bayesian_acolyte

Completing Science Mode in the Fewest Launches

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Posted (edited)

The goal of this challenge:  Earn enough science to research every technology in as few launches as possible. Participants should create a new science mode game on normal difficulty, or a normal base difficulty with the Comm Network turned off or modified.

Weight limit: All launches must be below 250 tons. 

Tie breaker: Total science gathered is the tie breaker if multiple submissions use the same number of launches. 

All science around one pod: At the start of each launch, designate a main command pod (or probe core if unmanned). All science gathering activities (experiments run, samples gathered, etc.) for that launch need to happen in the exact same biome as that main pod. For the purpose of this challenge, the launch pad and other KSC buildings are not the same biome, nor is being in a different vertical area of the same nominal biome (i.e no science when landed on the Greater Flats if your main pod is in low orbit above the Greater Flats). The only exception is that doing an EVA report above the surface (by jumping etc.) in the immediate vicinity of a landed command pod is permitted. Command seats are not command pods for the purpose of this challenge. 

No clipping (mostly): Only clipping of structural parts, wings, and heat shields is allowed. Clipping of anything else is not permitted, except in very minor circumstances such as ~5% of a part overlapping with another.

What's a launch? A launch is any time something is put on the runway or launch pad (and isn't reverted). Even if it doesn't leave the ground, it's still a launch. Assembling a ship in orbit from multiple launches counts as multiple launches.

Banned parts:

  • No ISRU (drills/refiners) - Obtaining pretty much all the science in the game is possible with a single ISRU launch, which would be quite tedious.
  • No Mobile Processing Lab - Unlimited science breaks this challenge.
  • No Ion Propulsion - Their crazy DV can be a big advantage in a weight and launch limited challenge, and I don't want anyone feeling like they are missing out if they don't wish to endure ultra long burn times.

No EVA pushing: Eva pushing is not allowed.

Mods: Using any non-stock parts, changing parts, changing physics, or anything similar is not permitted. Informational mods, piloting mods, and automatic science mods are fine, as long as they aren't allowing you to accomplish something that wouldn't normally be possible. Showing biome locations using the debug menu is allowed.

Submission guidelines: Challengees should submit screenshots or video showing the vessels used for each launch, the exact science obtained when the launch mission is complete, and a brief summary of where most of the science was obtained. More detailed information such as craft files and mission reports are encouraged but not mandatory.

Happy sciencing!

 

Leaderboard: 

1. 2 launches, 19317.6 science - bayesian_acolyte

Edited by bayesian_acolyte

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I just did a couple test runs and I *think* I can do this in 4 launches. Here's my plan:

  1. Basic Science from launchpad, flying, and landed in the grasslands.
  2. Basic, Temp, and Barometric Science from high space and low space of Kerbin, Mun, and Minmus, plus EVA science orbiting over every biome of the 3 worlds, plus a unique Kerbin biome on return.
  3. The above plus Seismic scan landed in every Minmus biome, plus a unique Kerbin biome on return. Plus, an attached science car to fully farm KSC of all science minus Gravioli and Atmospheric (not unlocked)
  4. The above plus Gravioli and Atmospheric somewhere to be determined, plus a unique Kerbin biome on return, plus the science car again if needed and warranted.

Not 100% sure I'm going to enter, but if I do, that's the plan :D

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Posted (edited)

This challenge from a few years ago might be useful for anyone unsure what to do on the first launch: 

 

Inspired by some of those submissions, I was able to get into high space with this unoptimized monstrosity:

6AdOEgT.jpg

 

I had fun on the first mission but I'm not sure how universal the appeal will be. If anyone wants to do this challenge but re-creating something like the above doesn't seem fun, feel free to just use my craft file. EDIT: I just tried to launch it again a few times and it was ripping itself apart, so disregard. Not sure what happened as it was working before. Here's the link anyways. https://kerbalx.com/Bayesian_Acolyte/1st-launch-v12

 

I just returned from my 2nd launch and completing this within 3 launches is definitely in reach. But I've got some ideas and how to re-do the 2nd launch with better returns, and I'm torn between starting over on the 2nd launch or doing the 3rd.

Edited by bayesian_acolyte

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Posted (edited)

After a number of retries I've completed this challenge in 2 launches with 2399.6 extra science.

I redid the first mission with a slightly modified version of the above ship (more tail fins, goo canisters on the top command pod) and got 160 science. After a bunch of time revising the 2nd ship, I got to Kerbin orbit with about 8400 dv. I did a Mun flyby and landed on every Minmus biome, after which I had about 5700 dv. Next I did an aerocapture at Eve and hit up every Gilly biome, which left me with 4150 dv. After that I moseyed over to Ike with a Duna aerocapture, and was able to land in 4 Ike biomes before heading back. I ended up with 550 unused dv.

Below are the ship and science report screenshots: 

Spoiler

 

IGYpMrG.jpg

pto4kxt.jpg

V2o3MEt.jpgF4eupPK.jpg

 

Here's the craft file for the 2nd ship: https://kerbalx.com/Bayesian_Acolyte/2nd-launch-v27

Edit: Here's an album with a trip report: https://imgur.com/a/NM96ghf

Edited by bayesian_acolyte

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On 3/16/2019 at 1:27 PM, 5thHorseman said:

I just did a couple test runs and I *think* I can do this in 4 launches. Here's my plan:

  1. Basic Science from launchpad, flying, and landed in the grasslands.
  2. Basic, Temp, and Barometric Science from high space and low space of Kerbin, Mun, and Minmus, plus EVA science orbiting over every biome of the 3 worlds, plus a unique Kerbin biome on return.
  3. The above plus Seismic scan landed in every Minmus biome, plus a unique Kerbin biome on return. Plus, an attached science car to fully farm KSC of all science minus Gravioli and Atmospheric (not unlocked)
  4. The above plus Gravioli and Atmospheric somewhere to be determined, plus a unique Kerbin biome on return, plus the science car again if needed and warranted.

Not 100% sure I'm going to enter, but if I do, that's the plan :D

Isn't that not allowed considering how they need to be in the same biome though? Or am I misunderstanding something?

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The science car? that's the only thing I see from that. Yes, that would be illegal I missed that part of the challenge. Though maybe I could do some docking port tomfoolery to gather science and then re-dock later. Or just skip the KSC as it's not a super huge ton of science.

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1 hour ago, 5thHorseman said:

The science car? that's the only thing I see from that. Yes, that would be illegal I missed that part of the challenge. Though maybe I could do some docking port tomfoolery to gather science and then re-dock later. Or just skip the KSC as it's not a super huge ton of science.

Maybe I'm not understanding the wording, but it says

Quote

 At the start of each launch, designate a main command pod (or probe core if unmanned). All science gathering activities (experiments run, samples gathered, etc.) for that launch need to happen in the exact same biome as that main pod.

And

Quote

All science gathering activities (experiments run, samples gathered, etc.) for that launch need to happen in the exact same biome as that main pod. For the purpose of this challenge, the launch pad and other KSC buildings are not the same biome, nor is being in a different vertical area of the same nominal biome (i.e no science when landed on the Greater Flats if your main pod is in low orbit above the Greater Flats). 

So isn't it only possible to gather science from one biome a flight?

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, KingDominoIII said:

So isn't it only possible to gather science from one biome a flight?

I see nothing saying that the "main command pod" can't move around. (In fact, of course, it has to move in order to get off the launch pad / runway.) So you can:

  1. build a rover with a command pod and some science instruments on it,
  2. put the rover on a rocket,
  3. land the rocket on, say, Minmus and deploy the rover, and
  4. roam around the surface of Minmus collecting all the science.

(Returning the pod and/or its passengers back to Kerbin seems to be optional, too. You just can't collect any extra science on the way back if you don't bring the pod along.)

What @5thHorseman seems to be suggesting is taking this further by putting a docking port on the command pod and transferring it between vessels, which could e.g. allow you to both drive the pod around KSC and launch the same pod into space during one mission. Actually, probably the easiest way to do this might be to do the space flight first, land the pod near KSC, and have a rover (detached and left waiting at KSC at the start of the mission) that can drive to it and grab it off the ground. Heck, you could probably make that thing amphibious and splash the pod down off the shore to avoid the awkwardness of on-the-ground docking.

Or, alternatively, just build a big rover and put the entire rocket on it. Technically, you wouldn't even need any docking ports that way. :cool:

(Or just make it a spaceplane. Those are basically rockets on wheels, anyway.)

Edited by vyznev

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12 minutes ago, vyznev said:

I see nothing saying that the "main command pod" can't move around. (In fact, of course, it has to move in order to get off the launch pad / runway.) So you can:

  1. build a rover with a command pod and some science instruments on it,
  2. put the rover on a rocket,
  3. land the rocket on, say, Minmus and deploy the rover, and
  4. roam around the surface of Minmus collecting all the science.

(Returning the pod and/or its passengers back to Kerbin seems to be optional, too. You just can't collect any extra science on the way back if you don't bring the pod along.)

What @5thHorseman seems to be suggesting is taking this further by putting a docking port on the command pod and transferring it between vessels, which could e.g. allow you to both drive the pod around KSC and launch the same pod into space during one mission. Actually, probably the easiest way to do this might be to do the space flight first, land the pod near KSC, and have a rover (detached and left waiting at KSC at the start of the mission) that can drive to it and grab it off the ground. Heck, you could probably make that thing amphibious and splash the pod down off the shore to avoid the awkwardness of on-the-ground docking.

Or, alternatively, just build a big rover and put the entire rocket on it. Technically, you wouldn't even need any docking ports that way. :cool:

Ah, fair enough. I assumed it was permanent based on the first biome. Thanks for clearing that up.

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32 minutes ago, vyznev said:

What @5thHorseman seems to be suggesting is taking this further by putting a docking port on the command pod and transferring it between vessels, which could e.g. allow you to both drive the pod around KSC and launch the same pod into space during one mission.

For the record I just forgot about the restriction when thinking up the attached science car :D Though I like the idea of making it Mun capable as well, driving around KSC, then docking back to the bottom of the rocket and taking the rover to the Mun where it grabs 2-4 biomes there. Just need to find a good place to land where you can easily get 4 biomes. Then leave the rover there for the trip home, making sure to not do science on the way back.

I'd say do that on Minmus but we all know how sucky a rover is on Minmus.

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Posted (edited)

I decided to give this one a try, even though @bayesian_acolyte's entry seems hard to beat. My first launch earned me 169.5 science (which could've easily been at least 177.5 with just slightly better flying, as I landed in the highlands just short of reaching the mountains):

Spoiler

gBkVNoA.png

YOPUNed.png

Sln38e5.png

Azrhh90.png

bYB3Grs.png

My craft is a lot small that bayesian_acolyte's, weighing only slightly over 20 tons. I tried several bigger and more complicated designs at first, but found that "less is more" here. In particular, with the high drag of the Flea engines and the lack of nose cones, it's quite inefficient to use radially attached engines beyond the first stage. Above Mach 2 or so in the low to mid altitudes, the drag just completely cancels out the thrust. And trying to do explosive staging of multiple parallel stacks of SRBs instead tends to cause, um, steering issues, as the stacks pretty much never decouple at the same time. So all my stages just consist of single Flea engines stacked one on top of the other, except for the lowest one, which has seven.

Also, it turns out that pulling the engines slightly apart makes the explosive staging work faster and more reliably, thus reducing the delta-v losses from blocked thrust while the old engines are still attached. I'm not 100% why that is, but I've noticed it before. I suspect it's something to do with how KSP calculates the heating rate for parts inside engine plumes, and/or how the plume colliders themselves are positioned.

More screenshots: https://imgur.com/a/Dg1Tx4M

Craft file: https://pastebin.com/g7f5JDhU

Now I just need to plan the second launch...

Edited by vyznev

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Inspired by @vyznev and @bayesian_acolyte I've been working on a TZTO (Tier-Zero-To-Orbit) ship. I'm pretty sure I have the dV, but just need to perfect the ascent trajectory (and ability to control at all).

Once I have that I'm hoping to get that all-important strut node along with the two nodes you both unlocked. If not, I'm not 100% sure it'd be wroth trying anything further as my subsequent ships will pretty much redo what you've done.

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Success!

tkto_1.jpg

Well partial success. There's this little issue of not having any fuel left.

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I hate to say it but I need to throw in the towel, at least temporarily. I can NOT get a SRB into orbit no matter what, and actually never repeated the above feat of getting just the pod into orbit. I got pretty consistent at landing on the North or South ice sheets, but that's the best I could get.

If I have an epiphany (or three) I'll pick this back up.

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Posted (edited)

@5thHorseman nice work on achieving a stable orbit, very impressive. Too bad that jerk who's running this challenge disallowed EVA pushing. I wonder if a solution might be to leave your periapsis barely in the atmosphere and have that slowly de-orbit you. There probably would still be enough time to collect all the science you would get from a stable orbit. It would be difficult to finesse the right orbit with SRBs though, and the de-orbiting process could take an annoyingly long amount of time.

Edited by bayesian_acolyte

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