OPM Tour

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Well, I keep starting new games and having something happen so I never get my space program much out of Kerbin SOI, so after my 1.1.3 game threw my main base into orbit just before I tried to upgrade to 1.2.2, I decided that this time I'm not going to bother with intermediate steps, at least not more than absolutely necessary.  (I have one possible base planned in Kerbin SOI - I'll discuss that in a bit.)

The ambition is therefore grand: A complete tour of the system - complete with the Outer Planets Mod - in one go.  Map and visit every anomaly, at least with an automated rover, and actually set foot on as many as possible.  (I'm still debating Eve.  Laythe and Tekto are likely to be fairly big challenges.)  USI-LS is in effect, with fairly moderated penalties.  Loads of other mods, including CLS, Scansat, MKS, DMagic, Hanger, DeepFreeze, Karbonite, etc.  The game is in Science mode, with nearly all of the CTT unlocked.  (I considered Sandbox, but I want to actually see what the science looks like.  So I edited in enough science to unlock things.)

General plan is a large expedition ship that will move into orbit around each planet - possibly each moon, depending on DV requirements - and carry a variety of support vehicles in hangers.  Support vehicles are being designed first, so the expedition ship can be designed to hold them, although I have a 'general concept' design that I'll probably use as a baseline.

My general concept design could in theory take off direct from Kerbin - but I may set up a base on Minmus for construction, to allow a wider range of designs.

The plan is to add to this as I progress.  Any suggestions/hints will be taken into consideration.  :wink:

So, the current support vehicle fleet:

First off, we have the scanner probe, designed to generate a complete survey of each world we encounter.  The plan is to carry at least two.  There are two designs up for final consideration, the RTG version:


And a nuclear-powered version:


The nuclear version has twice the TWR, the RTG will be slightly less maintenance and has a bit more dv.  (Though that's largely because it has more Xenon tanks.)  A prototype of the RTG version is currently scanning Minmus.  It's one flaw is that TWR was so low that it took ~4 burns to reach Minmus, which leaves a slight concern that it may not have enough TWR for some insertion.  (It is designed explicitly to be launched to and retrieved from a moon while the expedition vehicle remains in the parent planet's orbit.  Depending on the circumstances, it may even be able to do a moon-moon transfer.)

The next vehicle is considered 'tentatively complete' - it may need to be adjusted to account for lander designs.  It's purpose is to visit each biome and anomaly on a planet and collect science.  The science will be collected at a manned landing site which the rover is expected to return to between each stop.


Obviously the goal is to collect as much science as possible.  :wink:  This is a 'universal' design: RTG power, and experiments for both atmospheric and non-atmospheric worlds.  (I normally try to design without clipping, but so many of the science parts can't attach to each other, meaning they can't be stacked.  So in some cases on this I'm 'stacking' via minor clipping.)

The 'main lander base' design is being refined at the moment, although the general consensus is to settle on the Karibou platform as a baseline - at least for the non-atmospheric lander.  (Atmospheric landings are expected to provide special unique challenges, and therefore will need a different lander design.)


Here's to a successful mission.

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Further support ships to be carried:

A comm-net satellite.  This is intended to be one of the very few craft that will not be recovered - they will be left in place to form a basic comm-net for further exploration and colonization efforts.  An initial test deployment was made around Minmus.


That's the 'as carried' form.  The silver and gold sections are not identical.  Here they are deployed:


The gold contains an extra antenna (which I believe will combine and get a slight boost to range) and most of the reaction wheels.


The silver contains more Xenon tankage, and a fuzzy resource scanner, which should be able to gain info on the resources that I don't have a specific scanner for in the dedicated scanner probe.  (Which contains only high-resolution resources scanners.)

The intention is to put these into highly elliptical polar orbits around each planet.  They will not have the range to reach all the way back to Kerbin from most of the outer planets, but they may be able to relay-hop back.  (The expedition ship will be equipped with a JX2 antenna that should be able to reach back on it's own.)

Next is the main lander for this expedition, shown here out for testing on the flats near the KSC:



Crew of three - one pilot, one scientist, one engineer.  Habitation for about 160 days - which may or may not be enough: On Kerbin's flats it would take ~230 days to refill it's tanks with LFO using the included Karbonite drills and converter.  However, that's at a marginal drilling site, with only a 2% concentration available.

While it does have a small science lab (in the USI Ranger form-factor), it's intended that the samples will be returned to the expedition ship for processing, not processed on-site.  The science lab is mostly to provide the assigned scientist equipment to clean out the automated explorer rover.  (Above.)

Supplies should be more than sufficient: It stores (in landing configuration, which leaves some storage empty for weight distribution) over 160 days of direct supplies, and has a micro-greenhouse that can extend that further.  (Our pilot contingent has vowed that they would not refuse to pilot the craft for as long as they still have food, so an option if it's taking longer to refill the tanks, the crew can be kept alive if unhappy long enough to return to the mothership.)

Power can be either solar or nuclear, depending on circumstances.  While the lander does have wheels, it is not very mobile (having trouble even entering the rover testing yard seen the background), and is expected to not drive beyond finding the nearest level area to park.

Launch weight, TWR, and dv have been calibrated to expected needs for Wal, the third largest of the non-atmospheric worlds to be visited.  Tylo and Slate may or may not get their own lander.  (They may share one with atmospheric worlds.)

Bill and Bob wanted a picture taken of them test-deploying the long-term surface experiments as well:



And this last is not a direct support ship, but the two Kerbin-orbit relay sats have also been deployed, to highly elliptical polar Kerbin orbits:



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wow, grand tour incl. OPM with USI-LS, a rover to visit all biomes - megalomaniac and very kerbal, i am looking forward to it! :confused: :D

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1 hour ago, mafs said:

wow, grand tour incl. OPM with USI-LS, a rover to visit all biomes - megalomaniac and very kerbal, i am looking forward to it! :confused: :D

Well, I figure I've got all these planets installed, I should actually visit them.  Otherwise, what's the point?  :wink:  I'm sure this will take me ages to actually do - but hopefully things won't fall apart midway if I have it all contained.  (And I'll admit I don't really care about all biomes - the point is to visit all *anomalies*.)

Anyway: One more support vessel, the *other* planned one to be dropped off and left behind:


This is a warp beacon from ESLD Beacons - the idea being that once I've visited each planet, I can go back much easier.  Those who've used the mod will note that I've got an LB-15 in there, which is of very limited utility.  It was decided that full fledged warp beacons were more than we wanted to carry on this expedition, but the LB-10 wouldn't actually be useful to deploy at interplanetary distances, except as a target.  The LB-15 on the other hand can actually transport things long distance, even if it's maximum mass is very small, so it was considered a decent intermediate stage.  Full beacons will be then be sent for any actual colonization efforts.

This also led to the design - while there's quite a bit of Karbarundum storage, there's no way to refuel either it or the nuclear reactor without a claw or similar.  That's because these are not intended to be refueled; they will be replaced before the run out of consumables.

We're getting to the hard designs: The rover lander(s), and the atmospheric landers.  The goal of course is to have a reusable SSTO, that can refuel on the surface.  We'll see how practical this is...

Also, the Minmus supply base is under construction.  The Great Flats are high in Ore, Water, Uranite and a couple of other useful materials, so we may be able to generate some of the supplies on-site, or at least close to it.  (Concept being worked at the moment is to have a 'supply base' on the Great Flats, where it's easy to land, and use planetary logistics to move those supplies to a construction site on top of one of Minmus's plateaus, where launching effort is minimized.)

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Ok, our Kerbal engineers have been working through the nights to get things done, and have a variety of craft to show for it.  First off, the Minmus supply base has been started.  Here's the core:


And initial water mining:


And Ore/LFO mining:


These are all robotic initial deployments.  Space is provided for eventual manning by technicians, but it will take them some effort to set up.  Neither of the miners is especially high-volume at the moment either - this was as much a test of our ability to land KPBS ships as anything else.  (And of course both miners were launched in the same mission.)

Here is the supply base as it stands at the moment:


Eventual consolidation is likely.

On to more exciting things!  Lander designs have been created for consideration!  First off, there was some discussion over whether the large Karibou was really appropriate for places like Gilly or Hale - It provides a good base of operations, but several of the moons are so small that the ideal base of operations is actually the mothership.  So, an experimental light-duty lander was created:


This is a purely Karbonite-fueled design (unlike most of the designs which have mined Karbonite and refined it into LFO).  It even has Karbonite-based EC power production, and can top off from fairly small concentrations, given the number of drills and the relative size of the tanks.  However while it does stock some emergency supplies, it contains no more than a week's worth, and no one wants to be cooped up in those tiny capsules for long.  Crew is three for a full mission - although it's possible that it might be sent down with just a pilot if some planet's supply of Karbonite is especially low.  (Or high - in that case it might refill reserve stock on the mothership.)

On the other hand...  As you might be able to guess from it's location in the photo, the combination of it's light weight and Karbonite engines' high thrust output means it has a positive TWR even on Kerbin.  Slate and Tylo were written off when creating the Karibou lander as to massive to design for - if they have locations with high concentrations of Karbonite, this ship might be sent to them, instead of sending a larger lander.  And it carries the same science load of the small rover, so sending that can be avoided.  (It also carries a complete surface experiment kit for deployment, though deploying it means either leaving it behind or returning to collect it.)

On to the next: The initial design for a craft to land on the higher-gravity atmospheric worlds:


Nuclear powered, with a crew of 6.  Habitation and supply life is exceptional, able to maintain it's crew for several years if needed - largely because of the luxurious living quarters in the habitat.  No direct parachutes, but it does mount a ballute for high-altitude deceleration.  Capable of taking off (once refueled) from anything smaller than Kerbin itself - which is every world we've mapped in the system aside from Eve.  (Plans for Eve at this point is to deploy an automated rover - and not retrieve it.)  A lot of research was done into lightening the structural components and enhancing the engine to make sure it could fit the mission profile.  (With Kerbal Research and Development.)  Unlike most of the fleet it mines Ore for refueling instead of Karbonite - the ore is processed in a manned station designed by Wild Blue Industries, the reason for the high crew count.

However, there is one concerning issue: It's top-heavy.  Even with full fuel tanks and on the launch pad, it needs reaction wheels to keep from swaying in the breeze.  This concerned engineers enough that airbags were installed near the top in case of a tip-over.  This would likely preserve the crew from the fall - but the rocket would not be able to re-launch.  A wider base would be nice, but the widest legs available to us are already in use.

The concern therefore is that if it is landed in a location that isn't absolutely flat we may not be able to retrieve the crew - and precision landing on unknown atmospheric worlds has never been attempted before.  So while this design is workable, it's concerning.

USI's freight division heard the worries, and decided to step in an offer an alternative, a belly-lander:


This is an early-concept version, with tweaking yet to be done.  It mines Karbonite extremely rapidly - it can refuel itself in under 70 days, even at the 2% concentration of the KSC.  And it has the TWR to land or launch in VTOL configuration, and shut off those engines to continue an ascent in a more standard vertical configuration.  (Again, note that it's TWR is high enough that I was able to move it around the KSC.)  It also offers much easier EVA access to the ground than the more standard tower-launcher craft.

The main concern here is the sheer size of it.  It is considerably longer than any of our current craft to date, as well as being in a 3m form factor.  However, it's still considered an attractive option.

As a final shot, here's all the new landers bunched together for size comparison's sake:



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OK, been a bit busy so haven't been posting - and a lot of our missions have been fairly 'routine' as missions go at the moment, as we're in a base-building phase.  There is still some debate over a couple of the designs above, and the rover concept may get a complete overhaul, but the current focus is to set up the logistics base.  Which means the life support essentials, and production for LFO, Enriched Uranium, and Fusion Pellets - which is our fuel for the mothership and the various support craft.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to our first Kerbal to set foot anywhere besides Kerbal:  Gregdorf Kermin:


Gregdorf landed during the Minmus night, as part of a crew of three.  Their job was to open up access to the logistics base, attach a power plant that was landed just before them, and get things running.  This he preformed with moderate success, destroying one of the radiators for the power plant while setting things, and flipping over the base construction vehicle that they had been sent up in.  (Seen behind Gregdorf in this photo.)  The construction vehicle wasn't a major issue: It was able to right itself using on-board reaction wheels intended for control during the flight over.  He was thoroughly chewed out over the loss of the vital radiator though, before he was allowed to rest for the night.

Perhaps we should have paid more attention.

Come sunrise on Minmus when mission control checked back in, he, a fellow engineer, the two miners, and the base construction vehicle were all gone.  Their pilot who had been left behind in the logistics base babbled something about a great space kraken, but the prevailing theory back at the KSC is that he absconded with his girlfriend, believing that with the equipment he left with they had the makings of at least a semi-permanent habitat.  Of course, officially he's been declared killed in action, to prevent bad PR.

Which leads us to his replacement for chief base building engineer - Trixy Kerman:


Trixy so far has been an exemplary employee, working long hours, and finding ways to work around issues as they come up.  She's expressed some disappointment that the Akita sent up proved to be less than stable in the low-gravity environment of Minmus, but has not let this stop her.

Her immediate first project was to replace the destroyed radiator - and deploy a third radiator as well - on the power distribution unit, and expand the logistics base using materials sent up separately:


Without the base construction rover this all is being done by hand, but Trixy has said that in the low gravity of Minmus this does not appear to be a problem.

Our science community successfully petitioned to have a small base set up as well, and Trixy aided in setting up their long-term experiments:


The scientists are sending back an amazing amount of data - which is making us all wonder what else we might learn, once we're able to finally leave Kerbin SOI?

And of course with all of that we are also sending up drills and production capability - the two mining bases Gregdorff made off with have been replaced, and some basic mining pods have been sent up as well:


Several other ships have been sent up as well, though not all have been individually documented.  The survey sat snapped this picture of the whole base as it passed over before being sent back to Kerbin for recovery and post-mission analysis:


(Feel free to ask questions about any of the vehicles, if you wish.)

Back on Kerbin, one of the prototypes of the science rover has been sent out to explore.  It's autopilot has gotten it into some amazing locations, in search of uncovered anomalies:




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This is looking pretty great so far. I look forward to seeing your various lander designs in use in places other than Minmus.

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36 minutes ago, eloquentJane said:

This is looking pretty great so far. I look forward to seeing your various lander designs in use in places other than Minmus.

Thanks.  I need to circle back to the atmospheric lander, and the recent update to DSEV I think has provided me with the tools to build a rover-lander.  After that, the plan is to get the Minmus base up and running a bit more, and to start test-building.  Aims are to both test the construction processes (I've got both EL and GC - not sure which to use for the final ship), and to practice atmospheric landings by sending them back to Kerbin.

(After that, the first stop is Mun - for a full systems test.)

The recent MKS upgrade has also meant I'm tweaking some of the lander designs - Notably there's a new nuclear reactor that's a good fit for the Expedition Lander, reducing the length and partcount some.

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Ok, effort has largely been going into supply base building and the KPBStoMKS pack, but I do have a couple of beauty shots to show that I haven't totally forgotten about this:

First is the test survey sat from the first post - an iteration was sent to Minmus as testing, and returned to Kerbin.  (Where it was recovered by a sending up a Hanger.)  Here it is during the final burn back into Kerbin orbit.  (Note that due to low TWR, it took three burns to enter a circular orbit from Minmus.)


Next we've been iterating the science rover platform some, and this is likely to be the final version:


This has it's 'rollover recovery device' extended, as it's drive up the mountain resulted in it flipping over.  It is believed that new plans for the lander should work - but the most recent variant (addressing a couple small deficiencies in the previous design) has yet to be assembled.

You'll notice that compared to the initial version above we've upgraded the wheels for more speed, as well as adding more power production in the form of another large RTG.  It also now has docking ports on both the front and rear - these are needed for the system to get the rover in and out of the lander.  However, it actually attaches to the lander using the docking port on the top.

The folded up wheel on the side is another attempt to enable it to get out of poor situations on it's own: lowering it should allow for a slightly different traction footprint, hopefully meaning that if it's 'stuck' on a ridge or similar it has a way to recover.  (Since there will be a *very* limited number of rovers for a lot of planets, and it will be operating autonomously, it's important that it can recover from failures on it's own.)

Here is a longer shot of that same rover, this time showing that it has reached one of Kerbin's communication dishes:


(What's people's feeling on anomalies here?  The intent is to visit every one in the system if possible, do people want me to take pics of all of them, or should I be hiding spoilers?)

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Kerbin-based test flights continue, as does construction of the logistics base - a nuclear centrifuge was just added, allowing the in-place production of Enriched Uranium.  Work on control systems for the heavy atmospheric lander has resulted in many explosions.  :wink:

However, for pics all I have at the moment is further investigation of Kerbin's anomalies, the latest being an abandoned but not run-down flight facility:




Science Rover III is nearly caught up, as it can manage about twice the speed over land, and is more stable as well.  Engineers are tearing their hair out over the deployment vehicle however.  (Seriously: KSP makes this hard.  Single-use deployment sure, no problem.  Single-use recovery, no problem.  Microgravity repeated deployment, no problem.  Planetary, repeated deployment - serious problems.  Basic issue is a ship does not collide with itself, and wheels/landing legs depress on weight application.  So they extend through any loading bay if the docking ports are at the right height to dock under gravity - causing everything to explode when they undock, or you give them clearance and the rover can't dock.  I'm currently working on a solution involving anti-gravity and magnets, to hopefully allow the rover to hang from the roof.)

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Science Rover II has managed to reach two more anomalies on the surface of Kerbin - first off finding yet another black monolith:


And secondly reaching the nearby radio dish - and getting a good look at the impact crater.  More exploration there is likely warranted - though Valentina's request for a 'swimsuit' version of the standard environmental suit has been denied.


Next up is some off-world activity!  A survey rover was built on Minmus, with the first mission of finding a good location for the base to build the expedition craft.  A PR photo was taken before it set off:


Crew of three - from left to right a Scout, a Colonist, and a Scientist.  Names have been forgotten.  :wink:

On their way to the planned area for build/launch site, they swung by a nearby set of anomalous readings, to find yet *another* monolith.  Perhaps they are some form of interplanetary garbage?


Also, the new revision of the science rover has finally reached it's first destination, a site in the desert.  Instead of a monolith, evidence of ancient Kerbal civilization was found. 


The exact purpose of these structures is unknown, but they have been remarkably well preserved.

The rover itself was directed to do some exploring, but was not able to find a way into the ziggarats.


The main difference between this iteration of the rover and the one before is obviously the wheels - lower to ground they are much more stable, as well as more powerful.

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1 hour ago, Shamus6200 said:

This is turning out fantastic, keep up the great work man! 

Thanks.  I still need a working rover lander - the anti-grav+magnets nearly works, but not completely.  I'm a bit hesitant about anti-grav+RCS (as I could run out of RCS and leave myself stranded) but that'll probably be my next try.  I'm also re-considering using a Hanger instead of the DSEV half-tanks and truss.  (If the hanger ends up being about the same size, I'd probably stick with the DSEV solution, as it's main disadvantage is use complexity, while it's main advantage is that it can store more DV.)

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Crew for the building site are on their way, but the survey rover stayed in the area long enough to make sure it set down safely.  Edming Kermin - our jack-of-all-trades Colonist - got out to see if he could set it up, but realized he didn't have all the tools needed.


They then headed on to find yet another monolith - And it seems our science team has a new theory on their origin: That they are discarded remnants of an antimatter fusion based fuel system.  Enough was learned by this that they feel confident that they can replicate the process themselves, and that they have cracked the secrets of antimatter fusion.  When asked if this would have any applications relevant to spaceflight, they replied: "Erm, well not as such...  But it's still exciting!"


And our publicity team realized it had failed to share any images of our first exploration site - an airstrip that has fallen into disuse.  A photo team was quickly sent over to rectify that situation.



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Trixy heard that there might be some assembly work over at the new building site, so she offered to drive over the first load of Enriched Uranium and do a bit of set-up:


(Note the KIS container of base parts in the background.)

She also left a toolbox full of tools for further setup - although she had to apologize for not being able to finish setup, since there were only so many Material Kits available locally, and she isn't trained to get them from planetary storage.   The Workshop she managed to get done by breaking down the parts of the lander frame for the base parts.

Our actual build crew first set up our new transfer base in high Minmus orbit, before moving into a lander designed to get to and from the Minmus surface:


(They landed at night, so no pictures there yet.)

The Minmus landing pod is remarkably controllable - our standard autopilot managed to get it within 2m of the landing target, when we usually consider it good to get within 500m.

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