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Nekozjin Aeronautics Flight Files (aka eddiew's c'logs) - Season 5: Keeping it Simple


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Beli Rumbler

With the establishment of the gateway to Belisama and the Grannus system, mission control concludes that the Anemone is, in fact, not a bomb. This being the case, they followed standard kerbal practise and made the whole thing public. Newspapers were ecstatic, the populace cheered, and scientists clinked champagne glasses over their expanded budgets.

Riding the upsurge of public opinion and the widespread belief that we should 'get on with it', mission control quickly commissions a new initiative; a vessel to explore the mysterious moon on the far end of the wormhole.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 months later...

Interlude; finishing my stock bucket list

Ok, so I've been too lax about updating this thread to now be bothered going back through 'what did you do in ksp today' to find and copy every post with commentary. Suffice to say that with 1.6.0 'soon but not now' when I picked up the game after a break, I thought I'd do a quick stock-system run and actually do the Eve expedition that I never got round to back in 1.2.2

The complete album with 54 images is available here: https://imgur.com/a/O2mCdNm

And a few highlights so's you know the sort of thing you'd be in for...

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  • 10 months later...

1.8 Stock

So it's been... a while. Got tied up in other things. 1.5 came and went. Then 1.6. Then 1.7. Now it's 1.8 and I love all these new things like special surface rocks and the robotic parts, but some of the crucial mods from last year's Galileo career just aren't available yet, so there's really no way to upgrade that.

Meantime, thinking of going for a 'quick' stock system run. I'll only be logging the most interesting parts of the most interesting missions because, frankly, it takes ages to give every single probe its own page and I think everyone who follows this thread has seen enough simple probes by now :blush:

So let us begin with Valentina Kerman becoming the first kerbal to walk in the Mun! 

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...that rocket only ever had 3 fins honest. Well whatever, despite the odd asymmetry of the ascent vehicle, Val makes Munar orbit and then surface with no problems. For some reason the Health and Safety department insists that she is NOT to bend down and pick up some of the soil, but they're completely fine with her picking up a massive rock. We'll be reviewing this policy in the near future.

Shortly after Val's return, mission control decides that funds are needed, and fulfils a number of private contracts for satellite deployment and orbital surveys, while also rescuing Lilly, Tora and Astra Kerman from various orbits around Kerbin and Mun. With the bank looking far healthier, we not only invest in some fancier suits, but manage to get rid of that Health and Safety rule such that Jeb is allowed to pick up soil samples on his upcoming mission.

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...although I guess we didn't train him very well in setting up science experiments. We're pretty sure he failed to clean the solar panel enough and couldn't power the experiments, but by the point anyone could suggest this to him, he'd already broken the devices. At least there are rocks and dirt. 

R&D decides to work on larger capacity landers so's the next idiot pilot will have some backup.

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After poring over the results of Jeb's last mission to Minmus, R&D finally raise their heads and present a new blueprint for a 2-kerman lander - which engineering immediately uses to send Jeb right back to where he was, this time with backup.

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With Bill 'assisting', the 'broken' experiment package is soon restored to working condition, and begins its slow observations of our mystery goo unit. With plenty of fuel still in the tank, mission control gives the mod for a short hop to a nearby biome, wherein Bill begins setting out a secondary set of instruments. We're not entirely sure if this gains us anything, but it doesn't seem to hurt either.

Jeb, naturally, lost patience after 4.72 seconds and jetted away to investigate the 'weird thing' he had spotted on the way over - but since he doesn't believe in the right tool for the right job, he naturally had no tools at all and was unable to do anything about it when he found it. 

Return and re-entry went smoothly, although there was a brief brown-trousers moment when the ejected fuel stage decided it was less aerodynamic than the pod, and went shooting back past the windows before finally exploding somewhere in the darkness behind.

This unscheduled re-visitation of Minmus somehow nets another 300 data points, allowing R&D to come up with a blueprint for a 3-kerman crew capsule. The engineers quickly swipe it and run away into their hut with a thermos of tea and several packs of chocolate hob nobs. We will report back once they emerge.

-- some days later --

The engineering team proposes an even larger, bolder vessel, one that will carry not only 3 crew, but a more comprehensive science package.

Seeing as we've received a distress call from one of those cheap knock-off space programs, we decide to head back to Minmus and give it a darn good scienceing.

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Between them, Val, Bob and new recruit Yuki manage to tap up five biomes, gathering surface samples and collecting data from the premium materials experiment. While Bob did spot and investigate one of the 'mossy boulders' as reported by Jeb, he too failed to make sense of it with the tools he had at his disposal. Evidently we are going to have to come up with something more advanced if we want to learn about these mysterious structures.

Happily, the team came back with over 1300 data points, which should help a lot with that!

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With a goodly amount of data and samples recovered from Minmus, mission control decides that it might be time to set our sights on other targets.

Or, well... one more. The mossy boulders have been preying on everyone's mind, and even though nobody can be bothered going back to tackle them kermanually, the engineering team was able to put together a micro-probe to do the job. Sadly it turns out that the moss is mineral deposits. A lovely green mineral, but only a mineral. An inedible one at that.

Following on from this tiny lander, we send another tiny lander to another planet entirely; Dunamite enters Dunan orbit. Leaving it's relay stage at high altitude with barely a whiff of fumes left in the tank, the little probe drops to a lower orbit and prepares for descent.

Meanwhile back on kerbin, our engineers have discovered a powerful new way of fitting bulky objects into rocket fairings. They tell us these strange devices are called 'hinges' and they will soon solve all our problems. Mission control remains sceptical but open-minded.

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Yet another instalment of the Mundog series is launched, first saying a quick hello to Pielab in LKO because apparently the newspapers thought that would be cool, and then swiftly heading for Mun itself.

The original plan had been to send a fuel delivery to Pielab Station once it reached munar orbit, but since the ascent stage turned out to be a viable transfer stage, a robotic fuel tanker was instead dispatched to refuel it. No sense sending additional fuel cans when there are already some attached.

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Once both Pielab and Mundog V were in position, the lander made a brief but fruitful descent into the Mun's Twin Craters biome, setting up a surface experiment package and gathering useful data for return to the station.

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I think the boulder is olivine, or peridotite. Not that there is a difference between the two (one is a mineral, the other is a rock made entirely out of the mineral).

14849669448_fa1b607a7d_b.jpgIt's a little bit surprising to see olivine at the surface of a moon like Minmus as on the Earth, it comes from the mantle and is only found as fragments, usually as part of some lava flow. So it will return a lot of science.

 

Yes, I do know this off the top of my head. I did Geology in school. Don't ask why as I don't know.

 

 

Cool spacecraft as always, but WHERE ARE THE PSEUDO-BIOLOGICAL SPACEPLANES?!?!?!

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Making good use of Pielab's fuel tanks, the Mundog V makes four consecutive landings in various equatorial craters, netting a healthy set of data for later processing and rotating the crews to ensure the best experience is had by everyone. The final trip is a little tight on fuel margins, leaving barely 100m/s in the tank at the point of docking. We blame Jeb's aggressive piloting style.

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Back on kerbin, we take the opportunity to test out some new rover parts and spend some time investigating the natural wonders of our own planet. Or at least, investigating that honking fat tree a little to the west of KSC that we've always wondered about.

Shortly afterwards, Dunamite's orbit places it in a favourable position to make a daylight descent with LoS communications back home, and the commands are sent to bring it down to ground. The drop is uneventful, Duna's atmosphere proving to be both thin and chilly. More exciting is landing on a 30 degree incline, which causes the lander to have to dynamically adjust the strength of it's leg-springs to try to come to a level seating. Eventually it manages to stop the skid and beams home some interesting data. Seems like Duna would be a nice place to visit but... several of our interns prove to be budding science fiction writers and have been stirring up public interest elsewhere.

Warm, humid, sunny - Eve is surely covered in purple rainforests, teeming with exotic and potentially tasty life! 

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Or... well, let's just sit on these temperature and pressure readings for a while before we crush our latest book deal.

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Faced with over a year to launch windows for either Eve or Duna, mission control greenlights a few basic money-making missions. Yuki, Tora and Jinx Kerman take a Munwolf VI lander to deliver a science package to a new Munar biome. The mission goes so well that everyone forgets to take photos, even when there proves to be enough fuel to re-route via Minmus on the return leg and pick up a few bonus data points there too. Everything, in fact, is going perfectly. Kiss the edge of kerbin's atmosphere, eject the engine... eject the engine... EJECT THE ENGINE? 

Well flarp. Turns out Munwolf VI has a heatshield but no decoupler. The capsule screams through the atmosphere, pointy-end first with the parachute glowing red - but somehow it doesn't blow up, and though the watery landing does destroy the engine and fuel tanks, the command pod and crew survive unscathed.

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The engineering team is severely reprimanded for this lapse and there are a number of green faces in that meeting.

DeadFreebird

With Pielab fast becoming a long-term orbital habitation, it's decided that a small crew rotation is in order. Keen to make amends for the questionable design of Munwolf VI in addition to showing off saving money, engineering puts forward a design for an ultra-budget orbital crew shuttle. This, they say, will cost nothing but the fuel, and everything else comes home!

It's hard to turn that down, so mission control agreed, and soon, the Freebird was jetting off the end of the runway into a spirited ascent. Switching to rockets at 20km, leaves the valiant little shuttle with about 400m/s in LKO - more than enough to rendezvous and dock with Pielab. With Tora now on Pielab and Lilly returning with the Freebird, the docking clamps are released and a retrograde burn is plotted to begin descent.

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...which goes well.

Turns out Freebird is mighty slippery when bingo fuel. The designers assured us they calculated the aerodynamics for a typical re-entry profile, and gave it several test fights over our secondary facility, but we're not entirely sure we believe them. Mission control decides to pretend that Freebird is still in orbit for technical reasons and hurries the news reporters off the runway before they start asking awkward questions.

 

Wren

Despite having slightly tweaked thoroughly redesigned the Freebird, when it comes time to actually send something up, engineering instead recommends a newer, lighter, cheaper model. This one, apparently, does everything we need, and does it better.

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Despite looking like a passenger aircraft with rockets on the side, engineering are largely correct. The Wren may only weight 16.3 tons, but she gets to orbit with the same 400 m/s in the tank as her predecessor. While two of the passenger seats and the docking port have been dropped, this sporty little number has excess SAS control and enough battery capacity to linger in Kerbin's shadow for months. Which makes it pretty good for rescuing the victims employees of other, less competent, space programs.

While the nose does get a little warm on descent, there's no sign of instability in the controls. If anything, there's too much. Wren goes where Wren wishes - but fortunately that is in the direction of its prograde marker, so for the most part this is good enough. Losing altitude is a bit of a problem, but there's enough LF left for a powered loop and return to the landing strip.

We give the engineering team a small nod of acknowledgement. This cost effective vessel goes some way towards making up for their recent gaffs, but we're not about to let them forget those either.

Edited by eddiew
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

Update

Well it's been 2 years and a day since I posted anything in this thread. I think we can assume my previous career is dead :D

But I have recently been noodling with KSP, if only in sandbox, and I'm particularly proud of this very-nearly-stock SSTO for JNSQ, so I feel like I want to log it here.

But before I get into the flight log: I have previously landed this airframe at 100% stock. That's screenshotted somewhere on the WDYDIKSPT thread about a week prior to the date of this post. I have really had a hard time repeating that however. Every subsequent attempt, the quad adapters for the rapiers have overheated. Since there isn't really much alternative to these, I have instead added a tiny patch that ups their thermal tolerance by 400 degrees, and increases their mass by 25%.

Spoiler
// TVR-400L stack quad adapter (2.5m to 4x 1.25m); seems to catch a lot of airflow, gets very hot.
@PART[adapterLargeSmallQuad]
{
	%maxTemp = 2400 // up from 2000
	%mass = 0.25 // up from 0.2
}

So this is not quite stock anymore; but I hope the added mass reasonably balances it out. They're only structural parts, there's not a good reason they can't be made a bit tougher. The ascent is just a little heavier, the descent is vastly safer. Stock parts are very close to being able to handle JNSQ's scale, but the margin of error is too tight in this case. I am considering also patching the cockpit itself, because it does get very, very close to its threshold on descent. I guess I'll see with other airframes. I do wonder if a radiator on the top might not also be a big help.

 

Ascent

A good, reproducible ascent under JNSQ made me throw away everything I knew about SSTOs in this game. Speed on air doesn't matter nearly as much as altitude. The rapiers are there to get us to 20km. Whether we're at 1200 or 1500m/s doesn't matter so much as our vertical velocity is as high as we can get it - ideally upwards of 150m/s by 20km.

So, off the runway; stay low. Hotwings is heavy and rapiers have poor thrust when stationary. She'll unstick near the end of the runway, not before. Rear and mid flaps deployed, just coast barely gaining altitude, but picking up speed. Use deployment on the tailfin to correct any yaw problems once off the ground; we can't afford manual inputs because they're always too strong and the nose will drop.  Around 400m/s, cut flaps, use forward canard deployment to begin a smooth ascent; again, no manual input. Aim the nose ~9 degrees above the horizon, which may only need 10 degrees on the canards.

From here, the ascent is dead-stick. Honestly, the less those controls are touched, the happier it will be. Around 15-16km, the vertical velocity will stop increasing; add the nervas. Very soon after that, it'll stop increasing again; add the vector. Hands off that stick. If everything is going well, vertical velocity won't drop below 120m/s. If it goes below 100, we might not be going to space today.

The pitch creeps up from 10, to 15, brushing 20; let it. We've got to have altitude in JNSQ. There is no point doing 2500m/s 'down' at 20km and on the level.

With a payload below 6,000kg, stay hands off until about 50km, at which point gently bring the nose to prograde. We'll get about 200m/s more out of the vector. It's not critical, but it is efficient and it gives us more leeway on descent.

With a payload above 6,000kg, just let the vector burn out before touching the controls. Rather than turn prograde with the nervas, we'll need to keep about a 10 degree pitch above the horizon. That's how close this ascent is to failing. Hotwings 4 can carry up to 14 tons, but it's really pushing the fuel budget and we might have to do the descent completely unpowered. It's possible, but I'm not sure I'd call it fun.

The AP might start coming closer when the vector burns out, but that's ok; by 65km, Hotwings will keep the AP about a minute ahead, as long as the nervas are burning. (Oh, that's another thing about JNSQ ascent; we pretty much keep the engines on until we hit vacuum.) 

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With this profile, a simple 5.3t relay can be lifted to a 90x90 orbit, with about 600m/s still left in the tank, with that cargo still aboard. There's enough leeway there to rendezvous with something around the 120-150km mark. Heavier cargos really don't have any orbital options however; although they will go further under their own steam. My standard 5.3t relay carries 3,800m/s and can go to Minmus, Mun, Duna, or Eve (probably an eccentric orbit at this last, but it should be an orbit).

I'm not really sure how much range we could pack into the maximum 14 ton mass and fit it in that cargo bay... maybe I will try to work that out some time.

 

Descent

I wish I could say it was another hands-off experience, but it's not. The best profile I can come up with requires a high (over 30 degrees, ideally 45 degrees) AoA, which mandates manual input. Which does tend to make the nose bounce. Once we touch the controls (which we'll have to eventually), best advice is just pull back on the stick all the way down. It will wobble 30-40 degrees, but that will be fine.

Anyway, descent burn; there's a handy equatorial lake to use as a landmark, west northwest of the desert airfield. Burn until we have an impact point that is about 1/3 of the way between KSC and the island airfield. If all goes well, we won't need any fuel at all to land with. Set rear and mid flaps to 30 degrees, canards to max, and deploy them all. The inner air brakes can be used; the outer ones will burn off, so keep them down (set deployment angle to zero).

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Go ahead and slap the atmosphere at a solid 45-50 degree AoA. By 60km, we're 20 into the atmosphere, but this aggressive AoA generates enough drag that no velocity has been gained in the descent. By 43km (probably wrestling the S key all the way), we've actually shed about 1km/s, and things are starting to get toasty.

So, there isn't a big margin of error here. The cockpit will peak around 1430-1440 degrees, and is rated for 1500. Experiments were run with longer descent paths and lower AoAs, but the heat just creeps up for longer and still exceeds the threshold. Best as I can figure, this is actually the safest flight profile. It's a little tricky and needs to be flown by the numbers, but after three attempts, all three came down smoothly.

Eventually by a little over 30km, we should be well under 2km/s, and starting to cool off. Cockpit temperature continues to rise even as other parts are cooling off - not really sure why that happens! But it should stay within its tolerance. Just. By 1400m/s we can pretty much fly as we like, based on our distance to KSC. Using the desert lake as a visual landmark for the descent burn, Hotwings should get to the runway without any input from the engines.

Touchdown is better now that there are added wheels under the nacelles, rarely swerving or causing any explosions. On the whole, I feel like this is as good as this design can deliver - but I really need to go find out if anyone's lifting larger cargos in SSTOs, and especially if they didn't need to slightly patch some parts to do it :D

 

Also, to the JNSQ team: I apologise. Please don't delete my craft file.

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