Cydonian Monk

Ascendent Memento - Landing on and Returning from Eve [Images. And Heavy.]

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Ascendent Memento

Landing on and Returning from Eve

And now for something completely different. What follows is a report of a mission to Eve, landing Jebediah in a solo craft and returning him to Kerbin. It was my intent to complete this with a single launch and no refueling, with the capsule being used to land on Eve the one that was returned to Kerbin. Was I successful?

The changes coming with the KSP v1.0 release will forever alter the Eve landing and ascent, possibly making it both easier (logical fluid dynamics) and nearly impossible (shock heating). So I decided if I was ever going to do this, the time was now. Several hours of testing on Kerbin produced the slimmed-down version of an earlier design - The Ascendent Memento. No fancy extra landers and a considerably smaller return vessel. Perhaps too small.... This ship had more than 20,000m/s of ∆v sitting on the pad at KSC and is easily the most ridiculous craft I've ever built. It clocked in at 2,853.3 tonnes, 662 parts, with a pricetag of 1,399,560-roots.

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The Eve transfer burn was short with the large SLS engines. An extra burn was required a bit into the interplanetary trip to correct our alignment with the big purple planet, placing the Ascendent Memento on the correct intercept course. Total travel time: 164 days.

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The descent to the surface of Eve was not planned in any careful way aside from being certain it would land over solid ground. Had I ended up on an extreme slope I would have needed to reload, but otherwise I was going to keep whatever happened. The trip down through the atmosphere was the longest half hour of my life. In game time it only took 12 minutes from point of contact with the atmosphere to touchdown, but the 5 minutes of burning followed by the 6 minutes of floating was still dreadful. Burning. More burning. Will it never stop burning?

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And then finally the burning stopped. And the chutes deployed. The sets of parachutes were timed to pop at different altitudes - no need to rip the craft apart before it reaches the ground. And then I waited. And waited. And watched some Irish dude scream about KSP for awhile. And waited some more. Will the floating never end???!?!?

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Finally! Touchdown! I couldn't have chosen a better landing spot had I tried. ;) This was an absolutely gorgeous inland sea type of place, nestled in a steep valley with a nice, broad, flat spot at the bottom. I really wish I'd brought a rover, but that wasn't the reason for this exercise. Someday I'll come back here. Maybe.

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I thought the descent was bad. The climb down the ladder was worse. The big, scary ladder. The ladder that was partially upside down, causing Jebediah to dangle over the surface. One slip and - poof - no more Jebediah.

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(Tim Burton would be proud.)

Jebediah was up to the task, and survived the climb down. He even planted a flag.

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And then he had to climb back up. Back up the big, scary ladder. I think climbing was half of this mission.

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And then he waited for the return window for Kerbin. First order of business was to discard the ladder armature. Then the wings and parachutes. And then to leap up from the surface while simultaneously blowing off the landing legs. And then Jeb was away.

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The ascent back to orbit was long, but the challenge was known. This is a mathematical problem, not an engineering one. Mass was shed with reckless abandon. Unfortunately, in the end I had made a small math error, and Jebediah reached orbit about 1,000m/s short of being able to return to Kerbin. Not even enough fuel left over to visit Gilly.

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And so I needed a refueller. Which added another 3 years to the total mission time. This was just a simple little thing I tossed together in the VAB. Not the most efficient refueller ever built, but who cares - all it needed was a fuel tank and a Claw. And that's what it got. I had initially targeted Eve a bit too well, and had to back off to a slightly more sane periapsis while on approach.

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The rendezvous was easy to set up, though I encountered a very peculiar bug while attempting to grab Jeb. For some reason the pitch axis control for the refueller was being mirrored by Jeb in the Ascendent Memento, but not the Yaw and Roll. So I had to do all of my maneuvering with only 2 axes, making for an odd evening. I've not seen this before in KSP, and I can only assume it is either a Claw bug or something caused by Precise Node (which I had installed for this mission) or some other mod being weird.

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With the Ascendent Memento refuelled, Jeb was ready to head back to Kerbin. Unfortunately he had to wait for the next transfer window.

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Goodbye, Eve.

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Hello, Kerbin.

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The entry into Kerbin was targeted specifically at the KSC. Reentry at interplanetary speeds? Just another thing we'll lose when KSP v1.0 hits. Not that I dislike being forced to be honest with shock heating and the like, but I've gotta admit the old ways are fun.

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(Missed it by _that_ much.)

And so, after 5 years, 144 days and 4 hours, Jebediah Kerman landed safely back at Kerbal Space Center.

Mission: Partial Success.

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Generations from now, some wayward explorers will find the debris left behind on Eve by the Ascendent Memento, and wonder what creatures built the strange henge-like formation. Was there some grand plan? Did it mean something? No, it was merely a relic of a time long-past, a memory of a universe with different rules. A memento of an impossible ascent.

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Edited by Cydonian Monk
Fixed teh contorl. Yay typo.

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*salutes*

Burton would be proud, indeed.

:) Thanks. I'm tempted to go back and give this one more shot (a 1-launch, no-refuel Eve mission) before KSP v1.0 hits, but I know the time just isn't there. Besides - I'd never be able to land in anywhere near as nice a place again.

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Nicely done! I can tell that quite a bit of time and effort went into this mission. Props on mastering one of the game's toughest challenges.

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Nicely done! I can tell that quite a bit of time and effort went into this mission. Props on mastering one of the game's toughest challenges.

Thanks! In a way you could call this my Pre-Release KSP Thesis or somesuch, as my last two years of study led to it. And, as with any good thesis, it was torn apart by the defense panel known as Eve, all its weaknesses revealed. ;)

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This... Amazing!

Thank you. I suspect it would be easier now in version 1.0.4, just with many, many heatshields for the descent.

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I love that "Evehenge."

Thanks. I'll never understand how most of that didn't explode. Luck and low altitude, I suppose. These days it would probably just overheat.

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