pTrevTrevs

Curing a Burnout: My Attempt At Getting Back Into the Game

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     About a year ago I was quite an active poster on the forums, I regularly made new ships and uploaded them here, and I enjoyed the game quite a bit. However a combination of increased schoolwork and a poorly timed burnout caused me to slowly withdraw from activity here, and I dropped Kerbal Space Program in favor of other games that didn't require me to think quite as much. To me, there just wasn't anything I felt like doing in the game anymore. Having played the game since version 0.20, I had sent countless landing missions to the Mun, assembled several space stations, and built an endless fleet of aircraft and other miscellaneous ships. I had attempted interplanetary missions multiple times, but each one fizzles out, as I could not muster the concentration and persistence to follow through on any of them. But now I've finished the tough classes that consumed all my time, I've had plenty of time to enjoy other games, and now I feel that it's time to come back to KSP. This is partly due to the fact that I will be attending college to study aerospace engineering this coming August, and partly due to a realization that despite my many years of playing the game, I've never actually sent Kerbals beyond the orbit of Minmus. So, here I am, back after a year-long hiatus, with the intention of finally doing those things I've never done before. To give myself a little extra motivation I've decided to showcase my efforts here, for all of you to see. 

    The main crewed spacecraft I'll be using is the Scipio, a three-seat ship with a Soyuz-like assembly, with an orbital module to add extra living space and serve as an airlock for spacewalks. It is capable of making the round trip to and from the Mun, and will likely be used for any other stations I establish in LKO, as well as for any interplanetary missions I undertake.

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    The first part of my plan is the construction of a space station in lunar orbit, with the intention of using it to support a future series of bases on the surface. This station will have the ability to refine ore in orbit before being sent back to Kerbin, and will also be a waypoint for crews on the way to and from the surface of the Mun. It will house a minimum crew of three, with capability for up to six. This station is named Marius and currently consists of two modules, with more in development. At the left is the forward node, which has four docking ports to the fore, aft, zenith, and nadir. In the future, it will house a docking module to receive extra spacecraft and a storage module for minerals brought up from the surface. The center module is the station's core module, which currently serves as the main activity area for the crew. It has a set of engines for minor orbital adjustments, although with a Scipio docked at the station's rear the engines are rendered unusable. The four unoccupied docking ports around the Core Module's fore section will house a dedicated airlock, a truss section for the station's main solar arrays, a habitation module for temporary crewmembers on their way to or from the surface, and an observation module, which will also likely feature communications equipment for connecting with the surface.

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Most modules will be delivered to the station with a modified Scipio propulsion module, which will be crashed into the Mun afterwards. Smaller modules may use a smaller deliery vehicle, while bigger ones will usetheir own engines.

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I currently have no plans to publish any of these ships, however, if people want to download them, I wouldn't be against the idea, so let me know what's I should do in that regard.

The next post will show the delivery and deployment of the solar arrays, and should be up shortly.

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Launch of the Utility Truss and its two Solar Arrays from KSC. The fairing is kind of big, but I suppose it could be worse...

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This launch vehicle is the same one used for the Scipio spacecraft on lunar missions and is likely to become a workhorse of this project.

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Keeping with my naming scheme of using Roman figures and terms, this rocket is named Princeps, after the type of soldier which filled the second line of the Polybian legion of the middle Republic.

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I really do hate to make such a big fairing for what really amounts to such a small craft, but I suppose I had no other choice besides using mods or launching the module with no fairing at all.

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Arrival in lunar orbit, approximately one day after launch.

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Thanks to an entirely coincidental timing, the station was close enough that I was able to use it as a communications link to maintain full control of the truss when passing behind the far side of the Mun. After orbital insertion, the station was still close enough that I could use the crew onboard to direct the rendezvous and docking rather than rely on the limited capabilities of the probe core on the Scipio Delivery Module.

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Upon arrival at the station, the truss is maneuvered away from the two solar arrays and attached to the Core Module's zenith docking port. The truss was launched with a small automated tug attached to its top docking port. This tug is to be used to install the panels on either side of the truss since neither panel has a probe core of its own.

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After the truss is installed, the tug disconnects and returns to the Delivery Module to pick up the first solar array and attach it to the side of the truss.

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Manhandling the second array into place. At this point, I was getting anxious because the station was about to pass into darkness, and with no lighting onboard sufficient to illuminate the truss, installing the second array was bound to be a much harder job, especially given the low levels of monopropellant and limited battery capacity of the tug.

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Fortunately, although my skills are rusty, they weren't that rusty, and I was able to secure the second panel in time to open the entire array before lunar sunset. I was inspired to place the panel here by the early configurations of the ISS, however, unlike the ISS, this is the only panel I plan to install, due to the complicated nature of assembling the truss section. 

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Somehow, your craft look so uniquely Kerbal in a way that's hard to describe. Every part is functional and exact, but still smoothly fits into the whole thing. Impressive work - I'm going to be trying to emulate it in future saves.

I can't wait to see where this project goes - I've been half-burnt out for a while, so following along with you may be the remedy.

What's next? Perhaps a fuel depot or an orbital telescope.

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Welcome back.  Props for the docking skills :) 

I look forward to seeing your exploits beyond Kerbin's SOI.  You'll enjoy seeing other planets.

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13 hours ago, Majorjim! said:

Duna next!

I think my first attempt at an interplanetary mission should be to Eve, it will take less time and is easier to reach, and also gives me an excuse to not actually have to land on the surface, since its hard to make a working crewed lander for Eve that also looks realistic. Also, Gilly's low gravity will be interesting to play in.

For now though I'm going to concentrate on establishing a base on the Mun, it's the first step.

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Eve should be fun to explore. How about an kerbed atmo-dipper that will dive into the upper atmosphere and return to orbit? Plus an unkerbed probe or two to land on the surface. Gilly's gravity is so low you can almost treat it as an asteroid and park the whole ship there-dig some ore for the return trip. You could have the mining equipment as a separate section and leave it behind (no sense hauling it back to Kerbin) for later use by future expeditions.

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5 hours ago, FlyingPete said:

Eve should be fun to explore. How about an kerbed atmo-dipper that will dive into the upper atmosphere and return to orbit? Plus an unkerbed probe or two to land on the surface. Gilly's gravity is so low you can almost treat it as an asteroid and park the whole ship there-dig some ore for the return trip. You could have the mining equipment as a separate section and leave it behind (no sense hauling it back to Kerbin) for later use by future expeditions.

That’s actually an interesting idea.  To be viable, you would need a scoop, tank, and engines that can use the scooped gases.  Probable a compressor as well.

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10 hours ago, FlyingPete said:

How about an kerbed atmo-dipper that will dive into the upper atmosphere and return to orbit? 

3

You know, I've actually tried something like this once before, I wasn't able to get very deep into the atmosphere before the craft started to heat up and it fell out of orbit quite easily. If I tried it again I would put it in a hyperbolic orbit so that it has enough momentum at periapsis to fly through the atmosphere and return to space. The problem with that is that it necessitates a lot of fuel, not only to achieve the hyperbolic orbit but also to rendezvous with the orbiter afterward.

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49 minutes ago, pTrevTrevs said:

You know, I've actually tried something like this once before, I wasn't able to get very deep into the atmosphere before the craft started to heat up and it fell out of orbit quite easily. If I tried it again I would put it in a hyperbolic orbit so that it has enough momentum at periapsis to fly through the atmosphere and return to space. The problem with that is that it necessitates a lot of fuel, not only to achieve the hyperbolic orbit but also to rendezvous with the orbiter afterward.

Perhaps refuel at Gilly and make your orbital change at Gilly's apoapsis. Then hope you can ge out of the atmosphere and make a low orbit to rendezvous with the main ship afterwards.

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I realized that I had not shown the tug being moved back to its normal berth on the end of the truss after installing the solar arrays, so here it is now. The tug will remain here until it is required again, whether to rescue a dead ship or to install another station component.

 

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In the meantime though, the first Scipio Supply Tanker (ST) is being launched from KSC. Although the timing for the arrival of the solar truss allowed me to guide it directly from the station instead of relying on probe control, the conditions for rendezvous were actually quite bad, and I used all of the module's monopropellant attempting to complete the procedure. The Scipio the Expedition 1 crew arrived on it also short on fuel and monopropellant, so this ship will be delivering sorely needed propellant to both parts of the station. I'm not using any mods other than visual/sound mods, so the Scipio ST serves no other purpose than propellant deliveries, which will eventually be made unnecessary by ore shipments from the surface, but I think I'll keep one attached to the station at all times for looks.

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The Scipio ST uses the same service module as the other Scipio variants, with a new liquid supplies module in place of the descent module, intended to carry fuel/oxidizer, monopropellant, and xenon gas for when I begin using ion-powered flyers for the lunar base (because I really want to try that). The pressurized cargo module at the front is derived from the Scipio orbital module but has a few changes, namely the removal of an airlock hatch and the forward facing docking window.

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Arrival at the Mun. 

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One rendezvous later the station is in sight. Typically what I do for docking is align the station along its prograde vector, so I can tell whether the incoming ship is properly aligned or not. Unfortunately, the addition of the solar truss has made the station very slow to maneuver, so I may have to stop doing this soon.

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ST-1 is now docked to the station, and will remain onboard for the next few weeks, while cargo is moved over, propellant is pumped onboard, and trash is loaded into the PM. Once the ship undocks it will be directed to crash onto the far side of the Mun, so any debris will not be a future hazard to any future landing sites on the near side.

 

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With that complete, Bill Kerman now performs the first spacewalk from the new station, egressing from the Scipio's orbital module due to the current lack of a dedicated airlock.

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The station currently has three external workstations (command seats); two on the core module and one on the solar truss. They are intended to provide rest areas for long EVAs and to allow spacewalking Kerbals to work on projects from a stationary position, without needing to worry about holding onto a ladder or floating around. (They serve no practical in-game purpose and are meant mostly for decoration and greeble)

 

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An unexpected increase in my workload accompanying the start of the spring semester has left me unable to play KSP or anything else at all this week, however I have time right now for a brief update.

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This is the first of two Cato satellites (this first one is named Cato the Elder) placed in an orbit equal in size and inclination to the Mun's, but outside its sphere of influence. This way I can have reliable and consistent communications with ships passing around the far side of the Mun. Previously this gave me slight issues with control over station modules when performing orbital insertion burns. Cato the Elder is placed in front of the Mun, leading it, while the second satellite Cato the Younger will be placed in a similar position behind the Mun, trailing it.

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The communications range is already greatly expanded with this one satellite, the second one will ensure that no spacecraft in lunar orbit will at any time be without communications or full control authority.

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With the weekend approaching, I may be able to have more time to work more on this, although I can't say for sure.

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20 minutes ago, pTrevTrevs said:

placed in an orbit equal in size and inclination to the Mun's, but outside its sphere of influence.

Be careful with that.  Because you can never get (or retain) an orbital period exactly the same as Mun's, they'll eventually drift into Mun's SOI.,  Especially if you do much with high levels of warp.

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2 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

Be careful with that.  Because you can never get (or retain) an orbital period exactly the same as Mun's, they'll eventually drift into Mun's SOI.,  Especially if you do much with high levels of warp.

That’s true, but I don’t need these satellites to last forever, just long enough to establish a crewed base on the far side. That will more or less make the satellites redundant since I can have the crew there control unmanned ships out of comms with Kerbin.

At any rate the satellite does have ion engines for minor orbital adjustments to keep it in position.

Edited by pTrevTrevs

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Wow. Good to see you back.

Those craft designs are some of the most beautiful things I've seen in stock KSP for a long time.

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Right then, another update, since I've been neglecting this lately due to schoolwork.

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The second communications satellite (Cato the Younger) is in place, and now I have a completely filled in communications network for short to mid-term lunar operations. As some have pointed out these satellites won't stay in place forever, so I will need to find a more permanent solution to the blackout problem on the far side of the Mun, but until I do these satellites will work perfectly.

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I've also begun designing a reusable lander for future surface missions. Its normal flight crew will be three, although it can technically hold up to five (the seat in the lander can is intended as an airlock. Because of this extra space, it will be able to hold three Kerbals in relative comfort for a period of several days. The station currently isn't capable of servicing this lander because I have yet to add the extra crew space and the docking module necessary to allow comfortable and convenient movement of the lander and its passengers around the station, but once that's done I will start test missions of the lander by flying sortie missions to the lunar surface. Having completed that, I will develop a variant of the lander for delivering rovers and temporary living quarters to the surface, and after that, the platform will also be adapted for the construction of permanent bases.

Oh, I also need a name for the lander, I'm still working on that part...

I can't say how much I'll get to work on this because the spring semester has hit me like a freight train and I'm doing my best to keep up. When I do get a chance to play, I often feel like playing other games, but to be fair, that's the reason I started this project in the first place.

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I'll say it again. I love your designs. That lander is the picture of minimalist excellence in stock, and I'm thoughrougly impressed.

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Not much to show here, but since it's been a few days I'll show the docking module I added to the orbital station. This will be the primary berth for the lander, but can also serve as a secondary berth for Scipio spacecraft or anything else.

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I guess I should give some kind of update for this. I'm not dead, but I've been swamped with work from school, as well as scholarship applications since it's that time of year. I was able to play a little today and make some progress. I launched the lander on a test flight and gave it the name Aurelian, after the 3rd Century Roman Emperor who suppressed the Gallic and Palmyrene Empires which broke off from Rome in the midst the 3rd Century political crises. He was killed by the Praetorian Guard after they were given a fake list of people Aurelian supposedly intended to kill which had the names of several Guardsmen on it.

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Anyway, here's a picture. I meant to take this all the way to the Mun, but realized once I got it into orbit that I forgot to install the RCS on the lander itself.

I also made a few changes to the Scipio spacecraft and developed a smaller, more efficient rocket for it than the Princeps I've been using for almost all flights, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

 

Sorry for taking so long to get just this little bit up, but work must come before play, and it's more important that I get my education paid for than it is to finish a project in a video game.

Edited by pTrevTrevs
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Oh man, it's been a month and a half since I've given any mind to this. I've been swamped with work most of the time, and my spring break was taken up by a vacation to Hawaii (it was very nice, by the way), as well as a college visit and spring cleaning, but now I have some time and there isn't any other game I wanted to play today, so I got to come back to KSP. 

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I continued the test flight of Aurelian, the next phase of the mission involves sending up a crewed Scipio to tow it to the Mun. I'm using a new, smaller and more efficient booster for the Scipio, consisting of three less powerful stages and no SRBs.

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The third stage is still concealed in a fairing, due to its smaller diameter.

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The Scipio rendezvoused with Aurelian and the still-attached upper stage propelled both ships out of Kerbin's orbit and was then expended.

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Scipio's engine was used for course corrections en route, but the lander's engines were used for the orbital insertion due to the lander's higher TWR compared to the single engine on Scipio.

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One revolution after entering orbit, the crew powered up the lander and undocked for descent. This landing will be relatively simple compared to future ones, and is intended more as a test for the lander systems instead of a serious scientific expedition. Scipio will be controlled autonomously and will proceed to dock at the Marius space station, where it will be refueled and await the arrival of the crew, which will arrive at the station after completing their surface mission, where they will relieve the current crew.

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The descent and landing went smoothly, with no hitches. I was able to put it down right in the middle of a crater I picked out from orbit, and then hovered and maneuvered the craft to a precise landing on flat ground, which I'm quite proud of, considering how rusty I am at this game.

Hopefully, I'll have the time and inclination to continue this soon, but my schedule is still extremely unpredictable, and likely will be until mid-May. Truthfully, I'm not even aware what the current version of KSP is, it's been so long since I've visited the forum or played the game...

 

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13 hours ago, Wallygator said:

looking good @pTrevTrevs ...

Nice stuff, nice pics! Well done!

Thanks, I'll try and work some more on this today or sometime this week. Can't promise anything though, it's the last week before AP Exams start hitting, and I've got to make my last month of school count.

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V 1.4.3 is the latest:)

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