OrbitalBuzzsaw

What's the craziest mission you've ever pulled off?

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Title says it all, really. I'm not sure if this counts as "pulled off", but hey, it's my thread. I have an Eve mission in progress that was launched 250 days after the transfer window and is due to arrive at Eve after a 115-day transfer. 3000m/s capture burn and fuel's gonna be tight, but the math checks out and I'm sure ther'll be updates...

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I think to this day my most ridiculous was my first interplanetary mission (I've done a few fairly nonsensical attempts since but usually my "craziest" are on a grand scale and don't end up getting finished because of lag or bugs or updates or all of the above).

I don't know if anyone else remembers the old Asclepius planet mod (actually, I've just found out that it's finally been updated), but it was the first planet mod I ever used and was also the first planet I visited. Now, back then I was bad at the game, and had next to no understanding of how to do interplanetary maneuvers properly. This new planet was in between Kerbin and Duna and had fairly low gravity, making it a great first destination for someone with no idea how to plan an interplanetary mission.

Another important point of note was that I still had yet to succeed with docking maneuvers.

I unfortunately don't have any screenshots of this old mission (it was from around the time of KSP 1.0.x, I can't remember which specific sub-version it was though), but the rocket was fairly excessively-large and over-engineered - indeed, a very "kerbal" design. It only carried one kerbal, a scientist (so I could get all the science from the new planet, I had MechJeb for piloting ability), who was contained for the entire several-year round trip in a Mk1 command pod. Attached radially to the fuel tank beneath the command pod were three engine pods - nuclear engine pods. I was using the 0.625m nuclear engines from the Atomic Age mod because they were low-mass and high-Isp and they needed to be carried from the surface of Asclepius all the way back to Kerbin. And of course I forgot the radiators, so during maneuvers I had three extremely-hot nuclear engines only a meter away from my lonely scientist.

Beneath the nuclear return stage was a chemical ascent stage, and beneath that was the descent stage. This was a bulbous 2.5m extension to the vehicle, and it had to be 2.5m because it included a service bay which was stuffed full of every science experiment DMagic (and stock, of course) had to offer. Parachutes were also on this stage, which meant an...interesting descent.

The interplanetary stage was a nuclear one, 2.5m diameter with a nuclear engine beneath (once again, without radiators). It was massively overkill and I had to get rid of it once I reached Asclepius. And I don't remember much of the launch vehicle, but knowing my engineering methods at the time it probably consisted of an orange tank with a Skipper engine surrounded by six more orange tanks with Skipper engines (my Mun rockets were just shorter versions of this with a couple less orange tanks, but I didn't deviate much from that style back then).

When the time came for the interplanetary transfer, I luckily had had the sense to look up how to actually do an interplanetary transfer, but I had no idea how much delta-v it would take so the nuclear transfer stage had about 4 times as much (it was only about 1000m/s to reach Asclepius, even less than for Duna or Eve). After a correction burn (which I had experience with from probably about sixty hours of Mun base construction and even more spent on other generic Mun/Minmus missions) and waiting for the arrival at Asclepius, there came the time to circularize and land.

Or to quicksave, try about 20 times, and finally land.

The thing with Asclepius is that, although it does have an atmosphere, its atmosphere is only significant deep in the canyons. Initially I didn't know this. So my rocket, with its tiny nuclear engines on top and its disproportionate descent stage and its parachutes way too close to the center of mass, ended up doing a parachute-assisted suicide burn on the lowest possible point of the highlands (after a lot of attempts) because I'd got onto a sub-orbital trajectory and then quicksaved. Aside from the parachutes barely keeping it pointed engine-down, the lander itself had a far too high center of mass so it almost fell over once landed (I think it actually did fall over on a couple of the attempts which didn't end with an explosion). But my kerbal managed to get out and do the science (luckily I'd had the sense at least to include ladders).

Then it was time for ascent. With less fuel than expected after having to fire the engines on landing, the ascent didn't look good. Ultimately I had to raise the apoapsis far higher than I should've done, and started firing the nuclear engines in-atmosphere. So we have three super-heated nuclear engines only a meter away from the kerbal all firing into an atmosphere of a planet which (if I recall correctly) was said in the science reports to plausibly be home to life. Great. But in the end the mission was a success, even if it did take about 5 years for the lone kerbal to return because Asclepius was so close to Kerbin and though I understood transfer windows I forgot that they have to work both ways. The nuclear engines ended up being dropped directly into Kerbin's atmosphere at several kilometers per second right before the command pod re-entered.

 

The second time I visited Asclepius was some time later, after I learned to dock, and I built a massive Mk2 monstrosity that was basically a bunch of fuel for a nuclear engine with a Mk2 cockpit and crew compartment, with a couple of docking ports glued to the sides (there were also a couple of large drop tanks, again for the nuclear engine). This wasn't a spaceplane, I was still nowhere near being able to make a functional spaceplane, I just wanted to use the Mk2 parts for once. Now I really regret it because the whole thing was a mess. It was so long that the launch vehicle ended up having to be two separate rockets attached to the top and bottom with decouplers, and it did not fly well (it was one of those brute-force launches). I then launched two identical three-kerbal landers, one for Asclepius and another for its moon (the one for the moon was overkill but I couldn't think of a better way to balance the mass at the time). The one that landed on Asclepius suffered similar issues to the first mission (evidently I hadn't learned my lesson about the atmosphere, or lack thereof) and barely made it to orbit at all. I had to lower the orbit of the mothership to pick it up. Not a good mission. But at least I got all the science.

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First crazy mission: I built a craft with the plasma nozzle from interstellar with the biggest 2.5meter fuel tank full of liquid fuel a generator some radiators and the 3man capsule with Jeb bill and bob in it. Took a 5meter 3stage launch system to get it into orbit and flew by every Planet and moon in the stock system then brought it back and landed the capsule on kerbin. 

Second crazy mission: I built a massive orbital station with drop pods to colonize laythe and flew it out to Jool and dropped the pods on close flybys of laythe when the base was in the right place (I will never attempt to do this again)

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My craziest mission was when i landed a kerbal on the Mun using a LKO spacecraft. Dunno why but it was fun.

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UPDATE: I just rocketskiied 75km across the Munar surface as a test run for this rocket sled thing (based on a design by @Vaos Human in [excellent] Solar Nations series). Eventually I'm going to take this to Ike as a "rover" and orbital transport hybrid.

EDIT : There's an LV-909 at the back. Also, in the picture it's hooked up to my Mun base for refueling, hence the KAS line. 9ezAlUW.png

EDIT 2 : With regard to my Eve mission, I've sacrificed an Eve orbit so that I can redirect it to either Duna or Kerbin at my will.

Edited by OrbitalBuzzsaw

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23 hours ago, eloquentJane said:

And I don't remember much of the launch vehicle, but knowing my engineering methods at the time it probably consisted of an orange tank with a Skipper engine surrounded by six more orange tanks with Skipper engines (my Mun rockets were just shorter versions of this with a couple less orange tanks, but I didn't deviate much from that style back then).

 

That  sounds like me :/. I'm not that good at KSP and haven't played it for long, I haven't gone to any planets other than Kerbin yet. But I currently have a rocket that is meant to transport a medium/large-sized payload into Munar or Minmus orbit (I'm pretty sure it works for both), and it literally consists of four stacks of fuel tanks that are a little larger than one orange tank with Skipper engines on the bottom surrounding an orange tank with a Poodle engine.

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1 hour ago, [insert_name_here] said:

That  sounds like me :/. I'm not that good at KSP and haven't played it for long, I haven't gone to any planets other than Kerbin yet. But I currently have a rocket that is meant to transport a medium/large-sized payload into Munar or Minmus orbit (I'm pretty sure it works for both), and it literally consists of four stacks of fuel tanks that are a little larger than one orange tank with Skipper engines on the bottom surrounding an orange tank with a Poodle engine.

Improvements come quickly. Not long after my first Asclepius mission I designed my first multi-mission launch vehicle subassembly (previously I'd just built a new rocket for every mission) and aside from looking far better than my ghastly Mun rockets of the time, it was good enough to carry every payload for my first space station. That rocket later got expanded into a rocket series covering payloads ranging from 5 tonnes to 17 tonnes, plus an extra one designed to take 10 tonnes to orbit of either of Kerbin's moons. And yes, if a launch vehicle works for getting a payload to Munar orbit it'll work for the same payload to Minmus orbit (you'll have more margin on the Minmus mission though, so you can make the payload a bit larger).

Below is the only remaining image of my first reusable interplanetary vehicle (though because of horrendous lag it only ended up doing one mission). It's horribly-designed by my current standards but was a huge step up from my direct-ascent nuclear-powered-command-pod-on-a-stack-of-fireworks to Asclepius and back. This was done a very short time after the aforementioned mission and, like I said, improvements come quickly.

12697110_147254185658089_898874138640144

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I know I've mentioned this one in several threads but the most ridiculous mission of mine was the flight of the Eve Party Boat. The not so simple task of a four kerbals in a hitchhiker can flight to the surface of Eve and back.

I know this kind of thing could be done in smaller simpler ways, but I went for the time honoured technique of Moar Boosters.

Starting with putting this monstrosity of a lander into Kerbin orbit 1/3 fueled

Nb12rVl.jpg

 

Then a bunch of launches to fuel it and added a couple of tugs, to use the power of 12 nukes to push it to Eve.

chogE1J.jpg

 

Good thing this was in the days of re-entry heating not being a real issue.

Mt4IrO5.jpg

 

Finally putting the apartment block sized lander and its four brave crew on the surface.

i31ZGma.jpg

 

Then taking off, leaving a nice pristine landing site.

P0LBlqU.jpg2EHG94G.jpg

 

To make it back into orbit.

bjLVGts.jpg

 

Then meet up with one of the tugs for the trip home.

cHGrEkS.jpg

 

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Jool 5 challenge completed on hard; no saves, no reverts, no regrets.
full video can be viewed by clicking the Jool 5 challenge award in my signature below.

Edited by Xyphos

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Probably my biggest "I can't believe I just pulled that off" moment was a nearly-failed crewed Tylo lander mission that I just barely pulled out of the hole.

It started well.  I traveled to Tylo using a nuclear powered "tug":  very high fuel efficiency, lots of dV ... but very very low TWR (so obviously landing that on Tylo is out of the question).  Docked to it was my Tylo lander, which could hold one kerbal.  The planned mission profile was:

  1. Put the whole shebang into low Tylo orbit
  2. Transfer kerbal to lander
  3. Go down to surface
  4. Plant flag, gather science, count coup
  5. Back to orbit
  6. Dock with nuclear transfer ship
  7. Move crew back to the nuke ship
  8. Abandon the lander in Tylo orbit, head home

Meticulously planned out, carefully engineered.  Only one eensy weensy problem: apparently I fat-fingered something when I was doing my dV calculations for the lander.  Turns out I didn't have enough fuel to make it back orbit-- any orbit, let alone rendezvous with the orbiter.  I forget the exact numbers, but I was something like 700 m/s short of what I'd need to be able to make orbit.

So there's Bob, stuck on Tylo.  What to do?

So I concocted the most harebrained, nail-biting rescue scheme I've ever done in KSP.  If you've watched (or read) The Martian, it was a bit like the rescue scene there-- but before that book came out.  :wink:

Here's what I did:

  1. Take off, burn every ounce of fuel trying to get to orbit.
  2. Tanks run dry when it's still on a suborbital trajectory.
  3. Bob goes EVA, grabs the science out of the lander can, and hits his EVA thrusters to continue boosting.
  4. The kerbal EVA pack has 600 m/s of dV.  Which is still not enough to get him into orbit, but it's only around 100 m/s short.  So he burns nearly all of his EVA propellant, leaving just a tiny smidgeon left over.  Now he's on a shallower suborbital trajectory than he was, but he's living on borrowed time.
  5. Switch from Bob to the orbiter.  Do a :retrograde: burn that slows it to suborbital speeds, such that it matches speed with Bob right when he's at his apoapsis.
  6. With the orbiter parked right next to Bob, and both of them on a doomed suborbital path, use the last wisps of vapor from Bob's EVA pack to get him to the orbiter's ladder, and clamber aboard.  Nail-biting time, because on the one hand we only have seconds to spare, but on the other hand Bob has so little EVA fuel left that I have to go slow to make sure he doesn't run out and end up staring helplessly at the orbiter from a few meters away, because the ungainly orbiter has wimpy reaction wheels and no RCS, so trying to maneuver it to Bob would take way too much time.
  7. With Bob safely aboard, and now well past Ap and falling towards the unforgiving crags of Tylo at kilometers per second, slam on the orbiter's throttle and burn :prograde: (actually, a few degrees above it) for all it's worth, hoping and praying that it'll be able to raise its Pe above ground level before it reaches ground level.
  8. Pass toe-scrapingly low over Tylo-- so low I can actually see the orbiter's shadow-- and just barely avert crashing before I start to rise again.

Whew!

What made it such a nail-biter was that ~100 m/s gap between what I could achieve with the kerbal's EVA pack, and being in Tylo orbit.  Basically, the orbiter had to brake, scoop up the kerbal, and accelerate again.  The reason that was so hard was that the orbiter had such a low TWR that it was very limited in terms of how much it can slow down and then accelerate back to orbital speed.  Slowing down to the kerbal's EVA trajectory took so much time that it just barely had enough time to accelerate again to get back to orbital after the rescue.

So, this wacky rescue was the intersection of:

  • barely having enough dV (limited EVA propellant) for the kerbal
  • barely having enough dV (low TWR, limited time available) for the orbiter
  • getting the timing and piloting just right so that the kerbal and orbiter can get a rendezvous while suborbital at low altitude during a very brief window of time that just barely allows the orbiter to become an "orbiter" again.

 

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Using OPM and slingshots, I sent a PT series Munsplorer all the way to Neidon.  

Passing near all the other gas giants too.

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18 hours ago, eloquentJane said:

12697110_147254185658089_898874138640144

 

Save the small solar panels, it's actually decent looking.

3 hours ago, Snark said:

[snip]

 

 

Relevant search term: "what is a rescue mission"

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53 minutes ago, OrbitalBuzzsaw said:

Relevant search term: "what is a rescue mission"

Yeah, I tried that.  The answer came back "it's a thing for someone who lacks the patience to run another mission, the steely determination that this mission WILL NOT FAIL, and a deep love of improvising ingenious technical solutions to difficult technical challenges."

Relevant:

Spoiler

the_martian.png

^ This.

 

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My biggest planning failure turned success is probably the Dres-Eeloo mission I flew recently for the Caveman Extended challenge. Now, I didn't have maneuver nodes unlocked at the time, but this had been accounted for. The problem with this mission stemmed from the fact that the only crew member along was Bob-and that the only probe core was in the lander. The lander that I ditched in low Eeloo orbit when it ran dry.

So there I was, in low Eeloo orbit unable to plot a maneuver and unable to hold a stable heading. What ensued was a mad bout of orbital shenanigans, as I haphazardly lowered my periapsis to near Kerbin orbit and then set about (somehow) establishing an encounter. The final orbit I ended up in had a periapsis well within the orbit of Eve, an apoapsis somewhere between Dres and Jool, and a Kerbin re-entry velocity of 6500+ m/s. It took countless reverts to get the re-entry lined up properly, since high-speed re-entries tend to fry your capsule if you come in a hair too steep, and fail completely if you come in too shallow, but in the end Bob made it home safe. Thank goodness.

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My first ever Mun landing, crashed the ship, ended up on one side. Made a new ship, with a claw underneath and wide space between the edges, had to tilt the rescue ship on one side, then slowly rotated the crashed module into the claw of the recovery ship, retilted the ship back to horizontal, then sailed back. Unstable as fck. Still, did enter the atmosphere, had to do it a half throttle because it would wobble terribly during flight. Since then I never attempted Mun landings on rockets and used only SSTO ships. I have returned to the Mun in my Arrow ship and did biome jumps to collect all the data. I have not used a rocket ever since I made this ship because it takes away the stress of managing your fuel too carefully. You'd imagine a ship that can go to Moho and return without breaking a sweat is way more pleasant to play than crashing a rocket on the Mun because you run out of fuel during the Mun approach and crash the thing into the ground.

Edited by mystik

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Ooh, either my failed Minmus mission, which successfully touched down back at Kerbin after a reentry speed of 3556 m/s, or my sucessful landing of my Mun Base part using a 3500 ton rocket, and limited probe control on landing

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First mission: circumnavigating kerbin using propeller plane (max speed 120m/s, it's very slow) at 90° heading with no yaw/roll for the entire flight. I did it in around 4 hours non-stop playing KSP controlling it with occasional timewarping to speed it up (though not much since I fear it might cause structural instability on my craft). I managed to get jeb and bob navigating kerbin. The flight was a success, though there's a minor problem at the end, which is a failed landing where I'm not raising the nose of the craft high enough to prevent it from crash landing (thankfully, only the engine that's destroyed, all crew survived and live to tell the story)

Second mission: eelo SSTO mission, done in 45 years carrying 4 kerbals (jeb, bob, bill, val)

Third mission: OPM installed, with the same SSTO (slightly modified), visit the most annoying and difficult moon to land: hale on sarnus' ring. The gravity there is around 2/5 gilly, making it so damn hard to keep anything nailed down. I deliberately didn't include any landing gear since they tend to make my craft bounce back on low gravity world. The mission is a success and the scenery of sarnus ring is worth all the effort

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For me, it'd have to be my manned mission to Mars in SSRSS.  Like in the NASA proposal, I sent a lander ahead unmanned to take the crew back into space.  Instead of seperate launches for a habitat, rover, and descent vehicle, however, I decided to roll them all up into one vehicle.  The MAV was landed near Olympus Mons with the intent of driving up it a short distance and taking surface samples and whatnot.  When I got there, though, I had a last second fit of madness and changed my plan.  Since the Hab was mobile, I dropped it straight in the caldera instead and drove all the way down the mountain back to the MAV. 

KSP - Ares II

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Definitely my first swimming base on Laythe. I build a very huge rocked in orbit that was able to deliver all parts needed for it in one go. I called it "Big Bertha":

BBVqFLy.jpg

The payload consisted of four swimming platforms, one small plane and a swimming platform with solar-sails. The plane was there to transfer kerbals from the swimming base to isles of Laythe and back. On the isle was a rocket that was able to bring back 3 Kerbals to Kerbin if needed.
The five pieces and the plane were dropped one after the other into laythes waters with the help of four big parachutes per platform and additional thursters to further reduce speed. When landed i adjusted and connected the parts via docking ports and
RCS thrusters (the ones that use LFO)

The final landed base looked like this:

3I3vm7k.jpg

The main platform had a science lab, tower, living quarters and a ladder to climb up if a kerbal fell into the water.
On the left you can see the landing platform for the plane. The platform and the base were not connected to prevent disasters should the plane crash. It took some practice but landing on the platform with the help of parachutes was quite possible.

Unfortunately the base has been eaten by the Kraken because KSP did have a bug back then that teleported the landing platform to the ground of the sea when the base came into physics distance(or was loaded) while the plane was landed on the platform. The platform subsequently speeded up and crashed into  the other part, destroying the whole base in the process. 

Edited by Nils277
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On 10/9/2017 at 4:55 AM, purpleivan said:

I know I've mentioned this one in several threads but the most ridiculous mission of mine was the flight of the Eve Party Boat. The not so simple task of a four kerbals in a hitchhiker can flight to the surface of Eve and back.

I know this kind of thing could be done in smaller simpler ways, but I went for the time honoured technique of Moar Boosters.

Starting with putting this monstrosity of a lander into Kerbin orbit 1/3 fueled

Nb12rVl.jpg

 

Then a bunch of launches to fuel it and added a couple of tugs, to use the power of 12 nukes to push it to Eve.

chogE1J.jpg

 

Good thing this was in the days of re-entry heating not being a real issue.

Mt4IrO5.jpg

 

Finally putting the apartment block sized lander and its four brave crew on the surface.

i31ZGma.jpg

 

Then taking off, leaving a nice pristine landing site.

P0LBlqU.jpg2EHG94G.jpg

 

To make it back into orbit.

bjLVGts.jpg

 

Then meet up with one of the tugs for the trip home.

cHGrEkS.jpg

 

Jeb approves!:sticktongue:

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I built a station in orbit of Gilly then decided to move it to a polar orbit of Eve.

The off centre mass and serious lack of struts meant I could only manoeuvre at minimum thrust so it took several orbits to get there.

After all that effort I went back to the space centre and was offered a mission to conduct a long term survey of Gilly.

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I vaguely remember a botched munar takeoff several years ago. The lander ran out of fuel, so Jeb got out and tried to achieve orbit using his EVA pack. As this failed, I decided to use the orbital module for a suicidal maneuver in which it deorbited and tried to catch up with Jeb. Turns out that there was not enough time for a clean rendezvous and/or the thrust of the lander was too small, resulting in Munar regolith-assisted, surface contact rapid self-disassembly.

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