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U.S.S. Enterprise - Assembling an interplanetary craft in orbit


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As the title suggests, I'm building a space station that I can use as an interplanetary travel spacecraft - named the U.S.S. Enterprise after the famous ship from Star Trek. There's no way I can launch it all in one stage, which is why I'm assembling it in Kerbin's orbit before sending it to Eve (and who-knows-where-else). So far, my plans for it involve:

  • MAIN COMPONENT: 5 crew capacity (1 cupola and 2 mobile processing labs), 4 RA-100 Relay antennae, 8,835 power units, well over 15,000 units worth of fuel, 4 docking ports between the two labs for other parts, MechJeb and a probe core, 1 Rhino engine and 16 Swivel engines (the swivels were mainly to help with ascent into orbit), 20 docking ports to hold escape pods/landers/other craft, 8 gigantor solar panels, 8835-V of power
  • ULTIMATE SCIENCE: 6 crew capacity (1 Hitchhiker and 1 mobile processing lab), 2 Communotron-88 antennae, 1,085 units worth of monopropellant (to help with attachment, 4,000-V battery, 1 survey scanner, 1 narrow-band scanner, and a 2.5-m service bay with: 1 science Jr, 1 barometer, 1 thermometer, 1 gravioli detector, 1 mystery goo container, 1 atmospheric scanner, 1 seismic accelerometer, 2 experimental storage units.
  • ORE STORAGE: 3,000 units worth of ore storage space (tanks will start empty), 72 fuel units (to save weight, can refill tank later), convert-o-tron 250, 4 medium extendable radiators, 20 monopropellant (to start - can be refilled later), 4000-V battery, extra 6-sides docking module at the other end.
  • EMPTY CARGO BAY: 1700 monopropellant for the assembly stage, 1 empty Mk3 Cargo Bay CRG-100, 4 Gigantor solar panels, 4000-V battery, 1 Infrared telescope.
  • SSTO DOCK: 4 crew capacity (1 Hitchhiker), 4,000-V battery, 750 monopropellant for assembly, 1 docking port for an SSTO I found on the Internet, (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c1vkqUQ3RVFw2Pgqdo-vFpC2jDwMEsYN/view),
  • SSTO ITSELF:  (Check the link above). It's purpose is to dock on and off the Enterprise and get crews on and off planets as well as bring ore back. I plan to modfiy it so that it can easily dock with the Enterprise
  • MOON LANDER: 3 crew capacity (Mk1-3 command pod), 914 Fuel Units, 750 monopropellant, 4 Mk2-R Radial-mount Parachutes, 4,000-V battery, 4 1x6 Solar Panels, 4 LT-2 landing struts, MechJeb and probe core.
    • Also came with a decoupler. Should I remove it or not, since I obviously plan to send the moon crew back up.
    • Pros of keeping decoupler: can also be used as a one-way escape pod
    • Cons of keeping decoupler: it goes off, the crew is going to be stuck there.
  • 3 ESCAPE PODS: EACH HAS (from top to bottom): 7 crew capacity (that's 21 in total), 2 docking ports (1 on top, 1 on side), 9 Mk2-R Radial-mount Parachutes, 4 1x6 Solar Panels, MechJeb and probe core, 10-m inflatable heat shield, 1 25-m decoupler, 2188 units of fuel, 750 monopropellant, Skipper Engine
    • Basically, if you're going to a planet/moon, this is a one-way trip.
    • If you're transferring crews to/from Kerbin or other stations, use only one pod at a time.
    • Keep the pods locked at all times. Do not use all of them (or any of them, for that matter) unless it's a life-threatening emergency that warrants immediate evacuation.

I haven't sent any of this up yet, since I wanted to hear your input on what the Enterprise could use. Any ideas, I'm open.

 

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UPDATE: Forget landing on Eve itself, and forget the SSTO (I'm still attaching a docking module with the Hitchhiker). The Enterprise-C (Enterprise-B is getting decommissioned later) is a scientific exploration ship, not an aircraft carrier. I'm considering attaching a mobile base I found on YouTube (https://mega.nz/#!EVclXLDT!GWT6hNRnY3CsuBd_Kbq3XfDMkaOl7z9qaZ8g6G8eQ_k - modifying it with MechJeb and a probe core, and) to the Enterprise and leaving it on Gilly for later expeditions; it will at least save some mass for the trip back.

  • On the other hand, I don't know if I should even send any astronauts down to Gilly at all, or even attach that mobile base. Speaking from personal experience, if you add too many purposes to any machine (robot, plane, spacecraft), it ends up falling short on most or all of its objectives. Since I fitted the Enterprise with all available scientific instruments (except the surface scanner, which only works on the surface) and mega-powerful relay antennae, it definitely fits the "Scientific Explorer" objective?
    • I'm still sending a small probe to the surface of Eve, since I'm under a contract to enter Eve's atmosphere.
    • Since I'm also attaching a small Mun Lander to the ship (it got me to Minmus (and the station orbiting it), so it can get me to Gilly easily), I'm also installing light scientific instruments on there.
  • Should I forget sending anyone down to Gilly, or should I go for it. Also, should I try and carry the base from the link above with me?
    • If I do, I'll send it down unmanned, start gathering science data and transmitting it, then activating the drill.
  • I'm also considering attaching a "weather satellite" to put in Eve's orbit.

 

I know, call me chicken for not going for a full-on Eve landing. But that's not it; I'm not landing anyone on Eve just yet. Just like with any other NASA mission in real life, and with all my Mun and Minmus missions, I'd like to know more about where I'm going and what's in it before I risk anyone's life in there. Additionally, attaching a two-way Eve lander to the Enterprise seems like too much trouble. I can build a manned Eve craft later, then launch that at the next window. If refueling is going to be an issue, then I could dispatch a space station (cheaper than assembled Enterprise-class ships), to function as "gas stations" beforehand. 

  • That also means I'll have to use the Alt+F12+Create Kerbal cheat to make more personnel that will want to stay in Eve for the rest of their lives.

 

Any ideas?

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I'll do you one better, I'll post the craft files for the pieces. You'll need the MechJeb mod for the rendezvous to work right, not to mention you'll have to assemble the pieces one-by-one in orbit before launch.

I haven't assembled the craft itself yet, but I designed all of these myself. 

UPDATE: Forget landing anyone on Eve, Gilly, or anywhere. Also forget landing any bases on Gilly. The Enterprise will be a scientific exploration vessel, not a rover/aircraft carrier (Escape pods acceptable, but only in case of emergencies or crew transfers). I can send people down at a later date, but first I'd like to learn more about where I'm going to put people later.

 - there are ships that specialize in crew/rover/base transport, but the Enterprise is not one of them.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

UPDATE: FTA PENDING REDESIGN

 

I just learned (the hard way) that if I fire the engines in my spacecraft in any way, it will wobble. It was bad enough with just the main body, but with at least one module connected to it, the entire thing is shaking. Therefore, I have deemed sending this craft FTA (FAR TOO HAZARDOUS) Pending Redesign. In other words, the Enterprise will not be going to Eve; I will have to wait for large-scale crewed recon missions until I got a good design going. 

 * I can still convert the Enterprise-B (the one currently in orbit, awaiting assembly) into a LKO hotel/fueling port.

 

Any redesign ideas? I'm still adding escape pods, as international law requires that I have enough to transport everyone out in case of an emergency.

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