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FinalFan

What is your worst successful launch?

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What I have in mind here is the most disastrously bad launch that actually still managed to achieve an outcome you were willing to call "success", and I don't just mean "my kerbals succeeded in escaping alive from the flaming wreckage". 

What inspired this thread is the launch I just had that is my worst thus far.  I was launching a new design of mining exploration lander that was hopefully destined for Duna (which I haven't been to yet) but was currently scheduled for a shakedown tour of Kerbin's satellites.  My liquid booster stage had followed a far too optimistic launch profile and after separation I found myself 35 seconds from a 51km apoapsis needing something like 600 dV from the exploration vehicle's NERVs.  Fortunately the vehicle in question had strong attitude control (relative to most of my rockets) and plenty of fuel available so all I needed to do was avoid falling too far, burning up, or losing control due to the atmosphere.  I tilted to 45° and hoped it would be enough.  It was enough to slow the countdown considerably but I still had over halfway to go when I crested.  I started dropping and soon enough I had to begin tilting back down to avoid losing control of the craft.  As I got close to orbital speed, heating became a serious issue so I set SAS and began rotating to give the stressed parts a break.  I bottomed out at about 41km and my new apoapsis was literally almost exactly on the opposite side of the planet from KSC.  But hey, at least I was close to my target inclination. 

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That sounds like more than a few of my attempts to get into orbit using NERVs for circularization burns.

I'm a bit more embarrassed about my first trip to Duna (sandbox, after far too much experience flittering around the Kerbin system).  I barely needed my NERV stage to Duna, and it deleted the thing while it was in orbit.  I managed to get there and back without the majority of my delta-v.

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Probably mundane for the old timers but just falling over on the launchpad and panic-throttling and then still getting into orbit.

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Quite a while back, I had a 2.5m launcher that used 4 Fulcrum engines from Angel-125's MOLE mod for the core, plus a pair of radial boosters.  The first launch, I discovered that the radial decouplers were too far down & the seperatrons in the nose of the boosters too far up, resulting in the boosters rotating & destroying one of the Fulcrums.  Despite the loss of 25% of my thrust & a rather unstable flight, I still managed to get that load of tourists to orbit & back safely.

The second flight of that launcher - after adjustments so that wouldn't happen again - the radial boosters managed to take out 2 of the 4 core engines & I got to test my LES

Edited by Cavscout74

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37 minutes ago, Cavscout74 said:

Quite a while back, I had a 2.5m launcher that used 4 Fulcrum engines from Angel-125's MOLE mod for the core, plus a pair of radial boosters.  The first launch, I discovered that the radial decouplers were too far down & the seperatrons in the nose of the boosters too far up, resulting in the boosters rotating & destroying one of the Fulcrums.  Despite the loss of 25% of my thrust & a rather unstable flight, I still managed to get that load of tourists to orbit & back safely.

The second flight of that launcher - after adjustments so that wouldn't happen again - the radial boosters managed to take out 2 of the 4 core engines & I got to test my LES

The same rocket as in the OP had a comparable design issue with its liquid boosters but I was able to solve it with a second pair of separatrons in the rear.  

The core was the NERV powered craft with radially mounted engines and Mk.1 tanks running up the side almost to the fairing, and stuff was all over the tanks so the boosters couldn't attach there.  So I stuck girders to TT70 standoff decouplers right above all that junk and added sharply angled upper separatrons to the boosters because it was imperative to get those girders away before they fell into the other stuff.  Techically I think it would have been possible to thread the needle, but the design team was under strict orders to hide this fact from Jeb.  So this created an obvious secondary problem that the whole thing was going to swivel right into the NERVs, but I figured correctly that a second set of separatrons below at a slightly straighter angle would solve the problem and possibly even help the first set pull up and away.  It was my first time using separatrons and that part of the launch went perfectly.  

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My first attempt to landing too the moon in KSP Enhanced Edition PS4.

The rocket was fairly simple and very efficient. It was also very aerodynamic. I made my Node, and had the correct dV to orbit around earth, and to get a counter on the mun and to orbit around it too. Everything was going swell and I was excited about the amount of Science I would have. My main purpose was to just land and transmit the data and to come back to earth. As I was landing I noticed  my landing gears were UN-proportional. It was just one which was a bit lower then the others. I was a bit concerned about it but I just needed the science. Right when I hit touch down going 1.8 mps I sorta tilted forward. Luckily Valentina survived the fall, but she was stranded. I did have a Athena and I did transmit science which was the main purpose.

After a year later she'd still be stranded. And since I Was still new, I just terminated her mission by accident. :( It was semi-successful.

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2 hours ago, Jimmidii said:

I've had more than a few launches that have had a few flips on the way up.

I went through a phase where it was not rare for my rockets to flip a couple of times and then I would regain control and the rest of the launch would be fine.  I never really figured out what I was doing wrong but I grew out of it somehow.  

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My dad had a design that would very consistently do a 360 degree flip around 10km when the fuel burn caused the CoM to move, and then make it to orbit anyways.  It had at least 4 successful launches.

 

Pretzel award:

I once put an LV-N onto a science station, intending to have it able to putter around the system collecting Science.  A draggy station connected via an LV-N to a big booster is a bad idea; it jackknifed on the way up, but somehow held together.  Between throttling back, lucky piloting, coasting into thinner air, and having lots of dV to circularize due to the nuclear engine, it got to orbit.  It went on to Mun and Minmus as planned.

 

Check Yo Staging badge:

There was also the time when I was launching a resource scanner satellite on top of a low tech crewed rocket.  I failed to double check my staging, so the satellite was separated at the same time as the mid-stage engine.  Jeb then had to maintain low thrust and carefully steer to keep the satellite on the nose and nudge it the final ~500m/s into orbit.

 

Least % of intended craft to orbit:

And I suppose the barbecue incident in which my tourism spaceplane (SSTO) ran a bad ascent profile, and burned off the wings (and brakes and control surfaces) at 45km on the way up was pretty bad too.  The tourists still got to visit the surface of Minmus, since the dV went up, but I didn't get much of my deposit back.

 

Longest delay to orbit:

A dubious month-long 'success', but there was also the time when I rolled the above spaceplane out from Munbase alpha after refuelling.  I got it up to speed, pulled back on the stick and promptly scraped the engines off due to an extreme aerodynamic deficiency.  A month later, new engines were shipped in to be KAS attached, and the craft finally completed its take off, vertically.

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51 minutes ago, FinalFan said:

I went through a phase where it was not rare for my rockets to flip a couple of times and then I would regain control and the rest of the launch would be fine.  I never really figured out what I was doing wrong but I grew out of it somehow.  

It's probably because rockets now drain fuel evenly from all fuel tanks in the same stage by default.

Used to be that they'd drain from the top ones first and gradually become bottom heavy, so in atmosphere they were like throwing a dart backwards.

Once you'd gotten high enough the atmosphere would be negligible and SAS could control the rocket like it was in space, and point it in the right direction again.

Edited by Jimmidii

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I'm not that far along in a new 1.4.3 career game, and last night I managed to save a bucking rocket and rode it to orbit.

It was for a satellite contract, and I have a standardized, basic lightweight design I use for these.  The contract called for a materials bay, so without thinking I just tacked one on.  Now this rocket is only marginally stable to begin with, but nothing you can't handle so long as you don't stray too far from the prograde marker.  Adding the bay must have shifted the cg or aero enough to destabilize it (I didn't check) and after the side boosters staged, it oscillated wildly in all directions.  Didn't do a complete flip, but was 90 degrees to the direction of travel many times.  Luckily, the satellite is so minimal in design that it has a ton of surplus dV, so once I got high enough to escape the atmosphere it was still able to reach it's planned orbit.

I renamed the satellite "The Prancing Pony".

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On 5/21/2018 at 1:38 AM, FinalFan said:

What I have in mind here is the most disastrously bad launch that actually still managed to achieve an outcome you were willing to call "success", and I don't just mean "my kerbals succeeded in escaping alive from the flaming wreckage".

I had a bunch of tourists in orbit in a craft that turned out to prefer to re-enter with the heat shield facing backwards.  So I docked it to a random piece of space debris I had sitting on the station, and then it re-entered swimmingly.

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Okay, gonna have to go WAY back for this one...

Scenario: late 2011, running 0.12.x, trying to make it to the Mün with a spaghetti rocket. SAS being what it was back then (who remembers the difference between SAS and ASAS? :D ), the rocket was doing its level best to snap itself in half during the initial part of the ascent.I finally gave up and threw in full roll and disengaged the ASAS. The rocket decided to stabilize in a retrograde launch profile, and I was too scared of trying to fix it to do anything else but push to orbit. Managed to make it to orbit, then launched towards the Mün using the old rule of thumb for getting there, completely unaware of the fact that it didn't work for retrograde orbits. Still, I proved that I had enough dV to make the burn to the appropriate apoapsis and could return safely.

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Probably not what you had in mind, but...

I wanted to renew my Jool-5 license. Quickly put together a vessel and flew the entire mission in a single session. Possibly even without saveloading. Was I ever proud of myself. Only... the footage turned out to be totally unusable. I'm now repeating the mission step by step, paying attention to camera angle, lighting, timing, what have you. Took me a week so far and I've only just landed on Tylo.

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My worst seems fairly common from reading the above posts.

While lifting a massive kerbed science lander to Minmus (stacked with every science experiment I could slap on the thing), my rocket performed the "no-scope-360" no less than three times before finally making orbit.

Each time it rotated, I pessimistically sit at the keyboard thinking "here me go"... left hand twitching to hit escape key for a quick revert/redesign in the VAB. During each no-scoped, I'd wait for something to wobble through a fairing then Krakenize the entire operation. It surprisingly make it through the launch, but only once it all calmed down after getting through the denser part of the atmosphere. Woot!

When you spend a good hour on designing a rocket / lander, I really feel the shame of bad design  when it doesn't work the first time. :)  (KSP really knows how to point these failings all too well)

Edited by wile1411

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I converted a cargo hauling SSTO into a tourist transport, did a quick check of the CoL and CoM, then threw some ignorant hopeful civilians in there. Launch was great and I circularized with no problems. Warping around to the Mun transfer node I noticed that I had forgotten a very important feature. I had removed the cargo bay for seating but I did not think to add any solar panels or RTGs(which were in the old cargo bay). Thankfully this SSTO is severely overfueled when hauling kerbals. I used the engines in a series of burns to charge the batteries from orbit, to the Mun, and back. When landing, I found out that I did not check where the empty CoM was. The right  rear wheel hit the runway first and tossed the plane left. The resulting skid at over 180m/s caused a roll that blew off the right wing. Five or six very lucky rolls later (one of which was a bounce over the fuel tanks near the runway) the single winged, no tail, no engine "plane" stopped on the runway. Everyone lived, I got paid, and mission control said "the tourists had a great time".

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8 hours ago, Jimmidii said:

It's probably because rockets now drain fuel evenly from all fuel tanks in the same stage by default.

Used to be that they'd drain from the top ones first and gradually become bottom heavy, so in atmosphere they were like throwing a dart backwards.

Once you'd gotten high enough the atmosphere would be negligible and SAS could control the rocket like it was in space, and point it in the right direction again.

I've heard about that change, but I have the impression it happened a while ago.  I only started playing the game like two months ago. 

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17 hours ago, MaverickSawyer said:

Okay, gonna have to go WAY back for this one...

Scenario: late 2011, running 0.12.x, trying to make it to the Mün with a spaghetti rocket. SAS being what it was back then (who remembers the difference between SAS and ASAS? :D ), the rocket was doing its level best to snap itself in half during the initial part of the ascent.I finally gave up and threw in full roll and disengaged the ASAS. The rocket decided to stabilize in a retrograde launch profile, and I was too scared of trying to fix it to do anything else but push to orbit. Managed to make it to orbit, then launched towards the Mün using the old rule of thumb for getting there, completely unaware of the fact that it didn't work for retrograde orbits. Still, I proved that I had enough dV to make the burn to the appropriate apoapsis and could return safely.

A fellow veteran!

My most embarassing launches from the old era? Well...I forgot parachutes on numerous occasions. Imagine returning from a successful Mun mission, realizing that your crew is doomed, about to crash.

More-or-less embarassing are also my attempts at building laterally-symmetrical spaceplanes in the VAB (there was no SPH back then).

 

BTW:

SAS used to be a simple torque-applying stabilizer module back then; ASAS (usually added by means of the MechJeb mod) could follow simple orders like "prograde" or "retrograde".

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9 minutes ago, MedwedianPresident said:

A fellow veteran!

My most embarassing launches from the old era? Well...I forgot parachutes on numerous occasions. Imagine returning from a successful Mun mission, realizing that your crew is doomed, about to crash.

More-or-less embarassing are also my attempts at building laterally-symmetrical spaceplanes in the VAB (there was no SPH back then).

 

BTW:

SAS used to be a simple torque-applying stabilizer module back then; ASAS (usually added by means of the MechJeb mod) could follow simple orders like "prograde" or "retrograde".

Close: SAS was what we would now call a reaction wheel, and ASAS was the equivalent of the current balance mode of SAS... But far more aggressive at trying to hold a given attitude. Like, full deflection of control or nothing at all kind of aggressive.

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I was launching an asparagus-staged rocket, in order to put a satellite in orbit of the Mun. When the first set of boosters detached, their lack of sepratrons meant they fell and took out another pair of boosters in the process, along with a couple of fins. Despite the imbalance, the rocket still managed to reach the Mun and complete my contract.

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Today I was launching to the Mun a 1.875m crewed rocket in a career save. I still  haven't  unlocked autostrut,  and it immediately started to wobble. Incredibly it didn't break, but when the first stage ran  out of fuel I had an apoapsis of just 51km. Luckily the upper stage managed  to put Jeb into orbit and  the mission  was a success

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3 hours ago, RealKerbal3x said:

I was launching an asparagus-staged rocket, in order to put a satellite in orbit of the Mun. When the first set of boosters detached, their lack of sepratrons meant they fell and took out another pair of boosters in the process, along with a couple of fins. Despite the imbalance, the rocket still managed to reach the Mun and complete my contract.

Around here that's normal launch procedure until I get enough tech for the long-reach decouplers.

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Today, I had a space station fail to reach Duna orbit, reenter the atmosphere, and then I somehow managed to regain control of the rocket and fly the spacecraft into a perfect orbit.

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1 hour ago, Corona688 said:

Around here that's normal launch procedure until I get enough tech for the long-reach decouplers.

The only problem I ever had with early career asparagus was when I didn't quite line up the boosters to the decouplers.  I discovered the problem when I tried to separate and found they were fused to the final stage.  This also created unwanted crossfeed, so I was nearly out of fuel as well.  Thankfully I was able to make a stable orbit (periapsis 70,122) and later rescue the pilot (my first rendezvous).  

Since the thing had power generation, kerbal capacity, and an antenna, I changed the tracking icon to "space station".  

Edited by FinalFan
Periapsis

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27 minutes ago, FinalFan said:

Since the thing had power generation, kerbal capacity, and an antenna, I changed the tracking icon to "space station".

That just made my day!  :cool:

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