Vim Razz

A job on Duna. Also Ike. (a project diary-type sort of thing, Part 3 - parking more bits in space)

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I'm building a new surface outpost on Duna and I've decided to document.  For fun and stuff.  I've developed a pretty nice look for my contract bases this game that I think is worth showing off a little bit.  The new models with 1.0.5 have opened up a bunch of new design possibilities that I've been very happy with.

Also Ike, but I haven't started working on that one yet.

Sadly, I have no compelling or engaging back-story for my current space program.  It's a normal career game.  Stock.  I have no particular goals or constraints; I've just been goofing about until 1.1 rolls around.  The tech tree has been filled out for some time now, all facilities are fully upgraded, and I have 5 or 6 million funds on hand to throw at something fancy.

Winter Owl Aircraft Emporium offered the contract to bankroll a Duna outpost and I felt like taking them up on it.  I figured it would be handy and fun.

That was over 12 years ago.  It's funny how easy it is to get distracted by other stuff.  Gene and Mort have been very patient with me, but it's about time to get it done.

Also Ike.  Probodyne Inc approached me 5 years ago with that contract, and I've been slacking on it, too.  I don't really have a plan (aside from checking off the boxes on the contract to keep my sponsors happy), but I figure the modular components I need to develop for Duna should allow me to throw something suitable together without too much trouble.

So that's where things stand.  It's year 14, day 30.  The next transfer window to Duna is around day 125. Let's get to work.


Part 1 -- Initial Planing and Prior Works

This is what I have in mind so far.  It's sort of a rough sketch to serve as my guide for building the individual components.


Winter Owl wants housing for 8 kerbals, a science lab, cupola, and 6,000 units of liquid fuel reserves on-site.  I don't want to haul that much fuel down to the surface and having a strong refueling capacity would be nice anyway, so I'm adding in an ISRU assembly.  A solar array and some refueling docks are going in too, and that's about all I've decided on so far.


It's general style is one I used earlier in this game for contract outposts on the Mun and Minmus, so a few of the components are already pretty polished.

Earlier Projects:

Lutha Crater on the Mun, initially built for the Experimental Engineering Group, with a housing expansion commissioned by STAEDLER Engineering Corps.



Sanena Basin on Minmus, initially built for FLOOYD Dynamics Research Labs, with a lab and housing expansion for the C7 Aerospace Division:


Come to think of it, both of those facilities could use some freshening up at this point.  I've been kind of neglecting them since, well, forever.


In the next installment, I'll be looking at the first round of finished launch packages and start throwing stuff into orbit to wait for the transfer window while I figure out the rest.

In the meantime, here are some archive images from the launches of the Mun and Minmus outposts shown above:



Thanks for reading!

Edited by Vim Razz
tweaking titular tidbits

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great looking bases, but it's unbelievable you got these constructions into Orbit - very kerbal!

do you already have ideas how to make a controlled precison landing on duna ?



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On 3/9/2016 at 3:15 AM, mafs said:

great looking bases, but it's unbelievable you got these constructions into Orbit - very kerbal!

do you already have ideas how to make a controlled precison landing on duna ?

heh, "how to get those sorts of constructions into orbit" is actually where this thread sort of started.  I did the first round of launches over the weekend, and as I was prepping the second one I thought it'd be fun to take a bunch of screenshots and do a little tutorial on balancing and launching awkward, asymmetrical loads.

It ended up being less a tutorial so much as a mini "how to" with some of my thoughts and stuff about launching payloads with bad aero.  Then I wasn't sure what to do with it.  I've been wanting to do a mission report thread of some kind for a while now, so that ended up being this.  The "how to" thing is pretty much the core of the second installment as I've been putting it together.

Unfortunately, I don't have many images of most of the first-round launches (3 rockets and 4 spaceplane flights) since I hadn't decided I was doing the documenting thing yet.  It's mostly pics of the payloads in the SPH/VAB taken post-launch. 

That should get me more-or-less caught up to where I'm currently at in-game, which is in the middle of rover development to help scout out a specific build site.


As far as precision landing goes...  It's been a while since I've spent any real time on Duna.  I did a pretty extensive build about 2 years ago in a sandbox MKS game (a little report thing I did of the first mission of that game is online. I posted it to celebrate the first "full release" of MKS), but nothing since then and nothing since the new aero was added.  We'll see how things go and work from there.


And before I go, 2 minor corrections to the OP:

  • I double-checked the date I accepted the Duna contract.  It was year 1, day 156, so not quite "over 13 years".  Changing OP to read "over 12 years"
  • I must have got something mixed up when I was looking at the cost of reaching Duna over the weekend, because it's not very expensive in year 14 at all.  Removing that statement.
Edited by Vim Razz
clarifying combobulated commentary

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It seems that much like my process for building the station itself, I need to start kicking these sections out the door.  Otherwise, I run the risk of twiddling and fiddling with them forever.

The first spaceplane section isn't done yet, so these are just the first rockets.

Part 2 -- Launching the First Bits into Space.

The first new module finished for this build is the drilling assembly. Fuel cells turned upside down blend nicely with the top of the tanks, and a few small batteries add some nice little detail.

I'm still not fully up to speed on stock ISRU balancing, but four drills seem like a good place to start. They're bundled with some hab and hub modules to simplify construction on-site.

One decision I made that I'm not sure about in retrospect was removing the docking ports between modules.  It does reduce part count by a little, but it also reduces flexibility in terms of re-arranging the base or replacing modules if something gets broken.  This will be something to think about.  I may end up redirecting it to Ike, where the lower gravity makes replacing large blocks a lot easier if needed, and send another package up for the Duna outpost.


The command tower is a vital and integral component that is essential to effectively managing our base operations, and is not just a silly decorative flourish who's entire function could easily be handled by a simple probe core placed just about anywhere.

I like to require as little assembly on-site as I can get away with, but doing things that way leads to some pretty awkward delivery packages.  This is how I like to approach that problem:


Our two-stage launch vehicle is being guided into glory by veteran pilot Theoby Kerman.  He'll be leading our efforts on Duna, having spent the last several years stationed on Minmus.  I have no idea why Reaction Systems Ltd chose to abandon him there, or why they were so happy to pass him over to us when we found his pod, but he's clearly got the right stuff and we're happy to have him.  Someone needs to be the one to sit in the seat of things like this.

I'm a big fan of serially staged rockets for the natural stability they provide, especially for sloppy payloads.  The important thing to note is that they keep the center of mass pretty far forward while passing through the lower atmosphere.  You can lock the upper fuel tanks on single-stage or boosted-core rockets during the initial stages of a launch to get a similar effect, but there's nothing quite like the feeling of stacking one stage directly on top of another an blasting off into space with it.


I'd normally arc a payload like this rather high and slow, but Theoby's a bit of a hotshot and wants to see how far he can push it this time, so we're taking it along a more conventional flightpath.  He told me before the launch that this is exactly what he wants to do and is not at all surprised or disturbed to be following such a low trajectory curve in such an inherently unsuitable vehicle.  Really.

Predictably, it gets a bit unsteady around 10km up at a little over 300 m/s.  There's a limit to how hard you can tweak the nose of aerodynamic forces in KSP before they start tweaking yours right back, but the value of a high center of mass at low altitude is well demonstrated here.  Even with the ridiculous sail that we've got on front, Theoby is able to drop thrust and bring the nose back in line for the recovery.

Well done, Captain Theoby.  Now if you can manage to land successfully on Duna then we'll name the new outpost after you.  If you fail, then we'll have to send another tower next year and you'll probably just get a plaque.  Or maybe a colorful mention scribbled on the bathroom wall.  Good luck.


The fuel silos and large landing pads are a little too bulky to stick on the ends of other things, but not quite big enough to justify their own transfer stage or landing assemblies.  I plan on rafting them together with some other small modules to be hauled by tug from Kerbin to Duna, and carrying them down to the surface with a lander.  


And those are the first few bits in space, waiting for everything else to get done.  In the next installment we'll be taking a break from aerodynamic abominations and parking some smaller packages in orbit with spaceplanes.

Edited by Vim Razz

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Calling these brief installments "chapters", as I've been doing, feels odd.  They're too short.  I considered renaming them to "sections", but that didn't sit well with me, either.  So I'll be calling them "parts" for now, and we'll see how that feels.

With this part done, I'm caught up to where I'm at in-game.  In theory, I'll be a bit more organized and it will take me less time to find the correct screenshots and stuff from here on out, but I don't expect that to last very long.

Part 3 -- Parking Some Smaller Pieces.

I'm not really concerned about keeping this project under budget.  I expect cost over-runs to be amortized by reduced mission expenses and marketable research opportunities in Duna's sphere of influence.

However, Mort ~has~ made a point of alerting me to the fact that I've already spent about 1.4 of the 1.8 million funds that we can expect to gross on the installation contract (including the advance), and that a lot more spending is still on the horizon.  It certainly doesn't hurt to save a few funds where possible.  

The next few modules are small and self-contained, so packaging them for launch by spaceplane seems like a good way to cut a bit off my launch vehicle expenses.  I'll be parking them at a station in LKO for now, then haul them to Duna by tug and ferry them to the surface with a lander.

Lab Module

The lab module is a composite of other modules I've installed on the Mun and Minmus, so it takes no time to complete at all.  The packaging does require me to be a bit more creative.  

There isn't enough room in a mark 3 cargo bay to put it on motorized wheels, so I'm putting it on retractable landing gear instead.  A lot of RCS will be used to push it around, and in a pinch it can be used as a little tug for pushing other things around.  Two reaction wheels may seem excessive, but the extra torque can be helpful for maneuvering this sort of package into position to dock on the surface.  

Radiator Block

If I understand things correctly, three medium radiators should be enough for four drills and one ISRU.  This module also contains a few more fuel cells, because it's a convenient place to put them and they look nice.  There should be enough cells to keep things running when I crash into if some unfathomable calamity should happen to befall my solar panels.


I expect the ISRU unit to be a pain in the neck to install because of the way the docking ports are situated, but it looks nice this way.

Solar Array
Although I'm including a lot of fuel cells in this build, I plan on running solar most of the time.  

Getting the module to "loop" back on itself is a bit of a trick.  The main construction branch follows the girder assembly, while two of the structural tubes are not directly connected in the SPH at all -- they contain docking ports positioned directly against each other.
If placed properly, then the docking ports will lock onto each other as soon as the craft loads into the world for the first time.   While a strut could be used instead, having that sort of massive breach in the tubes doesn't feel right to me.  

Flight Preparation
I will not be using my own spaceplane designs for these flights, as I am not feeling particularly masochistic at the moment.
Instead, I'll be flying the Z-1 Double-D Mk.2 and the H-7 Shark Mk.2 designed by @Val, who knows far more about spaceplanes than I ever will.

The Z-1 Double-D is built as a Single-Stage-To-Mun craft and comes packaged with a very nice little lander, but I wont be using it for that.  The amount of fuel it carries allows for some pretty aggressive maneuvering in LKO, and it's very easy to extend the cargo bay and adjust the wings for long-ish payloads (which most of mine are).  It can be quite challenging to find a decent SSTO for long payloads that isn't built for much heavier lifting than I need.

The H-7 Shark handles long, lightweight payloads very well, and the Mk 2 version has a lot of passenger capacity.  It's not as nimble as an extended Z-1, but it looks cool as all hell and I have some crew and tourists to shuffle between KSC and LKO right now so that's a great excuse to take it out for a spin.  


The flight record is slightly spotty.  I'd fire my cameraman, but he's my mother's sister's niece's brother so I may be stuck with him for a while for family reasons.

Nonetheless, all four base modules are delivered to Hebron Station in lower Kerbin orbit for storage until I can arrange a tug for them.  There's a significant gap in time between the first, second, and third flights as kerbals are shuttled between work assignments or tourism hotspots around the Mun and Minmus.


There are still a few odd bits of tubing that I need to arrange transportation for, but I think I'll wind up tacking them onto the side of something else.  

We'll start looking at rovers in the next installment.  It may take a while.  I need to make some decisions, and my decision-making process is not always fast.  After that, I'd like to design some new landers and utility craft, and then we'll be on our way to discover what horrible mistakes I've made in my preparations.

Edited by Vim Razz
spotting spurious spelling

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I'm very glad to see my crafts be put to good use and that you were able to easily adapt them to your needs. Thanks for the mention :D

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That is super cool! I think it's so cool how people can build these bases! Mean while I'm blowing up my one piece space station rocket (oh fine I admit the station weighs 450 tons)

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