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The Orbits of CLOUD-ONE Space Station


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Well I'm cooped up in quarantine, and I've been playing KSP in my down time. I've decided to do something rather more ambitious than usual, since I've got time to see it through. I'm building a space station to ship off to Jool, and it's called CLOUD ONE. It'll have landers of all sorts, miniature probes, "droids", and housing for 80 Kerbals on top of a huge NTR-propelled booster stage. I may as well write silly stuff about its travels to share with you all.

Here's some pictures as I was beginning assembly of the hab section yesterday.

https://imgur.com/a/zzyfT5d

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Today's tribulations...

https://imgur.com/a/TFlTAJQ

I have some recurring issues with the solar panels being on only one side...also there is only one docking port on the hab sections, so I will need to deal with that when the thing is fully put together. And parts of the station fly around freely, making it difficult to gather them up...

I made a compromise between single-launch and orbital assembly by launching nine sections in one booster, that all still have to be maneuvered around and docked.

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Just one more to go! Then I can dock to the propulsion component, although I don't have much monopropellant left and that could be a problem

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Habitation section assembled!

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And CLOUD ONE is assembled!

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Next things to do will be to tack on a bunch of landers and other fun things, then I'll be able to stuff it full of Kerbals and head to Jool!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another exercize  exercize excersize exersize ecsersize exercise in overzealous orbital maneuvering today as the first crew of CLOUD ONE were finally launched in two different landers on one lifter! The two landers will make their way to the space station and dock individually, and the twenty Kerbals will make preparations for the jump to Duna. Yes, I said Duna! 

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Due to the fact that we are literally scraping the bottom of the fund barrel (which is quite real, it's an old oxygen tank where we dump our money), there isn't enough money to launch any more fun stuff to attach to CLOUD ONE just yet. HOWEVER, we did manage to scrape up enough cash to throw those two very capable landers on there (though the orientation control system has proven to require regular whacks to keep working...) and we are going to fly it to Duna to cash out on a few old bets. That should net enough new Funds to launch some more parts to the station, including some new stuff that I've decided might be necessary. Here's what we're planning on shipping to Jool on this thing:

Propulsion Section A cluster of nuclear rockets and a few huge fuel tanks. This will get our rocket going like a train! (That means slow acceleration but fast speed.)
Cool Truss

Trusses make any space station look cool. These trusses have lots of radio dishes on them, which looks super cool. Engineers also added that besides being cool, they also provide communications for the station which is nice. The communications also make lots of really cool green lines in the map consoles.

The truss also has docking ports so we can add more things onto the station later!

Habitation Section The habitation section consists of a ring in four sections and a core section. It has space for 80 Kerbals and there is a pool table.
Cargo Landers These cool landers are also very useful. They have docking ports on the bottom, which means they can carry big stuff like base sections down to a moon or planet's surface. They have lots of delta-V on their own and can take up to 10 Kerbals on a ride.
Big Lander The Big Lander's design is not fully finalized yet, but it is needed for landing on big worlds like Tylo and maybe Laythe. It will go near the back of CLOUD ONE.
Airplanes? Maybe a space plane would be a better lander for Laythe. It's hard to make one that can transport more than a dime, though, so we might stick to stick ships.
Tiny Probes Tiny Probes can do lots of useful stuff. There are already a lot of probes on the station that are used for moving modules around. Other probes might have science equipment to land on moons remotely, small comms relays, and big ion engines and claws for moving asteroids around.
Convert-O-Tron It would be wise to have a way of manufacturing fuel in space. I want to add this capability to CLOUD ONE, but it might not happen right away. It might have to be shipped to Jool on a future flight.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

https://imgur.com/a/4QyHrAv

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Jebediah and Valentina Kerman were the commanders of Landers 1 and 2 for the approach to CLOUD ONE. A glitch in the navigation computers caused both landers' rendezvous to be delayed by one orbit or so, but luckily the folks at Mission Control were able to resolve the issue permanently - if it had happened while landing on or lifting off from some planetary surface it might have cost the lives of the crew...Luckily it was a non-life-threatening issue at the time, though it was still a critical one.

Now CLOUD ONE is fully prepared for its maiden voyage to Duna, where its crew of twenty will live quite comfortably inside their roomy space station. The crew is currently taking their luggage from the landers and moving in to their quarters in the ring, while the commanders are powering up the station and conducting system checks and calibrations. After this process is complete, CLOUD ONE will set a course and fire up its engines for interplanetary flight...

https://imgur.com/a/2nSiazu

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Final preparations are complete. CLOUD ONE is geared for interplanetary travel. Off we go!

The burn went smoothly, although it did take a long time. The stock deltaV counter is delusional:

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The spacecraft could be seen from the KSC in the evening, and everyone was there to wave goodbye. There was much snacking and merrymaking as CLOUD ONE departed its native planet.

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Now it's off to Duna...

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https://imgur.com/a/pcWauHz

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On the path to Duna, much progress has been made, the Kerbals have busied themselves with a few interesting science experiments alongside the reduced-gravity table tennis and pool games, and have sent back some rather intriguing findings about the gelatinous properties of Mystery Goo, among other things. A few minor correction burns were performed early in the flight, and the crew has calculated that they will have plenty of fuel to conduct deceleration burns upon arrival at Duna without needing to test the sturdiness of the station in an aerobrake. We are about 100 days out from arrival at Duna, and the Kerbals are quite excited.

https://imgur.com/a/2s8DS9i

Edited by cubinator
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7 minutes ago, cubinator said:

On the path to Duna, much progress has been made, the Kerbals have busied themselves with a few interesting science experiments alongside the reduced-gravity table tennis and pool games, and have sent back some rather intriguing findings about the gelatinous properties of Mystery Goo, among other things. A few minor correction burns were performed early in the flight, and the crew has calculated that they will have plenty of fuel to conduct deceleration burns upon arrival at Duna without needing to test the sturdiness of the station in an aerobrake. We are about 100 days out from arrival at Duna, and the Kerbals are quite excited.

https://imgur.com/a/pcWauHz

The URL is the same as in your previous post. Is this intended or did you want to show off something else?

Nice station btw :)

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3 minutes ago, jost said:

The URL is the same as in your previous post. Is this intended or did you want to show off something else?

Nice station btw :)

No, I had a different set I was going for...I'll fix it soon. Thanks!

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ARRIVAL AT DUNA!

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CLOUD ONE has finally reached its very first destination - the planet Duna. After gathering some science data on approach and during a near pass of Duna's singular moon Ike, the station conducted a deceleration burn of its ten nuclear-thermal rockets which placed it in an elliptical orbit close to Duna. Bill Kerman estimates that it will take about 1300 m/s for a lander to lift off and return to the station from this orbit - with the landing taking up an inconsequential part of that budget:

"We have a chart of estimated burn requirements between each destination - we know roughly how much delta-V we need to perform certain maneuvers, and by measuring how much fuel mass we have left we can calculate how much of that budget we can spare for burns to go to new destinations. Whether we can land on Duna from where we are, or whether we can move the station to Ike for a while. Right now we think the landers are perfectly capable of doing one landing on Duna and one on Ike. It's not enough to explore the whole planet, but this is just the beginning of what this station can do!"

CLOUD ONE will continue analyzing science experiments in orbit of Duna, and the crew will begin to prepare the landers for their trips to the surface. 

https://imgur.com/a/KweC1kB

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BOOTS ON DUNA!

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What a ride! The seven-Kerbal crew of CLOUD ONE's Lander 1 detached from the station and made their descent to Duna's surface today and are taking their first steps on the sandy red surface as we speak.

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Megvey Kerman placed the first footprint, radioing the charismatic message, "Wheeee!" as she jumped off the nose of the ship and onto the sand. In the first minutes of fiddling about with the sand, the crew reported that "It kind of sticks if you get really deep" and "might be worth trying to build a sand castle. Where'd we stick the buckets?". We will excitedly wait for the publications that result from this experimentation.

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BOOTS ON IKE PUT MONEY IN THE TANK!

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Lander 2 separated from CLOUD ONE early in the morning, although the station itself has little sense of the passage of time beyond seconds elapsed...Now that landers have arrived at Duna and its one moon, the crew on the station has clocks for the local times for their friends on both Duna and Ike, as well as the KSC local time. Lander 2's transfer to Ike was achieved with a small burn from the station's elliptical orbit, and capture was similarly smooth. The landing on the small, airless moon was a perfect descent capped by a light touchdown on the top of a mountain ridge. An eclipse engulfed the landing site just minutes after the first steps were taken, and the site was appropriately named 'ECLIPSE' to commemorate. Now all tasks for the Duna system which the space program has been contracted to accomplish have been completed, and fund levels have been restored to sufficient amounts to develop and launch new components to CLOUD ONE when it returns to Kerbin at the next Hohmann transfer window. At the moment, findings from scribbles discovered on a napkin left in the engineers' cafeteria suggest a large apparatus for converting asteroid regolith into fuel as the primary module to be added to the station, while another engineer said they were working on a new type of engine that could be very useful on probes launched from the station. 

Meanwhile, research on the Duna sand castle situation is progressing, with the astronauts obtaining more information about the properties of the sand. They have thus far determined that the sand appears to be "coarse, rough, and irritating" and that "it get's everywhere". These milestones will progress research towards the perfect Dunan sand castle in record time!

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CLOUD ONE READIES ITSELF FOR RETURN TO KERBIN

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"Time...Dr. Kerman?

Is it really that...time...again? Hm."

CLOUD ONE has spent a long time orbiting Duna. Its crew have landed in one place on Duna, and in two places on Ike. They have uncovered various interesting tidbits of information about the systems, and have now done just about all they could do with the limited capabilities of the not yet fully operational space station. The lander crews will now pack up their things and lift off of their respective planets to reconvene at the orbiting outpost...

https://imgur.com/a/Ipk2s1l

When CLOUD ONE arrives back at Kerbin, it will be outfitted with a full suite of modules that will allow it to perform as a hub for a full exploration of the Jool system.

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  • 4 weeks later...

CLOUD-ONE IS HOME!

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https://imgur.com/a/ux7eqZc

After its first interplanetary stint, CLOUD-ONE has returned to Kerbin victorious. It has proven to be a capable space station even in its very first iteration, and yet there is much more to be added to the station now that it is back home that will allow it to carry out almost any mission conceivable...

...at about 1 fps but still.

My next steps will be to outfit the station with more landers and ships, more probes, more fuel, and asteroid mining equipment.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I worked on a RAPIER space-jet today, it gets to orbit very easily, but struggles with thermal issues during reentry. Maybe I just need a shallower profile...Anyway, I think it will make for an excellent surface-to-orbit ferry on Laythe. I also have a giant ISRU section I've designed to be attached to the station. Hopefully there are asteroids around Jool, or else I'll have to balance the station over Bop or Pol! (Or just that section, actually, it really should function just fine as its own ship.)

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SPACE STATION WILL MINE ASTEROIDS, CARRY TOURISTS

The veritable space station CLOUD ONE has been outfitted with a new, giant module at its rear, which consists of a set of mechanisms and drills that will allow it to attach itself to an asteroid and refine rocket fuel from the material it digs up. This device, colloquially known as the Convert-O-Tron, will allow the station to operate in orbit throughout the solar system indefinitely - it will be capable of travel between any of the planets using its massive fuel reserves and cluster of efficient nuclear-thermal rockets.

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It has also been revealed that a number of tourists have signed up to be launched into orbit and flown to Jool on CLOUD ONE. The exact circumstances are unknown to the public beyond that fact, but whoever these tourists are must be very extraordinary people to be able to take a trip such as this. There's no telling what sort of adventures may await CLOUD-ONE in the Jool system....

Next to be launched to the station are two small scientific landers, hitching a ride on the station and departing once the crew reaches Jool to explore the local neighborhood. Another rumor has been circulating that the experimental plane seen taking off from KSC and pitching skyward steeply last week are part of a project for a single-stage space plane which may be incorporated into CLOUD-ONE, possibly as a lander for the atmospheric moon of Jool.

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After one last test flight of the passenger space plane, I think it's ready to go to Laythe!

https://imgur.com/a/BVKwfI8

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It only fits on the station in this awkward orientation right now, so I think I'll launch a short tube section to help with that. 

I wanted to see how the plane would perform doing a landing with full tanks, so I used some fuel from the station to send it home with.

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This plane is a gentle glider.

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All the way down!

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The next step is to launch the probes and the docking tube for this plane. Then, I'll need to launch a very large quantity of fuel into orbit to refill the station's reserves for its next flight...Or maybe I can just take it to a suitable near-Kerbin asteroid...

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  • 2 weeks later...

JUICE!

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A refueling vessel has been attached to CLOUD ONE to add some juice to the tanks...and by juice we do mean juice. See the tanks? They're orange. It's powered by orange juice. We tried to cover it up with white insulation but we knew we couldn't keep the secret forever. Once the tank is mostly empty we'll detach it with just enough fuel to deorbit itself, and let it parachute back to Kerbin, saving a few bucks that we can use to buy some more oranges. Then we'll do it all again, and again several more times. I don't know if we can afford to fill the entire reservoir...but that's what the asteroid muncher is for! We'll be off to Jool as soon as the planets align!

Meanwhile, various pilots have been taking joyrides in the new spaceplane, which turned out to be quite versatile. It can take a handful of Kerbals on a long trip, or a fast trip, or both. Maybe some other time we can make a bigger plane that can move some cargo.

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Refueling Ops

"CLOUD ONE successfully completed another refueling mission with the Mega-Stage; the vehicle performed nominally with an observation noted at the very end of the flight involving the high-speed impact of the stage into the sea."

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Edited by cubinator
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Mission-Critical

A Mega-Stage 2 Episode 1 was launched to CLOUD-ONE  for another refueling operation. As CLOUD-ONE had already been fully fueled in the RCS monopropellant department, it was decided that the propellant transfer stage would not require the large RCS tank from previous stages, and it was omitted. However, this resulted in the stage not having any RCS fuel to use in its own docking maneuvers - this error was realized halfway to the station. No matter, Mission Control said, we will just align the docking orientation and do the translation maneuvers with CLOUD-ONE. This did not go well because of the off-center location of CLOUD-ONE's centroid against the docking port, and the rotation maneuvers caused the propellant ship to be bumped away from the docking port. Using its limited rotation control, the stage was in the process of orienting itself to a new docking port when an error caused the engine to fire briefly, and CLOUD-ONE needed to rotate itself quickly to avoid an impact. Even still, one long-range antenna on the station was damaged, and CLOUD-ONE was no longer fully loaded with monopropellant. As soon as this event occurred, the docking attempt was aborted and the fuel tank was commanded to back away and initiate return to Kerbin.

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The stage was very aerodynamic and was able to stay at a high enough speed to rip its parachutes apart even as it approached the ground. No part of the rocket was recovered.

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45 minutes ago, Kerballing (Got Dunked On) said:

MOAR AIRBRAKES!

Actually, LESS BOOSTER in this case solved the dart problem and allowed more fuel to be transferred to the station in total.

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