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Jool 500 1.05-1.1 New Beginnings


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Jool 500 - New Beginnings

Chapter 1 - Communications and Scanning Network

After playing through any number of careers, I've decided to take a run at a spectacular challenge, the Jool 500.  This is a very early stage in this giant challenge, just getting the planets scouted and a communication and scanning network up.  I'm still stuck with 1.05, so I'm trying it in that version until 1.1 drops, when I'll try to reconcile what's going on.  

To complete the mini-challenge, I need 4 sats in a polar orbit, 4 in an equitorial orbit, and a separate scanning satellite for ore.  My plan is to keep the commsats very simple (probe, RTG, 1 omnis and a dish), and have a single master satellite for each moon.  This has fuel for moving orbits if needed, the ore scanner, and big dish antennas for reaching back to Kerbin.  This will be in a Molniya orbit, to maximize uptime.  If each moon has one of these, then even if one or more of the master sats is shadowed, at least one will have a clear shot to Kerbin and the other moons of Jool.  Each also has a RC-L01 master probe controller to eliminate signal delays and provide direct control in system.  As I am starting this in 1.05 and mods are not updated, I'm not actually running RemoteTech, but I'll stick as close as I can until 1.1 and mods are up and running. 

First album is getting 5 rockets into orbit, each with the equipment needed for a single moon.  I've spared the tedious repetition of each identical launch in the album, but you can see how it went.  Now waiting for a Jool transfer window.

Cost so far 364928*5=1824640 funds for commsats



Edited by Jetski
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Chapter 2 - Landers for every moon

Next stage in the challenge is robotic landers for every moon, with a sub-challenge of exploring every biome.  This has to be handled differently for each moon, and took 3 launches.  Still on 1.05, so no giant launches, these were 200, 400, and 700t on the pad.

Pol and Bop are low gravity, and will be handled using ion hoppers.  These will land in each biome, transmit some science, and hop to the next one.  I may be able to do the entire planet in one shot, but if not I have some xenon tankers that will wait in orbit for refueling needs.  Ec is handled with 8K batteries on each, and spamming solar on the landers (lighter) and RTGs for the tankers.  Also I provided a very simple transfer stage, just a tank and a poodle.

Tylo is a one-way trip this time - I have one lander for each biome with a Spark, 3400 dV should be more than enough, but allowing for some hunting for the right landing spot.  So 6 landers strapped to the top of another very simple transfer stage.

Laythe and Vall are close in to Jool, and close together, so it made sense to send the landers for those together.  I have 2 planes for Laythe, and a NERVA powered lander for Vall.  The plan is to send in the planes, fly around to each biome, and collect sci.

The Laythe planes and the ion hoppers both have the ability to carry crew short range.  No life support, but may prove useful in rescues or shuttling around personnel.

Total cost Pol/Bop 295195, Tylo 279339, Laythe/Vall 373613 = 948147 for landers every moon/every biome.

Added to the 1824640 for commsats, and I've spent 2772787 on probes :)

Next step is to warp to the first Jool transfer window.


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8 hours ago, Chronin said:

Wow, your probes are tiny! All of your ships so far are way smaller than what I have planned. But your mission is way further ahead than mine is, so who am I to judge. Looking pretty nice so far

Still messing around in 1.05 so I cant really go big yet. My KSP laptop is a potato...

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Chapter 3 - First Contact

First Transfer has been made, and the first of my robotic explorers have entered the Jool system.  Bop Ion Lander, and Pol Ion lander are resting safely in a 100km holding orbit over Bop and Pol respectively.

I couldn't resist launching 2 more ships: a Mining station each for the low gravity moons of Bop and Pol.  Each one is a refueler with the capability to lift off and deliver fuel anywhere in the Jool system, and each has a fuel truck strapped to the bottom for ground refueling operations (really just a fuel can with wheels, Vernors, and a Klaw).  So a total of 10 ships went in the first exploration flotilla. 2 miners, 3 lander motherships, and 5 satellite constellations.

Additional costs: Bop miner 376634, Pol miner 384634, for a total so far spent of 3534055.

I jumped the Y1D165 window by a few days to get a slightly faster transit, at the cost of a few hundred dV.  10 roughly identical burns is a little tedious to flip through, so I've mainly just hit the high points on this album.  Also documented the first robots to enter the Jool system, my Pol and Bop ion landers, now safely in orbit with gobs of xenon for exploration.  Collected Jool low and high orbit sci, Pol and Bop low and high orbit sci as well.

Imgur is acting really squirrelly today, so not sure if all these will post correctly.  If images aren't loading, try clicking on them and going to the imgur settings and hitting View Full Resolution, seems to work.

Edit: definitely some Imgur weirdness.  Try clicking the settings icon (top right of the album) and going to View Album on Imgur.  If you click to zoom on each image, it then loads correctly.  Odd.



Edited by Jetski
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Tip for gravicapture: somewhere in a settings.txt in your ksp folder you can find a setting of how much orbits it'll predict, ifyou crank that up you'll be able to see how you come out of the grav assits. maybe someone else knows exactly what i mean.

Also I really like that dagonal line of ships. Now thats formation flying!

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Chapter 4 - Bouncing among the Moons

The flotilla has arrived! All 10 main ships have made orbit around their chosen planets.  I'm waiting to deploy my scansats for now, as 40 additional ships will likely melt my poor 1.05 and laptop.  I managed to use gravicaptures on a few of the ships, and did standard Pe burns for the rest.  My Tylo lander had less dV than the rest, so he ended up doing several Laythe and Tylo slingshots to catch Tylo at a nice place in its orbit.  

The communications probes I slung into polar orbits for now, to get my ore scanning taken care of.  Still a ton of dV on those commsat ships, should be easy to place all the sats in equitorial and polar orbits with proper spacing.  

I used my new ore maps generated by the scanning to place the two miners on Bop and Pol.  Here's an interesting twist: I burned from Kerbin to Jool with about 10 minute spacing from roughly the same orbit to roughly the same intercept with all 10 ships.  Even ignoring the ion landers that had a messed up burn and arrived a month early, my spacing on Jool intercept was up to 22 days between some ships!  Crazy how much time can shave off with a slight adjustment in LKO.  My Bop miner arrived 43 days before my Pol miner, basically identical ships.  The Bop miner had already filled its tanks and those of the refueling truck long before the next ship entered the system.

Current status: 5 commsat ships in polar orbit around the 5 moons.  Miners landed and working hard on Bop and Pol.  Laythe planes and Vall NERVA lander in orbit of Laythe waiting to go SCIENCE! Ion landers orbiting Bop and Pol.  6 LFO landers strapped to a fuel tank in an eccentric orbit around Tylo, waiting for the go ahead to drop in on each biome.

No additional funds have been spent.

This album is 31 pics, kinda long, but there's a lot going on :)


Edited by Jetski
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Chapter 5 - Vall and Laythe Science!

Both planes have safely landed on Laythe - the first one landed at each of the 4 biomes (apparently the Crescent Bay on the Wiki doesn't exist!) and stayed put at the North Pole.  The other plane flew down at a good-looking base location.  Only the Dunes biome on Laythe has any Ore, so finding a flat spot was a challenge.  Finally landed at a spot with 3.53% ore, not amazing but it will do for a base.

Next mission was to take the NERVA powered lander and tanker away from Laythe and go explore Vall.  This was an easy burn, and the landings went off without a hitch.  4 biomes landed at, and noticed the Poles biome has 8.09% ore!  Not bad, too bad it's the Poles.  Lander has been reunited with the (nearly empty) tanker in high Vall orbit, still 2257 dV for future missions or rescues.

Imgur is acting weird again, but only on one or two of the images.  Again, if you open the album in imgur and click, the images are there...



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2 hours ago, eloquentJane said:

I like the designs of the Laythe planes (although if you add life support when 1.1 drops, you may need to attach some parts to them to sustain your kerbals).

I was thinking I would KAS a mini LS pack into the service bays when that happens.  Ditto for the Vall lander and the Bop/Pol ion hoppers.  Still haven't figured out how to deal with Tylo - working on Tylo and Laythe mining rigs now.

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2 hours ago, Jetski said:

I was thinking I would KAS a mini LS pack into the service bays when that happens.  Ditto for the Vall lander and the Bop/Pol ion hoppers.  Still haven't figured out how to deal with Tylo - working on Tylo and Laythe mining rigs now.

I'd recommend waiting for Vanguard Astrodynamics to update to 1.1 for Tylo, it has some very nicely efficient and fairly powerful low-profile vacuum engines that could be good for Tylo. Later on I'd go with USI Freight Transport Technologies, because it has parts for a highly configurable heavy transport. Soon-ish I'll update the guide with a few tips for getting some of the heavier stuff to/from the surfaces of the moons (particularly Laythe and Tylo), and I'll be making good use of that mod; all I'm really waiting for is Hyperedit so that I don't have to go through all the effort of sending highly experimental vehicles to the Jool system just to find out that they don't quite work.

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Chapter 6 - Resource Exploitation Flotilla

  Launched 4 more ships to complete my resource exploitation of the delicious moons of Jool.  Since I'm already mining the low grav worlds of Pol and Bop for fuel that can easily be lifted to orbit, my main focus was on ground-side refueling at the more challenging planets.  Also, I simply couldn't resist sending up a truly massive (for stock KSP) orbital fuel depot.  This baby will hold 4 of the very largest fuel tanks worth of LFO, and a 2.5 meter mono tank just for good measure.  I provided it with docking ports of all sizes, and plan to make it the core of a large orbital base.

The first lander, and the most challenging, was the Laythe mining base.  I also wanted to provide a mobile refueling truck, and landing the two and separating them was turning into a challenge.  I tried a variety of spaceplane designs, and a few skycrane arrangements, but it turns out the lightest and simplest way is to just decouple and parachute down separately.  It will be interesting to see if this plan works out...

I finally settled on a design for the mining stations to minimize mass and part count, and it's as simple as I can get it.  There is only the tiniest ore tank connected to ISRU/drill/power module, and no mono or LFO tanks.  To produce fuel, I klaw the ground refueling truck onto the drill, and store all the finished product in the truck tanks.  Ended up with the lowest mass mining rigs I could.  This is imperative for landing on a high gravity moon like Tylo.  I will hover and drop the truck, then skycrane over and land the drilling rig.  Again, it will be an interesting landing, to say the least.

Last mining rig was the Vall mIner, which proved to be a very simple downscaling of the Tylo miner, as Vall has much lower gravity.  A few transfer stages and a lifter, and done!  All 4 ships are on course to intercept Jool in 60 days or so.

Costs, 441517 big fuel, 524926 laythe miner, 625000 tylo miner, and 313340 vall miner, adding 1904783 funds, running total now 5438838 spent

And pictures...


Edited by Jetski
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Chapter 7 - Vall and Laythe Resource Exploitation

Continuing with Jool system resource mining, I landed a rig safely at Laythe and Vall.  After several over-engineered SSTO-style mining rigs that seemed likely to shatter on impact, I went with simple parachutes and a basic rig with fuel truck.  I set drogues to open at 5000, chutes on the refueling truck to open at 1500, and chutes on the mining rig to open at 1000. Atmospheric entry was sketchy, with temps rising to dangerous levels on the drills.  We made it in, though, ending up fairly close to where the exploratory probe had set up.

Chutes opened flawlessly, and I decoupled just before my horizontal velocity went to 0.  This tossed my mining rig ever so slightly further than my fuel truck, and chutes opening later allowed me to safely land the miner, then switch vehicles and quickly land the truck.  They never were more than 500m apart, so physics didn't unload and delete one of them.  Whew!  

Drove the truck over and Klawed on to the mining assembly, and now we are making fuel.

Vall was much easier, with low grav and plenty of dV on a NERVA powered landing stage.  I came in to hover, dropped the truck (with brakes on), and flew over a few meters and landed the mining rig.  Decoupled the engines, Klawed on with the fuel truck, and we are in business.

The Tylo mining rig will be very touch and go.  I'm still deciding if I should top up the fuel before descent, it's going to be quite a precision manouver.

Pics here:

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Chapter 1 again - Career time reboot and first Crewed transport

Well, after the update to 1.1 we have had to restart the Jool 500 altogether.  The landing leg and wheel bugs killed all my carefully landed fuel truck/mining rig bases, and the addition of USI-LS has changed the profile of a lot of my mission.  So if we are restarting, what better way than to start a career and go for the second level of scoring in this challenge!

I started a new career, and pretty much did a speed run up the tech tree.  I missed the part in the rules where it said you could set the science multiplier way up, so this is all done is Normal difficulty with no particular special settings.  Used the following build order:

  1. Pod with Goo, science on pad
  2. First launch for flying/upper/low space science recovery
  3. A quick shot to orbit for high space science and some contracts
  4. A Mun shot, hitting 2 biomes
  5. A Minmus and XP building shot, 5-kerbaled base landed and a quick jaunt outside of Kerbin SOI
  6. A Duna mission collecting the Explore DUna contract and a surface base with MPL contract

This all got me to a stage where I could really start putting together my Jool-500 ships.  I had about 3 million funds, and everyone back home. 

First 2 launches were to replace my commsat network, I abused 1.1 to launch all my probes on 2 ships, named cleverly Inner Planet Commsats and Outer Planet Commsats.

Next launch required a few days of testing, to get a truly self-sustaining ground base with basic mining ops and very slow life support replenishment.  I put it all in a package and called it a Logistics base, and launched one for Vall, one for Pol, and one for Bop.

Then I got interested in the RareMinerals mining part of MKS-Lite, and built a massive strip-mining rover.  I drove it off the runway just far enough to be out of physics range of the Launchpad, and started the 30 drills and 50+ sorters running off a large reactor.  I wasn't sure what kind of throughput it would have, so I left it be and warped to my first Jool window.  Imaging my surprise when it recovered for 12 million funds!  Great profit on a 1.3 million mining rover.

With my newfound funds, I launched the true test of my new USI-LS build, the crew transport.  I may have overbuilt it a little, but it will have to take 5 kerbals to Jool to set up the bases for future colonists.

Last of all, I was feeling rich, so I tossed up a quick little utility lander, and a massive orbital supply depot.  I hope this will provide a decent amount of general resources for emergency ops in Jool system.

The big burn came and I may have done a foolish thing.  I drastically shortened the mission time for my crewed transport by burning hyperbolic to Jool.  Then I realized the crew would arrive with no bases and no resource scanning!  So I burned hyperbolic on all of them...wasting a ton of dV and likely making it very interesting when it comes time to stop in-system.  Stay tuned to see if we survive the Jool intercept, or if I have to rescue my orange suits from imminent peril.

Total Expenses thus far 4,079,469 funds


Edited by Jetski
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Chapter 2 - Setbacks

The fleet is starting to arrive at Jool - the first one is a logistics base I sent on a nasty hyperbolic burn to get there well ahead of the crew transport.  Unfortunately, I forgot to add either reaction wheels or RCS, and had to rely entirely on engine thrust gimbal to steer.  This was iffy at best, and once I staged away the transfer stage it became impossible.  I was able to capture at Jool, and get a high orbit over Jool just outside of Pol, but moon intercept and landing looks impossible at this time as fuel supplies are getting low.  I'll have to think about how to rescue this mission. 

The main problem is that there will not be a base at Jool that can make Supplies, and I'm thinking the orange suits will be a little hungry and upset if I can't have at least something waiting for them.  I'm considering just trying to collect everything I have in one place, and hope there are enough Supplies together for the 5 brave Kerbals to survive until a proper LS-producing base arrives.

Embarrassingly, I built and launched 3 of these logistics bases, testing them extensively on the ground.  If I could land one somehow, we are in great shape and my Kerbals can live forever.  But landing on thrust gimbaling using 4 engines which are in front of the COM doesn't seem likely, even on Bop.  We shall see...


Edited by Jetski
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Chapter 3 - Commsat swarms for Everyone!

So I'm just ignoring the fact that I have an uncontrollable logistics base wandering aimlessly out past Pol, and getting on with the mission.  Inner and outer commsat swarm ships have arrived, and Vall, Laythe, and Pol have been ore scanned and are completely covered by satellite networks.  I deployed an ore scanner with both types of scanning array and a little fuel in an eccentric polar orbit over each moon, the idea being that I can fly low over a patch to site a base if needed.  Next I deployed 4 polar sat equidistantly, and then did an inclination burn to an equitorial orbit.  4 more sats deployed evenly, and I have my first points for this challenge!  Finally, I took the last drops of fuel and deployed 4 equitorial and one inclined satellite around Jool itself.

3 ore scanning sats (so far) = 3 points
4 complete satellite networks of at least 5 commsats (so far) = 4 points
CHALLENGE: GROUND COVERAGE (4x4 network) x 3 moons = 27 points!
Total 34 points X 1.4 (Normal career mode) X 1000000 = 47600000 / 4,079,469 funds spent = 11.67 points scored.

Assuming I'm doing my scoring correctly, @eloquentJane  :)

I still have 7 ships (including my crewed transport) headed for Jool, and more commsats destined for Bop and Tylo in orbit, so more to come!


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Chapter 4 - Moar commsats and a Colony ship (finally)

We finished the commsat swarm deployment, placing a nice set of 4 polar and 4 equitorial satellites around Bop and Tylo.  Tylo's deep gravity well made orbital manouvers expensive, nearly 1400 dV for a plane change from 0 to 90!  All went well though, and deployment is complete.  

Next I checked out the list of permitted mods, and added a few fun ones.  Near Future is one of my favorites, although I haven't found a good use for the very low thrust drives of the Propulsion part.  I really enjoy the Solar panels though, and I also wanted to check out Deep Freeze, after all the trouble I have had just getting 5 Kerbals to Jool.  What a cool mod!  Really well done.  Also worth noting NFT nerfs the MKS reactors quite badly, going to have to redesign my mining rig.

Also, I purchased 25 more Kerbals with my mining profits, now the next Kerbal costs 500,000 funds, yikes!  I may not be able to afford 500 of these guys, might have to grab a mod or hack funds as they get more expensive.  This is fun for now though.

My transfer plan is maturing - I spent nearly 2 million funds on a long range Kolony ship that can freeze up to 100 Kerbals, and thaw them in comfort in batches of up to 20.  In hindsight, I should have launched it without fuel and refueled it as I brought up the colonists, but it's too late for that now.  I have the massive ship waiting in a high orbit, with a few Kerbals already frozen down.  My intention is to send up more groups of colonists until the ship is full, then send it to Jool in a single massive transfer, completing 1/5 of this challenge in a single flight.  Of course, it would help to have some bases ready for them...more on that later.


Edited by Jetski
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