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    Curious George

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  1. That's true in KSP too.* KSP plane builders just have to either manually tilt their wings by a tiny amount (which is awkward, since the rotate tool will only snap to multiples of 5°) or live with the fact that their plane must keep its nose pointed slightly above the horizon in order to maintain level flight (and the slight extra drag this produces, for most conventional plane designs). *) Easy enough to test by putting some vertical wing panels on a rocket, launching it straight up (and holding surface prograde with SAS) with aero force visualization turned on, and observing that the wings indeed produce no lift in that case. Do they, tho? I was under the impression that, while e.g. the "Big-S" wing parts indeed have variable thickness, they're still symmetric and thus have zero camber (and thus work equally well even if placed upside down). I also suspect that, even though those wing models indeed look back-to-front asymmetric (both in thickness and in overall wing shape), the stock KSP aero model probably ignores that too. That shouldn't be too hard to test: just build a plane using those wings, with nothing else attached to them, then turn them backwards (while keeping the nominal center of lift at the same place, as shown in the SPH, which may require translating the wings forward or backward) and see if the plane still flies the same way.
  2. …anyway, I decided to try cheating a bit by moving the engines down and out (which of course would never work in real life, but in KSP connected parts don't have to touch and same-vessel collisions are optional ). With that change, it does fly. Not well, mind you, but well enough to take off and stay in the air. Trying to rotate the engines and change flight direction went about as well as I expected, though. Mind you, that's probably in part because some of the control surfaces started acting the wrong way when I changed the control point. I think I remember having that issue with the CuBoid too, and IIRC I "solved" it there basically by having a completely separate set of control surfaces for sideways flight and locking the surfaces that were not in use based on the selected heading. That might be the way to go here, too.
  3. Anyway, that crazy airplane concept mentioned in your original post intrigued me enough that I wanted to try building a working replica of it on KSP and see how it flies. To absolute nobody's surprise, it flies like excrements. Or rather it doesn't, because it can't even take off — the elevons don't have nearly enough pitch authority to counteract the massive downward pitch moment from the top-mounted engines, and its negligible yaw stability isn't enough to keep it going straight. And the wobbly rotation servo doesn't help with that, either. About all this thing's good for really is doing donuts on the runway. I could maybe fix the yaw stability by adding some kind of deployable tail surfaces, like I used on the 8-way CuBoid plane I linked above, but I see no easy way to solve the pitch problem — at least not while leaving the result looking anything like the original concept design. (A bit ironically, turning the landing gear 90 degrees and taking off narrow-side-forward might actually work better, at least if I added some extra pitch control surfaces near the nose and the tail in that orientation, since that would put them further fore and aft of the center of mass.) Alas, all this means that I didn't even get to test how switching direction mid-flight (near Mach 1!) would've worked. I suspect it would've also ended rather poorly, though. Honestly, looking at the design, I have no idea how anyone ever thought this would fly in real life, and I suspect making it flyable in KSP isn't possible without massive cheating* either. But who knows, maybe someone better than me can pull it off. *) Like adding lots and lots of reaction wheels or abusing the aero model to make parts dragless, etc.
  4. Not sure if this old craft qualifies, since it's uncrewed. If it does, I believe it meets the "Reuse Me", "Look Ma, No Wheels" and "Double Trouble" extra goals.
  5. That's a good question. I can see at least three reasonable rulings: If the contract doesn't tell you to return (or to "transmit or return science" or return samples or recover a part or a kerbal, etc.) then you may not return. Better send a probe or bring plenty of snacks. Returning without being told to is allowed if you've already returned from all the locations (fly-by / orbit / surface of a given body) visited during the trip, as that means you'll get no new milestone for it. Returning is always allowed. Kerbals want to get back home to their own bed. I'm not sure which of these (other than option 3, obviously) my own playthrough actually qualifies for. I've tried to use probes for contracts that don't require returning, but looking back, I might've technically blown it with the very first progression contract, which IIRC strictly speaking only requires launching a vessel, not recovering it. In any case, if you're not playing a strict "one contract, one flight" version of this challenge, I see no problem with grabbing a second contract to return from wherever your kerbals happen to be. That said, I would probably not allow just any repair contract as an excuse to return Bill home, since you could always hire another engineer instead. (BTW, I already added one exception to my strict rules in my own playthrough: if the contract requires me to rendezvous and/or dock two vessels, then I'm allowed to launch two of them. While I'm pretty sure I could've finagled some way to complete that contract with just one launch, I felt that if I'm going to do what's basically a "re-enact Gemini 8" contract, then I should do it properly. )
  6. …which turned out to not matter anyway, since the very next contract I got was for "scientific data from space around Kerbin", so I just launched Bill into a polar orbit to get me those remaining EVA reports (and get some exp in the process). In hindsight, I think the existence of this contract (which I'm not sure I've ever even seen before) presumably implies that the "scientific data from Kerbin" contract actually doesn't include space around Kerbin, which means I technically broke my own rules on the previous mission. But I still have the same total science (and funds and rep, more or less) as I would have if I'd done all the space science on this flight instead of the previous one, so I'm not going to worry about it. (I guess the way to really maximize the science gain would've been to do the "scientific data from Kerbin" mission with a plane and have it land in as many ground biomes as possible. Including all the KSC microbiomes, of course. But that would've been way too tedious, so I'm glad I didn't. )
  7. So, in my second "strict mode" run I decided to stall the "gather science from Kerbin" contract until I'd made it to orbit and unlocked the Science Jr. Was it worth it? I think so. Before: After: Now, onwards to the Mun!
  8. I've been trying this challenge in "strict mode" — only one contract per mission* and one mission per contract, absolutely no science-gathering activities unless the contract asks for them, avoid milestones** unrelated to the current contract — and it's been surprisingly fun. The one-contract-per-mission requirement forces you to play in a more "realistic" way, with lots of simple incremental missions and no grinding EVA reports etc. to maximize the science gain from each mission — unless, of course, it's an open ended "gather scientific data from" contract, in which case grind away. One thing I did notice is that you should indeed prioritize upgrading Administration and enabling the strategies that convert reputation and money to science. It's probably not absolutely necessary, especially if you prioritize the "Kerbin World-Firsts" contract line, and indeed I left it rather late since I normally tend to ignore strategies entirely. But it's at least worth doing if you're going to take any rescue contracts, since otherwise those will give you lots of money and rep but basically no science at all. It's also worth not completing the early "gather science from Kerbin" mission immediately but saving it until you've unlocked the thermometer and the barometer and maybe upgraded the Astronaut Center to allow in-flight EVA. It might even be worth waiting until you've reached orbit or at least escaped the atmosphere first before doing it, although you'd have to do those with fairly primitive rockets if you're putting all your early science into unlocking more instruments. I'm not sure if I'll stick to the "only one contract per mission" rule for interplanetary missions, but I might. It might be a bit frustrating to launch lots of missions for each target body, but OTOH it keeps those missions simple. You have a contract for a Duna fly-by? Well, then slap a probe core on a simple rocket and do just that, don't start adding any science instruments or landers or anything else unnecessary to the craft. No detailed mission report yet, since I'm thinking I might actually want to reboot my run. But I've currently done a Mun fly-by and a bunch of rescue missions in Kerbin orbit, and would probably do Mun orbit and science next if I don't restart. *) Contracts that explicitly ask you to move a previously launched vessel excepted, of course. Also, I'll probably allow reusing previously launched craft with science instruments for repeat science gathering contracts if they're already in the right place for the contract. **) At least the ones that you get contracts for, like reaching space or orbit or flying by / orbiting / landing on another body. I'm not counting altitude / distance / speed records or things like recovering a craft from a crewed mission, or anything else that doesn't have its own contract, and in general I'm not super strict about that stuff anyway. If doing the mission in the most straightforward way gets me a milestone, then that's fine. But I did decide to try to avoid things like gravity assists off bodies I haven't yet had contracts to fly by. Not enough delta-v to complete the mission without gravity assists? Just build a bigger rocket and try again!
  9. Is there a time limit for mission duration? Because if not, surely you can just launch into an orbit that intersects Eve's and wait? You'll get an encounter sooner or later…
  10. Just a seat and some rockets, eh? OK, I think I can do that. This fine craft contains 14 parts: one command seat and 13 solid fuel boosters. No command pods, fairings, nose cones, aero surfaces, reaction wheels, decouplers, LF/OX/monoprop tanks or structural parts were used. Staging is done using the "explosive staging" method, by using a pair of empty Flea boosters as ersatz decouplers that will blow up when the rocket above them fires, and stability is maintained by spinning the rocket up on ascent using the eight slightly tilted Mite boosters at the bottom of the first stage Clydesdale booster. And yes, it can indeed escape the Kerbol system with plenty of delta-v to spare. More screenshots and commentary on the imgur album: https://imgur.com/a/2Ca7Ky7 Ps. Craft file here, for anyone who wants to try it out: https://kerbalx.com/vyznev/Dumb-Rocket
  11. Nice challenge! I decided to try starting in vanilla on hard mode and doing the initial science collection without using science rollers, because those things are dangerous! In hindsight, I'm not sure that was a good idea. It is doable… but not easy or fast. Basically, without science rollers you can only get crew report and goo canister science from two mini-biomes (launchpad and runway). To get science (other than EVA reports) from other biomes you need both an engineer and a scientist: the engineer carries the science instruments to each biome and deploys them on the ground, the scientist runs the experiment and collects the data. (Alas, you can't do that with goo canisters, since they're too bulky to fit in a kerbal's inventory.) So, after unlocking the first two research nodes (basic engineering and survivability) and getting the thermometer and the barometer, you still need 45 science to unlock the node that gives you the Stayputnik. And you can effectively only get 5 science per biome (EVA report = 1.4, termometer = 1.4, barometer = 2.2) so you need to visit nine different KSC biomes, not counting the ones you've already explored to get the 20 science for the first two nodes (that's probably launchpad, crawlerway, runway, shores and VAB). You can still get barometer science from those, of course, but even if you do that for all five, that's still only 11 science, i.e. equivalent to two unexplored biomes. That's basically a full tour of the KSC — on foot, with two kerbals that you can only move one at a time. It gets slightly easier if you can also grab science from the building mini-biomes: "VAB Main Building", for example, is a distinct mini-biome from "VAB". But it seems that trying to deploy science instruments in those can be hazardous — I managed to attach a thermometer to the VAB wall, for example, but after going "click" it disappeared inside the wall and was nowhere to be found. Maybe dropping them on stairs might be safer… (Also, it really helps early on if you break safety regulations a bit and take one EVA report while jumping to get that sweet "flying over Kerbin's shores" science. )
  12. Even so, falling from high orbit takes a loooooooong time. IMO, the simplest fix would be to just specify a reasonable maximum starting apoapsis altitude. Maybe 30 km? (And, yes, forbid raising periapsis above 0 m after timing has started.)
  13. I can't speak for the OP, but I assume the intent of rule 3 is something like: "No destructive lithobraking. You can discard used stages and have them crash on the surface, but that must happen well away from your actual lander. The lander itself, or anything in contact with it, must not hit the ground hard enough to break any parts." (Also, rule 4 puts additional constraints on both destructive and non-destructive lithobraking, and I assume it's also intended to apply to anything in contact with the lander at the moment of impact.) Anyway, lithobraking on Tylo has been done already by @sturmhauke. (Not from full orbital velocity, though, which you'd kind of need to do if you wanted to aim for TWR ≈ 0. But TWR < 1 with lithobraking seems doable to me. Just not in this challenge.)
  14. If you did add a "no gravity assists" rule, would that rule out braking at Jool periapsis? What about multiple passes through Tylo's SOI to slow down? (I assume Laythe assists would definitely be ruled out.)
  15. A gimbaled engine can work for that. So will RCS, although the restriction on using each part only once is going to make RCS port placement a bit more of a challenge than usual. Heck, technically you could even steer a craft using differential thrust from normal non-gimbaled rocket engines, although doing that in stock KSP without something like a kOS script to map steering inputs to engine throttle would be a huge pain.
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