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Shuttle Challenge v6 - The STS thread [Stock and Mod Friendly] Now with assistant moderator Artienia! Congrats to Fulgora on the Skunkworks award!


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The rules of what constitutes a valid Shuttle are pretty relaxed. I've made 2 different inline Shuttles (i.e., Shuttles on top of the launcher) and one that is hard to describe other than "wraparound". You might want to have a look at what others have built: there have been some pretty creative designs. Please be aware, though, that most Shuttle missions require you to deploy a payload of some sort, and those are generally easier with a bigger cargo bay. I'm not saying the missions are impossible with a Mk2 craft but you'll have to get creative to make your payloads small enough to fit. I'll leave it to @sturmhauke to judge whether a Shuttle inside a payload fairing such as the real world Atlas V / X-37B counts as a valid Shuttle design.

vcQXhT5.png

My "wraparound" Gemini Shuttle design. Foreground: Gemini Shuttle; background, Gemini Shuttle plus launch vehicle.

One of my inline designs: Solid Rocket Shuttle, powered solely by solid rocket motors.

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On 3/11/2022 at 6:53 PM, OJT said:

Hello @sturmhauke. Nice challenge you've got going on here

I'm currently working on some stuff for this, but before doing any submissions I'd like to clarify some things

- Does the Launch System for the orbiter has to have structure like the actual STS System (as in, fuel tank and 2 SRBs) or am I allowed liberties on this one? And how far can I take it if I am allowed liberties? (from Buran-style Launcher with heavy lift rocket and 4 liquid fuel boosters to million Twin-Boars stuck to one another)

- In addition to that: must the Orbiter be mounted on the side or am I allowed to place it wherever I want to? Say, if it's narrow enough, can I place it on top of the rocket and build a fairing around it?

- For missions STS-1b and STS-2b: it says those are Bonus missions, does it mean I can skip them if I want to? Because specifics of these missions mean that those are pretty much limited to Mk.3 style Orbiters and I had some promising Mk.2 designs in the works

Hi @OJT, welcome! The design requirements are strict in some ways but you aren't bound to any real-world designs. There have been lots of STS-style shuttles, a few Buran-style, a few Dreamchaser-style, and all kinds of crazy kerbal nonsense.

If you want to stick the orbiter on top of the stack and wrap it in a fairing, that's fine. But keep in mind that without some of the giant modded fairings out there, it will limit your wingspan and cargo volume, especially for missions involving bringing stuff down from orbit.

Bonus missions are optional, as are the Test Pilot missions. But they're also good practice for harder missions.

If you're thinking of doing Buran-style, in my experience it's more difficult to design and fly them compared to other styles due to some crazy balance shifts during flight. I did a writeup here a while back:

 

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1 hour ago, sturmhauke said:

Hi @OJT, welcome! The design requirements are strict in some ways but you aren't bound to any real-world designs. There have been lots of STS-style shuttles, a few Buran-style, a few Dreamchaser-style, and all kinds of crazy kerbal nonsense.

If you want to stick the orbiter on top of the stack and wrap it in a fairing, that's fine. But keep in mind that without some of the giant modded fairings out there, it will limit your wingspan and cargo volume, especially for missions involving bringing stuff down from orbit.

Bonus missions are optional, as are the Test Pilot missions. But they're also good practice for harder missions.

If you're thinking of doing Buran-style, in my experience it's more difficult to design and fly them compared to other styles due to some crazy balance shifts during flight. I did a writeup here a while back:

 

Thanks for your reply!

One more question before I fully commit to this challenge: am I allowed to redesign my spacecrafts inside one series? For example, if the Orbiter for Kerbin STS-3 mission is noticeably different from STS-2a Orbiter? Or must I design one specific craft to use throughout the whole Kerbin series and may only do minor improvements to it?

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11 hours ago, OJT said:

Thanks for your reply!

One more question before I fully commit to this challenge: am I allowed to redesign my spacecrafts inside one series? For example, if the Orbiter for Kerbin STS-3 mission is noticeably different from STS-2a Orbiter? Or must I design one specific craft to use throughout the whole Kerbin series and may only do minor improvements to it?

Yes you are! Most people actually do that. It's only a select crazy(ly good) players who try to use the same craft.

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Here's my first submission, for the Kerbin STS-1a for now. I will be using the same thread to upload further missions and pop around here when I complete the according reports. Hope that's fine by you fellas @sturmhauke @Artienia

 

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On 3/19/2022 at 9:54 AM, OJT said:

Here's my first submission, for the Kerbin STS-1a for now. I will be using the same thread to upload further missions and pop around here when I complete the according reports. Hope that's fine by you fellas @sturmhauke @Artienia

 

Good job, here's your badge!

AX2Tsan.png
We look forward to more of your submissions!

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STS-1 Sloh-Rye-Dah 

I did earn STS-1 Completion with an early design shuttle years ago, but testing my new bird, new ksp install ec., etc.,  decided to start again at STS-1 with Sloh-Rye-Dah. 

This is a 6 seater, hump backed shuttle, that also carries mining equipment.

The vehicle is totally overkill for this mission.  As in I designed this bird to take a 45T cargo to other planets. It can get into LKO with over 3k delta V at your disposal. This actually meant returning from LKO had to be done differently to what I would usually do. The usual landing would be similar to a Nasa shuttle, in that you fall out of the sky deadstick flying the exact same way a brick doesn't, keeping the speed supersonic until you pull up at the last moment (about 3km), lose the speed then flop onto the runway.  But this time I had to take a more shallow approach and burn off fuel to make it light enough for landing.  

I did make a video of the landing. But forgot to start the camera recording until I was deploying the pod!

(Also, I forgot how to put the images into one of those drop down things, so sorry for using so much scrolling space. If someone wants to remind me how, that'll be cool and I can edit the post)

Standard Craft File: https://kerbalx.com/Andetch/Sloh-Rye-Dah-Evlandia

 

Hangar View

QjYDGY2.png

 

Launch Pad

VX1TTdP.png

 

Deploying Fuel Pod

zw16rdS.png

 

JNbCshs.png

 

Setting Up Landing 

yPXSdAY.png

Landing Video

 

 

Edited by Andetch
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Should have my entry up in an hour or so for STS-1, I need to first, make the video, then edit it. I play on PS4 so I have to make videos instead of screenshots. My shuttle is the closest model I can get to the real thing, so doing those other missions is going to be a bit odd, I've already made a few modifications so I can hook up an interplanetary transfer stage where the normal ET would go. My interplanetary missions will look odd because there will have to be two shuttles docked to the transfer stage so the thrust is inline with the center of mass, but I'm not sure if that will count, even if it doesn't I will still post it here so people can see how I do my missions. And another thing is, if the shuttle design that @Austin_Kerman  recommended is valid, then you are going to see some wild entries from me.

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On 3/20/2022 at 10:37 PM, OJT said:

@sturmhauke @Artienia I did the next two missions. Links below, let me know if it's all good :)

STS-2a for Commander rank

STS-3 for Commander rank

Thank you for a detailed and thorough post on 2a and 3! here is your badge. I appreciate you clarifying the rules before your posts, as its a chore to constantly double check with two tabs. here you go!
bGPhsRD.pngRLAcd9v.png

I hope to see more of your submissions later

On 3/21/2022 at 12:34 PM, Andetch said:

STS-1 Sloh-Rye-Dah 

I did earn STS-1 Completion with an early design shuttle years ago, but testing my new bird, new ksp install ec., etc.,  decided to start again at STS-1 with Sloh-Rye-Dah. 

Standard Craft File: https://kerbalx.com/Andetch/Sloh-Rye-Dah-Evlandia

Looks great! Accept this humble badge, perhaps the start of many

AX2Tsan.png

22 hours ago, Austin_Kerman said:

@Artienia Would a Shuttle 2 Concept-like shuttle count for this challenge, before I start to build one to reattempt this?

Here's what it looks like by the way: 

  Reveal hidden contents

No Shortage of Dreams: NASA Johnson Space Center's Shuttle II (1988)

 

Yep, It isn't a VTOL aircraft and it will land horizontally. You are a clear for go!

 

I also have some secret good news! Mission done between March 22nd (Today) and April 10th (Not today) will recieve an exclusive very-fungible token, the April Fool's Badge!

To qualify for the badge you need to
- Successfuly complete a Commander level STS mission
- Do it between March 22nd and April 10th, after the publication of this post
- Have it be graded by @Artienia (Sturm has no idea (we are doing a little trolling))

wyf2QmD.pngAf7WOZE.png

Good luck to all participants!

Edited by Artienia
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12 minutes ago, Artienia said:

Yep, It isn't a VTOL aircraft and it will land horizontally. You are a clear for go!

Well that's good to hear, because I might have already gone and built it:

Spoiler

Kerbal_Space_Program_3_22_2022_4_01_58_PM.png

There's even a stock TPS on the bottom of the shuttle with custom flags too!
Kerbal_Space_Program_3_22_2022_4_06_36_PM.png

Note: The tanks on the side are expendable, making the shuttle partially reusable, like the original shuttle.

Edited by Austin_Kerman
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20 hours ago, Artienia said:

I also have some secret good news! Mission done between March 22nd (Today) and April 10th (Not today) will recieve an exclusive very-fungible token, the April Fool's Badge!

To qualify for the badge you need to
- Successfuly complete a Commander level STS mission
- Do it between March 22nd and April 10th, after the publication of this post
- Have it be graded by @Artienia (Sturm has no idea (we are doing a little trolling))

Af7WOZE.png

Consider me inspired! I will do the STS-1b mission on the commander level with my new Shuttle design, Space Jester. Space Jester is a Buran-type Shuttle design with some additional features from various American programs.

To honour the occasion, some rather silly, unnecessarily challenging and most unwise maneuvers will be performed on the way. Here's the provisional flight plan:

  1. Lift off and do an 180 degree roll program
  2. Enter retrograde equatorial LKO and deploy fuel pod
  3. Do a free return trajectory around the Mun timed so that the Shuttle will re-enter near the KSC
  4. Land on the VAB roof
  5. Take off from the VAB roof
  6. Land on the runway
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Here's my April Fool's Shuttle mission. Flown according to the provisional flight plan laid out in my previous post.

Space Jester is a variant of my hitherto unpublished Osprey Shuttle project, which had the aim of building a Shuttle suitable for landing safely on Duna. Like its real-world namesake that I used as inspiration, it has two rotating propulsion pods to combine VTOL and normal atmospheric flight. It is much easier to operate on Duna than any other spaceplane design I've tested.

Some flight notes:

  • Being a Buran type Shutle design with main engines attached to the external tank it is a handful to fly, especially when the external tank is almost empty.
  • I was unable to plan my free return trajectory ahead of time because MechJeb's landing indicator was acting up. As a result I've had to fly the Munar flyby, re-entry and landing half a dozen times before I was able to land at the KSC.
  • During re-entry I had to rotate the pods engine-first to prevent the nose cones on these pods from burning up. My plan was to keep the pod rotation a secret until the landing but that was not to be, unfortunately.
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15 hours ago, QF9E said:

Here's my April Fool's Shuttle mission. Flown according to the provisional flight plan laid out in my previous post.

Space Jester is a variant of my hitherto unpublished Osprey Shuttle project, which had the aim of building a Shuttle suitable for landing safely on Duna. Like its real-world namesake that I used as inspiration, it has two rotating propulsion pods to combine VTOL and normal atmospheric flight. It is much easier to operate on Duna than any other spaceplane design I've tested.

Some flight notes:

  • Being a Buran type Shutle design with main engines attached to the external tank it is a handful to fly, especially when the external tank is almost empty.
  • I was unable to plan my free return trajectory ahead of time because MechJeb's landing indicator was acting up. As a result I've had to fly the Munar flyby, re-entry and landing half a dozen times before I was able to land at the KSC.
  • During re-entry I had to rotate the pods engine-first to prevent the nose cones on these pods from burning up. My plan was to keep the pod rotation a secret until the landing but that was not to be, unfortunately.

Is there any reason why you went west, instead of east? Doesn't that use a lot more DV

Very cool craft.

Also, I learned developing my hump back shuttle that also has main engines on the fuel pod that reducing the thrust on the fuel pod engine as fuel drains makes it a lot easier to handle. I initially did this by using the thrust limiter toggle (shown when you right click the part) to reduce the thrust from that engine in flight, therefore bringing the CoT closer to align with the CoM. Maybe this information will help you get over that issue?

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5 hours ago, Andetch said:

Is there any reason why you went west, instead of east? Doesn't that use a lot more DV

Very cool craft.

Also, I learned developing my hump back shuttle that also has main engines on the fuel pod that reducing the thrust on the fuel pod engine as fuel drains makes it a lot easier to handle. I initially did this by using the thrust limiter toggle (shown when you right click the part) to reduce the thrust from that engine in flight, therefore bringing the CoT closer to align with the CoM. Maybe this information will help you get over that issue?

Thank you!

The only reason I went west is that this is for the April Fools badge, and doing so would be sufficiently foolish. It also served as a demonstration that this shuttle can do a roll program - my Gemini shuttle with which I originally did this challenge loses control if you try. For a retrograde mission it is much easier to rotate your craft on the pad so that it is heading the other way from the start.

You're right that going west takes more dv (some 400 m/s if I am not mistaken). And you're also right that I should have reduced thrust from the main engines near the end of the ascent. I think the best way to do this would be to bind the thrust limiter of the engines to a custom control axis. That way you have a separate throttle for these engines, making them easier to control. I used that for the orientation of the propulsion pods - their orientation is bound to right control / right shift, just like the main throttle is bound to left control / left shift.

 

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I made a couple of VTOL orbiters with rotating nacelles a while back. Mine were a bit heftier, and somewhat prone to rapid unplanned disassembly events. I found that the nacelles get knocked out of alignment easily, which affects the accuracy of maneuvers. Although as mentioned, my orbiters tend to be pretty big so the extra mass doesn't help things.

XwZlCIN.png

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2 hours ago, sturmhauke said:

I made a couple of VTOL orbiters with rotating nacelles a while back. Mine were a bit heftier, and somewhat prone to rapid unplanned disassembly events.

You showed me some of your prototypes a while back, and that was one of the reasons I started experimenting with rotating nacelles.

It took me a lot of experimentation to get my shuttle to work right. There's a bit of an alignment issue, but I've found that locking the hinges helps quite a bit. You can see the nacelles on my Shuttle bounce around a bit during the runway landing - I was flying with unlocked hinges at that point. Other than that, I've found that the G11 hinge, clipped inside the pod at the pod's center of gravity and aligned with the thurst vector of the pod works best. I've seen youtube videos of craft with Vector engines on hinges, but I don't have much experience with pods with that much thrust.

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I think I will stick to hump backed designs... I have the experience now and don't think there are any other examples of this... 

You guys keep your rotating VTOL nacelles. I probably won't get that far for a long time! (I am having issues with the geostationary orbits again, so sod VTOL, I might skip this as I did do it in a previous mission with my type-c chuttle) I already know I can land on places like the mun with RCS to to the final VTOL maneuver.  And I'll land like a brick back on Kerbin!
 

(perhaps a challenge admin/mod can confirm me passing STS-2 is recorded and I can just move on.... even using mechjeb to place the sats into GKO is failing - also, major kudos to the person who did it with only SRB)

 

Edited by Andetch
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52 minutes ago, Andetch said:

major kudos to the person who did it with only SRB

That was me, thank you!

52 minutes ago, Andetch said:

I am having issues with the geostationary orbits again

Are you willing to tell us what you're struggling with? If you want, perhaps I can give you some tips.

Edited by QF9E
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44 minutes ago, QF9E said:

That was me, thank you!

Are you willing to tell us what you're struggling with? If you want, perhaps I can give you some tips.

Just getting them perfectly aligned and geostationary orbit.... I am trying to manual fly them in and I always get it a few m/s out or a few metres of altitude out and it doesn't work... maybe because I am not at perfect equatorial orbit? I don't know... I even equipped the probes with RCS for prograde and retro adjustments and turned the thrust down to 0.5% to try and adjust it but still... can't get that perfect GKO 

Then of course, using a shuttle that can take 45T into LKO with 3k m/s dv means I carry 4 probes and a tug up to an orbit with a pp of +350km easily just seems to make things harder.... even putting the shuttle to have an ap of the require height for GEO doesn't help  so much, although I can see how this will help deploy them (but I think maybe putting the probes onto a separate vehicle for this is best, the shuttle can have a circular orbit of 350km) 

It just seems to be so fiddly to get the orbit exactly at the height required for perfect GKO

 

Could it be that the shuttle gives a bumpy ride into LKO and isn't always a perfect equatorial orbit is making it harder? I'll be honest, this breed of shuttle really requires some flying to get to LKO and LKO takes about 20 mins real time... could this be an issue? Should I go back to the smaller shuttle that is quicker and easier to get to LKO? My original hump back shuttle, Slo-Kly-Mah was so perfectly balanced, but with such a low TWR that it crawled into orbit... like when you triggered the launch it hovered for a while slowly gaining speed, and it took about 35 - 40 mins to get to LKO with a lot of bouncing about adjusting the thrust of the engines to keep it balanced... (yes, this is a massive hint to go and try flying Slo-Kly -Mah and Slo-Rye-Dah yourself...) 

 

 

Edited by Andetch
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I think you might be trying to get more precision than necessary. For the stability of your constellation the orbital period is much more important than the exact AP en PE. If AP and PE are not exactly the same the satellite will be seen to wobble back and forth a little bit as seen from Kerbin, but if the orbital period is off, your satellite will slowly drift out of position.

That being said, a trick to get a nice circular orbit is to first get the period right with AP and PE perhaps a couple of 100 meters from each other, and then burn in the radial direction exactly between AP and PE. If you burn radial in when moving from PE to AP or radial out when going from AP to PE the result will be an orbit with the same period but lower eccentricity. It is adviced though to do these small adjustment burns with RCS. If you look closely at my April Fools video, just before deploying the payload you'll see me burn radial in with the RCS system for exactly this reason.

Are you aware that you can put the RCS system in a more precise mode? If you press Caps Lock (assuming you're playing on PC) you'll notice that the little pitch, yaw and roll indicators turn blue rather than orange, and each "puff" of the RCS system results in a much smaller adjustment.

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