captainb

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!

 

Prologue:

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 :

JKm3ab2.png

 

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.

Spoiler

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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.

Spoiler

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Whoops!

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.  

0zRfPHl.png

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!

JDXU3Nz.png

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I've been giving some thought to how many crew I want to send on the Magellan Mission.   The requirements that play into this decision are as follows:

  1.  All crew must return to Kerbin at the end of the mission
  2.  The crew need enough living space to be comfortable on this long duration voyage.  I don't have life support mods installed but my arbitrary rule of thumb is 1 kerbal per every 2  seats
  3.  Every kerbal on the mission must land on at least 1 moon
  4.  The science lab should be manned by 2 scientists whenever possible while inside the Jool system

Initially I had considered a crew of 3, with 2 scientists and 1 pilot.  But I worry about losing full control of vessels if they go out of comms range (behind moon etc.)  For this reason, I've decided the bring 4 crew composed of 2 pilots and 2 scientists.

This raises an additional problem:  The Trinidad has a Mk1-2 capsule which can return 3 kerbals back to Kerbin.  Since Laika will be left in Laythe orbit, there will be no more reentry capable vehicles aboard the Trinidad when she returns from her grand voyage.  For this reason, I've designed a crew shuttle to take crew to and from the Trinidad in LKO.  Here she is:

2HrLlTx.png

In testing I've found the Lynx to be very capable.  She has good pitch authority and can maintain 25o pitch on assent.  Plenty of power is generated by the 4 RAPIER engines, which reach a TWR around 4.  This makes it easy to zoom-climb to an apoapsis of 40,000m before switching over to closed cycle mode.  She makes orbit with about 600 m/s deltaV to spare and carries a crew compliment of 6.

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What did you use to make the patch?

 

 

If it's Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. I'm gonna cry!

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2 hours ago, DeltaDizzy said:

What did you use to make the patch?

 

 

If it's Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. I'm gonna cry!

Naw, just Powerpoint.

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Huh..... not what I thought it was. I respect powerpoint more now. And you. Have some rep.

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I got a little bored with testing, so I thought I'd share some progress from my career save.   I still need 3250 science points to unlock the remaining nodes on the tech tree which will be needed for the Magellan mission.  Minmus will provide the brunt of the science haul.  In an effort to collect data from hard-to-reach biomes, a science rover was launched to rendezvous with the Tosche station at the Minmus Lesser Flats.  

After an uneventful flight and landing at Tosche station, some spectacular mishaps were had when Halgun exceeded the rovers safe driving speeds - causing the rover become airborne and flip end over end.  Strangely, the dash cam was turned off during the crash, but here's a recreation of the event by the scientists back at KSC

Spoiler

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Amazingly, no-one was killed during either mishap, and the rover remained functional with all science instruments intact.  Halgun received a stern talking to by mission control: "Rovers are for driving, not flying!" and the rover started it's drive up to the midlands at somewhat more sane speeds.

In addition, the transfer window for Moho arrived so a small probe with lander and relay sat was dispatched.  It should arrive at Moho in 126 days, far too late to be any benefit to the Magellan mission.

Finally, Gilbart Kerman was sent on a mission to rendezvous with a near-kerbin asteroid and test asteroid mining capabilities.  The secondary mission objective is to capture the asteroid into the Kerbin SOI if enough deltaV is available.

 

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I'm now getting much closer to unlocking the remaining tech tree nodes required for the Magellan vehicle architecture.  Halgun's driving has calmed down enough to reach the Midlands without further incident after about a 17km drive up from Tosche Station.  Now they just need to make it back.  In addition, a solar relay sat was launched to lead Kerbin in its orbit.  This is 1 of 2 identical sats planned to give better comms coverage to interplanetary missions such as Magellan, when they are far from Kerbin.  

Lastly, Gilbart and the Asteroid Prospector successfully captured Rocky into Kerbin orbit.  However, the orbit is far from ideal, since the asteroid began spinning wildly after the thrust vector was found to be mis-aligned from the asteroid CoM.  Further efforts to refine the orbit were largely unsuccessful.  For now the plan is to do a Mun flyby and then leave Rocky behind until a better asteroid maneuvering vehicle can be developed.

 

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Posted (edited)

Its been awhile since my last post, but I've finally gotten around to unlocking enough of the tech tree for the Trinidad and daughter vehicles!   This means this post is the final installment of career progress before I get on to the actual Magellan Mission.  You know the good stuff.  So humor me for one final installment and then we will get on to the main attraction.

In this installment of Career Progress (Part 3):

  •   The veteran crews active on missions at Minmus and the Mun are recalled to Kerbin in preparation for crew selection for the upcoming Jool transfer window.  Since none of these vehicles are re-entry capable, the assorted vehicles are docked to Kepler Station which is in a 300 km Kerbin equatorial orbit.  
  • A  Crew Recovery System (CRS) is devised last minute by KSC engineers that will carry 7 kerbals through re-entry to land back at Kerbin.  The CRS is sent to the station to await Jeb, Val and two of the more experienced scientists en route from Minmus.  
  • Meanwhile the rookie kerbonauts rescued from Minmus orbit are taking the scenic route back to Kerbin with a load of Minmus science data.  They stop off to orbit the Mun as a training exercise to advance their skills to lvl 2 before splashing down at Kerbin in dramatic fashion.

http://imgur.com/a/XyOEt

 

Edited by captainb
album wasn't embedding for some reason
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6eJJTqw.png

With 6 days remaining before the Jool transfer window, and all crews returned from Minmus, it's time to begin launching mission hardware to LKO.   The Trinidad Core stage is first to go up.  It's the most expensive vehicle I've launched to date, costing 429,000 funds.  Some of those funds can be refunded if the core booster can land back close to the KSC, but for now all eyes are focused on the launch of the Trinidad core stage which will be home to 4 Kerbonauts for several years. 

Fortunately, the launch is a resounding success as the Trinidad is placed into a nearly circular 120 km equatorial orbit!

FUydVkQ.png

She now awaits the arrival of 2 sets of saddle tanks to complete the vehicle.

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Immediately following confirmation of a good orbit of the Trinidad core, the two sets of saddle tanks were launched to rendezvous and dock.  The launch vehicle for the saddle tanks is a modified Magellan large booster with stretched side tanks to provide the necessary delta-V to reach orbit.  The TWR on the pad is closer to 1.85 instead of 1.95, but it quickly climbs past 2 with the thirsty fuel consumption of the twin boar engines.

http://imgur.com/a/9OE4L

It was discovered that the booster cores of the saddle tank LV - ostensibly designed for recovery - have insufficient fuel reserves for a safe touchdown.  One booster will be stranded in orbit on fumes and another has enough delta-V for a de-orbit burn but not enough to avoid overheating on re-entry.   Oh well...

The main mission is in good shape though, with a interplanetary vessel full of fuel and ready to depart for Jool as soon as her crew arrives.

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Four days before the Jool transfer window arrives, the crew selection for the Magellan Mission has been finalized!

EopevmZ.png

Crew bios

Lt. 1st Class Valentina Kerman (Pilot/Navigator):

A graduate from the Krunze Polytechnic Institute, Valentina (or Val) has a serious need for speed.  Always wanting to be on the cutting edge of space exploration, Val joined the space program when she heard Jeb had become stranded after the first Mun landing.  Val was sent on a hastily planned rescue mission, and was then herself stranded when it was realized her craft didn't have enough juice to return home.   After a 2nd rescue mission successfully brought Jeb and Val home, Val went on to pilot the highly successful Tombaugh Lab long-duration mission to collect surface science data from Minmus.  When off duty, Val can be found joy riding in any number of high speed experimental aircraft.

Cap. Jebediah Kerman (Pilot/Commander):

The original steely-eyed missile man,  Jebediah Kerman was born to fly.  At a young age, Jeb cobbled together a ultralight aircraft from scrap machinery on his parent's farm and was soon terrorizing the neighbors cows and buzzing grain silos.  After graduating, he became one of the founding members of the Kerbal Rocket Corps, which eventually became the Kerbal Space Program.  He pioneered the use of the gravity turn and was the first Kerbal to land on the Mun (as well as the first to require a rescue).  More recently, Jeb has taken an active role in recruiting and training new cadets.  He has personally rescued numerous kerbonauts stranded in orbit by rival space agencies around Kerbin and Minmus and trained them in proper spaceflight procedures.  Jeb was the natural choice to command the Magellan Mission.

Mission Specialist Danma Kerman (Scientist):

A veteran of the Tombaugh lab expedition, Danma was ecstatic to be selected for the Magellan Mission.  Danma has dual PhDs in geology and chemistry.  She pioneered use the laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy to study the chemical composition of the Minmus and Munar regolith and she believes the technique can be adapted to study the surface composition of the Joolian moons.  Danma has also taken up astronomy as a hobby and constantly annoys the radio dish operators with questions.

Mission Specialist Elirine Kerman (Scientist):

Elirine is the youngest and most junior kerbonaut selected for the Magellan Mission.  She was chosen for expertise in hydrology and exo-climatology and was the first to discover the cloud layer of Laythe.  She is a qualified pilot and has been training extensively to fly the Laika SSTO down to the Laythe surface to investigate the atmosphere and oceans firsthand.  The KSC also hopes she will be able to combat crew boredom on the long outbound and return legs of the mission based on a statment from her application:  "I also know lots of magic tricks that will dazzle and amaze anyone watching."

YzlXuE6.png

The crew poses for a photo-op during a hastily-thrown-together training exercise.

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You have a nice career play going on here, best of luck and keep your vessels as light as possible, Jool system is a tiny solar system on its own...:wink: 
If you`re going to land Kerbaled on Tylo... think about a (...staged...) dwarf lander with high TWR and sufficient dV, and a very low parking orbit for the mothership... 

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Thanks @Mikki!   I did think about a Kerbaled Tylo landing, but decided to go with a probe lander for simplicity and weight.  Thats why this is a Jool 4.5 mission and not a Jool-5.  Someday I will build a crewed Tylo lander!

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someday I will get to Jool!

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20 hours ago, captainb said:

Thanks @Mikki!   I did think about a Kerbaled Tylo landing, but decided to go with a probe lander for simplicity and weight.  Thats why this is a Jool 4.5 mission and not a Jool-5.  Someday I will build a crewed Tylo lander!

Is it worth considering an almost-lander, which will take a couple of Kerbs suborbital over Tylo without landing? You could get a bit more science that way. An unkerbed lander could still detach and transmit some data from the surface.

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If all goes well, I will get both low and high orbit science, since I will park the flagship in orbit.   I will also get 1 biome landed science from the probe.  Is there another type of science data from suborbital on non-atmospheric bodies that I'm forgetting about?

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The Crew Arrives

With only a day left before the transfer window, activity is ramping up at the KSC.  Spirits are high, as the Magellan 4 board the Lynx crew transport SSTO. They are thrust back into their seats as the 4 RAPIER engines ignite.  Soon the Lynx lifts smoothly off the runway and begins the climb to orbit to meet the waiting Trinidad flagship.  

Spoiler

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This is the inaugural flight of the Lynx and the vehicle performs admirably. The protective heat tiles keep the blazing inferno on the outside of the ship and orbit is achieved with plenty of fuel to spare. Likewise rendezvous and docking proceed without a hitch.

Spoiler

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The crew transfers over to Trinidad which will serve as both their home and lifeboat for the next 6 years.  Leatha undocks the Lynx and makes preparations for re-entry.

Spoiler

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Meanwhile, the crew of the Trinidad check out their new digs!

Spoiler

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6VWWo0U.png

Commander Jeb goes for a spacewalk to inspect all ship systems prior to departure

Full album link can be found here:  http://imgur.com/a/iqu2o

 

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