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Terran(ism) Space Program


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It's been a while since the last update, hasn't it...

Time to make up for that with a little trip to the Moon:

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An engine failure on the descent stage wasn't very helpful- I had to make the entire descent on one continuous engine burn, leading to it running out of fuel just above the ground and the ascent engines had to fire to avoid a crash-and-fall-over situation.

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Deployed science kit, er, deployed, flag planted and roving done, time to head back home. I don't think the deployed science kit is going to work as I got the patch wrong, meaning they still use the stock antenna system instead of Real Antennas. Maybe a hacky hack would fix it, or else I'll try to find an antenna that doesn't work with RA and bodge together a relay using that.

Return to orbit, rendezvous and docking were all fine, then I tried to be fancy and move the lander's fuel cells to the Gemini's service module using EVA construction mode. BAD IDEA! Many many explosions ensued and the shattered remains of the craft began spreading out around the Moon...

REVERT!

To two hours earlier, before the rendezvous burn started, but better than being stuck in just a lonely Gemini pod around the Moon!

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Second time round I made sure to save regularly and decided not to do any EVA construction, but instead to bring them home as soon as possible. At this point the TWR on the upper stage was extremely high and it pulled over 12g during the return burn; fortunately Gloria and Terri didn't black out for that one because it was a pretty short burn.

Upon their return, two juicy contracts paid out:

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This makes up for the total lack of science gained from this mission, as they landed in the lowlands which I've already scienced out.

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Next up, the inaugural launch of the new Yellow Croissant crewed orbital ship, based on the Apollo Block 3 pod with a custom service module. It's kitted out for LEO operations and I have two contracts for orbital flights to do that have overlapping orbits. I checked that the food/water/oxygen supplies would last for the required 13 days of orbiting, completely forgetting to check the hydrogen/oxygen levels for the fuel cells which, er, ran out...

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Frantic power saving measures weren't enough- the pod ran out of power during the descent. Fortunately, by that point it was descending under parachutes so it didn't matter too much, but that was far too close for comfort!

(There was never any real danger to the crew as I would just have brought them back and left the uncompleted contract for the next one to do instead, but that would have been annoying...)

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A moderate haul of science was gained from crew experiments, but the crew weren't that excited by their near-death experience, adding barely a year each to their retirement dates- except Victoria, who added barely half that.

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Future Yellow Croissants have had solar panels added to the service modules to make them less reliant on the fuel cells to stop this problem happening again.

One last simulation to finish, this time of a descent module for a Mars sample return mission:

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Not quite sure what happened to this one- at 11km/s, the slightest wobble can be instantly lethal to any parts caught by even the slightest whiff of airflow and the whole thing exploded in seconds. I'll try again with a different (non-procedural) heat shield as the rest of the design checked out fine.

Final scores:

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Full album: https://imgur.com/a/4BfodPf

Coming up next time: The next tech tree node to unlock will allow pretty much every ISRU system to be used on the little Kerbalism chemical plant, meaning it's time for a prototype mining operation to be developed for Mars and/or its moons. I suspect Mars itself will be the best choice as it has both carbon and water readily available, but I'll look at the moons anyway as they're so much easier to land on with their puny gravity.

 

 

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OK, so ISRU is a bit of a bust. Water electrolysis is just too slow to produce useful quantities of H2 and O2 without sending a lander out one transfer window in advance, and since the next window is in 100 days and I don't have all the tech nodes unlocked yet it would have to wait for another 2 years, pushing the crewed expedition back even further. I have a few ideas for the Earth-Mars-Earth ship and a lander/ascent craft which doesn't use ISRU, and I'll probably make a crew rover based on the Mk2 lander can to do some exploration (actually, maybe I could use that as the lander? I'll have to think about that...) and on top of all that, I have to deal with radiation- more shielding increases the time before the crew get irradiated to death, but also adds A LOT of extra weight that severely cuts down on delta-V.

Going to Mars isn't easy!

On a more positive note, I've done some mod reshuffling which has allowed me to run EVO 0.2 which looks even better than 0.1

In other news, it's time to say goodbye to the Yellow Eclair space station as I'm no longer using Gemini pods for LEO stuff and it doesn't actually have a purpose any more.

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The Gemini pod on top was built to survive re-entry as an emergency evacuation system, so it came down intact and was recovered; the rest, not so much:

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Now on to a test of a Venus rover and its EDL systems- once I remembered the parachute, that is!

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KRASH went a bit weird after that though, making Venus spin at a ridiculous rate in the wrong direction and, well...

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This is fine.

Next, an Apollo Block 3 based lunar shuttle to visit that lunar space station I'm about to launch. Getting it there will probably need a 700 ton launch rocket, but it should have enough fuel to capture, rendezvous and return on its own.

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And finally, a crewed Mars rover design takes shape, using the Mk2 lander can (in 'lander' mode since the 'rover' option isn't available, but that means there's plenty of storage space) and a fairly simple propulsive/parachute landing system:

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EVO 0.2 adds Martian sandstorms, which are great until you have to try and land in one!

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It drives well enough on the surface, has a built-in Bon Voyage controller, supplies for 3 crew for 70 days, sizeable solar panels and backup fuel cells with enough fuel to run everything for 40 days on their own. It also carries deployed science equipment, which I may have a patch for that'll work with Real Antennas, and some science experiments to boot.

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Now all I have to do is figure out how I'm going to put 9 tons of rover into low Mars orbit. 

I also just updated to the most recent master branches of RO and RP-1 which add compatibility for SSPX, meaning many more parts for crewed vessels are now available; the only downside is t they're ever so slightly bigger than the hitchhiker and MPL (and the stock Mk1-3 Apollo-alike pod). Whoever did the configs also helpfully added shared costs so after the first part was bought the rest were really cheap.

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

Coming up next time: More designs for Mars probably. I've been doing A LOT of that lately, with some designs looking more promising than others, but I'd rather do something a bit more interesting than faff around in the VAB editor or run yet another simulation.

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I made a thing!

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Spoiler

Outtake:

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Yes, you read that correctly- 500 tons to LEO in a single launch! The rocket itself is nearly 11kt on the pad, powered by twelve F-1A engines (six on the core, six boosters) and six UA-1205 solid boosters to get it off the launchpad, followed by five NK-15VM hydrolox engines (from CH-4) in the second stage. 500 tons per launch is at the lower end of what I'll need for the Mars ship, but I've been working on a nuclear powered space tug to drag stuff around in LEO meaning I won't need to add all the control gubbins to get the various pieces in the right places for orbital assembly.

And then...

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The contract acceptance binge to end all contract acceptance binges- over TWENTY MILLION FUNDS in advance payments alone! I immediately spent 10 million of that on KCT points- a whole 500 of them- and bumped R&D up a bit while getting all three VAB build queues up to parity, or near enough.

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Other things without screenshots include- nuclear LEO tug to grab 500 ton payloads and drag them around in LEO; delivery system for the crewed Mars rover (now with heatshield to survive re-entry at interplanetary velocities); fixing the Orange Cliff design after I launched one only to discover that only one of its four boosters had a fuel line to the core (fortunately(?) the engine on the other side had a thrust loss to balance it out a bit); and scrapping the White Kepler 'hydrolox tank to Mars' idea in favour of just making the Mars ship bigger.

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

Coming up next time- I think I've done enough Mars mission planning for now- the next Mars window is far too soon to get everything built in time, and the window after that is about two years later so there's plenty of time to wait for tech upgrades etc. before finalising everything. Instead, I'll probably look at further interplanetary missions for the next set of transfer windows to Venus and Mars, or just scraping up all the science I can get from within Earth's SOI by deploying all the latest science experiments.

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OK, I lied- more Mars planning is still to be done. The difference this time is that it's for this Mars transfer window, not the one in two years' time.

But before that, a test run of the new Moon Base V2's descent went, er, mostly according to plan:

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Note to self- land on flat ground!

An attempt to put that base on top of a White Stratus launch rocket revealed something interesting- the White Stratus is still using the old F-1 and M-1 configs instead of the newer, more powerful versions. Upgrading those and switching to more powerful NK-15-VM hydrolox engines in the second stage increased its payload capacity by 10 tons, but using longer fuel tanks (tooled up for the huge Black Viscount rocket I made last time) increased it even further- up 40 tons to 190t to LEO, and so the White Nimbus was born:

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A series of frustrating test failures followed as the Mars sample return capsule I made kept burning up on re-entry when its ablator ran out; I later discovered that the procedural heatshield I was using is decidedly broken and sheds ablator far faster than the 'normal' lunar-rated heatshields.

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After switching to a 1m lunar rated heatshield the probe re-entered (mostly) intact first time, parachuted safely to the ocean- and promptly sank like a stone...

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Aiming for land may be required for this one, or possibly an airbag to make it float but those are heavy and mess up the fairings a bit too.

Now for my latest crazy contraption- a NERVA-powered space tug capable of hauling 500 ton payloads around in LEO:

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The test payload tank containing 500 tons of ballast was pretty easy to shift, but this thing isn't fast in any respect- its acceleration is terrible, its handling is ponderous at best and when docked to a payload it'll take ages to turn while using very large quantities of RCS propellants. Oh, and the nuclear engine takes a good 15 seconds or more to spool up to full thrust.

Some of those issues can be solved by adding more control systems (doubling the number of RCS thrusters and tripling the number of reaction wheels), but this thing isn't meant to go fast; it's meant to move stuff around in LEO as efficiently as possible, so speed isn't that much of an issue.

And now a test with that shiny new White Nimbus to see if I can actually launch 190 tons of nuclear space tug into orbit:

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The design work I've been doing for the Mars sample returns has produced two new craft- Blue King, which will collect the samples from Phobos and Deimos before giving them to Blue Queen which will take them back to Earth. I still need to make one for Mars itself, but that's a project for another day.

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Full album: https://imgur.com/a/FRNu5qo

Coming up next time: I'm going to stop doing all these simulations soon and get on with doing some real missions- there's crew training to be done for the Yellow Croissant flights plus flying out to that Moon station and Moon base (which will need new craft built for that), plus the upcoming transfer window to Venus which I intend to cram with as many missions as I feasibly can.

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On 4/7/2021 at 10:15 AM, jimmymcgoochie said:

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Cum historia mutat valde
Razgriz revelat ipsum:
Primum daemon scelestus est.

Cum potentia sua
Daemon fundet mortem in terram:
Deinde moritur.

Cum somnus finit,
Razgriz surget iterum:
Magnus heros est.

(if you don't get it)

Edited by Pipcard
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Posted (edited)

I took a few days away from this game to stave off burnout (just endlessly designing stuff and simulating it isn't particularly fun) and to focus on my other KSP project (link in my signature :wink:), but now I'm back with... more designing and simulating?

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Airbags, airbrakes and a parachute weren't enough to slow this thing down, so instead I ditched the first two and just went for a MASSIVE parachute made of carbon fibre- which is rather ludicrously OP since it can take a silly amount of heat and physical load without breaking.

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So it lands on Mars OK, but you might notice the very full fuel tanks and the ~5km/s of delta-V. That's because this thing is designed not only to land on Mars, but to fly back into orbit again. This is the Mars component of the sample return mission and it's more than capable of flying back into orbit with fuel to spare for rendezvousing and docking with the return craft.

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A quick test, sticking it on top of a Blue Bishop and swapping the expensive fluorine Agena for a cheap and reliable kerolox RD-58, showed that it could make it to Mars quite easily, using the booster's second stage for the transfer burn and the RD-58 for capturing, deorbiting and braking:

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As good as all that is, the lander can only land in one biome and so return one sample. That's simply not enough- and since the lander has ample fuel to spare for more samples, why not send a rover to get more?

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This rover has the capacity for up to 8 surface samples, plus a plethora of other science experiments which should keep it busy for years to come. The little klaw on the front is at just the right height to grab the sample return lander's main fuel tank so the samples can be transferred, and the rover can self-drive using Bon Voyage to make those days-long trips between biomes pass a little quicker. This little rover is light enough that an Orange Terrain-class rocket can throw it at Mars, with a little cruise stage on the decoupler just below its heatshield to course correct, Perseverance-style, before descending to the surface directly from a hyperbolic trajectory.

With most of the major hardware now in place, it was time to throw another ten million(!) funds into KCT points and bump both VAB and R&D up to the next thousand:

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At last, a real launch of something that isn't a boring contract sat! And it's a doozy- Yellow Profiterole, the Big Gemini-based lunar space station, which had a minor hiccup during the launch when one of the F-1A engines failed to ignite; fast reactions and slow game speed meant I could stop MechJeb from releasing the clamps, restart the engine and send it skywards a few seconds later.

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To the Moon!

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I forgot to get a picture when it was in orbit, but it's now in a 55x55km orbit in the plane of the Moon's orbit around Earth and should be easily accessible by craft arriving from Earth and by landers from the surface. I then deorbited the transfer stage, which wasn't easy as the avionics went a bit funky and the engines didn't light despite many attempts, but unfortunately the deployed science site didn't even register the impact. That could just be because it's on the wrong side of the Moon and has no communications link to Earth, or it might just be because deployed science and Real Antennas don't play nicely together with my bodged-together hacky patch; the Moon base I'm preparing will answer that question one way or the other as it has a second deployed science setup on board to be deployed on the Moon's near side.

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Full album: https://imgur.com/a/qTQb1EG

Coming up next time: I need a lunar Apollo craft to send crew out to that shiny new station; I could do it with a Gemini but all the crews I have available are trained for Apollo and the rest are training for Apollo until early 1963. I might also make a space station in LEO and send up a crew for a long duration test- a year in orbit should be informative for building a crewed Mars ship.

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
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An important test happened as the prototype Yellow Pain-au-chocolat (lunar-rated Apollo block 3) managed to fly into orbit atop a White Stratus launcher and complete a lunar transfer without using any fuel from its own service module:

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OK, so 4km/s is probably immense overkill for just reaching orbit of the Moon and then coming back, but I'd rather have too much fuel than not enough.

A few contract sat launches later, Blue Knight Venus was launched to perform multiple scans of Venus. Or rather, it was supposed to- it turned out the second stage engine was off-centre, meaning asymmetric thrust that the gimbal could only just cancel out when it was full of fuel and even RCS couldn't control after it burnt some off. Refitting that proved to be a real pain as the most recent RP-1 doesn't have configs for the original SCANsat parts, only the shiny new ones (which are all much further along in the tech tree); cue a hacky hack to copy and paste the configs from an older version of RP-1 into this one so I could actually save the trivial edits in KCT- there was nowhere near enough time to build a new one even if I had unlocked all the necessary new-style parts.

After all that, Blue Bungalow got to launch first:

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A souped-up Orange Mug rover stuck on top of the orbiter half of Orange Canyon (now with MOAR SCIENCE!!TM), this mission has a few contracts to fulfil and plenty of time to do so; definitely worth waiting for the scanning to complete first to find a good landing site for the rover.

And speaking of scanning:

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A minor course correction on the edge of Venus' SOI will set it up for a completely circular and perfectly polar orbit, allowing much scanning to occur; the biome and SAR scanners want to be much higher and won't work particularly well, but the radar scanner only works up to 500km and Venus' rotation rate is so slow anyway that there's no chance of any gaps in the scans.

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There are A LOT of rockets waiting for their chance to launch- four for the Martian sample return mission, two more Yellow Croissant crewed LEO flights, orbiters for various outer planets, the Mars version of the Blue Knight, and more than a few contract sats that I built in bulk just to keep the build queues going and will launch as soon as contracts drop for them. In other news,  the six newest astronauts completed their latest mission training and are now available for the next two crewed LEO flights; the rest of my astronauts are busy doing Apollo proficiency training so they can join in the fun, as I have no plans for any further Gemini launches.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/pTDur3s

Coming up next time: A crewed mission in LEO, a probe mission arrives at Mercury and maybe, just maybe, the first of several launches towards Mars.

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With the Venus window out of the way and a few weeks until the Mars window opens, there's just enough time to launch a crewed mission to LEO for science and profit:

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A rather unremarkable 13 days in space later the crew return to the surface; newbie Dan got an EVA for some bonus pushing back retirement time.

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A successful flight all round, filling the time nicely until the Mars transfer window opens. The crawlerways are tailed right back to the VAB as five rockets all roll out to their launchpads- Blue Pawn, Blue Queen, Blue King, Blue Knight Mars and Orange Island, all destined for the Red Planet and all related to the big sample return mission in one way or another- Blue Knight will map Mars to find the biomes for sampling while the other four have some form of sample collection or transport role.

Launch montage!

Spoiler

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No screenshot for Blue Knight Mars' launch, but it looked exactly like the other Blue Chess-class rockets' launches, see above.

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Mars fleet away! A few course corrections will be required in about five months' time, with most of the missions arriving in about 11 months.

Now that I've got that out the way, there's a bit of time to fix up my relay network- one of the three Super Relays (for the Grey Kebab imaging sats) was completely out of position and had actually been overtaken by its trailing counterpart; a quick burn into a resonant orbit and two days later it was back where it belonged. This time round I fixed all the orbital periods to within 0.1 seconds per 28 hour orbit, so they should stay put this time.

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I also discovered that the stupid Kebabs weren't even running their imaging experiments due to a failure of Kerbalism's automation system, so I'll need to keep an eye on them.

Next up, the third of three Yellow Croissants to complete the photography experiments for the postcards and fridge magnets in the KSC gift shop for SCIENCE!TM

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Three Kerbals, three different EVA suits, no idea why...

Half way through this mission, White Galileo interrupted as it approached Mercury.

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Despite the design theoretically having enough delta-V to land on Mercury when it left the VAB, it's clearly incapable of doing so now. Future attempts will probably require even more fuel and a pared-back science payload to have even a chance of landing.

And now back to our regularly scheduled viewing. And yes, switching to White Galileo broke the orbital flight contract so I had to cheat it complete after staying in orbit for the required time.

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After some consideration, I've made some minor modifications to the Yellow Croissant to give it a bit more endurance while reducing the launch costs- upgraded TL5 solar panels, TL8 near-earth avionics that can be turned off to replace the deep space versions used before, larger stores of food for the crew and hydrolox for the fuel cells and slightly smaller tanks on the launch rocket; it had nearly 400m/s left in the second stage when reaching its target orbit and over 1km/s in the service module. The new Yellow Croissant Mk2 will do nicely for completing these double orbital flight contracts, assuming I can get crews trained for them.

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

Coming up next time: I need to finalise the design for Moon Base v2 and figure out how to get it there, as well as designing a lander that can be sent out to the Yellow Profiterole lunar space station to await a crew- I see no reason not to combine a visit to the station with a visit to the base.

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Posted (edited)

Another Blue Bishop launch, this time to Vesta:

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Other than the name and destination, it's identical to Blue Bishop Ceres and will be doing a minor course correction before arriving at Vesta, in a fairly high 100km orbit to avoid crashing into the surface since Vesta is very oblate (read: fat in the middle).

Next, Blue Bungalow arrived at Venus and captured into orbit successfully.

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With only a couple of gratuitous explosions during the descent, the rover landed safely on the surface. Just ignore the sulphurous clouds and lead-melting temperatures, everything is fine...

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'Only' 85 atmospheres of pressure and 720 Kelvin... Due to a fortuitous (and completely unplanned) coincidence the probe captured into an orbit that was almost perfectly aligned with the target site for the rover contract; unfortunately the rover dropped a bit short of that target due to the crazy soup of an atmosphere so there's a bit of driving to do; fortunately, I don't have to do it because Bon Voyage will do it for me.

After a short experiment with a cluster of tiny cubesats to be used as relays in LEO, which failed because I woefully overestimated how far they'd spread in orbit, I launched two sets of four relays to replace the old Green Seagull constellation; now anything in low Earth orbit will be covered by UHF, S- and X-band communications thanks to a set of 4 relays in a 500km equatorial orbit and a set of 4 relays in a 5000km polar orbit, with their orbits synched to within 0.1 seconds in both sets.

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Spoiler

I was initially only going to do one set of four at 500km, but they can't see each other at that altitude so a second set was needed to get proper coverage.

Next up, the big one... So big, in fact, that it doesn't fit on the launchpad properly, or the screen:

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After the two White Galileo probes wound up abysmally short of delta-V considering how much they had on the launchpad, I decided it was time to go big- by taking everything from the second stage up from White Galileo 2 and mounting it on top of a Black Viscount superheavy launch rocket. The payload is well within the Viscount's abilities and with a frankly ridiculous 35.9km/s of total delta-V on the pad or 26.7km/s in LEO, this should be more than enough to brute force my way to Mercury and land on it, whether it likes it or not.

 

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Most of the upper stages use NK-15-VM hydrolox engines (from CH4), a powerful and efficient workhorse that I've been using extensively due to its tremendous thrust (nearly 2MN), high efficiency (~450s ISP) and 5 restarts; the fact that there's no TestLite config so it can't fail is only a minor consideration- really! The top stage is the stupidly efficient ATV engine (also CH4) with 492s ISP which can deliver immense delta-V (over 11km/s here) and with enough MLI to prevent boiloff even when diving at the Sun like this.

I have high hopes for this mission, what with the 10km/s of excess delta-V it's packing... Black Galileo 1 is now on the build queue, thanks to a little bit of research reprioritisation to push the necessary solid rocket node through and get hold of those UA-1205 boosters; I wanted to come up with a new name scheme, but it was too late in the day for that and Black Galileo sums it up pretty well- it's just White Galileo stuck on a Black-class >10kt rocket.

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Full album: https://imgur.com/a/z5y0tpg

Coming up next time: The Neptune transfer window approaches, as do a number of crew training completions that might allow some journeys to the Moon to visit the new station and the so-new-it's-not-built-yet surface base. For that, I'll need a lander, so some small tweaks to the old Moon lander designs will be on the agenda too.

(Forgot to mention- Orange Beach 2 was the first launch of 1963; with the next transfer window to Mars just over a year away, I’m still on course for a 1965 Mars landing!)

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
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The current Moon mission plan looks like this:

  • Send crew on Yellow Pain-au-chocolat (lunar rated Apollo block 3, up to 5 crew) to Yellow Profiterole (lunar space station), complete contracts;
  • Send Yellow Yum-yum (Moon base) out to the Moon and land it somewhere interesting, with lots of biomes nearby if possible;
  • Send Yellow Crumpet (Moon lander) out to the station and dock, crew can then transfer over to lander;
  • Land beside base, complete contract;
  • At some point, send a proper Moon rover out to the Moon so crew can drive long distances to different biomes without the issues of long-term EVAs (aka running out of life support resources).

To that end, I've created an upgraded Yellow Crumpet using the latest technologies (TL6 RCS and thrusters, which surprised me as I was only expecting to have TL5 available, and TL5 solar panels that can power the whole thing, avionics and all) which uses a White Stratus to launch; a bit wasteful, since my previous Moon missions managed a Gemini and that lander on the same rocket, but with a space station rendezvous to consider it's worth the extra cost for the extra margin available. Test runs look good with a healthy reserve of fuel, which is good to have in case of an engine failure.

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A quick check on the Blue Bungalow rover on Venus revealed that it had completed the 'drive here' part of its contract and only needed to transmit science from the surface to complete the contract. Also, it's still on fire...

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The last Blue Bishop interplanetary probe launched to Neptune. Using the most efficient transfer would have taken over forty years to get there, but with plenty of delta-V to burn a much faster transfer was available that will take less than a decade, with enough fuel left to capture into orbit and possibly even to get a flyby of Triton:

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Due to the long burn time and the sheer distance to Neptune, the transfer burn missed its SOI entirely and a considerable course correction will be needed in about 2 years to get it back on track.

A quick trip to LEO for Elvira, Elvira and Daniel racked up two contracts, even if Daniel managed to get locked out of the pod once they'd landed in Mexico afterwards.

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No science, no experience, ~200 days added to Elvira and Elvira's retirement dates and 300 to Daniel's, but 350k funds in contract rewards made it worthwhile. Shortly afterwards Venus rotated enough that Blue Bungalow got a signal and dumped a huge quantity of science back to Earth, completing its contract for 900k funds and giving about a thousand science points- and 50 KCT points for free.

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And then I did something bad...

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New engines on the Black Viscount launch rocket plus bigger SRBs increased its payload to LEO by 150 tons, to 650t; the only downside is those engines are RD-270Ms. They burn pentaborane.

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The fuel density and ISP are better than kerolox and the RD-270M produces similar thrust to the F-1, but pentaborane is as toxic as nerve gas and spewing thousands of tons of boron fumes across Florida and the Bahamas is probably not a good idea...

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/PE2btzm

Coming up next time: I've been working on a Jupiter mission that would launch four probes in one go and complete the transfer burn, then separate the probes to capture independently and visit all four of the Galilean moons. The probe design is fine, but for some reason sticking it on top of the White Nimbus heavy launch rocket is causing real issues as the M-1 core engine seems incapable of controlling its attitude once the F-1A boosters have separated and it always ends up pointing straight down before I terminate the sim. I might try an RD-270M based version to get more control during the ascent

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43 minutes ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

only downside is those engines are RD-270Ms. They burn pentaborane.

Downside? Sounds all good to me! :wink:

Spoiler

Now you just need some waterfall on those....

 

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@Spaceman.Spiffthis one's for you... There are good greens- the green of freshly grown grass, of leaves emerging as the last frost of winter thaws, of crisp apples, juicy kiwis and zesty limes. And then there's the green of pentaborane combustion, now even greener thanks to Waterfall plumes:

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That was a little experiment, switching the F-1A and M-1 engines of the White Cloud-series launch rocket for RD-270Ms, but it was more expensive and much heavier so I decided against it for the time being. Instead, the new Moon rover will use a standard White Nimbus to reach space, followed by twin J-2Ses to transfer to the Moon and a combination of SRBs and KTDU-425s to land. The simulation run went fine, until it didn't:

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A real mission next as the new Moon base- Yellow Yum-yum- reached the Moon and prepared to land. The target was Mare Nectaris, a biome I haven't visited yet to my knowledge, so should yield some nice science when the crew get there. The descent was complicated by MechJeb being completely unable to control the thing without RCS even though the engines had gimbals (and stock SAS could manage well enough) and one engine suffered a performance loss meaning the opposite engine had to be manually thrust limited to keep it balanced, but despite the issues the landing went without a hitch, though not necessarily on the first attempt...

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And now that Moon rover- Yellow Baklava- heads to the Moon to join it.

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The landing was far from precise, but the rover can drive itself out to the base and gather science as it goes- it's kitted out with a plethora of experiments including a powerful visible imaging camera, RPWS and magnetometer experiments on the roof and a few others tucked away in the service bays, which also contain supplies, fuel for the fuel cells and big solar panels that'll provide plenty of power during the day. The fuel cells can only power it for a few days in darkness with the avionics on, but it'll last for several months with the avionics off and I can always let it run out of power completely and then recharge in sunlight when it's not in use.

The first Yellow Pain-au-chocolat was next to launch, carrying a crew of 3 to the Moon to do many things- dock to the Yellow Profiterole station, land on the surface and stay in the base for a while, do some exploration with the rover and complete a handful of contracts in the process.

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Docking was difficult due to a distinct lack of RCS propellant- something I'll fix for future versions of this craft- but eventually it worked and the crew settled into their new home.

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Ignore the 'White Copernicus' thing, that was just a misnomer when the station was launched. For some reason the space station contract didn't register the fact that this crew were now aboard the station as requested so I may need to force-complete that one, and the crewed Moon orbit contract wanted an inclination that's ever so slightly different than the station's orbit so I'll just have to pick that one up afterwards.

Two SCANsat contracts have completed for Venus recently- low and high resolution altimetry scans- so I might need to raise its orbit once the low-res scan is completed as that scanner only works up to 500km but the others would prefer closer to 5000km. In other news, a few probes of the Mars flotilla have made their course corrections and continue on their way to the Red Planet to extract much science- and send little pieces of Mars and its moons back to Earth.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/k1nkigd

Coming up next time: The next Moon lander will be launching in a couple of weeks, but there's no rush for it to get there as the Moon station contract requires 30 days in orbit. Crew training continues at pace, R&D keep crunching through those nodes and everything looks good for a crewed Mars mission departing in 1963.

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3 minutes ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

There are good greens- the green of freshly grown grass, of leaves emerging as the last frost of winter thaws, of crisp apples, juicy kiwis and zesty limes. And then there's the green of pentaborane combustion, now even greener thanks to Waterfall plumes:

Mhm..... That looks snazzy.  :cool:

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First launch for today is the new Yellow Crumpet Mk2 Moon lander, heading out to the lunar space station before the crew ride down to the new lunar base:

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More on this later, but they still have to wait those 30 days so I fulfil the contract (even if it doesn't register properly) before heading to the surface.

Next up, a 'go big or go home' design that takes the last RD-270M-powered monstrosity and makes it even more monstrous by doubling up on engines on the radial boosters- previously I tried 13 RD-270Ms and 6 UA-1207 SRBs, but now I've ditched the SRBs and gone for 19 RD-270Ms; 7 in the core and 6 boosters with two engines each.

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My initial target was 750 tons to LEO, but the first attempt fell short by about 100m/s and after adding 200m/s by beefing up some fuel tanks, it fell short by 50m/s!? :confused:

I may have slightly rage-quit KSP at that point, but came back this morning and tweaked the payload down to 725t and it worked fine:

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A brief visit to Deimos to try and move the little lander on its surface to a new biome was complicated slightly by the game thinking it was still landed the whole time and a very limited fuel supply, but it managed to move from lowlands to craters so there's more science to be gained from it; unfortunately there's no fuel left at all now so no further biome hops will be possible.

Now for the big one. Literally, it's the biggest rocket I've launched so far by some margin. Black Galileo 1, launching a few days late because I completely forgot to factor in rollout times in my calculations, was launched and managed to catch the tail end of the transfer window to the innermost planet.

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A 10km/s transfer burn plus a minor course correction afterwards was enough to send it at Mercury, so a small correction half way there will give a nice low orbit with a ~6km/s capture burn- and a whole 8km/s of fuel remaining, assuming the boiloff calculator doesn't go crazy and steal half of it when I look at it next.

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With that launch out of the way I could get back to the Moon and send two of the three crew down to the surface. Unfortunately, I forgot about the deployed science stuff and sent a pilot instead of an engineer, but that's not too much of an issue because a) the contract requires a crew of four, not two, and b) the central station is apparently too heavy for a Kerbal to carry, most likely because of my hacky hack to make it use Real Antennas, so will need a further hacky hack to make it carryable.

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Still, Dave and Vicky are safely landed on the Moon, less than a mile from the base, and will be gathering some surface science before heading into the base to wait for some of their colleagues to join them out there. I may have called that rover Yellow Baklava before, but turns out that was a different prototype and the one I actually made is called Yellow Mille-feuille. I'm running out of names for these crewed craft so Yellow Baklava will probably get re-used for the Mars version of this rover.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/yTp5jIy

Coming up next time: Expect a week-long gap before the next update, but when I'm back I'll be sending a second crew to the Moon and putting that rover through its paces.

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Just a quick update- I'm back following a short trip back home to see family and have managed to dissuade myself from going off and trying a JNSQ grand tour; instead, I put some more work into my Mars mission and have come up with this for the design:

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At over 2200 tons it's impossible to launch in one go, but the design is modular to allow construction in space- the three tanks on the bottom can all be launched separately, with the two on the sides providing most of the Earth->Mars transfer burn and the core doing the rest of that plus the capture burn at Mars, and possibly the return burn as well if the fuel lasts that long. The upper stage is intended to do the return burn and a capture burn at Earth, but I may end up sending a pod up to grab the crew and any remaining science while it's still coming in on an escape trajectory- at last, a justification for those asteroid intercept missions!

There's not a whole lot of crew space- a cupola, habitation module and lab is all they get- but with a crew of three there's ample space for them all and the Kerbalism calculator says the crew will be OK for up to 4 years before stress becomes an issue, and 5 years before radiation reaches lethal levels; with redundant power and life support systems and the crew section protected by almost a hundred metres of fuel tanks, they should be fine even if they get stressed and start smashing stuff, plus I packed some repair kits which might be able to fix some damaged parts.

I'm planning to send a few other craft out to Mars in the same transfer window: a rover for the crew to live in during their stay on the surface and do some exploration; an ascent craft to get them back into orbit; and some kind of lander to get them down there in the first place, which could also go to Phobos/Deimos if I design it right. I may also include a set of relays using X- or Ka-band dishes, since apparently K-band isn't something the DSN dishes can receive...

There's still some work to do- it needs a proper communications system both for local communications and to send data back to Earth- but I don't plan to change anything substantial unless I really have to. The transfer window is in just under 600 days, but it's good to be prepared!

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22 minutes ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

Kerbalism calculator says the crew will be OK for up to 4 years before stress becomes an issue,

Have you unlocked gravity rings or greenhouses? They are helpful for stress. 

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13 minutes ago, Spaceman.Spiff said:

Have you unlocked gravity rings or greenhouses? They are helpful for stress. 

Not in RO/RP-1 they aren’t, because they don’t exist in RO/RP-1. I have 100% on the crew stress-o-meter, which is as good as it gets for a spacecraft- not alone, call home, exercise and panorama bonuses.

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Posted (edited)

Good news and bad news:

Bad news, I won't be posting here for a while.

Good news, I'll be posting here instead: https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/202342-project-intrepidity-a-kerbalism-grand-tour-attempt/

Much like the RSS/RO/RP-1 bug bit during my last career (Kerbal(ism) Space Program), now I've come full circle and returned to the stock system with Kerbalism- this time for a full-blown Grand Tour on hard difficulty, though with F5/F9 enabled. Once I'm done with that, I'll return to this career save- I have a Mars to put flags on after all!

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
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