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Good Steps To Reach Orbit?


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Hello everyone! In my so far short KSP career, I have not reached orbit more than once, and that did not end well. (It's a long story.) I had a good site where I found some great orbiting tutorials, but now the page seems to have been deleted for some reason, and I barely remember any of it.. So what I am asking? I would like for someone to give me a few steps (No. 1, make a rocket, etc.) in order to reach a basic orbit. This would be much appreciated, thank you! And I apologize for being a complete newbie. :wink:

Edited by CaptainApollo
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Well there are a few you need to follow.

(Building your rocket)

1. Make sure you plan what that stages do. Your bottom stage, middle stage, and top stage. I generally go by "Booster stage, Orbital stage, and the one that finishes my orbit if I did not get the right altitude yet.

2. Keep in mind your first stage (Boosters) you need to generally have more speed the fuel. But your middle stage is Vise-Versa. Needing more fuel then speed.

(Launch Pad)

1. When you launch, wait till you get to about 10000 to start your gravity turn (This works best for me). Turn to about 5 on your nav ball (To the right) but don't turn to much or else you will risk tipping over. Slowly start to tip little by little as you get higher.

2. When you get to about 35000 turn your craft to about 50 (To the right) and when your AP point gets to about 75000-80000 STOP YOUR ENGINES and wait till you get near the top (DONT GO ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP BECAUSE YOU RISK GOING OVER YOUR AP POINT AND FALLING) when you get about to the top of your Sub orbit turn completely over to 0 (Where the Blue and Orange part of the nav ball meet) and start your engines. When you see a point call PE keep going untill your PE point gets to about what alt your AP point is.

P.S. Btw if you do go over your AP point when going to the top of your Sub orbit tragectory. Tip your rocket up a bit to climb alt. When your AP point passes you tip your rocket back to 0

Edited by Dspan_000
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From a pretty newbie like me, the best way i found to reach orbit was this ;

at 10 km i start tilting to the east (usually easier to go east, since its where you'll naturally head)

at 18 km, i'm roughly 45°.

Once my AP reach roughly 80 km, i stop the gas.

1 minute from my AP, i go 90° and push the engine until i'm in stable orbit.

it's not perfect, its not the most round orbit, but it works 90% of the time for me.

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Well, I can give you some simple ideas. It's not a tutorial by any means, though.

#1; build a rocket. :D Ok, so your rocket needs enough fuel to produce enough dV to get to orbit. There are formulas posted to calculate it manually, or you could check out Kerbal Engineer Redux mod, which will help.

2- how you fly your rocket will depend on the design, but in general, pointy bits on the top, maybe fins or heavy engines on the bottom to keep it oriented towards where you want to go. In general, don't make large fast maneuvers in the lower atmosphere. keep the nose of the marker pointed into or very close to the prograde marker on the nav ball (the one with an open circle and 'wings'). Slowly roll the rocket eastwards as you ascend, shooting for a 45* turn by about 10-15 km altitude.

3- check your map screen. when your apoapsis is above 70 km, cut the engine, coast up and plot a maneuver node to circularize the orbit. If you're in career mode and don't yet have maneuver nodes...well, keep rolling eastwards until almost horizontal at about 35 km, keep firing engine(s) until apoapse and periapse are both above 70km.

4. You're in orbit, with any luck.

Edited by Guber K.
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There are some very good video resources on youtube that can instruct better than written guides. Scott Manley seems to be one of the favorites out there - and he has material on a large array of topics, from the more basic things like getting into orbit to far more advanced topics.

That said, you will probably have to tune your rockets to the more recent versions. Fins of some sort are kind of important on the bottom at present, for example - and this wasn't always so. Solid rocket boosters are no longer as strong as they once were, so using them in lower stages is no longer as useful. But, all you should really need is a fair number of fuel cans on the bottom with a swivel engine (a decent atmospheric engine that can gimbal), a few cans up top with a terrier (a solid engine outside of the atmosphere), and a pod with a parachute.

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You're going to get a lot of good advice in this thread, because this is a very good community. A lot of this advice will mention the videos produced by Scott Manley. This is very good advice.

Some hints:

Remember, orbit is not an altitude, but a speed. Your aim is not really to be at a certain height, but to be going horizontally a certain speed. That speed, around Kerbin, is roughly 2,300 metres per second (maybe a bit more, can't remember off the top of my head). If you're going this speed in space (ie. above 70km, lets call it 75km for a safety margin) then you're in orbit.

For reasons related to the direction the planet spins (Kerbin, as well as Earth) you want that horizontal speed to be easterly - this is why NASA launches from Florida, out over the Atlantic, rather than from California out over the Pacific. So 90 degrees on your navball.

A lot of old (beta) advice will say "45 degrees at 10km". This remains reasonable, if not optimal advice - you want to start moving more horizontally once you're out the thickest bit of the atmosphere.

As a rough starting point (and likely non-optimal, but hell, it's a start) is to aim to be pointed at 45 degrees east by the time you've reached 10,000m altitude, and at 30 degrees east by the time you've hit 30,000m altitude. At this point, switch to the map view and look at your "apoapsis" height (the highest your flight is predicted to reach). Once your apoapsis reaches 75km stop all thrust and coast up to that peak. Just before you reach that peak, thrust at full horizontal (ie. very close to your "prograde" - the direction you're now heading) till your periapsis (the low point in your orbit) is also listed at around 75km. When this is achieved you will notice your speed (above the navball) is listed as being around 2,300 metres per second. You're now orbiting.

Mods remain very useful, and I'd argue near essential for anything beyond getting into orbit. Kerbal Engineer Redux is perhaps the simplest and best known which will give you a delta-v readout and thrust to weight ratio of your craft. I'd seriously encourage looking at these. 4,000 delta-v in your craft gives more than enough to reach Kerbin orbit in version 1.0.x, including a very healthy safety margin. A thrust to weight ratio of between 1.5 and 2.0 is just fine (weighted toward the 1.5 end).

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One mistake I have made for a long time is creating a top stage that is too big. I might use a T400 fuel tank when a T100 or T200 is enough. I also might use an LV909 Terrier engine when a 48-7S Spark will work. I use Kerbal Engineer Redux and recommend it. It makes it easy for me to see the difference in DV from one engine to another or one fuel tank to another. It also allows you to see the difference in DV at different altitudes on various planets. Some engines produce a huge amount of DV in space vs at sea level. Others, the DV difference isn't huge between sea level and space.

Sometime I am going to design the absolute cheapest thing with orbit capability just to see what it looks like.

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Thank you again, and I know, MiniMatt, this game has the nicest/most helpful community I've ever seen for a game, and the game deserves it! I will keep all this in mind, and soon, I will try an orbital mission!

- - - Updated - - -

I tried it just now, but around 30,000 I always seem to go past my Ap and back to Kerbin... :(

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I am not going fast enough then? My first stage engine is the Swivel, and the second-stage engine is the Terrier.

- - - Updated - - -

I believe I figured out the problem, and I am now almost in orbit! My second stage had too many fuel tanks, and the Terrier was not powerful enough to lift it! Thanks everyone, now I am just figuring out the AP and PE! :)

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I am not going fast enough then? My first stage engine is the Swivel, and the second-stage engine is the Terrier.

First stage as the swivel is a good call, the terrier is a good final stage assuming you're out of the thickest part of the atmosphere. Chances are you simply need a bit more fuel in the lower stages.

If you post a picture of your craft we can get a better idea. You're likely very close!

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The Mun, you mean! And thank you, I sure do, experiments give me so much science up here! Jeb is doing an EVA now! I love KSP so much!

- - - Updated - - -

And I just noticed something..I have 30 Liquid Fuel and 35 oxidizer left in my tank, is this enough to get me back? :o

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Yes, if you use it correctly. When you are at your Apo, point retrograde (the yellow marker with an x through it). open up your throttle to full speed and then cut it. check your Pe. If less than 69 Km, you're fine, it'll just take some timewarping.

If you're more than 70 Km, you need to do this again. Warp to your Apo, point retro, fire, cut, check. Repeat until you have a less than 69 Km Pe. Then timewarp home.

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