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New Career Game!

Given the ominous glimpses of asteroids in telescopes, and the potential habitability of Laythe compared to every other extrakerbinal body in the system, the kerbals have decided to start a space programme.  The eventual goal is to get a viable off-Kerbin colony, but that's a long way ahead.

 

Extracts from Wernher von Kerman’s notes…

 

“Success! - even though the space programme has had approval for months, it wasn’t until our staff started populating the space centre that we could be sure anything would come of it.  The facilities are basic, but adequate, and planning for our first mission has already commenced…”

 

“...initial work has been productive - so far, design and development of (what we believe to be) a space-capable capsule, a basic solid fuel engine, and descent parachutes is sufficiently advanced that flight tests should be imminent.”

 

“Gene introduced me to the kerbonauts today - the engineer is an idiot, the pilots are possibly competent but don’t act like it, and the scientist may actually be of some use.  More research into unkerballed control systems is obviously required.”

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Hopper 1

 

Our primary goal for the first mission is merely to achieve a successful launch and recovery of the vehicle - i.e. to go up and then back down again; the extremely simple construction (solid fuel rocket engine, capsule, parachute) should ensure a minimum of variables and failure modes.

 

Based on extensive simulation, we have discovered:

  • Varying the engine’s thrust significantly influences the vehicle’s stability and maximum altitude (see graphs).  25% thrust appears to be the optimum, allowing the vehicle to reach altitudes of over 8km.

  • Thrust levels above 50% result in the vehicle losing stability; adding three fins to the vehicle’s base prevented this effect, but also reduced maximum altitude.

  • The capsule’s reaction wheels provide sufficient control authority for the purposes of the mission (avoiding land/buildings).

  • The parachute does not produce a low enough descent speed to consistently protect the engine from damage/destruction on landing.

 

Based on the above, the engine was set to 25% thrust, with a mission profile to ascend vertically to burnout, maintain that attitude while coasting to maximum altitude, manoeuvre into a controlled descent to splash down in the sea, deploying parachutes at approximately 2.5km.

 

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MISSION REPORT

 

Crew: Jebediah Kerman

 

Result: Success

 

Status: Recovered

 

Details:

 

A complete success for the space programme’s inaugural mission!  The vehicle ascended above an altitude of 8km within seconds and basic scientific observations were made (albeit only from the launch pad).  As expected, basic attitude control was possible, and was used during descent to direct the vehicle to a safe splashdown.

 

Also, two contracts have been completed - the astronaut complex has been upgraded with some of the proceeds, and our crews have now received training which should allow them to bale out in case of emergencies - we should probably have thought of this sooner...

Finally, Jeb’s picture of the space centre from above has been blown up and now adorns the mission control lobby.

 

All Systems Go for Take-Off

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Accelerating...

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Just after burnout

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KSC from several kilometres up, glimpsed through the capsule window.

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about to splash down

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A Safe Splashdown

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Hopper 1a

 

With the basic vehicle design completed and tested, we can now turn our attention to gathering some useful scientific information - the 1a version is equipped with 4 thermometers allowing us to log atmospheric temperatures at various altitudes.

 

The mission profile remains unchanged apart from requiring a slightly higher parachute deployment - this is to satisfy the parachute test contract.  Also being tested (after splashdown) is the decoupler between booster and capsule - the decoupler force has been reduced to 5% to limit its effect on the capsule/pilot.

 

Valentina will be logging her first mission with this flight.

 

 

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MISSION REPORT

Crew: Valentina Kerman

Result: Success

Status: Recovered

Details:

 

Nothing but good news to report - the addition of instruments and the decoupler had no significant effect on the vehicle’s performance, and the flight proceeded as planned.  We now have the option of discarding non-essential parts of the vehicle if there are concerns about the possibility of safely landing the capsule while still attached to other parts (e.g. boosters, fuel tanks).

 

It is also encouraging to note the spacesuits function as well in the water as on land.

 

In other news, the VAB has been upgraded - while the extra space wasn’t really necessary, the improved facilities inside are very welcome.

 

 

Launch

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Valentina tries swimming

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Decoupled

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Hopper 1b

 

Our “kerballed sounding rocket” has been slightly changed - scientific equipment now consists of 3 barometers and 3 thermometers, and the parachute has been swapped for the RealChute model, which is being tested on this flight.  As the decoupler is no longer required, this vehicle returns to the previous 1-piece design.

 

This is the first time we’re letting a scientist at the controls - Val and Jeb have been briefing Bob on the flight characteristics, and we think he can handle it.

 

The mission profile is slightly changed in that the ascent will not be purely vertical - pulling up just after launch will cause the trajectory to shift eastwards earlier, and ensure a water landing.

 

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MISSION REPORT

Crew: Bob Kerman

Result: Partial Success

Status: Recovered

Details:

 

Disregard “we think he can handle it”.  Bob was unable to use the SAS to keep the vehicle pointed in a straight line, but luckily managed to avoid flying into the ground under power.  Note for future missions - either make the vehicle a lot more stable (e.g. add fins) or make flights pilot-only.

 

We do however have confirmation the basic RealChute cone works effectively, and useful barometric data were retrieved from an intact vehicle - both of which would be improved if a higher altitude had been achieved.

 

Jeb’s turn next - Bob is on lab duty only for at least the next few missions.

 

Heading west...

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...and south...

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At least these work.

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Nearing the end of a short, but exciting, trip.

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Hopper 2

 

Several new parts are being used for the first time on the upcoming flight - the larger RT-10 “Hammer” booster, stabilising fins, drogue parachutes (to ensure the main parachute deploys under the right conditions), and the “Mystery Goo”, two containers of which fit conveniently into a service bay under the capsule.  In case of emergencies, a decoupler has been added to separate the capsule.

 

Simulations suggest this vehicle could reach altitudes of over 30km - we expect valuable scientific data to be available in this part of the atmosphere so two of each instrument are carried.

 

Two testing contracts, the previously attempted RealChute test, and using the booster itself, will be successfully completed if all goes to plan.

 

The mission profile is a simple vertical ascent - any reasonably flat surface should allow for a safe landing, so heading seawards is not required.


aycCXme.png

 

 

 

 

MISSION REPORT

Crew: Jebediah Kerman

Result: Success

Status: Recovered

Details:

 

This vehicle is both more powerful and more stable than any previously flown - a record altitude was achieved, and Jeb stated the handling was far less “twitchy” than the previous designs.  The addition of drogue chutes worked perfectly in stabilising the vehicle in a particular descent configuration - a technique that may prove useful in future.


Initial data recovered from Kerbin’s upper atmosphere is unsurprising, but nevertheless valuable; at least one other flight of this type is indicated to wring more scientific data out of this region.

 

Perfect weather for a launch.

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Burnout at >22km.

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Drogues keeping the descent in check.

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Walking would have probably been quicker.

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Jeb says this was intentional.

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Hopper 2a

Although no major changes have been made to the previous design; the drogue chutes have been removed as they are unnecessary for this mission’s profile.  The intention here is to maximise horizontal range and the vehicle will pitch just after launch to head over the ocean, gathering scientific data as the opportunities present.  Val is pleased - she says swimming in the suits is actually easier than walking in them.

 

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MISSION REPORT

Crew: Valentina Kerman

Result: Success

Status: Recovered

Details:

As intended, a respectable horizontal distance of nearly 50km was achieved, but there was nothing else of great note discovered here.  Val reported the removal of the drogue chutes should perhaps be reconsidered as the shock when the main chute opened was significant - we think this can also be addressed by increasing its opening time instead of adding more components.

More destinations beckon - probably west towards the mountains next.

 

 

 

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This could be a quicker way to get to the island airfield.

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Val decided not to go for a swim after all.

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Hopper 2b

Identical to the previous design, and unless something unexpected occurs, this will probably be the last time we launch such a simple vehicle.  For future missions, multi-stage and liquid-fuelled rockets will make their appearance.

Simulations suggest Jeb will be unable to clear the mountains, instead landing short; this is ideal - the tail-sitting design is only suitable for touching down in the sea or flat ground.

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MISSION REPORT

Crew: Jebediah Kerman

Result: Success

Status: Recovered

Details:

 

Some more scientific data were recovered from the highlands to the west, but the flight was mostly uneventful.  As predicted, to gain significantly more experience and research data, we will need to make use of new technologies - sketches of a more advanced liquid-fuelled rocket vehicle have already been completed.

 

another high-altitude flight

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Scenic

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Time for breakfast at the mountain foothills.

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Posted (edited)

 

Hopper 3a/3b

The solid fuelled boosters are cheap and simple, but the controllability and efficiency that liquid fuel engines offer are an obvious design innovation.  For this series of flights, we will be using the LV-T45 - combined with four small fuel tanks we expect it to be capable of lifting the previously used science packages (plus a small mobile laboratory) out of the atmosphere (or achieving significant range in a lower ballistic trajectory).  Larger fins have been used as simulation data suggest this vehicle may be unstable at high speed otherwise.  Largely for pilot reassurance, a small forward/downward facing ventral camera is fitted

 

3a (piloted by Valentina) will launch eastwards as usual - the turn will not be significant so as to ensure the vehicle exits atmosphere.  After fuel exhaustion, the tanks and engine will be detached (although not while there is still enough airflow to require the stabilising effect of the fins).  Once in space, there should be sufficient time to run a few experiments, conduct observations and a brief EVA, and manoeuvre for reentry and splashdown.  For 3a only, a heat shield will be carried for testing purposes - it is not expected to be necessary for the low energy reentry.


3b (Jeb) will launch then turn west, we’re not in doubt that this vehicle can clear the mountains and then reach the ocean.
 

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MISSION REPORT

Crew: Valentina Kerman (3a), Jebediah Kerman (3b)
Result: Success
Status: Recovered
Details:

On both occasions, the Hopper 3 vehicles exited and reentered the atmosphere without giving us any surprises - we now have our first space-tested hardware and pilots and can seriously think about launching orbital missions.

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Smooth ride (compared to the solid boosters)

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It's a shame to be throwing these away.

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The suits work in vacuum as well as water.

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Pretty...

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This looks worse than it is.

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Val said seeing the parachute deploy made the camera worth it.

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Swift 1a

There are many reasons for not relying exclusively on vertically launched rocket vehicles - recovery to the launch site is difficult, and lots of expensive hardware ends up being discarded.  Also, rockets are virtually useless for extended atmospheric missions.  Therefore, after some hangar upgrades, the spaceplane team has commenced work on a light survey/research aircraft - designated Swift 1.

 

Simulations suggest its handling is generally docile, although shedding speed on approach is annoyingly difficult.  A brake chute is virtually mandatory if we want to avoid runway overruns.  Another issue is the engine placement - on top, out of a lack of other suitable positions (one of the reasons a v-tail configuration was chosen).


Scientific equipment carried includes the SC-9001 mini lab, two mystery goo canisters, thermometers, and barometers.

 

Other than testing the general handling of this aircraft, the objectives are to survey three locations near the space centre, and test the Mk1 cockpit in flight.

 

New recruit Megrys Kerman will be piloting the Swift on its first flight.

 

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MISSION REPORT

Crew: Megrys Kerman
Result: Success
Status: Recovered
Details:

“A pleasure to fly”, said Meg after climbing out of the aircraft.  The Swift 1 was perfectly suited to the survey mission, managing to fly the route planned, visiting all three survey areas, without causing any problems.  As expected, the landing speed is still higher than ideal, but Megrys was up to the task (she stated during the debriefing that the SAS was more of an irritation than assistance - the aircraft’s aerodynamic balancing was sufficient to ensure stable flight).  One other finding was that roll authority could be usefully increased - e.g. by moving the ailerons outboard; this would allow adding flaps to their current location, which should improve take off and landing performance.

 

Pre-flight checks are nearly complete.

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Meg turns towards waypoint 2.

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KSC is barely visible above the port wing.

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This is OK, as long as you know where the mountains are.

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After gaining altitude over land, Meg turns to head for home.

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KSC is visible again (in the left side of the HUD).

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Straightening up for final approach.

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Meg actually popped the chute while still airborne - it worked, this time.

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After a successful landing, it's time to vacate the runway.

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Mission complete! - the ground crew are on their way.

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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Orbiter 1 - Abort Test

There was never much of a plan about what to do if something disastrous happened during a rocket ascent - other than “decouple capsule, deploy parachutes, and hope for the best”.  Now that a spacecraft suitable for orbiting Kerbin has been designed, attention has also been paid to an abort system that will pull the crewed section away from tumbling/exploding/diving rockets.

 

This test will consist of a full abort from the launch pad - simulations indicate that as long as the SAS remains operative, the launch escape rockets will be able to pull the capsule to a sufficient height/distance for the parachutes to safely deploy.  The abort command also activates all decouplers, shuts down all engines, and arms the parachute - the less a pilot has to remember, the better.

 

We have an active contract to test a decoupler at the pad, which fits well with this test - it will merely be jettisoned from the rocket’s base before the abort test is conducted.

 

 

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MISSION REPORT

Crew: Valentina Kerman
Result: Success
Status: Recovered
Details:

Short and sweet - the launch escape system performed effectively, propelling the capsule and science package several hundred metres up and in the direction of the runway; the parachutes then took over to deliver the vehicle safely to ground.  The decoupler test also went without any problems.

 

The next flight will be historic - our first attempt to reach a stable orbit around Kerbin.

 

 

Looking closely, the detached decoupler/shroud can be seen under the rocket's base.HPMnCK3.png

 

Val isn't fazed by 5G.

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This is just before jettisoning the launch escape rocket.

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The tranquil part of the descent.

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This is another one of those missions where recovery is easy.

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Edited by S4qFBxkFFg

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