Norcalplanner

Nodens Space Program: Chapter 9 - Getting More Comfortable Away From Home

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Posted (edited)

Nodens Space Program - A Career Far From Home

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It's time for something different.  My last career ended with a thousand-ton colony ship arriving at Nodens, second planet from Grannus, having traveled there on a six-year journey from Gael in a 2.5x GPP/GEP install courtesy of the wonders of Karborundum.  Obligatory photo of the colony ship:

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This new career will be starting out from Nodens, and in standard scale. (2.5x has issues at the moment in 1.4.3.)  This mission report will be light on text, heavy on pictures, mainly as a way of showing all the hard work that @OhioBob has put in creating the Grannus Expansion Pack and providing new and interesting places to explore.  Other features and key mods of this career include:

  • Most of the WBI mods by @Angel-125, including Pathfinder, MOLE, DSEV, KFS, and.... [gulp] BARIS.
  • Kerbal Health and Snacks to make keeping everyone alive and healthy a challenge
  • Thor Tech by @JadeOfMaar for some high-powered late game engines and parts
  • Portions of SSTU (mainly tanks, engines, and SRBs), BDB (mainly probe cores, experiments, and antennas), and Ven's
  • Strategia and a few contract packs (Tourism Plus, Bases and Stations)
  • Full funds, but only 50% science payout to make stations and surface bases more enticing

Goals this time around include:

  • More of a focus on bases and stations, particularly the WBI parts
  • Exploring this new system as much as possible (including Taranis)
  • Establishing significant infrastructure around and on at least one other planet or moon
  • Not letting BARIS turn my flight director into a broken, quivering shadow of his former self

Please note that this install's stability is suboptimal at the moment, so mods may come and go as I track down the source of my install's crashes.  GPP secondary is not installed at this time, but I hope to add it (and maybe even scale the system up) after 1.4.5 drops and mods have had a chance to update.  The ultimate endgame goal would be to get back to Gael in 2.5x using all the shiny new tech.

A few more beauty shots, then let's get started!

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Chapters

Chapter 1 - Finding Our Feet (aka BARIS is a Harsh Mistress)

Chapter 2 - Making Orbit and Heading for Belisama

Chapter 3 - Killing Three and a Half Birds With One Stone

Chapter 4 - Smashy McSmashface and The Inadequate One

Chapter 5 - Station Time, and Other Eventful Moments

Interlude - A Few Observations and Thoughts About GEP Primary

Chapter 6 - Quick Highlights

Chapter 7 - Highs and Lows

Chapter 8 - Sirona Sojourn

Chapter 9 - Getting More Comfortable Away From Home

 

Edited by Norcalplanner
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Daaaaaaaamn! :o I'm hyped.

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Posted (edited)

Chapter 1 - Finding Our Feet (aka BARIS is a Harsh Mistress)

After an obligatory fleahopper to start things off, the first LFO powered rocket is wheeled out to the pad.  Since it's the second manned rocket and because I don't intend to use this design a lot long term, it's given the uncreative designation of M2 (manned rocket #2). On the pad: 

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The M2 had a short, glorious, and undocumented career.  Every one of the M2's four flights ended with Jeb or Val hitting the Abort button and rocketing away from a malfunctioning and/or disintegrating rocket less than ten seconds after launch.  Mission control was so busy trying to keep the Kerbals alive that no in-flight photos were taken.  Clearly, a new design was needed.

Enter the M3:

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Because if your rocket is failing, it's a good idea to add SRBs and more staging events, RIGHT?!?  :confused:

Actually, the M3 benefitted from use of the Test Bench feature in BARIS.  A few contracts were accepted purely for the funds so that mission control could keep the engineers and scientists working around the clock in an attempt to increase reliability.  Some of the difficulty settings were also adjusted down a notch, such as reducing the odds of a catastrophic launch failure from 15% down to 10%.  With more effort put into the M3 design, the results were better:

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This one flew under power for a bit more than thirty seconds before one of the SRBs exploded.  When the remaining SRB was staged to even out the thrust and still try to limp upward, the still-functioning SRB slammed into the Swivel, tanking it out. ABORT!

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Thankfully Jeb made it down OK.  Another M3 was cranked off the assembly line...

Hmm, this one seemed not to go too well either.  ABORT!

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At least this one landed on the runway, where we could grab a bit more science.

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Clearly, something different must be done.  Or not.  Another M3 is launched and fails.  After a little more time on the test bench, yet another M3 is ordered.  Prior to launch, however, BARIS serves up some bad news...

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We're less than 100K funds.  Gulp.  I hope this next one works.

It ended up working better, I guess.  At least the SRBs didn't explode before something went wrong...

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A valiant attempt at getting to orbit is made nonetheless, even with the premature loss of the booster stage a little more than a minute into the flight.

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Alas, orbit was not meant to be that day - the flight ended up being a suborbital hop to the next continent over.

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Somehow the act of staging the parachute jostled open the exterior supply loading hatch, resulting in a stream of snacks flying out of the capsule as it descended.

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The capsule ended up landing on another continent, beneath the shade of a lovely lavender palm tree.

We'll figure this out sooner or later.  Probably later.  After spending more time at the test bench... :wink:

Edited by Norcalplanner
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This looks like a lot of fun! :) BARIS is definitely a harsh mistress and likely a swear word too...

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Posted (edited)

This is brilliant! I hadn't thought of just trying GEP on it's own but I may consider this on my next playthrough.  Won't be for a long while though as I've literally just started one... *cough*shameless plug*cough*

But I'll be interested to see how you get on with this, Nodens looks a little bleak so might be an idea to get out there and start colonising!

Edited by Pleb
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Pleb said:

Nodens looks a little bleak ...

I actually envision Nodens as having lush vegetation in the warmer climates.  The impression that it's bleak comes from a couple things.  First, much of the surface lies at high elevations and/or latitudes where it's too cold to support much plant life.  And, second, there are none of the familiar greens on Nodens.  I did this on purpose because Grannus is a red dwarf star that radiates most of its light in the red part of the spectrum.  Under those conditions plants will evolve differently than those living under a yellow sun.  I've read that planets might actually have black foliage because they must absorb all wavelengths of light to get enough energy to survive.  I thought black looked too weird, so I went with the lavender color.  So wherever you see the lavender, that is suppose to be areas covered in vegetation.

Edited by OhioBob
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@OhioBob Ah ok sorry I wasn't criticising I think it was the lack of greenery as you said that made it seem a bit bleak to me but what you've said makes perfect sense so I stand corrected!

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Posted (edited)

@Pleb, I didn't take it as criticism, just an observation.  I agree that Nodens does look a little bleak due to the lack of greens and blues.  But this is my way of trying to make it look more like it might under a red sun.  I originally had it so that Grannus' light was red, but that looked horrible.  It just zapped the color right out of all the planets, making everything look dull and lifeless with none of the colors that I intended.  So I changed Grannus' light to white.  To compensate, however, I took some of the color out of Nodens by design.  For instance, instead of having blue oceans and blue sky, everything tends toward gray.  I based it on the following image.  Grannus' surface temperature is 3550 K, which makes Nodens' sky a very pale blue, almost gray.

https://imgur.com/wkdcQKw
 

Edited by OhioBob
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Chapter 2 - Making Orbit and Heading for Belisama

After further effort, Jeb finally made orbit in yet another M3.  Unfortunately, the photographer was nowhere to be found during this auspicious event.  The only photographic evidence is the award ceremony after Jeb returned...

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The Nodens Space Program is currently recruiting for a new photographer.

With other parts supporting manned flight not yet unlocked, and with both science and funds in short supply, it's decided to go unmanned for the next few launches.  But first, a timely event card awards some bonus science:

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Belisima Probe Alpha is wheeled out to the pad and sent aloft on a solid booster, since that's better developed and cheaper at the moment.  There may have been a revert or two in here - Gene's notes became indecipherable after a coffee-laden spit take.  (And yes, I know I spelled Belisama incorrectly on these first few probes.  We'll correct it in the future.)

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Sorry for the number of dark photos - Nodens is tidally locked with Belisama, so days and nights are each a week long.

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With a few key strategies enabled (such as "To Boldly Go"), Belisima Probe Alpha is a real cash and science bonanza.  Many nodes are unlocked, along with a few facility upgrades.

Of course, with the good comes the bad...

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With orbital science around Belisama taken care of, it's time to land.  The Belisama Probes strategy is selected, and a new, larger probe is sent aloft - this time with landing struts.

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We also fulfilled a contract to place a satellite in a high equatorial orbit with this launch, so the departure from Nodens was rather picturesque.

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The probe entered orbit and headed down and hopped to a few different locations.

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Without any map of Belisama's biomes, our guesswork proved insufficient.  The probe landed three times before running low on fuel, but only in two biomes.  We'll need to send another probe to finish off the Belisama Probes contract... in the next chapter.

 

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@Norcalplanner Quick question, what mod are those events that popped up from?

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3 minutes ago, Pleb said:

@Norcalplanner Quick question, what mod are those events that popped up from?

Those are from BARIS, a mod by Angel-125.  Part failures and the need to integrate craft to make them more reliable are the center of the mod, but there are also some other gameplay elements, such as the event cards, which spice things up a bit.

 

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Ok thanks I'll check that out. You certainly seemed to make a lot of money off of that probe! Great mission reports, keep up the good work!

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4 minutes ago, Pleb said:

Ok thanks I'll check that out. You certainly seemed to make a lot of money off of that probe! Great mission reports, keep up the good work!

Be forewarned - BARIS is not for the faint of heart.  I'd recommend moving a few of the difficulty settings down a notch.  And please read the manual - it has a lot of information on how the mod works.  I'd also recommend using it with KCT, which is a bit more intuitive to me when it comes to vehicle integration.

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20 minutes ago, Norcalplanner said:

Sorry for the number of dark photos - Nodens is tidally locked with Belisama, so days and nights are each a week long.

While the long days and night are a bit inconvenient, it was pretty much out of necessity.  Under normal conditions, Nodens should be tidally locked to Grannus.  But I didn't want a planet tidally locked to its sun, so my solution was to give Nodens a large moon.  Nodens would them become tidally locked to its moon rather than its star.  However, Nodens is somewhat tidally locked to Grannus in that it has a spin-orbit resonance of 4:1.
 

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Chapter 3 - Killing Three and a Half Birds With One Stone

With the need to finish off the Belisama Probes strategy, another lander probe is needed.  But with the cost of new designs continuing to increase due to Test Bench time, the need to complete multiple missions with a single craft becomes even more urgent.  In a flash of inspiration, several additional contracts are accepted and a new unorthodox probe is fabricated.  Just before it's rolled out to the pad, yet another BARIS event card appears:

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You win some, you lose some.  Back to the probe, shown here burning for a polar orbit:

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Yep, the new probe designed for landing is outfitted with both a low-res terrain radar (courtesy of SCANsat) and a ground seismometer (courtesy of Impact!).  The probe completes a terrain scan of Nodens, then heads for Belisama at the opportune moment.

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After completing an orbital terrain scan of Belisama (two contracts checked off) the probe heads down for a darker spot.  As we get closer it looks flat.  I mean, really flat.  Could it be...?

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Hallelujah!  For the first time since Minmus, an absolutely flat biome (even called the "Flats") is found.  It's almost like this moon wants, nay, needs to have a sprawling base built on it.  Not too bad in the view department either - since the planet and moon are tidally locked, Nodens will always be low in the sky.  And this was the third biome, so Belisama Probes is in the books. 

Next, it's time to do multiple missions, but with some Kerbals.  The science and funds generated from the Scansat probe's contracts proved large enough to make a somewhat reliable crew launcher.  But since one of the missions involves docking, we need something to dock to.

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This docking target is huge!  And by huge, I mean less than a quarter of a ton.

Time for the inaugural flight of the Wren I.  With a solid booster stage!  And Val and Bill in their first orbital flight!

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The craft got to orbit OK, despite some minor malfunctions which were solved on the fly by switching to backup systems.  Bill mutters something about "setting SCE to Aux".

First up is docking...

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Followed by three rescues of Kerbals stranded in low equatorial orbits.  

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Welcome to the space program, Elgar, Serena and Enger!  Time to land this puppy.  After turning retrograde and burning to lower the Pe, everything appears fine.

BOOM!

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The upper stage fuel tank decided to blow itself up.  Amazingly, the engine and solar panels stay in formation briefly before drifting away.  The new recruits look at each other, laugh nervously, and wonder what sort of slipshod operation they just joined.

A quick glance at the One Window readout shows what happened - cascading problems in the tank culminating in a catastrophic failure.

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Thankfully, everyone made it down OK.

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Docking and three rescues with a single craft.  Not too bad, apart from the need for everyone to change their underwear due to the whole tank-exploding event.

Back to Belisama - in order to finish the last probe contract and put that seismometer to use, a small impactor craft is launched.

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Sisyphus I is a four stage unmanned probe designed for one thing - to slam into Belisama at high speed.

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The craft looks vaguely impressive, in part due to some forced perspective, before one notices that the darn thing is only 0.625m in diameter. 

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The craft comes zipping into Belisama and impacts at over 5 km/s, but the low mass of the craft means that the goal of 4.79 GJ isn't reached. 

We'll need to try again, in the next chapter...

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Chapter 4 - Smashy McSmashface and The Inadequate One

It's not too complicated to figure out how to make a better impact probe.  Rearrange the upper stage so it weighs more on impact, and... ADD MOAR BOOSTERS!

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Sisyphus II, aka "Smashy McSmashface" takes to the sky.

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Speeding towards fate.

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Stay on target...

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GOAL!!!  Over 6 km/s combined with a higher mass means that we exceeded our target of 4.79 GJ.  Time to do something else.

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Walking off the job wasn't quite what I had in mind.  At least you can see that the funds situation is improving, and we've been upgrading some facilities.

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Another quick tourist flight with the Wren I.  No catastrophic failures this time.  But this is fairly mundane.  We need something more interesting...

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That's more like it.  Our first craft designed to exit Nodens' SOI.  We'll try going inward first, just to see how close we can get to Taranis.  And find out of the craft is going to melt.

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It's a four stage probe, featuring the Hemi Cuda from MOLE.  I'm really liking the Cuda and the Corvette, especially with some additional tech upgrades.  A bit OP, but I don't mind.

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Leaving Nodens pretty quickly at this point.

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Much science as we approach Grannus, the red dwarf at the middle of this system.  Heat levels seem OK so far.

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Pretty!

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In a bit of an anti-climax, nothing happened. Maybe we should rename this probe "Meh".  We didn't have enough delta V to make it to Taranis, we didn't experience any overheating problems, and we didn't make it to "Low in Space above Grannus" even though Pe was just 280,000 km.  It's easy to forget that Nodens is much closer to Grannus than Moho is to Kerbol, and Taranis is insanely close to Grannus.

That's it for this chapter, but better things are in the next one... like our first station! :)

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Chapter 5 - Station Time, and Other Eventful Moments

Let's check in on our professional, well-trained workforce, shall we?

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What the....  Is there a research node for improved snacks?!? :D

After much deliberation, it's decided that it's finally time for our first station.  The original idea was to make it primarily out of MOLE parts,  but unfortunately MOLE and Kerbal Health don't play nicely, particularly in the radiation shielding department.  Out of an abundance of caution for the health of our intrepid explorers, a station is made using a combination of stock and MOLE parts.  Hopefully we'll be able to get some labtime with the stock science lab.

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Heading up.  I think that this is the last craft where I misspelled "Belisama."

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Shortly after making a mid-course correction en route to our nearest celestial neighbor.  We had separate contracts for a Nodens station and a Belisama station.  Being both crafty and thrifty, we fulfilled both contracts with the one vessel.

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And we're there!  You can see solar panels from both MOLE and SSTU.  (Side note: I've really gotten used to playing in larger scaled systems - the lifter to launch this station and the upper stage to take it to Belisama seemed way too small to my eye.)

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The Wren II is built and launched with four crew members for the station.  A revised design using a LFO core with two good-sized SRBs, this lifter has plenty of delta V to get the crew (plus lots of snacks!) to Belisama and back.  And BARIS tried to make something fail just to let us know he's still around and still cares about making things interesting.

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Good SRB sep.

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Good transfer to Belisama and rendezvous with the station.

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And now we're docked.  The station has been collecting science from as many biomes as possible on its journey to Belisama, so that the two scientists that are part of the crew can have some data to work with.  Over 40 experiment results are waiting in the science container on top of the station.  Let the research commence!

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Hi!  It's BARIS over here!  I just made things more expensive! Don't forget about me!

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A shorter range version of the Wren II is created, with a greater emphasis on recovery.  Using Stage Recovery and stock settings, the SRBs are recovered for over 95% of their value, while the central core is recovered for more than 80% of its value.

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Burnin' to orbit and lookin' good!

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Welcome to the program, Trilin.  Try not to get too much space dust on the three tourists who are also in the craft.

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BARIS keeps trying to make things fail.  I think he didn't get enough attention as a child.

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Checking in on the station, it's clear that the accommodations leave a bit to be desired.  Everyone is at less than 80% health.  We might not be able to stay as long as we thought.  It looks like the WBI cupola isn't recognized as such by Kerbal Health, so the station isn't as comfortable for long-term visits as was intended.  We'll make unlocking the standard cupola a priority.

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Hello, it's BARIS!  B... A... R... I... S...  Remember me?  I'm still over here with a bunch of these event card things.  I also have a gross of monkey wrenches and a good throwing arm. (This one was an honest to goodness LOL moment.)

How long will the crew be able to stay at the station?  Find out... in the next chapter.

Edited by Norcalplanner
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Interlude - A Few Observations and Thoughts About GEP Primary

Having played this for a few weeks now, I think I can make some assessments and offer some opinions on what it's like to play GEP Primary.  Hopefully this will help others know what to expect and give them a leg up should they try this mod.

1. It looks alien.  There's definitely a different aesthetic to this mod.  The sun is red, the sky is a light gray/blue, and the only trees I've found so far are some lavender palms.  There's only one moon in the sky, and no analogs for Mars or Venus in the solar system.

2. Launching rockets is different.  The KSC is inland at 4 km altitude, with the nearest ocean perhaps 20 km away to the east.  This is needed because the sea level atmospheric pressure is 2x that of Kerbin or Gael.  The gravity is also a bit higher at 1.1 G.  It took me a while to recalibrate my launches to consistently be successful on this planet; for a time, I was consistently doing my gravity turns too early and/or aggressive and had to use significant pitch correction later in the ascent to make orbit.

3. Orbital mechanics are more difficult.  Not only does it take more delta V to get to orbit because of the higher gravity, but LNO is a few hundred m/s faster as well.  And the KSC is more than 10 degrees off the equator, so plane change burns are frequent.  Because Belisama is inclined also, it's quite possible to end up in orbit 20 or more degrees off from the ideal for a Hohmann transfer to the moon.  And with gravity similar to Duna, landing on Belisama is a somewhat more involved and less forgiving exercise compared to Mun.

4. Days are loooooooooooong.  Nodens and Belisama are tidally locked, similar to Duna and Ike, so one day is 90 hours.  Warping to morning will frequently add 4 or 5 standard Kerbal days to the mission clock, and it means that you have to be very patient to wait for a correct launch window.  And because Nodens is fairly low over Grannus (it's lower than Icarus is above Ciro), it's whipping around in orbit quickly.  A year is only 360 hours long.  Which means that 1 year = 4 seasons = 4 months = 4 days.  On the plus side, it means that you never have to wait more than a few weeks for a transfer window.

5. I like it.  I've been playing since 0.23.5, and the stock Kerbol system is a bit old hat.  This system feels new and fresh.  It's also fairly small, so I feel like I have a better chance of exploring it more completely than GPP.  If you're looking for a new system with a different feel and not too many celestial bodies, GEP may be just what you're looking for.

If anyone has any questions or would like additional photographs of particular aspects of this system, please post a message and I'll do my best to help you out.  

 

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Posted (edited)
On ‎7‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 12:10 AM, Norcalplanner said:

Because Belisama is inclined also, it's quite possible to end up in orbit 20 or more degrees off from the ideal for a Hohmann transfer to the moon.

There's a simple trick that makes getting to Belisama easy.  Check out the spoiler if you want to know.

Spoiler

You need to have an orbital readout that gives you "longitude of ascending node".  KER has this, I don't know about MechJeb.  Just send your rocket to the launch pad and time warp ahead until the LAN equals 135 degrees, then launch heading due east.  This will put you in an orbit that's within one degree of Belisama's orbital plane.  That should be good enough to perform a transfer without any further plane change.  But if you did need to match planes precisely, you can do so for only about 25 m/s.  The down side of this technique is that the correct orbital alignment occurs only once every 67.5 hours (Noden's sidereal rotation period).  And half the time you'll be launching at night.

 

Edited by OhioBob
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37 minutes ago, OhioBob said:

There's a simple trick that makes getting to Belisama easy. 

I did things the old school way.  Once I figured out that the plane of Belisama is just about the same as the plane of Sirona, I turned my tiny docking target probe into the Belisama Plane satellite and adjusted its orbit to match.  And to make finding it easier in map mode, I always change the craft type for this type of navigational aid to "plane" (ba-dum).

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Chapter 6 - Quick Highlights

This chapter is going to be somewhat minimalist.  Work has ramped up, and I find myself being drawn to the DOMA challenge like a moth to flame.

Here are a few highlights of what's been happening:

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We took some more tourists for a ride and added Jensel Kerman to the space program.

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The crew from the station high-tailed it home, suffering another BARIS failure on the way.  They burned up extra fuel to speed the trip home, then burned everything they had left prior to atmospheric reentry to slow down a bit.

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We sent commsats to Belisama so that probe-controlled craft could work over most of the moon.

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Pretty!  Commsats heading out.

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Commsat away!  I love using the Ant engines for commsats.  You can thrust limit them down to 0.5 percent and generally get within a few hundredths of a second when matching orbital periods.

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Commsat beauty shot.  Solar panels and redone dish and Ant courtesy of Ven's, probe core courtesy of BDB, and combination fuel/battery tank courtesy of SSTU. 

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We sent a probe-controlled lander to Belisama station to await a landing by the next crew.

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Lander and transfer stage docked.

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Put the surplus commsat mothership to good use by impacting Belisama at high speed to fulfill a contract.

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And we finally started to figure out this whole MOLE science system, and made a new wing for the station.  Up she goes!

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And docked to the station.  Hey, it actually looks like we know what we're doing!

Let's see how that landing goes... in the next chapter.

 

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On ‎7‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 12:10 AM, Norcalplanner said:

4. Days are loooooooooooong.  Nodens and Belisama are tidally locked, similar to Duna and Ike, so one day is 90 hours.  Warping to morning will frequently add 4 or 5 standard Kerbal days to the mission clock, and it means that you have to be very patient to wait for a correct launch window.  And because Nodens is fairly low over Grannus (it's lower than Icarus is above Ciro), it's whipping around in orbit quickly.  A year is only 360 hours long.  Which means that 1 year = 4 seasons = 4 months = 4 days.  On the plus side, it means that you never have to wait more than a few weeks for a transfer window.

I just looked at the data again and realized that Nodens year is only 270 hours long.  There are four sidereal days in Nodens' year, but only three solar days.

It takes Nodens 67.5 hours to complete one 360-degree rotation on its axis.  But because during that time Nodens is also revolving around Grannus, it takes an extra 22.5 hours for Grannus to return to the same spot in Nodens' sky.  That is, if we measure the time from, say, sunrise to sunrise, the day is 90 hours long.  So we have, 1 year = 67.5 * 4 = 90 * 3 = 270 hours.

A planet always has 1 more sidereal day in its year than it has solar days.  For instance, Earth's solar day is 24 hours and there are approximately 365.2425 solar days in a year (there are 97 leap years every 400 years to account for the decimal part).  With one more sidereal day per year, this means that Earth's sidereal rotation period is, (365.2425 * 24) / 366.2425 * 3600 s/hr = 86164.09073 seconds.  Officially the number is 86164.09053083288 seconds.  

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Awesome and thanks for the clarification.

I should have the next chapter up today.

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Chapter 7 - Highs and Lows

Things continue to progress in the Nodens Space Program, but first we have to go backwards a bit to note two things which happened prior to the MOLE wing being added to the station around Belisama.  First, Bob fulfills his destiny:

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We always knew he had it in him.

And second, there wasn't quite enough fuel for that new MOLE wing to make it to Belisama, so we sent up a small tanker to make up the fuel deficit.  Here are a few pics:

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A new crew is sent up to the station, to use both the new MOLE wing and the lander.  BARIS keeps throwing monkey wrenches into the works...

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We check in on the crew's health.  Everything appears to be good, but it shows how staying in a cramped poorly shielded capsule for a long period of time isn't the best idea.

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BARIS likes keeping the crew company.

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After docking to the station, Val and Jensel climb into the lander and head down.  For Nodens!  For Kerbalkind!  For Glory!

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The first landing site wasn't the best.  We still don't have a biome map, so we're guessing and watching the MJ biome readout closely to try and target particular biomes.  In this case, the enthusiasm to come down in a new biome led to a suboptimal slope.

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The crew heads up and hops a little ways over to a new, flatter, more photogenic landing site.

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Val and Jensel pose for the history books.  Kerbalkind is elated to new heights.

Without sufficient fuel reserve for a third landing, they head back up to rendezvous with the station, visible as a speck in the upper portion of this pic thanks to DOE.

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After an uneventful docking on the dark side of Belisama, Val and Jensel reenter the station.  The lander is refueled, then Bill and Nedley hop in for their turn at glory and flag-planting experience. 

They cast off and head down.  Bill is (in hindsight) looking a bit greener than usual.

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They land without incident.  Nedley has a bit of trouble navigating the ladder, but is able to plant a flag. 

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Bill stays in the lander - he has developed a horrible hacking cough, and looks extremely unwell.  A second landing is nixed so that Bill can be brought back to the station with its medbay, and possibly evacuated back to Nodens.

As they approach the station, Bill has passed into feverish delirium. 

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The message flashing in the upper right corner is informing us that Bill is, quite literally, at death's door.  Sadly, this image is the last one we have of poor Bill.

As Nedly lines up for final docking, Bill's body shudders with his final breath, then becomes still.

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Kerbalkind is crushed to new depths by news of the first fatality in space.  The crew's mourning is cut short, however, by news from the flight surgeon.  It turns out that what Bill had appears to be contagious.

The decision is quickly made to evacuate the station and head back to Nodens post haste.  Nedley, who feels horrible about his ladder antics while his friend was in distress, volunteers to sit in silent vigil next to Bill's body during the trip home.  Extra fuel is burned for a high-speed return.

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With sad hearts, the crew lands and heads over to the astronaut complex first for physicals and immunizations, then for drinks to remember their comrade.  Val is presented with her orange jumpsuit, but the ceremony is bittersweet.  She was mission commander, and Bill died on her watch.

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Then Val notices a new, vaguely familiar face across the room.  Bill's cousin, Billy Bob Kerman, has joined the team.  And he's already a level 2 engineer.  It's almost enough to bring a small smile to her lips. 

Almost.

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R.I.P. Bill Kerman. ;.; 

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