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djr5899

A KSP Brag Story (minor achievement to most)

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Have lurked here for awhile, but time to finally post and share one of my recent success stories.......

I first played the KSP demo on PC a few years ago, but didn't have a powerful enough (to my liking) laptop to buy the game.  When it was released on Xbox, I bought the game.  Played it for a month or two, and never really got that far in Career mode.  I wouldn't say it was as  buggy to me as most people said, but, I never did much but complete some simple contracts and orbit Kerbin.  Never made it any farther.  Around September, I decided to start playing it again.   I got a little bit further, and was starting to see some of the issues described about the Console build.  I saw that a new Console version was coming out in January, but, I was really back into the game and couldn't wait.  I bought the current KSP for PC in early November.  Oh the joy....the science tree was a little better arranged to make career progression a bit easier in terms of science gathering.   I made it to the Mun and Minmus, with fly-bys and orbits of both moons.  I even launched a Mobile Science Lab......and that's where the problems started.

So, a few weeks ago, I launched a Science Lab in orbit of Kerbin. Mobile Processing Lab, Pilot, and 2 Scientist.  Figured this would help speed up my science gathering.  At some point after launch and gathering data, I forwarded the game to a point where I could not revert back to pre-launch of the lab, and I realized.....I had not put an antenna on the final version, so all that science was sitting there, unattainable.   I also didn't have a method to bring the Kerbals home.  I had an engine with enough fuel to get them out of orbit, but I had no heat shields and no parachutes.  A rescue mission would need to be launched.

Here's the thing:  I had never done an orbital rendezvous before, and never docked.  I tried a few times on my own....fail.  EPIC FAIL. I scoured the forum for help.  Found a few pointers.  FAIL.  Found this great guide: Illustrated Tutorial for Orbital Rendezvous. Fail, but not as bad.  The tutorial really helped me get in the proper orbit and get within 500m-5km of  my target.  That took me a few hours of trial and error.  But, every time I got close, I'd watch my lab get closer, and closer, and then zoom right by me the other direction.  Use the orbital markers to thrust forward.....and there it goes the other way.  Try and try, fail and more fail.  I must have spent 10 hours just loading, getting close, but never close enough or slow enough, and to the point my craft was going to run out of fuel before even getting a chance to dock.  I tried for days. I left the game alone for days.  I was [...] this close to posting here a few days ago, looking for any other pointers on redezvous with craft, because I had read the guides, and it just was not working for me.

I hadn't played for a day or two, frustrated with my failures, when I decided to load up the game this morning.  For whatever reason, this morning it just all clicked.  I got an intersect point down to 500m and about 12m/s.  The biggest thing that had caused me failures was not fully grasping how the target markers worked.  I saw the whole PUSH/PULL notes in  the link for Orbital Rendezvous but, until you really have tried it or done it properly a few times, it was hard for me to grasp just how that worked.  But, once I did the correct burn and had the normal target and the prograde marker lined up properly, it then hit me how to do the push or pull in each direction.  I got my rescue craft to about 15m away from my lab.  Still took me a good hour or two of loading and unloading to dock.  I have no mods, and I found the normal camera view to be horrible for trying to dock, and didn't see much help from the Docking mode.  After multiple attempts, I really just ended up bumping into the docking port to dock.  Maybe I'll break down and get a docking mod, or maybe with some future rendezvous I will find a better camera mode to use and find the stock docking mode is actually useful.

But today, I rejoice in finally bringing Valentina, Bob, and Milsey home from orbit.  I am less than 50 science away from getting the scanning technologies, which should help me unlock more science and prepare for Mun and Minmus landings. Really enjoying the game since switching from console to PC.

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Congrats!

Sometimes the best thing is to get some time and distance from a problem, stop thinking about it; get a good nights sleep.

It all comes together when you come back to it, your mind has been working on it without you even knowing!

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Glad to hear the penny finally dropped.

Since my first docking, I've always just used the stock combination of external view and the nav ball markers.  I used to (in sandbox or science, where I had full SAS capability) lock the "to target" mode and use RCS translation to get the "to target" and "prograde" (which is target closing velocity) to match.  Not sure yet what I'll do in career, where my most experienced Kerbals can't yet hold anything other than celestial heading, prograde, and retrograde.  Won't matter until I unlock docking ports, I guess (should be soon; I just researched the Mk. 1-2 Command Pod last session).

One very small mod that is more useful than you'd think for docking, as well as a lot of help for landings on airless bodies and just making maneuver node burns, is "Better Burn Time" -- when you have a target set and are close enough to contemplate docking, it'll give you a running status of predicted closest approach, how long until then, and how long your burn to zero out relative velocity (it won't tell you direction, but the nav ball has that).  With Better Burn Time and the standard rendezvous techniques, rendezvous and docking become a lot easier, without needing a big GUI docking alignment mod.

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I consider docking the biggest hurtle to get over in this game.  There's nothing like the first time it works, especially when you need it to do so!  Before you know it, docking will be second nature, and you'll be building interplanetary craft in orbit.

I still can't even begin to fathom how this game is played with a controller.

Congrats!

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Yay.  Well done, and a huge welcome to the forums.  Oh, and a Merry Christmas too.

Rendezvous and docking are hard at first, don't underestimate how big an achievement the first one is.  Your experience was similar to mine, I checked the tutorial videos etc and eventually my son helped me out, but my first 'solo' felt really special. 

Once you've done a few it times it falls into place much better. Although it's always very easy to 'stuff it up' big time, no matter how much practice you get, it does get easier the more you do it.

 

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16 hours ago, djr5899 said:

...maybe with some future rendezvous I will find a better camera mode to use and find the stock docking mode is actually useful.

Congrats on your first successful rendezvous & docking operation. Sweaty/shaky hands and failed attempts is part of the learning process so, don't lose your cool. As you get more of these under your belt, you'll notice more bits falling into place. Doing it is one thing: understanding why it happens the way it does, is another -and this comes with practice.

You can right click on the docking port and select "aim camera". This shifts the viewpoint to focus on it, giving you a better view of the docking process. It's something I do, once I'm aligned with the docking port of the spacecraft/station I want to dock to.

As for docking mode and from a keyboard player's perspective, it basically "slaves" translation to the well used to, WASD keys, interchanging with rotation via the spacebar. The closure rates during docking are -and should be- low, giving you plenty of time to switch back and forth.

9 hours ago, Zeiss Ikon said:

Not sure yet what I'll do in career, where my most experienced Kerbals can't yet hold anything other than celestial heading, prograde, and retrograde.

Target tracking works only for docking ports attached on the spacecraft's axis of symmetry. Any off-axis, radially attached, or the Inline & Mk2 docking ports used in spaceplanes and it won't track properly. If you go that way, you'll have to know how to do it manually.

This is where mods like the docking port alignment indicator, or the navball docking alignment indicator come in handy, if you want to speed up the process, or just want to check how did you do on your own (I often do both). Oh: and careful rcs ports placement, but you knew that already :)

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Rendezvous and docking is definitely one of the most difficult things to do in KSP. I struggled far less with my first interplanetary mission than my first rendesvouz. I also had a difficult time grasping the whole concept of relative velocity and intercept angles. The first time I actually managed to do it I first watched the video where Scott Manley explains the procedure and practiced the whole thing with two identical crafts built specifically to be easy to dock. Sounds like you had a much more difficult introduction to it and it's very satisfying when it all finally "clicks" and the two crafts "kiss" and become one craft.

The first time is usually a real brain twister, but after that it pretty much becomes routine and it opens up a lot of new possibilities. 

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This report of a mission has been moved to mission reports. 

And congratulations. :D

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Must have been gratifying to finally get the intercept right :)

I personally have never even tried to do one. I do more surface intercepts than orbital ones, but even then, all I do is point the engine in the relative direction of the target, without maneuver nodes, and try to land as close as possible before taking off again and moving in little hops. Not too efficient, but, oh well.. :P

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My first intercept was actually a success! If you don't count all the previous failures... and the time spent doing the rendezvous tutorial.

 

Anyway, welcome to the forums!

Edited by obney kerman

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Since my first post above, I have a few more accomplishments to cross off the list:

  • Landed two unmanned probes on Mun.
  • Launched two satellites in orbit of Kerbin.
  • Launched one satellite in orbit of the Mun.
  • Landed a manned mission to the Mun, planted flag, and successfully returned to Kerbin.

Been working on that last one for the past week or more.  Took me quite awhile to get the stages setup correctly and have enough fuel to get back to Kerbin.  The last 2 days, I'd get to orbit, get myself in orbit of the Mun, get my craft landed, gather all my science data, then either not have enough fuel to even escape Mun gravitational pull, or hit escape velocity, but only get my periapsis around Kerbin down to about 125km before running out of fuel. Finally pulled it off today. :o

I also learned a nice trick when landing on the Mun.  Several times, I came in at an improper angle, and did not land completely on the landing struts.  My rocket fell over.  Luckily, I was able to open the Service Bay.  Opening the service bay with such low gravity was able to pop my craft up several meters in the air, enough for me to straighten out at a much lower speed and put the craft back on the landing struts.

Next items to tackle for me:

  • Putting manned mobile processing labs in orbit around Kerbin and the Mun.
  • Launching unmanned probes to Minmus.
  • Manned mission to Minmus.
  • Scanning satellites around Mun and Minmus.
Edited by djr5899
added word

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Honestly, Minmus landings will be a breeze compared to the Mun landings. The only difference with Minmus is that it is harder to intercept and has MUCH lower gravity. We will be looking at your journey up the ladder of Ksp achievements with considerable interest. :wink:

Edited by Alpha 360

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