CatastrophicFailure

ALIEN SKIES: A 6.4-scale playthrough of GPP/Rald

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Year 11, Day 237...

And, we're back! Again! I don't think anyone actually went anywhere, but we've all got this strange feeling of missing time, as if reality itself somehow ground to a halt. And also, the fridge has been cleaned out. But, we press on. Time is strange, here.

After a long journey through deep space, the Gratian rover has finally arrived...

ivHaUAk.png

Spoiler


A secondary objective of the Audacity project was to test the viability of long-term, deep-space cryo-fuel storage and use. The test has been so successful, we've had to completely re-order the mission profile. The transfer stage arrives at Gratian in good health, and with more than enough fuel to brake into an eccentric capture orbit instead of going directly to EDL.

zR9r6x4.png

We won't be doing anything like this again, however, as long-term storage of cryo-propellants has been determined to have an unacceptable risk of breaking the universe. Something about the cosmos itself not liking NRE spam, but I'm no cosmologist. Although spam does sound good right about now...

 

It seems the same monster who raided the fridge took all the canned goods worth eating. Which, oddly enough, included all the spam. And there are strange gluteal imprints on that hideous old couch in the Mission Control building no one will actually sit on. Strange.

But anyway, shortly after capture burn, the relay buss separates and fires up its reactors. This was originally intended to be the cruise propulsion system, delivering the rover's aeroshell to an entry course and providing power en-route.

vE6ht3e.png

 

After a slight correction at apo-grate to drop its peri-grate into the atmosphere, the descent module is released from the transfer stage.

99Jrhox.png

 

But the transfer stage's work is not done. It still has enough monoprop to crawl back into a stable orbit, and with its own power and communications systems, will serve as a backup communication relay for the mission.

Osd79b9.png?1

 

Meanwhile, the recently-demoted cruise buss uses its experimental next-generation electric engines to secure its own orbit, now as the main 5000-km relay.

jUChS85.png

 

Now the nervous waiting back at Mission Control begins. And the creepy couch butt-prints and lack of comfort food isn't helping the anxiety level. Audacity begins its fiery plunge toward the surface...

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Passing through ionization blackout... telemetry coming back... drogue chutes deployed at 20km!

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Up next is the harrowing fairing and heat shield separation. This led to... issues... during testing, but now it's green across the board!

4OGTXDM.png

 

Then it reaches backplate separation and skycrane activation, and things get a little sideways...

ytjZRkV.png

...literally.

 

The signal bounces in and out of contact, but we soon get confirmation of engine ignition!

HRgtaih.png

 

Stabilized by a parachute, the skycrane will provide the primary impulse to not splatter the rover all over the dry, dusky hills. And what's this? What is this?

1H9v3DK.png

We're getting confirmation of significant amounts of oxygen in the atmosphere! The spurious data collected by NOVA Gratian years ago is confirmed!

This opens up a wealth of possibilities for future, possibly crewed exploration! A kerbal could actually breath there! Once. Very quickly. Before the balmy -137c air froze their lungs solid. Hmm, if only we had someone whom the cold never bothered anyway...

Vlad! That is not an excuse for you to break out into song, or go strutting about in a slinky blue dress! And if you're not going to wear pantyhose at least have the decency to shave your legs, yeesh.
You must be related to Jencine
I heard that!
No wonder the shower drain is always clogged...

Moving on...

Just before touchtown, the skycrane separates, and flies a good, long way off before crashing back to the ground.

I6DwjHD.png

 

Now this... is really interesting... Best not to jump to any conclusions, this early data will need significant analyze before anything firm can be drawn.

inpBA3S.png

 

Audacity, however, is in perfect health after its harrowing arrival, and already collecting scores of data about the planet. We've learned from our troubles with previous missions, Audacity features not one but two long-range high-gain dish antennas, as well as smaller backup omnidirectionals. It can communicate directly with the DSN on Gael, or make use of the two functioning relays in orbit when out of line-of-sight. It will spend few months gathering data and numerous surface samples, the latter to be transferred to the inbound sample return mission.

BzB03lw.png

 

As they so often are, the moment is bittersweet, however. Shortly after confirming the rover's safe arrivale, NOVA Gratian fizzes through the last of its nuclear fuel, and reactor voltage drops off. With one last burst of reserve power from the emergency batteries, it executes one final command: shutting down its transmitters, becoming just another piece of space junk around an alien world.

LNriHHE.png

 

 

NOVA Gratian
MET: 6 years, 15 days, 04:26:52

UXRCK2w.png

 

 

Udachi-brand pickled chicken gizzards?! What sort of degenerate takes all the spam but leaves this?!

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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Neat. Did you tweak the skycrane decoupled any?

Edited by roboslacker

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1 hour ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

How so?

I recently had a problem with an eve rover where firing the parachute decoupler was exploding the tires. I was wondering if you removed the ejection force for the decoupler.

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Oh my god. Horrifying ThInGs attracted to the fridge? This can only mean one thing! FRIDGE MAGNETS!... or Magnates. I always get those two confused.

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Year 11, Day 289...

We begin this update saying goodbye to another old friend. NOVA Gauss has finally reached the very edge of that system once again. It fires up its engine one last time, boosting itself into a highly eccentric polar orbit with a periapse out of Catullus's reach, where it will satisfy a long-duration observation contract. Its nuclear reactor is throttled down to a bare trickle, so barring component failures, it should keep beaming back telemetry a very long time.

Spoiler

 

GM07Cuz.png

 

Meanwhile, Audacity continues its trek across the freezing sands of Gratian...

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Somebody cue up "Against the Wind" and prep for montage...

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Aw yeah, that's the stuff...

VOA4WzX.png

BkIY8W5.png

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And here we have a ginormous boulder floating in mid-air for no apparent reason. It could be magic, but since no one here believes in magic, clearly the data must be wrong. And anyone who points out the fact that we've been standing around on an alien planet for over a decade with no idea how we actually got here is gonna spend the next month cleaning engine bells, got it?!

Only rational.

 

And here, we have another one of... these...

tz05VtE.png

What's a squid?

 

Ahem, moving on...

Three months after Audacity touched down, the Gratian Sample Return vessel finally arrives.

7xRROQI.png

 

We don't have the luxury of stored propellant for braking this time, it's down-and-dirty aerocapture-and-hope-nothing-explodes.

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A ballute is deployed for stability and a little extra braking...

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The ship dips down all the way to 40km, at some point losing the solar panels, but we were expecting that....

JBFrlbL.png

 

...and then things got a little, well, sideways again.

S6Q0bX2.png

 

Yet despite being horribly off-balance, the DEUCES-based buss flies back out into space with a respectable 350km apo-Grate. What propellant we do have left will be used to circularize until it's time for landing. And without solar panels, the ship will have to rely on the reactors from the nuclear-electric return buss.

zKLgVE7.png

 

But after all the celebrating and high-, er, fours, somebody realizes that our existing map of the planet is too low-resolution for accurate slope measurement, and someone forgot to include an updated mapping probe in the launch stack.
I'm looking at you, Sergei. Remember those engine bells I mentioned?

Soooo..... back to the drawing board.

Literally.

In record time, the team has to throw together an advanced mapping probe and get it to Gratian before anything important fails on the in-situ mission hardware. We're cutting no corners, here, this calls for an all-up NERO-X launch and the biggest transfer stage we've ever built.

oQhazr7.png

 

It's an 8.5km/s transfer burn before even being circularized in a parking orbit, using most of the NERO's upper stage as well. And due to the low apogee, ducking back into Gael's atmosphere momentarily and threatening to melt the whole mess outright.

J2GYI12.png

 

The last 500m/s or so of the burn is handled by our latest cutting-edge nuclear-electric propulsion system. Which, being rushed into service before adequately tested, I'm sure will prove to be perfectly reliable.
Right, Sergei? Did I say you could stop scrubbing? Don't make me get Triti in here...

 

But, the probe is soon on its way, hitting a blister 14km/s before leaving Gael and Rald behind. Its reactor is shut down for what will surely be a record-setting cruise to Gratian of only 150 days.

83ruMrN.png


 

Let's hope it starts back up again so we can actually stop the thing once it gets there. Either way, it should have quite an impact.
Just keep scrubbing, just keep scrubbing, scrubbing scrubbing...

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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On 11/12/2018 at 10:01 AM, roboslacker said:

I recently had a problem with an eve rover where firing the parachute decoupler was exploding the tires. I was wondering if you removed the ejection force for the decoupler.

I checked my setup, the decoupler is built in to the sky crane and wasn't adjusted, but I wasn't trying to land on Eve. :confused: A drop of any height can be devastating there.

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Year 12, Day 113...After a record transit to far-off Gratian, the mapping probe comes to a screeching halt in orbit. More or less. 'Cuz there's no sound in space, and it's still moving.

Spoiler


S4c2NPJ.png

And also in entirely the wrong orbit...

 

Eventually, it meanders into a proper medium-altitude polar orbit and eventually confirms what we've suspected all along: the map of Gratian really is just that white and featureless despite the planet itself being much different.

CYNMB9B.png

This place is very strange.

 

But it has discovered a fairly flat area not far from the equator, overlooked by another strange pyramid.

6kN1wpQ.png

That will require investigation down the road,  but for now, this seems like as a good a landing site as any.

 

Audacity makes it way here, taking samples as it goes. The basin is surrounded by high, fairly steep hills but is about twenty kilometers long and perhaps a dozen wide. The rover will remain on-station here as a landing target.

MTuWUQA.png

 

Back in orbit, the return module separates from the Decent/Ascent Vehicle. With no more power supply, it's vital the DAV gets on the ground before its batteries run out.

AKPAfR9.png

 

It begins. Too shallow a descent and the trajectory interpolater will have trouble accurately projecting the landing site, too steep, and the DAV is liable to flip and lose control, with the heavy equipment module at the nose.

rCagIG9.png

 

Aaaaand, flipping it is! Let's hope the insulation holds up.

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We... probably didn't need that bit, anyway.

NiHabQv.png

 

Still getting sideways, but the valley is just ahead!

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Hope that wasn't important, either...

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But now the worse is through, and we're safely on the drogues!

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Fairing release and drogue kit dumped...

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ISRU module separated, main chutes deployed!

e5JLjB0.png

 

Now it's just a simple matter of propulsive landing on an alien world billions of kilometers away...

GYtKbDE.png

 

On a nice, gentle slope...

vFehCdF.png

Wait, slope?!?



This won't go well...

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And... we're down! Leaning at a disturbing angle and likely to tip over at any moment, but down!

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We didn't need that bit, anyway.

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And finally, here comes the equipment module.

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Safely down, this is a self-contained ISRU plant and nuclear power source. It's sole mission is to get the DEUCES DAV refueled for the trip back to orbit.

EtrcehT.png

 

 

That will all have to wait though, as before it even touches down, the relay sat above passes over the horizon. The systems now have no on-board long range comms, they'll be relying on Audacity for such once it arrives, and that will have to wait for dawn, as the Gratinian night is rapidly descending.

mZe9Ch7.png

 

Or maybe that's the Gratinian dawn. Hey, who shuffled all the pictures up?! I had all this organized, guys!

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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Short but sweet, sort of like Triti. Hey at least I didn't mention hair!

 

Although weirdly it felt short while reading it, but skimming back over was long... You're right. This place is weird!

 

EDIT: Wait, that was Jencine, not Triti... Well, there goes that joke!

Edited by Patupi

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12 hours ago, Patupi said:

Although weirdly it felt short while reading it, but skimming back over was long... You're right. This place is weird!

Sigh. Once again, this is what happens when I post stuff whilst half asleep at 3 am. :confused: Tho I'm also trying to move through screenshots and get somewhat caught up with game time, which is, for once, way ahead. And, er, some external synchronization before I forget about the mystery butt prints on the couch... :ph34r:

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Year 13, day 59...

Well, there's been no further evidence from the Phantom Butt Printer, and all canned goods have been properly cataloged and remain in place. Except for the jumping beans. And yet, things have taken another turn for the weird here, which we should probably be used to by now, but there it is. Numerous people are reporting strange experiences, like ghostly shadows in hallways, hearing voices, and rooms that suddenly grow cold. I've sent Vlad down into the sub-sub-sub-sub-basement cellar with a single flashlight with uncertain batteries to inspect the climate control systems. And also, a broken mirror and a book of arcane incantations that may or may not be the repair manual.

Nobody's heard from him in quite some time, but nobody is complaining, either, so I'll mark it a low priority for now.

Anyways... back to Gratian.Half a Gratian-day later, and we once again have light and signal at the return ship landing sight. The little ISRU rover is a simple thing, with a hideously oversized nuclear reactor, but really what goes together better than "hideously oversized" and "nuclear" anything?

Spoiler


tVVpQXY.png

 

Slightly less under-sized wheels would have been better, however, as it takes quite a bit of scrambling and scrubbling to get the unit hooked up to the return booster.

heZk9O5.png

 

But finally, we're underway with on-site Hydrolox production, refueling the nearly-empty booster for its last hurrah.

lePHAU2.png

Note to self: Do not let the engineers install that self-preservation subroutine they've been working on. If a landing booster is spinning out of control, just let the thing crash or it might start learning!

 

The next Gratian-day, Audacity makes its own way over with its trove of Science! On board are over 10gb of surface samples, materials exposures, goo experiments, and other goodies. 

BcnoCba.png

The return booster isn't sitting idle, either, it's gathering its own collection of atmospheric and dust samples, including a slightly-refined collection of that strange compound we first detected years ago. Thanks to Audacity, we already know the air is thick with it and surface deposits are varied, but the rover lacks the proper experiments to fully analyze it.

Mostly, because we don't want to blow the thing up after all the trouble of getting it here.

The substance seems highly reactive in the presence of en electrical field... 

 

But that's conjecture for another day. Audacity extends its own docking arm, and links up with the ISRU rover to begin the sample transfer, thus creating the first extraterrestrial conga line!

DjP8x2P.png

Hey! Get back to your consoles, that was not an invitation! You guys are still on duty! Ooh, mai tais! 

 

And so, a couple of (Gael) weeks later, the booster is fully fueled, the samples are safely stuffed away in the nose, and we're ready to make history again!

Except for one small problem.

Maybe it's dust infiltration, maybe it's the constant flow of cryogenic liquids, or maybe it's that unnamed compound reacting with the metal itself, but somehow the docking arm has become fused with the port. It won't release.

And neither will Audacity's. It seems we've started the first extraterrestrial eternal conga line. This is not good. Mai tais or not.

But after having a few more too many mai tais, the engineering team has a possible solution:

The booster was designed with a significant margin. It may be possible to release the EDL tank, to which the rovers are attached, right at the moment of engine ignition, instead of a few seconds after liftoff. It's a dicey proposition, but it might just save the mission.

Or, it could result in a spectacular fireball that no one will actually get to see.

AfJ6nYy.png

If this is what the engineering team comes up with after a few fruity drinks, I shudder to think what they'd do if we had any actual alcohol around here.
Regulations, and what not...

But, fingers crossed, silly little paper umbrellas deployed, it's now or never!

 

No, not that way! The other way!

vwzX1Fe.png

 

Up! Yes! Up is good! Let's start with up!

tzuIXsI.png

Note to self, burn that movie before the engineers find it, if this doesn't work, we don't need a bunch of engineers who think they're drunk and reeling from a failed mission finding the most depressing movie intro ever!

 

It's working! It's working!

HA4xCXW.png

Note to self: also, ban pod racing. Before one of them invents it.

 

Welp... let's hope that wasn't important...

wQ2ua1U.png

 

But it works! The return booster limps to orbit, shy a few grid fins and most of its bottom end, and without two fussy rovers in tow!
Note to self, go back and check on the rovers.

The return module quickly powers up and makes its rendezvous.

io9wYYv.png

 

The booster's mission complete, it releases the sample containers...

wdB1miW.png

 

The return module homes in...

OiGDqnO.png

 

And after a few tense moments, the locks engage, power flows in to maintain the containment fields, and the samples are secure!

Kv6EzzC.png

You guys did remember to transfer the science over, right? RIGHT?

 

Fortunately, they did.

A few weeks later, and the transfer window back to Gael opens up. It's been a long, hard road, but with one long 3km/s-ish ionization, the return module is safely back on its way to Gael, having successfully launched from the surface of another world!

Well, except all those times we've launched from the surface of another world, which seems to be a more and more subjective term. But, I digress.

SAldrCm.png

 

It will be several months before the module arrives back at Gael. But we can't simply land it, oh no. We've no idea what sort of contamination we might be bringing back, or what sort of effect the unnamed compound might have if suddenly vaporized and exposed to a warm oxygen atmosphere.

No, we'll need to examine this in space, at least until we determine if it's safe to bring to the surface. 

To this end, we're going to assemble the largest orbital construct Kermankind has ever known, all rapidly (and cheaply) built and launched in only the span of a few weeks, and designed by engineers who think some stupid little paper umbrellas and fruit flavoring are enough to alter their state of consciousness!

 

What could possibly go wrong, right?
Maybe someone should go down and check on Vlad, too. And the rovers. They might not be happy about being blown up.
We deleted that subroutine, right??

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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Neat. Though instead of checking on Vlad, someone should also check on Triti and Jencine. Just to make sure they didn't fall through a wormhole.

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Year 13, day 84...

Crashing ahead, here, with reckless abandon Proceeding carefully after a thorough analysis of all factors, we are now building station modules at a frenetic pace! I'm sure no one will do anything foolish, like, say, drill a hole in the wrong place and then cover it up, but we're ready to move ahead with the first launch!

With most of the modules massing north of 50 tonnes, we've had to re-think our launch options as well. The Core is going up on an experimental "stage and a half" lifter using the booster from our powerful Otho V, minus the center engine, and a newly designed upper stage/tug that will also serve as our initial power and propulsion platform.We've got a pretty good bead on exactly the orbit the return module from Gratian will fall into once it reaches Gael space, which just happens to coincide with our standard interplanetary parking orbit. This is where we'll be building the new station.

Spoiler


HwEI2AS.png

Unfortunately, due to an odd quirk of orbital mechanics, our two windows a day to reach the 10 degree inclination orbit are within a few hours of each other, and always on the night side of the planet for the next few months.

So that means our new launcher is almost impossible to see.
I hate night launches.

The Otho booster contributes around half of the delta-V before the tug takes over for the rest of the launch. Which you also can't really see.

g1oLGtp.png

 

But finally, there it is! Drifting sedately at an extra-high 500km orbit the new station core is in good health and functioning well.

5dbhYEC.png

This 3.75 meter module is going to end up looking very tiny before long...

 

Only a couple of days later to recondition the pad and get the alignment right, and the second module is on the way!

NAHQ0CE.png

 

This one is a good 10 tonnes heavier than the core, requiring a re-rethinking of our launch vehicle. After much frustration, late nights, and a few more mai tais, the Engineering Team arrived at a further Otho derivative. Sort of. What we have here are cut-down booster and second stage tanks, with a trio of RD-180s on the first stage and the usual pair of RS-25s next.

4IHnbb7.png

There's been only slight tweaking to our tug design, but as before it will provide the last 1.5km/s or so to orbit.
It's there, trust me.

 

And finally, we have a meeting of titans!

5JxfM6M.png

 

This new station will be constructed entirely with welding docking ports, in the end giving us a single monolithic structure.

Once we get the first two bits together.

It turns out maneuvering two 50ish-tonne ships in close quarters in space is a bit like stunt-driving transit busses in a tunnel.

bcIRhoO.png

 

And right away, we've got a problem. This cluster of 2.5 meter welding docking ports are all interfering with each other! The opposing ports can't get close enough for the latches to engage.

cgCDWNw.png

You guys did measure all this stuff, right? Twice? After morning coffee?

 

It's a simple, if crude, solution for now. We're simply going to use a different docking port. This will require a redesign of the remaining elements, but it will at least get the structure started. This port is offset by a large battery, it might be just enough...

J4PBGrG.png

 

Steady now... steady...

VoNqxsg.png

 

And, success! The latches are able to close, we have hard dock!
Stop snickering, you guys need to fix this mess now.

F6rpI4A.png

 

And then something explodes.

 

 

EXPLODES?!?

 

COkASIz.png

Oh, that was supposed to happen.

The welding ports function as planned, if a bit louder.

Once the automatic fluid line and power connections are made, the tug decouples, and will de-orbit itself.

pH4MGip.png

 

I suppose I should address the elephant in the room, here.

 

GO HOME, ELEPHANT! I TOLD VLAD HE COULDN'T KEEP YOU!

 

Now that that's out of the way, there's the matter of our new flag.

KDXyWuK.png

We're launching this station no longer as an Ussari project, but as a Gaelean endeavor. We haven't heard from the Union in over 13 years, now. For all we know, it's the end of the world back there. And if they don't like it, well, they can just come tell us!

 

But the first joining is complete! 

IWQe9Sh.png

 

Now, we have to fix the thing before we can do anything else with it.

Rollout Bob, it's time for rocket surgery!

 

 

 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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7 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Crashing ahead, here, with reckless abandon Proceeding carefully after a thorough analysis of all factors, we are now building station modules at a frenetic pace! I'm sure no one will do anything foolish, like, say, drill a hole in the wrong place and then cover it up, but we're ready to move ahead with the first launch!

 

Is the not-hole 2mm? I love the new flag.

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Just having caught up from early December, I’d like to state that it should have been, “Dawn Au Gratin,” because this story is cheesy. :D

No, I’m not flarping sorry.

 

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Year 13, Day 119...

So, after locking up ALL the fake mai tais in Triti's room- where they'll be extremely secure (oddly enough she had no gripes about guarding them)- the engineering team has come up with a potential solution. Which mostly involves going around in a rush bolting on a bunch of extra stuff to a nearly-finished rocket that was already threatening to tip the scales beyond what the new launcher could loft <breath>. And then not testing the setup at all. Not even simulating it.And, of course, launching at night.

Spoiler


43RI56X.png

 

So, of course, the tug runs out of fuel before it can rendezvous with our nascent station. The new module is decoupled short of its goal...

CB9rJTG.png

 

...and left to make the final approach on its own, rather anemic, engines. This raises the further complication that, without the tug, there's no way to generate power. Fortunately, the one thing the module does not lack after the flurry of activity, is battery power.

8dS5Q5v.png

All that mess should be enough to last about six days.

 

The rest of the approach goes off without a hitch, but we're still in the same boat- er, station... well no one is actually in it, but anyways... as we were before. The module is unable to dock successfully. The latches won't close. Even with an extra battery on the ring, we can't even hook up temporarily to keep the two craft in place.

Ss5f2ek.png

Seriously, you guys are rocket scientists, can you not figure out a simple tape measure?!

 

We were sort of expecting this. So at the next pass of the Space Center under the station's orbital plane, it's Bob to the rescue!

GWTWvK8.png

Along with Triti and Jencine. No one asked about the mai tais.

And right away, we have another problem, that some how also didn't show up despite extensive testing...

Bob was pulled early from its Doug-standard retrofit for this mission, so while it is packing an upgraded Gandalf-D engine, and an upgraded booster to boo(s)t, the assembly team never got around to installing some minor details, like, oh, say, Doug's upgraded power generation. Or food and water. Or, I dunno, how about--

NITROGEN!

Yes, somehow Bob with two Kerbals on board has been launched into a harrowing rescue mission with absolutely no nitrogen on board, and begins hemorrhaging atmosphere as soon as it leaves our own.

And somehow, no one involved, including the crew, actually noticed this for several hours.
Am I the only one paying attention around here?

It seems someone on the engineering team is still having a bit too much fun with that 2mm drill bit.

So now a mad rush is an even madder rush. Triti manages to catch up to and dock with the new module drifting in space before the two of them suffocate. But due to some odd quirk with the power systems, the moment the two ships make contact air begins flowing one way while electricity begins flowing the other, at a rather disturbing rate. Yes, despite the fact that Bob's meager solar arrays had no trouble powering the ship with only two two crew aboard, some mistranslation in some bit of software somewhere has the new module bleeding power worse than Bob is bleeding air. Where it had been sipping its own reserves just a moment ago, it's now sucking down the juice faster than a certain other group and those frequently-mentioned mai tais. (is this a thing, now?), and the solar panels can't possibly keep up. And there's no way to shut any of it off.
Seriously, who's writing this stuff?!

So now it's all up to Triti, who has to use Bob as a tug way beyond what it was ever rated for, rendezvous again, complete the mission, then get both crew home before they ether freeze to death or suffocate.

As luck would have it, it's, well, Triti...

 

As gently as you would generally expect Triti Kerman not to be, she saunters the module right up next to the main station node, and holds it there...

dwk8s0C.png

 

Then it's all eyes on Jencine...
Apologies in advance.
Hey!

yxXjuJi.png

...who looks nice and warm in her suit with all that extra insulation.
Stop talking about my chest hair!
I thought you didn't have chest hair...
Gah!

 

Er, anyways...

Undoing with clumsy gloves and a single screwdriver what it took a an entire trained crew of guys with supposedly surgical precision, and then re-doing it all again, Jencine rekajiggers the main node, swapping around docking ports and batteries until there should be no more interference issues.

3GNlqOn.png

 

There should be no more... and yet we still can't get a hard dock. Perhaps something got jostled by Jencine HEY!, or perhaps it's some resonance with the grossly off-center masses, but the stack won't stabilize.

s9oyYIn.png

150 tonnes of spacecraft just sit there, wobbling back and forth ever-so-slightly, using up resources we can't spare.

 

Oddly enough, it's the night janitor who comes up with a solution, claiming he did some silly thing called "reading the manual." At any rate, despite doing so being a clear violation of the very laws of physics, thermodynamics, metallurgy, and probably a lot of other things, it seems it's actually possible to weld the two modules together without having them actually docked. It's mostly a case of nulling out the motion as much as possible, then waiting for juuuuust the right moment and--

mHejzIh.png

Success!

Mostly.

Wait, did it work? Why is there a part still there? What's happening?

Once the smoke clears (which also shouldn't happen in space, but it seems janitors are not troubled by these inconsistencies) the new module seems perfectly fuzed to the structure!

Oh, NOW you get out the tape measures! Well put them away, no one is to measure this too close! Looks good enough from here. Besides, they won't reach...

Jencine pops back out again to give a quick fix to a balky RCS arm...

1PsgOgd.png

 

...and now we're back to the problem at hand. Once linked up, the power loss gets even worse, even with the interim propulsion module's larger solar arrays. So there'll be no opening the hatch and taking in that new space station smell for these two. Instead, Triti and Jencine take a deep breath from the nitrogen feed before undocking and heading home.

mTMimuc.png

 

...and we'll just chalk it up to the fact that there was no oxygen in that breath as to how Triti managed to miss the landing target.

Rl1TVfS.png

But, with the main node (possibly) back in good working order, we can forge ahead with the rest of assembly!

We hope.

 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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Posted (edited)

Year 13, day 138...

Moving right along... not at all stopping to analyze our miscalculations thus far...
Maybe we should rethink.... nah.

Today, we have... another nighttime launch.

Spoiler

 

0OA2Z8N.png

Sooner or later we'll actually show the rocket, I promise!

 

This one lofts the second power module. Everything starts out ok...

C1A937x.png

 

Nominal rendezvous. The module separates from the tug and maneuvers toward the station on its own power, hoping the batteries don't run out in the process.
The fact that it's essentially nothing more than a gigantic solar array and we're worried about power isn't lost on anyone.

GTEKYYG.png

 

And once again, we've got the same problem. Unable to hard dock, the latches won't engage.

U0w09u8.png

 

So once again, same solution. Wait until juuuust the right moment then hit the button and hide!

ZUI3kUe.png

We'll just pretend that slight misalignment and gap isnt' there. Maybe there's a reason it's inexplicably hemorrhaging nitrogen...
 

...Nah.

 

Meanwhile, we still have some cleanup to do. The tug that delivered this module chases down the stranded, out of fuel tug that attempted to deliver the previous module.

6NkMF6D.png

 

We've equipped the tugs with a universal docking port, so it's a simple, if slightly awkward-looking, matter to link up for mutual disposal.

ar0IFlD.png

Why does this remind me of star-crossed lovers?

 

Moving right along...
Wait, didn't I say that already?
..er...

There's an old engineering proverb that goes something like... if it's stupid but it works, it's not stupid.

This seems like far too practical for an engineer to think up, so I have my doubts. But we're going to run with it.

Next up is the Greenhouse Hub. 

x1UCq3x.png

Soft dock, null any oscillations, click-HIDE!

 

But things are coming together, the new station is finally starting to look like something!

l6z2jof.png

 

And not a moment too soon. Only a few months out, the Gratian return module makes its final deep-space course correction...

icFpZIe.png

 

The station is still suffering from unexplainable power and atmosphere issues. The engineering team decides the best response is to poke it with a stick, so...

 

Doug launches with a fresh load of sticks...

mnhUaB2.png

...and also Lodvin, Ferdin, Haylotte and Leelenna. 

 

Doug, at least, fares better than Bob in reaching the station. The melted engine has been replaced and the crew can safely breathe. That's a plus, right?

R7NIQfj.png

Unfortunately, as picturesque as their arrival is, even poking things with sticks doesn't make them any better. As soon as Doug docks, power usage spikes through the roof. The four open the hatch and take a quick look around, finding nothing immediately unusual other than the station smells like waffles. 

But I'm sure that's not related.

 

Only a few minute later, the crew leaves disappointed. The new station still has issues.

So what's engineering's response?

Launch MOAR modules! Surely the great, big, ginormous, silly one can fix this!

 

... right?

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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54 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Sooner or later we'll actually show the rocket, I promise!

*cough* i help?

yIo0ed4.png

55 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Launch MOAR modules! Surely the great, big, ginormous, silly one can fix this!

 

... right?

..... Sure!

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On 12/25/2018 at 11:34 PM, CatastrophicFailure said:

Year 13, Day 119...

So, after locking up ALL the fake mai tais in Triti's room- where they'll be extremely secure (oddly enough she had no gripes about guarding them)- the engineering team has come up with a potential solution. Which mostly involves going around in a rush bolting on a bunch of extra stuff to a nearly-finished rocket that was already threatening to tip the scales beyond what the new launcher could loft <breath>. And then not testing the setup at all. Not even simulating it.And, of course, launching at night.

  Reveal hidden contents

 

43RI56X.png

 

So, of course, the tug runs out of fuel before it can rendezvous with our nascent station. The new module is decoupled short of its goal...

CB9rJTG.png

 

...and left to make the final approach on its own, rather anemic, engines. This raises the further complication that, without the tug, there's no way to generate power. Fortunately, the one thing the module does not lack after the flurry of activity, is battery power.

8dS5Q5v.png

All that mess should be enough to last about six days.

 

The rest of the approach goes off without a hitch, but we're still in the same boat- er, station... well no one is actually in it, but anyways... as we were before. The module is unable to dock successfully. The latches won't close. Even with an extra battery on the ring, we can't even hook up temporarily to keep the two craft in place.

Ss5f2ek.png

Seriously, you guys are rocket scientists, can you not figure out a simple tape measure?!

 

We were sort of expecting this. So at the next pass of the Space Center under the station's orbital plane, it's Bob to the rescue!

GWTWvK8.png

Along with Triti and Jencine. No one asked about the mai tais.

And right away, we have another problem, that some how also didn't show up despite extensive testing...

Bob was pulled early from its Doug-standard retrofit for this mission, so while it is packing an upgraded Gandalf-D engine, and an upgraded booster to boo(s)t, the assembly team never got around to installing some minor details, like, oh, say, Doug's upgraded power generation. Or food and water. Or, I dunno, how about--

NITROGEN!

Yes, somehow Bob with two Kerbals on board has been launched into a harrowing rescue mission with absolutely no nitrogen on board, and begins hemorrhaging atmosphere as soon as it leaves our own.

And somehow, no one involved, including the crew, actually noticed this for several hours.
Am I the only one paying attention around here?

It seems someone on the engineering team is still having a bit too much fun with that 2mm drill bit.

So now a mad rush is an even madder rush. Triti manages to catch up to and dock with the new module drifting in space before the two of them suffocate. But due to some odd quirk with the power systems, the moment the two ships make contact air begins flowing one way while electricity begins flowing the other, at a rather disturbing rate. Yes, despite the fact that Bob's meager solar arrays had no trouble powering the ship with only two two crew aboard, some mistranslation in some bit of software somewhere has the new module bleeding power worse than Bob is bleeding air. Where it had been sipping its own reserves just a moment ago, it's now sucking down the juice faster than a certain other group and those frequently-mentioned mai tais. (is this a thing, now?), and the solar panels can't possibly keep up. And there's no way to shut any of it off.
Seriously, who's writing this stuff?!

So now it's all up to Triti, who has to use Bob as a tug way beyond what it was ever rated for, rendezvous again, complete the mission, then get both crew home before they ether freeze to death or suffocate.

As luck would have it, it's, well, Triti...

 

As gently as you would generally expect Triti Kerman not to be, she saunters the module right up next to the main station node, and holds it there...

dwk8s0C.png

 

Then it's all eyes on Jencine...
Apologies in advance.
Hey!

yxXjuJi.png

...who looks nice and warm in her suit with all that extra insulation.
Stop talking about my chest hair!
I thought you didn't have chest hair...
Gah!

 

Er, anyways...

Undoing with clumsy gloves and a single screwdriver what it took a an entire trained crew of guys with supposedly surgical precision, and then re-doing it all again, Jencine rekajiggers the main node, swapping around docking ports and batteries until there should be no more interference issues.

3GNlqOn.png

 

There should be no more... and yet we still can't get a hard dock. Perhaps something got jostled by Jencine HEY!, or perhaps it's some resonance with the grossly off-center masses, but the stack won't stabilize.

s9oyYIn.png

150 tonnes of spacecraft just sit there, wobbling back and forth ever-so-slightly, using up resources we can't spare.

 

Oddly enough, it's the night janitor who comes up with a solution, claiming he did some silly thing called "reading the manual." At any rate, despite doing so being a clear violation of the very laws of physics, thermodynamics, metallurgy, and probably a lot of other things, it seems it's actually possible to weld the two modules together without having them actually docked. It's mostly a case of nulling out the motion as much as possible, then waiting for juuuuust the right moment and--

mHejzIh.png

Success!

Mostly.

Wait, did it work? Why is there a part still there? What's happening?

Once the smoke clears (which also shouldn't happen in space, but it seems janitors are not troubled by these inconsistencies) the new module seems perfectly fuzed to the structure!

Oh, NOW you get out the tape measures! Well put them away, no one is to measure this too close! Looks good enough from here. Besides, they won't reach...

Jencine pops back out again to give a quick fix to a balky RCS arm...

1PsgOgd.png

 

...and now we're back to the problem at hand. Once linked up, the power loss gets even worse, even with the interim propulsion module's larger solar arrays. So there'll be no opening the hatch and taking in that new space station smell for these two. Instead, Triti and Jencine take a deep breath from the nitrogen feed before undocking and heading home.

mTMimuc.png

 

...and we'll just chalk it up to the fact that there was no oxygen in that breath as to how Triti managed to miss the landing target.

Rl1TVfS.png

But, with the main node (possibly) back in good working order, we can forge ahead with the rest of assembly!

We hope.

 

 

That water in the last shot looks amazing.  You balanced it well!

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Maybe it's time the engineers stop using 2mm drills. Try 3mm drills next time.

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Year 13, Day 141...

Buuuuuh... buuuuuuh... buuuuuuuuh... BUUH-BUUUH!
BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM--BUM--BUM--BUM--BUM--BUM--BUM!
Buuuuuh... buuuuuuh... buuuuuuuuh... BUUH-BUUUUUH!
BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM--BUM--BUM--BUM--BUM--BUM--BUM!
Buuuuuh... buuuuuuh... buuuuuuuuh... BUUH-BUUUUUH!
Buh-buh-buh... buuuuuh.... buuh-buuh-buuuuh... buuh-buuh-buuuhhhuh... 

BUUUUUUUUH... BUUUUUUUUH...BAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!

Ok, I'm gonna go outside and have a coke, the rest of you guys better have the horn section figured out when I get back.
And someone take that bone away from Vlad before he hurts someone.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyways...

xXdMl0g.png

Here, we have, without a doubt, our heaviest deadlift ever! 

Station Core #2 required a modifed Nero-X launcher, with two pairs of full-thrust SRBs and an upgraded tug just to get itself into low orbit.

SRB burnout and separation at a mere 10 kilometers, their fuel gone in less than two minutes.

sO7pHT6.png

 

First stage separation. Of course, at night. Still easily slow enough for full recovery.

ZEIyIaK.png

Tug separation comes while still very much suborbital. The tug needs every bit of thrust from four (!) Gandalf-DVs to keep from dropping back into the atmosphere, even at this late stage in the launch.

 

But here it is in the parking orbit, massing at just under two hundred tonnes. 

asf1utF.png

And of course, quite invisible.

 

Rendezvous comes a few hours later, after borrowing some stored fuel from the core stage.

bMquDDc.png

 

And, of course, we've got another problem. See it, yet?

sK245Gx.png

Some dunderhead has left a random docking port attached to the main docking port, facing the wrong way.
Come on, you guys! You're supposed to be rocket scientists!

 

As this is only revealed after tug separation we've got a big problem. Core 2 is only capable of flying on its own for a few hours before its batteries run out. Again. The engineering team suggest attempting to dock to an unused 1.25m port temporarily, which goes about as well as expected.

HaWT7OV.png

Which is to say, not at all.

 

That's when the janitor pokes his head in again and suggest simply decoupling the errant docking port, which the engineering team were convinced would require crew intervention on site. Oddly enough, the janitor's plan works, and for once docking actually goes off without a hitch!

Mttom50.png

Well, except for the hitches that are supposed to hitch.

 

It's a shame the uprated tug didn't get more attention, it was a thing of beauty.

LhtrPg3.png

 

A few days later, the next liftoff follows.

Rhc8AFG.png

And, just like that, we're finally into daytime launches! Here, we can finally see the less-powerful but quite efficient three-engined Otho Lite launcher.

 

This next load is still quite heavy enough to need a second stage.

ToQHnGT.png

 

And finally, tug separation for the final burn to orbit.

2JhA45J.png

 

This launch is bringing in a quartet of chemical processors in an attempt at greater self-sufficiency in space, as well as more DSN comm dishes.

TVcv2le.png

 

And yep, there's a problem.

eAnnNm4.png

While this configuration worked fine for cramming everything into the fairing, now those very expensive and surprisingly sturdy dishes are preventing the docking ports from meeting. This, once again, will require rocket surgery.

But what to do in the mean time? It would be a complicated matter to re-rendezvous the module after a crew can be sent up.

The Janitor is back with a solution.
Someone give this guy a raise, already.
We don't get paid in the first place? oh...

 

The docking adapter is remotely decoupled...

by1f2i2.png

 

What follows is a slow-motion chase at thousands of kilometers per hour, as the new module goes after the docking port. Catching up is easy, but snagging the port will be an incredibly difficult off-axis maneuver for a thing already weighing close to a hundred tonnes. Any bump to the docking adapter at all, and it will start tumbling, making any further attempts impossible.

 

In the end, with a lot of tweaking of the RCS to counter imbalances, the module finally connects with the adapter!

4NiJL8V.png

 

It's then a schlep back to the station, where we can use the adapter to dock to one of the ESTI ports temporarily.

aiswlri.png

 

The beautiful symmetry we had going is ruined, and without the ability to berth the equipment module in its proper place, we have to completely reshuffle the assembly sequence.

vf55uGX.png

We should send up a crew to fix this, but... 

...I think we're going to send up MOAR MODULES first.

And someone get that dang bone away from Vlad! He's still jumping around like some sort of crazed monkey!

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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