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I've been flirting with the idea of working on a suicide lander command pod. No parachutes. Just a small reserve of solid fuel with high ASL SRB mini deployable engines for the final suicide touch down. It would also house a deployable airbrake to aerobrake in the lower atmosphere. How would i go about increasing the drag value for the pod when the air brakes are deployed? Iv'e looked at cfg files for the stock air brake and also the grid fins from the re usable parts mod and i can't seem to figure it out. Also, do imported animations from blender affect the actual mesh when deployed? As in the case of the storage containers and landing gear. It would seem that there are two drag cube values for a deployed state and stowed state. Any pointers to the proper cfg modules would be great.
After some testing, I've found the airbrakes make lithobraking a real possibility. When de-orbiting, if you deploy air brakes immediately upon entering the atmosphere it reduces the increase in velocity from gravity to the point where heat shields are not needed. While they do not reduce ground impacts to the point where kerbals would survive, with the proper design one can land a probe with no parachutes or engines. The craft I've used have landed at less than 30 m/s & survived. A set of landing gear or a sturdy landing structural will both work. Parachutes may be more useful for a soft landing, but the air brakes have some advantages: 1) Reusable 2) Instant deployment 3) Reduces mass. 4) Deployable at any altitude. 5) Reduces re-entry heating As for disadvantages, they require more parts to work effectively, are bulky, and tend to be more expensive. They don't work well for crewed or heavy craft. But now it's viable a design option. I've only tried it on Kerbin, but I look forward to testing it on Eve.