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Race Into Space — RP-1 Career Competition

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To celebrate / showcase the newly released RP-1 (for KSP 1.3.1; hey, don't judge us!), I'm running a Race Into Space game with some folks from the RO IRC and Discord.  An extra quirk is that we're all flying from different launch sites, with a random draw order (I came next-to-last, but fortunately no-one grabbed the one I wanted).

Our players are, in alphabetical order (and with links to logos for those who have provided one):

We will be posting updates in this thread, and some of us will also be running Encyclopædia Kerbonautica instances to provide full launch libraries.  (Mine is at http://jttlov.no-ip.org:8084/.)  I believe also some players are planning to stream / record video of their campaigns.

You can also keep an eye on where everyone's game is at the RIS server.

Edited by soundnfury
Norcal has a new logo.
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OOO! I'll make sure to follow this closely, @qzgy, @NSEP and I did something similar in 1.2.2, but NSEP dropped out and it stalled a quarter or two before I would have made a manned moon landing. Hopefully with 8 players you'll actually finish!

Good luck to all of the teams!

Our thread for the interested:


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44 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

it stalled a quarter or two before I would have made a manned moon landing. Hopefully with 8 players you'll actually finish!

Winter break is coming up soon. Maybe I'll actually get around to playing again, if you'd like to finish... :ph34r:

This could be fun. Good luck to all!

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I am excited for this one! I will be posting updates of the Marshall Space Agency to my site (and notes / links here), it is currently very barebones using only @soundnfury wonderful Encyclopedia Kerbnautica so far. I have started a re-design and will be linking to some of the major milestones soon. Stay tuned here!

Here is the site as it stands now: https://pap1723.github.io/RitS-RP1-MSA/

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Snowbird Space Agency


The first 300 days

Alaska's bid for space dominance got off to an unpromising start, as my first sounding-rocket launch, Pale 00, reached just 452 metres owing to an engine failure mere seconds after launch.  Frustrations continued with fin cans ripping and a rocket that ran out of puff at 96.2km, but finally launch number four, Pale 11, made 141.6km, not just clearing the Kármán line but getting space science as well.  Of course, this being the 27th of January, five other programs had already beaten me to the Kármán line; but no matter, I didn't expect any different.

Meanwhile my pilots were already getting bored (they have short attention spans, you know) so I built the Sejant general-aviation and photo-reconnaissance aeroplane, and flew around Kodiak Island a few times collecting atmospheric science.

The sounding rockets were going wrong again, as my first two-stage design Pale 2 kept suffering ignition failures of the upper stage.  I surmised that this was due to excessive aerodynamic pressure at staging time, and went to a twin-engined first stage which, on Pale 31, successfully sent 60 SoundingRocketPayload to over 180km.  At last I was able to start grinding sounding rocket contracts for funds.

The first tech node to unlock was Post-War Rocketry Testing on March 13th, giving me access to the XASR-1 — a more reliable, higher-performing version of the Aerobee — as well as the RD-101 ethanol/LOx booster engine.  (I did actually fly one RD-100, Chief 00, which I started building before the tech unlock in order to get a little test data sooner.)  This led to Chief 10, my first launch of a heavy two-stage sounding rocket, which reached a record altitude of over 1,200km.  That same day (May 7th), the mixed-powerplant interceptor Passant was the first Alaskan aeroplane to break the sound barrier, with Yuliya Rokossovskaya in the hot seat.  Once again I was far behind the leaders, though, the Marshall Space Agency having sent a person supersonic back in early February (though not, I suspect, in wing-borne flight).

Another important tech came on the 12th of July: Early Materials Science gave me Tank-II, allowing much-improved per-stage delta V.  The test flight of the resulting 'Chief 2' LV, still in sounding-rocket guise, blew past 5,000km altitude.  All I still needed was Avionics Prototypes, which came on the 10th of September, allowing a controllable upper stage that made orbital launches (just!) possible.

The very first orbital shot of the Snowbird Space Agency was Chief 21, launched on the 19th of October, 1951.  To everyone's surprise, the rocket performed flawlessly (praise be to merciful Agathorn!) and the kick stage and its payload, Lübeck 1, entered 620×163km/63.2° orbit.  Of course, the payload, being a sounding-rocket core, ran down its batteries after a mere half-hour, but never mind that: I had a satellite.

Sadly, I later discovered that the Chinese had beaten me to it (news always takes a long time to trickle out of there...) by 95 days.  At time of writing it's not known how the other competitors stacked up.

All in all, Snowbird has a good foundation to build on: I have been teching up fast, and a 60-ton launch pad will be ready by early next year.  I may not have collected any firsts yet, but there are plenty still to get and plenty of time to pull ahead.  (And a special No-Prize to anyone who can figure out my naming convention for rockets!)

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KABOOM at the Kape - The Beginning

The Kerbal Administration for Big Overpowered Orbital Machines (KABOOM) is proud to be competing against other space programs to see who can advance their RP-1 career the fastest.  Many thanks to @soundnfury for writing the mod that makes this possible and for hosting the challenge on his server.

The early stages of the KABOOM program are focused on the 0.3m Argus series of rockets.  First up is the Argus 0, a simple solid rocket with a sounding core:



The two scientific instruments are placed asymmetrically so that the rocket curves away from the pad.  There's just enough time to transmit the science before it crashes into the sea:



The Argus I was a proper sounding rocket.  Alas, all of its launches were at night, so here's a shot in the VAB:



The Argus II series was our first rocket which carried cargo to complete some contracts and get some science from other biomes:



Got a nice shot of the Argus III, which had a parachute to allow a safe return after dipping into space briefly:



We shall not speak of the Courageous I.  The Courageous II, however, was a tail-sitting SSTM1 (single stage to Mach 1) craft which looked like a cousin of the Bachem Natter:



And if a little bit of rocketry attached to a cockpit is good, a lot must be better.  I give you the Courageous III:



Crewed above the Karman line?  Check.



I really don't like this craft all that much.  The crew blacks out on reentry and the cockpit wants to blow up if you stray too far from prograde.  I don't think we'll be using it much more.  Here it is with chutes:


Woohoo!  This is going to be fun. 

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W Industries reporting out of French Guiana.  We've had a tumultous first 252 days, culminating in the successful orbitting of our first satellite.  Hindsight being 20-20, there are many things we may have done differently, but forge on we must!

Our program's inaugural flight was the Minnow I, consisting of a core with minimal science capabilities and a parachute for recoverability:


After the success of the Minnow, the program aimed for (and achieved) the Karman line with the Bluegill I:


Subsequent Bluegill flights added science instruments and were pointed in various directions until all available nearby biomes were covered.  Additional Bluegill flights carried contracted sounding payloads as well.  As the requirements for these increased and our R&D department released the XASR variant for use, we developed the Sunfish for higher and heavier payloads (sometimes with science instruments attached as well):


At this point, as other space agencies were reporting manned launch successes, W Industries panicked and rushed to get their own going, which led to the hasty, but successful launch of the Silverside I, which took 2 extremely brave astronauts to a height of 149km in a cockpit that probably shouldn't have been sent that high (but was ok by house rules):



As sounding rocket requirements increased, the Bullhead was developed along the same lines:


Finally, with further materials research and an upgraded launching pad, we proudly announced GO for orbit with the Barracuda I with a triple RD-101 first stage, nitrogen RCS, a triple XASR second stage, and single XASR third stage:






W Industries is now entering the planning stages of phase 2, good luck everyone!



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@wrobz Three things.

1. What mod are you using for the interesting textures and colors?

2. Your Silverside rocket reminds me of my Diagon-M rocket from the last time I did an RP-0 career.


3. As you are launching from the same launch site I did in that career, and have launched a very similar vehicle, I am rooting for you so far!

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Thanks so much Steve!  Doing my best, but afraid I'm falling a bit behind some of the other more experienced players.  We shall see!

I added all the crazy textures myself, if you want to use them, they're available here, feel free, also includes pretty much every national flag out there (and the fairings don't actually work, not sure why yet, gotta figure that out):  https://github.com/mattwrobel/wrobz-ksp-textures


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I am very happy to report that the Encyclopedia Kerbnautica for the Marshall Space Agency is fully functional! There are a few formatting and design issues that will be cleaned up, but we now have a great resource to share all of our launches with everyone!


Since the race has started we have had some ups and downs. We narrowly missed the Karman Line achievement, but then were able to secure getting our Astornauts to Break the Sound Barrier before anyone else. Mismanagement of our R&D department led to us falling behind on the First Satellite milestone. After it was determined that we would not be the first to achieve it, we set it aside as our main goal and continued to work on other missions.

Take a look at all of the launches and the site!


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KABOOM at the Kape - Getting into orbit

The KABOOM space program continues to progress, albeit in a slightly suboptimal manner due to some missteps regarding initial allocations of funds into build rate vs. research vs. KSC improvements.  We're doing many things similar to other programs, but frequently with a larger craft at a lower tech level.  Nevertheless, we're pressing on and trying to slowly turn the ship to a more favorable heading.

Played around a bit more with sounding rockets, resulting in this smaller design:


As well as this larger one.  We didn't fully commit to the lucrative sounding rocket grind.


We also upgraded our suborbital astronaut-hucker to use a slightly more sane cockpit:


Our first (barely) orbital capable craft was the Glorious IIB, shown here ascending from the Kape:


With further refinements, this series was also able to reach polar orbit.

Problem - how to quickly increase the reliability of the Snubotron for consistent upper stage ullage.  Solution - 36 Snubotrons in three stages on the bottom of a boilerplate testbed:


The Corsair IV series was the craft that eventually got us to lunar flybys and impacts.  Unfortunately we didn't have a fairing large enough to enclose the RN Sputnik core, so the design looks a wee bit silly:


But the result was worth it:


We'll end this entry with a tip of the day - if you're heading to the moon or high orbit with a probe or satellite, be sure to grab a sounding rocket altitude contract before you launch for some free funds.

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Snowbird Space Agency


Two Years From Orbit

After attaining orbit, while the sounding-rocket grind continued for a while, it was now interspersed with attempts to launch practical satellites, making use of the new Chief 3 launch vehicle with RD-103 booster and Pale 3x2 second stage.  However, though the lower engine count on the second stage meant TestFlight struck less often, I experienced a number of failures owing to guidance problems — such as Chief 31 pitching over too slowly for its colossal TWR and finding the gravity losses too great to make orbit, or Chief 33 losing control of the upper stage as aerodynamic forces were too strong.  The cure for the latter ultimately proved to be the use of small solid motors to obtain definite separation of the stages.

Another important threshold was passed on March 14th, 1952 when the second launchpad was ready to accommodate rockets up to 60t GLOM.  The Chief 3a LV was the first to make use of this, with a slightly haphazard-looking clustered-tankage design to elide the need for new tooling.  This launch vehicle was responsible for placing, among others, my first polar satellite Lübeck 2 and the atmospheric analysis Lübeck 4b into orbit.

Meanwhile, several competitors had sent brave crews into space on suborbital hops; I responded with one of my own, the Chief Guardant mission, in which Grigory Fekhlachev reached 152km in his conical cockpit before using a Pale braking stage, and then stub wings, to soften his return to Earth's atmosphere, and making the final landing under a parachute.

Improved light-weight probes, developed in July, featured in the Rostock series of satellites.  These however did not meet with a great deal of success: two were lost in launch failures, while the lunar probes Rostock 3, 5 and 6 all had rather poor accuracy, the best being Rostock 6's 25Mm periselene.  Thus the only one to be truly successful was Rostock 4, a prototype Doppler navigation satellite.  This was followed up by a number of navigational test satellites, beginning with Kiel 1, which had the ability to refine their orbits after apogee kick.  The next such, Kiel 2, made its 960km circular orbit despite a partial failure of its upper stage.

The abovementioned lunar probes, and the controllable Munich 1 which (on 27th May 1953) ultimately succeeded in their mission, launched on variants of Chief 4, whose double RD-103 engine allowed heavier payloads.  Upgrades within this family included the use of level III tankage, and in the Chief 4b, a new upper stage, Gules 0, whose AJ10-37 engine finally gave me gimbal.  The Gules also found use on the Chief 3c and 3d, launching for instance the prototype weather satellite Spence 1, and (with the payload-less Chief 313 launch) demonstrating a sun-synchronous orbit.

Munich 1 (whose success paid for an upgrade to the R&D Facility) was to prove the swansong of the Chief family, as the new S-3 engine provided the basis for the new Bend launch vehicle family, first launched on the 9th of April 1953, when the first Bend Gules X1 launched Munich 2 towards its final destination, a high-speed impact with Mare Imbrium four days later.  The first stage of Bend used new 2.4m tooling, which is expected to find consistent use for many years to come.  After a third impactor, a more capable probe, Munich 4, was sent to orbit the Moon and collect data on its radiation environment and gravitational field; it entered elliptical lunar orbit on the 7th of June.

Another application of spaceflight, the communications satellite, had a somewhat inauspicious start, as Duisburg 1 was lost when its kick stage failed to ignite.  Fortunately the backup article, Duisburg 1a, successfully reached 6,400×881km orbit on July 3rd.  Meanwhile my attempt to launch a second lunar orbiter, this time with a TV camera to return pictures of the lunar farside, was experiencing difficulties: first Munich 5 had attitude control problems during TLI (an inadequately constrained center of mass interfered with the spin stabilisation), then Munich 5a was lost to an engine failure on the Bend booster.  Success finally came with Munich 5b.  All of my lunar missions, incidentally, used approximately polar parking orbits, placed approximately 45° (or 225°) ahead of the Moon's position at launch.

Another success was the Kleve series of film-return satellites.  Kleve 1 photographed all biomes from polar orbit before making my first orbital-speed re-entry in August (though W Industries, at least, beat us, having pulled off the same feat back in January); though the follow-up Kleve 2, with an improved camera, suffered a booster failure and did not make orbit.

My attempts to launch a constellation of operational navsats, the Bremerhaven series, ran into difficulties as the necessary orbit, 1050km polar, was pushing — and possibly outside — the envelope of Bend Gules 1.  The first attempt, back in May, had come up a few tens of kilometers short, while Bremerhaven 1a's booster underperformed.  Fortunately a round of engine upgrades — Bend 2 and Gules 1 — arrived in October 1953, placing Bremerhaven 1b in the target orbit on their maiden flight.  Four more Bremerhavens will be needed to complete the constellation; I will launch them as VAB time permits.

Bend 2 also flew Kleve 3, which collected higher-resolution photographs and ion mass spectrometry from polar orbit and once again demonstrated re-entry.  Early weather satellites, Spence 2a and Spence 3, were launched in September and October, using a Pale kick stage to reduce their inclination as the target (48° to 58°) is not directly reachable from Kodiak without overflying the western coast of North America (the range limit of about 130° azimuth yields around 63° inclination).

At the conclusion of this two-year period, then, Snowbird Space Agency is in reasonably good shape: two new engines (the LR105 "Chevron" and RD-0105 "Argent") are awaiting their first test flights, practical satellites are being launched with a decent cadence, and some exciting new exploration missions appear to be just about within my grasp.  I may not have won races and made headlines so far, but now that the importance of sounding rockets is declining, I believe I have a chance to catch up.

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