pTrevTrevs

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

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Posted (edited)

Well, to give you an idea of how out of touch I am (despite actively trying to get back into the game), I wasn't even aware of the 1.4 update, and when I heard about it, I assumed it was simply a bugfix and not worth updating to it. I don't have the game on steam and simply download a new install from the KSP website every time I need a new version (probably an easier way to do it, but I haven't really bothered to try).

Anyway, I have made the switch now, and I changed up my visual mods as well, from SVE to Astronomer's Visual Pack (thank God for that RAM upgrade I got myself for Christmas). There's still not too much to show, but I flew Scipio unmanned to the orbital station and docked it to its berth on the docking module on the station's nadir.

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Meanwhile, the crew on the surface began their EVA, accompanied by some pretty great new visuals (too bad they make my already-dismal FPS even worse).

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The lander doesn's look all that big in the VAB view, but having a Kerbal stand next to it gives you an idea of its size. It needs to be bigger than something I would normally construct for such a landing mission, because it's meant to be reusable, and I can't leave part of it on the surface to save weight. 

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I didn't have any kind of equipment to assemble on the surface, and exploring the landing site in-depth wouldn't be practical because I had three Kerbals to manage and no rover or flyer to transport them, but I did Valentina to the rim of a small crater nearby to plant another flag to mark the furthest point of excursion. 

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Unfortunately, using the EVA jetpack to make long trips like this is kind of dangerous, and also tedious to keep the Kerbal in the air without hitting the ground and bouncing. In the future I plan to send rovers to the surface to allow longer and safer exploratory trips, and maybe I'll even send another crew back to this crater complex to give it a closer look. Maybe I'll also get KAS/KIS and SEP to give me something to build once on the surface...

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With the EVA concluded, the crew re-enters the lander and begins the closeout procedure and liftoff preparations. The ladder is retracted and the surface probes are extracted from the soil, they will be re-extended for the next landing.

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Around half an hour later, Aurelian is airborne again, racing to catch up with Marius in orbit and finish its first expedition.

(By the way, I think I may be having an issue with RealPlume, if you'll notice how the engine effects originate from the combustion chamber rather than the end of the nozzle, where it should. I don't know what the cause of this may be.)

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About two orbits later, the spacecraft meets up with the station and prepares to dock. Unfortunately, I had not yet pumped all the fuel out of the cargo tanker occupying the only other berth ideal for such a large (and ungainly) craft as Aurelian, so I had to attempt to dock to the nadir port on the Core Module, dangerously close to the second Scipio spacecraft.

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I had not intended to use this port to house Aurelian, so I had some issues with a radiator panel and thruster on the Core obstructing access to the port, and in the end I had to back the spacecraft away from the port, rotate it so the thruster would have room, and dock is in this lopsided position. In the future I will not attempt to dock so many ships at the station unless I can get more ports with sufficient clearance to allow an easier approach.

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This is the station's current configuration, with Scipio-ST 1 on the far left, Scipio 2 on the far right, Scipio 3 occupying the nadir docking tunnel, and Aurelian crammed in on the Core's nadir berth. Scipio 2 will soon be departing with its crew and the landing crew which has just arrived in Aurelian will take over command of the station as Orbital Expedition 2.

The station is getting kind of big, I hope I can still afford to add all the modules I had planned. Every now and then the station will fall prone to Kraken attacks, but I can usually catch them with time warp. The real problem with that is that it makes the station almost impossible to move without causing wobbling and shaking throughout the entire assembly, despite having nearly every part autostrutted.

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I may take a break from lunar operations for a while, I believe there is an Eve transfer window about to open up, and I may send a probe there to map it for resources or prepare for a potential manned mission to Gilly. Alternatively, I've been wanting to send a smaller station with an asteroid telescope into a high altitude inclined orbit to search for asteroids. The station would not be permanently manned the way Marius is but would have a pressurized cabin for accommodating short-duration visiting crews for service missions or for testing new variants of Scipio or other spacecraft closer to home than the Mun.

By the way, thanks to @kerbalstar for letting me know about the update, I'd still be on 1.3 if it weren't for him.

Edited by pTrevTrevs
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I see the lander works well.

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Test driving a new rover, christened Nerva, intended for longer duration Lunar missions. It carries up to four Kerbals technically five, counting the seat on the back utility platform, but that seat is intended more for trips with frequent stops, where crew will be disembarking often for maintenance or exploration, and will not be used when not necessary. Its top speed on Kerbin is around 20m/s, but I'm expecting much lower speeds on the Mun due to lower gravity and added caution forcing me to drive slower anyway. Its name comes from Emperor Nerva, the first of the Five Good Emperors of Rome, all known for their exceptional leadership abilities and the prosperity Rome experienced during their reigns. Nerva reigned for a relatively short period and was most known for the dynasty he created rather than his reign itself, which is why I'm using his name for such a small piece of hardware rather than something bigger.

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It's supposed to look pressurized, but of course, it isn't.

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In addition to the smaller panels lining the sides of the rover, it carries two larger panels for faster charging during stops. Its main antenna is carried on the rear utility platform, as well as a biome scanner, a jump seat, and a towing bar (since I decided to bite the bullet and get KAS/KIS to make base construction easier). There is also a thruster block on top of the rover which is used to prevent tipping during turns.

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Right now the plan is to attach one of these to a cargo variant of Aurelian for the next Lunar surface mission. I will first have to reoutfit Aurelian with the newly added gold foil tanks since the toroidal ones I originally used in 1.3 make it a pain to refuel. This probably means that the lander docked to Marius will have to be retired and disposed of.

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I've made a modernized version of Aurelian, with the new foil-clad fuel tanks to save on part count and make refueling easier. The number of engines has also been decreased from four to two, and the RCS's fuel tanks have been relocated from the frame containing the other propulsion equipment to the sides of the cabin, to make room for more fuel tanks. it doesn't have quite as much DeltaV as the original version, but it's not enough to matter. This second lander is currently on its way to the Lunar station where it will be outfitted for its first surface expedition.

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Meanwhile, the station is finally preparing to jettison the Scipio-ST cargo tanker to make room for the arrival of Aurelian II. This will involve jettisoning the original Aurelian, as it is no longer needed or useful, as well as moving the Scipio currently occupying the nadir docking tunnel to the berth currently occupied by the tanker. This will allow Aurelian II to connect to the docking tunnel avoiding the awkward clearance issues encountered during the last docking with  Aurelian I.

I still need to reoutfit Scipio with the new Mark 1-3 Command Module and the new fuel tanks, and the next spacecraft to arrive at the station will be modernized to the new 1.4 standards. The two Scipio ships currently at the station will be the last of their kind to make use of the Mark 1-2 Command Module and stacked toroidal fuel tanks.

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Quite a lot of progress to report this evening, with my last final over with, I have a fairly clear schedule for the coming week, so maybe the pace will continue to be this brisk.

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ST-1 has been jettisoned and disposed of by crashing it on the far side of the Mun, away from any possible future landing site.

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Aurelian I has likewise been disposed of, somewhat sadly. There was some debris left from the crash, so maybe I'll send a landing crew there to retrieve some of it and try to ship it back to Kerbin one day. For now, though, the ship which I had thought had such a useful and bright future ahead of it is nothing but scrap metal on the floor of some nameless crater.

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On a brighter note, Aurelian II has arrived at Marius. It will need to be refueled before a crew can take it to the surface, but it's otherwise ready to go. The Orbital Expedition 1 crew will be departing soon, and when Orbital Expedition 3 arrives at Marius they will oversee the first landing of this new and improved ship.

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Now for the biggest update; I have launched an orbital telescope named Belisarius, which will not be permanently crewed but has a pressurized workspace for crews to conduct experiments and servicing work on the telescope. The next Scipio flight, Scipio 4, will fly to Belisarius rather than the Mun, as it will be the first Block II Scipio, and will need testing in LKO before tackling a destination such as the Mun.

The telescope is named for Belisarius ,  a Byzantine (Still Roman, change my mind) general who led Eastern Roman forces in Justinian's reconquest of the Western Roman territories which had fallen to barbarian invaders such as the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Visigoths less than a hundred years before. His extremely successful military career is often considered comparable to Hannibal's or Napoleon's.

That launch tower you see in the first photo is from this very awesome Modular Launch Pads mod, made by @AlphaMensae . You'll hopefully be seeing a lot more of it in my posts here, I've been waiting for something like it for literally years now.

Before anyone speaks up, I realize now that the Sentinel telescope part can only be used in solar orbit. This makes Belisarius utterly useless, unfortunately, but I was not aware of this limitation until I had the telescope in orbit.

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Thanks for the mention and nice words, @pTrevTrevs!  Also nice to see the Saturn IB milkstool used for a non-Saturn IB launch :)

 

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32 minutes ago, AlphaMensae said:

Thanks for the mention and nice words, @pTrevTrevs!  Also nice to see the Saturn IB milkstool used for a non-Saturn IB launch :)

 

Yep, I didn’t like how short the tower was without the milkstool, so I added it so I could get away with a full-size tower.

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I have lots of images to share for this, most of them because of how a e s t h e t i c they are, so I'll split them up into two or more posts. Also, i have a lot of photos of the new launch tower to showcase.

One more time, I want to thank @AlphaMensae for the Modular Launch Pads mod, it really is a godsend.

This is Scipio 4, the first flight of Scipio Block II, and the first mission to Belisarius. The crew will install a set of instruments, transfer over construction hardware for use on future missions, and attach a safety cable for EVA tethering and other such things. This mission will also ensure that the new hardware being used in Block II is suitable for long-duration spaceflight to the Mun and beyond.

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4 am: The crew boards the transport van outside the astronaut complex and depart for the launch pad. Once there, they pressurize and perform final checks on their suits, and await clearance to ascend the elevator and board the spacecraft.

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6 am: The crew is given clearance to proceed to the spacecraft, and boards the elevator on the side of the mobile launch platform. Once on the launch platform's deck, the crew proceeds to the tower elevator and ascends to the crew access level.

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Once atop the service tower, the crew crosses the access arm to the white room, where the pad closeout crew helps connect their suits to the spacecraft environmental system. The crew then boards the craft, and after ensuring that the ship's control panel is set for liftoff, the hatch is closed and the crew is sealed in the spacecraft.

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7:30 am: With twenty minutes to go before launch, the crew access swing arm is retracted. If the crew is forced to abort now they must either wait for the arm to be reconnected with the Command Module or use the Launch Escape System to quickly propel themselves away from the pad.

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7:50 am: Launch countdown proceeds with no issues and the vehicle lifts off on schedule. As the engines are ignited the swing arms are retracted and the hold-down arms on top of the milk-stool disconnect, allowing the booster to begin its one-way journey.

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Launch proceeds without a hitch, the first stage burns out and separates as normal, and the escape tower is jettisoned. The second stage pushed the craft further, and the orbit is completed with the third stage. Gotta say, I'm liking this new Mark 1-3 command pod, it's IVA is way better than the old one.

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The crew immediately begin setting up their rendezvous with Belisarius, and it takes about a day to complete, given the need for plane corrections and the starting distance between the two ships. 

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The docking proceeds normally, and the crew inspects the pressurized portion of the telescope. The station has two sleeping stations inside, but for safety reasons, one crewmember will remain in the command module at all times, unless an EVA is in progress, in which case the two crew still inside will monitor the spacewalk from the telescope. The mission will last about three days, enough time to test the telescope's hardware, perform an EVA to install the mission's hardware, and perform other scheduled tests.

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Excellent!

Reminds me of the Saturn IC proposal, which would have replaced the IB's clustered fuel tanks and 8 H-1 engines with a single tank and one F-1 engine. :)

 

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On 5/24/2018 at 11:07 AM, NotAgain said:

I love the launch tower, @pTrevTrevs. Absolutely beautiful.

The mod can be found here if you're interested. The creator also included parts for a Soyuz launch pad.

 

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A second Scipio-ST has been launched to the Mun, its main cargo being fuel for Aurelian 2, which will enable it to perform its first surface expedition.

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By now rendezvous and docking with Marius are nearly routine operations, and the approach procedure was handled without any problems, despite the growing size of the station and the footprint its part count is starting to leave in my RAM.

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Refueling Aurelian 2, however, is something I've never done before, and it proved to be quite tedious, with the numerous fuel tanks I needed to manage on both the tanker and the lander. ST-2 docked on the opposite end of the station from  Aurelian 2, and because of that, it became a little difficult to switch through all the tanks that needed attention, although the "Aim Camera" option proved useful.

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ST-2 also delivered materials for the station's exterior, including two tether cables and four mounts for cargo containers. Following the refueling, the engineer onboard the station was sent outside to unpack and install the newly arrived hardware.

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First, a new radiator intended to help cope with the demands that will be placed on the station by future expansions, as well as the refinery I intend to add to it eventually.

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Next, the four cargo mounts to store extra EVA fuel canisters, extra tools, parts such as reinforcement struts and fuel pipes, etc. Two mounts are on the forward node, one on the core module, and one more on the docking node, near Aurelian 2's berth.

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The last piece of equipment to be installed are the tether cables. These will allow Kerbals to anchor themselves in place while working on the station or installing new equipment and will make it much harder to drift out of range of a container while working inside it. They can also be used to tether a craft to the station if for some reason the two vessels must remain undocked yet near each other.

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Once both cables are installed, a few unnecessary or superfluous parts are removed from Marius and Aurelian 2 and stowed in ST-2's cargo bay for disposal. One storage box is moved to the station, while the second is used for trash disposal on the Scipio ST.

The next lunar mission will be a cargo lander, delivering a rover and surface equipment for Surface Expedition 1, and after that, the crew itself, which will take command of the lander onboard the station before descending to the surface. Additionally, I have a few unmanned interplanetary missions planned, some in preparation for future manned missions to Eve or Duna, and some with other goals.

I hate to jinx it now, but I think I'm finally cultivating a newfound interest in playing this game, maybe soon I won't even have to force myself to do so.

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Progress continues with the launch of the first Nerva rover onboard an Aurelian cargo lander. The spacecraft also carries a set of scientific instruments and a high-gain communications antenna which will be assembled by the crew on the surface. This is the beginning of an upcoming series of surface expeditions intended to find a suitable location in which to construct a permanent base.

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The weight of the lander requires its launch vehicle to be much larger than the Princeps rocket, which so far has been the workhorse of my lunar expeditions, launching both variants of Scipio spacecraft and nearly all modules of Marius. Therefore I've commissioned a new booster, the Centurion, derived from the Princeps design, but much more powerful. It quite obviously takes real-life inspiration from the Ares V, although unlike the Ares I plan to have the SRBs be modular, and Centurion may be launched in future with more SRBs or even without any SRBs. 

For historical context (since I've been giving some for each name I use), a Centurion was the commander of a Roman century, a formation of soldiers consisting of 80 men. Each century would be divided into ten "contuberniums", of 8 men, similar to the organization of squads into platoons in modern militaries. The term "century" is a bit of a misnomer, since one would assume that such a formation would consist of 100 men, not 80. However, a century actually had 20 noncombatant members, two to each contubernium, which would assist the men with carrying supplies, preparing food, maintaining the century's pack mules, etc. Therefore, while the actual on-paper strength of a century was 100 men, only 80 were combatants. 

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Anyway, while the launch vehicle propels the spacecraft up to and during TLI, the lander's engines are responsible for any mid-course corrections, as well as the Lunar Orbit Insertion burn. I normally don't like to design craft like this, but the Aurelian frame was built to be reused, and thus it has a pretty significant margin for error when it comes to fuel usage. The cargo lander will never have to make an ascent from the surface, so the fuel that would have been used for that on a manned lander is instead used for the flight to the Mun.

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For this first crewed expedition with the new rover, I'm aiming for a pretty well-known Easter egg, which can be seen in the background of the above photos, but for the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won't reveal where exactly on the Mun the landing site is. The locations of all Easter eggs are available on the wiki in case someone is interested in them. Funnily enough, I knew the general location of this Mun Arch, but not its exact location. I'm pretty proud of the fact that I was able to make a targeted landing without even knowing the location of my target.

The next launch will carry the landing crew to lunar orbit, where they will take command of Aurelian 2 aboard Marius and descend to the surface. They will attempt to make a pinpoint landing near the cargo lander, then unload the rover and the other surface hardware. They will make multiple EVAs, one of which will be devoted to a drive to the nearby Mun Arch, the main attraction of this entire landing site. The rover will remain on the surface, and it will possibly be used for future surface expeditions, especially if this site is chosen as the location of the planned permanent surface base.

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Scipio 5 launches from KSC with no problems and reaches its parking orbit as usual.

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A short while later, the spacecraft is cleared for TLI and is on its way to the Mun within half an hour after launch. Due to the time window necessary for both lighting conditions at the landing site and for Marius to pass over the landing site, Scipio 5 is using a special "fast-track" trajectory, which can get the spacecraft to the Mun in less than three hours, at the expense of safety and margin for error. Fortunately, Scipio and Princeps have both flown enough times by now to keep the likelihood of a problem occurring at a minimum.

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During the flight to Lunar orbit, the crew was able to capture several astronomic phenomena on camera, including this sequence of the sun rising over the Mun's horizon, recorded from the Command module's round hatch window. The Sun's corona is visible for a few moments before the rest of the star is above the horizon, at which point the window is flooded with light.

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The crew also captured a photo of Minmus shortly before Lunar Orbit Insertion. The dwarf moon is one of the potential future targets for extended space missions being investigated, and it will likely be the site of the next manned missions to a celestial body other than the Mun.

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Scipio 5 arrives in Lunar orbit and begins its rendezvous procedure. Time is at a premium, in order for the crew to arrive at the station in time to land when the sun is just rising over the landing site, when the terrain features will be most visible.zToAsBR.png

Fortunately, just like Princeps launches, rendezvous operations with Marius are by now routine, and the crew has no issues making their way to the station on time. This photo was taken from the Command Module's forward-facing windows, which are used as a backup for the camera systems typically used for docking.

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Scipio 5 completes its docking successfully and the crew boards the station. After a brief rest period, they will power up the lander and descend to the lunar surface.

 

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Big post coming, lots of images to share.

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Aurelian 2 spreads its wings for the second time and undocks from Marius for its first trip to the lunar surface.

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The lander enters its descent orbit, with an altitude of about 4,000 meters radar altitude. It will coast in this orbit until it passes over the landing site, at which point it will begin its powered descent.

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The Arch appears right where it's supposed to, and the landing radar begins receiving signals from the cargo lander on the surface.

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The crew sets the lander down about forty meters from the cargo lander, so as to avoid damaging any of the equipment with rocket exhaust. I'm quite proud of being able to make not one, but two pinpoint landings in the same place like this. Such skills will no doubt come in handy when it comes time to construct a base on the surface.

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Following a brief rest period, the crew begins their first EVA. This excursion will be dedicated to setting up the equipment at the landing site and taking an initial scan of the surrounding area for future reference.

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The first order of business is for the crew to make its way to the cargo lander and unpack the rover and other equipment onboard.

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Nerva 1 is guided off the lander's platform and onto the surface by remote control. It has a frame with RCS thrusters on top to help it remain steady, slow its descent, and prevent tipping.

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The frame is discarded once the rover is safely on the ground.

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With the rover deployed, the crew's engineer now unpacks the cargo boxes underneath the lander, which contain the parts for the surface experiment package.

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After scouting out a good location for the station a short distance from the landers, he deploys the central station and a battery pack, then installs the cable plugs in each port on both structures.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the station parts are ferried over by the other two crew members with Nerva 1

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The crew now begins constructing the rest of the SEP's components. A power station with solar panels is set up...

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As well as a high-gain antenna, which will be used both to improve the crew's communications with Kerbin and to send back data from the station after the crew's departure.

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Both the power station and the antenna are linked to the SEP central station with cables.

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Over the next half-hour, the crew assembles the rest of the station's components, then links them back to the central station. Each station is then calibrated by the mission scientist.

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After activating the station, the crew loads their spare supplies into Nerva and heads back to the lander for a rest. The next EVAs will involve long-distance excursions with the rover, culminating with a visit to the nearby Mun Arch.

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But first, the mission commander has one more task; to set up a flag to mark the landing site for future explorers. 

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Having earned their rest, the exhausted crew sets Nerva to its dormant mode and piles back into Aurelian's cabin. In four more hours, they must be ready to begin the second moonwalk.

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After a rest in Aurelian's cabin, the crew hits the surface once again, for a short geologic trek, which will pass through a debris field to the north of the landing site, where the rover's delivery frame was seen to crash. The crew will attempt to find the frame, which by now has been sitting out in the lunar vacuum for some five hours, and examine any notable rock formations and boulders they find. The biome scanner on the rover will also perform a limited resource analysis to determine the plausibility of using this site or an area near it for a base.

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Nerva's cockpit provides an ample field of view for dodging any obstacles, and the screen mounted between and above the two drivers' seats allows them to use camera systems mounted on the exterior of the rover to open up any blind spots, as well as use a real-time navigation map to track their position on the surface.

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After mounting the rover, the crew sets off for the north debris field. The mission scientist is sitting on the rover's rear jump seat, in order to save time and effort when he dismounts for his numerous sample collection stops planned during the trip.

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After driving slightly over a kilometer, the crew finds the rover's delivery frame, battered from its crash into the surface, but not wholly destroyed.

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Here, the mission engineer dismounts and begins his work with the frame. He investigates the damage it has suffered and photographs it from multiple angles. Finally, he removes a thruster block from the side to return to Kerbin. The effect of its time spent on the lunar surface, as well as the stress it suffered during the crash, will be studied by the program research team back on Kerbin.

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Once finished with the delivery frame, the crew heads on; they still have several stops to make before they can think about relaxing.

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The scientist discovers his first point of interest; a large boulder, nearly the size of a small house. The boulder is half-buried in the lunar dust, and the scientist goes about his work with glee as he thinks about the possible secrets this boulder may hold.

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On the way back, the crew made an unscheduled stop, after finding an odd floating rock in their path. The crew was perplexed as to why something as heavy as this boulder was floating two feet above the ground, but their best guess was that it was due to a "terrain rendering error". The program research team will have to verify this before any hypothesis can be made.

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The rover returns to the landing site from the east, having made a large loop through the north debris field, and partly onto the gentle hill to the east of the site.

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Before turning in for the night the crew makes a stop at the SEP station, to ensure it is still functioning as usual and to make a few adjustments to the antenna, allowing for better telemetry to come through.

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Having accomplished that, the crew is now finished with their second spacewalk, and they return to Aurelian to relax and take a sleep period. Tomorrow they have what will quite possibly be the most difficult and nerve-wracking expedition ever conducted on the Mun ahead of them; a drive across the valley, over the rim of Arch Crater, and right up to the feet of the Mun Arch itself, resting just inside the southern rim of the crater. Nerva will prove invaluable for navigating the treacherous mountainous terrain, as well as threading its way through the crater rim and down into the bowl itself.

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Love this; your craft are excellent and your missions amaze!

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Posted (edited)

I've just read your whole mission report until now, and I love it!  Your spacecraft are very impressive, somehow managing to be functional and pretty at the same time. Have you considered posting the downloads?  

Edited by SpaceAdmiral
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What mod adds those footprints?

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19 hours ago, SiriusRocketry said:

Love this; your craft are excellent and your missions amaze!

 

6 hours ago, SpaceAdmiral said:

I've just read your whole mission report until now, and I love it!  Your spacecraft are very impressive, somehow managing to be functional and pretty at the same time. Have you considered posting the downloads?  

Hey, thanks! Maybe I will post downloads if that's what you people want. I'll have to sort out which craft use which mods though, to make it easier for people to access the craft. 

1 hour ago, obney kerman said:

What mod adds those footprints?

Here it is. The mod seems to only allow a certain number of footprints on the ground, as once you walk far enough, the footprints from the beginning of the trail begin fading away. They also aren't persistent, so if you reload a quicksave or switch to another craft outside of load distance they disappear. Still, they're pretty nice, they help me get that "scuffed up" look you can see in the picture below to the soil after an intensive moonwalk, instead of having the ground remain smooth and pristine the entire time.

Image result for Apollo 16 moonwalk

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The crew descends the ladder once more to begin the most challenging EVA of the mission.

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They board the rover and set off west, to find a way over the rim of the Arch's crater and up to the feet of the massive rock formation itself. Such an expedition would be near-impossible without a wheeled vehicle such as Nerva.

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The valley between the crater rim and the eastern slope (which itself leads to another crater) in which the lander sits is only about two kilometers across, and it takes very little time for the rover to cross it. Nerva can go over ten meters per second on flat ground such as this, but once it gets into the mountains along the crater rim the going will be much tougher.

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Before long the road starts climbing upward, and the crew catches intermittent glimpses of the large sea to the south of their position. Unfortunately, the descent to the sea is much tougher than even this treacherous path, and therefore the crew will be unable to explore that area on this mission.

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The rover begins crawling along the rim of the crater, going as fast as the crew dares to take it. Nerva is proving to be an exceptional mountain-climber, and it handles the rough terrain as well as can be expected.

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After a long climb, Nerva summits the rim and the crew catches their first sight of the massive Mun Arch. Unfortunately, the crew is only slightly more than halfway there, and the drive to the Arch's feet will not be easy.

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The rover backs up to the edge of the rim, and uses its towing cable to lower a crewmember down into the crater, to scout out the best path for the rover to take to reach the bottom. The safest option would likely be to use the cable to lower all three crewmembers into the crater, then allow them to go the rest of the way on foot, but nobody was willing to risk that, considering the time that would take. If a Kerbal's life support were to fail he might not be able to make it back to the rover in time.

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After determining the path which presented the least amount of steep slopes and other obstacles, the crew proceeds with extreme caution, going no more than five meters per second, and often much lower.

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At long last, the crew begins the final climb to the foot of the Arch. Compared to the unpredictable terrain of the crater rim, this simple, flat slope is practically a godsend.

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After a grueling six to eight kilometer drive, the crew has arrived at their destination; the entire purpose of choosing this landing site in the first place.

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One picture for the newspapers back home...

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Then a quick little hop to the crest of the Arch for a private photo, unscheduled and not technically allowed by the mission safety rules. That's why the crew switched off their mics prior to scaling the Arch. With the nearest Kerbals in orbit around the Mun with no way to reach the surface, who's going to stop them?

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After admiring the view from the top of the Arch, the crew jumps back down and prepares to depart. They are not looking forward to the return trip, but at least the Arch has made it worth the trouble.

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The crew begins the journey along the inside of the crater and back to the low spot in the rim which they previously used to pass into the crater.

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After much trouble, the crew makes their way to the rim and climbs over. From here it's a simple downhill drive back to the landing site in the valley.

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The crew makes the drive down into the valley, being careful not to go too fast, as the entire trip is downhill.

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Before long the crew arrives back at the landing site without a scratch.

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After some routine housekeeping work with the lander and SEP station, the crew climbs back into Aurelian and nearly immediately falls asleep.

They have two more scheduled EVAs, one of which will take place during the lunar night to test Nerva's illumination hardware in low-light conditions.

Edited by pTrevTrevs
Added some missing images, reformatted to accommodate them
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It's been a lot longer than I thought since I last posted, so I've got a lot of catching up to do.

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Between the end of EVA 3 and the start of EVA 4, the crew experienced the first eclipse on the Lunar surface. Because the Mun's orbit has no inclination relative to the ecliptic, such eclipses will happen every lunar day at around noon. Future base designs will have to take such periods of darkness into account for determining necessary battery capacity.

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Once the Sun emerges from behind Kerbin, the crew exits the lander once more and begins EVA 4. The main objective of this excursion will be to explore the plains to the east of the landing site and to visit a complex of four craters in that direction.

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Before beginning the traverse, the crew stops by the cargo lander and retrieves some supplies from the cargo boxes. Among these are fou explosive charges which will be detonated during the traverse, to provide data for the SEP's seismometer.

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After leaving the lander's valley, the crew's engineer picks out a flat shelf of land approximately 500m from the landing site and dismounts to plant the charges.

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The charges are detonated one at a time and are each set up with a different amount of explosives, so as to provide varied results on the SEP.

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The charges each have a 15-second fuse to allow the crewmember activating them to get to a safe distance before the detonation. The rover also remains at a safe distance to record the explosions.

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Once all four charges have been detonated, the crew continues east, onto the plains. This is some of the flattest and smoothest ground in the region, and if a base were constructed in the vicinity of the Arch, it would likely be here.1zj9Inb.png

At last the crew reaches the first crater in the complex. The third crater and fourth craters are visible in the distance, in fact, Crater Three overlaps this crater, and the two share a common rim. Unfortunately, due to their distance and the fact that they are so close to Crater One, as well as time restraints, the crew will not be visiting either.

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The scientist dismounts and hooks himself into the rover's tether to be lowered into the crater. This tether is only 50m long and is not ideal for accessing the inner portions of a crater or ravine, and it is possible that future crews may use a dedicated tether which may be attached to the rover's cable, in order to reach samples hundreds of meters from a crater rim.

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Once finished with Crater One, the crew stows the tether and continues on to Crater Two.

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The rim of Crater Two is much steeper than that of Crater One, and so the rover is not able to get as far to the edge. Nevertheless, the scientist makes the climb down the cliff and gets an up-close view of the crater's insides.

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Just above the rim of Crater Two, the crew places a flag, marking the furthest point of excursion on EVA 4. This will prove to be even farther a drive than EVA 3's expedition to the Arch, although much easier, due to the flat ground.

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With their exploration of the crater complex complete, the crew returns to the valley and prepares to close out the EVA.

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Before entering the lander, however, the mission commander has something he wants to do. He produces a golf club (which was not on the official cargo manifest nor permitted by the Astronaut Office) from the rover's storage bay and proceeds to hit a small bag of golf balls off into the distance. Such an event was not on the mission checklist, but such a small break of procedure can possibly be excused.

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With that, the crew boards the lander and prepares for the long Lunar night. They will make one more EVA after sunset, to test their suits' helmet lamps, as well as Nerva's headlights. However, they will make no more long-distance excursions, and after EVA 5 they will not set foot outside again.

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This is an orbital photo of the landing site, rotated so that north is at the top of the photo as if it were a map. At bottom is the SEP and high-gain antenna. Above it is the cargo lander, as well as the two containers in which the explosives, SEP materials, and (apparently) one golf club were shipped. To the cargo lander's right is Aurelian 2, with Nerva 1 parked just above it, with its headlight activated. To the northwest of Nerva, a small dot is visible, which is the flag planted during EVA 1.

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This is an orbital photo of the entire region, again rotated with north facing up. The yellow marker in the center is the landing site, pictured above. Immediately above it, the red symbol marks the landing site of the rover's delivery frame and the North Debris Field which the crew explored during EVA 2. The two blue triangles to the far left of the image represent the flags planted at the Arch. One flag is at the arch's base, and another is on its crest. At the far right, the single blue triangle marks the flag planted by the western rim of Crater Two. The rest of the crater complex is located to the north of the flag. Crater One is nearest to the landing site, Crater Four is the extremely small crater at the very top of the photo, and Crater Three is between One and Four.

 

 

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As the sun sinks lower in the sky and the shadows lengthen, the crew begins shutting off non-essential systems in Aurelian such as cabin lights, landing radar, and communications with Marius, preparing the lander for its low-power hibernation, which will be necessary to keep the lander's batteries at a safe power level throughout the long lunar night. 

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As the sun finally disappears beneath the horizon, the crew sees Kerbin wax to a greater size than any previous landing crew has witnessed. They will be the first crew to see a full Kerbin in the night sky.

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For one last time, the crew sets foot on the surface of the Mun, making them the first Kerbals to do so after the lunar sunset.

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The scientist performs one last check on the SEP station, ensuring that it will be capable of continuing its research and transmissions after the crew departs.

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The commander and engineer test Nerva's capability to operate in low-light conditions. They examine the headlights, taillights, and ensure that the rover's batteries have enough endurance to power the motors without any solar power.

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This EVA is much shorter than the other four, and within half an hour the crew re-enters the lander for the final time. Shortly before climbing the ladder, the mission commander takes a moment to survey the valley in which he and his crew have spent the last four days. He is unsure if he will get a chance to return to the lunar surface, and he doubts that anyone will ever return to this particular landing site. The ground has proven to be generally subpar for base construction, the only real features of interest are surrounded by extremely difficult terrain, and the level of resources in the surface has been determined to be disappointingly low. The crew's personal recommendation is that this site be struck from the list of potential base locations.

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The crew spends the next day and a half inside their lander, waiting out the night. Fortunately, Aurelian was designed with such long stays in mind and features amenities which make the cramped space more tolerable. The lander also has enough extra space to move around, as the cabin is designed for four Kerbals, while this mission only features three.

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Just over seven days after their landing in the Valley of the Arch, the crew powers up Aurelian's engines and departs. They will return to Marius, where they will take over command of the station from its current crew, which will return home within the next week.

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A remote-controlled camera mast on Nerva records the ascent for as long as it can keep the spacecraft in view.

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Within minutes the crew is in orbit once again, en route to their much more spacious living arrangements aboard Marius.

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During the rendezvous, the spacecraft passes over the landing site once more, and the crew has an opportunity to view their handiwork from orbit.

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Before long, Marius comes into view, and the crew breaths a collective sigh of relief t the thought of soon being able to get out of their spacecraft, which, despite its luxuries, is becoming increasingly cramped, as the crew becomes more restless.

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Docked again at long last. The first surface expedition with Aurelian 2 has been a huge success, and while it did not find a suitable base, it did prove the capabilities of the extremely hardy Nerva rover and various pieces of surface hardware which will be used again in future missions.

The next missions to the surface will be launched after a comprehensive scan of the Mun's resource deposits can be completed, allowing landing sites to be selected based on that.

 

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