Ultimate Steve

Space Race Season 2 - RP-1

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7 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Wow, I thought I was doing well! :sticktongue:


That's why I put that disclaimer up top. ;)

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Same here! At least I still had the altitude record by 1951. Jeez, we’re doomed.

16 minutes ago, Norcalplanner said:

That's why I put that disclaimer up top

Well go easy on us, or we won’t get to 1960 before you land. :P

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8 minutes ago, KerbalKore said:

Same here! At least I still had the altitude record by 1951. Jeez, we’re doomed.

Well go easy on us, or we won’t get to 1960 before you land. :P

I will hold onto my "first plane" achievement with dignity. :P

I'm not going to have the capacity to put anything more than a few dozen kilos into orbit by '60! :sticktongue:

@Norcalplanner, whoa bro, you're good. :cool:

We'll probably still play to second, third, etc. place depending on interest, though, so it's all good.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

I will hold onto my "first plane" achievement with dignity.

And me with the best first launch. See you in 2nd or 3rd

@Norcalplanner have mercy and don’t put someone in space till February 4th, 1955. Leave a man with some hope. :P

Edited by KerbalKore
May the gods have mercy on me

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@KerbalKore  I make no promises. :)

The crazy thing is, I've never actually put boots on the Moon and returned in RP-1.  The closest I got in a previous race was a manned lunar flyby with a Gemini capsule, and I was still years behind the front runner in completing that particular contract. 

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1952 was completed last night, and it should be Thursday or Friday when I get the report up - trying to do things with a phone while on the road is a bit too much challenge for my brain at the moment.

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Kerbal Administration for Big Overpowered Orbital Machines - 1952


Making progress...


February 7, 1952 - The Argus-Starling 1 is erected on the pad.  This two-stage rocket has an RD-101 lower stage and an XASR upper stage; the goal is to go 3,000 km downrange.


An unguided rocket, the Argus-Starling 1 relies initially on aerodynamics and a small initial tilt on the pad to tip over at the proper rate.  The second stage is triggered shortly after burnout of the first stage, when the rocket is pointing at 45 degrees above the horizon at around 70 km altitude.  Two angled tiny SRBs provide both spin stabilization and ullage.


The second stage ignites without incident, propelling the upper stage to an orbital speed of over 5,000 m/s.  After reaching an Ap of 1,013 km, the rocket burns up to the northeast of Puerto Rico during atmospheric reentry.  Total distance is over 3,400 km.

Result - Success.  With the downrange contract completed, the first satellite contract is accepted.  The majority of the advance is spent on a new 60 ton pad.  No other satellite contracts are accepted... yet.


May 11, 1952 - With the X-1 cockpit unlocked and two successful flights with the RD-101, the Pegasus 2 is rolled out to the pad.  Marta Obolenskaya climbs aboard, intent on breaking the Karman line.  (An X-Plane High contract is also accepted; this is one of the few remaining situations where you can double dip on similar contracts.)


The rocket flies straight and true.  Marta cuts the throttle to avoid going too high, resulting in an Ap of 148 km.  After jettisoning the lifter, the cockpit and parachute come roaring back down...


Although Marta is thrown forward in her harness with 8.9 Gs of deceleration, she remains conscious.  The parachutes, which were armed in space (in case she blacked out) deploy at 3 km / 1 km and gently land her craft just west of Brownsville.

Result - Success.  Marta has an impromptu victory parade through downtown Brownsville as the recovery team brings her back to the launch complex.


July 6, 1952 - Not to be outdone, Anatoly goes up in another Pegasus 2 (originally designated as the backup in case the first failed) to complete a 160 km Crewed Suborbital contract.  The ascent was uneventful, topping out at 167 km; this allowed another milestone reward, as well as further pushing the upper limits for a suborbital reentry.  Here's a shot shortly after staging:


Although some muttered that the strange squares in the water were caused by something called "Kopernicus", they had no effect.  The reentry was even hotter than before.


Anatoly is subjected to 9.5 Gs of force on reentry before splashing down off the coast - he went a little east to hit the water biomes.

Result - Success.  We're really racking up the du with this RD-101 engine.


August 16, 1952 - We're in a bit of a holding pattern while we wait for new technologies to unlock, so the backup Argus Starling is launched to the west without a mission, just to grab some more science and see if we can go any further downrange.  Here's a beauty shot taken from early in the ascent:


The craft went even further than before, burning up over the Pacific Ocean more than 3,550 km from the launch complex.  It was actually too far, since we flew straight over both the desert and mountain biomes without getting any atmospheric data from either of those.

Result - Success?  No real mission, just a handful of science points.


October 26, 1952 - Flying more missions for cash while we wait for things to unlock, a Crewed Suborbital 180 km contract is accepted.  Marta is launched aboard the Pegasus 3, which is essentially a Pegasus 2 with two cameras behind the cockpit.  The launch is done at sunset for a change.


Well that didn't work.  The RD-101 failed completely shortly after launch, resulting in a 1.5 km Ap.  Somehow the nearly-full booster didn't destroy the launch pad.  Marta touched down just south of the launch pad, shaken but otherwise no worse for wear.

Result - Failure.


December 23, 1952 - The last mission of the year sees Anatoly Epinger trying to complete the mission originally attempted by Marta, in an identical Pegasus 3.  The engineers swear up and down that they've figured out what went wrong previously, and have fixed it. 


The engine behaves this time.  Anatoly steers just a tiny bit to the east, allowing the cameras to capture images of high atmosphere and low space for both the shores and water biomes.  Ap is 187 km, a little higher than intended.  Hopefully everything will be OK on reentry...


The addition of the cameras, which wasn't simulated prior to launch, combined with the height resulted in a much rougher reentry.  Anatoly made it back in one piece, albeit with a few busted ribs after experiencing over 11 Gs and blacking out. 

Result - Success, but we're going to give Anatoly a well-deserved break.  Flying both the pilots multiple times has pushed back their retirement dates into 1959 and 1961


1952 Year in Review - There were 6 total launches, 4 manned and 2 unmanned.  One manned launch was a failure.  We also decided to cross the Rubicon and accept the first science satellite contract at the end of the year, which is going to be a stretch.  Nearly all of the advance, over 400,000 funds, was spent on KCT upgrade points.  This contract should be doable within the two-year timeframe, provided we complete the first satellite contract and some other contracts in a timely manner and keep investing in our capabilities.  Here are screenshots of the various rates and the tech tree at the end of 1952, after spending all those KCT upgrade points:






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Posted (edited)

Kerbal Administration for Big Overpowered Orbital Machines - 1953


One big milestone completed...


January 31, 1953 - The Argus-Starling C 2 is wheeled out.  This two-stage rocket has an RD-102 lower stage and an AJ10-27 upper stage.  While there's no actual mission, the intent is to gain du on these newer engines and try to hit an altitude of 2,000 km for the milestone reward.


The rocket, while capable, drifted off prograde a bit (we were trying a boattail for the first time), inducing some drag which impacted the final altitude.


The craft topped out just shy of our goal, at 1998 km.

Result - Partial failure (?).  The craft worked, but didn't quite do what we wanted it to do.


March 18, 1953 - The Pegasus C 1 is erected on the pad.  This new variant has the RD-102 for power, and will attempt a crewed suborbital 150 km contract.


Marta Obolenskaya heads up, reaching an altitude of 158 km before heading back down.  She experiences over 12 Gs of deceleration while coming back down, finally landing in the Grasslands.


Result - Success.  While the mission gathered 13 science points due to the cameras, the aerodynamic penalty on reentry is too great.  Any future Pegasus launches will only have a single camera.


May 6, 1953 - Anatoly Epinger is launched aboard the Pegasus C 2, now with just a single camera.  The contract is X-Plane High (60 km), with the secondary goal of heading further to the west to hit more biomes.


Anatoly yanks the craft over to the west shortly after takeoff, and comes down in the Tropics biome after hitting an Ap of 110 km.

Result - Success.  


June 23, 1953 - It's Marta's turn to go up again, with another X-Plane High (90 km) mission.  She'll try to one-up Anatoly and hit either the Mountain or Desert biome further to the west.  The craft is another Pegasus C 2, identical to the previous launch.


Marta cranked it over even harder than Anatoly, resulting in over 1 km/s of horizontal velocity.  Her flight peaked at 150 km before coming down in the Mountains.

Result - Success.


August 12, 1953 - We're starting to creep up on our deadline for reaching orbit.  With the RD-103 now unlocked, we're mainly waiting on Tank II at this point.  It's decided to try out the general architecture while still using Tank I - the result is the Argus Sparrow D 1.


In retrospect, we should have called this the Narwahl.  The rocket consists of a stretched lower stage with an RD-103, a second stage powered by an AJ10-27, and a final stage with an XASR.




The craft topped out at 2,680 km, and broke the 7,000 m/s speed record on the way back down shortly before incinerating over the Atlantic.

Result - Success.


October 17, 1953 - On a cold October day, the Argus Sparrow E 2 is wheeled out to the pad.  This upgraded version features Tank II throughout, an upgraded avionics suite allowing for control, and HTP RCS thrusters for orienting the craft in vacuum.  The craft launches without incident and begins its ascent, tipping fairly aggressively to the east.


After the first stage burns out, there's a brief coast phase.  The RCS is used to orient the craft so it's pointed slightly below the horizon.


At one minute to Ap, the spin-stabilized second stage is fired up.


The third stage is triggered the moment the second stage is done.  All three engines on the craft performed as expected.


Result - Success.  The last stage goes into a 245 x 3,377 km orbit, although the wimpy sounding rocket core runs out of power before it reaches Africa.  No new science today.  The First Artificial Satellite contract is complete.


December 31, 1953 - Since the rocket had plenty of delta V to get to orbit, it's decided that the backup will attempt the Polar Orbit contract.


Our luck holds, and everything works as intended again.


Result - Success.  The craft goes into an 89 degree inclination 277 x 837 km orbit.


1953 Year In Review - There were 7 total launches, 3 crewed and 4 uncrewed.  One of the uncrewed missions was a partial failure.  Completing the first satellite contract was the highlight; we also ordered the first tracking station upgrade so we can actually see those orbit lines we worked so hard for.  Not nearly as much progress on VAB and R&D, as we spent much of our money on part unlocks, tooling, and the tracking station.  End of year program stat pictures are below.






Edited by Norcalplanner
Had an incorrect photo

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So 1954 is done, and I can't decide what phrase to use as a synopsis in the writeup.  Current contenders are:

Curse you, Agathorn!

My kingdom for a reliable engine...

Batting .500 would be great in baseball...

Push the button, range safety officer...


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3 minutes ago, KerbalKore said:

I would like your post but I’m out of likes

Feel free to indicate your preference in lieu of a like... :D

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Kerbal Administration for Big Overpowered Orbital Machines - 1954


Batting .500 would be great in baseball...


Quality control left a lot to be desired this year.  Hopefully we'll be able to move on to kerolox engines in the next year or two and have some more reliable rockets.

March 28, 1954 - Another Argus Sparrow E 3 is rolled out to the pad with a newly-unlocked tiny solar panel.  In a display of ill-considered hubris, it's decided to try and launch this craft into a sun synchronous orbit as well to complete two contracts at once.


Sadly, we'll never know if this craft could have completed both contracts at once (spoiler alert - it didn't have enough delta V for sun synchronous) since the RD-103 engine suffered a performance loss 50 seconds into the flight.


We kept the rocket going as long as we could to get more du from the upper stage engines.  The final stage peaked at 74 km before heading back down to a fiery end.

Result - Failure.


June 3, 1954 - Realizing that completing the sun synchronous orbit isn't an option, the Argus Sparrow E 4 is launched to simply complete the solar satellite contract with a standard eastward launch.  That deadline is fast approaching...


This time the AJ10-27 second stage failed after completing 2/3 of its burn.  The final stage didn't have enough delta V to get into orbit, and burned up over the Atlantic on reentry.

Result - Failure.


July 26, 1954 - The Argus Sparrow E 5 is rushed to completion, and launched a mere 17 days before the solar satellite deadline.  If this one doesn't make it, we'll fail the contract.


Staging went well, and all three engines performed their jobs.


Result - Success.  (Whew!)


September 22, 1954 - With the Geiger Muller counter unlocked, it's time to try and complete the Science Satellite contract.  This one is tougher not only because of the need for the science gear and some form of battery to last more than two hours, but the orbit itself has to be a minimum of 300 km x 1,500 km.  The Argus Sparrow E 6 is chosen for the job.


The launch goes well.  This version of the rocket had all the tanks stretched slightly for more delta V at the cost of a lower initial TWR.


Everything continues to go by the numbers...


Result - Success.  We would have had time for at least one more attempt if this one hadn't worked, but it's nice to have two successes in a row.


November 11, 1954 -  The Argus E 7, a stripped down version of the E 6, is launched to try and complete the sun synchronous orbit contract.


Extensive simulation dialed in a flight profile which would meet the orbit parameters without RCS.  Thankfully the launch went similarly to the final sim, achieving a final orbit of 345 x 663 km.


Result - Success.  There was a loss of thrust at the tail end of the XASR burn, but since that particular malfunction doesn't affect the rocket's delta V, it was still able to complete the mission.


December 25, 1954 - On a brisk Christmas day, the Argus Sparrow E 8 is launched to complete the Atmospheric Analysis Satellite contract.


Unfortunately, the RD-103 suffered a loss of performance failure 20 seconds after launch.  Since that failure mode reduces both thrust and Isp by half, the rocket's TWR dropped to around 1.  With a fully fueled rocket less than 6 km in altitude heading towards the coast, the range safety officer had no choice but to unlock the cover and push the big red button.

Result - Failure.  At least the area populace got to see some unexpected daytime fireworks as the rocket self-destructed.


1954 Year In Review - There were 6 launches, all uncrewed.  3 suffered major malfunctions which resulted in mission failure, and 1 had a minor malfunction but still completed the mission.  Not KABOOM's best showing so far, although we did live up to our namesake acronym with the Christmas day launch.  Program status and tech tree are shown below.






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So, if your wondering why I haven't done a yearly report for a little while, its because I have been dealing with moving in real life which hasn't given me much time to do stuff. I should be done moving and settled at my new location in around a week, so then I should be able to get back to my yearly reports :)

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Posted (edited)

Kerbal Administration for Big Overpowered Orbital Machines - 1955


Hello there, Kerolox!


This year was nothing but uncrewed satellite launches, and saw our first kerolox engines.

March 1, 1955 - The backup Argus Sparrow E 8 is erected on the launch pad, to again try to complete the Atmospheric Analysis Satellite contract.


Thankfully, this one made it to space with no failures in the RD-103.


Both of the upper stages performed as expected.  Contract complete.

Result - Success.


May 1, 1955 - A new upper stage is tried aboard the Argus Wren E 1, consisting of multiple AJ10-27s to allow for larger contract payloads.  This is also the first rocket featuring the newly unlocked Tank III.  The mission is the first navigation satellite.


Alas, the Argus Wren E 1 was a piece of junk, with multiple failures.  It barely made it out of the atmosphere.

Result - Failure.  We'll need to build something else to complete this contract.


June 29, 1955 - A new design, the Argus Kite E 1, is wheeled out to the pad to try and complete that same contract.  This features the newly unlocked AJ10-37 as the second stage.




The new engine, not known for its reliability, performs admirably, putting the satellite into a 373 x 1,485 km orbit.

Result - Success. 


August 22, 1955 - It's time for that big leap forward.  The first stage engine is swapped out for a newly-unlocked LR89 kerolox engine. (The LR79 is too wide for this tank diameter.)  The rocket is modified into a two-stage design to launch the first weather satellite.


Yes, I know the unshielded engine is horrible design.  Nevertheless, the new design performed well, putting the satellite into its precise orbit using the RCS thrusters for final adjustment.


That upper stage is starting to look like a real rocket.

Result - Success.


October 10, 1955 - A similar rocket, the Glorious Kite A 2, is wheeled out to complete an early weather satellite contract.


Everything worked the same as the previous flight.  I feel like we're starting to get into a groove.

Result - Success.


November 19, 1955 - The Glorious Kite A 2.5 is launched, with another early weather satellite contract served up.  We're making money and killing time while some more tech is unlocked.


Looking good, but the upper stage failed to ignite.  The AJ10-37's reputation is well-deserved.

Result - Failure.


December 30, 1955 - The Glorious Kite A 2 N60 is launched to complete a early navsat contract.


Everything performed nominally, and the contract was completed.

Result - Success.


1955 Year In Review - There were 7 missions this year, all unmanned.  2 resulted in failures.  There was more action on the contract and KSC improvement fronts, as we accepted the lunar flyby and lunar impact missions early in the year, then accepted the lunar orbit contract near the end of the year.  Most of the funds were used to order up Tracking Station 3 and Mission Control 2, so we'll finally have access to maneuver nodes (and thus have a chance at actually hitting the moon).  We'll likely need a 150-ton pad for the lunar orbit contract, so we'll have to order one of those as soon as we complete the first lunar contracts.  Screenshots with program status are below.






Edited by Norcalplanner
Spoiler weirdness

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So will others be posting reports anytime soon? I don't want to post reports too far ahead, and I hope to get in some good play sessions this upcoming holiday weekend.

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Posted (edited)

Ask ultimate steve, I’m focusing on the JSNQ race for a bit. Johnster is busy moving

Edited by KerbalKore

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I'm the furthest ahead rn, and I have played many years beyond that, so I also don't want to get too far ahead. Do what you want though. I might post 57 soon though.

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1 hour ago, Ultimate Steve said:

I'm the furthest ahead rn, and I have played many years beyond that, so I also don't want to get too far ahead. Do what you want though. I might post 57 soon though.

Okay, I'll see about getting at least two years done over the weekend so you won't be alone in posting 1957. :)

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Kerbal Administration for Big Overpowered Orbital Machines - 1956


We choose to send probes to the moon...


1956 was another year with nothing but unmanned launches.  Most stayed in LEO, but two went to visit our nearest neighbor.

February 9, 1956 - The year starts out with a whimper - the Glorious Kite A 3.5 attempts to complete an Early Weather Satellite contract, but the AJ10-37 upper stage fails to ignite.  Sadly, there are no photos of this flight.  Result - Failure.

March 20, 1956 - The Glorious Kite A 4.5 is launched to complete the same Early Weather Satellite contract, and this time things go much better.


Result - Success.


May 4, 1956 -  The Glorious Kite B 1 is launched, featuring upgraded engines on both stages (LR89-NA-3 and AJ10-42).  The contract is yet another early weather satellite contract.  This contract seems to offer the best funds for the amount of time and effort required to complete it.  The downsides are that you have to put the payload into a fairly precise orbit near 700 km, and you can only complete it 5 or so times before you have to move on to other contracts.


Result - Success.  This mission was as much about testing the new hardware and getting some du as it was completing the contract.


June 29, 1956 - Here we go.  Diana 4 is rolled out to the pad. (Diana 1 through 3 never made it past simulations.) Featuring the new engines and stretched tanks, this is heading for the moon to complete both flyby and impact contracts.


A gray color scheme is chosen in honor of the destination.  After getting to orbit, the TLI burn took place on the dark side of the planet.


The final stage is spin-stabilized and was set on a collision trajectory from LEO.


Approaching the moon on the way to a collision near the south pole, which occured on July 1, 1956.


Result - Success.  Much science was transmitted, and both the flyby and impact contracts were completed.


August 12, 1956 - The Diana 5, nearly identical to the Diana 4, is launched from Brownsville.  Another pair of lunar flyby and impact contracts are on tap.  Since the old gray scheme was difficult to pick out in space, this has an impactor painted white.


This time TLI took place in the daytime.


White definitely looks better.


Just before impact...


Result - Success.  Completing these four lunar contracts with these two missions results in a large boost in funds and science.


October 1, 1956 - Taking the white paint thing a bit too far, the Glorious Kite C 1 is launched to loft a 60 unit Early Navigation Satellite.  And we finally have real fairings!


Since the required orbit was nearly polar, mission planners added a magnetometer and additional batteries to obtain additional science.


Result - Success.  The Nav Sat was put into an 810 x 815 km orbit inclined at 70 degrees.


November 5, 1956 - Another Glorious Kite B 1 is launched to complete another early Weather Satellite.  Once again, we're making money while we wait for KSC upgrades and tech unlocks.  Sadly, this mission was undocumented.

Result - Success.


December 10, 1956 - A modestly improved rocket, the Glorious Kite C 3 is sent aloft to complete the last of the Early Weather Satellite contracts.  Here it is shortly after staging and fairing jettison.


Result - Success.  We're now done with those Early Weather Satellite contracts and will need to come up with a new favorite contract to grind funds.


1956 Year in Review - There were 8 missions, all unmanned, with 1 failure.  The highlight was the two missions to the moon, enabled by the first upgrades to the LR89 and AJ10 Early.  Unfortunately, there are no photographs documenting the program status at the end of the year.  Flight engineers were hard at work on the next design, and didn't pay as much attention to the calendar as they should have.  Here's a sneak peak at what they were working on...



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@Norcalplanner I've added your '52 to the spreadsheet, I'm a bit behind on that, though, I should hopefully update it soon, but I'm going to post my '57 now.

Notebook Space Program - 1957



Despite the rapid advancement of the KABOOM, the students of the NSP continued working merrily on and ever forwards. They were just a bunch of college students that probably should have been arrested, after all, this was already going much better than expected.

Merrily, indeed... Opus 4, a very important rocket, was rolled out to the launch pad sometime in either the first or second quarter, but due to an issue (which I forgot) it was rolled back to the VAB and modified. It was ready for its second launch attempt on May 4, 1957, Star Wars day (although Star Wars would not exist for another few decades unless something really bad happened).


Opus 4a was the NSP's first attempt at an orbital rocket. Tank II had been unlocked, and a larger pad built.


Everyone held their breath. The first stage showed no issues.


Stage two ignition and separation went well.


However, a few minutes into the mission, the second stage lost thrust (but thankfully not isp). The flight path was altered to compensate.


After stage two burned out, the rocket was aimed during the coast to apogee. The rocket was spun up, and the third stage was ignited.



And at long last, an (admittedly useless) satellite was launched into LEO by the NSP!


I'll say this much: I beat Sputnik!

Unfortunately, that's probably one of the last IRL milestones I'll beat.

Next up, time to launch a useful satellite. Opus 5 used a very similar vehicle to Opus 4a, but IIRC it had stretched tanks to increase its payload a little bit, allowing it to carry science experiments into a polar orbit to complete the polar contract and earn more science! It launched on July 16.


(Might be the wrong picture, not sure)


The rocket made it into a near polar orbit and returned science data from many biomes, allowing us to further our research.




So this is a partial failure. :(

Some other time... We'll unlock more experiments soon-ish, hopefully, so we should be launching something else into polar orbit to complete that contract sometime.

The next launch was on August 20, and it was Legend 8, which aimed to complete a lingering payload contract that I probably accepted because I was low on cash.



That launch was fairly uneventful and was a success. This will likely be the last standalone unmanned Legend mission.


The next launch was Opus 6 on December 11, which aimed to carry some experiments and a battery into a near equatorial orbit to get some science. It would have gone into a polar orbit but the mass of the battery meant that we couldn't.

However, the third stage shut down part of the way into its burn, and the fourth stage could not make up the deficiency, ending up about 700-ishm/s short.


The mission was declared a failure.



Three orbital launch attempts, all to varying degrees of success, as well as one relatively mundane suborbital payload launch.

Launches: 4. 2 success, 1 partial, 1 failure.


Good news. Egg and Statnik have finally gotten approval to undertake a manned spaceflight program using Legend-M hardware. However, the first manned flight will not take place for some time, yet.

Further small satellite launches will be made with incrementally improved versions of the Opus launcher, we are waiting (probably for years sadly) on the tech to properly make a larger vehicle.





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Kerbal Administration for Big Overpowered Orbital Machines - 1957


First unmanned lunar orbit and landing...


This year once again was all uncrewed launches, with a focus on missions beyond LEO.

March 20, 1957 - The Diana A 1, hinted at in my last mission report, is wheeled out to the launch pad.  This triple core design requires the 150-ton  pad, and features a central LR105 core with two LR89 boosters. 


An RD-0105 second stage puts the payload into LEO.


TLI took place on the dark side of the planet, powered by an AJ10-42.  The probe was outfitted with hydrazine propellant and the newly unlocked 1 kN thruster.


After capturing into an elliptical orbit, a plane change maneuver shifted the probe into a polar orbit for maximum science.  


After all available science had been gathered, the probe was deorbited to fulfill a lunar impact contract, as well as see just how short this design is on delta V if landing is being considered.

Result - Success.  The first lunar orbit mission and the third lunar impact are completed, and a bunch of science is unlocked.


May 29, 1957 - A slightly modified version of the Diana A 1 is launched to put a satellite into geosynchronous orbit.  With the unimaginative name of Geo A 1, the mission goes off without a hitch.


Result - Success.  The satellite puts itself into geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean, completing the contract.


July 6, 1957 - Another unimaginatively named craft, the Satellite Mk 2 2nd gen nav sat, is rolled out to the pad and launched.  The contract is the first second generation nav sat.


This new design is a combination of the 2.5m LR89 side booster plus the RD-0105 powered second stage, in an architecture called Courageous Komrade.  The Diana A 1 full booster configuration is, after the fact,  dubbed the Courageous Komrade Heavy.


With hydrazine thrusters unlocked, precise orbital insertions becomes much easier.

Result - Success.


August 15, 1957 - The Courageous Komrade lifter is put to use again, this time for the first communication satellite contract.  The design is nearly identical to the previous launch.


Result - Success.  In addition to earning funds and filling time while other technologies are being unlocked, these flights are continuing to gain du for the RD-0105 engine, which for some reason gains du very slowly.


October 20, 1957  - The Lunar Discovery Lander 3 is sent skyward. (Landers 1 and 2 were solely for testing.) Using a slightly upgraded Courageous Komrade lifter, this probe hopes to complete the second lunar orbit contract, and the first lunar landing contract.  The launch window is on the dark side of the planet, so the first image is of the TLI burn.


Everything goes according to plan, and the craft enters lunar orbit.  It heads down after reaching a part of the moon where there is both sunlight and comms.


We had to adjust the descent a bit due to a large crater in the way...


... but eventually made it down safe and sound.


Result - Success!  Both contracts are completed.


December 22, 1957 - There's time for one more lunar landing before the year is over.  Another lunar landing contract is accepted (we're now out of impact and orbit contracts) with a slightly upgraded rocket, the Lunar Discovery Lander 4, chosen to complete the task.  Once again launching in the dark, this newer version has two Castor SRBs for the first time, to increase the initial TWR off the pad from 1.2 to 1.5.  The goal is to land on the lunar surface with enough hydrazine remaining to complete one or two biome hops.  Here's a view of the upper stages about to start the TLI.


The craft has more fuel as it approaches the moon and heads down.




We've landed with approximately 1 km/s left in the tank.  An effort to head at what looks like another biome in map view is successful, but the landing is botched somewhat.


Thankfully the antenna wasn't damaged in this low-speed tipover after landing.

Result - Success.  One contract with two biomes checked off.  With this extra capability, we should be able to bring more and heavier science gear in the short term, and inch closer to a lunar lander return in the long term.


1957 Year in Review - There were 6 launches this year, all uncrewed.  For the first time in this career, all the missions were successful with no failures.  There were also more missions beyond LEO than in LEO (1 Geo and 3 lunar vs. 2 nav and comm sats).  Things are going along fairly well, although the KSC upgrade costs are beginning to ramp up.  Here are shots of the status of the program.






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