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


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Thanks for the welcome!

On 12/18/2021 at 2:43 PM, boolybooly said:

FYI if you would like to join the merry throng on the roll of honour aka K-Prize party guest list, then you need to share a report of an actual mission. Details are on page 1 of this thread. See para 1.

With pleasure.

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Valentina, stoic as ever, prepares to ferry engineer Liz Kerman to Crow's Nest station for training and then to her long-term post at the newly assembled Eyrie station.

The full set is at https://imgur.com/a/mCnEK6x

Ascent:

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Gazelle lifts off and begins the ascent to 10km.

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After reaching hypersonic speed the craft climbs again on both ramjet and nuclear engines.

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The NERV runs continuously for several minutes to raise the apoapsis and circularise.  Gazelle reaches stable orbit at T +9 minutes.

Orbital manoeuvres and first rendezvous:

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Preparing for a rendezvous with Crow's Nest.

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Crow's Nest station is showing its age, but it's still serviceable.  On the left is a Tarantula robotic crew transfer craft.

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Gazelle docks with Crow's Nest, where Liz' experience can be recorded in the orbital lab.

Transfer and second rendezvous:

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Val nudges the craft clear using the dorsal RCS thruster.

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20+ orbits and a small amount of fuel later...

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... Gazelle approaches Eyrie station.

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Gazelle docks safely and Liz transfers to Eyrie's habitation module.

Re-entry:

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Val undocks from Eyrie...

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... and makes the burn for re-entry.

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Gazelle needs to hold radial attitude on re-entry or it'll keep accelerating and burn up.

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A nice clean approach...

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... and a safe landing at the KSC runway.

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In which case, congratulations @NyetiArtson successfully completing the K-Prize mission with the elegant and carefully balanced Gazelle, employing a twin Whiplash plus NERVA engine configuration, expertly piloted by Valentina Kerman, to ferry key personnel between orbital stations and returning to land safely with all parts intact at the KSC runway.

This achievement undoubtedly deserves the highly regarded Advanced Pilot Precision Award 1st Class for combining orbital rendezvous with a runway landing.

Thankyou for your comprehensive mission report with screenshots and welcome to the roll of honour aka the K-Prize party guest list. :)

 

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Thanks for the award -  I've tasted blood now!

Gazelle very much emphasises the 'plane' in 'spaceplane'.  My new craft Sittang takes the opposite approach: a heavy autonomous cargo rocket powered by two banks of four RAPIERs.  In short it's a Skylon knockoff.  It's much more efficient than Gazelle entering orbit... and it's much, much harder to land.

Here's the report of a mission using Sittang SSTO to retrieve a missing part from LKO, starting and ending at the KSC runway.  Full set here: https://imgur.com/a/LA56PFj

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Taking off from the runway.

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In orbit, with circular solar panels deployed clear of the exhaust.  You can see the guidance unit just behind the nosecone, and the battery bank and reaction wheels at the aft end.

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I used robotics parts to build an automated grabber - one action group opens the cargo bay doors and arms the claw.  Here we're about to latch onto the missing part, which is for some reason a turboshaft engine.  Because of the 135t wet mass and to avoid the need for monopropellant tanks, Sittang uses bipropellant vernier engines for manoeuvring.

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Gotcha!

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Sittang gets pretty hot on re-entry, but not as hot as on the way up.

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Nearly...

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touchdown BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE

(This was maybe my third or fourth attempt.  Sittang has all the size of its namesake and none of the handling, and I crashed it more than once.  Thank goodness for quickloading.)

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But we made it back to the runway at last, and whoever lost that engine we can give a clip round the ear with it.

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Congratulations once again @NyetiArtson completing the K-Prize mission with the eminently functional robotic spaceplane Sittang, earning a Utilitarial Commendation for retrieving a career salvage mission turboshaft engine part from Kerbin orbit (one wonders how that got there!) and returning with it to land safely at KSC for an Advanced Pilot Precision Award.

Well flown, thanks for your mission report and welcome back to the roll of honour aka the K-Prize party guest list.

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Hello @boolybooly,

First of all, thank you for running this excellent challenge. If I may ask, what would an RSS completion of this challenge (SSTO to Earth orbit or beyond) qualify as? Would this be filed under gatecrasher or some other category? Again, thank you so much for your attention and dedication.

P.S. Congratulations on your upcoming 10 year anniversary of founding this challenge.

Kekkie

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@Kekkiethanks. 

I dont know enough about what RSS modifies wrt rule 3. If it is just a graphical mod then it would be OK, if mission performance still compares like with like.

If component physics, atmospheric and gravity model for RSS Earth are altered from stock at all then it would have to be a beautiful gatecrasher! With a beautiful quip to match :cool:

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3. All fuel tanks, wings (ie lift generators & aerodynamic environments) and engine parts must be stock, for fairness.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi @Admiral Fluffy thanks for sharing the screenshots of your neat little ship and its capable pilot. 

I am all for minimalism where functional and I hope this does not seem pedantic but assuming this was intended to be a mission report entry, FYI it needs more information, please, to qualify as a report. :)

Specifically the images without HUD do not show orbit nor is there any text to say it was an orbit. So there is no report of orbit which is essential for the K-Prize mission. It looks like it probably was orbit but I recall we have had suborbital hops among gatecrashers before now and without HUD info an orbital screeny is indistinguishable from a suborbital screeny. 

So if you could confirm in text that it was an orbit and the screens are a record of a single mission then it will count as a mission report.

The relevant rules are in the original post for the thread, as follows.

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To enter report relevant accomplishments on a mission which actually flew, your word is good enough but images and videos are welcome.

...

2. The craft must launch horizontally, reach orbit (PE > 70,000m) and land intact (on Kerbin) ready for 'refuelling'.

 

EDIT, Feb 6,  I have linked this photogenic report in the OP as a gatecrasher.

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Admiral Fluffy switched off altimeter to get better publicity shots, told This Week In Rocketry podcast "sometimes less is more".

 

 

Edited by boolybooly
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  • 3 weeks later...

Order, order! *bangs gavel* 

It has come to the attention of the K-Prize committee that the mission director knowns as @4D4850 did blatantly attempt to gatecrash the K-Prize party with aforethought and puns, by parachuting into the back garden of the Dog&Booster from a vertically launched rocket.

It was only due to a fortunate gust of wind that the attempt failed and the defendant landed in the goat paddock of a nearby petting zoo where they were discovered surrounded by a herd of young goats, where the defendant spoke to the arresting officer saying "I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids." 

 

Thankyou for attempting to gatecrash the K-Prize and the truly dreadful mining related pun! 

I linked the mission on the front page under gatecrasher listings with its bespoke ScoobyDoo themed quip.

You are entitled to display the gatecrasher badge should you choose to.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I made this bootleg orbit-capable X-29. Very maneuverable (sometimes I'd even say too maneuverable), bit twitchy on yaw but surprisingly good spin recovery. No cargo or docking capability, but still a decent plane

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Stable orbit with plenty of dV for maneuvers or deorbiting

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There's a small circular battery and retractable solar panel in service bay

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Deorbit burn and reentry

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Reentry phase did scare me a bit, but the plane held its attitude very well

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X29 aerobraked way too efficiently and was undershooting the runway, so I lighted up the engine on low throttle to extend the range (I did have more than enough fuel for this anyway)

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Landing was quite tricky. First, plane had unexpectedly low stall speed and I was approaching a bit faster than I'd need. Second, landing gear was mounted too narrow and plane was very susceptible to rolling on the runway and breaking the wings. It took me a couple of attempts, but I eventually landed it intact

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Edited by OJT
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Congratulations @OJTon successfully completing the K-Prize mission with X-29 with recognisable visual echos of the Grumman experimental model of the same name, with forward swept wings. Nice that it reproduces the yaw instability and ease of recovery characteristic of forward swept wings in the KSP physics environment. 

Thanks for your mission report and welcome back to the K-Prize hall of fame aka the K-Prize party guest list. The mission kudos and link have been added under your previous entry with Concorde.

 

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I've been having a lot of fun with X-Plane recreations lately. Here's a lifting-body SSTO inspired by X-24. Flies really nice, it could do with a bit more fuel onboard, and electricity in the probe core (it can fly autonomously) is barely enough to complete couple of orbits before returning, but it has just enough of everything to comfortably get to orbit and return, which is all you need really

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Stable orbit with a bit of fuel left over

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Deorbiting

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As with X29, I undershot the runway (although not that much: I already passed the mountains near KSC by this point) so engine was lit up

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Landing was smooth as butter

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  • 1 month later...

Question, Can kerbals be considered payload? I'm on my way to drop some off on station around the Mun, along with a relay. I have six souls on board, four them will be staying at Luna Station.

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1 hour ago, snkiz said:

Question, Can kerbals be considered payload? I'm on my way to drop some off on station around the Mun, along with a relay. I have six souls on board, four them will be staying at Luna Station.

Ummmm, OK, an equipped modern kerbal weighs 94kg so I guess they have mass now, was not always so. I think the test should be, is it hard to  do i.e. does it have mass and is it potentially useful.

The Utilitarial rules should apply, delivery to location or return from location just to make it consistent with hardware rules and so pilot doesnt count as payload and I am going to  say kerbal equipment can count as payload along with parts as long as its a delivery or retrieval.

The relay sounds like it would also earn utilitarial kudos. 

 

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Just now, boolybooly said:

Ummmm, OK, an equipped modern kerbal weighs 94kg so I guess they have mass now, was not always so. I think the test should be, is it hard to  do i.e. does it have mass and is it potentially useful.

The Utilitarial rules should apply, delivery to location or return from location just to make it consistent with hardware rules and so pilot doesnt count as payload and I am going to  say kerbal equipment can count as payload along with parts as long as its a delivery or retrieval.

The relay sounds like it would also earn utilitarial kudos. 

 

If I had to, I could bring them back. But they have a job to do, Luna's not going to build itself. Every time I use the pre-cooler I end up taking it out for a regular tank. So I find myself with a Dv surplus now.

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45 km from from the intended desert airfield.  It was still a good choice, more land for an overshoot. Direct pinpoint returns are hard.  Mission report soon. here's a teaser... 

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Hey sorry I didn't back to this last nite. I just got frustrated with imgur messing up the order of my pictures. I was thinking of doing a mission report type thing. But that so much work now, and I fat fingered a few of the shots I really wanted, So didn't get them. So if it's acceptable I'll give you the rundown here.

Luna Station is a fuel depot I'm building around the Mun, It's had 4 launches now. 1 was with a 50 tonne class ssto (LKO), I was going to enter, but I just couldn't get it to the same weight class within the aesthetic, when I swapped out non stock parts. ( nothing was op just different. ) 2 were with an apollo style lifter, due to volume of the segments. the last launch was this one. Crew and supplies. There are more planed. One more Apollo lift for a hab ring. and 3 or 4 heavy ssto lifts. I might use the stock one for some of the light payloads. That's the backstory. 

For this launch, Jedos and Samwell were tasked with ferrying a crew and supplies up to the station. It would seem even though the tanks were full, they weren't pumping. Hence the need for a self sufficient mission to repair it. (That's the excuse I'm using. the station is meant to eliminate that need.) The relay was actually a convenient add-on to the flight. Necessary for the station, but it only flew now because there was room.

Now for the sats:

Ship: Stubby Joe SK (Sock K-prize.)

Originally built as an LKO cargo ferry, In its original form it is capable of 10t to LKO. Outfitted for crew, it was tested to 5t, but realistically it's volume limited, you won't fit that in useful payload. 

Loaded mass: 3800kg

Fuel: 18490kg (14650 lf, 3460 Lox, 380 mono.)

Payload: 4 kerbals ( 380kg.) Relay sat (760kg, 81 Xe), misc cargo. (864kg) total 2004kg.

Dry Mass: 17516 kg (With pilot and flight engineer.)

Mission report: (AA used  as a fly by wire system only. No autopilot features used. (honestly pregaming that would be harder.) It is also non functional out of atmosphere.

Nominal accent, mode switch @ 21000 m, lox cut off @ 5600 m  parking orbit of 105000 m ish. Ejection burn of 834 m/s mid course deployment of the relay to allow it to enter a high inclination orbit.  Relay course correction of 43 m/s, it's capture burn was 193 m/s. The ships capture was 266 m/s But due to also juggling the relay, a 43 m/s inclination change was required, and it was a slow rendezvous coming in behind the sation. Docking was uneventful. After unloading the cargo and getting the crew settled in Stubby joe performed a 2 m/s obit raise maneuver for the station, before undocking and setting a course  for home. Projections suggested reentry one day later within range of the KSC. Although this being the first high speed return for this design Mission control was unsure how the ship would respond exactly, having only come back from LKO before.  Approaching kerbin the crew was directed to jettison excess propellent. The pilot unsure of this decision had kept back some monoprop, just in case. It turned out to be a good thing. The was a glitch when AA was turned on late. An attempt  by the system to zero out the controls on startup caused a brief spin very high in the atmosphere. Fortunately with  the remaining monoprop the spin was corrected before anything burned off. After that reentry was nominal, that is to say stable and with tolerance. It was clear we were not going make the KSC and the attempt was quickly aborted in favor of a skip reentry heading for the desert airfield. This required an inclination change of 150 m/s, It was all that could be spared without dipping into emergency reserves. Engineering never should have told the pilot about the extra dv margin from taking out the unnecessary pre-coolers. the mission would have been more efficient form the outset.  While no longer carrying the speed of a munar return the ship was still on high ballistic path, another unknown. In the end the last reserves had to used to keep from flying out over water. This was why the desert field was selected. It's a little rough, but there's lots of it. Stubby Joe landed safely 45 km from the facility. Running on fumes the landing gear was easily able to accommodate the abuse. 

Well... I guess that turned out to be full report. Sorry about that. I'm not risking moving it though. Here's a selection of photos from the trip.

 

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Edited by snkiz
Messed up spoiler tag
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Well flown @snkiz thanks for your thorough mission report.  Congratulations on completing the K-Prize mission successfully and earning the special kudos of an Advanced Pilot Precision Award for docking with Luna in orbit of the Mun, a Kosmokerbal Commendation for reaching the Mun SOI and a Utilitarial Commendation for delivering a relay and transporting kerbals with Stubby Joe SK.

Welcome to the K-Prize party guest list aka roll of honour. 

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Welcome back @camacju and congratulations on completing a slingshot tour de force via Eve and Moho to land on Moho and return to land safely on Kerbin at the KSC runway, which earned the prestigious kudos of an Advanced Pilot Precision Award and the very highly regarded Expeditionary Astrokerbal Distinction.

Thanks for sharing your comprehensive video report and welcome back to the K-Prize party guest list aka the roll of honour.

PS I named your craft Orange Tank in the absence of more reliable data, if you have a different one in mind let me know and I will change it.

 

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Apologies to @OJT for missing your X-24 mission report tucked away in the spoiler.

Congratulations on completing the K-Prize with another X-plane recreation, reaching orbit and returning to land safely at the KSC runway,  earning the prestigious Advanced Pilot Precision Award with a slick looking ship, one of a lifting body series which lead to the development of the space shuttle if I am not mistaken?! 

Thanks for your mission report.

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29 minutes ago, boolybooly said:

Apologies to @OJT for missing your X-24 mission report tucked away in the spoiler.

Congratulations on completing the K-Prize with another X-plane recreation, reaching orbit and returning to land safely at the KSC runway,  earning the prestigious Advanced Pilot Precision Award with a slick looking ship, one of a lifting body series which lead to the development of the space shuttle if I am not mistaken?! 

Thanks for your mission report.

No problem mate, the thread was somewhat abandoned after that so you could miss it. And I usually tuck away most of my screenshots in the spoiler, so I understand why it slipped through the radar. Still, I appreciate your commendation :)

Real X-24 was indeed used to test lifting body designs and the data gained from those flights indeed was used in the design of the Space Shuttle orbiter

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Single Stage To Orbit

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The party was out of this world, but it had no atmosphere

Spoiler

For the record, I did actually try to make it a single stage, but the stage is way too draggy for this

 

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