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The K Prize - 100% reusable spaceplane to orbit and back


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5 hours ago, linuxgurugamer said:

Just to confirm, I can use the opencockpit part, as long as it doesn't have any fuel

If it is a graphical mod of a stock part then its OK, if it changes the physics of the stock part in any way which effects flight performace, e.g. lift, mass, drag, thermal rating, battery size, fuel capacity, gyro torque, then it has to be considered a mod part which breaks the stock rule.

Its a very nice looking cockpit so I hope it has stock physics.

Maybe a command seat could do something similar.

Edited by boolybooly
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3 hours ago, boolybooly said:

If it is a graphical mod of a stock part then its OK, if it changes the physics of the stock part in any way which effects flight performace, e.g. lift, mass, drag, thermal rating, battery size, fuel capacity, gyro torque, then it has to be considered a mod part which breaks the stock rule.

Its a very nice looking cockpit so I hope it has stock physics.

Maybe a command seat could do something similar.

It's a stand-alone part.  While it can store fuel and EC (and maybe torque, not sure), I'd be happy to zero those values out so that all it would be is a nice looking command seat.  But it's up to  you, that's why I'm asking.

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10 hours ago, linuxgurugamer said:

It's a stand-alone part.  While it can store fuel and EC (and maybe torque, not sure), I'd be happy to zero those values out so that all it would be is a nice looking command seat.  But it's up to  you, that's why I'm asking.

OK, thanks for your perseverance which is not obligatory but is praiseworthy, to coin a phrase. I hope readers understand the K-Prize runs on the honour system and this does not seem like pedantry nor I a martinet. :) The K-Prize commitee applauds evidence of skill and initiative. The intention is to use stock as a standard which makes comparisons between vehicles and their performance meaningful, while also making it possible for K-Prize entrants to compete on a level playing field regarding record holder titles.

So as I see it, to be consistent with the spirit of the rules, the open cockpit needs to be a physics/resources clone of one of the other stock command capsules which does a similar job such as the Mk1 Inline Cockpit, which it closely resembles, or the Mk1 Command Pod or the KV-1 'Onion' Reentry Module or even in theory the EAS-1 External Command Seat but bear in mind this includes heat tolerances for reentry. Some of these carry monopropellant but if it was intended to carry liquid fuel plus oxidiser it could be a clone of the Munar Excursion Module (M.E.M.) for example but would have to be a clone entire, including the extra weight etc. So take your pick!

Also because it is possible to use positioning widgets and clipping in stock vehicle assembly the dimensions of the part are not an issue. Hope that helps.

Edited by boolybooly
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1 hour ago, boolybooly said:

OK, thanks for your perseverance which is not obligatory but is praiseworthy, to coin a phrase. I hope readers understand the K-Prize runs on the honour system and this does not seem like pedantry nor I a martinet. :) The K-Prize commitee applauds evidence of skill and initiative. The intention is to use stock as a standard which makes comparisons between vehicles and their performance meaningful, while also making it possible for K-Prize entrants to compete on a level playing field regarding record holder titles.

So as I see it, to be consistent with the spirit of the rules, the open cockpit needs to be a physics/resources clone of one of the other stock command capsules which does a similar job such as the Mk1 Inline Cockpit, which it closely resembles, or the Mk1 Command Pod or the KV-1 'Onion' Reentry Module or even in theory the EAS-1 External Command Seat but bear in mind this includes heat tolerances for reentry. Some of these carry monopropellant but if it was intended to carry liquid fuel plus oxidiser it could be a clone of the Munar Excursion Module (M.E.M.) for example but would have to be a clone entire, including the extra weight etc. So take your pick!

Also because it is possible to use positioning widgets and clipping in stock vehicle assembly the dimensions of the part are not an issue. Hope that helps.

Ok, thanks for that.  I'll see if I have time to do something else, this one is pretty much designed around that open cockpit.  

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Once again, I'm ready for action.

 

After I flew my Mun Hopper Mk. III around Laythe in less than an hour, I decided that I could use some more heat protection for next time. So, I replaced the current cockpit and crew cabin with a Mk. I inline cockpit and a fairing nose cone. I then did a simple orbital test and landed it back at the KSC with no problems. However, I decided to take it further for this case.

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LAYTHE SPEEDER

 

Spoiler

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  • Right after takeoff.

 

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  • Impressive apoapsis for that altitude on air-breathing engines alone

 

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  • I had about ~2.9 km/s of delta-V at a 150-km altitude orbit.
  • I'm now making my burn to Minmus.
    • Usually, I stop there to refuel before flying to Ike - but not this time.

 

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  • About to land in Minmus' flatlands, a perfect spot to land, refuel, and take off.

 

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  • Just landed.

 

For an extra challenge, I decided to grab some ore for the ride home - but DID NOT convert it.

 

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  • As you can see, the fuel level remained unchanged while I have 27.59 units of ore in my tank.

 

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  • My ore levels remained unchanged, and I intend to keep it that way.
  • I need to land at the KSC with fuel to spare, and a straight-up de-orbit burn would drain my tanks too much. So, I decided to do an aerobrake.
    • However, if I set my periapsis too low, I'm at greater risk of blowing up.

 

r5lAMCV.png

  • Spinning about my roll axis while approaching my periapsis at ~3.1 km/s. 
  • I'm moving further away from the KSC
    • It's not that big a deal, though --> I already have the APPA First-Class award.
      • Not that it mattered, since Round 2 began.

 

TPT9W1Y.png

  • My orbit right before my second time around.
  • I didn't plot any nodes since I'd be right on top of the KSC by the time I reached the periapsis.
    • Though my wish was granted, I would be going around a third time.

 

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  • I knew I couldn't reach the KSC my third time around without help, so I decided on establishing a low circular orbit above the atmosphere before making a good de-orbit burn.

 

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  • Making my de-orbit burn to the KSC.

 

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  • Seems pretty fast for being that close to the KSC. At that current speed, I'll land in about two minutes.

 

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  • I was coming in too hot and too high. I thought I would need to pass over the space center and land at 2-7 KSC, but I said "No, I'm doing this."
  • I deployed the aerobrakes and pitched down to lose altitude and speed. As soon as my velocity got below 300, I deployed the landing gear and leveled out while flying slightly to the northeast. That way I could straighten out when it was time and land facing east.
    • FIRST TRY
  • I didn't use the rapiers at all since re-entry; the only reason I used any liquid fuel is because I used a Vernor engine to keep my nose up during landing.

 

iPaRDv0.png

  • Nothing broke, and we have some fresh ore from Minmus. Not bad.

 

The end result: I landed on Minmus and brought some ore back to the KSC without having to refuel.

 

Spoiler

I believe that this flight qualifies this plane for:

  • Astrokerbal Distinction: I landed on Minmus (and did NOT refuel) before returning to Kerbin.
  • Utilitarial Commendation: I took ore from Minmus to Kerbin's surface and NEVER (and I mean NEVER) used it to refuel this plane.
    • As you could see, I just delivered it to Kerbin.
    • I'm actually a bit confused about what exactly qualifies me for the UC award when mining is involved. Am I supposed to bring ore to Minmus from Kerbin, or to Kerbin from Minmus? 

 

I've already won the APPA first-class award, so not getting the APPA again this time isn't a big deal. 

 

 

Edited by Mars-Bound Hokie
Adding link to (unmodded) craft file
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Spoiler

"There's a competition for a reusable space-plane, that can get into orbit and land back at the KSC."
"You mean like, shuttling personnel to a space station and back?"
"Yes."
"But we've been doing this for ages?!?"
"Yes."
"Our pilots have been drawing sticks to decide who gets the boring job of ferrying newbies to The Gate."
"*groan* Tell me."
"And there is a competition to do that?"
"Yes."
"What are we going to do about that?"
"I think it's time to go on a joyride!"
"Yay!"
"Oh, and take the latest batch of newbies with you."
"Yay, I guess."

   Dear K-Prize committee.

AHTech Industries respectfully submits an entry to be considered for the K-Prize, our ingeniously named:
   Person Shuttle 2 (Yes, what do you think? Who gives a bus a glorious name?)
Since finishing its design it has been a veritable workhorse of AHTech's aerospace division. We've made at least a dozen trips to our gateway station ("The Gate") and other destinations in Kerbin orbit or around Minmus and the Mun. Recently - since even the fearless Jebediah Kerman prefers to no be on board when our more experimental craft launch - many of our interplanetary craft launch without crew and the crew is shuttled up in this craft.

So we sent Julhat Kerman on a joyride ... a  tour to show off what our shuttle can do. The full picture gallery can be seen on imgur, here are the edited highlights.

As the name suggests the craft is optimized for the transport of personnel within the Kerbin system. In addition to a two Kerbal flight-crew it has space for eight additional passengers:

5v78qPp.png

Start, take-off, and ascent to orbit is fairly typical. If the pilot doesn't mess up you'll have more than 3.1 km/s dV in LKO.

Spoiler

Rotation at about 100 m/s, a fairly steep climb to 5000 m, then drop the nose to about 7 deg up and let the powerful RAPIER engines do the rest, the curvature of Kerbin will "raise the nose" on it's own. Just remember to engage the NERVs and switch the RAPIERs to closed cycle at appropriate times.

XQ8Wfmv.png

ljkNa06.png

 

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First stop of the tour was The Gate, AHTech's refueling station in a not-so-circular-anymore 500 km orbit around Kerbin.

u2rlHlx.png

Spoiler

Docking is a bit tricky because the docking port is not in-line with the CoM of the shuttle, so the automated systems don't manage to keep it straight and docking needs to be done manually. But this is helped by the fact that in contrast to rockets with a cylindrical symmetry the shape of the plane makes it clear which directions are up/down, left/right etc. reducing instances of spatial disorientation of the pilots.

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As usual, no refueling of the person shuttle was done. During a routine visit it is not needed to return to Kerbin, and this time the goal was to demonstrate what can be done without refueling.

utwZp6r.png

(Yes, I used the opportunity to transmit the accumulated science from the science lab.)

Next stop was Minmus. Not much to be said here, the transfer and landing are fairly standard. Not so standard was maybe the noise from the crew cabins. After the risk of detection (and complaints) by the crew of The Gate was over, the passengers broke out the drinks and started their multi-week party.

Spoiler

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One trick the make landing on the landing gear easier is to control from the docking port and set SAS to "surface / radial in", that will tell SAS to keep the landing gear downwards. Because I didn't have any more use for the monopropellant I expended some to slow down the "fall". Not that it's needed on Minmus.

M5CAl0y.png

On Minmus everyone was reasonably sober, but most were hung over. So only Julhat took a quick peek out of the airlock, while the others settled for looking out of the windows.

4OlXgBT.png

After takeoff - and as second part of the triad for newbie training(*) - Julhat and her crew left Kerbin's SOI to "orbit the sun". (And if you think that sound ominous, then you don't want to know what happened in the crew cabins during that time. But even the youngest crew member was an adult so no harm was done.)

Px2qcRg.png

After having a good look the darkness of deep space, Julhat turned the shuttle around and headed towards the Mun. The sudden acceleration took a few of the not-really-sober-anymore passengers by surprise, but Claudon - the co-pilot - had foreseen this issue and stocked a large amount of barf-bags, so no lasting harm was done.

But a fairly wide elliptical orbit was all that the fuel situation allowed. They spent a couple of days in that orbit, allowing the occasionally sober members of the crew a long time to look at the Mun. And while Julhat claimed that they "needed to wait for a good transfer to Kerbin from their current orbit", she spent a long time on the radio during these days.

Spoiler

Getting back to Kerbin's SOI took more dV than planned. I shouldn't have left the SOI at high-ish speeds in a direction that took Julhat and her crew away from Kerbin when accelerating straight towards Kerbin. In the end it took 300 m/s. More than planned, but not not so much to scrub the mission.

3TC5AFI.png

BmMiypC.png

Spoiler

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As exciting as the return to Kerbin was for those who hadn't done this before, so routine was it for Julhat and the other experienced Kerbonauts. Yes, the hull got a bit toasty during aerobraking, but nothing that the craft couldn't handle. And, yes, they needed several trips through the upper atmosphere to shed enough speed, but that's how you avoid overheating. And if you worry about crashing while gliding to the runway, then rest assured: there was still enough fuel in the tanks to get you out of a sticky situation. (Not that it was needed.)

Spoiler

High drag configuration: set control to the inline docking-port and SAS to "surface / prograde". That will keep the belly towards the onrushing air for maximum aerobraking.

tHseemL.png

Once you shed enough speed that you'll deorbit if you keep the high-drag attitude, you can keep the nose pointed prograde (control from the cockpit) for low drag. This can keep you in orbit long enough until the KSC is in a suitable position for landing.

After final entry into the atmosphere, adjust the attitude to balance drag and lift to get onto a trajectory to the KSC. (And if all else fails: fire up the RAPIERs and just fly there.)

vB9idrW.png

 

A fairly uneventful end to a tumultuous trip!

H42UMka.png

But, was this the end of the trip?

Julhat managed to glide the shuttle down to the landing on the runway, so nobody in the admin building noticed her return. And while orbiting the Mun Julhat had been chatting with her pal Lizlorf on the radio. Lizlorf currently has the thankless duty of crewing the refueling truck on the apron. So she could sneak onto the runway and refuel the shuttle for Julhat and the others.

Hsz4Y4w.png

And under cover of the falling night Julhat and her crew of misfits took to the skies again.

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This time she went straight to the Mun. After waiting some time for the sun to rise at her destination she turned the shuttle for landing.

Spoiler

 

L3gkR3O.png

Landing on the Mun is actually quite tricky. (Took me a few tries.) The shuttle has just enough TWR for a landing, so you have to brake really early - and watch the 2000 m/s dV from Munar orbit dwindle while doing that...

iwE7MCQ.png

By now all the high-proof drinks had been consumed. So after landing everybody got out to get a good look at the Munar surface. Julhat had landed next to a monument about alien explorers. There she and Claudon assembled their crew and told them the story of these explorers. How fear of "the enemy" lead on the one hand to weapons of mass destruction that threatened global extinction. But also how this competition motivated a group of these strange aliens to work together and perform the greatest deeds of exploration that their planet had seen up to that time.

ZHp9F7G.png

The return trip back to the KSC was a lot more quiet than the previous parts of the trip. Instead of drunken laughter, somber discussions dominated the noise coming from the crew cabins.

This was much to Julhat's relief, because the landing on and take-off from the Mun left the shuttle only fumes after returning to Kerbin. And after she overshot the KSC it took some careful flying to make it to the runway. But she did make it in the end, and brought a lengthy trip to a successful conclusion.

Spoiler

 

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BetUo5p.png

 

 

 

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P.S. (*) "Newbie triad": Orbit the Mun, Land on Minmus, and Orbit the Sun. Together with "Orbit Kerbin" this will give a Kerbal three stars.

P.P.S. In case it isn't clear, only the part up to the first landing is the part that is submitted to the K-Prize committee.

Edited by AHHans
done I think
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@Mars-Bound Hokie congratulations on successfully completing the K-Prize challenge mission once again. This time bringing ore as payload back from Minmus, which is no mean feat given the extra weight of the drilling equipment and merits the rarely awarded and highly regarded honour of a Utilitarial Distinction. I make that ...

- Advanced Pilot Precision Award, Utilitarial Distinction, Astrokerbal Distinction (ore from Minmus) with Laythe Speeder .

You also reported an orbital test mission which counts at the beginning of your report and I am assuming "no problems" meant that was a landing on the runway and so awarded an APPA for that.

Well flown and its nice to see the advanced kudos getting a workout! Thanks for your mission report and welcome back to the guest list for the K-Prize party at the Dog & Booster.

Hi @AHHans nice to see your pilots are taking an interest, the K-Prize commitee are looking forward to seeing their mission report whenever it suits :) hf.

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2 hours ago, boolybooly said:

Hi @AHHans nice to see your pilots are taking an interest, the K-Prize commitee are looking forward to seeing their mission report whenever it suits :) hf.

Sorry, fat fingered the submit button. :blush:

It'll take me a while to get that written.

[Edit:] So, I think I'm done. For some reasons that just turned into a story that just wanted to be told. ;)

Edited by AHHans
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Well, the crew of the Person Shuttle 2 should feel right at home at the Dog & Booster @AHHans!

I hope you will be pleased to know that refuelling on Kerbin prior to or after a mission is within the rules, so congratulations on a successful double mission which I believe qualifies for the following kudos. (FYI historically any Astrokerbal Distinction supercedes a Kosmokerbal Commendation otherwise the latter would be awarded for the voyage into Kerbolar orbit.)

Advanced Pilot Precision Award 1st Class, Astrokerbal Distinction (Minmus) with Person Shuttle 2.
+ Advanced Pilot Precision Award, Astrokerbal Distinction (Mün) with Person Shuttle 2.

Many thanks for you detailed and entertaining mission reports and welcome to the K-Prize Party guest list, aka the roll of honour. :)

 

Edited by boolybooly
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31 minutes ago, boolybooly said:

Well, the crew of the Person Shuttle 2 should feel right at home at the Dog & Booster @AHHans!

I'm afraid so... But usually they hang out in the Lonely Nozzle. (According to them the music might not be as good as in the Dog & Booster, but in the Nozzle they brew their own cider.) Anyhow, right now they are studying hard. I guess all of them want to be included in the next mission to the Joolian system, testing if the shuttle also works as an SSTO on Laythe.;)

38 minutes ago, boolybooly said:

I hope you will be pleased to know that refuelling on Kerbin prior to a or after mission is within the rules,

Oh, that must be in the fine print under all the beer stains. Are you saying that I shouldn't have used the rule-book as a beer-mat?:D

50 minutes ago, boolybooly said:

Many thanks for you detailed and entertaining mission reports and welcome to the K-Prize Party guest list, aka the roll of honour.

Thanks. I hope you'll have enough beer for my thirsty crew at the party.:cool:

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Spaceplanes are hard 

5 hours ago, minerbat said:

my plane keeps crashing anyone tips? i have the col just behind the com

Show us some pictures of the craft and say how it fails and we might be able to advise :)

 

COL (center of lift) needs to be behind COM (mass) btw. What can happen is the COM shifts position as tanks empty.

One way to work around that is to lock a forward tank, right click and toggle the green arrows to stop signs, so no fuel drains from it. If the fuel runs out and the locked fuel is needed then one can unlock the tank manually.

Another way is to move the COL further back and ensure sufficient authority in the rear ailerons to counter the tendency to tip forwards this will produce, until the fuel has drained.

An easy way to test this is to empty the fuel tanks while building in the SPH and observe the movement of the COM marker. If the COM marker moves behind the COL when empty then the plane will flip in atmosphere and try to fly backwards.

Edited by boolybooly
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16 hours ago, boolybooly said:

Spaceplanes are hard 

Show us some pictures of the craft and say how it fails and we might be able to advise :)

 

COL (center of lift) needs to be behind COM (mass) btw. What can happen is the COM shifts position as tanks empty.

One way to work around that is to lock a forward tank, right click and toggle the green arrows to stop signs, so no fuel drains from it. If the fuel runs out and the locked fuel is needed then one can unlock the tank manually.

Another way is to move the COL further back and ensure sufficient authority in the rear ailerons to counter the tendency to tip forwards this will produce, until the fuel has drained.

An easy way to test this is to empty the fuel tanks while building in the SPH and observe the movement of the COM marker. If the COM marker moves behind the COL when empty then the plane will flip in atmosphere and try to fly backwards.

I know I probably shouldn't be saying this, but I have one that uses only rocket engines, can go to orbit, then land back down at the runway. I can't get any pictures, just now, maybe tomorrow.

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9 hours ago, Space Nerd said:

Can I land my plane with parachutes only?

Also, do I have to disable utility mods like MJ and trajectories?

Yup if you want and the second question is not a problem. 

Landing any way you can is fine as long as the craft is intact and theoretically reusable. Water landings are OK but cutting the parachute mid flight for example would not be, since if it is cut it would not be possible to repack it :) so technically the chute is lost. Chutes disappearing of their own accord on zero velocity is OK because you can still repack them if required.

Utility mods are also OK. Mods are OK as long as they do not change stock part or flight environment physics or add non stock parts. 

Edited by boolybooly
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No sorry, unfortunately I cannot see the entire image of the first and second screenies, only the third is fully visible.  

It usually helps to ramp up speed at a low altitude where the air is "thicker" and then pick an exit angle when you are going as fast as possible, but it uses a lot of fuel.

The thrust is a product of air intake and that depends on speed and altitude and intakes, if you go fast enough at low altitude you can break through so you are going fast enough at higher altitudes to continue getting thrust.

EDIT - another way to manage fuel drain I have been reminded, is to enable advanced tweakables under settings > general  > gameplay and use the priority settings on the tanks which will then appear. The default is +10 and if you set +9 then that tank will drain after all the others at 10, if you set +11 it will drain before them.

Edited by boolybooly
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I'M BAAAAAACK!

 

While trying to make a docking-capable variant of the Dirtblood (craft file: https://kerbalx.com/Mars-Bound_Hokie/Dirtblood), I realized that it could also serve as a docking-capable Laythe plane as well. When the ascent and orbital tests were done, I decided to submit my entry - and, later, send a link for this entry to a certain forum user (I'm leaving out the name unless s/he wants to take credit) who's been helping me in the past.

  • Thanks to the new debug menu on 1.9, I teleported to Duna's surface and ran an ascent test there. It doesn't count for my entry, but it at least assures me that I can get a TWR of 1 after using all three rapiers and both NERVs at full capacity (without using any drain valves).

 

On with the show.

GohqNv5.png

 

Spoiler

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  • Ascending to orbit with all five engines fired up
    • 3 Rapiers + 2 NERVs

 

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  • 350 km above Kerbin's (revamped) surface, with more than enough delta-V to land on Minmus.
  • Pretty impressive TWR on NERVs alone, huh.

 

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  • Rendezvousing with the standby travel pod.
    • When are we even going to use it, anyway? Sure, we had it in position to take tourists to Eeloo years ago, but that was before we had the Poseidon planes and the mass ore transport.

 

xOol1YO.png

  • DOCKING SUCCESSFUL.

 

I then set the landing autopilot to the KSC and headed back.

 

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  • I'm approaching pretty fast, and I realized I needed to slow down.

 

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  • Airbrakes deployed.
  • I tell you, this thing is great at keeping its speed while gliding. Whether or not that's a bad thing in plane design, it didn't stop me.

 

OeXLT7x.png

  • MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

 

Spoiler

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  • Duna ascent test.
    • Thanks to the new surface teleporter feature on the debug menu, I got the plane somewhere along Duna's equator and fired up all five engines.
    • The TWR on NERVs alone was ~0.98 when the oxidizer was depleted. By then, my apoapsis had already passed 75 km.

 

cJyd3HF.png

  • Maneuverability test
    • After liftoff, I turned the plane around.
    • I got real close to crashing, but I pitched up and managed to get clear of the ground.

 

 

 

I can now tell that forum user that I found my Laythe SSTO, and I got a decent TWR on NERVs alone to go with it.

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Congratulations once again, again, @Mars-Bound Hokie on completing the K-Prize mission and earning a 1st class Advanced Pilot Precision Award by docking in orbit and returning to Kerbin with the new and improved Martian design, with twin NERV and triple RAPIER engines which is an interesting progression on previous single NERV twin RAPIER designs.

 

Edited by boolybooly
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@boolybooly, I'd like to make a correction please.

 

2 hours ago, boolybooly said:

an interesting progression on previous single NERV twin RAPIER designs.

Actually, single NERV and twin RAPIERS are for Mun Hoppers. DIRTBLOODS have double-rapiers and double-NERVs. I was trying to make a docking-capable variant of that plane.

 

iFBqiZj.png

  • This is a Dirtblood in action over Duna. It's designed to have a TWR of over 1 on NERVs alone once the rapiers flame out.

 

You also mentioned that the plane called "Dirtblood" got me the APPA First-class award. While it is capable of getting me APPA (landing at the KSC), it cannot dock. The Martian, on the other hand, CAN - and you just saw proof in my latest entry. I hope this clears up any confusion we all may have.

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