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Advice on Interplanetary Missions


mythic_fci
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Which Method do you Use?  

88 members have voted

  1. 1. Which Method do you Use?

    • Kerbin Orbit Rendezvous
      57
    • Target Planet Orbit Rendezvous
      16
    • Other (post below)
      15


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Hey,

Even though I've been playing KSP for quite a while (0.13 IIRC), I still haven't mastered the fine art of going to another planet and landing there. How do you get your kerbals from the cozy snack lounge at the KSC to, say, the red surface of Duna or the simmering purple everything of Eve? Here are the choices:

1 - Kerbin Rendezvous (Mothership) - Dock your lander, crew module, engines, etc. in one big stack and send it to the desired planet.

2 - Rendezvous in Orbit of Target Planet - Send your crew, landers, etc. seperately, then dock in orbit of the desired planet and transfer the crew over if necessary.

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Kerbin orbit rendezvous. I send unmanned transfer vessel\tug powered by nuclear engines first. Then top its tanks with fuel, and dock a lander with crew. If i worry about amount of the fuel on a combined ship, i send unmanned tanker along (that will probably never return to Kerbin).

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I do a target Rendezvous. Sort of. I don't send everything in one go but instead send it in two or three different waves. The first would be a probe lander and orbiter to find a good landing spot and somewhere with ore. Then I send a surface hab thing and sometimes a rover and an ore miner (all unmanned). Then I send a mother-ship type thing with the crew and lander.

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I use target orbit rendezvous a fair bit. It's lost a lot of it's meaning as science labs are #lolinfinitescience and are pretty much "mission complete" when you unlock that node. However, if I want to do some serious science mining somewhere (for whatever reason), I send the science lander module (usually a dinky thing built around a 1-kerbal lander can and the science jr) separately from the mothership (which contains the fuel for multiple landings and formerly the science lab to reset the science jr and goo pods).

I find it simpler to design the modules in that manner (a well-balanced lander can dock using less than a single unit of monoprop, thanks to #lolreactionwheels), but attaching them in LKO will result in a wobbly ship (I loathe and hate #lolrubberrockets), even if KAS's struts are used, so that leaves destination orbit rendezvous.

That being said, I did complete the Explore Eeloo contract with an Apollo-like design.

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Other - I launch flotillas.

I used to just launch a lander, often a ridiculously big lander.

Now I prefer to design a mission around several vehicles/structures/probes with a broad goal, find a way to pack the stuff I need, put all of it into LKO, then do however many transfers during the launch window, with massive ships getting priority for "prime time" launch and light probes getting the more expensive front and back end.

That might be no more than a lander/rover combo or a lander and orbital fuel supply or return vehicle, or it might be an array of satellites, power plant, rover, plane, refinery, storage, living quarters, science, SSTO lifter, skycrane, you name it.

One advantage of this that isn't immediately obvious is that you can make complex bases with much reduced part count, especially because I use KAS to construct some things after landing so I don't use two docking ports and however many wheels or other gear/movement apparatus for every segment I attach, driving part counts through the roof. You can design an intricate base with deluxe facilities for a fraction of the part count, which is great because it leaves room in the physics bubble for vehicles to pull up to it without tanking your framerate (maybe leading to crashing into the base :( ).

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For simple destinations like Duna, it's straight from the launchpad. Where I have felt it necessary to assemble a ship for the mission, I usually do that in Kerbin orbit, so that if anything doesn't work or isn't right, it's an easy and close at hand job to put it right before actually departing.

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I've been using target surface rendezvous. The crew are launched directly to the target in a "land yacht" mobile hab, which is capable of travelling long distances and visiting many biomes. When they're ready to go home, the crew drive to the Kerbin Return Vehicle (KRV), which flies them back to Kerbin.

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Most entry-level interplanetary ships should be single-launches. You only really need a lander and return vessel. If you aren't an expert in interplanetary travel, launch a one-way probe to practice intercepts, then send a manned craft when you are good enough at it.

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I send everything in 1 launch usually. I went to Duna in career mode twice using a single-launch vehicle, of course with a separate lander.

Interesting story:

After the first one was a nearly catastrophic failure when I tried to land the crew back on Kerbin without adequate thrust or parachutes, as well as confusing some of the Mk1 structural fuselages for the Mk1 liquid fuel tanks which resulted in my nukes having less fuel than they were designed to have, I completely overhauled the ship and made it semi-recoverable once it got back to Kerbin. I went to Duna again, and everything went flawlessly until after I landed. When I took off I accidentally took off the wrong way into orbit -- my mothership was orbiting in a -90 inclination and my lander had put itself up in a +90 inclination. It cost my mothership the 1700 dV I had planned on using for Ike in order to rendezvous. Then I screwed up the return transfer and spent 15 years orbiting Kerbol before I was able to expend any reasonable amount of dV in order to get home.

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I go straight from the surface of Kerbin to the surface of Duna without any orbits. it's simple: Wait for the encounter (I just line up planet Kerbin with the target location when it hits the edge of it's orbit), launch at dawn, and accelerate straight up until I get an encounter with the planet. Once I'm there I use a heat shield to aerobrake and land directly on the surface. I find this method cheap (if you use SRB's) quick, and efficient.

JR

Edited by Jolly_Roger
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Tend to combine the two, if weight or part count get to high then send multiple ships.

Rarely much docking anyway, prefer to launch ships dry and refuel in orbit.

One standard is an base and a LV-N tug who dock in orbit, the tug is used to move the base and is later used at target.

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I'm a big fan of building monstrously large things. Almost all my ships are therefore capable of single-launch travel, landing, and return trips to their target planet. However my largest ships will often have a docking port so that the crew can do the landing in the main ship while the "tanker stage" remains in orbit for refuelling after the main ship launches back to orbit.

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Doing everything in Kerbin Orbit gives a much bigger margin for error, because you can always send up more fuel/another lander if you need it. The only downside is that you need to be careful not to miss the launch window to the planet you are trying to reach.

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