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  1. I completed the STS-4 / STS-4R missions. I flew STS-4 as a rather complex IFT telescope servicing mission, which tied off some loose ends of my telescope (added a probe core and extension arms to the comms antennas so that they could unfurl without clipping the solar panels) and made it ready for its final destination at the Kerbin / Kerbol L4 point. At the end of the mission, Bill Kerman's MMU suffered a malfunction, which hurtled him out into space after damaging the shuttle. I then launched the STS-4R mission. Its first priority was rescuing Bill, which was successful after just 1 hour and 50 minutes of flying time. It then rendez-voused with the stricken shuttle to rescue the remaining 5 crew member of STS-4. STS-4R then re-entered directly from inclined orbit before landing on the KSC runway. The boosters from both mission were landed as well: STS-4 booster landed on land, far away from its intended impact point. STS-4R booster then tried to land on the KSC but overshot by some tens of miles and splashed down into the ocean, destroying itself after toppling over. I then flew a salvage mission to the STS-4 shuttle still in orbit. This mission, STS-4S rendez-voused with the stricken shuttle and installed a probe core. STS-4 then re-entered unmanned, and managed to land on the island runway off the coast of the KSC. Still to be done: land STS-4S and its booster, and send the telescope to the L4 point. Full mission reports here: https://imgur.com/a/DFs1RDj (STS-4), https://imgur.com/a/lzTQPOR (STS-4R), https://imgur.com/a/aeaSXYQ (bonus material - currently the landings of the boosters and the stricken shuttle). Some highlights: Servicing the telescope. An old instrument package is removed in preparation for installing an upgrade with a probe core Mission complete, Bill takes this panorama shot. Note the nuclear transfer stage attached to the telescope Rescuing Bill by means of an improvised ambulance consisting of 2 MMUs linked together. Rendez-vous between the two Shuttles. To the right Romulus, with tail fin missing. Space Shuttle Pollux safely landed on the KSC runway with both crews on board. Romulus landing uncrewed after successful salvage mission And finally, some unapologetic telescope porn. I am really satisfied with how it turned out. Note the displaced shutter: that appears to be due to a bug in KSP: during construction the shutter was in the correct place on top of the central cylinder. I may have to do some digging in the save file to get it fixed.
  2. "MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY. KSC, this is Bill Kerman of Space Shuttle STS-4 calling an emergency. Over" "Roger that, Bill this is KSC CAPCOM1. What is your status? Over" "I am hurtling head over heels through space in my MMU, the bloody thing malfunctioned! One of the thruster quads is inoperable, throttle stuck in full forward position, SAS intermittent. Happened right after we got the transfer stage in place on the telescope as well, we were just packing in. I have lost contact with the Shuttle, cannot see the Dish anymore either. Over" "Bill, KSC. Ok, I am getting you loud and clear. Your MMU malfunctioned and you are flying out of control. You've lost sight of the shuttle. We will send help immediately, tracking is searching for you as we speak. What's your oxygen status? Over" "KSC, Bill here. I've got 6 hours oxygen left. Listen, what's the status of the Shuttle? I think I hit something on the way, must have knocked me out. Over" "Bill, this is Gene Kerman, flight director. Stay calm, we are going to get you out, trakcing has you on radar. We just got word from the Shuttle: they lost a tail fin and an engine. Both crew cabins are intact, so they aren't in any immediate danger. We will rescue them as well but you are the priority right now. STS-4R will launch at the earliest opportunity. Gene out" Bill Kerman, tumbling out of control through space, miles away from Space Shuttle Romulus. Monoprop depleted, SAS inoperable. He has 6 hours of oxygen left. Will STS-4R reach him in time? STS-4 completed all its objectives, and the IFT telescope is now fully operational. On his way back to the Romulus Bill's MMU - left in space by STS-3 to control the telescope and reluctantly pressed into service because one of the MMUs on STS-4 malfunctioned (for real: it refused to undock from the shuttle cargo bay, I think I encountered a bug with the docking ports) - short-circuited and threw him uncontrollably into space after hitting the shuttle's tail assembly. Full mission report of STS-4 tomorrow, I'm too tired right now.
  3. A rare sight at the KSC: both Gemini Shuttles ready for launch at the same time. In the foreground Romulus, ready for its STS-4 maintenance mission to the IFT telescope. In the background Pollux, fresh out of the Orbiter Processing Facility and ready to fly rescue mission STS-4R, should anything happen to Romulus. In another complex IFT mission, Romulus will install a new instrument package with an improved image sensor and a probe core, which the telescope is lacking at the moment. Two antenna extensions and a nuclear transfer stage will be added to the telescope as well. The plan is to then fully check out the telescope before moving it to its final location, far away from any disturbances: the Kerbin / Kerbol L4 Lagrange point. As an aside: as you are probably aware, stock KSP does not simulate multibody dynamics, and hence no Lagrange points exist in the game. I will simply move the telescope to a position 60 degrees in front of Kerbin in its orbit, where the L4 Lagrange point ought to be. The reason I am doing this is that this is the closest in-game analogue to the James Webb Space Telescope that I could think of. The JWST will be launched to the Earth / Sun L2 Lagrange point, but it is impossible to put a spacecraft in the location of the L2 point in KSP and expect it to stay there. You can, however, orbit a spacecraft at the location of the L4 (and L5) Lagrange points.
  4. Thanks guys! I quite enjoyed building it, and I am glad you like it as well! I might even do another one: I made a prototype with gold-foil Restock parts for the mirror and that one looks absolutely stunning.
  5. I finished my STS-3 mission. Mission report is here: https://imgur.com/a/CPWhTQF. During this mission I used two mods that I hadn't hitherto used: Infernal Robotics (for the telescope shutter) and DockRotate. The latter enabled me to precisely rotate mirror segments into place after docking. While you can be pretty accurate with the docking alignment indicator, I was unable to get perfect alignment without DockRotate. Update: I also landed the booster. While the plan was once again to land at the KSC, we came nowhere close. Although we at least made it to the same continent as the KSC this time, and more or less under control. So there's definite progress on the booster front. Some highlights: The IKEA Flatpack Telescope, crammed in the two cargo bays of the Romulus Space Shuttle. And the real reason for the name, although coming up with cringe-worthy names and acronyms was part of the fun for me. Placing the mirror segments. Note the mirror segment in the foreground, with the MMU attached. It was supposed to have a docking port in front, like some of the other segments that have already been put into place. Without a frontal docking port I could only extract this mirror segment from the side, then dock with the other MMU from the back (all segments have a docking port in the back) before placing it. When grabbed from the side like this, the segments (which weigh 1 ton each) are very hard to control. Kerbal-handling the biggest piece of the telescope, the Secondary Mirror Attachment, into place. I used both MMUs for this, as it is utterly uncontrollable with just a single one. Moving one of the solar panel trusses into position. It attaches to the back of the telescope, so there's still some way to go. Ironically, this, being the only mandatory assembly step in the STS-3 challenge, was quite routine compared to some of the other assembly steps. With the telescope dish looming in the background, this is my favouite image of this mission. The IKEA Flatpack telescope, fully assembled. i used Infernal Robotics to actuate the telescope shutter. This shutter, made from a 1.25 meter heat shield, protects the delicate instruments in case the telescope is ever accidentally pointed directly at Kerbol. I forgot to include a probe core in the telescope, which is the reason for the docked MMU. With the MMU I could steer the telescope despite the lacking probe core. Among other missing hardware, a probe core will be added to the telescope during the upcoming STS-4 telescope servicing mission. Something will go badly wrong during this mission, which will give rise to a rescue mission. This rescue mission will be my entry for the STS-4/STS-4R challenge. On final approach. I re-entered and landed directly from inclined orbit. It would have been fun to have a time-lapse video of the entire assembly process, but my video-editing skills are non-existent. So I'll leave you with this short clip of the finished telescope.
  6. What better way to spend a day off work than building a telescope? It is nowhere near finished, but here's a preview of assembling the IFT. One segment of it, to be precise.
  7. The International Kerbol-system Explorers Association, IKEA for short, is proud to present to you BILLY: the Beautiful and Immensely Large Light-collecting arraY. Yes, the acronyms are almost as terrible as in real life! Colloquially named the IKEA Flatpack Telescope, from the shape of the packaging of the individual mirror segments, it will enable Kerbalkind to spy on its interstellar neighbours like never before! Some assembly will be required... Design is not yet finalized but I think you get the idea. Each mirror segment fits inside a Mk3 cargo bay... Just. This thing is BIG. Please note that I got this image using the cheat menu, this is not mission footage. Assembling the telescope in orbit will be a major undertaking, so actual mission footage will probably be some time in the future.
  8. Thanks for the badge, and for yet another suggestion to solve my landing gear problem! The telescope is still in development and I am not going into details yet (there's some issues in maintaining alignment during orbital construction that I need to solve first, and some redesign to do to get the components to fit into my Shuttle) but let's just say I got inspired by the JWST and the Giant Magellan telescope ;). As to RTLS: I haven't tried yet, but that may well be a major problem. I'm not confident that booster separation is even possible during an RTLS abort. One obvious solution could be to blow the booster into several pieces with decouplers but I'll just have to see. There's a different RTLS that I have given some thought: it might be possible to do an RTLS with the booster (like SpaceX does with Falcon 9) and circularize the orbit with the OMS system. This would come with a serious payload penalty, though.
  9. Thanks for the landing gear tip, I'll check it out. As to your other comment: I'm afraid I don't know what you mean, can you please elaborate? I'm quite happy with the fact that my shuttle "carrier" is essentially a hugely overpowered glider. While it is not a historical analog to the real Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at all, it does remind me of a different historical aircraft configuration: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistel. I even tried putting the carrier on top of the shuttle so as to more closely resemble Mistel, but I couldn't get that to work.
  10. I thought I had posted this yesterday, but since I don't see it I'll repost. I hope I am not spamming the thread with this. This video is the record of my STS-1T Captive carry / Approach and Landing test. Since my shuttle flies quite well with some jet engines added (that's how I originally tested its atmospheric flight performance), I don't need a large, Boeing 747 style carrier aircraft. I made a small plane with 6 Wheesley engines and attached it to my shuttle via the booster attachment point. I then took the combination aloft to above 5000 meter before releasing the shuttle and landing on the runway. I then reloaded my save game to go back to the point of release and also landed the carrier. I did a captive landing of the entire combination as well, but that is not shown in the video. A couple of points, since I cannot refrain from commenting on my own flying: * I ran into a bug in KSP that sometimes prevents you from lowering the landing gear if it is attached to a cargo bay. Apparently the game thinks that the landing gear is inside the cargo bay. The solution is to open the cargo bay doors before lowering the landing gear. This looks weird but does not seem to have any negative consequences for the aerodynamic performance of the craft. * I did a couple of high-g maneuvers to get rid of excess energy on final approach. I'm not too happy with this as it has the potential to totally mess up the landing. I'm experimenting with different methods of slowing down during descent, and my slip during the carrier landing is one attempt at such. This worked well and felt very comfortable, so I'm going to use that more often in the future. Real life glider pilots sometimes do a slip landing to descend without gaining speed, and I am pleased that the game allows it. * I'm less than satisfied with the stability of the taildragger landing gear on the carrier aircraft, but it worked and I was getting tired last night, so it will have to do for the time being.
  11. Thanks for the badges, and the compliments! The starboard forward tank of Pollux will be thoroughly cleaned of any contamination, followed by a rigorous inspection. Meanwhile, construction of Romulus, the second Gemini class shuttle, is well underway, so it will carry the highly advanced IFT telescope to Kerbin orbit. I'm not ready to reveal my telescope design yet, but in the words of Dundee Kerman: "You call that a telescope? THIS is a telescope".
  12. Whoah, that is a good-looking Shuttle model! I've also been reading through some of your posts in your Shuttle thread - very impressive to see such an elaborate Shuttle program.
  13. Ok, I squared the circle. I succeeded in landing my Shuttle with both fuel probes, and kept one of them untouched while using the fuel in the other one to balance my Shuttle. Given that the challenge rules for STS-2b only mention a single fuel probe, I hope that this completes the challenge. Building the comsat constellation cost quite a lot of time, so I would prefer not to have to do the entire mission again. I combined STS-2a and STS-2b into a single flight: I first deployed 4 comsats in keostationary orbit, before retrieving both MulletDyne fuel probes and landing on the KSC runway. First comsat release. Rather than having a separate booster stage to boost the satellites to a 4.5 hour period release orbit, I used the entire shuttle. The Hermes constellation once all satellites had been released. Space Shuttle Pollux can also be seen, still in its release orbit. Capturing the first fuel probe Pumping the fuel in one of the fuel pods to the forward tank of the shuttle to ensure that the Center of Mass is in front of the Center of Lift. I did not touch the other fuel probe at all. Landed on the runway, showing that the fuel pod in the port cargo bay is still fully fueled. The other one isn't, but its propellants are all still there. None of it has been used for propulsion.Please note that the runway shot in my previous post was from an earlier run, which has been superseded by this one. Full report of the launch and orbital operations here: https://imgur.com/a/r0yrqmt. Full report of re-entry and landing, including a detailed account of my craft's CoM issue, can be found at https://imgur.com/a/ndb6zbD.
  14. @michal.donQuestion about STS-2b: am I allowed to pump some of the fuel from the fuel pods to other tanks in flight, only to pump it back into the pods after landing? I'm asking because I am doing a combined STS-2a and -2b flight: I have successfully deployed a constellation of 4 keostationary comsats, captured both fuel pods released by STS-1 from orbit and landed on the KSC runway. But I've only been able to complete re-entry and landing by pumping about half of the fuel and oxidizer from the fuel pods to the forward tank of my orbiter to correct a center of mass issue. I want to stress that I haven't used any of the pods' fuel for propulsion, and I am therefore able to deliver the pods fully fueled, as demanded by the challenge. I also took care to first empty the forward tanks (by pumping remaining contents to the aft tanks) before filling them up with propellants from the fuel pods and blocking them, to ensure that pods are delivered with their original fuel. If the answer to this question is "No" (as I expect it to be), am I allowed to split STS-2a and STS-2b into two separate flights? Space Shuttle Pollux on the KSC runway at the end of the STS-2 mission. Both fuel pods retrieved from orbit and fully fueled. Although some of the pods' propellants have been pumped to the forward tank and back to get the CoM right.
  15. I've only recently discovered this thread and I'd just like to say I am amazed at your collective skill at this game and your determination to get Jeb back home. While I still have to fully catch up, I am eagerly awaiting every new update. Congrats on getting Jeb back to Kerbin's SOI!