septemberWaves

Extended Exploration Program - Mission Idea

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Though not a challenge, this is a mission idea - well, an idea for multiple missions really - so it seems to be at home in this thread. Without further ado, I'll introduce the idea properly.

Extended Exploration Program for a chosen planetary system

Most of the time, people send one or two missions to a planetary system, to gather the science from a couple of biomes and to plant a flag saying "Jeb woz 'ere" (or words to that effect). It's a perfectly reasonable way of doing things of course, but for anyone who is bored with that and looking for new ideas, I propose an alternative.

Rather than sending a few missions to a lot of different places at once, it can make a nice change to pick one planetary system and do an extended exploration program for just that one place. Plan a huge, decades-long exploration program that aims to land in every biome on the planet (if it's not a gas giant) and all of its moons, gather all of the science, and then return a (possibly rather large) exploration crew to Kerbin.

 

Here's the way that this sort of planetary exploration program generally goes, though its not set in stone.

Step 1: choose a planetary system - technically you could choose the Mun or Minmus, but I find that this exploration method works better for places outside of Kerbin's SOI since most people explore the Mun and Minmus rather extensively compared to elsewhere. This planetary system is what you are going to focus your exploration efforts on.

Step 2: design vehicles. You'll probably be wanting at least one interplanetary freight transport (I like modular designs, but go for whatever you find easiest), station modules, base modules (and ways of landing them), rovers (and ways of landing them), and vehicles that can transport kerbals to/from the surfaces of every celestial body in that system (except for those that don't have a surface, such as Jool). And of course, you'll also need launch vehicles for transporting all of these payloads to Kerbin orbit (and beyond, for those cargoes that aren't going to be attached to a mothership).

Step 3: send some survey probes to scan for the best locations for landings and surface bases. For bases, I usually go with places that are within reasonable driving range of 2 or 3 biomes, and have ore available (if planning to use ISRU). Different celestial bodies may present different challenges for landing, and you should consider what you want to prioritize when thinking about a base location. Also, it's often convenient with larger bodies particularly to have an ISRU base at the poles, so that an SSTO vehicle can refuel on the surface and be able to conduct plane changes with fewer fuel tanks (or you could simply design the vehicle to be able to conduct plane changes anyway). As for other landing locations, it's good to just have one picked out for every biome.

Step 4: consider potential station orbits. It can be useful to have a station in orbit of the planet you're trying to explore, and it always makes a nice addition to this sort of exploration program. Usually the ideal base locations are not going to be at equatorial locations, so it is often convenient to position your station in an orbit that can theoretically be reached by lifting off from most of your surface locations without too much plane changing (a polar orbit covers this for all points on the surface, but it means that a gravity turn isn't an option).

Step 5: figure out what things you're going to send to the planetary system at what times, and then just go and explore it all. And make sure to have fun doing it.

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Which of those are suggestions and which are requirements?

If the goal is to get all the science from every biome in the system then it could be done a lot more simply than with your suggested architecture.  Even a single ship that can refuel itself could do it if it can make two hops without refueling (in case one biome has no ore).

Also, you can launch to any plane from an equatorial launch site, but only polar ones from a polar launch site.  A vehicle in any orbital plane can also land at the equator, but must be in a polar orbit to land at the pole.  So it would be best in every way to put your fuel base on the equator.

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This isn't a challenge, as the original post states. It's a suggestion for an alternative way of exploring places (hence why it's in the forum for challenges and mission ideas). It's really just some inspiration for people looking for a way to change their play style a bit.

What I mean about the orbits is that if your station is in an equatorial orbit, your vehicle will have to do a plane change if launching/landing from anywhere other than an equatorial site. It's best to have a station's orbit pass above the latitude of the highest-latitude surface location, so that there are no major plane changes required (assuming that the launch time and direction is correct). Yes, it does mean that vehicles would have to be capable of reaching a high-inclination orbit from anywhere on the planet, but generally the amount of delta-v that is lost by sacrificing a gravity turn is less than the amount that it costs to execute a plane change (unless your station is in a ridiculously high orbit but then it costs a lot to reach that orbit).

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Liked this mission idea, so I'm working on it !

This is my first craft, the nuclear-powered Satbus, who will bring eight satellites to the dunian system. Three communications sats will create a network over Duna and three other over Ike. The remaining two are scanning sats to enter polar orbit over Duna and Ike.

Spoiler

EobCGrn.jpg

First edit : Satbus complete, launching first unmanned expedition to Duna

Spoiler

QioqHjQ.jpg

Second edit : Satellite network over Duna and Ike installed

Spoiler

cmXms41.jpg

 

Edited by Andiron

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Seems like a good challenge, especially as I am planning to get KSP installed on my computer again (kinda decided to 'accidentally' delete the Squad folder, and then decided to quit KSP because of my performance). But seriously though, I've been planning to go to either Dres or Duna for the past month, and hopefully I can download KSP tomorrow to attempt this in one way or another. I know this isn't a challenge, but at least I can put new knowledge of orbital physics to the test.

Oh, and it gives me an excuse to figure out KSP 1.2 :wink:.

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2 hours ago, eloquentJane said:

Is that antenna on top for the interplanetary relay?

Yes. I will place the craft in very high orbit around Duna (higher than Ike) to have the best connection possible

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Okay, mission update.

No progress done, other than sending a relay satellite above Duna's orbit. I found this would be a good idea as when I tested on Minmus, I lost connection every two ingame hours. The relay should shorten this interval (hopefully).

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In 1.2.x I'll be doing this over time for every planetary system in the Kerbol system with Outer Planets and Xen's Planet Collection installed. It's certainly going to be interesting, if rather time-consuming. I'm pretty much only waiting on the OPM update (as well as KIS/KAS to be officially updated and a minor fix to XPC), but I can do vehicle designs now because the latest OPM release does function in 1.2.1, and I think it's unlikely that much will change about the overall stats of each body. I'll put a link in this thread for my mission report on that series.

The general plan is to start out with a M.O.L.E.-based crewed exploration program, which will extend as far as orbiting Duna and Eve (and landing on their moons) and a possible flyby of Moho, and do that in conjunction with sending basic probes out as far as some of the gas planets. There will also be basic landing probes sent to Duna, Eve, and Mios, and possibly also Richell.

Beyond the early game, I'll move on to sending more advanced probes with landers to every celestial body in the system (and some atmospheric entry probes to the gas planets), as well as establishing a fairly good communication network across most of the Kerbol system. As for crewed exploration, this mid-game point will involve some reasonably extensive landing missions for every solid celestial body out as far as the Jool system*,which will include at least a one-module surface base and rover (per planetary system, not necessarily for every moon), with more extensive infrastructure for some planets. It will also include the creation of a fairly large fleet of reusable or partially-reusable interplanetary transports for all of these celestial bodies. It is probable that I will send the first crewed mission to Sarnus at the end of this mid-game era.

Finally, the late-game will be focused on sending a lot of kerbals to explore absolutely everywhere, landing in every biome on every celestial body, establishing stations and bases wherever is convenient, and even flying through the atmospheres of the gas planets and returning to orbit. Everything by this point will be incredibly efficient and also reusable (in some cases due to extensive use of KR&D).

*This means Moho, (Eve, Aden, Neith, Gilly), (Mun, Minmus), (Duna, Ike, Nyke), (Mios, Glac, Serc), Dres, (Richell, Iber), (Laythe, Vall, Tylo, Bop, Pol).

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1 hour ago, nascarlaser1 said:

This looks like a fun challenge! Too bad I can't survive the Mun....

 

Maybe I'll be able to do this one day!

It's more of a loose guideline of a suggestion than a challenge, although to be honest it is rather challenging by some standards. If you're struggling with the Mun, try a direct ascent approach (where you only have one complete craft rather than separate lander and return module) if you haven't done so already. It's by far the easiest method for new players.

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21 minutes ago, eloquentJane said:

It's more of a loose guideline of a suggestion than a challenge, although to be honest it is rather challenging by some standards. If you're struggling with the Mun, try a direct ascent approach (where you only have one complete craft rather than separate lander and return module) if you haven't done so already. It's by far the easiest method for new players.

My problem is the actual landing part... I tend to run out of fuel at 500m up, and then use my EVA jet pack to get all the way down. I live... but no return trip :(.

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55 minutes ago, nascarlaser1 said:

My problem is the actual landing part... I tend to run out of fuel at 500m up, and then use my EVA jet pack to get all the way down. I live... but no return trip :(.

You can (just) land on the Mun with the stock Kerbal X. I recommend replacing the landers fuel tank with the Rockomax-32 one.

Well, landing is actually fairly easy if you get everything else done right.

Gravity Turn to Kerbin Orbit (look up on the wiki)

Circularise at 80km

Manuever node, set Mun as target, get encounter, refine (moving) until Periapsis of 20km.

Excecute node

When get to Mun circularise at periapsis.

Use node to plan where you'll land. Make it a slight burn (no more than 100m/s)

Execute

At 20km high start burning slowly

Hold F5 to quicksave

At 10 km burn full throttle

When lost all speed point engine downwards

Burn fuel to keep velocity under 50m/s

When closer to the ground keep velocity under 20m/s

When on final approach land at 3m/s

If not complete hold F9 to reload quicksave.

Thats all the basics, really.

If possible can you send me a pic of your craft by PM?

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23 hours ago, RA3236 said:

If possible can you send me a pic of your craft by PM?

My craft is literally just 5 of the biggest fuel tanks in the game, with 5 rhinos in asparagus staging, with 2 more of the small rockomax fuel tanks and 1 main sail each for landing, and a mk1 pod to save weight. My only guess is its too heavy since I end up using half of my first of 2 landing engines to finish the transfer over to the mun.

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59 minutes ago, nascarlaser1 said:

My craft is literally just 5 of the biggest fuel tanks in the game, with 5 rhinos in asparagus staging, with 2 more of the small rockomax fuel tanks and 1 main sail each for landing, and a mk1 pod to save weight. My only guess is its too heavy since I end up using half of my first of 2 landing engines to finish the transfer over to the mun.

Yikes™.

Rhinos are terribly inefficient in Kerbin's atmosphere - they're vacuum optimized. In fairness they are probably the only vacuum engines which still work okay at sea level, but you're still wasting a lot of fuel. Clustering a couple of mainsails is a far better option.

One mainsail - each. For small Rockomax fuel tanks on the Mun. Absolutely not. Too much power, too much engine mass, not enough engine efficiency. You're wasting far too much fuel to get them to the Mun, far too much fuel to land them on the Mun, and far too much fuel in general. Use poodles - or actually, use one poodle, with a quarter-size Rockomax tank. That's still far too much but it's better than what you have. The poodle engine is vacuum optimized, and its relatively low thrust is still usually overpowered for most Mun landings.

Finally (and I use the word "finally" in its loosest possible sense, since it seems like your vessel will still need a lot of modifications), everything you have mentioned is ridiculously overkill for sending one kerbal to the Mun and back.

 

In any case, I think this forum thread has been derailed enough. It may be more beneficial for you to start a new thread in the "Gameplay Questions and Tutorials" subforum. That way more people will be able to provide you with help, and this thread will not become sidetracked even further.

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1 hour ago, eloquentJane said:

 

In any case, I think this forum thread has been derailed enough. It may be more beneficial for you to start a new thread in the "Gameplay Questions and Tutorials" subforum. That way more people will be able to provide you with help, and this thread will not become sidetracked even further.

Ok thanks! and sorry about sending your thread off the rails lol.

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I recently began something similar to this, so I am starting a new save with all the craft files of the one I started before. But this time I will shift my goals to line up with the idea of this mission.  Can't wait to get started!

Edited by Kerbal Astronautics

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Everyone seems to be treating this as a challenge, when really it's just a suggestion for some variation upon more common play styles. Even so, people appear to be doing some rather impressive things.

 

@Thomas H. That looks quite impressive, though the part count of that final assembly looks rather crash-inducing. I wasn't actually anticipating anyone trying this sort of thing with one mothership in a single transfer window, but I suppose I probably should've learned by now not to underestimate the KSP community.

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Aww, I really want to do this, but it'll be awhile. I was dreaming up an extensive Duna/Ike expedition, and started designing the mother ship awhile back. I want to launch some large missions to thoroughly explore/colonize the Duna and Eve systems, but...

That is a lot of fuel to launch into orbit. I decided that I really needed to invest in some Kerbin SOI mining and fuel infrastructure if I'm really gonna start doing missions on the scale that I want. So I'm spending all of my money in Career mode to develop a very large set of fuel depots, in the hopes that I'll make it back and then some as I start to colonize the middle solar system.

When I finish with that, I will definitely be back.

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I am going for more of an extensive colonization of Duna/Ike instead of just exploration. So I don't know if I will be dropping probes into every single biome, but my program's structure will be very similar to the mission idea proposed in this thread. Anyway, my program is heavily inspired by, but not a replica of, the Constellations program. I call it the Konstellations Program (I know, so creative).  I just finished building the Kopernicus-1, which is the vehicle that will bring a crew to Duna.  I'm not sure why I built this before all the other stuff (like the lander modules, habitats, etc.), it wasn't my original plan. Anyway, without further ado, I present the building of Kopernicus-1:

http://imgur.com/a/IzPPF

 

Oh, and Im sorry I couldn't put the actual pictures on this page, for some reason it wouldn't accept the links to the pictures on imgur. I don't know why.

Edited by Kerbal Astronautics

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@Opus_723 It's not an unreasonable amount of fuel. The best way to do it is usually to launch a mothership in multiple parts. The smallest one I've been able to make (whilst still making it look nice) takes 2 launches for the main vehicle, and a third launch for the cargo (as well as an extra 3 launches every time it returns to Kerbin to refuel and pick up the next cargo). But for something of this scale, it's a good idea to use a lot of launches spread over several transfer windows (assuming you're trying to make it as large-scale as I usually do).

 

@Kerbal Astronautics That vehicle looks pretty nice. Constellation-inspired missions are always quite interesting to see.

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