I DID IT! AT LONG LAST, I DID IT! I decided to take another crack at Eve, because I had nothing better to do. This time, I did careful testing of the ascent vehicle. It had to do this: Launch prototype and ascend to 40km, staging as necessary. Cut throttle and note remaining fuel and stages. Remove expended fuel and stages in the VAB Relaunch to orbit Achieve escape velocity And have this: Room for one kerbal Docking port Heat shielding for descent Parachutes for unpowered landing Plenty of room for error(and boy, will there be a lot of it) The mission was to proceed like so: Orbit the Purple Heart(ascent vehicle) defueled(see below), transfer to Eve, and land safely Orbit an ISRU rover, transfer to Eve, and land safely near the Purple Heart Fuel up the Purple Heart Ascend to orbit Orbit return vehicle, transfer to Eve, rendezvous and dock with the Purple Heart orbiter Return to Kerbin, re-enter, and land safely So I began designing a prototype. It achieved and surpassed the requirements of the mission. After the Purple Heart passed the test, I went to work building a launch vehicle for it. It looked like this: (please excuse the lack of in-mission pics until after phase 5, I expected this to fail horribly) Following the lagtastic and uneventful launch, transfer, orbit, and de-orbit, I noticed I had a bit of fuel left over in the transfer stage. Since the transfer stage had the same symmetry as the Purple Heart, I pumped the fuel up into it, to give it a little more stability in atmo. Quicksaved. Reentered. Made a HUGE mistake. I staged. Heat shields fell away. Burned and died. Reloaded the quicksave. PROPERLY got rid of the transfer stage(released the Sr. docking port manually). Landed safely at ~6m/s. Quicksaved. Went to the space center. Built the ISRU rover, which had to have: Plenty of wheels, both landing gear and rover wheels Suspension(wheels on structural pylons) Rocket propulsion for landing gear mode ISRU unit, drills, and main power source(2 gigantors) Backup power source(fuel cell) Klaw Uncrewed, uses probe core. Parachutes for unpowered landing Wasn't too hard. Built a launch vehicle for it, eyeballing it. Overbuilt it. A lot. First stage sans SRB's got it to orbit and completed part of the transfer burn. Turned on the fuel cell. A small (100 m/s or so) plane change and I had a 100km perigee. Circularized, staged outer engines away(the whole trip their nosecones kept clipping into the fairing and getting eaten by the Heat Kraken). Small plane change to reach the high landing latitude. Quicksaved. Next orbit passed perfectly over the Purple Heart. Using the remaining delta-v in the transfer stage(>2km/s!), I pulled off my best ever precision landing, 200m away from the Purple Heart! Unfortunately and inexplicably, a rover wheel broke, despite only landing on the landing gear. It was uphill from the Purple Heart, so I took off the brakes and carefully let it roll downhill. Docked with the Purple Heart without too much hassle. Bizarrely, another rover wheel broke while I did this, despite me never raising the landing gear. Quicksaved 5 times. Extended the solar panels, and turned on the ISRU stuff. Set timewarp to maximum, saw it was going to take a while, took The Silmarillion off my shelf, and began reading. Five or so minutes later, it was done fueling. Put the book down and went back to normal time. Almost had a heart attack when it spazzed a little when physics kicked in. Nothing bad happened. Quicksaved uncountable times. Looked at the MET clock. 7 years into the mission. Undocked the rover and moved it away. Quicksave spammed. Had a surge of confidence, and an idea. I turned on Fraps. Did a small test recording to see if it was working. It was. Engines were already on, ready to go. Started recording. First attempt failed horribly, poor Purple Heart fell over on launch. Reloaded the quicksave and tried again. Same result. Reloaded again. Turned on the 6 mainsail boosters' engine gimbals(don't know why I turned them off). Tried again. The result: (I added some music and a text story thing to keep it from being boring)
For those who can't/won't watch the video, here's how it went. I almost fell over like before, but managed to save it thanks to the added gimbal just before the first asparagus boosters ran out. Staged. Pointed straight up. Staged again at 6km. Began gravity turn at 20km and staged away the last pair of boosters. Disaster strikes. The boosters collide with the inner engine, and it's destroyed. I gawk in horror for 5 seconds before staging again. I was pretty confident that I could make it to orbit without that stage. Turns out I was right. Got a suborbital trajectory with the next stage and(somewhat) circularized with the last, with plenty of fuel to spare. Ended up with a 207x106 orbit. That's where I'm at so far. Construction of the return vehicle will commence after I post this. I'll be sure to post screenshots of this final stretch!