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Forgotten Space Program

Cydonian Monk

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Council of Copper

"So here's the situation. We recovered the capsule and all of its contents, and will attempt another launch once the replacement LV-12 Tango booster is ready. I have our programmers reviewing the launch code to determine exactly where things went awry, and I have another team reviewing the mechanical interlockings of the booster and the escape system. Once that's done we'll have the next batch of supplies and research projects at your station."

Jonbald looked over the other two kerbals in the council room before continuing. Cartina, once again responsible for the day to day operation of the space center, and Munlin, there as an adviser from their friendly neighborhood monks. Wernher and Gene were joining in on the meeting over radio from Manganese Station, up in Low Kerbin Orbit. There were fewer kerbals on this version of the Continuum Council than he'd like, five in total, but perhaps that would work for now. Later, once the astronaut corps was reestablished, maybe they'd add two more to return to full strength.

That was assuming Jonbald even wanted to have seven kerbals on his council.

He tapped at the microphone on the desk in front of his seat. "So, Wernher, how go the plans for our next project?"

"Quite well. Ve will call it Copper, yes? It will be quite the undertaking, you know, and require the construction of boosters far greater than any ve have yet constructed. And there is ze question of whether or not ve will be able power the thing. Have you discussed the nuclear option amongst ze ground crews?"

Jonbald sighed. "Wernher, you know as well as I we're not going to be able to refine enough radioactives in the span of time available to us. This planet has a net production of zero grams of the stuff. We need to go with solar for now, and find a way to create our fuel elsewhere. Such as on The Mün."

"Solar will only work while ze craft is in Kerbin orbit. Once we're anywhere beyond Duna ve will go dark and will freeze."

"That's why you're building a cryogenic suspension system, is it not? To freeze us?"

"Ja, but it too will need power. Perhaps ve could build only the reactors and leave them unfuelled?"

"Later, perhaps. Do you have the latest draft of the plans for us or not?"

"Ja, ja. They should be displaying now." The screens along the council desk lit up, each displaying a wireframe version of the new station.


"What you see will be ze first phase of construction for Project Copper. It is not perfect, and again would be better nuclear powered, but it will be sufficient. As you can see there are four distinct sections separated by large sections of trusswork. At the apex we have the CNC, or Command, Navigation, and Control. This vill be ze microgravity heart of our new craft and the first node to ascend. Also in this section you will find a number of docking nodes and docking armatures of various sizes, and the primary forward ingress/egress airlocks.

"Moving backwards along the spine ve come to ze habitation section. This features four large rotating devices which will fold up for launch. This is, perhaps thankfully, far less ambitious than the original design which featured six such devices in a tripod arrangement. The insides of each of these will feature sleeping quarters, a laboratory, greenhouses, meeting rooms and other such gathering areas. The spine of the habitation section will also be fitted out with yet more greenhouses a sufficient quantity of cryogenic chambers. Ve should be able to grow all the food ve need to keep a colony of kerbals alive, say, 48 or 50 in number, completely independent of Kerbin.

(Spoiler: One of the many alternate designs of the Copper habitation sections....)



In flight testing showed this arrangement to be excessively kraken-inducing and wobbly. Too many rotating parts. Similar and larger arrangements murdered my PC, so I went with the significantly less complex version you'll see later.

"Further back towards the rear of ze craft ve find the power facilities. These are," Wernher coughed, "by compromise just a sad collection of solar arrays. These arrays will feed ze numerous batteries at the core of the node, with enough capacity to keep us alive in the darkest of times. Further back ve have a large array of radiators. This design only uses one of the radiator nodes, though ve should consider launching a second and third in anticipation of using the nuclear option."

"Unlikely," Jonbald interjected.

"Ve will see. Finally, at the rear of all of this trusswork ve find the hopes and dreams of the experiment: The mounting point where ze drive systems will eventually be installed. For now all there is is a simple ingress/egress airlock, but in time... in time ve will have exactly what ve need to break the bonds of Kerbin and take this research craft to wherever ve wish. This design at present is just short of being one eighth of a kilometer in length, 124.1 meters to be exact, and with the engines and their fuel containment systems it should reach nearly a quarter kilometer. 

"It will be glorious!"

Jonbald had no doubt that Wernher was positively glowing with excitement. He could hear it in his voice. This looked to be exactly what they needed to explore the remainder of the Kerbol System, and to perhaps one day leave and go... somewhere. Home? For some reason his brain wanted him to think they would go home, even though they were already home. He shook off the thought and was about to speak up, just as Wernher's voice came back across the radio.

"That is assuming ve can ever launch the thing. The CNC node and the lighter trusswork sections should be able to fly atop a crude design such as the so far unused LV-30. These habitation nodes are proving to be quite a bit of trouble, and will require the creation of a launch vehicle the likes of which Kerbin has never seen. A tremendously huge rocket, capable of...!"

"Yes, about that." Jonbald stopped Wernher before he got too excited. "Before we go down the path of these behemoths, perhaps we should see if we can get one of the Tangos off the pad intact and working. Agreed?"


Another Nickel's Worth

Just a short time later the next Tango was sitting on the launch pad underneath the Nickel-Dime 4. Not much had changed with the launch vehicle, just a few small bug fixes and delousings of the ascent code. This time the launch went off without a hitch, and the interstage separator didn't explode until the craft was well into its intended trajectory.

The second stage carried it most of the way into orbit before being kicked free. A short time later the Ni D-4's orbital motors performed their final orbital insertion burn, and the craft was set up for its rendezvous with the Manganese research station.




The launch turned out to be a bit late, placing the Ni D-4 into an orbit behind the station. By skimming the atmosphere they were able to set up an orbit which would intersect with Manganese 1 in roughly two orbits, just over an hour out.




Final docking was handled remotely from Manganese Station by Tetris (who was proving very adept at moving strangely-shaped spacecraft into always lacking-in-size docking arrangements). With the Nickel Dime-4 docked and secured, the research teams aboard the tiny station finally had enough supplies to restart their now long-delayed science experiments. 

One such experiment was their ongoing research into producing the perfect blend of ice cream. It was somewhat unfortunately a test they had to continually restart, as the results always disappeared before the principal researcher could complete their observations. Meanwhile the other members of the crew were gaining noticeable amounts of body fat and exhibiting signs of excessive sugar consumption, a seemingly unexplained phenomenon. 

Yet another experiment was attempting to determine if they could successfully grow plants in orbit. So far they had failed to even get a single seed to sprout, as the tiny larval-form plants always complained about missing some required input resource. Eventually they shoved the seeds and their dirt into the back corner of the lab and moved on to greener pastures.



Another critical and somewhat oddly related experiment was their continuing research into cryogenic preservation of living material. A minor breakthrough had occurred when junior scientist Barbara had thought to pack one of their test subjects (a goo they had named "Jeb") in the results of the ice cream experiment. (Explaining the missing ice cream.) This was found to be doubly beneficial, as the preserved subject could extract calories directly from the cryogenic packing material, aka: the ice cream.

They all agreed the results of this experiment were important enough to be verified and repeated by a second, independent team on the ground. And so they loaded up all the materials related to the cryogenic and other projects, packed them into the Nickel Dime-4, and shoved the capsule free from the station. Once it was clear, the craft burned to lower its orbit, setting up a second burn so it could land near the space center and be safely recovered.



Unfortunately for the recovery team, the Ni D-4's reentry calculations placed it well short of the space center. Far to the West of the mountains, actually, yet still on the correct continent. Far enough away to drop out of radio contact with the ground teams only shortly after exiting the reentry's plasma blackout. 




Thankfully the automated descent system deployed the chutes as it was supposed to, and the Nickel Dime 3/4's capsule ended its trip in a safe and uneventful manner. It and its precious science cargo were recovered intact by the ground teams a few days later.


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Edited by Cydonian Monk
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We're still a long way from the end of my reports from v1.3.1, but here's an update: I moved KSP to v1.4.5 this weekend; downloaded all the mods needed for Forgotten, rebuilt the few older mods I use that've been abandoned (or not yet updated for 1.4.x), etc. Copied over the Forgotten save, loaded it, and.... No missing parts. First time that's happened, ever. All craft accounted for. I'm impressed. 

Of course we've got our fair share of weirdo bugs going on (landed craft sliding uphill, jumping, bouncing, rovers hopping about like H-town Slabs, etc), but that's part of the charm of our perpetually broken little game. :) 

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Just a quick comment here before we roll into the weekend. I was dinging around in KSP v1.4.5 last night, playing this here Forgotten save. Windows wasn't happy, and the game, well....


Let's just say it was thirsty.

That isn't even at its worst point - it eventually hit 16.5 GBs before I stopped playing. Never once did it crash. Rock steady. Except, as is usual for this save and the mods I run, it had the Unity hiccups and the frequent many-seconds-long hangs. Part of that issue likely has to do with _what_ I was working on, which I won't talk about just yet. Some really old craft were loaded, all of which have really old outdated parts and really old outdated modules from really old outdated mods and really old outdated stock KSP. No doubt resources and objects were leaking left and right. The poor old garbage collector never had a chance.

Still, I'm impressed the game kept churning along. (Even if Windows was getting impatient with it.) Old KSP would've crashed. Newer KSP would've crashed. "Really We Swear It's Quality Software And It's Totally Ready For Release So It's Version 1.0 Now Thank You (please don't hurt us Sony)" KSP would've melted a hole in the floor of the computer and kept on burning until it hit bedrock. Newest KSP just shrugged and kept on marching.

One last note (that I might have mentioned already): Some time back when I "finished" what I intended to do in KSP v1.3.1, this save file hit 50MBs on disk. The load/save times were BAD. So I went through and cleaned out all craft at planets/moons that I'm not likely to return to in the near future (ie: Jool and its moons). I still have all of these purged craft saved, of course, and can drop them back in at ay time if I want. But doing that alone brought the saves back down to around 42MBs.

I'm already back up to 48MBs, and I've launched NOTHING new. I don't know what the game did to convert this save, or if some updated mods just dumped a bunch of bits into my save file, but sheesh. I think half of that is the noise from the very badly-implemented kerbal personal parachutes. They work fantastically well in game, but how they're tracked in the persistence file just looks... quite off, in my professional opinion. (Especially when you have several hundred kerbals.)

Anyway, more soon.


Edited by Cydonian Monk
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Controlling Copper

The first launch of the Copper Project was for one of the simplest yet most important pieces. Theoretically only the trusswork sections were less complex, but those would require a construction tug and some rather modest assembly to be useful. Copper 1 just had to make it into space. How hard could that be? 

This modest piece of real estate in the sky included the bridge, a few docking nodes, the forward airlocks, and not much else. It didn't have much in the way of life support or power generation, just some backup solar arrays, and as a result would remain uninhabited until such life-extending modules were in orbit. And that would work well, as Manganese Station had more than enough room to house all the critical research they needed to conduct until Copper was complete.

Wernher's designs for the first phase of Copper had split most of the pieces into equally heavy lumps, excluding the two heavier pieces for the centrifuges. This was a problem, as there were no tested and validated launch vehicles for payloads of the "heavy" weight class, and the ones that were available were not well liked. Too many struts, too few boosters, too much wobble here, too much wiggle there. In the end they opted to stick Cu-1 atop an LV-30 Overture. Total vehicle mass: 239 tonnes. 



This of course was not the space program's first rodeo. Nor was it their first attempt at building a deep space exploration vehicle. The original attempt at such a vessel, the Silicon DSV-1 "Memory of Tomorrow", was still out in the void doing whatever work it was now tasked with. It's hard to say what the pirate Captain Hallock and Queen Sieta were really up to. They were being careful, and had gone to great lengths to remain silent and off the grid. Despite that, Jonbald was perfectly aware of the whereabouts and condition of the ship and its crew. The data from the Memory was both promising and enlightening, and was used to adjust the systems planned for Copper.

And until very recently Jonbald had also been receiving data from the space program's second deep space vehicle, the Silicon DSV-2 "Jumble of Parts." Though it was more of a colony of spacefaring craft, the Jumble had also fared well in its trip out to Jool. Ultimately the performance and total reusability of the Memory was better suited to their plans, and so the more monolithic designs had won out over the e-pluribus-unum approach. 




The launch was spectacular. And perfect. The LV-30 Overture performed exactly according to design, and showed no issues or faults of any kind. Its guidance software followed a perfectly optimal ascent, and had no issues with seeking or other drifting or flipping problems which had plagued many of the long-forgotten heavy launches. The eight SpaceY K1 Kiwi motors at the base of the LV-30 performed according to spec, completely nominal through the entire climb to orbit. 

The upper stage took over somewhere near 30km, well into the far upper atmosphere. At 55km the fairing exploded away (shrapnel style!), and shortly after the first node of Copper Station was parked safely in its 120km construction orbit. 



An all-around success. 


Supplying Chaos

Zinc 1

The cries of the seemingly forgotten researchers at the Mün Station were finally heard by those on the ground. There they were, in low Münar orbit on a weirdly named station (Pequoni 2), all out of supplies and with nothing much to do except stare at the surface. Sure, they'd had that ice cream experiment to test, but a kerbal can only make so much Mün Mud Pie before he runs out of both mud and pie. 

And they'd run out of both quite a long time ago. 


The five kerbals at Pequoni 2 had a simple request: Send us snacks or send us home. So Jonbald had the teams work up a care package and escalated it to the first spot in the queue - above the rest of the Copper program. Those teams came back with a kinda heavy delivery craft and a brand new launch vehicle: The LV-13 Scherzo. 

The LV-13 was a somewhat more modular design than their previous offerings. Its prime motors were two SpaceY K1 Kiwi engines, and it had hard points for mounting up to four solid-rocket boosters on the side. Maybe six, if you asked nicely enough. The Zinc 1 was only heavy enough to need two SRBs, so Jonbald didn't get to learn what it would take to get all six attached to it. Even then the two extra sticks only gave the launch vehicle just enough kick to not crawl off of the launchpad.




The second stage of the LV-13 was propelled by a single Wild Blue WB-3 Hemi Cuda, which normally would have provided more than enough muscle to drop the Zinc into its desired parking orbit. Except even the fittest muscle is unable to flex if it lacks fuel. A mishap in the final fueling of the Zinc 1 led to the second stage launching more than half empty. Its early shutdown was correctly handled by the orbiter's onboard computer, which jettisoned the dead weight and fired its main engine. 

It acted, yes, but perhaps just a bit too soon. The exhaust from the Zinc 1 caused the second stage to overheat immediately, igniting the remaining trace amounts of fuel vapor. 



The craft was undamaged, mostly, though it had to limp into orbit on its own.


After careful consideration and lots and lots of math, it was decided the remaining fuel of the Zinc 1 was insufficient to safely take it to the Mün. It might have enough for the transfer and capture, but the margin was insufficient to guarantee a timely rendezvous with the Pequoni 2. Oh, and the high power communications equipment had been destroyed by the second stage's explosion, meaning the craft would be flying blind between Kerbin and the Mün. 

The decision was made to redirect the Zinc 1 to Manganese Station instead. Wernher's team could always use more research materials, and who would complain about extra food? Rondous and Steve and everybody else at the Mün would just have to wait.




Gallium and Germanium

Further reviews of the LV-13 suggested it was not entirely up to the task of lobbing a Zinc supply craft all the way to the Mün. Adding more fuel to the second stage pushed the lift-off mass above what two Kiwis and a set of SRBs could handle. And reducing the amount of kit in the Zinc wasn't really a great option. So another solution was found. 

If they couldn't send everything in one shot, they'd send three instead. 

Or three at one time, docked to make one. Call it spacecraft alchemy if you like - Gallium plus Germanium would equal Zinc. Two "pods" of Gallium would park in orbit, each containing half (or more) of the supplies originally placed on the Zinc. They would later rendezvous with the Germanium tug. The combined mess would then transfer to the Mün, where the pods would be left at their destination and the tug would return to Kerbin for another set of pods. One Germanium, many Galliums. Ga Ga Ge.

These two Galliums were lite enough to be launched by a single, unassisted LV-13 Scherzo. With a fully fueled second stage it was perhaps a bit too much power, or too much Δv, but it would do for now. Who ever complained about having excess fuel in orbit?

Gallium 1's launch was flawless (aside form some small, semi-gratuitous explosions at stage separation), and the craft was left parked to await the second pod. 




Gallium 2's launch also went off without a hitch. The two craft were soon orbiting in very close proximity, busy with station keeping while the ground crews decided their next steps. They eventually chose to dock the two pods and their tiny tugs nose to nose to await the Germanium tug. The two orbital stage "tugs" would be detached and deorbited later, or perhaps retained in orbit to assist with later projects.




Germanium 1 was rather substantially larger than any of the previous supply craft, partly due to its origin. The design was adapted from the Iron-series shuttles, the wide-bodied, three-engined beasts that they were. This necessitated the use of the heavier yet now-proven LV-30 Overture launcher. 

The fairing produced yet more shrapnel, all of which remained suborbital and burned up in the atmosphere. Or maybe parts of it survived to terrorize kerbals on the surface - no one is really sure what happens to it. It's pretty dense stuff, capable of surviving the intense heat from the plasmatic air during the climb to space, so it's entirely likely large chunks of it survive until they hit the surface. Probably safer to fire it out into pieces like confetti than to leave two or three largely intact pieces.




Shrapnel rain or no, the tug rendezvoused with the two pods after a single orbit. 

The two Gallium pods were built to be independent craft. Each had a heat shield for reentry, designed to survive interface with the atmosphere after returning directly from the Mün. The original idea was for each to have their own orbital stages, but the mass proved to be too excessive so it was decided to just use a Germanium Tug to kick them back to Kerbin in a certain-to-deorbit trajectory. As such, each of the pods had a docking port on both ends. 

The tugs were still attached to both, leaving no where for the Germanium 1 to link up. The ground crews commanded one of the two Gallium tugs to undock, while the other reoriented the stack and moved in to deposit it atop the Germanium tug for transport to the Mün. 



The Germanium's second stage had sufficient fuel remaining to give the combined stack its first kick towards the Mün. Waste not, want not. It would end up in a cis-Münar orbit that never intercepted Kerbin's atmosphere, but would no doubt be salvaged in the future by some desperate space scavengers. 



With the orbital stage giving its last, the Germanium and its two Galliums were well on their way. And now they were under their own power. Things were going very well with this little project, and it looked as though the five kerbals at the Mün would get their first new supplies in years. Jonbald and the ground crews were finally starting to relax. Things were looking up.

And so naturally that's when things went bad. At first it was just a wobble. The craft's motion sensors picked it up, and the onboard computer started to compensate. RCS here, reaction wheel twist there. Then it was a wiggle. A rather violent one that bent things into odd shapes. Everything was still in one piece though, so the flight computer kept doing its thing. It compensated.

Unfortunately it's rather impossible for software to compensate for the craft it's guiding deciding to explode.




So much for resupplying Pequoni 2.

Worse yet, the Germanium 1 had almost completed its trans-Münar injection when the "incident" occurred. Some quick back-of-the-kraken-stained-envelope showed that parts of the debris cloud would pass dangerously close to both of the stations orbiting the Mün. Normally nobody would blink an eye (mainly because they have no eyelids), but in this case it looked like some of the large chunks might actually intersect the Pequoni 2. Basically they had just launched two armored projectiles into an orbit that conflicted with an inhabited station. 

Both of the supply pods were intact, strangely enough, and were running on backup battery power. It might have been possible for one of the kerbals aboard Pequoni 2 to grab the pods with one of the Sulphur shuttles currently at the station. Until they realized the debris would intersect the station going in the opposite direction. None of them were willing to waste that much fuel to rescue two supply pods that were almost certainly full of badly shaken and overly cooked paste.

With supplies at Pequoni 2 running low, and a large cloud of deadly armored objects of uncertain orbits bearing down on them, the order was given to evacuate the station. Edsel got the Iron 2 shuttle back online while Rondous, Verly, Elkin and Steve gathered all of their things and any science they wanted to save and poured into the shuttle. Shortly thereafter they were on their way back to Kerbin.



Of course nothing bad happened to the Mün stations; the debris cloud missed everything of any importance. Some of the debris eventually returned to hit Kerbin's atmosphere, and some other pieces hit the Mün directly, but most of it was shot out into solar orbit. By then the radios on the Gallium pods were well out of range, and their batteries long since dead.

The timing of the evacuation was good, in some ways, as it provided Jonbald a crew to assist with constructing the new Copper Station. Remotely-operated construction tugs were always a bit fiddley when controlled from the ground, kerbals eyes and hands closer to the action were always preferable. The Iron shuttle would provide the life support needed for the bridge, and the science team could even conduct smaller, simpler experiments there. So he diverted the Iron 2 from its original evacuation plan and sent them to Copper 1 instead.




Free labor, just in time for the big construction push. If it was any consolation to the crews, the view from the bridge was quite nice. Much better than the cramped cabins aboard Manganese. Even if the in-flight movie left a bit to be desired.



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Edited by Cydonian Monk
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New Titaniums!
(Not a story post!)


I decided to play around with the new Steam Workshop publishing, and figured I might as well jump into it first with my favorite old craft - the Titanium Shuttle. Which meant I needed to update it to Kerbal v1.4.5. So I did ! (Mostly.) I wasn't about to rebuild the whole thing from scratch, but I did pull off any "old" parts I noticed and replace them with their new counterparts. Mainly those nose tanks.

I also pulled in the changes I made in v1.3.1 to exploit the fuel flow priority system. No longer are the rear tanks disabled at launch - I can now just set their priority lower and increase the priority of the nose tanks. And it works! Even at full throttle! Of course that meant I needed to add a bunch more sepratrons to pull the empty tank away, which decreases the reusability of the craft ever so slightly, but... eh. They're just sepratrons. 

Anyway, if you're a Steam user, you can find and subscribe to this new fangled Titanium at the following link:


And of course I wouldn't forget those of you not on Steam! So I uploaded it first to KerbalX:


It's 100% stock, as always.

(More Forgotten Space Program tomorrow / later today.)


Edited by Cydonian Monk
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Project Copper

Care was taken to design each node of Copper such that it could be launched using the currently available technology. This was not possible in a few cases, such as the large rotating habitation sections. Those would have to wait until larger launch vehicles were ready and tested, and thus were launched later in the schedule. Regardless, most of the planned modules were small enough to be handled by the LV-30 Overture.

The original launch order for Project Copper was amended several times as it developed. Pieces were designed, built, and fully integrated onto their rockets, only to be held back until other modules had launched. The prime example of this was the first solar array assembly, which was held until radiators were installed and working. There was some concern the solar arrays would heat the station to dangerous levels if the radiator assembly was not already functional. Other launches were delayed for various structural or safety reasons, which will be discussed in detail later.

What follows is the originally intended launch manifest after completion of the station's initial design. 

Cu 1 - Command Bridge, Docking, and Fore Airlocks (Complete)

Cu 2 - Construction Tug and Aft Airlocks

Cu 3 - Trusswork Section, Lighted, Stability-Assist

Cu 4 - Trusswork Section, Lighted, Stability-Assist

Cu 5 - Power Node, Batteries, Anchors for Solar Arrays

Cu 7 - Radiator Assembly A

Cu 8 - The Node (for station modules) and Extended Docking Adapters

Cu 6 - Solar Array Assemblies 1, 2, and 3

Cu 9 - Trusswork Section, Lighted

Cu 10 - Trusswork Section, Lighted

Cu 11 - Habitation Assembly A

Cu 12 - Habitation Assembly B

Cu 13 - Experimental Cryogenic Module (attached to Node)

Cu 14 - Trusswork Section

Cu 15 - Radiator Assembly B

Cu 16 - Radiator Assembly C

Cu 17 - Experimental Nuclear Reactors (attached to aft, ahead of airlocks)

The stretch goals for the project included the launch of an experimental drive system. This system would be mounted aft of the nuclear reactors with the airlock and reactors directly ahead of the main engines. Two long assemblies for fuel would sit between the reactors and the rest of the ship. These assemblies would allow fuel "pods" to be radially attached to them.

Cu 18 - Fuel Skeleton Assembly A 

Cu 19 - Fuel Skeleton Assembly B

Cu 20 - Trusswork Section, Lighted

Cu 21 - Main Drive Assembly

Cu 22-? - Fuel Pod Modules 

Once complete, the Copper DSEV-3 would be arranged as such (where <> indicates a docked node):

Fore Docking Node 
Fore Airlock 
Command Bridge 
The Node and Attached Modules
Trusswork, Lighted 
Habitation A 
Habitation B 
Trusswork, Lighted, Stability 
Power Base and Solar Arrays 
Trusswork, Lighted, Stability 
Radiator A 
Radiator B 
Radiator C 
Trusswork, Lighted 
Fuel Skeleton A and Fuel Pods
Fuel Skeleton B and Fuel Pods
Trusswork, Lighted 
Aft Airlock 
Main Drive Assembly



Culpa de Cuprum

There was one small rocket to clear out of the VAB before everyone got back to Copper. Zinc 2, which contained yet more science supplies for Manganese Station, was shot off into orbit atop an LV-13 Scherzo. Its flight was completely routine and without incident or further comment.




Copper 2

With the Zinc out of the way, the Vertical Assembly Building was cleared to start work on the many Copper launches in its queue. The space program's principal factories and infrastructure all had to be standardized and streamlined to increase the rate of production of the LV-30 Overture. They retained one of the VAB's four high bays for emergency integration of other craft, but even that area was ultimately used to store LV-30s and various other kit for Copper. Any alternate non-Copper launches would need to be integrated in the Horizontal Assembly Building, aka the Spaceplane Hanger.

Soon the factories were rolling, all the kinks were worked out, and several Coppers were ready to go in quick succession. First up was the Copper 2, perhaps the most important launch aside from the bridge as it contained the construction tug. This large craft would be needed to wrangle all of the parts of Copper Station as they approached the construction site. The launch also included the Aft airlock node, which would move backwards as new modules were installed between it and the existing forward modules. Finally, the tug was launched with a set of docking port size adapters, needed to handle all the odd-sized trusswork, such as the solar arrays.

The majority of these launches were between 230 and 270 tonnes at liftoff. Copper 2 rated at 247, somewhat average.




The plan was for the tug to retain the orbital stage which placed it in orbit during the initial parts of the construction. This would give it a bit more "oomph" should it need to track down and recover some wayward heavy module. This meant the "Docking Port to Hex-Size-1" (DP-H1) and "Hex-Size-1 to Rounded-Hex-Size-2" (H1-RH2) docking adapters presently at the front of the craft would need to be stowed somewhere first. That somewhere turned out to be the rear docking port of the Iron Shuttle, recently returned from the Mün.


With those adapters out of the way, the tug was ready to move on to other things. Namely docking up with the bridge and waiting around for the next piece of the puzzle to arrive.

Copper 3

That next piece was the Copper 3, containing the first of the Trusswork sections. These are not just long stretches of Hex-2 trusswork, but also include large inline reaction wheels, RCS thrusters, and tanks for storing ample amounts of monopropellent for feeding said RCS thrusters. This is part of the Stability Assist system the station requires to prevent certain abnormal physics movements while the Habitation rings are first set to spinning, and to otherwise provide for general attitude control.

These trusswork sections also include lots of the always important self-illumination devices. AKA: spotlights.

Copper 3 left with 239 tonnes of Kerbin at liftoff.



Unfortunately this is where things started to go wrong. An as of yet unknown issue with how the payload was secured in the fairing resulted in the craft flipping head-over-tail once hypersonic. This failure resulted in loss of the vehicle and payload.

A fault review board was assembled to determine the root cause of the failure. Their initial reviews hinted at both software issues and lax controls in VAB integration regarding how the payload was strutted and secured. They were able to address these issues in time for Copper 4, which included another piece of identical trusswork.

Copper 3 was placed back into the construction schedule, intended to launch after the already complete Copper 5. It would be rebranded as Copper 3A once ready.

Copper 4

Copper 4 launched at night, as is only right and proper. If this launch were to fail it would do so under the blanket of darkness. After all, half of the interesting things in the universe occur in such darkness, so it is only fair some failures do as well. Thankfully this launch was not a failure, and the issues which had plagued the Copper 3 were corrected. 

Liftoff mass was once again 239 tonnes.


[Editor's note: As most of these launches look identical, many of the screenshots will not be repeated. Especially those taken at night. If you wish to know how these craft appeared at liftoff or during the ascent, please refer to the previous Copper launches. Thanks.]

The Cu4's rendezvous with the other pieces of Copper was swift. The construction tug was sent out to greet the new trusswork, minus the Aft Airlock (an error that would be corrected later with much headache). Once the tug was docked up, the Cu4's orbital stage was emptied of most of its remaining fuel, decoupled, and deorbited.

Subsequently, the Cu4 trusswork was installed into the growing pile of Copper. 




Copper 5

The next launch, Copper 5, included the "Power Base" and batteries. This was the node to which the three Solar Array arms would be anchored, and it was also the node which included most of the station's electrical storage capabilities. Copper was to be a thirsty ship once everything was up and running. Without the planned nuclear reactors, it would need to survive the darkness during the dwell times behind Kerbin.

Batteries are rather dense, so the Cu5 came in at an above average 244 tonnes at liftoff.


Installation of the Power Base required some initial assembly. The three battery stacks had to be attached to the solar array anchors before the tug could access the base's primary RH2-sized docking port. This assembly was conducted while the entire base remained attached to its orbital stage, which provided extra stability and control. Before any of that could happen the tug first needed to grab its H1-RH2 adapter from the rear of the Iron.


These assembly maneuvers were being controlled remotely by one or more of the crews aboard the Copper, typically Rondous or Verly. Occasionally Edsel would provide assistance, but typically he was at the ready in the Iron lander should they need him to track down a wayward piece in a RealBigHurryNow.

The lighted docking rings on the larger Copper modules made the assembly easier, especially during the dark stretches. (As was most welcome and proper.) The crew wrote a thank you letter to those responsible, but it was lost somewhere in the dusty and chaotic interior of the tracking station. [Because at the end of the day I'm not entirely sure which one of you to thank. Is it part of DSEV? Is it from one of the many docking port mods I have that also add similar lighting to the stock ports? Or something else entirely? Thanks, whichever of you it is.]




Once the battery banks were installed, the decouplers which had held them to the Power Node were discarded (space debris!), and the Cu5's orbital stage was robbed of most of its fuel, and then deorbited. The assembly tug dragged the whole of the Power Node over to the Copper and installed it where it belonged. In the dark, as is only fitting and proper.


This particular assembly was long and tiring, and once complete everyone involved ran off and took a good long nap. At least now they'd have ample electrical power, which should help weather the cold and lonely 20-minute-long nights behind Kerbin.

Copper 3A

The replacement launch for the Copper 3 came up next. This was originally to be the forward trusswork, placed between the Bridge and the Power Base. With its new place in the launch order, the Copper 3A module would be installed behind the Power Base, where the Cu4 was to originally go.

The Cu3 clocked in at 244 tonnes at liftoff, a difference primarily accountable to small nondescript changes in the launch vehicle itself. 

Initial rendezvous with the Copper construction site occurred just over the terminator, meaning the installation of this module would occur in the dark. As was only right and proper and whatnot. Thankfully by this point the station had a rather healthy number of lights up and running, not to mention the lights attached to the Cu3A itself. The dark is no longer quite so dark.




And with that, the first stage of Copper construction was complete. It would be a few munths before the next craft in the schedule had completed construction and was ready. (This was due in part to the solar arrays being delayed until the radiators were ready and installed.)

Perfect time for all involved to take another long nap.


Navigation: Next Post

Edited by Cydonian Monk
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[Because at the end of the day I'm not entirely sure which one of you to thank. Is it part of DSEV? Is it from one of the many docking port mods I have that also add similar lighting to the stock ports? Or something else entirely? Thanks, whichever of you it is.]

Courtesy of Wild Blue Industries, makers of such things as lit docking ports, flying saucers, and subnautical rocket sharks. :) We hope the new Copper doesn't get "borrowed" by some unauthorized space crew...

Edited by Angel-125
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1 hour ago, Angel-125 said:

Courtesy of Wild Blue Industries, makers of such things as lit docking ports, flying saucers, and subnautical rocket sharks. :)

Thanks! And that rocket shark needs some lasers attached to its head....

1 hour ago, Angel-125 said:

We hope the new Copper doesn't get "borrowed" by some unauthorized space crew...

We'll see. Based on previous performance of the Forgotten DSVs it has a 50% chance of  "unanticipated reassignment".

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I've been having entirely too much fun in v1.4.5, so much so that I can hardly wait to share it all. Of course I need to finish all this business with Copper and the other things I did in v1.3.1 first, and will.

That doesn't mean I can't drop a small spoiler here as to what's coming.....



Long-time readers with a good memory might understand (it's been a couple years). Those of you who don't get it - don't fret. I'll share a "recommended reading list" of old posts before we start into the v1.4.5 stuff. 

This is going to be fun. ;) 

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4 minutes ago, cubinator said:

Is that...Hallock?

Aye. Arrrrr. 

And a new shovel, too. I was going to make my own, but I found a nice one in the Asset Store and used it instead. (The price was right, and Blender was giving me a headache.)


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24 minutes ago, cubinator said:

Then he must have been at Duna for a long time...



I don't remember which transfer window out to Duna I used. It was sometime _after_ KSP v1.1.1, yet before the Jumble arrived at Jool, so almost certainly they left year 99 around day 343. It probably looked something like this:


... meaning they would have arrived about year 100 day 199. Which sounds right, as I was busy dealing with the "leaving" mess at Jool when I took care of Duna. (We'll get into those Duna details later.)


I basically ignored them until v1.4.5. 

Edited by Cydonian Monk
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47 minutes ago, Cydonian Monk said:


  Hide contents

I don't remember which transfer window out to Duna I used. It was sometime _after_ KSP v1.1.1, yet before the Jumble arrived at Jool, so almost certainly they left year 99 around day 343. It probably looked something like this:


... meaning they would have arrived about year 100 day 199. Which sounds right, as I was busy dealing with the "leaving" mess at Jool when I took care of Duna. (We'll get into those Duna details later.)


I basically ignored them until v1.4.5. 

Eh, everybody's pretty darn separated from one another, so I don't think it matters too much. Yet.

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Copper Loss

Copper 7

The next of these little behemoths, Copper 7, was a healthy 262 tonnes at liftoff. It was the first of three planned radiator assemblies, and needed to keep the solar arrays from melting themselves and the rest of the station. (Well, probably not, but the math was questionable.) Plumbing for the coolant lines had been built into all of the modules, and was designed in from the start. 

The Cu7 arrived at the construction site just as everything was drifting into darkness. It also missed the rendezvous by rather a long distance, the orbital stage having _just enough_ Δv to bring the whole mess close enough for the construction tug to grab and rescue them both. This meant the tug had to go hunt the Cu7 down, in the dark, as was not really all that right and proper. It should've worked in the first place, and instead wasted fuel and time. (Both of which are more precious than the radiators.)

Once the radiator assembly was captured, some fuel was transferred _into_ the Cu7's orbital stage, enough for it to remove itself from orbit. Afterwards the radiators were installed, tested, and then stowed again so as to not be damaged during the solar array assembly and installation.




Around this time they noticed their error regarding the placement of the Aft Airlocks. It was easy to correct, just tedious, as they'd need to cut the Bridge off and slip the tug in to grab the airlock assembly. This would leave the rear section partially uncontrolled during the procedure. (Due to a distinct lack of radio equipment.) Once the airlock was secured and removed, the tug was able to place it in its correct position, all while the Bridge and everything attached to it docked back up. 

With the aft airlocks at the far end of the station, where they belong, the crews have the ability to use the sealed maintenance tube to reach them. Now, when they need to perform external assembly work towards the rear of the station, they can EVA from the aft airlock, saving both transit time and precious EVA fuel. 




Copper 8

The Copper 8 was The Node, an assembly with three large mounting points for other modules, and three docking ports for lengthened docking armatures. These armatures were included with the launch, and would be assembled prior to The Node's own installation at the fore of the ship. The Node and all its accoutrements made for a smaller module, only 230 tonnes on the pad, but no less significant than the previous pieces. 

Copper 8 was the lightest, lowest mass on the launchpad module of all Project Copper.

And it was a stunning night and/or twilight launch. 



At least it was until things went more than a tiny bit sour.


It was goinggjg s0 waaeell~>> uuuμμμuuunnnnnunun+111 += untl$$$$$ #%%#* until it't't't~~~~~~

IT waz-NT 3.1


<corruption detected> 
<attempting reboot>
<reboot failed>
<installation corrupted>
<attempting reinstallation>
<downloading backup from DropBox>
<reinstallation failed>
<we are currently experiencing technical difficulties>
<we apologize for the inconvenience>



None of them were quite sure what happened. They remembered launching the Copper 8. They vaguely remember it exploding, shortly before the entire universe collapsed. Somewhere, somehow, one of the kerbals in Mission Control managed to hit the big red F9 button (which was more of a softkey touchscreen type thing now and not so much a button), and not a moment too soon. Everything was slowing down, time stretching out to infinity.

And yet there they were again, in the middle of the Copper 8 launch. It was already a good minute into the flight, just about when it....


Ok, there it went again. Deja-vu? Maybe. The craft disintegrated a couple minutes into flight, resulting in total loss of the vehicle and payload. The review board was unable to find a root cause on account of the flight records and telemetry being completely corrupted. They suggested The Node, despite its small size, might be too heavy for the LV-30 Overture. Never mind that the LV-30 had quite capably handled much heavier payloads in the very recent past. Or perhaps it was the fault of the docking armatures, despite them having been strutted, auto-strutted, duct-taped, and super-glued into place. 

Regardless of the findings from the review board, The Node was needed and would have to be launched again. It was placed back into the construction queue, and they moved on to the already-integrated and ready to launch Copper 6. 

Copper 6

Next up was this twice-delayed mess of solar arrays. This hefty payload and its companion rocket displaced 262 tonnes at liftoff (or they would, were they in water), and was only a fraction of a kg lower in mass than the radiator assemblies. Unfortunately for these freshly-made solar arrays and everyone who depended on them, the failure of the Copper 8 wasn't a fluke.


When things as large and as complex as an LV-30 fail, they don't just simply blow up. No, instead they spread shrapnel and debris over half of Kerbin while sending several still-firing engines off in all directions. The meteor storm which resulted from the mid-flight explosion of the Copper 6 would become the stuff of legend (at least the legend of the few kerbals living down-range as it was nowhere near orbital velocity). Fragments of destroyed solar arrays were skimming across the upper atmosphere for days, often reflecting the Sun or giving off their own glow as they turned themselves and the air around them to plasma.



It also took days for the incident review board to reach their conclusion, in part because they were still working out what exactly had gone wrong with the Copper 8. This time they decided the loss was due to improper anchoring of the payload, coupled with "pogo action" and "seeking" from the booster. This produced a vibration which dislodged a portion of the fairing, a failure which proved fatal to the craft. Their recommendation? Use a more powerful booster and add more struts. More boosters, more struts.

The Copper 6 payload was placed back in the production queue, this time at the head of the queue. Development of the heavier launcher needed by the upcoming habitation assemblies was also accelerated, with instructions that it be ready for the _next_ launch of the Copper 6.

Copper 6A

That new launch vehicle was the LV-50 Orchestra. This was a truly massive rocket, 5 meters in diameter, and at liftoff it was twice the mass of an LV-30. Powered by six SpaceY R1 Ratite engines, it produced a whopping 12,060 kiloNewtons of thrust at ignition. Total payload capability was not calculated, but instead estimated as "sufficient to launch the VAB into orbit." Jonbald wondered if they meant for the VAB to be empty or full.

It was deemed too large and too expensive to fly on a test flight with a dummy payload, so the Copper 6A became its first launch. Total mass at liftoff was a mucho grande 587 tonnes. Really. Big. Kerbal. Rocket. 


A Really Big Kerbal Rocket that made it about as far as a really small kerbal could jump. 


At least the launchpad survived with minimal damage, with the bulk of the flaming wreckage of their hopes and dreams crashing far enough away from anything important. Jonbald even let the accident review board take their time with the investigation, as he knew fixing this and the other problems would take more time than the review board could ever need. 

And besides, it was clear from having just observed the launch what the issue was. The payload and its fairing had "bent", as though they were strutted to the ground, and then sprang back towards the sky once those invisible struts broke. This caused the rocket to flip over, and broke the linkages between the payload and said rocket. Either some mysterious force had swatted it from the sky, the payload had been improperly secured, or some last-minute stay cables had not been detached prior to ignition. 

Or there was someone deliberately sabotaging them.

Either way the construction and assembly crews had proven to Jonbald they could not be trusted. Not with a new project such as the Overture, and probably not with finishing Copper. He needed someone to whip them back into shape. Someone to get all their frogs in a row. And to get that someone he needed to revive an old project. Most of it was sitting in the spaceplane hanger, covered with a tarp, waiting for its chance to be reborn. It would take some work, and they'd have to sacrifice a large part of the VAB to make room for it, but it was the only option he was comfortable with.

So, no. There was no rush to finish the accident review. There was no great hurry to clean up the mess. And he didn't need the in-house design team to go over the LV-30 or the LV-50 another time to tell him what they thought the problem was. He had a better idea.

He'd call in the expert.


Navigation: Next Post

Edited by Cydonian Monk
Edit: Removed (at) symbol from crash garbage to prevent CloudFlare from "protecting" the post.
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Perhaps you should rename that solar panel / radiator module to "Kessler's Syndrome."

I don't even want to think about what all of those tiny bits of panel flying around did (or would have done, if they were persistent objects) to your space stations. Or your computer.


Hold on a minute...


So, assuming for the sake of argument that Albro's plan is to exterminate Kerbalkind, what if this module is actually a tool he used to achieves his nefarious goal? It's the perfect weapon: one launch distributes thousands of razor-sharp, habitat-piercing fragments into Kerbin orbit...


Edited by GearsNSuch
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10 hours ago, GearsNSuch said:

Or your computer.

My computer is already pretty unhappy with Forgotten Space Program. Typically the CPU lags badly enough that my GTX 770 has no trouble keeping up, and those thousands of solar panel fragments are only a touch of what scatterer does to torture it anyway. The few times it coughs are when I'm playing RSS/RO in v1.2.x and using one of the shiny ships that make liberal use of the reflection plugin. It really doesn't like lots of high-res reflections, but what five-year-old GPU does?

If they were persistent parts, and in orbit, the game probably would crash. That's all v1.3.1 ever did anyway. Crash. And often. 

Edited by Cydonian Monk
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24 minutes ago, Thedrelle said:

perhaps your T/W Ratio is too high? rate of acceleration plus the atmo drag is too much?

I usually tweak my TWR in the VAB before liftoff to be between 1.1 and 1.5, and the kOS scripts I was using are tuned for that range.

The issue was somehow related to autostruts. If I had autostruts on anything, the craft was basically impossible to control after a certain point and the kraken took over. Sometimes that point was 1cm above the launchpad, sometimes it was 20km. Rarely, as evidenced by the Germanium 1, it was in orbit. If I disabled all autostruts the issues went away, so I did that and went back to using conventional struts. 

Those issues appear to have been fixed in v1.4.x. 

FWIW, KSP v1.3.x was so bug-ridden and unstable for me (both with and without mods) that I stopped playing the game for more than a year (this bit of Forgotten that I flew in February and March notwithstanding). At this point I'm just glad the game is somewhat playable again.

Edited by Cydonian Monk
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