JDCollie

Skirting Death - Share Your Closest Calls

23 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

What the most impressive/lucky/awe-inspiring ways your Kerbals have pulls victory from the jaws of defeat?

 

One of mine was a harrowing re-entry with a beleaguered SSTO in a modded save awhile back. At the time there was an issue with Infernal Robotics that would cause FUN! to happen if you attached a docking port to a I.R. part. An issue I was unaware of.

WARNING: Wall of text incoming!

Spoiler

U4XzQq3.png

This is the Charon, the plane in question, though not on the on the mission I'm talking about here.

In my blissful ignorance I put a docking port on the end of a segmented, actuated arm in the cargobay of my SSTO, the Charon, and launched her on a taxi mission to my LKO science station to rotate my scientists. Jeb was at the wheel, so what could go wrong? The ascent, rendezvous, and docking went off without a hitch. The new scientist boarded the station, and Bob settled into the Charon to take some R&R before his deployment on the soon-to-be-launched manned Duna mission. The undocking went as planned as well; it wasn't until I tried to retract the docking arm and found that it was frozen in place that I realized something had gone amiss. The cargobay doors proved similarly unresponsive. Now this was my "no quickload no respawn" career save, so I had to live with the mechanical failure. Worse, I had Deadly Re-entry and FAR installed, so even though vanilla heat mechanics weren't a thing, death due to bad re-entry was a very real threat.  Still, only the docking arm was new; the Charon's airframe was a design I had flown and landed probably fifty times at that point. I was confident I could bring her down safely. I burned for reentry and dropped to into the atmosphere.

The Charon's aerodynamic profile was seriously compromised thanks to the docking port; the first hints of drag immediately tried to pull her off vector. Still confident, I tried to compensate, only to instantly and completely lose control. Everything I did only seemed to make it worse. Strain on the Charon's frame was increasing. I tried to reign her in hard, and instead flipped her clean over in the opposite direction. With the spaceplan wrongside up, a combination Deadly Reentry and FAR disassembly began their work. Parts started coming off like waterdroplets on a windshield. Every battery, antenna, mechjeb component, and parachute was scoured from the cargobay and upper hull. Finally the docking arm and the outer winglets were sheared/burned off, with part of the debris taking one of the tailfins as it went. The end appeared nigh.

Without the drag from the arm, the plane became a bit more conventionally aerodynamic and righted herself before Deadly Re-entry could live up to it's name. Less fortunately, the chaotic descent had dumped more speed than expected. Where the original flight plan had put the Charon above the KSC, she was now falling into the mountains to the West. As a final nail in an already well secured coffin, the plane had traded the crazy rolling of re-entry for a rotating pancake drop. It was more genteel, but no less lethal. The worst part was that the control surfaces appeared to be functioning, but the plane itself wasn't responding as expected. I was bewildered. Jeb and Bob were going to die a scant few kilometers from home, and there was nothing I could do about it. Then I looked closely and the Charon's wingtips and the full extent of what the Infernal Robotics bug had done to me was made clear.

The bug hadn't just frozen every actuator on the ship, it had inverted every control surface as well. (While leaving the reaction wheels alone.)

With this newfound understanding (and after some desperate attempts to click spinning parts in order to disable the reaction wheels) I slammed the Charon into a nosedive. The spinning began to slow, but I still lacked the airspeed to maintain flight. The plane dropped below the peaks of the mountains, still mostly in free-fall. Ground clutter had just become visible when the Charon was finally able to pull up her nose and gain horizontal momentum. I even managed to limp my way over to the KSC and landed on the runway, though the Charon was burned, bruised, missing more than few parts, and decidedly worse for wear. 

I had to take a break after that one, my hands were shaking.

 

 

So yeah, that's my closest call. What have your Kerbals barely survived?

Edited by JDCollie
6 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is an awesome story. I bet hitting the recover button for that one was satisfying.

I play a much less hardcore configuration of the game than you do, so this isn't nearly as impressive, but it was still a nail biter. I accepted a mission to recover a kerbal from the surface of the mun, at a fairly high latitude. I put together a spaceplane with a lander that docked in the cargo bay, got it out to a polar orbit of the mun, and found out that I did not have enough fuel on the lander. I think I had been doing a bunch of minmus landings that career, and had forgotten how much more delta V the mun takes. Normally this would be a mission scrub--revert to hangar and try again. I'd quicksaved and reloaded at some point, though, so that was out.

I noticed that while my lander didn't have enough fuel, I did have a healthy surplus on the spaceplane. I burned retro with the main engines to dump a bunch of velocity, then detached the lander, maneuvered it away from the mothership, swapped back to the mothership and re-accelerated, and then swapped back to the lander to complete the landing process.

I don't remember anymore if I had to decelerate the spaceplane again to make rendezvous on the way back up, but I'll claim that I did since it makes for a better story that way. I do remember it being finicky to match orbits because of the mun's rotation and the high latitude.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think this counts, but there was once I left my main stage of my rocket with exactly 0.01 units of fuel.

pDa2lPy.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whenever i survive re-entry without a heatshield it is an amazing feat. I also did an EVA at 40km altitude in the atmosphere, i nearly glided away but i got back in in time before the atmosphere started kicking in major.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My closest call was a twofer.

I was doing a sort of Apollo mission and landed with 0.05 ox left in the descent stage. I takeoff and failed to make the rendevous with the command module because the ascent stage also didn't have excess fuel and the orbits weren't perfectly lined up. But whatever the ascent stage had RCS for docking, I'll just scoot off to the command module and dock, except the ascent stage had everything but RCS thrusters because I'm a goof. So, fine, the command module will go over there and dock to the ascent stage, I know I gave it RCS in case of such a scenario, which I did. But I took the monoprop out of the pod and didn't put any tanks on it for... some reason. So I was reduced to dock with only the command pods engine.

I've never tried a meticulously planned mission since, instead overbuilding everything to give me wiggle room for winging it. Its worked out so far.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, I was doing a apollo 11 mission replica when my docking port got stuck, then, with my luck the LEM started to be attacked from the kracken, lets just say that I undocked just in time (i always put separators on my docking ports because I always have problems with them)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Valentina was in low Mün orbit on her way to deliver some radiator panels to a goofed-up mining operation.  The plan was to deliver the panels, refuel, and return to Kerbin with this final stage.

The problems started when Val was too impatient to dock with the orbital station for a smidgen more fuel and instead began her descent with only 550m/s in the tank thinking it would be enough thanks to the surface speed (note: Münar surface speed is actually only 10m/s, not ~100).

The suicide burn ended a couple hundred meters away from the base, with zero fuel and 40m/s remaining.

A quick lithobraking later, and the only parts left were a lifesupport container, the capsule, a docking port and two scattered landing gear.  Plus the radiator panels in her backpack, so the primary mission was a complete success.  Hitching a ride home took longer than expected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sent a crew to Duna to assist with the new colony.  I intended to land by chutes alone, but ended up having to use the LV-N as well.

Made it down safely with only about 53m/s of dV to spare.

BQA0i4t.jpg

Not as exciting as a lot of others posted here, but it's a close call for me at least!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, heres a pretty recent one (like, an hour ago) I got into a hypersonic spin on re-entry in my very poorly shielded spaceplane.... Lots of key mashing insued.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/8/2017 at 2:18 AM, Allocthonous said:

That is an awesome story. I bet hitting the recover button for that one was satisfying.

I play a much less hardcore configuration of the game than you do, so this isn't nearly as impressive, but it was still a nail biter. I accepted a mission to recover a kerbal from the surface of the mun, at a fairly high latitude. I put together a spaceplane with a lander that docked in the cargo bay, got it out to a polar orbit of the mun, and found out that I did not have enough fuel on the lander. I think I had been doing a bunch of minmus landings that career, and had forgotten how much more delta V the mun takes. Normally this would be a mission scrub--revert to hangar and try again. I'd quicksaved and reloaded at some point, though, so that was out.

I noticed that while my lander didn't have enough fuel, I did have a healthy surplus on the spaceplane. I burned retro with the main engines to dump a bunch of velocity, then detached the lander, maneuvered it away from the mothership, swapped back to the mothership and re-accelerated, and then swapped back to the lander to complete the landing process.

I don't remember anymore if I had to decelerate the spaceplane again to make rendezvous on the way back up, but I'll claim that I did since it makes for a better story that way. I do remember it being finicky to match orbits because of the mun's rotation and the high latitude.

That's actually pretty awesome :D  Super risky (kerbally?) too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an old one: my first "landing" on the Mun 6.4x scale.

LuW2j0R.gif

pyAKWLR.jpg?1

The problem was it didn't have any reaction wheels; it relied entirely on RCS and gimballing the main engine for steering. MechJeb's landing autopilot did not approve. I just barely managed to get it turned around tail-first before impact, which probably saved the capsule. 

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/9/2017 at 10:45 AM, Hotaru said:

Here's an old one: my first "landing" on the Mun 6.4x scale.

LuW2j0R.gif

pyAKWLR.jpg?1

The problem was it didn't have any reaction wheels; it relied entirely on RCS and gimballing the main engine for steering. MechJeb's landing autopilot did not approve. I just barely managed to get it turned around tail-first before impact, which probably saved the capsule. 

It is moments like that that make me grateful KSP doesn't model G-Force damage on kerbals

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh boy, so many. I push things to the limits a tad too much sometimes, so it's usually all my doing, but it still makes me smile when I can put a craft down that's limping. There was:

-The time I had Valentina make an emergency water landing after some failure of her airplane (Don't remember what the problem was, but I DO remember the plane being a big one). Then again, I've had to do a ton of unplanned water landings.

-The time just this morning when I pulled out of a dive too steeply under phys-warp, knocking Jeb unconscious and removing most of the wings and the front landing gear. Destroyed the nose upon landing but managed to grease it on at the northern ice cap.

-The time my plane inexplicably stalled while doing photography for a mission report on the forums, resulting in a destroyed plane, a surviving Jeb, and some cool photos.

-The time in an early career game where I suppose I had the re-entry angle a bit off, causing my Science Jr. module to be destroyed and leaving just the heat shield hanging on by air. As in, the only thing saving my bacon was the superheated air cramming the heat shield into place.

-The time I had to complete the final 3/4 of a mission on only 10 units of electricity because I not only had no batteries but no way to charge them either. I think it was a Munar flyby.

-The time I had to design, launch, and attach an aftermarket parachute pack onto a Munar lander in order to fulfill a contract objective.

The list goes on, but my memory does not. I'm working on some new near-death experiences, though, so I shall return.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just like @Tex I had an incident where my Science Jr blew up, taking my other science experiments with it (as they were attacked on the sides of the Science Jr), leaving the heatshield held on by the force of the air. After this incident I always leave the Science Jr on another stage and transfer the results into an experiments container.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eesh, yeah, the Science Jr is ridiculously fragile on reentry. Before the experiment storage unit was available I'd have kerbals go EVA to collect all the experiments rather than try and bring one of those things down unprotected. It was just too hard to get the heat protection and the aerodynamics for the whole capsule right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My closest call has to be a leap back at Jeb's capsule done by a lander I ditched FAR too late, after the mission had already been extremely chaotic in general. Was one of my first tho, so things like that don't happen to me anymore (or at least very, VERY rarely):

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any one of my early reentries with my Shuttle Columbia. It was designed to be able to maneuver well at full fuel, including the 4 mk3 monoprop tanks at the nose. It also weighed almost 100 tons fully fueled. I would nearly overheat the crew compartment on any reentry before I decided to attempt shorter reentries at a higher Δv cost. During some reentries, I would lose control due to a lack of aerodynamic stability, and I would use the main engines to stop the spinning and regain airspeed before hitting the ground. On one or two missions I would do this twice. I later redesigned the shuttle.

There's also part of my latest shuttle, the manned booster Spirit, which was initially perfectly aerodynamically stable, where it could easily land. It needed more fuel so Opportunity(orbiter) could reach orbit, so I added another fuel tank to it's nose to increase it's fuel load to 150%. This made it extremely stable, and very hard to turn. I went for a landing anyway, and had to come in at 200m/s so it wouldn't nose down too hard. It immediately lost the right engine pod and landing gear, but because the brakes were already set, it was staying on its wheels. Until it lost enough speed to have the tail fall and hit the runway, where the entire craft was immediately destroyed, except the cockpit and front landing gear. This bounced, then rolled because I tried to correct the roll problem, but hit the wrong key, bounced again, and bounced to a stop and fell on its back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tested an aircraft that uses two air intakes to feed four rapiers. At a speed if 1400-1500m/s I turned the plane and lost two engines and one wing due to aerodynamic forces.

Used 'keep retrograde' and the remaining two rapiers to land the aircraft space x style in the water.

No casualties.

 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a close encounter with failure and humiliation yesterday.

Some days ago I decided to set up a grid of relay sats around Kerbin, using resonant orbit to deliver 4 sats to just inside Kerbin SOI using a single launcher.

The problem is that I'm bad at designing multi-load stuff inside a fairing since I rarely use it and I'm too lazy to spend the time needed to do it right so I cludged up a design that appeared to work.

Sure, it worked, launcher reached it's correct ap/pe and the first sat released and circularised.

Since the next ap was 80+ days away I created a KAC alarm and went on to do other stuff until the time came to release sat #2.

It was just the slight hitch that I'd bungled the design so the sat bleeping refused to detach from the carrier ...

I did have a backup from before launching the badly designed contraption, but that would also erase something like 3 evenings of my career game, which included at least 10-12 successful launches, science gathered and completed contracts.

I had made a quicksave just before my first try to release the bungling sat but it took me 3-4 hours of reloading and wiggling the sat and launcher in every way I could imagine before I managed to get it free and in position.

Now I will have to do the same dance in 80+ in-game days time ...

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Hotaru was that a nuclear lightbulb engine on that lander? It's a good job KSP doesn't model radiation, or your kerbals definitely wouldn't've been so lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a simple, easy Kerbal rescue in Kerbin orbit, 2 stars I think. So I accepted it but didn't get around to doing it for awhile assuming he'd just wait patiently in his current orbit but, at some point unbeknownst to me, he crossed paths with the Mun and got ejected out into a solar orbit.

The existing rescue ship I was using packed extra Dv but was designed for near Kerbin orbit rescue operations, hoping it would be enough to do the job anyways, I launched it and began chasing after the wayward command pod in earnest. I finally caught up to it and rescued the poor Kerbal and turned around to head home, however it was already clear to me at this point that I did not have enough fuel to take them both safely back to the surface. My space station in this save was at 250k by 250k orbit around Kerbin so I decided to try and make it there instead despite a lack of docking ports, I figured I'd just jump out and fly over. I managed the rendezvous with my limited fuel, but ran out as I tried to slow down to match speed with the station and went whizzing past it. I quickly switched to the station and loaded a Kerbal into the small tugboat I used for orbital assembly to chase them down, but it too came up shy on Dv (Having never been intended to stray far from the station.) and didn't even manage to catch up.

Out of options, and with two crafts and three Kerbals now lost to the cold darkness of space, I did the unthinkable. The enormous station bristling with all sorts of modules and additions still had a Poodle mounted to a fuel tank that had been delivered long ago...So I fired it up. If I couldn't bring the ships to the station...I would bring the station to them! Creaking, bending, groaning the station began to accelerate, it had horrible TWR but plenty of fuel...assuming it would hold together! To make a long story short, I caught up with both the tug and the rescue ship after a harrowing couple of minutes watching the station try to tear itself apart under the strain of moving, EVA'd the Kerbals and they all boarded the station happily, the rescue ship was abandoned, and the tug had just enough RCS fuel left to manage a sloppy yet successful docking. The station stayed in it's altered orbit for the rest of that Career game as I never had the courage to refuel it and move it back, I wasn't about to tempt fate twice!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was delivering some kerbals and parts to my Mun base with a heavy landing shuttle that I had just designed, but I forgot to do the fuel lines, giving me acess to only the first set of fuel tanks. I only realized this when I ran out of fuel and plowed into the surface while trying to bring my trajectory closer to the base. My latest quicksave had me too low down to transfer more fuel. I would have to do a suicide burn. Luckily, I had Kerbal Engineer. It turns out that there was just enough fuel to lower my velocity to just under the impact tolerance of the landing legs. Several bouces later, I was down. Pefectly intact. Time to transfer fuel and hop over to the base!

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Caught on camera...

What do you think the Euro-NCAP rating of this spaceplane should be?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now