuel Cost: 1,728 Funds


Launch 1: Heart of Gold + BFR


HoG Empty:   316,465 Funds

Mass (Empty):  78.5t

Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer:  7,245/8,855

Fuel Cost: 7,390 Funds

Fuel Mass: 80.5t


BFR Empty:  177,327 Funds  

Mass (Empty):  58.8t

Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer:  15,300/18,700

Fuel Cost: 15,606 Funds

Fuel Mass: 170.0t


Launch 2: Fuel HoG + BFR


Fuel HoG Empty:   100,103 Funds

Mass (Empty):  41.2t

Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer:  10,620/12,980

Fuel Cost: 10,832 Funds

Fuel Mass: 118.0t


BFR Empty:  177,327 Funds  

Mass (Empty):  58.8t

Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer:  15,300/18,700

Fuel Cost: 15,606 Funds

Fuel Mass: 170.0t

Total Fuel Costs: 51,162

  • -1000 for Fuel Recovered

  • +2000 for Landing Legs Replaced on BFR

52,162 Funds

Price Tag: 522 Funds/Kerbal

Edited by Clancy
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Posted (edited)

But where's the craft files? (granted, it is easy to replicate)

Edited by Jestersage

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I can't speak for the other entrants, providing the craft files wasn't part of the original challenge, but I can show you mine: 

Heart of Gold + BFR

Fuel HoG + BFR

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