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[1.3] SETI Caveman Challenge 01 - Daredevil Spaceplane

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Daredevil Spaceplane


The "Daredevil Squadron" is home to the boldest pilots on kerbin since shortly after the invention of powered flight. It is therefore a natural recruiting place for the new spaceprogram.

Unfortunately technological progress is not as fast as some of those pilots would like it to be and there is a growing fear that manned spaceflight with all the proper precautions, safety concerns and design delays for capsules is coming too late for some of the pilots. And for those kerbals who live in a cockpit, taking familiar risks in flight is much more appealing than taking the risk of missing their chance.

Thus some of the daredevil pilots pushed hard and called in favors to try to go to space with the current technology, even if it is only for a quick peak into what lies beyond the confines of the kerbin atmosphere.


The challenge

Your challenge, should you accept it, is to reach an altitude (apoapsis) as high as possible, with a kerbal piloting the vessel, under the facility upgrade and technological limits described below and then safely return to the KSC (must be visible when landed).

Ranking is done by altitude (apoapsis). For those who reach space, a second ranking is done by vehicle mass (KER readouts in SPH/VAB).

Minimum picture requirements for a ranking are
1. Design showing KER readouts in SPH/VAB, especially total vessel mass.
2. In flight, at or very close to apoapsis. Apoapsis displayed by KER or mechjeb (switch KER to partless instead of career in KER settings available in SPH/VAB). Note that the altimeter shows altitude over terrain when in surface mode.
3. Safely landed back at Kerbin with KSC visible in the background. Beware, the cockpit was not designed for space flight, it is somewhat fragile.

Of course additional pictures, videos, etc are very welcome. As is a link if you stream it.

The challenge was inspired by @Steven Mading https://www.twitch.tv/dunbaratu who streamed trying out the "Giving Aircraft a Purpose" mod pack by @inigma on twitch (which is a bit buggy at the moment due to ksp spawn calculation changes).


The restrictions

1. No R&D, SPH/VAB, Runway/Launchpad facility upgrades! (=> 30part / 9ton mass limit, regardless whether you start from Runway or Launchpad)
2. Tweakscale is only allowed for wings/control surfaces/landing gear/adapters.
3. No mods except the ones specified below. Visual and similar mods are exempt from this rule.
4. No cheating.
5. Science/parts restrictions as shown here
(thus no liquid fuel engines, reaction wheels, RCS, decouplers, etc.)


np7EOhq.png Start node

zg1eNc2.png Early Aviation node

M2d4P8i.png Modular Wings node


The mods

1. Install CKAN for a separate, clean KSP install.
2. Only select the "SETI-MetaModPack". Click "ApplyChanges".
3. Leave all recommendations selected. Click "Continue".
4. From the suggestions, only SETIprobeControlEnabler is allowed, though for this challenge it does not matter. Click "Continue" and wait for the the mods to be installed.
5. RCS Build Aid is among the recommendations, but is currently not available via ckan. You may (highly recommended) install that manually from here: https://github.com/linuxgurugamer/RCSBuildAid/releases
6. Visual mods are allowed at your own discretion.


The ranking

By altitude:

1. @Tux1 with ~78,006m above sea level.
2. @Yemo with ~18,295m above sea level. (Altimeter shows 18,232m above terrain)



By mass, for those who reach space:

1. @Tux1 with 5,766kg, reaching an altitude of ~78,006m above sea level.





I ll start with a simple submission (no pics no clicks!), though I have tested the challenge before and space (70km+) is possible, given the restrictions.





Edited by Yemo
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I dont fancy installing any extra mods but the challenge sounds interesting, so could you just tell me what parts I can use? Since I have the normal 1-man pod and a parachute unlocked in the first node already...

Mainly the following questions need answering:

1. What engine(s) can I use? (rocket and jet engines)

2. The cockpit shown in the pictures in the above post is the only allowed crewable part right?

3. Can I use parachutes?


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Unfortunately it would not make much sense to try the challenge without the mod pack, since it changes the gameplay so much.
But with a separate ksp install and ckan, it literally takes 5 clicks (and the loading time for the mods) to install everything and be ready.

There are many challenges for building spaceplanes in stock, but while the screenshots look very similar to stock, the challenge is very different.

The tech tree is different, the part selection is different, the parts are somewhat different (removed imbalances between parts, eg the swept wing being too heavy compared to the offered lifting surface), the cockpit is the old Mk1 Inline Cockpit from earlier KSP versions with different stats (no reaction wheels, no monoprop, more fragile, but lighter). There are no reaction wheels this early in the tech tree, no decouplers, no RCS, no parachutes, the first R&D level goes to 40 science instead of 100, first launch pad and runway facility levels start with 9 tons mass limit instead of 18 tons, action groups are available from the start, etc. It is a long list of changes and a very different feel to it. Much more balanced than stock, yet still much less realistic than RealismOverhaul, somewhere in between.


I understand that the vast majority of players do not want to fiddle through mod installs for challenges.
But for those few who are willing to invest a bit of disc space, 5 extra mod install clicks and some loading time to try out something different, I plan a mini series of challenges (indicated by the "01" in the title). At first glance, these challenges will seem familiar and perhaps simple, but this particular meta mod pack makes all the difference compared to similar challenges for the stock game. An opportunity to rethink your approach and experience something familiar, yet new and different, if you come from stock.


edit: Oh, and to answer your question, the 3 screenshots from the tech tree nodes show all the parts you would have. But for some, the part values and modules are different from stock.

Edited by Yemo
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3 hours ago, theonegalen said:

If I hate CKAN and want to install manually, what all do I need?

I just linked to the MetaModPack netkan file on github. Many of those recommended mods make no difference for this challenge, but with ckan also make no difference for the install and a very minimal difference for loading times. But they might or will become handy for future challenges and together make up something like "what stock ksp could/might have been". SCANsat and RCSbuildAid are the only two relevant ones which do not install via ckan at the moment.

edit: CKAN is like a steam engines, it had issues at the start and destroyed stuff, but once they were ironed out and people (modders and users) learned to use it, there is no going back.


The bare minimum to get comparable results for this particular challenge would probably be:

CommunityTechTree (not sure whether this changes some part placement this early on)
RCSBuildAid (to balance landing gear vs rudder, etc and thus keep CoM and CoT aligned)
SETI-BalanceMod aka SETIrebalance


1 hour ago, tseitsei89 said:

Aa ok. Didnt realize you were using mods that significantly alter the physics. That's fine. Just not my challenge then :)

Not the physics, just the parts. For a similar challenge, use a cockpit, deactivate all reaction wheels and use only boosters + the 0.625m jet engine, tweakscaled wings, control surfaces, adapters and in this case boosters. No decouplers or similar. Try to go to space with as light a plane as possible.

Edited by Yemo
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  • 3 weeks later...


Looks good, added to leaderboard!

Did you have any issues with the challenge or the mod pack?

What were your biggest obstacles for completing the challenge? My main issue was going too high and then burning up on the steep descent.


There are 2 more SETI challenges released so far, one to the mun and one to deploy a mini sat with a plane. The even numbers are probe-focused while the odd numbers have a manned focus.

Challenges 4 and 5 are in the making as well, which should make it worthwhile to install the mod pack.


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