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

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Actually, you really need to just be focusing on building an inter-dimensional portal to get home.

Edited by KAL 9000

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Year 4, day 48...

GREETINGS COMRADES!!!Sigh. Another year's gone way and I'm actually starting to miss it. I don't seem to have the bass to do it justice. Anyway, now that we're back in the roots, we're going to Niven.



I didn't even know we had a Niven.


Andrei named the new planet, which was apparently there all the time without us having to point a telescope at it, hmm. Also rather shocking, Andrei reads, too. The engineers cobbled together a fairly simple probe, mostly parts that have been flown before. With an on-board delta-V budget of around 1800 m/s, we're hoping to have enough fuel to enter orbit, even though the window wasn't ideal.


The ejection burn alone was nearly 3 km/s, using a new cryogenic engine and self-contained transfer stage. Walkabout 1 becomes the first, um, controlled object to leave Gael's SOI, and should make Niven in about 144 days.


Once the burn was completed, a slight miscalculation in the required amount of monoprop for maneuvering left the transfer stage with nearly 300 m/s of residual RCS d/v. We elected to leave it attached to the probe, for now, all the important stuff seemed to deploy properly. The remaining hydrogen will boil off long before it's useful for correction burns, but that monoprop should at least be worth something. Those nozzles are leftovers from a surplus of the best Gytepi parts political pressure can coerce!



But we do not rest, Comrades, we do not rest! Mostly because Vlad's developed a new habit of locking his door at night and playing the radio too loud. At least I hope it's the radio. So with no sleep going on, we built another rocket.


The main probe is a clone of Walkabout 1, aptly named Walkabout 2---++++++. Probably because some sleep-deprived engineer was trying to zoom when the naming window was still active.


This time we're packing an all-hypergolic droptank-based transfer buss with nearly 6km/s available. This efficient little package will be getting a complete shakedown, too. It's going everywhere.



Well, everywhere that's still within Gael's SOI. It was mentioned that while our maps of Rald are lacking, we've gone interplanetary but still never visited the moons of Iota or Ceti. Which is apparently some sort of couch, too.


First two droptanks away boosting into a Rald transfer orbit.


First off, Walkabout 2---++++++ brakes into a high polar orbit above Rald to begin a multi-day biome-mapping session...



Here, we see it high above Rald's massive shield volcano. Some data indicates the summit may be nearly out of the atmosphere. We'll have to come back here one day.



After a few days, it's time to leave the two sister planets behind and head off to a proper space rock!



We finally get our first close-up images of this new moon. Even though it's clearly gibbous.



Walkabout 2---++++++ makes a single low pass brake into the meager gravity well. It will remain in a high-eccentricity polar orbit for a week or so to pick up more low-altitude science, before boosting back to a higher orbit for a full map and scan of the tiny world.



Now on mission day 46, we've science all we can science without actually landing, so for now it's time to move on again. We had to wait a bit longer than we wanted for the trajectories to line up, but even from a polar obit it's just a quick 227m/s jaunt to send us out to Ceti. Which is apparently also some kind of couch.



8 days later, Walkabout 2---++++++ settles into a repeat of the low/hi science-gathering obit. However, whether it was from pure excitement at the slow but steady trickle of science coming back, or simply near-terminal sleep deprivation, we only got this one image of Ceti. Which does not, at all, resemble a couch.


The family portrait there in the background.


About this time, someone finally had their expected psychotic episode and smashed down the door to Vlad's room. There were some loud and unpleasant noises, but no one really cared, because we slept through most of them.

Once we woke up and started running the numbers, the engineering department realized that despite its mission being complete, Walkabout 2---++++++ still had (metaphorical) tonnes of fuel remaining, so with nothing to lose, mission control sent the intrepid little probe back toward Gael.


To everyone's surprise, it arrived in a near-perfect 13 degree inclination, and once we'd burned the last of the transfer stage fuel and on board fuel, was in a comfortable 700x300km altitude. The decision was made: whatever it takes, we're going to bring this plucky little satellite home!


In other news, no one has seen or heard from Vlad's radio in some time, although he did ask if we had a proctologist on staff...

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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8 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

The main probe is a clone of Walkabout 1, aptly named Walkabout 2---++++++. Probably because some sleep-deprived engineer was trying to zoom when the naming window was still active.

My profession is showing, but I immediately thought those were GIT reporting the differences in the design. Three things removed, six other things added, and that's how you go from a Walkabout 1 to a Walkabout 2. Would've been typical too, sleep-deprived engineer blaming the version control for bugs... :wink:

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Year 4, day 95...

The encounter with the stately... beige jewel of Niven-- what, it's taupe? It's taupe. The stately taupe jewel of Niven is rapidly approaching. I have a good feeling about this one, everything seems to be running well.

And no sooner do we get to our first course correction than we have a problem. It seems at some point, the entire RCS system failed. Well, there goes our 400m/s bonus. As expected, all the hydrogen had long since boiled off but there was still some LOX left. Not that it's any good to us. The transfer stage is discarded, and Walkabout 1 proceeds under its on-board thruster.





At last, our first close-up views of another world! Except for Rald. And Iota. And Ceti. Which is apparently some kind of couch. Anyways, it's that brownish smudge there blending in with the bizarre sky.


Wait, it's taupe? It's taupe.


And once they begin crunching numbers in Niven's SOI, the engineers discover another problem. Due to the slightly-less-than-ideal transfer, Walkabout 1 doesn't have nearly enough detla-V available to brake into orbit. By a couple of kilometers per second.


It seems that while the transfer stage had enough fuel to compensate for the poor transfer, it also bumped up the capture requirements. Nevertheless, Walkabout 1 begins returning a trove of science.


Numerous, *ahem*, simulations, also revealed that using Niven's thin atmosphere to attempt to aerobrake into a capture would also be impossible. We have to settle for a screaming pass at over 6 km/s, snagging some quick samples from the very highest reaches of the atmosphere.


Our strange, bloated sun burns extra-large out here.


Even with this brief pass, there's enough aerial friction to make things rather toasty.



Hmm. Well, this is interesting. Apparently this sun-baked desert world with barely a hint of an atmosphere has a struggling major chain department store on the surface.


I wonder if we could get a good deal on a washing machine there. We could use a new one after eating Vlad's cooking. I'm sure bringing it back from the surface wouldn't be that difficult...


And just like that, in little more than a day, the encounter is over. Walkabout 1 spends the next few hours relaying data back to Gael before heading off into a useless orbit, to be eventually shut down.


For now, we have a space probe to catch!


But not this one. That other one. This one's pretty much boned.


@Galileo WHAT THE FLARP IS A SEARS?!? Other than a struggling major chain department store?


Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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I am laughing so hard right now... oh my gosh that was funny!

i have no idea what a sears is on Niven lol ask @JadeOfMaar I like to think it's the department store. 

But seeing as nearly all biomes in GPP have some relation to food, I think he was referencing grill marks like you would see on a steak perhaps? 

Oh man, that was a good way to end my night. Thanks for the laugh!

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11 hours ago, Galileo said:

But seeing as nearly all biomes in GPP have some relation to food, I think he was referencing grill marks like you would see on a steak perhaps?

Nailed it! Sounds legit. :) I did all-too-easily think of the store though.

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11 hours ago, JadeOfMaar said:

Nailed it! Sounds legit. :) I did all-too-easily think of the store though.

Further investigation required. :D

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Year 4, Day 97...

So, we found a new engine today. We didn't unlock it, it was sort of just... there. Apparently it's an RD-180. Could have sworn we didn't have any of those. Well, I told the engineers to just run with it, but I think they took me a little too literally and the whole bunch spend the next week in spinal traction. Maybe it was the copious painkillers, or possibly the infirmary food, but eventually they came up with the brilliant idea of using it on a rocket.


No, not that way! The other way!

Hey, who put those launch clamps inside the boosters?!? Our insurance doesn't cover gratuitous violation of the laws of physics, people!


Anyway, here's the re-engined Kommissar launcher. A single RD-180 replaces an entire cluster of 9 RD-... somethings.




Together with the significant increase in efficiency, we're now able to lob well over 10 tonnes into orbit...


...even if the payload did need to complete the launch on its own huge Gandalf vacuum engine. Since we're going to return a probe, Andrei has named it "Corenne."


He said it was something about keeping oaths. I don't think I understand the reference.


It was a fairly simple matter to chase down Walkabout ---++++++



The main antenna, RWPS, and magnetometer all retracted as commanded. But the solar panels proved... troublesome.


In an odd turn of events, even with some good speed behind Corenne we weren't able to smash them off, either. It seems the engineers actually built this one right.


In the end, this is how we grappled it. The cargo bay won't close and the solar panels are stuck open. I'm sure it'll be fine.



Re-entry burn complete, time to ditch the propulsion stage...



Our new inflatable heat shield. Another product of painkillers and hospital food that, ironically enough, works.


Reentry was surprisingly uneventful. That huge surface slowed everything down before it even realized it was time to heat up.



We missed the water, though...


Fortunately, the heat shield was kinda bouncy.



And, we've done it! We returned a probe that has visited every body orbiting Gael, and...




. . . what's that ominous rumbling and vague feeling of mounting dread?

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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Year 4, Day 121...


I sense a great disturbance in the cosmos...
As if dozens of voices suddenly cried out in terror...
As if the world was shaken beneath our feet...
As if the very fabric of reality itself was torn asunder...

I knew we shouldn't have trusted Vlad's cooking again.

Oh, and the fabric of reality seems to have changed, too. Somehow we wound up with a contract to return science from the surface of Grannus.

What the flarp is a Grannus? I didn't even know we had a Grannus. Why does nobody tell me these things?!?

Along with the snazzy new realitic fabric, our rockets have changed too. Suddenly all the tanks are much lighter while the engines are more powerful.

It's almost as if we're being toyed with by some unseen intelligence, as if this were some sort of game....Oh, well, that's philosophers' schtick, and we're here to build rockets. So we're finally going to Tellumo.




I still have no idea what we're supposed to tel Umo, but once again we've recycled the basic Walkabout interplanetary probe. With our sudden upgrade in rocket capability, we were able to squeeze it down into a much smaller package, based on a single Kommissar-class core.


We hit the transfer window right down the middle this time, and were somehow left with a significant surplus of delta-V. Judging by the limited telescope observations before it went all 'splody, Tellumo is a large, rocky world with a significant gravity well and dense atmosphere. Walkabout 3 should have more than enough oomph left to enter a stable orbit.



We'll know in about 147 days.


The probe received some minor upgrades for the mission. Solar panels should still work at that distance from the sun, but we've made them much bigger.


And we've only used half of the transfer stage fuel!


But after the disappointment of Niven, we've again nearly bankrupted ourselves to hedge our bets. Tellumo seems like a horrible place to land. So we're going to land there, too.


Yes, that's a Kommissar launcher with an extra pair of boosters slapped on. We haven't even named it. The engineers suggested things like "NO" and "RUN" and "TELL MY CAT I LOVE HER." Even Andrei was left speechless by this monster. With better options on the horizon, we probably won't be using it again.


It did some... disturbing things to the air as it ripped a hole through it...



 First pair of boosters gone...



Second pair and fairings, edging into space with a fully-fueled core stage.



Um... it's supposed to do that...



This is normal, too...



I'm no engineer but I think the engines might be a little too close together. I'm sure it's not related...



But somehow, even with rushing the production, we managed to miss the ideal transfer window by several days. That cost us an extra 600m/s outgoing, and nearly doubles the transfer time.



The upside is that by the time the UMO probe reaches the planet, Walkabout 3 should have it very well mapped out and surveyed.



The downside is that the odds of landing something resembling a charcoal briquette just rose steeply.

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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Good as always, even though its a bit shorter

Have to remind myself to give you likes in a bit... (why is there that limit?)

Edited by qzgy

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Year 4, Day 163...


I had the strangest nightmare last night... like I was... drowning...

It felt so real...

And then this morning I found a fish in my sock drawer. I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

While we wait for the Tellumo probes to reach their destination, we still need something to keep the roots flowing, so it was decided to launch another telescope since fixing the one Vlad broke in its ridiculously high orbit would prove... troublesome.

With the recent random reorganization of reality giving us more powerful engines and a slight surplus of funds, we've finally been able to build a real rocket!



As opposed to all those other real rockets we've already built. But this one is so much more... pointy!


Behold, the new Mallard-class launcher!


Why Mallard? Because this pointy beauty is a real step forward in complete reusability! It returns home after every flight... slightly damp.


First stage separation, 66km altitude, 2.3km/s speed. Right on the edge of what can be recovered without a heat shield. The booster will make a standard, uncontrolled, parachute-assisted descent only getting slightly toasted in the process.





That's supposed to happen. Perfectly normal. Nothing unusual here.
Our insurance is paid up now, right?


Ahem, yes, well... anyway...

The second stage (yes, only two now!) successfully delivers our new space telescope to a far more reasonable 500km orbit, easily reachable for future service.


For when Vlad inevitably points it at something else he's not supposed to. Really need to put a key on those controls...


The new 'scope is successfully activated and immediately beings a comprehensive survey of the sky.



But now for the really exciting part! The second stage, still under full control, begins a deorbit burn, testing out the built-in RCS system and preserving the smidge of fuel left after delivering the 10-ton telescope.


Smidge? Yes, that's a technical term. It's more than a soupçon but less than a glop.


Once sub-orbital, the payload adapter is discarded. This is the only part of the rocket not re-used. We hope.



The stage then points prograde again and deploys an inflatable heat shield!


...which, it turns out, isn't nearly as ridiculous an idea as it sounds.


Beginning re-entry and getting warm. That shield should keep everything cool, and the airbrakes should keep the right end--



Well, that can't be good...



Totally going the wrong way now. And the airbrakes burned off. The heat shield is discarded, too, so at least what's left won't overshoot the target.


Maybe we can use it for planters, or something...


Wait, what? We're still getting a signal?



Chutes deployed! It looks like most of the important bits are still there!



Just a driblet of thrust to soften the landing...


...which is something like a skoshe, but not nearly a smattering.


Success! It's in one piece! One extremely blackened, lightly smoking piece...


...why am I craving Cajun chicken all of a sudden?


Meanwhile, the NewScope is rapidly returning all sorts of data allowing us to track and catalog new worlds.


So far we have our first photos of Gratian, Haphe... Hapha... Hefe... um, H-something, Icarus, and...

...Triti Kerman's bedroom window?


Oh, so that's why Vlad's back in the infirmary again.



Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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So, you're running this career after deliberately not looking up anything about GPP, so that it's all exploration and discovery for you, a fresh start with no prior knowledge to contaminate the discovery process.

PЦҬЇЍ. I'm not going to be able to read this story until I have that running too. See you once I've caught up!

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6 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

So, you're running this career after deliberately not looking up anything about GPP, so that it's all exploration and discovery for you, a fresh start with no prior knowledge to contaminate the discovery process.

PЦҬЇЍ. I'm not going to be able to read this story until I have that running too. See you once I've caught up!

Well, that was the plan, but I've spent enough time pestering @Galileo & crew over at the dev thread that I mostly know it all already. :blush: Leto is really hot and destroys craft without enough radiators and Thalia has liquid nitrogen oceans, etc.

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Bwahah ... I just spat my tea because of you on the monitor.

Thalia ... Nitrogen. Really good...
  And at Grannus you get a cold.

Edited by astroheiko

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Year 4, Day 213...

...somewhere in deep space...



Walkabout 3 makes it's final trajectory correction, now irreparably on course for Tellumo. Soon, we will learn if we really can hit the broad side of a planet.


Which would be bad, 'cause we don't actually want to hit it, just, like... barely miss it...


Later, we picked up a quick contract to test a nuclear-powered engine at the launch site.


In addition to the added roots, our entire haircut budget has been eliminated and we're saving a bundle on the lighting bill now that we all glow in the dark.


But moving on, now that we finally have a proper rocket, we needed a proper space ship to put on top of it. I give you, the NewShip!


Really? NewShip? That's the best you could come up with? What am I paying you for? Oh, I'm not paying you anything. Ok. Point taken.


Erm, well anyway, here we have the separation of the launch escape-- GAH! DUCK!!!


Wow, I'm jumpy today. Should probably cut back on the coffee. Or maybe it's the radiation.


And here we have the NewShip, safely in orbit! Wait a minute, why is that trim ring skeejawed? Oh well, I'm sure it will be fine.


This marks the first mission with a crew of two. Still Ferdlin and Triti. We really need to get some new suckers recruits, and-- why did everyone just take a giant step back?


After some orbital shenanigans, Triti successfully rindiz randez renders meets up with the ailing LDEF. There's a busy schedule ahead to prepare it for what's to come!



A soon-to-be successful docking as Triti--


Wow, she's got a mouth on her. Have the engineers take note, the RCS is just a tad unbalanced...


Open the pod bay doors, Triti. Oh. OK. Well I suppose I can do it myself. Er, Ferdlin can. Someone cut down on her caffeine, please!


Ferdlin sets out to begin in spacewalk. With the bay doors open, here we can see the racks of experiments that have been brought up to interface with the LDEF during the multiday mission.


Oh. So it seems the LDEF experiments have stopped working. Completely. Something about a "Null Reference." Even the new ones don't work. This is a distressing development.


Meanwhile, Ferdlin gets to work fixing the balky antennas sourced from the lowest bidder. Which, oddly enough, is still us...


After some calming words and outright bribery, Triti is convinced to head outside to assist Ferdlin with disassembly of the telescope. It seems that after all the trouble we went through to get this thing up there, it's not powerful enough to see... well, anything really. So it'll be disposed of.



Batteries relocated and separation successful!



And here we see why Ferdlin elected to stay on with the program after his... rather confusing rescue. The pay is... well, pretty awful, but the scenery changes, and we let him use explosives.



Here, Ferdlin gives the junk a push after putting a random number into the timer.


What do you mean, a random number? He doesn't know how long the timer's for?!? He could be out there all day! Or, erm, all days...


Wait for it... waaaaait foooor iiiiit... 


PЏҐЇЙS ЄДЯS, this is torture! I know the very minute I turn away it's going to-- huh? What is it, Vlad? I have a stain on my--?




Wait, what the deuce?!? Things don't go bang in space! OK, what joker owns this paper bag?? Get back to your stations I'm not done yelling at you yet!

*assorted breaky noises*


Ahem, yes, well...

A few days later, once the swelling had gone down, we realized the NewShip was running low on nitrogen. It seems while the rest of us were, um, discussing things, Ferdlin found the space toilet and was incessantly flushing it while mumbling "Water go down the hoooole...."

Which is odd, since the space toilet has no water. Or hole.

But anyway, he wasted all the atmosphere. So it's time to come home.



And here is our key to a completely re-usable space transport system! This inflatable heat shield completely protects the back of the NewShip. We hope.


It actually didn't go so well for the Mallard upper stage, this time. Somehow the automatic recovery system failed, and, well... we don't talk about that.


Getting toasty but right on course during the daily Raldclipse.



Parachutes deployed! The crew has safely returned home!




Um... am I the only one who's more than a little creeped out by the sun reflecting off the water during a total flarping eclipse?!?


I am? Oh. Well. Glad we got that sorted out, then. As you were...



Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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Year 4, Day 278...

At least, I think it is. The mission clock is saying year 6, day 41... it's all very confusing. With the new orbital telescope, our long-term full sky survey is continuing, but it has confirmed what we've all known since the beginning. There are no stars here. Well, except Grannus.3fa4KYM.png


I could have sworn it was there before. But like everything else in the sky here, it's angry and red. Not as bloated and raging as Ciro, our main star, more of a... silently fuming with impotent wrath. It's small and dense, just a red dwarf. must have a Napoleon complex.

As to the clouds beyond, the science team still isn't sure. Maybe hydrogen nuclei, maybe even degenerate subatomic particles. We still don't have the resolution to see, or even gauge how much mass is out there. If there's anything beyond the clouds it's pure speculation. Some horrible cataclysm must have taken place here a very long time ago, yet this neat little solar system still exists. It's quite puzzling.


Moving on, Walkabout 3 has successfully moved on and entered the space around Tellumo!



We don't get to enjoy the view for long, however. Only hours after entering Tellumo's SOI, all attention switches back to the UMO-1 probe, which now has to make it's main correction maneuver.


As expected, the remaining hydrogen in the transfer stage has long since burned off, but the RCS is still in good health, and saves on our main fuel supply by handling the small correction burn. UMO-1 is now on course to enter Tellumo's atmosphere in another 242 days... and hopefully not burn to a crisp.


Meanwhile, it's time to science the crap out of this place!


Right away, something unexpected is discovered. There seems to be something lurking within the outer ring gap...


That will have to wait until later. First, it's several tense minutes as Walkabout 3 plunges into Tellumo's comm shadow, and we have to trust the on-board computer to perform the initial capture burn.


Which goes quite smoothly. The new MechIVAN series flight computer seems entirely trustworthy and quite reliable.


Not long after signal reacquisition, the spent transfer stage is discarded, leaving Walkabout 3 on a stable but highly eccentric polar orbit for its initial science mission.



Ciro is almost beginning to look normal from this distance...



At the next low pass, Walkabout 3's onboard engine is used to further reduce it's apo-Um. Even with nearly 1.8km/s on board, there's no hope of getting into a proper mapping orbit, Tellumo's massive grabbity well is just too deep. Some experiments with aerobraking in the upper reaches of the atmosphere are attempted...


...aaaand let's not try that again. For all the light baking the probe's systems suffered, the dozen-thousand kilometer apo-Um was only lowered by a bare handful of kilometers. It would take years to lower the orbit at that rate, and we need to conserve some fuel for the next objective. Tellumo's atmosphere is just too compact for effective aerobraking without a proper heat shield.


Most of the remaining fuel is burned at apo-Um to bring the low point of the orbit out into the ring grap. Maneuvering around this place sure is expensive! It's not long before the engineers are able to arrange a brief encounter with the münlet orbiting in the gap.



Wait a minute...

That's no mün...


... it's a space walnut!


...and this is the best image we ever captured. Due to an unfortunate quirk of physics and bad timing, our encounters with this overgrown rock will only be on the dark side-- who's breathing heavy? Anyways, the probe would need near constant monitoring for the next half a Tellumian year to avoid a collision until we could get useful images, and we can't spare the bandwidth. For now, this space rock will have to remain a big dark blotch.


Walkabout 3 uses its last puff of fuel to push its peri-Um safely out beyond the ring plane and settles into a long-term housekeeping mission. It will still be useful in another couple hundred days to serve as a comm relay once UMO-1 arrives.





Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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3 minutes ago, Galileo said:

Hahaha! space walnut!

Oh, since you're here...



Er... is Lili supposed to have only one huge Midlands biome?


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3 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Oh, since you're here...


  Hide contents

Er... is Lili supposed to have only one huge Midlands biome?


Pretty much. It uses one the stock potato biome maps. We just never got around to making one for Lili.


does Tellumo's rings always look that transparent? Maybe I haven't noticed since I use an very dark skybox

Edited by Galileo

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On 5/13/2017 at 3:52 PM, Galileo said:



does Tellumo's rings always look that transparent? Maybe I haven't noticed since I use an very dark skybox

That's how they've always looked. Seems about right to me, other than some odd shadow effects when seen from the ground, they look great!

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Year 5, Day 5...

We really need to keep a better lid on these New Year's parties. This is only a short update, as the latest mission did not go well, and we were all too busy scrambling to hit the shutter.

The was the second launch of the NewShip, which doesn't make sense, since it's used now. For this rebuild the engineers stripped it down and turned it into a flying fuel tank with nothing else in the service bay to see just how much delta-V we can squeeze out of this thing. We knew we were pushing the limits, but, well...




The trouble started almost at once. Some problem with the autosequencers staged the booster too early without shutting it down causing it to collide with the upper stage and throw it off course. Then, while we were scrambling to check the data feed, someone finally noticed the LAS tower hadn't jettisoned yet, either. With the stack now overweight and underheight, I was about to hit the remote abort trigger when Triti calmly explained that anyone who did hit the remote trigger would be shortly shown his own... well, it didn't sound pleasant.

I just don't understand her, sometimes. It took enough ketamine to drop a rhino just to get her in to the capsule, but suddenly she's--

What? She never got the ketamine? Then where--?

Sigh. Somebody better go check on Vlad.


Anyways, the abort tower and only the abort tower was manually jettisoned. The upper stage ran out of fuel well short of orbit, and the pod proceeded on its own engines. Owing to the fact that it was, in fact, a flying fuel tank, Triti was able to limp it into a useful orbit. Any hopes for high-altitude tests were dashed by this point, but we elected to continue with the primary mission. Because she would hurt us if we didn't.

That primary mission was to meet up with the new orbital telescope for an upgrade.


Problems continued, however, as we soon realized the engineers had neglected to include matching docking ports. So Triti had to hold the NewShip steady while Ferdlin handled the EVA.


This part at least, went smoothly. The old cameras and reaction wheels were switched out to new, more powerful, more accurate units. 


That, apparently, also consume a lot more power. The scope's batteries were marginal before, but now they drain within only a few minutes of darkness, leaving dark-side observations off the table for now. A new servicing mission is in the works.


And speaking batteries, we also learned that the NewShip's own supply was horribly lacking without the scientific gear included on the first flight. They also didn't last a full orbital night, leading to a complete system shutdown every orbit 20 minutes before sunrise.


About this time, we all (even Triti) agreed to cut the mission short. Which, due to an unfortunate quirk of orbital dynamics, ended up in the NewShip landing 600 kilometers away from the space center. That's going to be a long swim.




In other news, apparently Vlad is now the proud owner of a bull rhinoceros named Fluffy. Who suffers from multiple anxiety disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.

I have advised the staff to remain upwind, avoid any sudden moves, and acquire more ketamine. And towels.

Edited by CatastrophicFailure

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On 4/22/2017 at 10:28 PM, CatastrophicFailure said:

Year 4, Day 127...




Glub! Glubglub!



Glubglub! Gluuuuuuuuuuuuub! GLUBchockGLUG!

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Year 5, Day 51...

Well, after the disappointment of the last mission, today the crew is practically shaking with nervous energy!

Apparently that's to be expected when sharing a space with a heavily medicated rhino.

But also, UMO-1 has finally arrived at Tellumo!


Speaking of large game animals, this planet has a disturbingly large sphere of influence...


This time the transfer stage has served well, arriving in-system with a small surplus of RCS delta-V remaining. Unfortunately, we won't be able to use any of that until after the risky insertion sequence, so it's discarded, sure to burn up in the thick atmosphere.



Entering the upper whisps of air, we deploy our secret weapon: the ballute!


Hopefully this will give us the extra stability and drag we'll need to brake into a capture orbit without burning to a crisp.


Getting warm...



Getting very warm...


Entry speed is an absolutely ridiculous 15km/s. The inflatable heat shield glows white-hot!


And... we've done it! The probe has survived aerocapture into an elongated orbit!


Tellumo is awfully.. shiny.


The heat shield is still glowing...



@Galileo FYI this was actually taken above Tellumo's atmosphere, should I still be getting the blued-sky effect that high?


UMO-1 has lost a single solar panel during the maneuver, but the mission is cleared to proceed!


Not that it could do much else at this point.


The probe makes a second plunge into the atmosphere to further lower its


IT turns out the ballute wasn't much use after all. The entry vehicle is aerodynamically stable without it, and it doesn't seem to have contributed much braking, either.


After this second pass, the mission modules separate once they have reached the dark side.


Despite a thorough search, no cookies were found. The team is disheartened.


The propulsion package the boosts itself into a stable orbit to serve as a relay, while the descent module makes its final plunge.



It's subjected to a punishing 22G's before the chutes are finally opened...


And here's where the problems arose. The relay passed out of range just after the backshell was separated... which didn't actually separate at all since the heatshield was creating more drag than the drogue chute attached to it.


With the probe now out of control there was no way to jettison the heatshield (can someone seriously not figure out a way to just deflate this thing? Are needles that hard to bring into space?! Oh. They are. OK.), and the descent module begins spinning violently.


This does, however, throw the backshell free.


This just goes on... and on... the lander spinning madly around just barely meandering downward...



Just keep spinning, just keep spinning, spinning spinning... STOP SINGING! WHO IS SINGING THAT!? DO NOT GET THAT SONG STUCK IN MY... PЏГЇИ.



Well, anyways, the probe makes it down.



Luckily, the batteries hold out until the relay makes another pass, then the team is able to deploy the solar panels and high-gain. The landing location is somewhat disappointing, as being on water (AND ON TOP OF A BIG FLARPING HEAT SHIELD!) limts our science returns somewhat.



Yet science returns do start filing in. Being below the ring shadow has some... unpredictable effects on the solar arrays...



But the sunsets here are really quite spectacular.



Tellumian NIIIIIIIIIIIGHTS, like Tellumian DAAAAAAAAAAAYS, more often than not, are-- SHUT UP, VLAD!!!!!



Ahem, yes, well, here see a picturesque passage of the shepherd moon buried deep in the rings, still illuminated by the weak sunlight.



And here we see one of the frequent, if less spectacular, eclipses from the small space rock fast-tracking across the sky. This, shall be our next target to investigate!


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