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Post Your Ion Craft Designs!


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Please post your craft using dawn ion drives. Why did you choose dawn over something like nerv? Is this a craft built "for fun" or is it a career game workhorse? I'd love to hear all about your design decisions and engineering choices.

(if this repeats a thread, please post link? Happy to just continue conversation there.)

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A semi-simple ion powered satellite that also acts as my first out exploration and survey craft when planning a mission to any planet in the Kerbin system.  It's got a wonderful 13,000 delta-V, so can do a complete survey of any system, even a full Jool system survey, prior to the launch of my mission specific craft.  It was built in sandbox for a spacific reason but ended up being so effective at that job that I use it for any planet/system specific missions.

 

Simply called: Trailbreaker

trailbreaker5_zps7akqjfvj.jpg

Has both of the orbit capable scanning tools and antennas to send the data back to kerbin.  It's powered by 4 dawn ion thrusters and has a pair of large solar panels and 8 RTG's along with a probe core, and 1,600 units of charge capacity for longer burns.

Edited by Jakalth
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I actually just finished this design last week and posted it on KerbalX.  It's completely usable (and buildable in orbit), but is pretty expensive when used in career.  However, it is reusable, so that mitigates the cost somewhat; refueling it with more xenon is still pricey.  It was designed as a payload tug to support Duna expeditions, but I'm sure it can be used for other missions (asteroid missions as @DMSP suggested in my thread).

EV-5%20Drifter%20Small_zpsls50hj78.png

Edited by Raptor9
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@Raptor9 

1. What's the part count on it?

2. Can it run at full throttle indefinitely when facing the sun at Duna?

3. Why so much monopropellant? It can't all be for the solar array arms.

4. What program was used to make that infographic - PS? It's quite neat.

Edited by Zucal
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56 minutes ago, Zucal said:

1. What's the part count on it?

2. Can it run at full throttle indefinitely when facing the sun at Duna?

3. Why so much monopropellant? It can't all be for the solar array arms.

4. What program was used to make that infographic - PS? It's quite neat.

1. ~285 when fully assembled as in the graphic; if you add an LV-3D crew lander (which has two surface rovers), it doubles it to about 570.

2. Yes.

3. I don't use reaction wheels except to keep space stations stabilized.  Even though the truss is sturdy thanks to a quad of small docking ports multidocked together, any craft this long is going to flex somewhat.  Even with a completely symmetrical craft at low thrust-to-weight ratios, the center-of-mass is going to flex slightly off center.  This requires a very slight but constant monopropellant to keep the craft on course.  That consumption adds up after a series of long ion "burns".  Having said that, when I did a test mission with a LV-3D lander and EV-5 Hab/Lab on the front, I made it all the way to Duna in back with only half of my mono used up.  But I don't know how other people may control their vessels (aggressively, lots of maneuvers, etc), so I wanted plenty of reserve to control the EV-5's attitude.

4. Kronal Vessel Viewer.  I think it's still only rated as 1.0.4 compatible, but it's mostly usable through 1.1.2.  A few parts like the AV-R8 winglet don't render properly in 1.1+ however.

Edited by Raptor9
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Hi there

@ Raptor 9: that´s a really cool looking ship.

First:

This is the XKS Beagle:

UJtiIVE.png

I think I built it in 1.0.5 and she and her sister ship went 3 times to Duna/Ike and 2 times to Eve/Gilly. I still think she is a good design and she got the job done, but she has her flaws, too. For example I´ve put a bit of Lf/O and a lot of fuel cells on it for the case if i need a burn in a planets shadow. But in reallity I used that system more on transfer burns, when my angle to the sun was too steep, and most of the solar cells blocked each other. And refueling was a long and boring labour. So in 1.1.x with the higher possible partcount I tried to improve the design. In the process I thought "hey, wouldn´t it be cool if the new ship could go to Moho, too?" 

So here is the new XKS Bellafonte:

66Vg9Yl.png

After a few weeks of juggling with partcount, efficiency, coolness, looks and usability this is the latest, but probably not last, version.

Like Raptor9 I´ve put the majority of the solar cells on movable pylons. Around 45°s seems to be a good angle for most situations, but if I absolutely have to change their angle, I can do that with... one moment pls...

"Open the pod bay doors, Val!"

qjZv1Am.png

"Thank you Val."

...a Workpod. :) 

It is also handy when you wanna change the Xenon tanks, dock something without SAS to the mothership, exchange communication system components, and if Val wants to kill her crew, because they drove her absolutely nuts.

The Testmission is still running (not a lot of time to play lately), but fuel is looking good, and the ship is handeling quite well so far. So here is a beautyshot from the circulisation burn around Moho:

t5LuDI5.png

Wish me luck for the trip home. :)

Edited by KerrMü
typo
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1 hour ago, KerrMü said:

Hi there

First:

This is the XKS Beagle:

 

@KerrMü Lovely! The interplanetary ion ship I'm building is also headed to Moho as part of a dedicated colonization architecture, so I'm pretty curious - not many Moho-bound ion manned ships out there!

What's the ∆v and TWR of that beauty?

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@KerrMü I remember that lander from the first photo, the DC-X looking rocket, from your old signature. Nice to see it's still around. :)

Does that XKS Bellafonte have 84 ion engines?? Or am I losing my mind? Good lord!

EDIT: I need to go to Moho, I've never even attempted it.

Edited by Raptor9
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@Raptor9 + @Zucal Jep, 84 Dawns. Seems a bit much, but helps with slowng down at moho. Ok, I could start my braking burn outside the SOI, but hey, we wanna measure our burns in minutes, not hours, right? 

I´ve got 2 Sparks as well that help at the start and with that the initial max acceleration is 1.1m/s and reaching moho it´s around 1.3m/s.

Sorry, I haven´t done the calculations for  ∆v  and TWR jet, so I don´t know. (I stopped using Mechjeb and never got into KER)

This is only my second mission to Moho ever. The first one "happened" 3 years ago when I was pretty new to KSP. Let´s just say I underestimated the requirements for that trip greatly and after circulization my tanks were dry. And getting a lot of fuel to moho is everything but easy.

And that lander is still in use. I think it is the 4th version now. It´s at less than half the weight of the first 2 versions and still has a rather healthy safety margin of 15% fuel left after takeoff from Duna. So there is still room for improvement. Man, I really need a new signature banner. :)

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Well, here's my all-stock inner-planet crew transport. Plenty of margin for a Moho round trip without refueling, a respectable part count of 199, and fairly stylish for the parts we're given to make these xenon behemoths work.

 

7mz2mx9.png

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12 minutes ago, Majorjim said:

Is the main body one section? Any pics of the launch vehicle?

The truss is actually two sections, with the third section being the Habitation/Laboratory module.  Forward truss launched first, aft truss launched second.  The truss joins together via a quad of small docking ports, and is rock solid. :) The solar array arms do flex a little bit when the kick stage is at full throttle, but they hold steady.  The Hab/Lab section is launched via a 'Thunder 4' rocket since it's a lot less mass than the rest of the EV-5.  Technically, the Hab/Lab module could be considered a payload of the EV-5, since the 'Drifter' can autonomously move payloads to Duna ahead of the crewed missions.  But I still consider it part of the EV-5 ship itself, in crewed mission configuration.

EV-5%20Fwd%20Truss%20Assembly%20Small_zp   EV-5%20Aft%20Truss%20Assembly%20Small_zp

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  • 7 months later...

I'm working on an ion powered unmanned Moho Mothership now.  The working name is "MIRV" for Moho Inspection Research Vessel.  A preliminary version is in mission simulations and has reached orbit with approximately 13 km/s dV.  It has 28 Dawn ion thrusters and 8 Gigantor solar panels and roughly 14,000 EC (shared between the Mothership and her payload of Micro Science Probes and Relay Commsats).  The first stage Booster carries the mothership all the way to orbit, is 100 % recoverable, and consists of 1 Mainsail and 4 Skippers, plus 5 Orange Tanks.

I still have some fine tuning to do, because my solar panel placement renders about a quarter of them useless at some angles to the sun.  28 Dawns burn through 14,000 EC MUCH faster than they can complete a 15 minute burn.  I'm trying to determine what effect removing around 6 of the Dawns will have, as it looks like proper placement of the 8 Gigantors will run 22 Dawns non-stop.  I think I'll come out ahead removing the thrusters because I'll be pushing less dead weight at steady state, even if my peak thrust drops somewhat.  Dropping a few thrusters and their Cubic Struts will also help part count.  The beast is around 430 at launch.

Edited by HalcyonSon
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On 2/24/2017 at 7:31 PM, HalcyonSon said:

Are those control surfaces or mods behind the Dawns?

Yes, they seal the engine when deployed. I wanted to make a ship which emitted as little heat as possible.

Edited by Spartwo
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The Xenon Koaster Z, a 2-person manywhere all-stock lander with nearly 6km/s dV and 3min 15s full-burn times. Replacing the solar panels with a handful (2 to 4) of tiny reactors lowers its TWR and dV by a very modest amount but then it can burn endlessly and safely operate on Mun and Eeloo. It was revived partially for my Jool 5 concept ships and is available on KerbalX.

Why I even created this was because I wanted to learn to use ion drives in the first place or to try to make one with the relative TWR of any chemical rocketed vessel so it's arguably my first ever ion craft. And this was before the Dawn got nerfed. It lifted like a champ on Mun back then but no more now.

NMpxeRm.png

 

The Kraden Purple. A concept mothership and science vessel with 10 km/s dV and parts from only 1 mod: Mk2 Expansion. It has 8 medium docking ports and 2 cargo bays to plug probes and landers onto so kerbalkind can science the next moon dry...in style! It's a very frail design, though, so it should only be spawned at a base with less gravity than Mun and even then it may need (more) struts.

Its namesake is a forum user, and is a gift to them. 

CYZSeiT.jpg

32d3RMh.jpg

 

Taking a large step now, I'd like to mention one of my many ion crafts that run on something other than Xenon. This is Lithia L, a more practical deep space science vessel. its main propulsion is Lithium (see Near Future Propulsion) but carries LFO for VTOL and for the dewdrop lander in the open cargo bay in the back. It only has 6km/s unlike the Kraden mainly because OPT parts and the reactors are rather heavy. I love Lithium because it's very appropriate for heavy ships and it can be refined from Ore whereas Xenon can barely be harvested with its scant concentrations.

vD6gM9H.jpg

 

StarProbe. With that kind of deltaV this is my answer to Moho. It runs on Argon (see NF Propulsion) and is the last craft I built (or the only one I have screenshots of) that runs on Argon otherwise I'd feature one of my Argon-powered crewed Duna SSTOs. And why I did those is because I'm a defiant person and wanted to have Duna Ascent Vehicles that run on something other than LiquidFuel + anything. :P And Argon is more abundant than Xenon.

jRpJutr.jpg

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@Spartwo, those engine exhaust assemblies are awesome!  And they can be closed too? Genius. :cool:

I need to look through more of these threads.  There are some amazingly-designed aesthetics around here that could give me inspiration for designing my 3rd generation interplanetary ships.

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  • 1 month later...
On ‎6‎/‎23‎/‎2016 at 8:58 PM, Raptor9 said:

I actually just finished this design last week and posted it on KerbalX.  It's completely usable (and buildable in orbit), but is pretty expensive when used in career.  However, it is reusable, so that mitigates the cost somewhat; refueling it with more xenon is still pricey.  It was designed as a payload tug to support Duna expeditions, but I'm sure it can be used for other missions (asteroid missions as @DMSP suggested in my thread).

EV-5%20Drifter%20Small_zpsls50hj78.png

First of all, this craft is beautiful, and it looks like it would actually work (unlike most Xenon craft I build)

But, I am trying to make a Xenon craft/mothership thing and hopefully my friend won't terminate this ship before it's mission has been completed. Will post when done!

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