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A series of launches put up the Green Seagull rockets for the communications network contract. Four launches, which by pure coincidence were nearly evenly spaced, put the four relays into orbit; on at least one of those launches, a previously launched Green Seagull acted as a relay during the ascent, so at least it works!

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The contract completed just in time- I was down to less than 500 funds at that point!

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I was initially researching a solid rocket node, but swapped that for a node that unlocked hydrazine RCS. Once that had finished, no research was being done due to a lack of science :( 

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On the plus side, 400k funds is going to be very useful for testing, tooling and eventually building the next generation of science missions, starting with this:

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Thanks to hydrazine RCS (over 50% higher ISP than HTP while having a similar mass and volume) and the use of an efficient, but single ignition, Soviet kerolox upper stage, the Grey Cuboid has a total of 16km/s of delta-V, more than enough to attempt a Moon landing. A pair of small SRBs were added to the first stage to give it a punt off the launchpad as swapping LR79s to LR89s for improved efficiency also resulted in reduced thrust off the launchpad. The first stage core can make it to a very low orbit (145x145km) with a little fuel to spare, leaving the second stage to perform the TLI burn before all the liquid oxygen boils off.

Spoiler

The reasons this design works when my previous attempts all didn't is a) hydrazine RCS is better than HTP in pretty much every way, and b) I went for the most efficient second stage engine possible regardless of whether it could be restarted, then tweaked the launch rocket to be able to launch that second stage into orbit without using that single ignition. I spent all of that 400k funds unlocking almost every US and Soviet engine and all the configs, trying many combinations before finally finding one that would work with the fuel tanks I've already tooled. A totally blank canvas design may have been better, but would have taken even longer.

A modified version, shorn of the landing engines and SRBs, will do nicely as an interplanetary probe to go to Venus:

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There's more fuel margin in the first stage so it could go to a higher orbit, and probably should since it's going interplanetary.

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Much like the Grey Cuboid, that second stage has a generous fuel margin, but unlike the Grey Cuboid I might need that margin- depending on when I launch it, it may take more than the 3600m/s or so for the 'ideal' transfer as I can't afford to just leave it in orbit while the liquid oxygen boils off.

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An upgrade to the rather rubbish Green Falcon, the Green Eagle has more than enough solar power to last the whole 200 days and return that orbital imaging sample for maximum value. I'll be doing a few of these soon.

And now for the main event:

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Grey Cuboid 1 launches in August 1957, destination: Moon.

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When it was 5 minutes to impact, I started the "simulations"; well, if KRASH won't let me do quicksave/load then I have to do it on a real mission!

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Spoiler

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Ouch...

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Closer, but still no.

On one attempt I managed to pull off a nearly perfect suicide burn- I say nearly perfect because it was still about a hundred metres off the ground, ran out of fuel and crashed.

But eventually...

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A successful landing on the Moon, in August 1957, so I'm STILL ahead of the point where Sputnik 1 made orbit of Earth. I'll probably fall behind at some point due to having the R&D department run out of research on two separate occasions now.

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Gratuitous picture of Earth as seen from the Moon's surface, just because I actually got to the Moon's surface.

Even with a pared-back payload of experiments, the science returns were pretty huge:

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~130 science, seven free KCT points from that science, and no less than four new tech nodes added to the queue- better avionics, another orbital rocketry node, the first RTG node and a node which adds bigger RCS parts as well as some teeny tiny reaction wheels which might be useful for interplanetary probes.

After accepting a second Moon lander contract I went on a spending spree, adding upgrades to both Mission Control and the Tracking Station to ensure that the Venus missions can actually transmit their data back. I also bought both the Mercury and Vostok capsules and their associated parts, just to keep my options open in future.

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The rocket build queue is getting pretty long again- a second Grey Cuboid, two Grey Spheres, another Green Eagle, a Green Hawk (radar altimetry SCAN satellite with some big solar panels to power it) and finally the two Yellow Cookie crewed rockets, which might be built by the time the crews are trained to fly them.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/Q1qWmxW

Coming up next time: After successfully throwing a small probe at the Moon, can I throw small probes at other planets?

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Two updates in one day! Not because I'm sad and have no life, but because some of the last update was from yesterday. And because I have no life...

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In other news, Green Hawk went into a polar orbit to do some radar altimetry scans with some very large solar panels:

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Grey Sphere 1 headed off to Venus, although the intercept was a bit fiddly so I forgot to screenshot that bit:

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It will arrive at Venus in about 190 days. However, before it gets there it'll spend a lot of time in orbit of the Sun, which means it'll send back a load of new science!

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That science was put into several nodes, including the previously cancelled solid rocketry node:

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About a month later, Grey Sphere 2 did exactly the same thing, but due to a more favourable alignment by that point it'll arrive at around the same time as its predecessor:

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A quick montage of launches:

Spoiler

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Green Eagle 2, to get that orbital imagery experiment done.

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A 1000km circular, sun-synchronous orbit (inclination 96 degrees or so) that was almost at the limit of what the Green Starling can do.

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A rather overbuilt Grey Cube rocket for a communications satellite contract, it would probably have been OK just using that second stage on top of the Green Starling's first stage.

And now for the most important launch I've done so far!

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Ann Horton becomes the first Kerbal ever to go into orbit of the Earth, in a very Kerbal design- a 2m diameter pod on top of a 1.25m diameter rocket!

Spoiler

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Despite the unconventional looks, it's actually a pretty practical setup: there are two decouplers between the second stage and the pod with the solid motors attached directly to the second decoupler to act as a launch escape system or deorbit the pod in case of emergencies; the first decoupler dumps the second stage, then the pod can turn a little bit, fire the solid rockets to move away from the dropped stage, then decouple the second decoupler and turn retrograde again to avoid any chance of colliding with its own debris.

There's a lot of science to be had from crewed orbits- early pods can do four different crew experiments as well as crew reports from space low above every biome. Later pods have access to a lot more experiments, as you might expect.

After orbiting for several hours doing lots of science-y stuff, Ann Horton came back down in a spectacular shower of burning debris- fortunately none of it attached to the pod!- before splashing down safely somewhere off the Japanese coast.

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A double payout from the X-planes contract (just get over 140km and come back) and the first orbit contract. 600k funds is a lot compared to what I've been getting for most other contracts, but trust me, it's chump change compared to what's just been unlocked by that first orbit...

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It's no surprise that Ann Horton, being the first Kerbal in space, is sticking around for another 900 days in the hopes of going to space again. She added nearly a hundred science to the total on that single flight, but will have to wait her turn as the other pilots need their own first orbits- Alexei Ogorodnikov is due to retire in September 1958 so he's the first choice for Yellow Cookie 2, although Yellow Cookie 3 is going for a 24-hour duration record so maybe that would be a better choice to extend his retirement date even further?

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Blue sky power and materials nodes added to the research queue- the power one is empty, but the materials one contains a service module upgrade plus fuel ducts, which should also allow radial decouplers to use crossfeed.

 

I could end this report here, but then I went to Mission Control to see what contracts were available and I just...

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Nearly six million funds in total, enough to upgrade every building I can (except the Administration Building, because it's literally useless in RP-1), even up the KCT points to 300 in the VAB and 250 in the lab, buy the latest avionics levels for all three types and still have 2.5 million left over to plough into the second build line in the VAB.

Now, I realise that I've had a habit of making rash contract choices before, and these are particularly high value contracts meaning that if I fail, the entire career could be over, but they're worth SO MUCH and to do fairly easy stuff too: a rendezvous with a crewed mission, not that difficult since I can target literally anything to rendezvous with it; a crewed Lunar flyby which should be easy to do with a free return trajectory, all I need is a chunky 350t rocket to get the pod towards the Moon and the lunar-rated heatshields to bring it back in on piece; and the single crew orbital contract is something I'm already planning to do with Yellow Cookie 3 as the contract asks for 18 hours but I'm aiming for 24 to get the 1 day mission achievement bonus.

Now, if I was being really ambitious, I would accept this one:

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I'm pretty sure I have a very low chance of doing a Moon landing inside the 6 and a half years that contract is asking for, but just look at the advance payment! It's more than all the contracts I just accepted put together, and then some! 

I made a save before accepting all those big juicy contracts and doing the upgrades etc. with the money, and another save afterwards so I coud decide whether or not to go ahead with this high risk, high reward strategy. After asking on the RP-1 discord I've decided that I'm going to go ahead and do it- six years is plenty of time to get hold of Lunar rated heatshields and build a rocket to throw a pod at the Moon with enough supplies and power to get there and back again, and the rest are easy LEO missions that I can do with the Yellow Cookie design.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/h3Gbf6h

Coming up next time: How should I spend 2.5 million funds? Suggestions are welcome!

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1 hour ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

I'm pretty sure I have a very low chance of doing a Moon landing inside the 6 and a half years that contract is asking for, but just look at the advance payment! It's more than all the contracts I just accepted put together, and then some! 

but..... the failure cost. 

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The first thing I did in this session is dump two million funds into KCT points, spending half of those and saving the rest for the soon to be upgraded VAB and its second build queue (there will be a lot of this happening):

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Contracts are acting weird- two completed when I don't think they should have, this is the first:

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A crewed altitude record, for a probe? Odd... I went to that craft to check if its orbits were overlapping and if so to shift them a bit to make sure the whole of the Earth's surface would be scanned. Enough radar altimetry data has been gathered to complete the contract, but there's still 20% of the surface left to go:

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Next up was Yellow Cookie 2 and Diana Zonova's first taste of orbit. Things didn't *quite* go to plan in this mission though...

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First the main engine failed during ascent, then when I brought the pod back down later it ended up more or less at the South Pole, which isn't something that NASA ever did for some reason.  This flight was otherwise very successful, but a second phantom contract completion kicked in- the first rendezvous contract was marked as completed even though it didn't go particularly close to any other crafts in space:

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A lot of science was gained though, which was immediately spent on unlocking more science experiments and hopefully some better scrubbers, since the Mk1 pod's scrubbers only last 2 days.

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The next mission after that was Grey Cuboid 2, which repeated the flight of its predecessor and landed on the Moon's surface (though not without a few 'practice runs'), this time in Oceanus Procellarum:

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This mission was mildly hampered by a Lunar eclipse- see if you can spot the Earth in the image above!

Spoiler

It's directly above the antenna.

More science and free KCT points came back from the Moon's surface, allowing new nodes (better communications and the first fuel cells) to be unlocked. Most of those KCT points are still being saved up for the VAB upgrade though.

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Grey Spheres 1 and 2 arrived at Venus next, getting A LOT of science as they whizzed through its SOI and some nice images too:

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I checked in between the two probes arriving but the flyby contract only happens once and then it's orbits, atmospheric probes and lander-type things after that. Almost 150 science was sent back by the two probes, which allowed some key tech nodes to be added to the queue: the first docking ports and second generation capsules (Gemini).

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With the Gemini capsule in the research queue, I decided to actually do the proficiency training before they unlock this time- good thing too as it takes over a year! With the four original pilots either waiting for their Mercury flight or on leave after it, it was time to expand the roster with some pilots and engineers to fill out the crews of those Gemini missions. There's a slight female bias in the roster now, but so what?

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While the four newcomers started on their Gemini proficiency training, it was Alexei Ogorodnikov's turn to fly into orbit, mostly because his retirement date is soonest and this mission is intended to do several new things. Unfortunately, the mission didn't go according to plan...

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A second stage engine performance loss led MechJeb's PVG to massively overcompensate, burning vertically up then vertically down in a desparate attempt to reach the target orbit. Next, what should have been an easy rendezvous with a nicely positioned satellite went awry due to time warp (separation went from ~100m to ~10km) and then the remaining engine ignitions were wasted trying to resolve that problem, leaving Alexei to watch out the window as the satellite flew past at close to 200m/s at under 200m distance. As if that wasn't enough, it turns out that you can't do space EVAs in a Mercury-era capsule so that part of the mission was ditched, however the 24 hour endurance record was completed without further issues. 

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A dicey re-entry later and Alexei decided to try the hatch again, since it didn't open in space. To his surprise it opened this time and he was sucked out of the pod as it parachuted down! Fortunately he had his emergency parachute on him and was able to land safely, but it was just the latest in a long list of issues on this mission.

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Despite his impromptu skydive (or maybe because of it) Alexei has decided to stick around for nearly a thousand days longer than before, plus a contract and an achievement made this flight pretty profitable.

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At last, the VAB has upgraded! The build times on the second queue are abysmal, as you can see from the six hundred thousand day build time on that second Green Eagle:

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But a hundred saved up KCT points dumped into it made a big difference and now it's operating at about 2/3 the speed of the first one.

A few rockets suffered from a minor issue on the launchpad, as seen here:

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'But none were harmed and they still flew fine. With all five Green Eagles either deployed or about to be, the first one's experiment has now completed and it's time to send that film back down.

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The full 40 science from this flight, as expected, plus some orbital perturbation data that couldn't be transmitted because I put a really terrible antenna on all the Green Eagles.

More KCT points were spent, both the freebies from recovering that science and a lot more that were bought from advance money for no less than four flyby contracts- to Mercury, Ceres, Vesta and Jupiter. All have deadlines over 6 years away and most should be feasible, if not with the Grey Sphere design, then by something similar using the 350 ton launchpad that so far hasn't been used yet.

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Full album: https://imgur.com/a/DAueaXu

Coming up next time: the Mars transfer window approaches rapidly, followed by a series of transfer windows and a series of tech unlocks for more science experiments and beefier RTGs;  but will the tech be ready to launch for those transfer windows? And will Tim Sullivan get his orbital flight at last?

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Not a particularly interesting update today as not a lot happened. First, another boring satellite launch for a contract:

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Then I took a swing at a 350t rocket, though I'm not hugely impressed with it as the delta-V tanks from 17k to just over 10k when I add a dummy payload to take it up to the 350 ton limit (it weighs 342 without it):

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After that, Green Eagle 5 was launched to complete the set of orbital imagery satellites:

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Now for some more ambitious contract accepting, but this time it makes perfect sense: contracts for orbiting Venus, lobbing a probe into its atmosphere and landing on its surface can all be completed by the same mission. With a 6 year deadline I see no reason not to take all three and use the generous advances to buy more KCT points to get R&D moving faster.

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Rather annoyingly, Tim Sullivan's Mercury mission training expired so I had to send him to do it again before he can fly on Yellow Cookie 4. This messed up the build priority a bit, but there are only three rockets in there anyway so it didn't matter too much. On a related note, I launched a cluster of 8 cubesats on a Green Starling B rocket to gather orbital perturbation data at a much faster rate than before, and to fill out the build times a bit:

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They didn't deploy properly, tumbling once decoupled so their solar panels weren't all pointed at the sun, but the trick with Kerbalism is that if you get the solar panels pointing at the sun and then leave the craft, it will remember the last solar panel exposure value and use that until you go back to the craft and it updates. TL;DR- point near sun and then leave it, the exposure will stay the same regardless of where the craft or the sun move to.

With all that moving around in the tracking station I noticed that Green Eagle 2 had been in space for over 200 days, so I brought its return capsule back down with its sample and data:

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The science gained allowed a new node to be unlocked- lunar rated heatshields, which for some reason also contains rover wheels and landing airbags even though the previous node was called "early landing" :confused:

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I then did a bit of testing with the Grey Sphere design, adding the latest science experiments and bigger, better RTGs. It could reach Mars without any difficulty, but lacked the delta-V to get anywhere beyond Vesta and most likely to Mercury as well:

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Hmm, need more delta-V but don't have the capacity on the existing launcher. Time to do the Kerbal thing, and add MOAR BOOSTERS!

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A combination of MOAR BOOSTERSTM and a fatter second stage gives this model enough delta-V to get to Jupiter (by a thin margin) or anywhere sunward of it, even Mercury:

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It was at this point that the game broke, making the cursor disappear in the VAB while various windows were open and meaning I was stuck there, so I had to force close it.

 Note that in those two plotted Jupiter transfers the delta-V on the craft increased by 1300m/s (a 23% increase) despite the burn time increasing by 3 minutes (89% increase)... That’s the rocket equation for you!

There are two Mars transfer windows available- an earlier and faster one that requires more delta-V and a later, slower one that is more efficient. My plan is to launch Grey Sphere 3 on the faster trajectory and then send Grey Sphere 4 on the later one with the new science experiments added. A whole plethora of transfer windows are about to open in short order so there will be a lot of Grey Spheres and the 350t heavy variant in the near future, however I am pretty reliant on unlocking RTGs and possibly the next level of communications tech to send the data back home with a stronger antenna signal and more powerful DSN.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/AN1eYgj

Coming up next time: Will I do to the VAB what I've done to R&D and run out of things to build?

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
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Boring satellite contract montage:

Spoiler

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In between those launches (which included two on the same day from the same launchpad thanks to the second build queue and rapid turnaround times) there were some more significant launches:

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Tim Sullivan's first orbital flight went without a hitch, racking up a 500km crewed altitude achievement, completing an orbital flight contract and crossing the inner radiation belt repeatedly (good thing I added shielding!) before coming back down and grabbing some data while flying over the Sahara.

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Tim is planning to stay for a while now too, so once he's back from R&R/quarantine (basically the same thing these days!) he'll be starting the Gemini proficiency course and hopefully be sticking around long enough to get some Gemini missions before he retires.

Another important launch came with Grey Sphere 3 heading to Mars in the earlier and faster transfer window:

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Grey Sphere 4 will be waiting for the later window, which also means it got retrofitted with the newly unlocked science experiments that arrived on the same day that Grey Sphere 3 launched.

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The build queue is a bit fuller than before with two new Orange Plate Moon landers- basically a Grey Cuboid but with more boosters and a bit more delta-V to make landing it easier- and two Grey Tet Mk2s which have the new science experiments fitted and will be heading to either a high Earth orbit or an elliptical Moon orbit to grab as much science as possible; Orange Plate 1 still has the old science stuff on it but Orange Plate 2 was retrofitted with the new stuff.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/vRzAfVq

Coming up next time: A small fleet of science probes and landers plus some design work for the next generation of interplanetary probes.

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More ambitious contract accepting as I take the first lunar rover contract. Rover wheels are still 360 days away at the current rate, but the contract gives another 200 days on top of that so it should all be fine.

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The first 350 ton launch came with Orange Plate 1, heading to land on the Moon. It's a considerably souped-up Grey Cuboid but it actually had too much delta-V and the solid rockets ended up pushing it away from the Moon's surface before burning out.

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A good quantity of science was gathered and spent on the first two hydrolox engines nodes as well as better avionics. Hydrolox has vastly superior ISP (about 100s better than the current kerolox engines) but also has low fuel density and really bad boiloff issues, plus if you put a heavily insulated (with MLI layers) tank exposed to airflow, it will almost certainly catch fire and explode during ascent.

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Now for a close-up look at the new Orange Bowl interplanetary probe, destined to travel to Ceres, Vesta, Jupiter and (in a modified form) Mercury:

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No solar panels as they're essentially useless that far from the Sun, instead two RTGs provide all the power (at considerable expense) while the experiments are clustered on one side to counteract the weight of the huge S-band antenna. Obviously I changed the design as soon as I took that screenshot to swap the visible imaging camera (on the top) to be built in to the avionics because I haven't bought that part yet (but Kerbalism lets you put experiments into probe cores once you've researched them, not unlocked the physical parts) and will need to change it again very soon when I unlock level 4 communications tech.

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Whole rocket for scale. The probe body is 65cm across and 65cm high, which gives you some idea of the size of the whole rocket. Could I build something more efficient? Probably, but this uses entirely tooled parts and engines that have plenty of data units in them meaning low failure rates.

With the new science experiments unlocked I also upgraded the Grey Tet orbital science probe and sent one out to orbit the Moon:

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One of the science experiments wanted an orbital eccentricity above 0.1, but I only saw that after capturing into a nice, low, circular orbit and spent almost all the remaining fuel getting the orbit just right then pointing the solar panels back at the sun:

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That was close!

A second Grey Tet Mk2 is being built and will be going into a high orbit of Earth where it can dip between space low and space high (relative terms here- the boundary is at geostationary altitude, over 30Mm up, compared to the Moon's 150km) and get as much science as possible from the Earth's SOI.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/qGw9zPg

Coming up next time: Actually sending those probes off to distant worlds, with some fairly tight build deadlines to meet the optimal transfer windows.

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First up- Grey Sphere 4 heads off to Mars on the slower transfer window:

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Game-crashing stack overflow not shown :/. The difference between this and the earlier window that Grey Sphere 3 took is pretty striking- while Grey Sphere 4 left Earth only 44 days later, it will arrive at Mars over 300 days later.

Next to launch was Orange Plate 2, heading up to the Moon with all the latest surface science experiments:

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In the end I had to fly it back out of its first landing site because the terrain was so bad, and fly over to the nearest flat-ish bit before landing.  Another new biome: Mare Fecunditatis- Sea of Pregnancy? Who named these things?

Many more tech nodes are being added, but the backlog is so long now that I won't bother showing each individual node that I add on. Highlights from this lot include the 80 point materials science and electronics nodes to unlock all the next generation parts. The contract payout for landing on the Moon funded the next upgrade for the Tracking Station:

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I've also skipped the usual accept satellite contract > build Green Starling > complete contract cycle; they happened, but what's the point in showing them when I've done so many of them?

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On the subject of contracts, though- I just found out that I didn't actually launch a scanning satellite to the Moon and there's a contract to do just that slowly ticking down. Cue a hasty retrofit of the Grey Tet Mk2 to carry a radar altimetry scanner and some large solar panels, imaginatively named Grey Tet Mk3, which was added to the build queue:

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Two more Orange Bowl probes are under construction (so far) for the Ceres and Jupiter windows, but due to the improved communications tech and tracking station I could turn down their antenna strength to save mass and power while maintaining signal no matter where the planets were, whereas before they would only just be in range when the planets were closest.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/jNw6sJR

Coming up next time: Three transfer windows approach for three different planets, each with its own flyby contract. Deploy the probes!

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I tried to upgrade this game to 1.10.1, but it failed due to drag cube issues; tried 1.9.1 and it mostly worked, but there was a weird graphics issue that made the game totally unplayable, so 1.8.1 it is for the forseeable future.

I took some time today to look into various different first and second stage options for the trusty Green Starling, comparing different engines' delta-V, cost and build times as well as the upper stages' reliability and engine restarts. Surprisingly, by switching the first stage to a H-1 engine instead of the LR89 and upgrading the avionics' level and service module type, I could get a version with more payload capacity than the C variant (with the extra SM tank on the nose), but which is a few hundred funds cheaper and takes about a day less to build.

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The gains aren't huge, but given how many of them I'm launching they'll quickly stack up; there's also the possibility of adding a bigger extra SM tank to hold much larger payloads which would open up the commercial satellite contracts that require several hundred units of payload each time.

Another ambitious contract, though if I can do a crewed Lunar flyby then staying in orbit for a day can't be that much harder, right?

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After completing a few satellite contracts and ploughing all the funds I could spare into KCT points for R&D, it was suddenly 1959 and time to launch Orange Bowl 3 to Mercury:

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Slightly inconveniently, that was also the time when Grey Sphere 3 was approaching Mars so I switched to the latter without pointing the former's solar panels at the Sun, causing it to drain the batteries dangerously low before I fixed it:

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Phobos and Deimos were invisible during the flyby, not because they were hidden by Mars, but because they're just really really small. Orbital velocity around them is under 5m/s so if you can capture into their SOI they're a great place to explore for minimal fuel.

New contracts were offered once the Mars flyby contract completed- much like Venus, I took the orbiter, atmospheric probe and lander contracts to be done in a single mission, plus flyby and landing contracts for Phobos and Deimos. Theoretically this could all be done on one mission, but it would probably require some assembly in orbit first and I'd rather deal with the logistics of the planet and the moons separately.

Lots of science, lots of funds and lots of free KCT points:

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After the failed KSP version upgrade attempts, I came back to try a Mars lander design which didn't work:

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After rebooting my PC after a particularly nasty game crash, I spent the funds on a hundred KCT points, split evenly between the VAB and R&D, and added two more nodes to the queue

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The RoveMate comes with a built-in Bon Voyage rover autopilot which drives the rover in the background, which is rather useful for a planet the size of Mars, although I've heard that it doesn't necessarily work that well in RP-1. Worth a try though, right?

Odds of landing Kerbals on the Moon by the end of the decade are pretty much nil right now since it'll take that long just to get the Gemini missions up and running. While it's possible (if you know what you're doing and prioritise your research properly) to do a flags and footprints landing on the Moon as early as 1957 (https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/197774-terminal-velocity-a-rp1-career-series/), I think 1965 is more than feasible if the required researches get done in time and I actually take the time to build the rocket(s) needed to do it.

 

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/ffBGPPu

Coming up next time: Maybe I'll finally take a swing at making a proper 350 ton launcher, or go through the research backlog and reprioritise it. Transfer windows for Jupiter and Ceres both open soon so it's a bit of a race against time to have the probes ready for when that happens.

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
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I finally did it. I sat down with a pen and paper to reprioritise all the nodes in the research queue. The new order focusses first on fuel cells (for crewed missions), then the early staged combustion engine node (which has an efficient and restartable kerolox engine in it, possibly useful for crewed missions?) followed by improved heatshields rated for Lunar returns (which also includes rover wheels and airbags for landing), then improved life support systems and then the Gemini-era capsules.

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I haven't yet decided if I'm going to use the Gemini pod and related accoutrements, or the stock (well, Making History, but DLCs are stock to me) Mk1-2 pod; the latter comes with a built-in Lunar rated heatshield, although the integrated heatshield wasn't all that successful on the Mk1 (Mercury) pod so I'll have to do some simulations to see which works better.

In other news, Orange Bowl 2 lifted off (after Orange Bowl 3?) and set a course for Jupiter:

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Jupiter's gravity well is HUGE- it will take about 200 days for the flyby to complete, more than enough time to gather all the science data available. Unfortunately the gravity slingshot will then throw this probe out towards the orbit of Neptune, but none of the other outer planets are positioned right for a double flyby (that's for the 1970s) and it'll just have to float in the outer system forever, or until the RTGs fizzle out.

Now for the main event- counting with rockets!

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Take one probe...

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Add another probe, and you get..?

Spoiler

A complete loss of signal over the Amazon during a delicate docking procedure, that's what! :mad: Fortunately neither probe was damaged and after they floated past each other I managed to bring them to a halt relative to each other until the signal came back and docking could proceed. I could have let MechJeb's docking autopilot do it, but I think doing the first one manually is sufficient proof that I can actually do it if I want to.

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Uh, one probe? 1+1=1. Obviously. Someone was willing to pay nearly half a million funds to prove it either way so I'm happy.

And now for the cursed Ceres probe:

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Engine failure on the launchpad, but they can be restarted on the ground infinitely so all I had to do was reactivate the engine and it worked fine. Until...

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Another booster engine failed during the ascent. This was OK as there are five more boosters on there which could compensate for the asymmetric thrust until I shut down the opposite engine and decoupled both. But then- another engine failed! And it wasn't the one opposite the one that had already failed, causing massively asymmetric thrust and the whole rocket began spinning uncontrollably.

Those boosters use LR89 engines, which I've used extensively on the Grey [Shape] series and the Green Starling B/C so have the maximum 10,000 data units on them and a failure rate of just 1.2%. One point two percent! And yet I have THREE failures in one single flight?! The first was trivial; the second was manageable; the third was just the failure RNG being spiteful. I don't like doing this, but-

REVERT!

And would you believe it, another engine failed on the pad the second time round. Fortunately in this case that was the only issue and the launch went according to plan:

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A course was set for Ceres, although I seem to have missed the screenshot of that one; I'll get it next time.

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That contract money from the first docking went into KCT points for R&D to keep the research going. The VAB has plenty of points in it at this stage and Green Starling D/E variants can be built in as little as 6 1/2 days or another Orange Plate/Bowl in about 25 days.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/dLoHRV5

Coming up next time: It's probably time to design the second generation crewed mission and the rocket to launch it. I could try sticking it on the existing Orange [Dinnerware] launcher but I feel that's a bit inefficient and is probably too small to handle a 3m pod on the top like the Yellow Cookie's "2m pod on a 1.25m stage" trick.

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
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Contract satellite montage:

Spoiler

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This next one is the first use of a Green Starling E, although it doesn't use half of its payload capacity:vrdQJYL.png

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This one caused some trouble as completing that contract means that the previous comms sat contract I've been spamming is no longer offered and the one I had accepted auto-failed:

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I also tested a novel landing system for the next Orange Plate landing on the Moon (Orange Plates are Moon lander probes, not interplanetary probes; those are Orange Bowls and I kept mixing them up before :blush:).

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Turns out that even when scaled down to 1/4 size, landing gear are pretty sturdy plus very cheap (3 funds each) and lightweight. The landing went without any real issues, though I did need to remember to put the brakes on, and the contract was fulfilled shortly after:

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That makes five landers in five biomes on the Moon's near side, future missions will have a harder time trying to find new biomes without going to the far side which would require orbital relays to be put in place first.

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The contract money was enough to hire six new astronauts- say hello to Elvira, Elvira, Victoria, Brian, Dan and Dave:

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Spoiler

Did I choose the first three just so I'd have two pairs of Kerbals with the same names? Yes, yes I did.

A bit of simulator work next as I try to land on Mars:

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Not quite what I had in mind, but as a basic proof of concept it went rather well.

Next in the simulator were two new 350 ton launch rockets, designed specifically to carry a 10 ton payload to LEO:

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White Lake, a chunky 2-stage design with a 5m first stage powered by 6x H-1 engines and a 3m second stage with 5x RD-0109s; it had enough delta-V to put the payload into orbit with some fuel to spare, but would be more expensive and take longer to build than the existing 350t launcher- the first stage and boosters on the Orange Dinnerware series- which can put 9.5 tons into the same orbit with similar fuel margins. With that in mind, I tried a different approach:

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White River uses a 3m core stage powered by 3x LR-105 engines and four 2.5m boosters powered by hypergolic LR-87s. It's a single stage design with a little less delta-V overall but it's also a lot cheaper than the two-stage design, gets to orbit quicker and the 2.5m tanks are already tooled which saves on tooling costs. This design might be enough to put a Gemini-type pod into orbit, with a second launch carrying a propulsion module to throw it at the Moon maybe?

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Tooling costs are pretty steep, but the end result is pretty reasonable both in cost and build time terms. It will also start raking in data units for the LR87 which can only be a good thing.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/3PsKABC

Coming up next time: The build queue is perilously close to being empty again, quick make some random stuff to fill it up!

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Not a lot to report today, but that doesn't mean I haven't spent a lot of time in the game. Planning out crewed Lunar flights is more difficult than it looks!

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This is what I came up with for a potential Lunar flyby craft. The pod and propulsion sections are about 10 tons each and would need to be launched separately then connected together; unfortunately the delta-V still isn't quite there yet so I'm thinking of doing a 700 ton launcher instead which will give me a much bigger payload capacity.

Next, some testing for a Venus orbiter and lander combo:

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(By complete coincidence, that little speck in the sky is Venus)

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Everything checks out with this design so I've put two on the build queue. I considered using an RTG to power the lander but it only needs 30 days of power so batteries and solar panels (which barely make any power on the surface of Venus) will have to do. A few changes to the design could be enough to make it work for Mars too, but the transfer window for Mars is a lot further away whereas the Venus window is in about 80 days.

Spoiler

PSA: Do not time warp when parachuting down to the surface of Venus, the atmosphere is crazy thick and it will trigger a Kraken attack.

Some new satellite contracts have unlocked with considerably better rewards than before, but, um...

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Two thousand units of payload!?

Yet another test run, this time to deploy three newly created Pink Peanut relays into orbit of the Moon using the appropriately named Orange Dish. Three relays are great and all, but the transfer stage is also going to end up in the same orbit- so I stuck a relay dish and some solar panels on there too and now I can get four relays instead!

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Testing showed that I can get a nice orbit at 3000km then deploy the relays into a series of resonant orbits at 3/4, 5/4 and 6/4 ratios to spread them out evenly. A little bit of orbital period finessing and they'll stay in position for quite some time; solar panel degradation shouldn't be an issue for a few years at least and by the time that's a problem I'll have much better technology to replace them with. I did consider using RTGs to power them but they're really expensive and I have no idea how long this relay constellation will last.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/btV01K8

Coming up next time: I'm not too sure right now- it might be some more simulations, it might be the launch of another Lunar lander or the Orange Saucer missions to Venus, it will probably include more routine satellite contracts.

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I attempted to make a sample return mission to the Moon using a 350 ton launch rocket. Getting to  the Moon was no issue, unsurprisingly, but getting back...

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The simulated descent ended in a massive crash because I can't do quicksaves to practice the timing, but there was more than enough delta-V to make a landing possible even with gravity losses factored in. The next simulation I tried started with the lander on the Moon's surface, minus all of the descent stage's fuel.

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Flying back to LMO takes more delta-V than I had anticipated, so I need to find an extra 1200m/s or so to get back to Earth with a reasonable margin. This will probably require a 700 ton launch rocket.

Like, for example, this:

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8x H-1 engines on the core and 4x LR87 boosters, then 5x X-405-H engines on the second stage- not an engine I've used before but it has a good combination of thrust and efficiency plus it can be restarted a couple of times. This design was tested up to 23 tons to LEO:

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After reviewing the flight profile for the rocket I realised that I could skip the boosters and just stick 10 LR87 engines on one huge core stage. This design will be a real headache to tool and pushes the 700 ton limit to the, er, limit, but the result is a rocket that can put 25 tons into LEO- but only just!

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And the final simulation for this report- a Moon rover:

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It's incredibly stable and even speeding up using RCS then using four wheel steering at maximum speed plus RCS to rotate it with the steering didn't cause it to flip over. The maximum speed is only 8m/s using this gear ratio, faster speeds may be possible but the wheels have a hard speed limit and will break above it. It can operate on the Moon's surface well enough, now the trick is getting it to the specific location on the Moon's far side that the contract is asking for; this would be a lot easier with Bon Voyage, but that only works with the RoveMate probe core and might not work well with RP-1 at all. MechJeb's rover autopilot and potentially many hours of driving it is then...

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/O7vFe9u

Coming up next time: A probe arrives at Mercury, plus the deployment of a relay network around the Moon. Gemini proficiency training is nearly done for the first few astronauts so they'll be going onto mission training as I wait for the required nodes to be unlocked before the first Gemini-era crewed missions can begin.

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Remember how I fired a probe at Mercury and it was going to flyby really close?

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Well today I went to check on its progress, a mere 10 hours before it's due to arrive at Mercury, and I found this:

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WhathowwhyhowHOW!?!? It's in more or less the right spot viewed from the top down but is millions of kilometres away vertically, almost 30 degrees off Mercury's plane, and I have literally no idea how it happened. It didn't go anywhere near Venus to get a gravity assist, and even if it did I doubt Venus could throw it that far off the ecliptic.

I could hackily cheat it into a hyperbolic trajectory over Mercury, or I could launch another probe at the next transfer window and have a little cry... ;.;

 

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
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That magic teleporting probe is still annoying me...

To try and distract myself I did something else, in the shape of another Moon landing.

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No contract for this one, just a lot of science from another new biome (Mare something-or-other, I forgot to check).

A few more simulations of the next generation crewed spacecraft followed, first up was an abort test:

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Later, with proper crew on board (they don't look too happy about it either!), I tried a simulated Lunar flyby mission:

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My re-entry periapsis was far too high, causing the pod to skip off the atmosphere and go around again. During that time the batteries ran out and the pod's scrubbers shut down, so when it skipped off the atmosphere again I pulled the plug on the sim. Smashing into the lower atmosphere at over 11km/s it is then...

In between simulations I also launched Orange Bowl 5 to fly to Mercury, again. Maybe this one will actually go where it's told? A number of engine failures occurred during this launch- first the core engine, then a booster engine failed to ignite on the launchpad and during the ascent another booster engine failed near the end of its burn time; despite these issues the launch was a success and the probe set a course for Mercury.

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This trajectory was slightly complicated by the Moon getting in the way and adding a bit of a slingshot, so I'll keep tracking it until it leaves Earth's SOI to make sure it remains on course.

Now I find myself in a bit of a financial pickle, because tooling up the new rocket to launch that crewed flyby is going to be rather expensive:

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Most of the cost is in that single massive first stage fuel tank, but I'll be using this for a few different missions including, potentially, a crewed Lunar orbit, plus a 25 ton capacity to LEO still puts it 5 tons below the pad limit with these engines (RD-109s, which have vernier thrusters that act as RCS; the X-405-H engines I used before had serious control issues when I put the Gemini stuff on top).

Fortunately, I have the steady cash flow of communications and weather satellite contracts to pay for this sort of stuff. One contract later and the new rocket was all tooled up and ready to go. Of course, this means I have almost no money left, but more satellite contracts are imminent to pay for the next few missions and eventually the unlock costs for the Gemini components.

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Full album: https://imgur.com/a/oYkZuWE

Coming up next time: another Venus orbiter/lander combo, a relay network for the Moon and maybe even a rover on the Moon too. Oh, and some crew training for the next tranche of crewed flights, as soon as the pods are unlocked so I can actually do mission training.

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2 hours ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

That magic teleporting probe is still annoying me...

Did you by any chance go from a 1x time warp to like a 10,000x time warp really quickly? I was going to minmus the other day and went to a 10,000 warp really quickly and the Ap freaking dropped 1 million kilometers in front of my eyes. Since then this has happened a couple of times but I’ve never been affected by a 30 degree change in inclination as a result of this so maybe not the problem. I find the warp here button to be a huge culprit in triggering this bug. The simple fix is to just slowly increase time warp. 

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20 minutes ago, Daedalus3000 said:

Did you by any chance go from a 1x time warp to like a 10,000x time warp really quickly? I was going to minmus the other day and went to a 10,000 warp really quickly and the Ap freaking dropped 1 million kilometers in front of my eyes. Since then this has happened a couple of times but I’ve never been affected by a 30 degree change in inclination as a result of this so maybe not the problem. I find the warp here button to be a huge culprit in triggering this bug. The simple fix is to just slowly increase time warp. 

Not while flying that probe. Time warping in RSS usually causes a little bit of orbital shifting due to the difference in scale but that’s “changing the apoapsis by 10-1000km” shifting, not “changing the inclination by over 25 degrees while leaving the shape of the orbit unchanged” shifting...

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What's the point in using an engine failure mod, if any time an engine fails in a mission-critical way you just revert the flight and start again? No more of that nonsense! Which is why Orange Saucer 2 was an unmitigated failure:

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Losing that booster was annoying, but not catastrophic, until:

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Engine go boom. Second stage engine fail to ignite. Probe not go to Venus. :(

A few easy contract sats later and another Orange-series mission launched, this time to the Moon, and again an H-1 booster failed:

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See how five boosters are pointing inwards, but one is pointing outwards? Guess which one failed...

A few days (and another contract sat launch) later and the relay network was in place around the Moon:

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You may have noticed that there are only three relays in this launch, but four in the network- that's because the second stage that did the TLI and capture burns is also equipped with the same relay dish to double as a relay once its main job (getting everything else to the Moon) was done. The orbits are synchronised very closely, within half a second of each other, so they'll stay in position for some time and will remain useful for years; the three relay probes are also equipped with orbital perturbation experiments which will produce a steady trickle of science for a few years too, hence the slightly odd 60-ish degree inclination of the orbits.

Next up was a particularly profitable contract satellite launch, fulfilling two contracts in one flight! And this time it was on purpose! 100k funds from the reward money alone, from a rocket that probably cost less than 5k in build, integration and rollout costs, plus the advances on top of that. I'll look out for mutually compatible contracts like this in future.

Next up, Orange Mug 1- my first RSS rover. The contract wanted a landing on the far side of the Moon, hence the need for the relay network.

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A slight misjudgement of the size of the target crater and less than perfect accuracy for the landing meant that while I was in the right crater, it was almost 70km from the waypoints. Hmm, this calls for MOAR SPEED!

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Yes, that really is 55m/s across the Moon in a rover, with the control point facing up instead of forwards... The wheels are a bit weird, set the gear ratio below 1 for more speed and they just keep accelerating long after I let go of the 'accelerate' key. I... may have used the anti-crash cheats at this point, but it was that or trundle along for literally hours and I don't have time for that nonsense. The crater I landed in was Major Craters, which I've already landed in, but the target points were in the Highlands biome and I haven't been there yet so more science was gathered too.

With some science to spend, I chucked some more nodes on the queue to sort out later. Including this absolutely HUGE solid rocket:

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850 tons, 16 MEGANEWTONS at sea level and a burn time of 2 minutes. And that's the "short" version- the longer version has more segments, and more segments on an SRB means MOAR- I mean, more thrust.

And now for the main event. It's the one the entire Astronaut Corps have been waiting for- the first Gemini launch.

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Just a trip to LEO this time, but there are several long-duration crew experiments to do and a contract for a 7-day flight in orbit so they'll be staying up there for a while and giving the life support systems etc. a proper shakedown.

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They don't look particularly excited about going to space...

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But flying up high enough to graze the inner radiation belt every orbit for six days? Yeah, they're loving that...

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EVA time! Diana (red) and Terri (blue) perform the first and second EVAs in space, followed by the first "wait, who's flying the pod!?!?" moment in space. All I can say is, the avionics still work even if nobody is on board and they didn't drift too far, but for some reason there's no EVA report experiment when doing EVAs from a Gemini pod; that option was available for the earlier crewed flights with the Mk1 (Mercury) pod even though technically it shouldn't have been as it's supposed to require a level 2 astronaut complex, so I'm rather confused as to why this isn't working.

After over 7 days in space it was time to come back down. Contracts completed (except the EVA contract which actually requires an EVA report to be done, but that was missing so I couldn't do that) and science gathered, all in all a very successful mission. Until the pod bounced off the ocean and nearly smashed itself to pieces...

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As first missions go, flying into orbit and doing an EVA is a pretty good one, so no wonder newbie Terri Powell is sticking around for over a thousand days. Even my most experienced astronaut Diana Zonova is happy to stay for almost 500 days longer, so she might still be around for the Moon landings. But more importantly, just look at all that sweet, sweet SCIENCE!

After adding pretty much every tech tree node with useful parts (or in one case, no parts but a prerequisite for the Apollo pods) I still have a bit of science left over and a generous helping of funds with which to launch the remaining 3 Yellow Biscuit crewed flights to LEO and the first Lunar flyby after that.

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Full album: https://imgur.com/a/gVC9EbT

Coming up next time: What will my other astronauts, new and old alike, make of their Gemini flights? And will they all be trained in time? What else will I be up to with almost 1.3 million funds to spend?

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I'm doing it again. I'm trying to upgrade to a newer version of KSP, but this time it's to 1.11.1! Surprisingly few issues so far, just one part produced an exception for drag cubes (which I don't currently need, it's the Apollo LEM) and now I'm left with a scatterer-related issue that might be solved soon too. Hopefully...

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I'm sorry. I'm weak-willed and easily persuaded...

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That 7.5 million advance was just too irresistible; the rational part of me says I can do a Moon landing by the end of 1967 but the rest of me is just drooling over the nine million funds in the account.

Cue the upgrades!

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Over 5 million to tell the astronaut corps which end of a flag to stick in the ground?

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Another R&D upgrade to get the research speed even faster and enable more expensive nodes to be researched.

Now for some simulations as I try to design a rocket powerful enough to lift a potential Moon lander plus the transfer stage to get it to the Moon:

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That doesn't look quite right to me...

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How to put more stuff in space: -Take the heaviest existing rocket; -Put more powerful engines on it; -Add boosters; -Add boosters to the boosters!

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Adding 8 boosters with 2 SRBs attached to each might seem a bit, well, Kerbal for RP-1, but I argue that if it works, it's good enough for me. And it works- 40 tons to LEO for a 1200 ton rocket is pretty much the same ratio as the Blue Chocolate (700t, ~25t to LEO) and it re-uses most of the tanks from Blue Chocolate too so will be cheaper to tool up.

Even more simulating followed- design work for a new generation of satellite launch rockets to deal with the larger payload requirements and higher orbits now being offered. Once again I turned to the RD-108 engine (which in its most up-to-date configuration has an astonishing 0.06% failure rate with no data units at all!), then went with the RD-58 engine on the second stage due to its combination of high ISP and 5 restarts; it will also be used for future crewed flights so getting some data units for it is a good idea. Some small tweaks to the Green Starling E's first stage and a redesigned second stage created a 60 ton rocket that can put up to 500 units of payload into a Molniya orbit; for larger requirements or Tundra orbits a 150 ton version with two RD-107 powered boosters was developed that can carry up to 1000 units of payload. These new rockets, Green Condor and Grey Torus respectively, will gradually replace the Green Starling as contract requirements get harder; however Green Starlings still build over a day quicker so there's a place for them yet.

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It's the end of an era. KSP 1.8.1 has served me well, but now it's time to try something newer and with additional features. That's right- it's upgrade time! And this time I actually make it work too.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/ysYEwgZ

Coming up next time- Terran(ism) Space Program moves to KSP 1.11.1 after a long battle with one broken drag cube, dodgy scatterer issues, missing clouds and the inexplicable disappearance of Io. That took several hours in total to do, so I really hope it all works out!

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It's here! Now in shiny new KSP 1.11.1! It's better, it's newer, what could possibly go-

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Ah. I take it the engine failure RNG is working then...

The next launch also lost its first stage engine, but at a much higher altitude so it managed to get into its target orbit. Double contracts again, I'll keep doing these as long as I can until I accidentally accept the contract that cancels one/both of them.

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Am I the only one who finds it hard to look right at that picture without blinking and looking away? This time there were no inexplicable inclination changes and a perfect Mercury flyby ensued:

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The science gains weren't as good as for other planets due to the speed of the flyby and Mercury's small SOI, but nevertheless a lot of data was gathered and the contract paid well too.

Next to launch, the first Green Condor contract satellite:

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Sure, it's a bit chunky looking, but that's just to save on tooling costs.

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Contract completed, but I forgot to check the small print and it cancelled another contract as a result. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last either.

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I took this one for some extra cash, now that the designs are close to complete. More on that in the next update!

Final scores for today:

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Full album: https://imgur.com/a/hCUng2p

Coming up next time: Another LEO Gemini mission and a lot of simulating for both the Moon sample return and a crewed landing.

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Progress in terms of the in-game calendar has been slow lately, but a lot of effort has been going into designing, planning and simulating the next few missions: crewed flights in LEO, a Lunar sample return probe and eventually a crewed landing on the Moon.

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This is Blue Nougat, the sample return probe. At almost 19km/s of delta-V it's by far the longest-ranged craft I've built in this career, but it will need that fuel to get into space, out to the Moon, down to the surface, back into orbit then back to Earth again.

The next load of simulations were for a crewed mission to the Moon's surface, which as it stands will require two launches to send the lander and the Gemini pod out to the Moon separately before they meet up, do the landing, meet up again and then the Gemini comes back. The lander with its transfer/insertion stage weighs almost 45 tons and is pushing the limits of current technology just to get into orbit:

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As you can see, the delta-V margins are perilously slim- barely 10m/s left both when launching into LEO and capturing into LMO. A few minor upgrades since then have improved the margins a bit, but it's still going to be pretty close.

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That... wasn't what I had in mind. But it does prove the concept- I can land it on the Moon intact, with enough fuel left to get back into orbit.

With that qualified success proving the concept is sound, it was time for a real mission- the first crewed launch in 1.11.1:

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Two very different expressions on the crew's faces. Once in orbit, they completed their contract before attempting an EVA and, er....

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That little speck above and to the left of the pod? That's Ann Horton. Turns out my jetpack patch didn't work, necessitating a long and difficult chase to get the pod close enough that she could grab on and get back in. Still no EVA report available, but I think I know why- the three different suit types (regular, vintage from Making History and future from Breaking Ground) are all different 'parts', but RP-1 is only looking for the regular version.

I force-completed the first EVA contract- totally deserved after the hassle of chasing a drifting Kerbal around in space with a pod which has RCS that doesn't do translation controls properly, then brought them back down. No crew science unfortunately, that got broken by the update to 1.11.1 so I've had to make another one and fix the other Gemini missions on the build queue.

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And finally, an abort test for the Gemini half of the Moon landing:

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Despite the many explosions and the swarm of loose engines, it went according to plan and the pod was safely thrown away from the rocket to float back down under its parachutes.

Spoiler

Which of these is better?

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I've been messing around with the screen resolution a bit to try and improve performance, and make it easier for me to see what's going on.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/p1ai34B

Coming up next time: Finalising the Moon landing designs.

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As Moon landing preparations continue, it's time to test the second half of the operation- the Gemini pod that will carry the crew of two out to the Moon and meet up with the lander so one of them can descend to the surface. The current design uses three RL10A hydrolox engines due to their extremely high ISP and 10 restarts, instead of the RD-58 based designs I tried before which were heavier and yet had less delta-V.

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Testing showed that this design could fly out to the Moon, capture into a low circular orbit, stay there for about a week and still have enough fuel left to come back (boiloff is a real issue with liquid hydrogen, even with the maximum 50 MLI layers to insulate the tanks). The plan is to do the Moon landing and come back within 2 days, but the lander has enough supplies for three days and the Gemini in this setup can support a crew of 2 for about 16 days in total- more than enough to complete the mission.

I also tested a modified lander which is more stable when landed and uses the Agena docking port so it can dock to a Gemini:

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It has generous fuel margins for both the descent and ascent, but that will be needed to rendezvous and possibly dock with the Gemini pod before and after the landing.

With the designs tested (except the rendezvous/docking part which I can't simulate) and everything looking good, the designs have been finalised and two new vessels are added to the queue- Yellow Crumpet, the Lunar Gemini, and Yellow Scone, the lander. I'm thinking of sending some kind of docking target out to the Moon so the first Yellow Crumpet can practice the rendezvous and docking part of the mission before doing the whole thing for real with the lander.

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The original design for the Lunar Gemini, Yellow Shortbread, has been scaled back- only one built instead of two- and will instead act as a flyby mission to find out how the Gemini pod deals with re-entering from a Moon-intercept orbit.

In more Moon-related news, Blue Nougat 1 set off on its quest to land on the Moon, gather some samples and then bring them back to Earth:

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Touchdown! The fuel ran out just as it landed but a quick burst of the ascent stage's RCS was enough to stop it tipping. Incidentally, this mission is a whole decade ahead of Luna 16, the first sample return probe to the Moon and the third mission to return samples after Apollo 11 and 12.

With the sample gathered and some extra data to boot, the return section flew back into orbit of the Moon leaving the descent stage on the surface to gather a bit more science from the Mare Fecunditatis.

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Spoiler

A couple of minor glitches during the last part of the mission- invisible oceans and avionics that thought they were on fire:

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The science return wasn't huge due to the landing happening in a biome I've already visited before, but the design has been proven successful and the contract was worth the effort:

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KCT points into R&D, which incidentally has just finished upgrading to allow more expensive nodes to be researched and adding an extra research speed bonus.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/P3FoF7b

Coming up next time: How to get a thousand science in two easy missions.

Spoiler

Did you notice any difference in the appearance of those procedural tanks? I've been experimenting a little with the TU recolouring, changing from shiny gloss finish to a flat matte effect instead in the hopes that it might improve the game's performance a bit; I'm not convinced it did anything at all and I suspect the procedural parts themselves are just really computationally expensive, resulting in incredibly slow frame rates when launching larger craft in the Orange, Blue and the upcoming Red series. Two frames per second though... ;.;

 

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
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