2nd November 2013, 19:15
I like this mission report. Writing is good (important parts are brought out) and I like the pace (though 38 missions in 34 days are a bit much ). Btw, 1 Kerbin day is 6 hours. So, your 34 days are actually 136 Kerbin days.
3rd November 2013, 12:58
Feniks and ProfessorJeb: thank you both for your responses. Again, it's nice to know that the style works for people.
I've been running some missions on a new save and I've adopted something I've heard a few others try; delaying the use of science points for a set time. The idea here is to simulate the time it takes to take data and turn it into applied technology. The rate I'm settled on is to assume 5 science points consumed per game-day, after which new rockets using the technology can be built. This is still a fast pace compared to how we did things in our history, but more acceptable. I've also decided that the Kerbal Space Center's R&D division has space and personnel to work on a maximum of 3 projects simulateously, so, if I have the points to do so, I can unlock 3 nodes at once.
e.g. In the new save I completed Flight Control and Science Tech on day 24 of Year 1. The next level techs beyond that are 90 points apiece so that's 18 days before I can unlock them - day 42. Since then I've unlocked one other 45 point tech so that leaves me with 2 projects I can unlock by that date so long as I have the points for them. Then I can start new projects after that.
I'm also putting hard limits on what I can do by year. Year 1 for example will see crewed orbits and crewed Munar / Minmus flybys, but only uncrewed planetary flybys if I have the tech available by the time the various launch windows open up (first one - to Duna - opens up on Day 58 of year 1). Year 2 will likely see uncrewed Munar and Minmus landings, more probes, and possibly a Munar "sample return" mission or three. I won't get to crewed Munar and Minmus landings until year 3.
So far, the result is a more realistic pace to missions and advancement, and that will be reflected in the new log once I get to writing it. I'm also taking more screenshots - I will still only use a few per mission report, but I'd like to have a greater variety to choose from
BTW, Feniks, welcome to the forum. Good luck with your mission log, and I look forward to reading it when it starts.
3rd November 2013, 13:41
I like reading your mission reports. The style is fine and entertaining. Your format helps draw me into reading it. Keep it up.
4th November 2013, 22:06
Thank you, Nessus. Rest assured format will not be changing. Only the content of actual missions.
However, there should be some connective tissue between this old log and the new one. So, without further ado, I present:
Past Prologue: The Meeting
"...and zat vas ze last slide. Lights?"
A click from the other side of the room, and light filled the Octo Office. A staffer moved to pull up the blinds on the windows, while those assembled blinked and chatted amongst themselves.
President Yddennek Kerman, seated behind the olivewood desk, looked around at the various people assembled for this meeting. It had been a week since his speech to the Parliament, since his "Grand Dream" of Kerbals to the planets was announced. Now came the details, and Yddennek already saw he had a problem.
"A most interesting presentation, Professor Werhner," he began. "You certainly paint a rosy picture of our first steps into space. I do have some questions, though."
"Of course, Mr. President." Werhner Von Kerman adjusted his glasses over his mustached face.
"First, why not a full Mun landing mission? Why these... what did you call them again?"
"Ah, 'probes', Mr. President."
"Yes, thank you. Why send probes to land first?"
A Kerbal dressed in a dark turtleneck and tan jacket and pants spoke up. Yddennek recognized him as Carl Kerman, the astronomer from Llenroc University, and an impassioned science eductator. "There are a number of reasons to send probes first instead of Kerbals, Mr. President. Probes are much lighter, and can operate much longer in space without needing bulky life support equipment. This will make learning about the planets and muns much more effective--"
"But eventually," Werhner cut in. "Once ze first probes have landed safely on ze Mun, ve can send landers piloted by Kerbals. Zey can let us test ze technologies ve need to properly explore ze Mun."
"Maybe," Yddennek said, folding his hands on his desk. "But we can't give parades for probes. I'd prefer Kerbals in our spacecraft."
"With respect, Mr. President," Carl Kerman replied, "we need to take the long view. Planetary pride is one thing, but to connect our space program to it exclusively can lead to disaster. Probes can help us answer many key questions, especially before we risk Kerbals in space."
"Carl," Werhner said to his colleague in a low voice, "You just don't correct ze President!"
Yddennek held up a hand. "I appreciate Dr. Carl's consul on this matter, Professor. I... suppose... a mixed program, with Kerbals and... probes...may be best. Now then: about the funding?"
Werhner approached the desk, relieved at the change of subject. "Yes, here is our proposal for ze first three months of operation." He handed Yddennek a folder.
Yddennek blinked at the figures. The last time he saw numbers this large was in a discussion of the Planetary GDP. "Are you serious?" he asked, handing the folder to his Finance Minister.
"I believe zis amount of funding vould give us ze needed resources to move forward vith our program, yes."
"Out of the question," the Finance Minister said, handing the folder back to Yddennek. "We'd have to cut into several other programs to finance this. Medicine, education, law enforcement..."
"Perhaps we can try for a tenth of that figure, Professor," Yddennek said. "See where we go from there."
"But zis is ze needed level of funding! Vithout it our missions and research vill proceed at a snail's pace--"
"Now, Professor," Carl said, "You just don't correct the President."
Werhner sighed and nodded. "Ja. A tenth vill be sufficient. For now."
"For now," Yddennek agreed. "Later we may look into raising your funding. Depending on your progress. How soon can you get a rocket together?"
"Vell, a basic rocket could launch vithin two days."
"You've selected a pilot?”
“Oh yes. Three, in fact.” Werhner put another folder on the President’s desk. “All three passed ze entrance tests with flying colors. Ve will likely launch them in sequence.”
Yddennek looked over the pilot profiles and their pictures. Bill and Bob looked sober, even solemn in the photos. But this pilot named “Jeb”... If Yddennek had an eyebrow he’d be raising it right now. The pilot sported a goofy grin. And this guy would be the first to launch?
Well, if the proposed missions were anything to go by, the first launch wouldn’t even enter space. This “Jebidiah Kerman” could become an interesting footnote in the future of spaceflight, while Bill or even Bob might become the First Kerbal in Space. Either one of them would look good for a photo-op.
Yddennek nodded and stood. “Very well then. Professor Werhner, Dr. Carl, with the changes suggested, your proposal has my support. You may start as soon as you’re ready.”
On that note, the meeting broke up.
First of the new missions will go up on Wednesday.
6th November 2013, 19:34
Thus begins the new save and the new missions. We'll be sticking to 1 mission per post.
From Proposal To Reality:
After the previous series of tests, some bureaucratic changes were made at the request of the Pan-Kerbin government. The Kerbal Space Center also underwent some changes in light of President Yddennek’s restrictions to the proposed budget. Research and Development amalgamated several of its labs into three primary sections, allowing for a maximum of three research programs to be conducted simultaneously. The Vehicle Assembly Building had the capacity of building up to two small/medium rockets at once, although construction would take longer than Werhner Von Kerman’s optimistic predictions. Even so, it is projected that, given sufficient resources, monthly launches would be possible.
Project Hopper was streamlined slightly, going from five proposed missions to four. Mission 1 was the only one that came close to the proposed design and flight plan...
Hopper 1: Setting a Benchmark
Date: Year 1, Day 1
Mission: Hopper 1
Pilot: Jebidiah Kerman
Goal: Ascend to 5 km altitude or higher and return to the ground safely.
Hopper 1 sits on the launchpad.
Although rocket engines had undergone static fire tests, the first real trial for the new space program was to actually get a rocket off the ground and bring at least part of it back in one piece. As no automated guidance system yet developed by the labs was reliable enough, the PKSA fell back on the tried-and-true method from the early days of flight: test pilots. Jebidiah Kerman was selected on account of his winning the rock-paper-scissors contest between him and the other two pilots, Bill and Bob.
Hopper 1, shortly after achieving max. altitude
Hopper 1 ascended to a maximum altitude of 5.5 km, but rather than going east as planned, Jebidiah steered the rocket west. As the rocket began its descent, Jeb activated the parachute and disengaged the internal reaction wheels, letting gravity and drag keep the rocket lined up for a soft landing.
Hopper 1 on final descent.
Barely 5 minutes after launch, Hopper 1 touched down less than 10 km west of the KSC. Almost immediately thereafter, an explosion was reported and contact with the capsule was lost. Fire and rescue vehicles were dispatched at once. The first responders found, amid the smoke, an intact capsule and fuel tank, but of the rocket engine itself, there was only shrapnel.
Hopper 1, sans engine, as the response teams close in.
Jebidiah Kerman emerged from the capsule shortly thereafter, carrying a flagpole, and dropped to the ground. Before paramedics could approach him, he grinned and stuck the flagpole in the ground, saying only “I claim this land for Kerbin!” He was rushed to the center hospital, where doctors pronounced him fit.
Jeb plants a flag.
It was concluded that the engine bell, stressed by heat, had weakened and crumpled when the rocket touched ground. Although the fuel had been expended, the remnant vapors were ignited by a spark from the crumpling engine, destroying the engine bell. “It’s a miracle the tank itself didn’t go up,” one engineer was heard to mutter.
Jebidiah himself admitted to a moment of panic when the engine blew. “I expected the rocket to either tip over or stand upright, not explode,” he said. “I was lucky today. I really think future rockets should have a way to cut spent engines and fuel tanks loose, or we could run out of pilots fast.”
Flight time: 5 minutes
Mission Outcome: SUCCESS
8th November 2013, 20:20
Hopper 2: Touching Space
Date: Year 1, Day 11
Mission: Hopper 2
Pilot: Bill Kerman
Goal: Perform a suborbital flight out of Kerbin’s atmosphere and return to Kerbin safely.
Building on the experience from Hopper 1, Hopper 2 was a two-stage rocket, employing what Werhner Von Kerman called a “decoupler” to jettison the spent stages as needed. The fact that these decouplers required explosives caused some concern among the test pilots, but Werhner insists they are “completely safe”.
Hopper 2, ready for launch
Between the decouplers, larger fuel tanks, and stabilizing fins, Hopper 2 would be able to reach space itself. Pilot Bill Kerman was selected to fly this mission.
Hopper 2 lifted off and began to turn east once it had passed the 5 km mark, where the atmosphere was starting to thin. The decoupler worked as advertised, separating the spent first stage from the rocket, and after a couple of seconds, Hopper 2’s upper stage engine fired, carrying the rocket to the edge of the atmosphere before it was spent. At T+2:24, Bill Kerman became the first Kerbal to enter space.
2nd stage ignition
Hopper 2’s trajectory took it to a maximum altitude of 116.5 km before it began its descent. Bill jettisoned the now-useless second stage and oriented the capsule so that its heat shield was pointing downward. “I feel fine,” he radioed back to KSC as he neared max. altitude. “It’s really beautiful up here.”
Hopper 2 reaches maximum altitude.
A view from inside the capsule.
The heat shield kept Hopper 2 safe on its descent, as the craft shed most of its velocity through the thickening air. At T+8:24, with the capsule travelling at just under 250 m/s and at an altitude of 5.7 km, Bill deployed the parachute. The capsule splashed down two minutes later, just off the coast of the Eastern Peninsula.
Hopper 2’s firey return.
“This was an incredible experience,” Bill told reporters afterward. “My capsule passed the terminator into night on my way down, and I saw such stars… more than I’d see from the ground. If I looked at the horizon, I could see where the atmosphere ends and space begins. I have no words to describe it. You really have to see it for yourself.”
Flight time: 10 minutes, 26 seconds.
Mission Outcome: SUCCESS.
11th November 2013, 12:57
Hopper 3: Dangerous Science
Date: Year 1, Day 16
Mission: Hopper 3
Pilot: Bob Kerman
Goal: Suborbital flight to study Mystery Goo in space.
Not five days after Bill Kerman’s voyage past the atmosphere, the KSC was abuzz with a third launch. Hopper 3, a copy of the Hopper 2 spacecraft, was rolled out onto the launchpad with one important modification: the addition of two special sample containers, each containing a substance known as “Mystery Goo”. It’s discoverer, Dr. Genecas Kerman, hoped that by observing the effects of vacuum and radiation on the Goo, we may be able to determine exactly what it was. Bob Kerman was selected as the pilot for this mission.
Hopper 3 prepares for a night launch.
Problems emerged less than a minute into the flight. Bob had completed the spacecraft roll and had started to pitch the ship in what the scientists called a “gravity turn” when he reported issues with steering the spacecraft. “It’s sluggish,” he radioed to KSC Mission Control. “I’m having a hard time keeping it on target.” As there were no problems with the engines or other systems, Flight Director Gene Kerman gave the go-ahead for the mission to continue, although the ascent path was watched with growing worry.
As Hopper 3 entered the upper atmosphere, Bob activated the first of the two sample containers. “The Goo is getting cold,” he radioed, while on-board recorders gathered more detailed information. Bob waited until the craft reached its maximum altitude of 149.9 km before activating the second container. “The Goo’s become a brittle sphere,” was his report.
In Kerbin’s shadow.
While Dr. Genecas jotted down these observations, conversations between Flight, GUIDO, Tracking, and FIDO brought out a serious situation. Hopper 3’s trajectory was much steeper than Hopper 2. The spacecraft was falling almost straight down, and there were concerns that the ship might not survive re-entry. Unfortunately, with the last of Hopper 3’s fuel exhausted, there was nothing to be done. Bob’s life was in the hands of the fates.
Flight informed Bob of his situation; if the kerbonaut experienced any fear over the news, he gave no sign over the radio. Bob simply acknowledged the message, then closed the covers over the sample containers and oriented the capsule for re-entry.
Bob’s Trial By Fire.
Radio contact was lost with Hopper 3 as soon as it dipped below 35 km. Observers that night reported seeing a “brilliant meteor” streaking down towards the East Sea. Alerted by KSC, elements of the Coast Guard and Pan-Kerbin navy were dispatched towards Hopper 3’s splashdown site to recover the capsule - or its wreckage.
Recovery teams found the capsule dark and silent.
The capsule was found floating on the waves, although it did not respond to radio messages. When brought aboard one of the frigates, engineers cut the hatch off, to find Bob Kerman unconscious - but alive. Analysis of the flight recorders showed the G-level had exceeded 8.4 G’s. Bob would later report blacking out at that moment, but recovering long enough that, as the capsule got to within 5 km of the ocean surface and still travelling at almost 300 m/s, he was able to deploy the parachute.
Bob has been rushed to the KSC hospital where his recovery from his high-g trauma is being closely monitored. Doctors report that he will be fit to fly in space again after a few weeks of rest. The sample containers also survived their ordeal, and the data recovered is being studied carefully by KSC’s science team.
“This is a risky business,” Bob told reporters from his hospital bed. “We always figured someone would not be coming back. I admit I felt sad when I realized that someone might be me. I was afraid my death might mean people would become afraid of space travel.
“On the whole, I’m glad I made it back alive. But if somebody does die on one of these missions… promise me we’ll keep going. We’re doing something important here.”
Flight time: 8 minutes.
Mission Outcome: SUCCESS.
11th November 2013, 19:00
Hopper 4: A Kerbal in Orbit
Date: Year 1, Day 45
Mission: Hopper 4
Pilot: Jebidiah Kerman
Goal: Achieve orbit and return to Kerbin safely.
Hopper 4, with the new side boosters and controllable fins.
After Bob’s near-death experience with Hopper 3, Gene Kerman told the R&D section they needed a better way to control rockets. So, while the Hopper 4 rocket was being built, Flight Control technologies such as inline reaction wheels and controllable winglets were developed and tested nearby. Almost a full 30 days after Hopper 3’s flight, Hopper 4 rolled out onto the launchpad, with Jebidiah Kerman in the pilot’s seat.
A flawless liftoff.
In addition to the new control technologies, Hopper 4 also sported a new innovation: side-boosters. Efforts to build more powerful engines to work with existing fuel tanks had failed, so Werhner concluded that using a couple of boosters to act as a first stage would be a suitable workaround. Sure enough, the boosters performed as advertised.
Jebidiah jettisons the boosters on ascent.
Taken together, Hopper 4 was able to execute a proper gravity turn, and achieved a 79 km x 74 km orbit at T+5:21. The mission plan called for Jebidiah to remain in orbit for about an hour - enough time to complete 1 ½ orbits, before returning to Kerbin. However, Jeb decided to add a couple of EVAs to the itinerary, despite heated demands from Mission Control to stay in the damn capsule!.
Kerbin as seen from inside Hopper 4
Jeb kept from floating away on both times, and was safely back in his capsule when the time came to execute the deorbit burn. The resulting reentry path was much shallower than Hopper 3, and while it took longer for Jeb to return to the surface, the ride was much gentler, with smaller G-forces acting on capsule and kerbonaut alike. The splashdown and recovery were both uneventful, aside from Jeb’s constant chatter and jokes among the recovery teams.
Hopper 4 coming in for splashdown
“Most times we see the sun rise four times each day,” Jeb said after being cleared by PKSA medics. “I saw it rise twice in an hour. I love this job!”
The Pan-Kerbin President greeted Jeb at the KSC Astronaut Complex to present him, Bill, and Bob with the Medal of Kourage, denoting acts of Kerbal bravery. The President stayed only for a short speech, departing soon after due to “affairs of state”.
Now that Kerbals had achieved orbit, the Hopper program would be closed, with plans for more ambitious missions to be realized in the coming months.
Flight time: 1 hour, 2 minutes
Mission Outcome: SUCCESS
13th November 2013, 21:43
Just wanted to pop in and say that I have really enjoyed these career-mission write-ups. Don't let a paucity of posting get you down—they're well-written, and as someone coming back to KSP after many months (and had never even been to Duna even before my absence), these early-game missions speak to me far more than things like multi-launch space stations cruising around the Jool system.
14th November 2013, 10:58
Hey, thanks Landwalker I've been a little busy these past few days, partly due to some real life stuff, and partly due to writing the next vignette ("Photo Op"). I'm ahead on my missions - have 8 more done with screenshots - so there's plenty of material for future logs.
"Photo Op" should be up by Saturday, and new missions will go up after that - aiming for one log every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after this.