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Space Race Season 2 - RP-1


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The farthest I had ever gotten previously was a manned lunar flyby, so a big thanks to @Ultimate Steve for the race to provide the motivation to go as far as I did.

And for anyone interested in RP-1, I'd recommend checking out the RP-1 wiki:

https://github.com/KSP-RO/RP-0/wiki

I contributed to it a few months ago, but it's been reorganized, added to and expanded on by a number of others since then.

Edited by Norcalplanner
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Notebook Space Program - 1966

sLRIRri.png

Just Don't Read The Instructions!

Spoiler

To be honest, this was a pretty disappointing year where very little happened. There were only two launches.

The first was Halo 2, launched on April 9. Its goal was to launch a payload into Geostationary orbit.

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It used a standard Fortissimo Block II for the job.

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However, part of the way through the second stage burn, the engine shut down. The third stage had enough margin to make up the deficiency, but only one ignition. Geostationary Transfer Orbit was reached but at the wrong inclination.

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The proper apogee was not achieved, but at apogee the solid kick motor was still fired.

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And then, the probe fixed its orbit, even having some fuel to spare!

Unfortunately, well... I forgot to read the instructions.

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The launch required at least 8 units of ComSat payload.

Grrrrrrr. Declared a failure.

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On August 28, a near identical vehicle called Halo 3 with the new Comsat payload was launched.

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This time, everything worked pretty well, and now we have completed the GEO sat contract!

 

The reason that there wasn't a third launch this year is that we also built a Mars probe during this time. It finished, but the window isn't until next year. 1967 will be significantly busier.

 

Summary:

Trying to launch a GEO commsat. Despite a launch vehicle failure, one made GEO but without its payload for... reasons. The second mission succeeded.

Launches: 2. 1 success, 0 partial, 1 failure.

Next year we will hopefully launch probes in the available transfer windows, complete more satellite contracts for cash, and and maybe a few other pretty cool things.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ultimate Steve
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Notebook Space Program - 1967

sLRIRri.png

FINALLY SOME APPRECIABLE PROGRESS!!!

Spoiler

On January 29, the first launch of the year happened. It was Egg 2, designed to be a Mars flyby.

Learning from the previous failure of Egg 1, the engineers applied the most scientific fix they could: Blue fairings.

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If you don't remember, blue nose cones have given us luck in the past, throughout the Legend and Pencil programs.

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And now, apparently, the Egg program! Egg 2 successfully launched on a trajectory that would take it to Mars.

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The second launch of t he year, on April 13, was Halo 4, launching on a Forte launch vehicle. Its mission was to complete the "First Sun Synchronous Orbit Sat" contract.

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It did so with flying colors! The rocket was also in a two stage configuration, so there was less that could go wrong.

Unfortunately the launch date was lost to history, but likely sometime between April and July, Egg 3 was launched, a near copy of Egg 2, destined for Venus.

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Its launch was also successful!

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The date is unfortunately lost, but somewhere in there, Egg 2 performed a successful science gathering flyby and re-entry into Mars. We didn't quite mean to not survive entry though I think, so the mission was classed as a partial success.

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On July 20, the Amber 1 mission was launched on board a Forte. Its mission was go go into orbit and then return safely to Earth, both to complete a contract, and to test out brand new heat shield technology, which would be critical for any manned space mission.

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The fairing shook off later.

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The tiny probe re-entered an orbit or a few later.

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The parachutes successfully landed Amber 1 back on Earth!

MAJOR problem.

We accepted the Venus flyby contract in time for the Egg 1 launch but it didn't work. Egg 3 is set to fly by Venus 10 days after the contract ending. A failure would be alright financially, but, well... The reputation penalty is more reputation than we have ever earned, which will put us so far in the negative that we won't be able to accept any contracts other than the basics.

We also just accepted a big contract that we need more money to complete because we spent the advance on upgrades.

Yaaaay

Fortunately, the probe was redirected to arrive 10+ days earlier.

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Because of this, however, it didn't have enough margin to become an orbiter, which it just barely had before. Welp. There's not much that can be gained from an elliptically orbiting satellite anyway.

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*SALUTES*

The science mission was pretty successful though.

Also we used that massive contract advance to finally start upgrading the VAB so we can build two things at once.

 

So...

Some eggheads thought long and hard about the Statnik program, new technology, and control, and made a shocking conclusion: It was just barely possible to land a science probe on the Moon with current technology. The main bottleneck is that avionics have a minimum mass which is still like 50 kilograms (to control like 250kg of craft) which really is a bother.

The highly ambitious Statnik 9 mission launched on December 18 on board a new rocket design, the Fortissimo +4.

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Basically, it was a standard Fortissimo augmented with four new solid rocket boosters.

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The launch into orbit was done by the 3 cores, 4 boosters, and second stage. Trans Lunar Injection was done with the third stage. Using the third stage avionics, the remaining package was pointed in the right direction to enter Lunar orbit, spin stabilized, and detached.

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As there was no avionics control until the final stage, the landing site was pretty random. The periapsis was sadly high leading to inefficiencies. The first SRB kick stage fired, bringing the probe into Lunar orbit. If the orbit had been equatorial, we would have waited for a better landing site, but if we wait then the acceleration vector will drift from prograde by one revolution each month, so really our only real option was to de-orbit now.

The second SRB fired, sending the probe on a very steep trajectory to the surface.

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There wasn't even enough room in the mass budget for landing legs!

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Somehow, Statnik 9 made it intact to the Lunar surface!

And if you want to know how close it was... I kid you not... Mostly due to a lot of babying the final approach...

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Literally one meter per second was left in the tanks.

The landing was on December 23, and the scientific mission was a success! The crews all celebrated over Christmas, and the first astronaut class made a trip back to the space center for another celebration.

Tech tree at the end of 1967:

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Summary:

2 interplanetary probes (and 2 flybys!), 2 low orbit missions, and 1 lunar landing! A very eventful year indeed! Also the VAB upgrade was started. All of the missions were pretty successful as well!

Launches: 5. 4 success, 1 partial, 0 failure! If you count the Venus flyby as successful. It could have orbited, but that was unexpected, and it still fulfilled its primary mission. This was an insanely successful year!

In addition, we launched Fortissimo 3 times and Forte twice without any mission ending failures, and maybe no engine failures at all! A very good sign for Man rating.

And that contract we accepted early for the large bonus? The Manned LEO contract.

Astronaut Class 2 is now accepting applications, and a few astronauts will be accepted into the program next year.

 

 

 

 

 

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Just now, Norcalplanner said:

Great year!  I love seeing how your launch vehicles evolve over time.

Thank you!

Let's see... We've got Fortissimo Block 1, Forte Block 1 which flew like once, Fortissimo and Forte Block II (and all of the various tank stretches, shrinks, and stage configurations thereof) and then Fortissimo +4. I think it will be a while before we see a Block III but it could definitely come!

The next launch vehicle development will likely be a larger rocket that will allow me to send probes to more planets and launch bigger things into space. There's only so much you can do with a 3 ton launcher!

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  • 1 month later...

Notebook Space Program - 1968

sLRIRri.png

Up, down, up, down...

Spoiler

This was a very busy year by our standards. The first launch was on February 5, which was Amber 2, another re-entry test launched on a Forte. Like the first one, it was successful.

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Next up, we had a milestone. We have hired our second astronaut class, which will be trained to pilot our manned orbit program: Starbright.

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Arthur, Elaine, Brian, and Sergei will embark on an intense training program.

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The first step in this training program was general flying around in Bansai 2. Bansai 2 was more or less identical to Bansai 1, but several model years newer. Bansai 2 M1 flew on April 10 with Elaine Martinez as the pilot. Once it was confirmed that the plane worked, it landed and was refueled.

Brian, Arthur, and Sergei boarded this time, and on the same day M2 flew... This mission would test the range of the Bansai design. The crew would fly it to the closest island, roughly south of the space center, land, take samples of local cuisine, and fly back without refueling.

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The flight there progressed without any major problems until landing. The brakes worked fairly weirdly, and might have had something to do with the non-runway surface, but the plane flipped over on landing.

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The craft was recovered. No major damage was done. The mission was classed as a partial success.

The food was delicious though.

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Another major milestone - on April 26, the Starbright capsule underwent a pad abort test. The most important design feature of the capsule was the blue nose cone (unfortunately we couldn't paint the launch tower blue too).

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It was successful! And unlike a major company that rhymes with "Rowing," all of our parachutes successfully deployed.

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On June 4, Amber 3, yet another re-entry test, was launched, again on a Forte.

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Unfortunately, before it got up to the speeds required for the contract, the second stage experienced an ignition failure. The mission was declared a failure, although the capsule was recovered.

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Back to astronaut training. A bunch of old Legend-M stages had been fished out of the sea and refurbished, and new capsules and boosters had been added. Instead of doing a naming scheme that made sense, well, they just didn't.

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Legend 13/7A was launched on June 20 with Elaine Martinez as the pilot. It was named that because it was the first flight of the Legend 13 booster and the second flight of the Legend 7 capsule. The wings had been moved slightly backwards for a more stable landing platform.

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Elaine reached an altitude of 172 kilometers going straight up. The mission planners were being cautious with re-entry this early on. A straight up trajectory would allow easy recovery, but with more g-forces. Lowering the apogee reduced these forces.

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Elaine's entry peaked at 15.5 g forces, and she passed out. Once she regained consciousness, she flew around to a safe landing at the space center.

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The craft was recovered in one piece (standard procedure now) and was refurbished for another mission.

It gets really jumbled from here and most of the pictures are the same so I'll just list flights and achievements.

On July 20, Legend 14/10A (reusing an old booster with a new capsule) was launched with Arthur Vargas as the pilot. It reached 163.9 kilometers, and Arthur, the daredevil that he was, tried to do an entry without passing out. It was barely successful. He maintained consciousness, experiencing a maximum g force of 9.3. His pull up maneuver was very, very close, he only leveled out at 1.7 kilometers above the ocean. A very successful mission!

On August 9, Legend 13A/7B launched with Sergei Larov on board. It reached 174.1km and was a success.

On August 18, Legend 14A/10B launched with Brian Ryan on board. The engine shut down just after ignition, leaving the craft on the ground. This led to major questions about how many times the engine could reasonably expect to be fired.

On August 24, Legend 13B/7C launched, again with Brian Ryan. This time, the engine worked and Brian reached 171.5km. He did not pass out either, the second time in history!

At this point, all four of the new recruits had completed one spaceflight, four successes for five attempts and no fatalities. The two "new" Legend-M vehicles were inspected some more and a hiatus of Legend flights began.

 

Another major milestone happened on October 21: Starbright 1.

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This was an all-up test flight of the Starbright system, but without anyone on board. It would test behavior of the capsule in space, during re-entry, and during landing.

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The Fortissimo booster performed admirably. This particular Fortissimo only had one upper stage instead of the usual two.

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Shortly after ignition of the final stage, the launch escape system is jettisoned.

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The service module, complete with plenty of room for future expansion, is tested.

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After a few orbits, the capsule is commanded to de-orbit.

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One major problem was found - during re-entry, the antenna is exposed to the air stream, making the capsule want to turn, negating the effectiveness of the lifting body. It will be moved to the shielded side of the capsule for future flights.

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The capsule was successfully recovered!

Next up, more Legend-M flights. The scientists wanted to further characterize how well engines and airframes would hold up over several flights. The two vehicles would be flown until an engine broke.

November 11 - Legend 14B/10C flew with Elaine Martinez. The flight ended with 12 seconds of MTBF left on the engine and reached 179.7km.

Also November 11 - Legend 13C/7D flew with Arthur Vargas. It reached 228km, burning the engine longer than previous flights.

December 3 - Legend 13D/7E flew with Elaine. It reached 241.6km.

Conclusion - Either TestFlight calculates each engine as new even if the craft is reused and displays the wrong MTBF number, or I'm getting incredibly lucky. Either way, the engineers decided to get creative with flight profiles. On December 10, Arthur flew Legend 14C/10D on a unique mission - He would launch and loop around the island flying relatively low, definitely not into space.

However, the craft proved to be far less maneuverable than expected, especially with the engine constantly pushing the craft faster and faster. Not even a quarter of the way into the first loop, the craft was travelling way too fast and broke up.

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Alarmingly, the decoupler did not fire when the escape system was triggered. This was incredibly concerning. It had likely been incorrectly set up for all of the previous flights, including Bryan Ryan's pad engine shutdown. If that engine had shut down a second or two into flight, Brian would likely have not survived crashing down onto the launch pad.

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The decoupler did end up burning off towards the end of the burn, so maybe a pad abort would have been possible, but there may not have been enough time for the parachutes to deploy.

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Arthur Vargas survived the flight. At this point, partially due to the fact that only one vehicle remained, the Legend-M program was suspended again over safety concerns. Some people wanted to fund a next generation suborbital trainer that could land and take off like a plane, and would feature RCS for use in space. However, making something that is aerodynamically stable at the necessary regimes is proving difficult. No replacement has been funded beyond studies.

No tech tree pic sadly.

 

Summary:

Several astronaut training flights, suborbital mission experiments, 2 re-entry experiments, and a pad abort test and flight test of Starbright!

Launches: 15! 11 Successes, 1 partial, 3 failures. Technically two were airplane flights and one didn't really leave the launch clamps, but even then it is still 12 missions!

Starbright 2 is currently under construction and will hopefully take one astronaut to orbit early next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

RP-1 has undergone a lot of changes since the race occurred.  There's a large focus on X-planes now in the early game, enabled by the new airlaunch mechanic which simulates being dropped from an unseen carrier aircraft.  Cockpits now have more realistic pressure limits, so a deathstick (an X-1 cockpit on an A-4) will now kill a pilot above 30 km.  The liquid fluorine [shudder] variant of the Agena engine is in the game.  A lot of changes to KCT formulas, Kerbalism integration, RealAntennas, new RO mods (such as ROSolar), revamped procedural parts... the list goes on and on.  Definitely check it out if you're at all interested in career in RSS/RO.

I'd recommend starting with the wiki, which has continued to be polished: https://github.com/KSP-RO/RP-0/wiki

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22 hours ago, Norcalplanner said:

Definitely check it out if you're at all interested in career in RSS/RO.

I'm thinking of starting a Space Race type career,  but it was going to be with KSRSS. I've run into technical problems with KCT though. 

EDIT: Technical problems solved! I'm almost to orbit.

Edited by LittleBitMore
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It turns out I'm not very motivated to play a space race of my own. Instead, I like to catalogue results and list them on my spreadsheet.

The one I have for this space race currently has 160 listed events, each with a vessel description, flight description, purpose description, all that stuff. It keeps track of records somewhat well, and I think I'm more addicted to this than I would ever be to creating a space race or playing it.

I wish this was still active, or if something like it was.

ACTUALLY, I have two ideas: one is "hey @Norcalplanner, can you get a man on Phobos and Deimos before @Ultimate Steve can get a man on the Moon?" and the other is creating a new space race (except, having never played RP-1, Realism Overhaul, or any of that stuff, I have no idea how it would go and how I would manage it).

What do you guys think?

Edited by LittleBitMore
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21 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:

It turns out I'm not very motivated to play a space race of my own. Instead, I like to catalogue results and list them on my spreadsheet.

The one I have for this space race currently has 160 listed events, each with a vessel description, flight description, purpose description, all that stuff. It keeps track of records somewhat well, and I think I'm more addicted to this than I would ever be to creating a space race or playing it.

I wish this was still active, or if something like it was.

ACTUALLY, I have two ideas: one is "hey @Norcalplanner, can you get a man on Phobos and Deimos before @Ultimate Steve can get a man on the Moon?" and the other is creating a new space race (except, having never played RP-1, Realism Overhaul, or any of that stuff, I have no idea how it would go and how I would manage it).

What do you guys think?

I've got a bit too much on my plate at the moment but maybe eventually.

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@LittleBitMore If you're interested, you can get started in a currently ongoing RP-1 space race. DM me for more details. Offer is open to anybody else too, DM me for info.

That said, I agree. I think after the RP-1 devs finish cooking up some more awesome changes to the career structure, another space race would be just the thing to celebrate the newly-released 1.7.3 version of RP-1.

Edited by nepphhh
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2 minutes ago, nepphhh said:

If you're interested, you can get started in a currently ongoing RP-1 space race.

Sadly, I don't think I can play RP-1 as well as you guys can. I'm not dedicated enough for space races, and I've never tried RP-1-- I'd be there as either the comic relief or the person who's so far behind even that one dude who got a satellite in 1965 can feel good about himself, because at least he didn't wait until 1980. I don't think either of these positions suit me.

But, if you invite me to the mission report, I'll see what I can do to catalog it, to see which records were beat when and things like that.

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1 hour ago, LittleBitMore said:

It turns out I'm not very motivated to play a space race of my own. Instead, I like to catalogue results and list them on my spreadsheet.

The one I have for this space race currently has 160 listed events, each with a vessel description, flight description, purpose description, all that stuff. It keeps track of records somewhat well, and I think I'm more addicted to this than I would ever be to creating a space race or playing it.

I wish this was still active, or if something like it was.

ACTUALLY, I have two ideas: one is "hey @Norcalplanner, can you get a man on Phobos and Deimos before @Ultimate Steve can get a man on the Moon?" and the other is creating a new space race (except, having never played RP-1, Realism Overhaul, or any of that stuff, I have no idea how it would go and how I would manage it).

What do you guys think?

@LittleBitMore I've actually made very good progress in a newer RP-1 career in the interim, having just landed two Kerbals on the Moon for the first time in April, 1967.  The newer version of RP-1 has a lot of changes, and I also made the switch to RealAntennas and Kerbalism for this newer career.  This newer one is also very well set up for playing after Apollo, whereas the previous career was laser focused on the manned lunar landing with no thought given to what would come afterward.

All that said, I must respectfully decline your proposal.  First, there have been so many improvements in RP-1 that I'd hate to go backwards to the way things used to be.  Second, my KSP time is limited so I have to prioritize.  Third and lastly, there's a long-standing tradition/rule/protocol requiring those who propose a challenge to post their own results first showing that it can indeed be done.  So show me your RP-1 chops and what you can do, and then we'll talk. ;)

I would be interested in seeing that spreadsheet if you're agreeable, as game balance in RP-1 is a never-ending quest and well-organized data is very much appreciated.  @pap1723 has a pretty epic spreadsheet going on for his current career, but I'm not sure how much he wants to share it so I'll leave that decision to him.

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15 minutes ago, Norcalplanner said:

First, there have been so many improvements in RP-1 that I'd hate to go backwards to the way things used to be.  Second, my KSP time is limited so I have to prioritize.

I respect these reasons, and I can see why you decline.

15 minutes ago, Norcalplanner said:

Third and lastly, there's a long-standing tradition/rule/protocol requiring those who propose a challenge to post their own results first showing that it can indeed be done.  So show me your RP-1 chops and what you can do, and then we'll talk.

Ok, look, I know you're correct, but I find this condescending. I don't know if you meant this to be condescending, but it felt to me as if it were.

I don't know whether landing on Phobos and Deimos is possible, and I can't actually test this (I just set up my perfect KSRSS install, and I'm also really bad at RSS), so your condescendingness was well placed, but I do know a lot of people have done a lot of amazing things in RSS, RO, and RP-1. Some people have landed on Mars. Some have landed on Mars with a man. Some have landed on Pluto. One person landed on Pluto and all 5 of its moons with 3 men in the early days of RSS and related mods.

I really can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure it can be done. I think it's about as big of a step up from a Moon landing that a Gilly landing is from a Mun landing. It should be really simple for someone as good at KSP as you.

Plus, this is a mission report, not a challenge.

I'm sorry for ranting, but I think my points are fair ones.

15 minutes ago, Norcalplanner said:

I would be interested in seeing that spreadsheet if you're agreeable

I'm halfway through page 6 of the post, and I'm about to go to bed. It should probably be done within the next week, and if I'm lucky, before the weekend.

Edited by LittleBitMore
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@LittleBitMore Please rest assured that I did not intend to be condescending in any way.  Sometimes I'm not the best at expressing my thoughts via forum posts.  And re-reading what I wrote, I think I probably would have reacted the same way. :) 

I know that what you ask is possible, but it is a large time commitment to do something like that.  And it may very well end up happening in my current career, which I intend to play for some time to come - I've already been reading way too much about ETS designs and RL MLV studies.  Here's some photos of what I've been up to, including the recent manned lunar landing mission, and that album will continue to be updated as the career progresses: https://imgur.com/a/SS442Q4

All this is a very roundabout way of saying... When you grow tired of KSRSS, please consider giving RP-1 a shot.  I think you may like it. ;)

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12 hours ago, Norcalplanner said:

@LittleBitMore Please rest assured that I did not intend to be condescending in any way.  Sometimes I'm not the best at expressing my thoughts via forum posts.  And re-reading what I wrote, I think I probably would have reacted the same way. :) 

Ah yes, I am the same way. Good luck with the new series!

 

And is there any chance I could ask for a reboot/revival/new KABOOM Chronicle?

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