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sevenperforce

SLS Laythe Clipper (Doing It Orion Style)

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As a followup to this mission report and satisfaction of Mission III in this challenge, I submit: Laythe Clipper!

Phase 1: Design, Construction, and Launch

The trickiest thing, other than packing all the correct components onto the spacecraft, was getting it all to fit inside the 3.5-meter fairing.

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But I managed!

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Exploration Upper Stage, powered by four LV-T45s and using two separate tanks inside a fairing to match the design of the EUS.

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A peek under the hood at Europa Clipper itself. Looks pretty cluttered, I know. It has its own propulsion and RCS, two survey scanners, a large relay antenna, assorted instruments, tweakscaled solar panels, four RTGs, heat management, four ion-powered cubesat probes, a large bipropellant-powered atmosphere-skimming probe, and a lander. Yes, I know the current Europa Skipper does not include plans for a lander, but I went with one of the earlier plans.

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Majestic on the pad.

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SSME ignition.

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Liftoff!

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Nice shot under the engines.

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Not the most efficient ascent, but I have fuel for days. Europa Clipper and the EUS, though large, are small enough that I could get into orbit on the boosters+core alone.

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At least it's nice to have a ton of control authority on the engines.

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Booster separation!

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Way steeper an ascent than I'd like, so I'm going to nose over quickly and then jettison my fairing.

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Fairing away!

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Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.

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MECO while my periapsis is still low enough for booster disposal.

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Safe periapsis for disposal!

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Separation and firing up the EUS.

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Orbit achieved! That was easy. Honestly I probably could have done this with the ICPS.

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Shot of the core post-separation -- note the support column for the EUS.

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Silhouettes are always nice.

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Back on the daylit side, verifying systems.

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Closeup of the EUS; note the octagonal thrust structure.

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All systems go, ready for Jool departure!

 

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And here's the second leg!

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Waited for a good launch window and set up the node.

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Good enough for a first pass.

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EUS restart, and...

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Full throttle!

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Injection burn complete.

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Shut down two EUS engines; using residuals to make trajectory adjustments.

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Close enough!

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EUS jettison.

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First shot of Laythe Clipper flying free!

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Coast period nearly complete...coming in to the Jool SOI.

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Setting up my node. Decided not to aerocapture.

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Burning to insertion.

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Very eccentric orbit, but I'm in! My plan is to use very small burns at the high Jool apoapsis to get some assists.

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Setting up the first Laythe encounter/assist.

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Approaching first Laythe encounter!

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Correction to obtain Laythe assist.

First Laythe encounter!

Spoiler

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That's encounter 1!

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Orbit is still very eccentric so I'll get another assist to bring me down into the plane.

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There's my Tylo assist!

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Swinging around Tylo.

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Couldn't resist picking up some science.

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The Skipper is still awfully heavy at this point...lots of sub-sats to deploy.

The Tylo assist put me on a Val encounter for co-Laythe orbit insertion.

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Mid-course correction burn at Val. Note the four RCS clusters, as well as the Laythe lander on the near side and the Laythe Orbiter on the far side.

Second encounter:

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First cubesat away!

Spoiler

Snapshots:

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Nice shot of Jool hiding on the left.

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Once-around again for another encounter.

Cubesat 2 deployed:

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Spoiler

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Another loop around Jool.

Spoiler

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I love the shots with both Jool and Laythe.

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Gonna go ahead and deploy the orbiter.

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Just after deployment.

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All systems engaged!

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Firing up the engines for the orbital insertion.

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Glamour shot.

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Orbit achieved!

Gonna drop another cubesat.

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What a surprise, right?

I'll drop another one -- the one with the atmospheric sampler -- and put this one in orbit.

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Start of the orbital ion insertion burn.

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At this angle it looks like Laythe is being illuminated by the glow of the Dawn. Pretty neat, huh?

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Halfway through my xenon; should have no trouble making a few passes to get atmospheric samples later on.

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Now with all the cubesats away, you can see the different orbits.

Lined up for the fifth encounter:

Spoiler

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I think that's Tylo in the background.

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With some course corrections, I managed to get a double encounter. 

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Sixth encounter!

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With such a close periapsis, I'll use this to deploy my lander. My lander has no engines of its own so I'll need to put it on an aerobraking trajectory using the engines on the main probe, then release it, then burn in the opposite direction to keep from aerobraking the Laythe Skipper itself.

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Deployed!

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Brought my periapsis back up out of the atmosphere.

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This will be my final encounter for now.

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Probe approaching Laythe.

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No control and no engines...let's hope I have good passive aerodynamic stability in this design! Love seeing Jool on the left...

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Blazing fast. 

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Looks like the entry heating is starting to decrease. Is my trajectory good?

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Dropped the heat shield. Having this battery on the bottom really helped keep the COM forward.

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Tumbling with Joolrise on the horizon.

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Chutes away! Or chute, in this case.

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Doing a little science on the slow descent.

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Nearing the surface. I tested this lander on Kerbin but you never know if the gravity and atmosphere are going to work out properly. 

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Moment of truth...

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Success!

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I only have battery power on this probe, so I'll have to get things done quickly.

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Surface scanning...

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Temperature scan...

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Seismic scan...

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Pressure scan, and that's it!

So, that does it! I decided to go ahead and put the Clipper in a Joolgrazing parking orbit in case I want to squeeze out a few more encounters. Until then, sayonara!

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(Note Laythe peeking out in the background.)

 

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