RPX

KAS:3X Industries: A Story of Reusability

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At the Kerbal Astronomical Conference 2K17, a certain young and rich Kerbal by the name Keylon took the stage. What he presented would upend the Kerbal universe.

Taking a direct dig at KASA and the KLA, he accused them of not innovating in decades, and sticking to throwing away boosters, or trusting some unkerbal forces to recover their parachuted boosters.

To add to this, he presented a preliminary work, done by his upstart company KAS:3X Industries, which focuses on eliminating the unknowns in the industry, and establish reusability on a scale no one has ever seen.

This booster was built out of mostly current and stock KSC hardware, except a computer the size of a toaster. This debunked the KASA theory that computers get fried in space, and the achievement gave Keylon a cult following.

Further, Keylon vowed to eliminate the automatic recovery option, and recover boosters manually. He claimed this would drop costs further, and demonstrate a new space age, where every Kerbal could access space at a reasonable cost.

Now, all eyes are on the next major space conference, as Keylon has posted a teaser of a much larger orbital rocket on kReddit.

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Making a splash.. or crash.

Kerbals marveled yesterday as KAS3X successfully launched the Kerbin government's Proba satellite, meant for testing out the company's claims of having a functional reusable launcher.

Following the launch, the Bart 1 FT vehicle attempted an experimental propulsive landing at the KSC to make recovery easier. For more on that, a video is up:

While the primary goal was achieved, skepticism remained over the (let's say interesting) recovery attempt. To keep up this promise, Keylon announced that his company would launch a special retrieval mission, which would demonstrate the full power of reusability for Kerbalkind to see.

Edited by RPX
mistaken KAS tag

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Update:

I've not uploaded anything in the past couple weeks mostly due to a crash in KSP which erased my savegame. I managed to restore a backup but it's missing most of the launches.

Since it's rather difficult to replicate the savegame perfectly, I've decided to take the chance to re-establish the timeline and also refine my video shooting technique, which will be done by next Wednesday, and I'll have a new video up and running every Wednesday from here on out.

I'm also looking at using Realism Overhaul to shoot another series in parallel, but it's not a top priority at the moment.

Till the next video.

RPX

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The Re-Awakening

It all happened so quickly.. One moment he was at a pretty normal party, and the absinthe tasted 'funky', the next he was lying on this weird cot, in some sort of tropical paradise. How quickly life can change.

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Keylon had made his friends and his foes. A section of employees at KAS3X wanted him out, and had successfully conspired in doing just that. Now he was stuck in this place, which was once a bustling unit of C7 Aerospace, but shut down due to the increased focus of the company on rocket-shaped truffles rather than actual rockets. In a last-ditch conservation effort, some junkie named Jeb had bought out the facility for pennies on the speso, and was now trying to launch his own rockets.

Jeb was a nice fella, and had some experience in the air. He had flown in the Great Kerbin War, which was the two major factions on Kerbin, the Kommunists and the Flat Kerbinists duking it out (The Kommunists won by using ICBMs to prove, rather effectively, that Kerbin was round after all). Following the war, he had taken to repairing whatever he could get his hands on, and had amassed a small fortune in service charges.

Keylon and Jeb took to each other quickly. However, Jeb and his team were hell-bent on manned flying, and this made Keylon uncomfortable. He was aggressively innovative, but also very conservative when it came to Kerbal safety. To ease his fears, Jeb put together a parachute prototype, scrambled together his home-built rocket, took off and landed successfully. 

MAAIsFl.png

 

This would work wonders. Keylon rapidly worked on a new rocket, based off of engines left in the facility. The team also reached out to Experimental Corp., which wanted someone to test out its new products in space for cheap. Experimental offered a capital infusion of 100,000 spesos, and asked them to fly their stuff to the Mun and Minmus.

For most rocket corporations, 100,000 spesos for this sort of mission is like asking for a kidney donation and paying a cent. The genius of Keylon, though, lay in utilizing minimal resources. He had developed software to predict rocket delta-v in his time at KAS3X, and it wasn't difficult to replicate it here. This made sure that minimalist rocket design was achievable.

Soon enough, the Bart 0.1 was born. It wasn't much, but it wasn't meant to be. 

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The team worked for days, and finally launch day came. The rocket, with Jeb sitting in his dainty little capsule, looked patently absurd by professional standards, but cost just shy of 10,000 spesos. 

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Pre-launch science collection was part of the deal, of course..

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Liftoff, and the rocket soared magnificiently into the sky. It was designed with high TWR, which meant more efficiency, though Jeb didn't exactly understand how. Still, acceleration! 

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And the rocket nearly reached orbit as well, and delivered many of the key early milestones Experimental was looking for. 

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Re-entry was a concern, and Jeb decided to use the remaining fuel to slow down rather than attempt orbit.

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This would prove crucial. The Experimental modules were sensitive, and any more strain would have meant a lot of wasted spesos.

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Touchdown!

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The following day, Experimental shares skyrocketed on the release of their data, and the rocket industry felt a sudden disturbance. Sure, they didn't make orbit, but this new upstart safely flew a Kerbal to space and back. On their first try. KAS3X, for that matter, had not even tried Kerballed flights.

Sitting in the local inn later that day, as they watched Jeb board a government ship on TV, Keylon and the new team began to look for a name for this company. They decided to go with Space Mail 69, which got some derisive snorts from the kNews, but earned a little praise as being appropriate for a company that dared to do things that were considered absolutely ridiculous.

Edited by RPX
Figured out how to put images.

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Going Big

A couple of days later, Keylon, Jeb and lead engineer Bill sat at a post-launch conference. The agenda was simple: Debrief the world about the mission, and announce their next orbital launch attempt.

"We've been in talks with a new customer: They want us to try for a Duna mission, as we absolutely should; Kerbalkind is known for it's rather self-destructive capabilities, and having a backup plan(et) is better than going extinct."

"Does this mean you'll try for a Duna colony?"

"Absolutely. We're already past the planning stages; Duna is very similar to the Mun, and if we can put a Kerbal on the Mun soon we can start executing a Duna mission within two years of that."

"And what about a Mun mission?"

"That's already on the manifesto; Experimental wants a Mun surface return and that's our next big step. Well, after a Minmus shot."

Another tremor went through the launch industry; no one had managed a successful Mun return on the first shot. Memories of Nyall Kerman and his Kapollo crew came to many a mind; their spacecraft had not had enough delta-V to reorbit after departing the Mun, and the rest was history. Since then, interplanetary exploration had become a no-go zone in the public eye, and no company wanted to pursue it either.

Behind all this, there was another problem; there was no real launch customer for Duna. SM69 was in the middle of negotiations with Experimental for a Duna surface return, but Experimental was unwilling to spend big on a rocket to Duna. This annoyed Jeb and Keylon, but they decided to wait until the Mun-Minmus contract was complete.

To execute the contract quicker and cheaper, Keylon decided to go for the Minmus return mission straightaway. It was simple to engineer a launcher that reached LKO, and adding a second stage would give them the delta-V needed for Minmus.

One problem lay in the booster power; The initial engine used for the Bart 0.1 was too weak to push that much payload in a single-stack arrangement. Even removing the heavy gimbal equipment didn't help much. To solve this, SM69 strapped two Bart 0.1 cores to the original booster, which gave them the necessary thrust and also made adding delta-V easier. While they considered crossfeed, the tech was still in its infancy and too unreliable. The center core would thus use a gimballable engine with lower fuel consumption, and the side cores would be the ungimballable engines throttled up to full power to empty them earlier.

Some time into the design, Keylon added a new version of parachutes to the boosters and center core; He wanted to recover and reuse them if possible. Ideally, he would fly them back, and was replicating the software he used at KAS3X. One major hurdle was that he no longer had access to the trajectory computing core that KAS3X had patented; he'd have to come up with another way to land them precisely on the pad. Since that wasn't happening fast enough to use on the main missions, he went with chutes.

After months of assembly and tweaking, the launcher rolled out to much fanfare. The tanks had been modified; the engineers had come up with a way to fuse two smaller tanks very strongly, and this would simplify launcher construction and avoid some serious structural concerns associated with the Bart 0.1.

To make it easier for later review, a video was shot, although the quality was questionable:


While this was another near miss for SM69, confidence was growing around all quarters. The company was the first private enterprise to fly by another body, and given some moar boosters would have landed. Which is what Keylon had in mind next.

W58FwKX.png

Edited by RPX

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End Of The Beginning?

Despite the risky future ahead of them, SM69 was buzzing; their launches had excited many local engineers disappointed by C7's failures on the coast, and their roster swelled. Some new inductees were especially promising: Danzor was a field researcher candidate at C7, and could science the sh*t out of any mission; Valentina was a pilot who had commanded Klaxon One, C7's first capsule meant to fly experiments to low Kerbin orbit. She had also taken part in endurance programs at Whistance Academy, where her team put her in orbit in 42 seconds with no alpaca voodoo. 

Jeb's initial team was now executing whatever Keylon drew up on his computers, or doodled on lunch menus. Bill, the lead engineer, was trying to salvage scrap engines, and applying his own tweaks to tailor them for certain upcoming roles, including removing the gimbal equipment from earlier. The engineering team was also closely studying launch data and developing newer parts to cope with increased launch demands. Bob, the head of research, was tasked with the Experimental side of things; he and his team would inspect the instruments that would arrive from Experimental Corp and certify them for flight. They also developed the science storage unit, a very helpful invention that stored as much data as needed and enabled them to take many observations with one instrument.

Now, after the Minmus episode, one would naturally expect a second attempt at a Minmus landing. However, Keylon had other plans, and declared the next mission to be a Mun return as planned earlier. 

The new vehicle, the Bart 0.3H(H for heavy launcher, or the one with boosters) would be much more powerful. This was needed to give the necessary delta-V for direct ascent from the Mun and Minmus. 

W58FwKX.png

An all-new engine was also developed for the lander. This was lighter, vacuum-optimized and had lower thrust, thus not needing any throttle limiter and would give much more delta-V.

Another typical rollout and liftoff later, this vehicle broke more speed records, and for the first time the launch was shot professionally.

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Booster separation with the almighty Korolev Cross.

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Owing to the new propellant crossfeed capability, the core was able to orbit the Mun stack by itself. It was later deorbited and landed on the other side of Kerbin.

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Respective splashdowns.

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After reaching orbit, one major problem emerged; Bob was to make the mission, but Jeb made it instead. Keylon was left wondering as to why all kerbals HAD to look the same..

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Nevertheless, the mission continued and the lander burned to reach the Mun's surface. 

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As it approached the Mun, another snafu was observed; the electrical system had shorted and batteries had completely drained. The new engine didn't have an alternator, which amplified the problem. Jeb quickly took over and piloted the craft using engine gimbal to steadily descend. 

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While the craft landed, it was hard and the bounce caused the spacecraft to tip over. Despite their best efforts, this couldn't be righted without battery power, and there was no power source. By all means, Jeb was stranded. Atleast he looked happy about it.

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Back on Kerbin, Kerbals were once again panicking over another kerbonaut lost to the Mun, and the critics had begun attacking Keylon's direct methods. What could transpire from this? Stay tuned for more!
 

Edited by RPX
Dang formatting.

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