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How do you build your "go-to" rocket?


krblman
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Before I used a very short yet wide Kraken Drive SSTO to get everything where it needs to be, I built large 1-way interplanetary ships and 2-way Kerbin system ships.

 

The SSTO uses a glitch and intuitive design.

 

My old Go-To roekets have gone through hundreds of iterations so far. They were usually a tall lander strapped onto a main rocket stage with inner and outer boosters.

 

How are yours built? I'm curious.

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Mine are pretty standard vanilla, which is why I don't post craft hardly at all. Generally a two stage center rocket surrounded by however many boosters I need. (Asparagus if more than four)

 

Engines and tanks vary depending on dV requirements of the load and mission pretty much. Unless small load, most common I think may be KS-25x4 mammoth center, LFB KR-1x2 Twin boar surrounding.

 

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Payload (lander or satellite) on the top surrounded by a fairing. This has it's own propulsion.

Under that a small (<1k dV) stage for use in space to set up whatever the payload is doing. Tantares Megakatt usually my first choice. Stock wise might be reliant, poodle or even rhino just depends.

First and second stages I set according to dV, based on around 3K to orbit and TWR of about 2. So 2nd stage might be 1k and first stage 2k with boosters or I might go 50/50 depends on situation. Again could be a Tantares heavy lifter or mastodon, rhinos etc. I actually never use the mammoth as I think it looks really weird, like the engine bells look like insect feet or something. Too ugly for my program’s tastes.

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It depends on payload size, small payloads I use a MK2-based SSTO plane, medium-sized payloads I use a MK3-based rocket, large payloads I don't really have a go-to rocket, but design a rocket according to payload, usually with solid rocket booster launch stages and a recoverable orbiter stage and then use asteroid catchers to take the payload to it's destination.

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Posted (edited)

I tried to develop a standardized series of rockets, but very often encountered situations where I couldn't find any design for launching a specific payload because everything was either underpowered or overkill. Usually happens with probes or station parts in fairings: Terrier isn't strong enough to reach orbit before apoapse, Poodle is overkill for this payload weight, and there's no middle ground with acceptable vacuum Isp available at that point.

Edited by Fraktal
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If I am doing an LKO mission, I like using a lower stage Pollux, Thoroughbread, or Clydesdale lower stage, and an upper stage Methalox (I play with a lot of mods). My most reliable crew vehicle uses this basic design.

Anything else, Saturn V 5 meter tanks with Mastadon engines surrounded by 3.75 meter tanks with Mammoth engines with very large upper stages.

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2 hours ago, JebIsBestPilot said:

If I am doing an LKO mission, I like using a lower stage Pollux, Thoroughbread, or Clydesdale lower stage, and an upper stage Methalox (I play with a lot of mods). My most reliable crew vehicle uses this basic design.

Anything else, Saturn V 5 meter tanks with Mastadon engines surrounded by 3.75 meter tanks with Mammoth engines with very large upper stages.

Sounds like you're the "all or nothing" kind of player lol

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i never had a standard launch vehicle back when i was playing career. instead i would make a new launcher for everything. pretty standard designs, anyway.

the only time i actually developed a standardized launcher was for the no contract career challenge, where i did develop an efficient launcher to squeeze the most out of my limited money. it was an ssto based on the twin boar, for the following reasons:

- with ssto i can recover the cost

- i was not skilled enough to pilot a spaceplane

- i did not have the tech unlocked to build a spaceplane

- i was limited to level 1 VAB to save money, so i could not afford the part count to make a spaceplane in any case

- i was limited to level 2 launch pad, so mass limit 140 ton

my launcher then was basically a twin boar, 2 jumbo tanks, a probe core, and a couple parachutes. worked really well, though, being able to launch 25 tons in lko and being fully recoverable, with a cost of sending stuff to orbit of less than 500 kerbucks/ton

 

nowadays i play different variations of grand tours with kerbalism. those involve some really huge motherships, as they need to include life support, radiation shielding, large habitats, and multiple copies of everything to deal with malfunctions. forget easy isru, either, so fuel must be plentyful too. my general policy to send those things up is to make a booster with a bunch of big tanks and a mammoth, and strap as many of those to the vehicle as needed.

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Payload on top, engine on bottom, fuel tanks in the middle?

Then once I have rapiers unlocked, in stock, its payload in the middle, twin booms on the side, with wings.

Then in 3x or 4x rescales, its a sub orbital rapier-powered spaceplane with an inverted gull wing, slinging a a 2nd spaceplane with the payload at the nose beneath it. The 2nd spaceplane is powered by a Rhino (sometimes vectors or a Mammoth).

Rhino-spaceplane and payload are attached back or forth as needed to achieve a proper CG for the combination during the air breathing ascent to space.

Examples:

Spoiler

MyLVE13.png

u1SKl9w.png

mUdaurv.png

f3zqJPp.png

 

 

The key is to get the apoapsis up to >100km (preferably around 150km, it is a rescaled system after all, 3-4x rescale most of the time, but only 1.25x rescale for the atmosphere, and only 1.5-2x rescale for terrain height), and get the 2nd stage to orbit before the 1st stage spaceplane falls back down too much, allowing the 1st stage to be switched two, flown back to KSC, and recovered

7HZixYg.png

 

5oKvI5e.png

 

Works even in 6.4x

Spoiler

R7bUPq5.png

prw9mEC.png

2Hri9G5.png

cDZCVDx.png

2nd stage with no payload, just a test, the excess fuel can be regarded as a payload:

2kNSXrq.png

 

I even have fully reusable variants of this concept (that is, no recovering and relaunching, no expendable items like payload fairings or decouplers, just redock, refuel, load a new payload via the cargo ramp, and go), for playing mods where the KSC is located somewhere else (such as Duna or Laythe) combined with a rescale:

Spoiler

q14MMQb.png

ZvoNuWJ.png

lyEAhYK.png

wGhIoBj.png

FYI, recovering at the dessert airstrip also gets 100% funds return... just in case you'd rather land there.

VTCpR2w.png

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

Payload on top, engine on bottom, fuel tanks in the middle?

Then once I have rapiers unlocked, in stock, its payload in the middle, twin booms on the side, with wings.

Then in 3x or 4x rescales, its a sub orbital rapier-powered spaceplane with an inverted gull wing, slinging a a 2nd spaceplane with the payload at the nose beneath it. The 2nd spaceplane is powered by a Rhino (sometimes vectors or a Mammoth).

Rhino-spaceplane and payload are attached back or forth as needed to achieve a proper CG for the combination during the air breathing ascent to space.

Examples:

  Hide contents

MyLVE13.png

u1SKl9w.png

mUdaurv.png

f3zqJPp.png

 

 

The key is to get the apoapsis up to >100km (preferably around 150km, it is a rescaled system after all, 3-4x rescale most of the time, but only 1.25x rescale for the atmosphere, and only 1.5-2x rescale for terrain height), and get the 2nd stage to orbit before the 1st stage spaceplane falls back down too much, allowing the 1st stage to be switched two, flown back to KSC, and recovered

7HZixYg.png

 

5oKvI5e.png

 

Works even in 6.4x

  Hide contents

R7bUPq5.png

prw9mEC.png

2Hri9G5.png

cDZCVDx.png

2nd stage with no payload, just a test, the excess fuel can be regarded as a payload:

2kNSXrq.png

 

I even have fully reusable variants of this concept (that is, no recovering and relaunching, no expendable items like payload fairings or decouplers, just redock, refuel, load a new payload via the cargo ramp, and go), for playing mods where the KSC is located somewhere else (such as Duna or Laythe) combined with a rescale:

  Hide contents

q14MMQb.png

ZvoNuWJ.png

lyEAhYK.png

wGhIoBj.png

FYI, recovering at the dessert airstrip also gets 100% funds return... just in case you'd rather land there.

VTCpR2w.png

 

 

 

That's epic. Thanks for sharing that with us.

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Big booster. Usually just a couple big stages is enough to get whatever I need into orbit. A while back I figured out how to make a reusable rocket, and I'd been using that to launch stuff. Sometimes I do asparagus boosters to a limited degree.

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I usually just custom build the lifters to match the payloads, it doesn't take long and I've got a decent eye for what any given payload will take. My preference for SRB's means that I can often build a booster with only a few clicks anyhow. The two exceptions are my smallest and largest multipurpose rockets, the Rapier 0.625m small sat launcher, and the Gromoboi (Thunderer) class ultra-heavy 5m launcher with 9 Mastodons.  Each of them has enough discrete parts that I've just got them saved as a subassembly and make small tweaks as needed.

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13 hours ago, krblman said:

That's epic. Thanks for sharing that with us.

I've tried 2 stage spaceplanes in stock (1x size), they don't work so well. Its more practical to just push to orbit. By the time you get your apoapsis high enough, you are so close to orbit, that the complexity of a 2nd stage (and having to land 2 things) isn't worth it. I have tried non-SSTOs where the plane just gets to space, and releases a "payload" on a suborbital trajectory, and the "payload" circularizes itself.

2 stage reusable rockets (no airbreathing engines) work ok in stock size to increase payload fraction over SSTO rockets, while staying fully recoverable... but I think they are impraticable too. Without wings, its hard to aim the trajectory back to KSC to get even 98% recovery. With wings, its easier to just do a winged SSTO rocket, and if doing that, its easier to add whiplash or rapiers to it, and you're back to SSTO air breathing spaceplanes.

Scaling up to 3x, SSTOs are still possible, but payload fraction drops (I think I got over 17% though), but to get good fractions, long LV-N burns are required. Splitting into a 2 stage recoverable allows much faster time to orbit (at the cost of having to fly back 2 planes), and ditching LV-Ns (for role playing reasons).

Its one reason I think 3x or 4x is more fun than 1x.

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On 5/28/2021 at 3:53 AM, KerikBalm said:

I've tried 2 stage spaceplanes in stock (1x size), they don't work so well. Its more practical to just push to orbit. By the time you get your apoapsis high enough, you are so close to orbit, that the complexity of a 2nd stage (and having to land 2 things) isn't worth it. I have tried non-SSTOs where the plane just gets to space, and releases a "payload" on a suborbital trajectory, and the "payload" circularizes itself.

2 stage reusable rockets (no airbreathing engines) work ok in stock size to increase payload fraction over SSTO rockets, while staying fully recoverable... but I think they are impraticable too. Without wings, its hard to aim the trajectory back to KSC to get even 98% recovery. With wings, its easier to just do a winged SSTO rocket, and if doing that, its easier to add whiplash or rapiers to it, and you're back to SSTO air breathing spaceplanes.

Scaling up to 3x, SSTOs are still possible, but payload fraction drops (I think I got over 17% though), but to get good fractions, long LV-N burns are required. Splitting into a 2 stage recoverable allows much faster time to orbit (at the cost of having to fly back 2 planes), and ditching LV-Ns (for role playing reasons).

Its one reason I think 3x or 4x is more fun than 1x.

See I'm the opposite way, for me at least I found it way easier to control a deorbit burn to get a landing within the vicinity of KSC than fly there.

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On 5/27/2021 at 10:33 AM, Fraktal said:

I tried to develop a standardized series of rockets, but very often encountered situations where I couldn't find any design for launching a specific payload because everything was either underpowered or overkill. Usually happens with probes or station parts in fairings: Terrier isn't strong enough to reach orbit before apoapse, Poodle is overkill for this payload weight, and there's no middle ground with acceptable vacuum Isp available at that point.

Whenever I have to launch payload i just strap a kraken drive to it and set the warp on it accordingly

Just now, krblman said:

Whenever I have to launch payload i just strap a kraken drive to it and set the warp on it accordingly

Come to think of it maybe i should ease up on the kraken drives

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How do I build it? 
 

over and over and over and over and over...

I have a bad habit of progressing so far and then erasing everything.. then rebuilding the crafts with slight tweaks/optimisations/aesthetic additions.

haven’t done so for a while... but probably will when the next update drops and I need to edit all the docking ports and solar panels :)

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I custom-build each craft on a per-mission basis.  I don't use reusable subassemblies at all.  (This is mainly because for me, one of the parts of KSP that I really like is the process of custom-designing each ship to be optimized for the specific mission I have in mind, and I really enjoy the process of assembling them.  Reusable standard assemblies would make it less fun for me, not more.)  ;)

That said, there are a few general design patterns that I tend to use a lot, adjusted as appropriate for the overall scale of the ship.

My lower-stage booster (the one I lift off the pad with) is generally a center LFO engine surrounded by 2, 4, 6, or (sometimes) 8 radial boosters.  I lift off on all engines (including the central stack), using asparagus staging.  My radial boosters will typically be one of two designs:

  • SRBs, with small LFO tanks sitting atop them for the central engine to drain while the SRBs are burning.  Size of the radial tanks is chosen so that they'll drain dry shortly before the SRBs burn out.
  • Conical Soyuz fuel tank (from Making History), on top of some 1.875m fuel tank, with LFO engine under it.

If I have 4 radial boosters, I set things up so that they're used up and ejected, 2 by 2.  If I have 6 of them, I stage them 4-then-2.  If it's 8, then I stage them 4-then-2-then-2.

Above that main booster, I then generally have a sustainer stage that gets it to orbit, and a 3rd stage with the payload.  (Additional stages for long and/or complex missions that need more dV.)

I generally design my craft to have a launchpad TWR of exactly 2.0, which is a bit on the high side, but works well for me and I enjoy the launch process.  :)  Consistent TWR makes it easier for me to gauge my gravity turn, since I don't use any navigational aids.  2.0 means a fairly aggressive gravity turn.  2nd stage is generally a TWR of 1.0 or a bit under, and 3rd-and-successive stages have the lowest TWR I can get away with in order to save engine mass.

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My go-to build is a fairly standard lander with 2.5m parts and a poodle engine, an unmanned liquid-fuel-and-Nerv-engines middle stage that can be scaled up or down as required, and a launcher consisting of as many asparagus-staged Mammoths as it takes to reach LKO. It's not very glamorous but if I'm just doing contracts or farming science it gets the job done.

 

If I'm tooling around making stuff for the heck of it I'll get a bit more creative though. My only constants there tend to be "it will be way bigger than it needs to be" and "only the payload stage will be built with aesthetics in mind because I'm too lazy to make nice launch stages". 

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22 hours ago, Snark said:

I custom-build each craft on a per-mission basis.  I don't use reusable subassemblies at all.  (This is mainly because for me, one of the parts of KSP that I really like is the process of custom-designing each ship to be optimized for the specific mission I have in mind, and I really enjoy the process of assembling them.  Reusable standard assemblies would make it less fun for me, not more.)  ;)

Well,  sometimes there is a fun challenge in trying to design a payload within the constraints of a launcher.

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Posted (edited)

I use my Serapis class of heavy launchers. It gets the job done, and is a workhorse unrivaled in terms of power+capability. In my head canon, the drop tanks are equipped with parachutes and are recovered for reuse. 

Here's some beauty shots of Serapis 2-

Spoiler

screenshot508.png?width=815&height=458screenshot509.png?width=815&height=458screenshot510.png?width=815&height=458screenshot512.png?width=815&height=458screenshot513.png?width=815&height=458screenshot514.png?width=815&height=458screenshot515.png?width=815&height=458screenshot516.png?width=815&height=458screenshot527.png?width=815&height=458

 

 

 

 

Now, here is Serapis 3. Serapis 3 is designed for those payloads where you need just a 'lil more thrust. 

Spoiler

screenshot518.png?width=815&height=458screenshot519.png?width=815&height=458screenshot521.png?width=815&height=458screenshot520.png?width=815&height=458

 

Edited by Lewie
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