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So I've been fiddling with this design for a while, mostly because @FreeThinker requested a new Bussard Fusion torch-drive for KSPI. Well, now Everyone gets a whole massive ship. lol It's very WIP. I've changed some details from the original concept blueprint for practicality sake. Primary changes include radiators at the front and back, a pair of docking ports, and a 'command tower' at the bottom. I haven't quite figured out the scale yet but, it's probably gonna easily be 900m. I'd like any input or opinions.
Kerbals have unlocked the secret to the Infinity Torch -- a special module which taps energy from an alternate dimension and allows any engine to perform at 100% thrust with no propellant at all. (This module can be enabled by selecting Alt+F12 and checking "Infinite Fuel"). With this came the rise of torchships -- vehicles capable of performing Brachistochrone trajectories, accelerating constantly from Kerbin's SOI toward their destination and then turning around and accelerating in the opposite direction until they arrive. Space travel has grown exponentially, and it's time for you to make your entry into the interplanetary transport market. The challenge: Build an Executive Torchship transport suitable for Brachistochrone transfers. Fastest possible round-trip time wins. Rules: SSTO, obviously. No need to stage when the rocket equation is broken. Your vehicle must not take damage at any point during the mission. All stock. You need to be able to take off and land in style, on any surface, so it must have separate VTOL landing engines. You need crossrange capability, so your craft must be aerodynamic enough to fly to your landing site using aerodynamic control surfaces before engaging its VTOL engines. This also will allow for a survivable crash-landing if you suffer engine failure. Torch drives can be finicky, so you need to carry at least enough propellant to make your final landing without Infinite Fuel turned on, just in case. Kerbin doesn't yet have inertial dampening technology, so for your executive passengers' comfort you must keep your total gees below 8 at all times. You must carry at least four passengers and at least one pilot; command seats are not allowed. Round-trip mission time is any amount of time during which the vehicle is moving. So you can land at your destination and wait as long as you want for an opportune launch window; it won't count against your mission time. Entry levels (will have separate leaderboards): Torchship Jockey. Take off from Kerbin, land on both the Mun and Minmus, and return to any place on Kerbin (no splashdowns). Torchship Navigator. Take off from Kerbin, land on Duna, and return to Kerbin within sight of the KSC. Torchship Pilot. Take off from Kerbin, land on Eve, and return to a landing on the runway at KSC. Torchship Commander. Take off from Kerbin, land on Laythe, and return to a landing on the helipad on top of the VAB. Torchship Master. Use your torchship for a Grand Tour, landing on every body in KSP other than Jool. I'll put together some cool badges once we have entries and can award them. Good luck!
The thought occurred to me that if you had an engine with sufficiently high energy to pull a brachistochrone (thrust prograde halfway to your destination, then retrograde until you arrive) to Mars, the ideal plan for a manned Martian mission would be to start from LEO at 1 gee, then gradually taper off thrust through the full transfer to 0.3 gees to Martian orbit. That way, your crew would be smoothly acclimatized to Martian gravity and have no adjustment period. The same could be done in reverse, starting at 0.3 gees and thrusting harder and harder (no innuendo intended) until you reached Earth at exactly 1 gee retrograde. Unfortunately I have absolutely no idea how much dV would be required for such a maneuver, nor how long the transfer would take. It would require like four nested integrals, and trying to set it up for iterative solution in Excel would be a nightmare. I don't even know if outgoing dV would equal incoming dV, due to the influence of old Oberth. Any ideas on how to calculate that? Notably, such a thrust profile would be a prime candidate for beamed power...