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Through Hardships to the Stars [Chapter 32 - Something Big II]


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Hello! Welcome to Through Hardships to the Stars (previously known as KSP Megastructures)!

This is a fan-fiction illustrated story, played in sandbox mode, with many, many mods.


Chapter 1 - StarDust (This Post)

Chapter 2 - SpacePlane-1

Chapter 3 - Comm Fleet

Chapter 4 - Station Science

Chapter 5 - The End

Chapter 6 - New Beginnings

Chapter 7 - Further Than Any Kerbal Has Gone Before

Chapter 8 - Merkury-Appaloosa

Chapter 9 - Moving Forward

Chapter 10 - The Mun and Brumby

Chapter 11 - Interstellar Hazard

Chapter 12 - Bigby Solar Observatory

Interlude - The Plan

Chapter 13 - Starting The Plan

Chapter 14 - SpaceLab Operations

Chapter 15 - Updating The Plan

Chapter 16 - Satellites Galore

Chapter 17 - The Grand Tour of Kerbin

Chapter 18 - By SQUAD...

Chapter 19 - Solar Trusses

Chapter 20 - Gilly

Chapter 21 - Getting Stuff Done

Chapter 22 - The Hybridium

Chapter 23 - A Discovery

Chapter 24 - Duna Calls

Chapter 25 - Maintenance

Chapter 26 - Minmus

Chapter 27 - Good and Bad

Chapter 28 - Rebellious

Chapter 29 - Unexpected Developments

Chapter 30 - Pushing Forward

Chapter 31 - Something Big

Chapter 32 - Something Big II




Want to submit a payload? Answer these questions and it'll be launched :)

Note: Any mods are allowed except those that add life support (TAC-LS, USI-LS, Snacks, etc) and those that add different fuel systems (like RealFuels, EngineIgnitor, Cryogenic Engines, etc) 

Payload Submission Form:


Payload Submission Form

  • Payload name?
  • Payload provider (Your 'company' name, eg. Squared Space Technologies)?
  • Type of payload (Scientific, exploratory, communication, SpaceLab module, etc.)?
  • Payload mass?
  • Payload height?
  • Payload length?
  • Payload width?
  • Payload part count?
  • Is the payload stock or modded?
  • If it's modded, what mods?
  • Which body should it orbit (Kerbol, Kerbin, Mun, Minmus, Duna, etc.)?
  • Intended orbit (Apoapsis, periapsis, inclination, any other orbital info I may have forgotten to ask)?
  • Short description of the payload.
  • .Craft file [ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL! I can't launch the payload if I don't have it, right?] 
  • Any other info about the payload you think I should know.




The International Kerbal Space Program wasn't going well. After the Kongress decided that manufacturing enough nukes to annihilate Kerbin three times over (with no conflicts going on at the time) was more important than space exploration, the IKSP had all fundings cut. The space program was bankrupt, with all their achievements being forgotten over time. After 4 years of uncertain-ness, Jerome Kerman, head of the IKSP, had no choice but to sell off the program to a private investor. 

That private investor was Dave Kerman. The IKSP was officially declared a private organization 4 years, 3 munths and 2 days after kovernmental funding was cut. Dave immediately set his sights on the IKSP's huge, but ageing, space station. It was officially named the Kerbal Space Station, but nearly everyone called it "StarDust".AhtlhDp.png

4 years ago, it was an engineering marvel. The culmination of the entirety of Kerbin working together to reach into space, and stay there. However, now the station was slowly failing. The RTGs were losing power, the circuit connections were getting unstable and the atmosphere inside was escaping. Something had to be done, or StarDust would soon be rendered completely unusable. 

The first thing that Dave Kerman and his team decided on was to replace the old habitation arms with an all-new, modern habitation ring. Or more accurately, four of them.0DLzDlc.png

The 364-ton monstrosity needed an all-new launcher to get it into orbit: the SB-3, Station Builder 3.ykwJczh.png

The SB-3 was just an SB-2 with 3 cores. The SB-1, compared to these huge rockets, was so small it was barely worth mentioning (it was still pretty big, having been made of 3.75m parts).

The habitation ring was mounted on top of the SB-3. Unfortunately the fairing wasn't wide enough for the ring, so the entire assembly had to be botled to a rocket with a flat top. The brute force approach would have to be used, punching a hole through the lower atmosphere and getting out of it ASAP.XguWPo4.png

The rocket was rolled to the launchpad successfully.RjRlCyx.png

With a crowd of exactly 14 kerbals in Mission Control, SB-3 with the Habitation Ring lifted off.9rapAIq.png

The rocket followed an unusually steep gravity turn, focusing more on getting out of the lower atmosphere than building up horizontal speed.M5c0MxR.png


Booster separation:ZbJJqH7.png

And finally, a stable orbit was reached.


The closest approach was 47.2km. Not too bad for a private space program who had never docked before. Mission Control could work with that.GsjSVt4.png

All further maneuvers would be completed with the second stage, which had a full tank of fuel. All maneuvers were performed successfully and the stage was detached from the Hab Ring less than a kilometer from StarDust.K4RJQur.png

The Hab Ring guided itself in under the power of its own RCS thrusters.V9oPJKw.png

Docking was completed on the light side of Kerbin, which is not at all right and proper, but it was the safest option for a first mission.kAdK0tp.png

The IKSP's first private mission was a complete success. Now all that was left was deorbiting the second stage:8dxDJ16.png


Most of the components overheated on reentry. Only the fairing base and docking port survived, which showed some strange aerodynamic properties...PDz2aMA.png

Since the base was practically gliding down, it was no surprise when it survived contact with the ocean. [This gave me an idea... can I make a glider out of fairing bases?? I'll have to try some designs.]H7psRwb.png

The IKSP's first mission was a success. But Dave Kerman wasn't finished there...


Edited by TheEpicSquared
Chapter 32 is up (about time :P)
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I was working on some body-lift space plane designs yesterday and I almost cracked a good(ish) design. I'll do a few more tests and maybe have the next part of the StarDust station by Friday. 



The next part will include the disassembly of part of the station, as well as the introduction of crews to it (hence the spaceplane tests)

Stay tuned!

Edited by TheEpicSquared
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1 hour ago, RocketSquid said:

Nice! I was expecting bigger until I realized that the physics load distance prevents anything that would qualify as a megastructure by human standards. Either way, that's one impressive station.

Thanks! I plan to improve the station until my computer says "I refuse". :) As for the megastructure title, I was mostly trying to find a cool name as a title :P 

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"A space station should have a crew, right?" asked Dave Kerman to his lead spacecraft designer Mike.

"Yes, that would help," Mark replied.

"Well, get on it!"


After nearly 23 minutes of developing, the SP-1 (SpacePlane-1) was born.4k6a73U.png

The spaceplane itself had a mass of just over 9 tons fully fueled. It would be propelled into orbit on top of a Vector liquid-fuel engine and two Kickback SRBs. However, the first test launch would have to wait.


Cameras on StarDust had shown that the two ageing habitation arms were randomly moving around, stretching and bending the entire station. It was presumed the leaking atmosphere inside the arms were creating enough thrust to move the arms [In reality, Kraken]. They would have to be removed from the station immediately to prevent the StarDust from breaking apart. lfu70pf.png

[In this image you can see how the ends of the arms do not align as they are supposed to.]

Monopropellant was immediately transferred into the habitation arm's tanks and the arm was undocked from the station.4avhUZH.png

Unfortunately, Mission Control had underestimated the fuel consumption of the RCS ports and the arm ended up stuck in a slightly lower orbit with no fuel left.


The same procedure was done with the second arm, but this time the tanks were filled with 3 times more monopropellant. This was enough to deorbit it and soon it hit the atmosphere.U7ETas9.png

Soon, parts started overheating and exploding.SOAQRNS.png

Surprisingly, most of the arm survived reentry and splashed down.u2YB0zD.png

[Also, I don't know why the apoapsis sign is in the image]

Without the two habitation arms, the station was once again stable, and the unmanned test of SpacePlane-1 could begin.

3 hours later, SP-1 was on the pad, ready to launch.

"3... 2... 1... We have liftoff!" announced a mission controller.CB4CBhr.png

At liftoff, the Vector engine operated at 50% thrust to conserve fuel. The 2 Kickbacks were more than enough to get the rocket off the ground.


Booster separation, and the Vector throttled up to 100% thrust.Sy8Gn9c.png

Finally orbit was reached and a rendezvous was planned. "7.1 kilometers!" shouted an astonished mission controller. We're doing better than when the IKSP was government-backed!"eFM9gb1.png

All maneuvers were completed successfully and the spaceplane separated from its rocket 1.4km from the station.


The spaceplane guided itself in with its RCS thrusters and was soon upon the station.qARNdFO.png

"Docking confirmed," announced a mission controller. "In the dark, as is only right and proper."mmCK21U.png

SP-1 stayed docked to the station for a quarter of an orbit, testing various systems and making sure everything was working. Then it undocked from StarDust.7IVz5Af.png

It descended to a lower orbit using its RCS thrusters first, to reduce reentry speed.bML0zSi.png

Then, its 2 Spark engines took over and deorbited the spaceplane.ntaIX0D.png

Reentry was nominal, if a bit on the warm side.XelPb1v.png

Since there was no particular landing site for the spaceplane, it just pointed down after the plasma trails stopped.44FAifp.png

Coming in for landing...7oE0CgP.png

The 3 Juno engines were on half thrust to prevent slowing down to stall speeds.kTztKii.png

"Touchdown confirmed, SpacePlane-1 is in good condition!" announced an ecstatic mission controller. "Mission success!"


With the complete success of SpacePlane-1:Test-1, kerballed missions to StarDust could begin.

One day later, Expedition 1 (callsign SP1-Ex-1) was constructed, and a crew was assigned.AGroRN6.png

The mission was once again at night.

"3... 2... 1... We have liftoff!" announced Mission Control.PD2Y3gz.png

Ascent went nominally and soon Expedition 1 was in orbit with a planned rendezvous with StarDust.MqHJnRb.png

All maneuvers were completed successfully and the rocket part was ditched less that 1 kilometer from the station. [Come to think of it, I should probably slap on a probe core and deorbit the rocket for future missions. As of now, it's just floating around posing a hazard to arriving spacecraft].7YjLAqF.png

The spaceplane guided itself in under the power of its RCS thrusters.RawfBUK.png


"Docking confirmed," radioed Jeb to Mission Control. "Expedition 1 has reached StarDust."

Expedition 1 would stay on the station for some time, waiting for the Science Module, the next module planned for StarDust. With the station's development plan stable, Dave Kerman was now also setting his sights on Kerbin's neighbour, Duna.

Edited by TheEpicSquared
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Just now, Garrett Kramme said:

I imagine you get 2 FPS around that station :wink: 

I'd like to see you re-land your rocket- Spacex style! (or with chutes, whatever works)


Yes, the part count is something like 400 I think, and it's set to increase until my computer dies (insert evil laugh here)!

As for the rocket, yes it will be a powered landing. I just have to tweak the amount of fuel on it, and slap on a probe core and some landing legs, and we'll be set to go! :) 

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"Duna is the next step for Kerbals. However, that won't be possible without a satellite fleet."

This was Dave Kerman's final sentence in his Duna Research Program mission presentation. He wanted to start a Duna colony, in preparation for the inevitable extinction event that would eventually hit Kerbin. However, ground stations would not be able to reach Duna. Therefore, a new satellite fleet had to be launched.


International Kerbal Space Program Administration Building: 5 years prior

The head of IKSP, Jerome Kerman, wiped his forehead clean of all the sweat that had accumulated. The meeting hadn't gone well. After kerbals had moved underground, due to massive irradiation from Kerbin's third world war, Kongress decided that satellites were no longer needed. All communication would be handled through underground cables, which were more reliable than satellites that could be disturbed by space weather. As for observational satellites, said the Kongress, space was no longer in the focus. Therefore, they were deemed unnecessary. Upon hearing that, Jerome had a strong urge to personally grab the spokesperson and shake him to bits. Now, he had no option but to deorbit every single satellite in existence. He sighed and pushed the DEORBIT ALL button. 

Every satellite's engine activated, sending it to its fiery demise. A few short minutes later, only the StarDust station remained.


International Kerbal Space Program VAB: Present day

To satisfy Dave Kerman's wishes of a communication satellite fleet, a satellite was being built.FZp3NRD.png

The LKOC-Sat (Low Kerbin Orbit Communication Satellite) was a small satellite, little more than a probe core, reaction wheels, a battery, solar panels and a propulsion system. Nevertheless, it was what the IKSP needed. 13 of these could be launched in one go, using an innovative payload deployment system, creatively called LKOC-Sat Dispenser.nTm3Dak.png

The whole thing would be launched on a Spitfire 1 rocket, a modular rocket which could be adapted with various numbers of SRBs for more lifting power. In this case, however, the basic model was more than enough to propel the 6.5-ton payload into LKO.Y40fbrp.png

 23 minutes after being assembled, the rocket with its payload, LKOC-Sats 1-13, was rolled out to the pad.

"T-10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... We have liftoff!" announced the launch commentator.gO0ERdL.png

The rocket ascended flawlessly and soon it was time for stage separation.Z4nz1TQ.png

The second stage, powered by its Commodore engine, continued on into space. It finally placed itself into a roughly 300x300km parking orbit. Then, the first four satellites were deployed.o7C8WNp.png

All 9 remaining satellites were deployed successfully, and reached their intended orbits. The first one utilized a Munar gravity assist to fling it out to the far reaches of Kerbin's SoI, to provide better coverage to Mun and Minmus missions. The second one pushed its apoapsis to the orbit of the Mun, hopefully being flung into outer Kerbin space sometime down the road. The third pushed its apoapsis to between the Mun's and Munmus's orbit, also hopefully getting its trajectory influenced by one of the two bodies. The fourth satellite pushed its apoapsis only a bit into Kerbin's space, not even to the Mun's orbit. LKOC-Sats 5-8 entered various inclined orbits around Kerbin, and LKOC-Sats 9-13 remained in their parking orbits as spares. The resulting orbits led to a lot of lines in map view. A lot of lines.uH0Ii2n.png

Since there were already so many confusing lines, Mission Control didn't want another one, and so they ordered for the second stage to be deorbited.CwPm4nr.png


[Square explosions... How interesting]


Now, with a satellite fleet capable of talking to Duna, The Duna Research Program could begin.

Edited by TheEpicSquared
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