scottadges

My First Joolian Mission (1.3 & 1.4.x Sandbox / Heavily Modded)

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This is the record of my first official Joolian mission and the craft, infrastructure, and various steps to make that a reality. I'm not sure if this will be an actual "Jool 5" attempt, although we'll see as it progresses.

Mission Goalsh2uYkfS.jpg

  • Design, build, and implement comprehensive space-faring infrastructure to facilitate a kerbaled mission to Jool and its moons
  • Complete the process for the next Joolian transfer window within 1 Year, 96 Days, 4 Hours (Transfer window is Year 2, Day 245)
  • Document key moments in the process via screenshots, specifically milestone achievements, main spacecraft, and orbital infrastructure

Mission Objectives

  • Create large-scale space stations, massive transfer vehicle, smaller spacecraft (landers, etc.), and other probes to support the overall mission
  • The mission must travel as a single craft: the Zeus Transfer Vehicle ('ZTV' or 'Zeus'). This will include smaller payloads (craft, satellites, escape pods) all combined into a single launch towards Jool
  • Construction of modules and sub-components for the Zeus must be completed in orbit (more efficient, based on early testing) using RPs manufactured in orbit from metal also processed in orbit. Ore will be ferried to orbit from Kerbin and/or extracted from other local bodies (Minmus, asteroids, etc.)

Narrative Elements

This mission report will be primarily first person, not really a "role playing" or storytelling document for the parts & pieces of the mission. That said, I hope to communicate with some degree of gravitas the different stages of the evolution of the history of space flight that leads up to the Joolian Mission.

Here are some parts of the narrative that I'll document that have inspired our kerbals to undertake the Joolian Mission:

  • First steps into space: "Spirit of Jebediah" spacecraft, first Munar mission
  • Evolution of spaceflight: Mk3 Shuttle Program
  • Vision for Jool: Construction of the 'Olympus' Orbital Facility
  • Early Space-faring Infrastructure: 'The Foundry' Orbital Manufacturing Platform, Minmus Survey Mission
  • Secret Missions and Skunkworks projects from the infamous Helmut Von Kerman (Werner's "evil" twin brother)

Gameplay Rules

I thought I'd put some thought into basic rules of gameplay that I'll try to follow in this mission. These of course are subject to change (and ignoring if necessary!).

  1. HyperEdit shall be used for testing purposes and whenever the Kraken/physics-easing makes things too ridiculous (i.e. if I don't want to re-design)
    • Case in point: Olympus was actually HE'd into orbit after literally 10 attempts to lift off with at least 8 unplanned disassemblies. None successful.
  2. All parts mods and other functionality are acceptable (obv). But I'm not using any physics-changing mods or solar system-changing mods, other than OPM.
  3. Ore for refining can't come from the VAB via new launches. Since Foundry & Olympus both launched with ore, I'm considering dumping them to recreate the need to fill them.
  4. Additional missions for support craft, such as more Mk3 shuttles, additional satellites in the Kerbin system, or unkerballed probes to Jool will be launched from KSC. Larger craft or infrastructure, including material transport ships and ore mining platforms should be built from Foundry.
  5. I may do trial-run missions in an "alternate reality", i.e. save games that move forward in time but aren't going to be part of the "prime timeline" (my main save).
    • Case in point: My Joolian Probe test missions are going beyond Year 5 to work out orbital injection, etc. and test spacecraft design. I don't want my other infrastructure sitting around in the meantime, so I'm using alternate saves. 

[Will add more if I think of them]

 

Special Thanks!

Awesome flag artwork by @cratercracker

Excellent advice and support: @B-STRK, @Geschosskopf

Edited by scottadges

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Planning Notes

Thinking "out loud" on this page for the steps in the process:

  1. Design the Zeus and sub-components (see requirements)
  2. Refine and research requirements for Zeus payloads:
    • SSTO for Laythe
    • Landers for Tylo & Val
    • Landers or probes for Pol & Bop
    • Survey satellites for each moon
    • Survey satellite for Jool
    • Hab Transfer station(s) for key locations: Laythe, other moon(s)?
    • Joolian system mining operations (Refueling is critical, but do I need to build anything there? )
  3. Break out components to build:
    • Utilize Foundry station to build sub-components (need heavy spacecraft/tug to move to Olympus station)
  4. Design & build Olympus manufacturing expansion:
    • Build components at Foundry, then move to Olympus
    • Need a dedicated Construction gantry/arm component to dock to Olympus (Note: bottom "docking tube" isn't set off far enough from the main station, also Sr. port faces "down" but ZTV should should be oriented perpendicularly when constructed)
    • Need massive Ore / Metal / RP storage plus ISRUs and higher productivity Workshop
    • Need medium-sized drone tugs with Grabbers & Sr. Docking attachments (Note: dock to lower ports under Olympus Hab ring. Build at Olympus after manufacturing expansion)
  5. Calculate specific RP for all Zeus components (add up all craft) plus ore & metal requirements
  6. Determine if Minmus mining operation makes sense?
  7. If using Minmus mining:
    • Design, build, launch & install Minmus mining operation
    • Design, build, and launch ore mover shuttles from Minmus to Foundry
    • Move ore from Minmus to Olympus & Foundry

 

Thinking about automation thanks to excellent input from B-STRK, this is the how-to for RMM (in the OP):

 

General Notes (put in spoiler to avoid a huge-scroll page)

Spoiler

Getting to Jool:

While I've been playing this game semi-regularly for about 6 months, I haven't actually been to Jool yet. I'm just now feeling comfortable enough with my orbital mechanics abilities to make the attempt. But it occurred to me that I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

I think I need to send un-kerballed probes to Jool first. At least, to practice my maneuver nodes, transfers, and what-not. I also think I need to try flybys of all the different moons.

So that will be the first part of this mission: Create multiple probes around the same basic design, which I will launch separately from Kerbin LKO. I have to see what this means for the transfer window, which I might need to move back. Which might make sense anyway, given I'm now planning to build out the Minmus Ore-Mining infrastructure.

 

Joolian Mission: Initial DV Calculations

This is the fundamental resource for DV on which I'm basing my plans:

gBoLsSt.png

Requirements and recommendations:

Spoiler
ACTION DV Req'd DV Recco
Escape Kerbin SOI 950  1100 
Jool Encounter 1250  1500
Orbit to Jool SOI 160  200
Pol Landing  1710  2000 
Bop Landing 3790 4500 
Tylo Landing  2400  3000 
Vall Landing  2390 3000
Laythe Landing  4900 6000
Jool "Landing" 16800 20000
TOTAL DV 34,350 41,300

This whole table assumes I need more fuel than maybe I do... but I'd rather have more than less. Also, I'm not factoring things like gravity assists or aerocapture in this... 'cause I'm not exactly sure how to do those things. :)

 

Edited by scottadges

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Hiya scott! First, congrats on Elcano-Minmus, good to see it took shorter than your initial estimates :)

Second, in commentary to your showerthoughts re: Minmus resourcing, going from experience the tl;dr answer is "nearly always yes", especially if careering, and especially if you need to loft large amounts of ore, metal, or rocketparts to orbit (recommend ore or metal) and that depends on your decision on what refineries to put in orbit (and orbiting either Kerbin or Minmus for Olympus especially). 

Long version (NB: haven't touched EPL in the longest time since 1.0.x, but if nothing has radically changed the following may still hold true now).

The way you worded it above, it might be the case that Olympus would be doing both metal and RP refining. That's good; metal refining might also be relocated to the surface, though IIRC metal is more dense than ore to take up (same amount of metal=more gas to get the same dV). The advantage of refining metal on Minmus though is that you can save on part count for Olympus, and if you'd want speed in construction you'd need two workshop teams, one to handle ship construction and a spare that can be shifted to RP manufacture if needed. And Minmus is light enough that you can design a reasonable ore/metal tanker with enough dV to do two round trips before refuelling (though you'd probably want to be at the right tech level before doing so. Vectors. I swear by Vectors for heavy tanker loads). 

I'd put Olympus in Minmus though (as well as whatever ISRU you need to generate life support resources), once done the only real variable cost to the bank account would be getting the crew there, and that's cheap enough even using 100% disposables compared to building Zeus out of the VAB/SPL. It is possible to have Olympus in LKO, and with practice one can design an ore tanker that can use aerobrake to minimize dV expenditures to rendezvous, but it'll be a lot more orbital gruntwork if I can imagine it. For Foundry (I think you're planning on just making Olympus+Minmus delivery tugs and smaller vessels off here?) I think LKO and Minmus ore/metal deliveries are manageable (probably Ore if you want to do fuel refining as well). The challenge for LKO is designing a tanker large enough to minimize number of trips and/or vessels needed: Minmus is generally about 8-9 days away (I think? Being in sandbox I simply spoil myself with escape velocity transits to and from) and feeding an LKO EPL with RP derived exclusively from Minmus will demand just-in-time style logistical planning to prevent any schedule slipups, or supplement it with Kerbinside RP deliveries.

(Veracity of testimony: played around with EPL in the pre1.0 days, operating in LKO, and I've had to ship RP parts repeatedly for larger builds. Presently using Ground Construction on Minmus for a Duna fleet. Once you get the build base, all necessary ISRU and tankers out, one is pretty much set for life, except for crewing :D.)

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5 hours ago, B-STRK said:

Hiya scott! First, congrats on Elcano-Minmus, good to see it took shorter than your initial estimates :)

Second, in commentary to your showerthoughts re: Minmus resourcing, going from experience the tl;dr answer is "nearly always yes", especially if careering, and

Wow, thanks B-STRK for your awesome comments. I'm going to re-read a couple times to make sure I completely understand your recommendation. But I think you've really helped me with the Minmus thought process. Gotta get ore from somewhere, better with the lowest DV, right?

Also, since this is completely sandbox, I'm not worried about funds or tech tree. I do have a Career game, but for me it's actually frustrating having to wait on stuff when I want to make stuff now! LOL

Again, I really appreciate the time you took in your response. I look forward to providing more updates on this mission!

Edited by scottadges

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Current Space Program

(Moved to My History of Spaceflight mission report)

 

Edited by scottadges

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Ah, noting that it's sandbox, if you don't mind another suggestion from previous playthroughs I could offer? :) Keeping it in spoilers so that I can leave it at your discretion to pursue--as I was writing this, you already announced your first sets of missions, hopefully we see the details soon! (This suggestion won't need a Minmus or even a Mun operation, and with the right mod, you'll only need to launch a few rockets to set it for (orbital) life as well. On the other hand, if you really wanted to make and simulate Minmus a shipyard like I do presently, even if in sandbox, the earlier suggestions are the ones to go to.)

Spoiler

 

Back in my EPL sandbox playthrough, what I'd do is build the construction station high enough that the game doesn't actively render Kerbin's surface anymore (switches to a graphic of it, to save memory--this was back in the 32-bit days when we needed to squeeze every last bit to play the game as we wanted it). All it needed was the essentials for a space station (crew command or probe core, SAS, and back then I didn't have any LS mods so life support wasn't an issue) and workshops, and--this is the fun part--all RP and fueling tankage would be temporary, no permanent tanks installed. Instead, I'd have dedicated docking ports so that, when a ship was being constructed, they would be successively occupied by rocketparts tanks (during the construction phase) and LFO/MP tanks (during the pre-launch fueling phase) launched from Kerbin. As each is emptied, they would be replaced by a new launch. Finally, I also installed Routine Mission Manager so all I had to do after assembling the workshop station in orbit was launch each RP and LFO tanker once, so that the mod could track it to the docking port, then afterwards I could just use the mod to automatically generate new tankers already docked to the empty port about a day and the flight time of the first launch after making the order, simulating the time it takes to assemble the rocket and get it to the station.

I wish I took a screenshot of it, I even used the largest space dock of the Spacedocks mod (that was once part of the original IXS Enterprise release) as my EPL build pad, god that was a near impossible part to maneuver to its permanent berth to my workshop! But it looked damn cool seeing this relatively tiny station with a massive space dock sticking out one side. :P But essentially the advantage of that was that (a) part count on the actual station was reduced, as I didn't need to have a tank farm to cover all construction contingencies (as this was back in the 32-bit days, every bit of memory saving counted!), and (b) I didn't need the refining capacity for the ship construction, just to support its operations in deep space. And it was also low-effort given my mod choices, as (c) materials supply was automated by RMM. Now this definitely works in Sandbox for the following reasons:

  • Cost is not an issue; this would be prohibitively expensive as my tankers were disposable (although if they were made recoverable, and PrivateFlip is now attempting to integrate that smoothly into RMM...). In sandbox, however, Kerbin is a ready supply of rocketparts. Of course, if something changed between then and now so that rocketparts cannot be loaded in the hangar, this goes out the window. :( (Then my earlier suggestions stand.)
  • Rocketparts are less dense than the amount of ore or metal it would take to construct them. I know this is the opposite of what I said for a Minmus-based operation, but for that, I'd want to make the tanker small and compact to maneuver quickly around space stations and precise landing at the surface mining operation, always an issue for me if I was hand-flying everything (and sometimes, when MechJeb or TCA conks out on me). But if you won't have to worry about landing your tankers, as would be the case in the scenario I presented above, compactness is not an issue. I just designed an RP and fuel tanker with around, say 500 m/s dV to get from 75km to 170km (which is the height I placed the station at) and RCS balanced so all I had to do was dock it once while being tracked by RMM. And then build the booster to get said tanker to 75km. And if you can load the rocketparts in the hangar and cost is not an issue, one can skip the mining/refining steps, which saves on time. :) 
  • Since I'm not needing any RP manufacturing, all the workshops (and all the kerbals in them) are working 100% towards craft construction. Even more time saved, or at least less kerbals to feed up there. 

Again, it's only really a suggestion, but it worked well enough for me that I could make a regular operation out of it, spitting out whatever ships I wanted that the memory could handle (until the next KSP update, which usually was my cue then to start from square one with a new operation, hence my lack of progress past Kerbinspace until recently :D). This definitely would also work well for Foundry operations, if you're still thinking of having a Minmus op for ISRU-based construction as though it were career (same philosophy I'm using in my own sandboxes :), and it would also seem to be suited to your historical approach to progressing your missions). If you want to try this idea for either Foundry or Foundry + Olympus, I'd suggest having two docking ports dedicated to RMM logistics: so you launch one tanker with RMM tracking to one port, then as that tanker is being emptied by your workshops or refueling, launch the other tanker with its own RMM tracking to dock to the other port. That way, you can alternately call up resupplies as each tank is successively and alternately emptied. It minimizes the breaks in construction from lack of RP. Besides RMM, there's also a mod called STS I think (not the Space Shuttle) which does something similar, automating logistics runs (as well as spacecraft deliveries) to LKO and back. 

And again, this all works in sandbox because everything's cheap there. :D What I gave in my first reply above was tailored towards career to minimize, if not eliminate, the need to depend on Kerbin.

 

Thanks as well for the appreciation, it's really lessons distilled from previous playthroughs and from looking at the mission architectures of other players here and elsewhere. :) It's one of my favorite parts of this forum, looking at how other players surmounted the obstacles and challenges of their respective playthroughs, from rocket design to laying out an interplanetary logistics chain. Like watching NASA go to the moon. Looking forward to seeing your own take on a Joolian expedition!

Edited by B-STRK

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11 minutes ago, B-STRK said:

Ah, noting that it's sandbox, if you don't mind another suggestion from previous playthroughs I could offer? :) Thanks as well for the appreciation, it's really lessons distilled from previous playthroughs and from looking at the mission architectures of other players here and elsewhere. :)

Wow, so much good information. :0.0: This is excellent, and the whole RMM mod approach (which I have installed, but haven't used) makes a lot of sense. I'll have to read your note a few times so I make sure I get everything you're saying. I really appreciate the input and the benefit of your experiences! 

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How Not to Launch a Large Component into Orbit

1. Start with a component frame that won't fit into a fairing. This will create a lot of drag, which will get insanely hot as you thrust through the atmosphere trying to get to orbit.

8l2hYTf.jpg

Also, make sure in the VAB that you DO NOT CLOSE your shielded docking port (at the very top).

2. Ignore the fact that you're overheating on just about every exposed surface. Also the whole open docking port thing... Then separate your boosters like everything is right with the world.

3. Act surprised when your game freezes to 1 FPS, then rocks your headphones with a deafening explosion. Followed by more explosions.

3nLn51M.jpg

And some more really nice, fiery explosions. 

BqhrnCg.jpg

4. Watch the debris from your carefully designed and built ship achieve some semblance of orbit, only to be strewn across a couple continents as it rains destruction down on Kerbin.

KVTxapb.jpg

Congrats! You have NOT gone to space today.

 

Edited by scottadges

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3 hours ago, scottadges said:

How Not to Launch a Large Component into Orbit

1. Start with a component frame that won't fit into a fairing.

......

Congrats! You have NOT gone to space today.

Very pretty explosions, though :)

When launching large, high-drag things, I find it best to make a "bass-ackwards" rocket with the payload at the rear, and preferable with its long axis parallel with the direction of flight.  I this way, the draggy payload acts as tail fins to stabilize the rocket and is somewhat protected from heat by the lifter parts mounted above it.

I have to admire the determination of those who do Jool-5 missions.  I myself lack this, so instead send out each payload separately.

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50 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

When launching large, high-drag things, I find it best to make a "bass-ackwards"

Thanks, I agree - I usually do that as well so the heavy parts are balanced out. This was a case of, "Will it... go... to space... today?" I subsequently redesigned the launcher to streamline this into a fairing, since comparatively it was less-heavy than some other things I've orbited. So in the end, the lazy way was not the way. :)

Edited by scottadges

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Orbital Facility 'Olympus' - Construction Gantry Launch & Docking

This component was the first of the construction-related upgrades to the Olympus facility in preparation for building the ZTV. This was launched from Kerbin as it was built to allow Olympus to begin construction from the two Sr. ports on either side of the gantry.

wnt9iOT.jpg

The frame for the construction gantry included two movers. The orange thrusting section also worked as a mover to separate the gantry arms and dock them in a perpendicular orientation. The gantry arms feature the Konstruction Sr. ports so they will weld into place once completed.

The primary mission for the smaller tug (at the top) was to dock the entire assembled gantry with the "bottom" of Olympus. It would then decouple, shed the RCS girder arms, and then dock with Olympus as a tug/drone.

Unfortunately, what I thought was a probe core... was actually only a reaction wheel. As soon as I decoupled the tug, I realized the mistake because none of the controls were responding. Oh well, I can always build more of these little drones.

wbWvkAO.jpgHaving initially completed rendezvous with Olympus (resting at 0.1m/s), there was some orbital drift during the assembly process. The thruster section was able to close that gap and then re-rendezvous before the smaller tug took over for final docking with Olympus.

Even though the assembly was a bit of a ballet, it ended up working well having the separate components for the assembly job and final docking. I balanced them out separately using RCSBuildAid, so they maneuvered perfectly.

Screencaps of the full launch are included below:

Spoiler

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Edited by scottadges

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StrutCo. presents.... Kerbin's History of Spaceflight:

Experimental Spacecraft - 'Helmut's Sorrow'

(Moved to My History of Spaceflight mission report)

 

 

Edited by scottadges

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Exactly, uh, what caused the uncontrolled burn? (Dangit? BARIS? Bug)

Although that craft won't be complaining about the need for sunlight to feed its sun umbrella/tent/shade ever again. :cool:

And how did the juinior KSC pilot get back? (Or is he not complaining about the need for sunlight ever again either?)

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On 10/14/2017 at 3:09 PM, B-STRK said:

Exactly, uh, what caused the uncontrolled burn? (Dangit? BARIS? Bug)

Although that craft won't be complaining about the need for sunlight to feed its sun umbrella/tent/shade ever again. :cool:

And how did the juinior KSC pilot get back? (Or is he not complaining about the need for sunlight ever again either?)

Ha, I'm basically taking creative liberties with the fact that the design didn't work for what I wanted (a multi-role lander for moons) so in a 'blaze of glory' I decided to see how far out I could orbit Kerbol. There was a pilot, who was later picked up by a rescue mission :) 

I also really like 'Helmut Von Kerman' (aka the evil twin) as a narrative device for potential future experimental designs that somehow meet a tragic fate.

Edited by scottadges

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@scottadges

---------------------

"Cravases have something special about them"

 

shiYYU.png

shiYYU.png

    100-70-50

------------------------

Flag/Patch for your mission to Jool. With a small red dot, to keep your attention :).

Enjoy~

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3 hours ago, cratercracker said:

shiYYU.png

Flag/Patch for your mission to Jool. With a small red dot, to keep your attention :).

Wow! Thank you so much for the flag, this is so cool! 

Is this something I can put in-game? (Not sure how you add flags or anything) I'll definitely put it on my page though!

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7 minutes ago, scottadges said:

Wow! Thank you so much for the flag, this is so cool! 

Is this something I can put in-game? (Not sure how you add flags or anything) I'll definitely put it on my page though!

Yes, you can put it in game, just find the folder "flags" and drop it into.

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Personal KSP Milestone: First Probe to Jool

"Alternate Timeline" Test for Joolian Mission

From my earlier notes, I decided I was getting ahead of myself designing a huge Joolian mission... without having actually gone there in practice. So I designed an unmanned probe that would be my test of the process.

It was to be in an "alternate timeline", i.e. a different save game, so my main save won't be sitting around with nothing to do for years. When I run this "official" probe mission, I'll have my other infrastructure components already working on building things for the main mission.

And it was a success! (at least, the 2nd version)

qNTBR2K.jpg?1

This spacecraft is the Mk2. It features 2 nuclear reactors along with the foldable radiator panels (I love these!) and increased xenon & electric charge capacity.

There were significant differences between the Mk1 and Mk2 probes, which I think made for a better spacecraft. See below for more: 

Spoiler

The biggest change to the Mk2 was adding the 2nd nuclear reactor. A single unit produced 100Ec/s, so now with double the capacity, I was able to use a larger Ion engine (requiring 199Ec/s). Also with the two stacked reactors, it made it too long, so I clipped the upper one into an additional xenon tank I added.

Another big change was switching around the radial nuclear fuel & xenon pods, as well as changing out the radiators from the inline version (250Kw transfer) to these foldable panels (4x for 600Kw transfer) which provide abundant heat transfer. I also added a sized-down 3.75m reaction wheel, since I didn't originally include a RW on the Mk1.

P2OAlrz.jpg?1

The two major problems with the Mk1 were in the transfer stage and the spacecraft itself. During the transfer burn, it was actually about 2000 units short of reaching Jool's orbit. To compensate and finish the transfer in the original mission, I thought I could make up the difference using the Ion engine.

That's when I noticed the biggest problem: A single nuclear reactor only provided 65% of power required. The Mk1 sized up a smaller Ion engine for greater thrust/ISP, but it was too much for the reactor.  At that point, I reverted the mission and redesigned.

The Mk1 also had a LOT of monopropellant with virtually useless RCS thrusters. And it didn't have a reaction wheel which made turns super-slow. And the solar panels were 200% sized up but didn't provide greater energy flow. You can see why it needed redesigning...

N51hS5A.jpg


Once the transfer burn was complete using the LFO engine, I separated the transfer stage and used the Ion engine for Jool insertion. This is where the Mk2 really shined. Using a larger, higher ISP engine made the 20+ minute Ion burn much more manageable with better fuel consumption. I also noticed there was so much E/c generation that I was able to dial down the power output, thus doubling the active life of the reactors.
Pz07fjg.jpg

 

Making New Friends

I'll be honest: I didn't know what I was doing during this whole thing, other than I needed to transfer to Jool and then circularize when I got there. Of course, I'd seen YouTube videos about Jool moon gravity assists and flybys, but I didn't quite know how that worked. Turns out it worked pretty well!

Spoiler

A2po535.jpg

First encounter was with Tylo. I set another maneuver to burn and bring myself in closer, which provided the next encounter with Val. It was pretty dark coming from the other side of Tylo (I didn't even see the moon until I was right on top of it!).

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Saying "Hi" to Val. This was closer than Tylo and thankfully in the Sun so I could get a good shot.

ruaq0OY.jpg?1

The biggest thing I didn't realize until I was in the Joolian SOI: I actually came into the system in retrograde. I'll need to re-think how I do my transfer burn so I'm going in the right direction next time.

 

The Launch Sequence (Mk2)

The process for the launch went very well the first time, but I thought some improvements could be made. In addition to adding a larger Transfer Stage fuel tank for Mk2, I added another reaction wheel to the stage to make alignment turns easier. I also adjusted the placement of the fins which provided much better control the second time around.

See the full launch sequence below:

Spoiler

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Edited by scottadges

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Wow, you'd never ever been to Jool before?  Good thing you did a test run, then :)  As you seem to have noticed, solar panels are pretty weak out there.  A Gigantor will only make about 0.9 EC/sec in the Jool system, about the same as an RTG.  So you CAN use solar power to keep probes alive and to trickle-charge large battery banks in between their infrequent periods of high-intensity use, but that's about it, and you need fairly large panels even for this, which is often impractical on small probes.

Another problem with the distance is that even the top-end stock antennae can barely talk back to Kerbin from Jool, even when they're both on the same side of the sun, and usually not when they're on opposite sides.  There are several ways to deal with this:

  • Increase the DSN range and power in the settings menu.
  • Use a mod that gives you bigger antennae.
  • Use multiple relay antennae per relay probe
  • Put relays at every planet in the system except Moho.  This will let you do several short hops instead of 1 long one.  And even if you use one of the other options above, you still need some relays in places other than Kerbin to be able to talk when the sun is between Jool and Kerbin.  This WILL happen at some point in the mission, usually while you're still exploring the Jool system.


EDIT:  flattered to be put in the credits, so I figured I'd better try to be worthy of the mention :) 

Edited by Geschosskopf

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On 10/15/2017 at 2:28 PM, Geschosskopf said:

Another problem with the distance is that even the top-end stock antennae can barely talk back to Kerbin from Jool

Thanks, that's really good advice for comms. I started using CommNet in an earlier play-through and it was frustrating (and a bit confusing) to maintain, so for this one I'm not actually using it.

On 10/15/2017 at 2:28 PM, Geschosskopf said:

EDIT:  flattered to be put in the credits, so I figured I'd better try to be worthy of the mention :) 

 You're welcome! I really do appreciate your advice. Definitely nice to have the benefit of experience from all the great people in this community!

Edited by scottadges

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17 minutes ago, scottadges said:

Thanks, that's really good advice for comms. I started using CommNet in an earlier play-through and it was frustrating (and a bit confusing) to maintain, so for this one I'm not actually using it.

Stock communications networks aren't all that hard, although you can make them unnecessarily difficult with the optional settings and personal rules :) ,  I'm not a fan of requiring connections for probe control (that's SO 1960s).  If you don't select that option, then you only need the network to transmit science, which only happens occasionally in all of gametime.  Thus, there's no gameplay reason to build a network that provides (nearly) constant contact (completely constant contact is impossible).  That GREATLY simplifies things.  Of course, if you roleplay that Mission Control needs to nag astronauts every day, then you need something more complex.  But even then, it can still be way simpler than most folks realize.

 

 

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Expansion Continues: Minmus Mining Infrastructure

The past several nights, I've been working on the different infrastructure components for Minmus mining operations and testing different spacecraft. Last night I finally got away from designing them in order to launch one!

Minmus will be my primary ore production hub, so one of the first steps was putting the Minmus Survey Orbiter in polar orbit to identify higher concentrations of ore on the moon. 

z3TsrAR.jpg?1

She's a modified version of my Kerbin Science Orbiter, just basically stripped down to the survey dish and an antenna.

One interesting thing, with such low power requirements, setting the reactor to 1% power (generating 0.4ec/s) keeps it full of electric charge. The reactor core life currently reads "Almost forever". :)  I decided to put it into Hibernation mode anyway, since I'm not really going to use this for much.

Here are some shots of the launch and orbiting process. It was pretty standard stuff, so I didn't capture all that many shots. See below for more:

Spoiler

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This was my streamlined launcher, basically a ballistic missile with a probe on top. It's all liquid engine with almost 6,000dV in the first two stages. The smaller final stage was mostly contained in the fairing, since I wasn't sure the solar panels I added would survive the heat of orbiting.

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At this point, I wasn't using the nuclear reactor and with only ~300 E/c in the battery, I didn't want it dying on the several day trip out to Minmus. But I definitely didn't need these big panels. :) I just wanted to put 'em on here, since I never get to use them (they're not re-tractable, which is a pain).h4b5a93.jpg?1

OXoJ9Pk.jpg?1
 

 

As I mentioned, I've been testing spacecraft. This includes a Minmus Orbital Refinery (codenamed 'Crucible') for ore, metal, and rocketpart production, as well as ore mining lander ships that will ferry ore back to orbit.

6Zx4XE7.jpg?2

It's a similar generation space station to the 'Foundry' Orbital Manufacturing Platform, with some changes. Specifically, it has two large ISRUs instead of the central workshops and utilizes more "inflato" technology with 4 workshops to increase overall RP production. It also features a slightly modified crew section (at the "top") since this will only house engineers.

During this process, I also landed a couple versions of the mining ship, and it was very useful having just completed a My First Elkano Challenge on Minmus, since if felt like I knew the topography of the moon really well.

More to come on Minmus!

Edited by scottadges

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PROJECT UPDATE: Rethinking a Few Things

Playing around with test missions, seeing how the ships and stations I've been designing the last few days work in practice. Generally making sure my dV for specific trips wasn't too low (or way too much fuel remaining). Checking to see how my RCS was working with different modules. 

I also ran a decent end-to-end test mission of my refinement & manufacturing supply chain from Minmus to the Olympus station. (FPS hilarity ensues :rolleyes: )

Docking Big Stuff with Low Frame Rate

Here's my test docking the Manufacturing module with Olympus. This took a while, but surprisingly wasn't difficult per se to dock. But even with 6x reaction wheels in the thruster fuselages, it was very slow to turn even mostly empty of any rocketparts. The frame rate maybe got above 14. And forget about quicksaving... I basically do that out of habit. On re-load (like 4 times)... major explosions at 1 FPS.

IKQrJHv.jpg?1

Bigger problems came when trying to dock with Olympus AFTER the Manufacturing section was added.

Here's a test of the heavy drone transport that carries ~200K rocketparts plus about 1200dV. It can make the trip from Minmus back to 2864Km orbit with fuel to spare, but it's somewhat slow and uses a lot of MP when trying to make turns.

Loading Big Stuff with Low Frame Rates

When the transport gets close for rendezvous and Olympus loads, the whole game screeches to a halt for a solid 30 seconds. Once within sight, the Big-Ship-in-Slow-Frame-Rate situation is really noticeable. It took probably 20 minutes real-time (with help from MJ Docking Autopilot) to complete the rendezvous and line up the docking from about 80m away. The frame rate was a whopping 6-10 FPS at best.

dVpAJoW.jpg?1

Doing Two Things At Once with Low Frame Rates

Finally, we have the Minmus Orbital Refinery 'Crucible' which has a lot less parts, but is still pretty beefy. This test I decided to build two of the transport ships to send off chock full of RPs to Olympus (using HyperEdit to simulate ore deliveries). It took quite a few simulated days to build, fuel, and stock them, but then they were ready for send-off.

Here I tried to do two things at once (with low frame rate): Prep one transport for return to Olympus and the other to dock and complete fueling & stocking with RPs.

  • Lesson Learned: Don't forget to turn off AutoWarp if using MJ and executing a "Return from a moon" maneuver. It did so with Transport #1 (left) while Transport #2 (right) continued to dock. Brutally slammed Transport #2 into the Refinery. :) (It was actually hilarious... I could see the train wreck in slow motion.)

So again, the problem here is frame rate. I have two large transports (both at least 180+ parts) alongside my refinery (another 200+ parts) and FPS wasn't much higher than 12-15 at any given time.

Om2qg67.jpg?1

What's Next, Then?

From the outset of this mission, the goal was Massive Spaceships. I still believe in that goal. You'd be surprised at how you can actually play the game with a lower frame rate... it just takes bloody forever. And you can't really DO that much besides transfer and orbit. Docking & maneuvering this way is painful.

So I'm starting to believe that I can't possibly build a 500+ part (or more?) transfer vehicle with a space station that's already 500+ parts. And expect to dock anything nearby (like my materials transports) while this is all going on.

Time to re-think a little bit. I might take the Olympus Manufacturing & Construction Gantry and make them a separate space station. That would be purely a Spaceport/Shipyard. And I'll probably put it around Minmus... to limit the amount of transfers between Minmus and kerbo-stationary orbit (which incidentally were taking 12-20 in-game days to complete).

This way, I can mine, refine, manufacture, and build everything out there. Still thinking about it... 

 

Edited by scottadges

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3 hours ago, scottadges said:

From the outset of this mission, the goal was Massive Spaceships. I still believe in that goal. You'd be surprised at how you can actually play the game with a lower frame rate... it just takes bloody forever. And you can't really DO that much besides transfer and orbit. Docking & maneuvering this way is painful.

Well, good luck!  This to me is the biggest hurdle of the Jool-5 challenge or mothership missions in general.

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