Magellan - Manned Mission to the Jool System

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The time has come for Kerbal-kind to leave our small blue oasis on Kerbin and venture out into the great beyond - to the unknown worlds that beckon us from afar like silent lanterns adrift in the night.  We are resolved to go to Jool! To unlock the secrets of the unknown, and hopefully also to come back!



What follows is my account of the planning, execution and aftermath of the Magellan mission to the Jool system in my career save.  I have spend the majority of my time playing KSP within the Kerbin system visiting the Mun and Minmus ad nauseum, and unlocking most of the tech tree.  Besides Duna, I have never visited any other body in a career save. My goal in this career is to send missions to visit all the celestial bodies in the Kerbol system.  Some will be manned and some unmanned.  With a Jool transfer window approaching in 41 days, I have decided to take a bold step towards this goal by sending a crew of valiant (or maybe daft) kerbals to this giant green world and her moons. 


Magellan Mission

The Magellan mission will take after the great explorer Ferdinand Magellan in attempting a feat which has never before been done (by me).  To send a manned mission to the Jool system, take science data on all the worlds therein and return to Kerbin.  I'm calling this a Jool-4.5 mission because unlike the Jool-5 mission reports from challenges, there will be no flags or footprints on Tylo, instead I will have a probe land and report back with science data.  But the rest of the moons will be visited by Kerbals.

Here is the mission patch for the Magellan Mission :



The patch shows the silhouettes of Jool, Laythe, Val and Tylo against a backdrop of stars and backlit by the sun as the spacecraft flies by.  It is modeled after the STS-41 mission patch. The motto is latin for "To the stars through adversity", and was totally Magellan's rallying cry on his voyage something I thought sounded cool.

This mission report is primarily for my own benefit, as something to look back on when this mission is over, but I hope others will find it enjoyable as well.  I intend to chronicle my thinking as it relates to mission planning, vehicle design and testing and mission execution in a matter of fact way, and not to write a story or a novel.  Right now, I'm not planning to do much if any roleplaying from a Kerbal standpoint, but who know maybe I will get carried away later on.


Notes about my playstyle:

At this stage, I have designed the vehicle and a rough sketch of the mission plan.  I build and test all my vehicles in a sandbox save and then copy the craft files to my career save.  For testing purposes, I am allowing myself cheats to get the vehicle into LKO, but no testing will be done in the Jool system.  This will hopefully force me to think more carefully about what conditions I will encounter at Jool and will preserve the newness of the experience for me when I actually fly the mission in my career save.  

I do use quite a few mods, but no part mods (aside from SCANSAT).  The mods that I use fall under one of three categories:  (1) Visual enhancements (2) Sounds/Effects to increase immersion and (3) Gameplay tools (ie KER)


What's Next:

In the next posts I will be showcasing the design of the spacecraft, and possibly doing some on-orbit testing.  Once I unlock all the parts I need in my career save we will get onto the meat of the mission.

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looking forward to seeing this

and that patch looks awesome, did you make it?

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15 hours ago, StupidAndy said:

looking forward to seeing this

and that patch looks awesome, did you make it?

Yes, I made the patch myself.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!


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Posted (edited)

Hopefully this works.  First attempt at embedding imgur album, and have heard that the functionality is broken or at least was at some point.  

So without further ado, presenting the Magellan Mission StarshipTM:

This is the craft which has undergone several design iterations, and is probably close to the finalized design, although I plan to do some further testing in LKO.  The full vessel is composed of a mothership the Trinidad, and 3 daughter craft (Santiago, Victoria and Laika).   The Santiago is a low-gravity vacuum science lander for Vall, Pol and Bop.  The Victoria is a compact science probe with enough dV and TWR to land on Tylo (but not return).  The Laika is a small single crewed SSTO for Laythe.

Excepting Laika, all vehicles are named after ships from Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation voyage.  The Trinidad's namesake was Magellan's flagship - she set sail with a full crew of 55, but ultimately came to grief losing half of her crew to scurvy and finally being destroyed in a storm.   Crossing my fingers that my mission does not end in similar catastrophe.

I considered renaming the Laika to one of the last two ships from Magellan's flotilla, but ultimately I couldn't bring myself to do it.  The name Laika is much more suited to the happy and brave little space puppy of an SSTO that I've designed, compared to either Conception or San Antonio.  

The initial design for the Laythe SSTO spaceplane was intended to fit inside a mk3 cargo bay along with the other daughter vehicles.    Here is a picture of the initial design which was dubbed the Pixel.



However, that design was abandoned after testing showed some serious issues with landing: namely a far-too narrow wheelbase which all but ensured tipping over on touchdown, and a low-speed glide-slope indistinguishable from that of a cinder block.  These two issues combined virtually assured a RUD on landing.  Here is one such ill-fated landing attempt.




The Laika is far more well behaved with a much wider wheelbase and a larger wing area which allows for a gentle touchdown on any semi-flat surface.  As an added bonus, she comes fully equipped with science instrumentation and a comms antenna.

Edited by captainb
fixed the album embedding
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Today begins the test program for the Magellan Mission architecture.  For this we are running sims in the Testing save.  Any improvements to the vehicle as a result of testing will eventually make their way into the final vehicle.  Reuben is our main test pilot for now.  He will be flying the sims and report back any issues to the engineers.  


The first two items on the test agenda are testing the Launch to LKO capabilities of the Launch Vehicle (TLB).   Reuben will also test the Cockpit Egress/Ingress of the Laika while landed, to ensure science data can be collected from Laythe.

All in all a good day of testing!


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