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KerBLAMO (Kerpollo)


18Watt
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@18Watt

My lander looks a lot like yours, complete with the Mk1-3 command module.  So I don't think I'm too far off on that.

Where we differ, however is the rocket design.  I continually find myself having to use solid boosters to get off Kerbin, even with the "asparagus staging" methodology (using fuel lines to increase dV on the rocket).  Can you break down for me the configuration you have there?  I'll be posting pictures later today, either because I failed again and need help OR, god willing, I make it home successfully.  But rocket design is where I'm seriously lacking in skill, and I think a bit of help here might go a long way towards getting me to complete this before pitching the whole thing in the trash.

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Ascent From Duna:

Spoiler

On the surface.  The nose cones are not critical for the ascent, but they can't hurt anything.  The lander can is flat and wide, so even in Duna's very thin atmosphere it is draggy.

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The 4 Spark engines are plenty to get to orbit.  I really think 3 Sparks would have been more than enough also.

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The lower atmosphere is draggy enough that I like to do the initial climb with a large vertical component, a little like a rocket launch from Kerbin.

NzHb9Nc.png

Circularize at Duna, preparing to rendezvous with the orbiter.

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Approaching the orbiter.

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Docked.  I'll again transfer the science, fuel, and the Kerbal (Val) over to the Transfer Stage.  Then I'll drop the Duna Lander and leave it in orbit, as I won't need it again.  Although it isn't obvious yet, when I get rid of the Lander the Transfer stage has 3527 m/s dV in it. 

2AaO2nn.png

Return to Kerbin:

Spoiler

Although I don't need to, this time I am going to burn directly from Low Duna orbit to a Solar orbit which intersects Kerbin's orbit.  One potential problem is hitting Ike while departing Duna.  I'm going to wait until Ike gets out of the way to leave.

YeshOqA.png

Dropping the Duna Lander.  I transferred the little fuel remaining in the Lander over to the Transfer Stage.  Now I have 3500 dV to get home to Kerbin.  1000 dV would be plenty, so I have over 3 times the amount of fuel I actually need.

Hsz3yTh.png

Duna departure burn.  A burn at Duna of ~650 m/s will take me all the way to intersecting Kerbin's orbit.  From there another 200 dv to make small corrections to my Solar orbit is all I'll need to hit Kerbin.

f5y0sZz.png

The 650 m/s burn at Duna took me all the way to Kerbin's orbit.

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After a few laps around the sun I get a really close encounter with Kerbin.  A very short burn at this point will get me the encounter.

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Which looks like this.

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At the mid-course correction, my orbit is the orange line, but another 20 m/s will make my orbit look like the purple line.

jkzOggA.png

The 20 m/s at the mid-course correction makes my arrival at Kerbin look like this.  It only took me about 700 m/s dV to get from Low Duna orbit to this point.  If I was out of gas I could aero-brake at Kerbin and be perfectly fine.

cCDyxuc.png

But instead I use the rest of my fuel to circularize, I'll try to land close to KSC.

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After the final de-orbit burn, I drop the transfer stage.

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Well, I got sort of close to KSC.  My inclination was a tad off.  I'm going to miss KSC by a few km, I'll be a little south of KSC, and a little short (west) of it.  Oh well, I tried..

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Under the 3 parachutes.  Looks like just a few km to KSC, we could walk home from here if needed.

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Landed.

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Wrapping Up:

Spoiler

The science I brought back from Duna and Ike is not very much.  That's because I've already collected fly-by science of Duna and Ike from a previous mission.  Almost all of the new science I brought home is from surface experiments on Ike and Duna.

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One of the Kerbals advanced to level 5.

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Here's the tech tree after the Duna mission, still all filled out.  This was my last Kerpollo run, so that's all the science I'm going to get.

hSd0uHM.png

 

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3 hours ago, Scarecrow71 said:

Can you break down for me the configuration you have there?

Sure.  The transfer stage is:

  • Mk3 capsule (with a small docking port on top)
  • Heat shield
  • Decoupler
  • X200-32 fuel tank (half of an Orange Tank...)
  • Two Terrier engines mounted on an engine plate.

The core central booster is:

  • Large reaction wheel
  • 2 Jumbo 64 tanks (full-size Orange Tanks..)
  • A Skipper LFO engine

The 4 LF side boosters are:

  • A X200 (half Orange Tank)
  • Two Jumbo 64 tanks (Orange Tanks)
  • A Mainsail LFO engine
  • Fuel line running from the side booster(s) to the central booster.

Plus, I added 4 Kickback SRBs.  Here's some screenshots of the booster stages.

Spoiler

Here's the central core booster.  It's the reaction wheel, and then two Orange Tanks.  I made the tanks Orange so it's easier to see where the central booster stage starts.

N6dWyF4.png

The side LFO boosters, a half orange tank, plus two full orange tanks.  You only see one in the screenshot for clarity, but I'll attach the whole think with 4X symmetry, so there will be 4 of them.

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Plus I add 4 Kickback SRBs between the 4 LFO boosters.  So it'll be a little cramped.

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Here's the whole assembly, with the 4 side LFO boosters and the 4 Kickback SRBs in between.  It may look like there is a possibility for collisions during decoupling, but I assure you there were no issues.  I make sure I'm locked on pro-grade hold during decoupling, and I also reduce thrust during decoupling.  No problems whatsoever.  There are screenshots of the actual decoupling taking place in one of my earlier posts.

wMj6qxG.png

Edit:  Here's a shot of decoupling the Kickback SRBs in the atmosphere.  Note that I am holding pro-grade (not turning) AND throttled way down.  The boosters gently slide out the back, no problem.

3fRwfiW.png

 

 

 

 

Edited by 18Watt
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7 hours ago, Scarecrow71 said:

Where we differ, however is the rocket design.

I thought your rocket looked great!  Even more important, it worked!

One thing I find helpful is to use lower TWR values for vessels which will only operate in space.  First, they generally are more dV efficient- even if the ISP value is lower the lower weight often helps.  Second, when fine-tuning orbits it is handy to be able to make very small changes to your velocity.  Big engines make it hard to just change your velocity by 0.1 m/s.

I still put SRBs on most of my big ships.  It's an easy way to get a little more dV.

All in all your ship looked over-built, with a lot more dV than you need.  That's a good thing!  It reduces the stress doing orbital maneuvers. My opinion is you get the hang of orbital maneuvers much quicker if you are not always fretting about your dV budget.  In this challenge, there are no bonus points for building the lightest or least expensive rocket.

I'm guessing the next time you go to Duna you'll have a smaller rocket, now that you have a better idea what the dV requirements are, and also realize that you are confidently making nice, efficient burns.  

Again, I thought your Duna rocket looked excellent!

 

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Another Jool-5 Run Complete!

While completing the Kerpollo Challenge, the Joolollo mission is essentially a Jool-5 run, with a few additional restrictions- must be a single launch, can only land on the 5 moons once, no probe cores, and need at least two Kerbals.  I did submit my Joolollo mission as a Jool-5 entry.  However, since the Kerpollo missions are now complete, I decided to do another Jool-5 run, this time as a 3RD Level entry.

For this Jool-5 run I'm bringing 7 Kerbals:  One specialist for each of Jool's moons, plus two pilots.  Each specialist will plant a flag on their respective moon.

The Mission Plan:

Spoiler

The five 'specialists' are all new-hires, who have been trained to study one moon each.  Although all of them will visit the surface of Bop and Pol.  Their assignments are:

  • Kathster will visit Tylo
  • Isarick will visit Bop
  • Richson will visit Laythe
  • Pafry will visit Vall
  • Rayton will visit Pol
  • Val and Billy Bobfurt will be the pilots, and will take the specialists to the surface of Tylo, Laythe, and Vall in the dedicated landers.

As the Kerpollo missions are complete, I'm no longer strictly following the Kerpollo criteria.  The ship is very similar to the on I used on the Joolollo mission.  However the landers are bigger, because I'm bringing two Kerbals to each moon.  And the initial booster stage is much smaller, because I will be refueling at Minmus early in the mission, which was not allowed in the Kerpollo missions.

Here's the booster stage(s), considerably smaller than what I used for the Kerpollo mission.  It just needs to get the main ship to Kerbin orbit, then I'll refuel at Minmus.  

k4hGDsK.png

The Mothership section.  I'll use the ISRU at Minmus, Bop, and Pol.  The Laythe lander is hanging off the side.  The return capsule holds 7 Kerbals.

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The Tylo lander sits precariously on top of the whole rocket.  It holds two Kerbals, and is pretty heavy.  Tylo will be the first moon visited, the sooner I can lose the weight of the Tylo lander the easier the ship will handle.

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The entire vessel launching from Kerbin.  In the screenshot the big Clydesdale SRBs have just been separated.  They'll slide harmlessly back.

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Transfer to Jool and Tylo Surface:

Spoiler

I launch directly into Minmus's inclination, or close enough.

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Refueling at Minmus.

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Arriving at Jool, with a Tylo encounter.  For this arrival, I'll capture at Tylo right away.  Learning to to get a Tylo encounter every time you go to Jool is a very handy tool.  It's not that hard, I highly recommend learning to hit Tylo reliably.

abKFPpg.png

There was a potential problem during separation of the Tylo lander.  The decouple force was incredibly high for some reason, and it nearly knocked the fuel tanks off the Tylo lander.  All good now though.

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Kathster on Tylo.  Her head is blocking the view of the ladder on the lander.  Jet packs won't work on Tylo.  If you can't reach the crew capsule from the surface, you need a ladder!  On Vall it is possible to use the jetpack to reach above the surface a little, but not on Tylo (or Laythe).

F8hITKn.png

The remains of the Tylo lander docking with the Mothership.  I'll also use the Tylo ascent stage to land on Vall.

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Bop and Laythe:

Spoiler

Arriving at Bop, looking for a flat place to land.  I never find one.  I've given up looking for flat places to land on Bop.

UPZ8ald.png

The only thing that seems to kinda work for me on Bop is to just land, then slide down the slope, sometimes for several km.  Eventually you'll either slide to a flat(ish) spot, or you'll slide to the bottom of a canyon.

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Isarick on the surface of Bop.

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Back in orbit of Bop, fueled up again.

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Arriving at Laythe.  The Laythe lander (plane) does not have rocket engines until I drop the jet engine, so maneuvering into Laythe's atmosphere is a little tricky.

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To get the plane into Laythe's atmosphere I put the entire Mothership on a trajectory which gets into Laythe's atmosphere.  Then I separate the Laythe lander (plane).  Then I switch back to the Mothership and do another burn to get it's trajectory back out of Laythe's atmosphere.  Then I switch back to the plane and fly the entry.

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Landed on an island on Laythe.  I have plenty of jet fuel, so if I miss an island I can use the jet to get to land if needed.  In this case I didn't need to do that.

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Richson performing his research duties on Laythe.

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Leaving Laythe's surface.  The Whiplash jet engine is enough to put my AP in space at Laythe.  When the Whiplash runs out of air I'll stage away the entire back section of the plane, and two little Spark engines will take the crew capsule to orbit.

IlsMmUU.png

The airplane section has been staged away, and the crew capsule is continuing to orbit with the Spark engines.

m8SnAtw.png

Although the Laythe capsule does have a docking port, it is not equipped with RCS.  I can (and have) dock without RCS, but during this mission that is not required.  So I just get the capsule as close to the Mothership as I can, and do EVAs to transfer the two Kerbals back to the Mothership.

beLzojg.png

Once the Kerbals have transferred to the Mothership, I let the Laythe capsule drift away.  See ya!.

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Vall and Pol:

Spoiler

At Vall I will use the remains of the Tylo lander to go to the surface.  I could theoretically land on Vall with the Mothership, but it is so big and clumsy that landing it on Vall is very difficult, for me anyway.  The smaller lander can is much easier to land.

lgBDgXr.png

Pafry judo-chopping a frozen snack on Vall.

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Here's a shot showing the ladder.  It is possible to use the jetpack on Vall to get off the ground a little.  However, since this is the Tylo lander too it has a ladder, so I'm using it.

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Departing Vall.  None of the red lights in the cockpit are lit up.  So either everything is working fine or the red light bulbs are burned out.

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Docking the Tylo/Vall lander to the Mothership at Vall.  I'll transfer the crew and science over to the Mothership, then I'll discard the Tylo/Vall lander and leave it in orbit of Vall.  

89ANPNb.png

Last moon, Pol.  I'll have the same problem at Pol as I did on Bop- finding a flat enough landing spot.  I end up doing the same thing, letting the ship slide a km or so before coming to a stop on a flat enough surface.

yNo1cnh.png

Rayton on the surface of Pol.

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Return to Kerbin:

Spoiler

After refueling at Pol the return to Kerbin was very basic.  I popped out of Jool's SOI, and then just burned directly for Kerbin.  I had plenty of fuel at that point to just do a plain capture burn at Kerbin, no aerobraking required.

u6BuHqZ.png

Before entering Kerbin's atmosphere I separate the return capsule from the Mothership.

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Tried to land at KSC, but as usual I was off by several km.

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Technically this landing is fine, but it was hard enough that the heat shield was knocked off!  I used 4 radial parachutes, and it wasn't quite enough.  I could have dropped the heat shield, but I like to keep it so that if something blows up the crew capsule isn't the part that explodes.

IOHk2Qp.png

Brought back some more science from the Jool system.  There's a lot of science to obtain out there!  This was only my 10th launch, I did 9 launches for the Kerpollo missions.  My tech tree has been completely filled out for quite a while, and I've never used a MPL in this save.

yyjzgal.png

I think 6 of the Kerbals I brought on this trip were new-hires, Val was the only veteran who came along.  All 6 of the new hires made it to Level 5!

TDQw7YI.png

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Grand Tour (Ultimate Challenge) Complete!!

I recently completed a Grand Tour, meeting the requirements of the Ultimate Challenge.  The basic requirements are to leave LKO with a single vessel, land a Kerbal on every stock CB, and bring all the Kerbals back to Kerbin.  Although it is not required, I launched the entire expedition in a single launch, and landed two Kerbals on every CB in stock KSP*.  *- I forgot to actually put two Kerbals in the lander can while landing on Mun.

I used specialized landers for Eve and Laythe.  For every other CB in stock KSP I used the same lander.  In some cases I also brought the entire mothership (with ISRU) to the surface.  For Tylo, I added an auxiliary landing module to the base lander.  But essentially, the same lander went to the surface of every CB, except for Eve and Laythe.

Starting Out:

Spoiler

I can't get a shot of the whole ship in the VAB.  This shot is for the stats:  $1.72M, 2,950 t, 364 parts, and a height of just under 60 m.  The plane hanging off the side is the dedicated Laythe lander.

U3hP9Jv.png

Sitting on the launch pad.  My goal is to just get the upper section into LKO.  I'll need to stop at Minmus to refuel before leaving Kerbin. The assembly at the top is the Eve lander, which you'll see in more detail later.

uJVJeKm.png

Even though I just need to get to LKO, the boost section is pretty big.

fDFd6xx.png

Most of the boost section is gone.  I'm out of Kerbin's atmosphere, but still a long way from LKO.  With this ship, I aimed for an initial LKO of ~200X200 km.  I'm not sure if I could have launched into a lower orbit or not, the upper stages do not have a very high TWR.

HPaoMVQ.png

Dropping the last booster section.  You can see that even with the main engines running full-blast the TWR is very low.  That's why I had to shoot for a fairly high initial orbit.

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Looks like my initial Kerbin orbit was closer to 250X250 km.  I'm not going to do orbital assembly, so that's no big deal.  The whole mission went up in a single launch.

vZ4cvb3.png

Mun and Minmus:

Spoiler

The vessel at Mun, with the Lander separated and ready to head to the surface.  It's a two-Kerbal lander can, but I forgot to actually put two Kerbals in it!  Argg!

WEkbJKJ.png

Flag planted on Mun.

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Preparing to rendezvous with the mothership over Mun.

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Things are packed a little tight, but that will get better when I get rid of the Eve lander.  I hope.

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Docked, and ready to head to Minmus for refueling.

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In orbit of Minmus.  Here, I'll take the whole thing to the surface.  That would normally be tricky, but Minmus has some nice flat spots to land on.

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Landed on Minmus.

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Flag planted on Minmus.  The big mothership has the ISRU equipment, so I'll need to bring everything to the surface whenever I decide to refuel.

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Launching from Minmus, with full fuel tanks.  Next stop, Eve.

cSW3A5C.png

Eve and Gilly:

Spoiler

The Eve Lander entering the atmosphere.  This is basically the same lander I used for the Kerpollo missions.  Unfortunately, I forgot to fix a problem where the MonoPropellant tank of the Eve Lander disappears during ascent.  So once again, I was left with a vessel with no RCS to dock with the Mothership.

aLMeOno.png

Landed on Eve.

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Flag planted on Eve.

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This time I brought an engineer, to attach a small nose-cone to the Eve Lander.  I don't think it made any difference at all.  But it looks better.  Kinda.

MzsJ3Zl.png

The ascent from Eve starts with propellers.  The plan is to get to (hopefully) 15 km before I have to use rocket engines.

ugTy8C1.png

Passing 15 km.  I think I made it close to 17 km before I had to switch to rocket engines.

CUsrE6V.png

Eventually the Eve Lander gets down to this: just a pod, fuel tank, and a few small engines.  Oh, and a nose-cone this time!

nwRC9ey.png

Attempting to dock with no RCS.  I'm fairly comfortable with docking with no RCS, this approach went perfectly.  Except I forgot to remove the nose-cone from the docking port!!!  So, after a near-perfect no-RCS approach to docking, the ships bounced off each other.  Rats!  I recovered from that though:  The engineer climbed out and removed the nose-cone, then the docking was repeated, this time successufully.

cZLMxIK.png

The Eve Lander docked to the Mothership.  I don't actually need the Eve vehicle anymore.  But I'm going to hang on to it anyway, it might solve a problem later on in the mission..

VdFsqEL.png

Landed at Gilly, planting a flag.  I brought the whole show to the surface of Gilly for another refueling.

TRqH0QN.png

The ship back in orbit of Gilly.  You can see the Laythe Lander (plane), and some of the other components.  The next stop will be Moho, but that is going to require some serious reconfiguration of the parts.  I'm not bringing the whole ship to Moho, most of the ship is staying in orbit of Gilly.

nMSYg0b.png

Moho:

Spoiler

To get to Moho, the lander can will use an ion-powered 'tug'.  But first I need to undock and re-dock the components in the correct order.

8KVhf1u.png

The Ion Tug's sole purpose is to get the Lander to Moho and then back to Gilly.  I might use it to get to Eeloo too, haven't decided yet.  Solar panels don't work too well out at Eeloo, but they do work if your'e patient.

YdpIGzW.png

Orbit of Moho.  The TWR with the Ion engines is ridiculously low.  To capture at Moho, I started the retrograde burn as soon as I entered Moho's SOI.  Even then I was past Moho's PE before I captured, and needed several more orbits to circularize.

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Landed at Moho.

CXqS3PY.png

After returning to Gilly, the whole ship is re-assembled to travel to the next stop, Duna and Ike.

11Gvxjr.png

 

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Grand Tour (Ultimate Challenge) continued..

Duna, Ike, and Dres:

Spoiler

The Mothership in orbit of Duna.  It's a little easier to control now that the Eve Lander is gone.  

dpfWwXn.png

I use parachutes for the Duna landing.  I still need a little rocket power at touchdown, but not much.

2oJzvHt.png

Flag planted on Duna.

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Ascent from Duna, view from inside the lander can.

a1INkFh.png

Orbit of Duna, next stop Ike.

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Flag planted on Ike.  I brought the whole ship to the surface of Ike for another refueling.  After Ike I'll head to Dres.

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Here's a flag on Dres, which looks a lot like Ike.  Again, I brought the whole ship to the surface.  After Dres I'll continue outwards to Jool.

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Jool:

Spoiler

My first stop at Jool is Laythe.  The Laythe lander (plane) does not have rocket engines exposed yet, so de-orbiting is a little tricky.  I put the entire Mothership on a sub-orbital trajectory, and then decouple the Laythe plane.  Then I do another burn with the Mothership to put it back on an orbital trajectory, and switch to the plane to fly the entry.  Note that the parking brake is set- it's not supposed to be..

1m8Ys8k.png

The parking brake is set because I needed it set for the Eve lander.  The Eve lander's propellers were tied to the main throttle, and I didn't want the propellers to be constantly spinning.  Setting the parking brake locked the propellers of the Eve lander.  After Eve I didn't need the parking brake anymore, I just forgot to take it off.  I crashed the Laythe lander several times until I realized I still had the parking brake set.  

935PRDb.png

After releasing the parking brake the Laythe plane landed just fine.  Here the plane is sitting on it's belly so the Kerbals can climb back on it easier.

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Departing the island.  The Whiplash jet engine is more than enough to get a good sub-orbital trajectory.

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Zoom!

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When the Whiplash jet engine stops working, I drop the back half of the plane, the little rocket section will circularize the orbit, and rendezvous with the Mothership.

LLioSfK.png

Although there is a docking port on the Laythe ascent vehicle, it doesn't have RCS, and I don't need the Laythe vehicle anymore.  So I'm going to discard the vehicle, and just EVA the Kerbals over to the Mothership.  Next stop will be Vall.

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Nearing touchdown on Vall.

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Flag planted on Vall.

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Next stop is Bop, here I'm planting a flag on Bop.  Again, brought the entire ship to the surface for refueling.

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Here comes Tylo.  The Lander has enough dV to get from Tylo's surface to orbit (just barely).  But I still need to get the Lander to the surface.  I have a dedicated module I'll add to the lander for that purpose.  In this photo I'm getting everything lined up for assembly.  The two parts need to line up fairly accurately, because I'll need the ladders on both sections.  If the ladders don't align I'll have problems getting the Kerbals back into the Lander.

lqM44sV.png

Descent to Tylo.  I'm not good at doing efficient burns to the surface of Tylo (suicide burns), but I don't have a lot of dV to spare, so this landing needs to be at least somewhat efficient.

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Phew!  Made it!.  I did not have very much dV left in the descent module when I landed.  The ladders are aligned properly, and the Kerbals were able to get back into the lander can.

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Back in orbit of Tylo, I'm using an Engineer to move one of the small docking ports over to the center of the ship, for better balance.  I'll mount the Lander and the Ion Tug to the center.  The Laythe plane is gone now.  I still have the remains of the Eve lander mounted off to the side (top of photo), but it's not too massive, especially after I drain the fuel out of it.  Again, I don't really need the Eve module anymore, but I might be able to use it to get one of the Kerbals back to Kerbin.

lfwVEzF.png

After Tylo I plant a flag at Pol, and get another refueling, with the entire ship on the surface.

JlZPlmw.png

Eeloo and Return to Kerbin:

Spoiler

At Eeloo I decided to just take the Lander to the surface.  I could have brought the entire Mothership down and refueled on the surface, but I decided I didn't need to, as I have enough fuel to get back to Kerbin.

QvHdGTr.png

Flag planted on Eeloo.

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Docking the Lander to the Mothership over Eeloo.

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Ok, the next stop will be Kerbin, and it's time to finally figure out how I'm going to recover the three Kerbals.  The Lander has parachutes, but will only hold two Kerbals.  I have a couple of options for recovering the third Kerbal:

  • De-orbit the entire Mothership at Kerbin.  One of the Kerbals will have to bail-out and use their personal parachute.
  • I saved the Eve vessel, and the Engineer attached some parachutes to it, so now I can use the Eve module to get one (or two) Kerbals back home.
  • Another possibility is the Ultimate Challenge allows you to send a ship up to recover your Kerbals if needed.  I won't need that option.

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Back at Kerbin.  Although bailing a Kerbal out of a burning Mothership and using the personal parachute sounds exciting, I think I'm going to use the Eve module to get the third Kerbal back home.

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Here's the lander, with two Kerbals, returning.  I was aiming for KSC, but missed it by several km.

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Two Kerbals landed safely on Kerbin.

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Brought back some science, although that was not really a primary concern on this mission.

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Doodsel went from Level 0 to Level 5 during this mission.

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The third Kerbal returning in the Eve module.  This time I managed to get a little closer to KSC.

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Seetop also went from Level 0 to Level 5 during this mission.

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No Contract Challenge Started!

I'm making a run at the No Contract Challenge, run by @Superfluous J.  After starting it, I am finding it to be much more difficult than I anticipated.  I'm currently scratching my head trying to figure out how to get funds to unlock R & D level 2.

The challenge calls for a basically 'normal' career, which is what I have (with a few tweaks).  I'm playing 100% stock, with the MH & BG expansion packs.

Starting Out, Game Settings:

Spoiler

I started with a 'Normal' career.  Not sure if 'Allow other Launchsites' is normal, but I have selected that option.  In case I want to try recovering booster stages, I can launch from the Desert site, the boosters will end up somewhat close-ish to KSC.  Maybe.

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Under Advanced Options, I have Kerbal Experience enabled, so everyone starts at level 0.  I did not select Kerbals Level Up Immediately, because I plan on bringing Kerbals home after every mission, and also plan on using MPLs when I have access.  Although I started out with Always Allow Action Groups not selected, I later changed my mind on that one.  I later enabled Action Groups.

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Starting out with 0 Science and $25K.  Before my first launch I'll scour KSC for all the science I can get.  The science available is much, much less than it was during the Kerpollo missions.  Kerpollo called for a 'Science' game, so all the facilities were upgraded, exposing many more buildings to collect science from.  Also, I won't be able to take surface samples until much later in the challenge, have to have both the AC and R&D at least to level 2 for that.

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Early on I changed my mind about allowing Negative Funds.  I haven't used it yet (gone negative), but I may need to briefly at some point.  Negative Funds does not allow you to go in the red to purchase facility upgrades.  Actually, I'm not 100% sure what it actually does do.  I'm assuming it allows you to launch ships even though you are low on cash.  But I could be wrong, maybe it is just to allow for failed contracts to take you in the red.  For this challenge I won't be accepting any contracts..

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First Launch:

Spoiler

For my first launch, I planned on getting to orbit of Kerbin, and also tried recovering the booster.  Booster recovery is tricky.  Of course you need a probe-core on the booster.  You also need to fly a very specific profile.  The booster needs to get it and the payload (upper stage) above 70 km for a minute or two.  You then need to circularize the upper stage before the booster enters the atmosphere, or the booster will disappear.  Then you switch to the booster and fly it down, with the upper stage safely in orbit.

Here's the booster dropping back to Kerbin.

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The probe core is needed to deploy the parachutes.  The splashdown went fairly well, although I did not get remotely close to KSC.  I still got about 70% funds recovery though.

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After orbiting Kerbin, the upper stage parachutes back.  Due to the launch from the Desert site, my inclination was off a tad for hitting KSC.  I tried to correct it, but still missed KSC by a tad.

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I did get close enough to get 97% funds recovery.

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Second Launch, Fly By Mun:

Spoiler

For my second launch, and fly-by of Mun, I'll need a heavier ship, so I spend some funds upgrading the Launch Pad.  I don't need more than 30 parts, so the base VAB is fine.  I really wish I had the Tracking Station upgraded, I still have no orbital guidance.

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Whizzing by Mun.  With the base-level Tracking Station I was only able to guess at my trajectory.  Hitting Mun is easy.  However, where she goes after that is a mystery to me without the orbital guidance from the upgraded TS.  I ended up with a somewhat favorable trajectory after passing Mun, but it could have been a lot better with orbital guidance.

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For this launch I didn't try to recover anything but the capsule.  I didn't have access to big fuel tanks, so I was already up against the 30 part limit, wasn't able to add a probe-core and parachutes to the booster.  Later in the challenge I will certainly try to recover as much as I can, but I'm afraid most of the early launches will not recover anything but the capsule.

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I also landed about halfway around the planet from KSC, so the funds recovery of the capsule wasn't great either.

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Third Launch, Minmus Landing(s):

Spoiler

I'm still up against a 30-part limit with the base-level VAB, but now I have bigger tanks.  I'm not attempting to recover the booster on this launch though, the booster will take me all the way to Minmus.  At Minmus, the upper stage has over 3,000 dV, so I can do a little biome-hopping to collect science.

I should mention that prior to this mission I activated the Leadership Initiative in the Admin building, at 25%.  This should give me a boost to funds I get for 'Worlds First' achievements.  It would hurt funds from contracts, but we're not accepting any of those anyway.

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The early probe-core only has basic SAS, no Pro-Grade hold.  So the launch is basically hand-flown.  I still managed to launch directly into Minmus's inclination, off by 0.4 deg.  I spent some funds getting the TS to level 2, so now I have some orbital guidance.  Yay!

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Not sure what's going on here.  Maybe Bob ate some suspicious mushrooms or something.

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I actually managed to hit 7 biomes on Minmus before I got nervous about my fuel.  I hit Great Flats, Midlands, Lesser Flats, Flats, Highlands, Greater flats, and the (north) Pole.

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Ended up with a boatload of science, which I can't even use yet.  Because I still don't have enough money to upgrade my R&D.

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Once again, I didn't get even remotely close to KSC.  I really need to work harder at landing closer to KSC, I need every penny.  Still don't have enough to upgrade the R&D.

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At this point I'm not sure if a Mun landing will get me enough funds to unlock R&D or not- I may need to head to Duna next.  Wonder if I can do Duna without upgrading the VAB?  This will require a lot of thought, not my strong suit..

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No Contract Challenge continued..

Fourth Launch, Mun Landing:

Spoiler

For the Mun landing I'll be attempting another booster recovery, so I'm launching from the Desert site.  The rocket becomes unstable about the time it hits supersonic, and I still don't have probe cores with Prograde Hold.  So it was a struggle getting to orbit.

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The booster recovery went pretty well though.  The rocket was more than happy to fly backwards during re-entry.  Heck, it wanted to fly backwards even during the ascent..

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Not a huge amount of funds recovered, but I'll take it.

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Landed on Mun.

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The science return wasn't huge because I'd already done a fly-by, getting science from space high and low.  So this is just the surface science.

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Funds recovery from the capsule.

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At this point, I have most of the tier-2 parts unlocked.

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Fifth Launch, Duna and Ike:

Spoiler

The Duna ship, my most expensive ship yet.  It has 30 parts, and weighs about 139 t, just under the limit of 140 t.  The side boosters are only about 2/3 full to keep the ship under the 140 t limit.

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Arriving at Duna I got a favorable Ike encounter fairly quickly.

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Orbit of Ike.  I brought 3 crew members, Pilot, Engineer, and Scientist.  I'll need the Engineer to re-pack the parachutes.

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Flag on Ike.  Notice how wobbly the lander looks sitting up high on the engine.  That will be a problem at Duna.

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The lander tipped over on Duna, it sits too high on the engine to be stable.  This isn't going to work, I wasn't able to get the ship back upright.

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Ok, second attempt, this time I use the engineer to offset the engine up into the fuel tank.  Hopefully this will be a little more stable.

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The parachutes help, but I still need a little thrust to set down softly.

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Phew!  Offsetting the engine really helped.  There's no ladders, but the Kerbal is able to climb back up to his seat.

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Return to Kerbin for a splashdown.

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Brought back a lot of science.  I actually forgot to take a Surface Sample at Ike!  Rats!.

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Recovered a few funds from the lander.

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After the Duna/Ike mission, I was able to fill out the tier 2 Tech Tree.  If my math is correct, I need to have 10,050 science to fill out the rest of the tech tree.  And I need more money.

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Sixth Launch, Research Vessel:

Spoiler

My sixth launch is going to be a research vessel, to farm science with the MPL.  I recruited another Scientist (~$70K or so..).  I made a huge mistake upgrading the Admin Building to Level 3.  My plan was to use the money-for-science strategy at 100% to gain funds that way.

Unfortunately, I only have enough Reputation to do that strategy at 60%.  I could have left the Admin Building at Level 2 and done 60%!!   That was a LOT of money I just wasted.  Oops.

Considering options for my next launch.  I'm low on funds, but should have enough to get to Eve and Gilly.  I might be able to save a lot of money by just sending a probe.  The main reason I've been sending a scientist out is to keep resetting experiments.  However, I think I'm in good shape on science.  

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No Contract Challenge Continued, Launch 7:

Hokay!  I think I'm going to be able to complete this challenge!  I have a plan now.  I just completed launch 7, to Eve and Gilly.  It didn't go exactly as planned (of course), but I got the Kerbal home.  And even better, I have a plan!

I still don't have enough funds to unlock the L3 R&D facility, but I think that's going to be okay.  For two reasons:

  • First, I can now launch MPLs, which means I can just farm Science, and exchange it for funds if needed.  That's pretty grindy though.
  • Second, I'm pretty sure I can make a run to Dres with the tech I have, and unlock the L3 R&D facility.  At that point I have a plan.

Here's my plan:  Once I unlock the L3 R&D, I'll hit the rest of the CBs in one launch.  It'll be a slightly scaled down version of the ship I used to complete a Grand Tour.  I'll leave behind the Eve Lander though.  After going to Dres and (hopefully) unlocking L3 R&D, I just need to hit Moho, Jool (Laythe, Vall, Tylo, Bop, Pol) and Eeloo.  With ISRU and Ion engines, that'll be a piece of cake!  That launch will be expensive, but the returns should be pretty good.  If that doesn't get me enough funds, I can do multiple rendezvous and docking procedures at multiple bodies.  If that doesn't work, I'll have to spam science with MPLs.

Here's a few shots from Launch 7, out to Eve and Gilly:

Spoiler

Here's the ship to Eve and Gilly.  It's expensive, over $60K.  I was considering just doing probes, but I wanted the extra $$$ for EVA and flag planting.  The little probe on the top is to land on Eve.  I'm not going to try to recover stuff from the surface of Eve, the ROI on that ship is not good at all.

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Landed on Gilly.  The lander is leaning precariously.  I find Gilly's lack of gravity disturbing.

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Probably won't tip over, but I'm scrambling to get back into the capsule just in case.

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The Eve probe-  that didn't go very well.  First, I brought a seismometer, but landed in the ocean, so the seismometer isn't going to do any good.  Next, the thing ended up tipping over in the water- this next photo is from under the surface of the water looking up.

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Here's what the probe looks like from above the surface.  It's 100% functional though!  The bad news is I seriously underestimated antenna needs.  I have a relay antenna on the other ship, but still no connection to Kerbin.  So I can't collect ANY science from the surface of Eve.  Rats.

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Here's the pod returning to Kerbin.  One parachute would have been plenty, not sure why I put two on.  Symmetry I guess.

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Brought back a bunch of science from Eve and Gilly.  By the way, I estimate I'll need 10,050 science to complete the tech tree.  So I already have enough science for that, just need funds to unlock the R&D facility.

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Just noticed this screen says 187,656 Funds from recovered parts.  That's odd, the capsule I recovered can't be worth much more than about $10K or so.  Perhaps this screen is showing the cumulative funds from recovered parts?  Odd.

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No Contract Challenge, quick update:

My plan, as outlined in the previous post, is not going to work.  Wow, I was not even close.

I did make it to Dres and back, at a fairly reasonable cost.  I'll provide screenshots and details of the Dres run later.  I did earn enough funds to unlock R&D fully, which is good.  Unfortunately my plan of doing the rest of the CBs in one launch is not going to work, for these reasons-

  • I don't have enough money.  Launching a 'Grand Tour' vessel is crazy expensive, even without the Eve lander.
  • Even if I had enough money to launch the ship, I don't have enough money to upgrade the VAB and Launchpad to where they could support such a vessel.

My next plan was to scale back, and just launch a small Ion-Powered ship to Moho.  Nope.  The Ion engines are a little expensive, but the xenon is really really expensive.  So I'm not doing Xenon to Moho.

I'm currently working on a Nuke powered mission to Moho, but wondering if that's the best way to go or not.  If the Nuke mission to Moho doesn't work out, I'll revert back and re-evaluate.  It might make sense to launch an ISRU ship and leave it at Minmus to make future launches less expensive.  Except I don't have that many more places to visit- after Moho it's just Jool and Eeloo remaining.

I guess I'll have to see how Moho goes, and make new plans after that mission either succeeds or fails.

 

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Sorry for missing this for so long (4 whole days) I'm on it now!

On 12/10/2021 at 1:26 AM, 18Watt said:

Negative Funds does not allow you to go in the red to purchase facility upgrades.  Actually, I'm not 100% sure what it actually does do.

Negative Funds means you can be penalized into the negative. It doesn't let you actually spend negative. It really doesn't affect 99% of careers and those it does affect, those players probably shouldn't have it enabled :)

As you guessed, for this challenge it's meaningless as you can't be penalized for failing contracts.

On 12/10/2021 at 1:26 AM, 18Watt said:

Hitting Mun is easy.  However, where she goes after that is a mystery to me without the orbital guidance from the upgraded TS.

One trick is to make sure you pass Mun on the far side, so Mun slows your ship down instead of speeding it up as you fly by. You ensure that by making sure your apoapsis is higher than Mun's orbit, about 1/6th or so of an orbit ahead of it. So Mun is at about 2:00pm on a clock and your Ap is at noon.

Bonus: This is what NASA did when going to our Moon. Only with more math.

(I'll read the rest later I promise. Christmas is coming and I got a lot to do :) )

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I read the rest of your posts, very well done so far. Yeah you're starting to feel the money crunch that this challenge imposes on so many of us. Regarding the way forward and this snippet:

20 hours ago, 18Watt said:

It might make sense to launch an ISRU ship and leave it at Minmus to make future launches less expensive.  Except I don't have that many more places to visit- after Moho it's just Jool and Eeloo remaining.

I think your best bet is to make 2 probes, and launch them in 2 launches so they are separate. They both need docking ports and at least one needs a relay antenna that can reach Kerbin from Eeloo (or both need a regular antenna that can reach Kerbin from Eeloo). One should be a beefy ISRU ship that can drill and convert ore and has enough dV to go from the surface of Ike to the surface of Pol or Bop in one shot, including refueling the other probe.

Launch both probes. do rendezvous and dock in every SOI you can, landing and drilling where you can/must and topping off the other probe with the first's fuel. That will get you rendezvous, dock, and "constructing a space station" cash in EVERY SOI you can get them to.

And because they're probes, they'll be (relatively) cheap.

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On 12/14/2021 at 10:48 PM, Superfluous J said:

I think your best bet is to make 2 probes, and launch them in 2 launches so they are separate. They both need docking ports and at least one needs a relay antenna that can reach Kerbin from Eeloo (or both need a regular antenna that can reach Kerbin from Eeloo). One should be a beefy ISRU ship that can drill and convert ore and has enough dV to go from the surface of Ike to the surface of Pol or Bop in one shot, including refueling the other probe.

I’m doing almost exactly what you described, and it is going extremely well.

I did get to the surface of Moho and back, which gave me enough funds to launch what I believe will be my final 2 ships.  One is a fairly large ISRU ship, which has a small lander as well.  The lander will visit the surface of almost every remaining body, sometimes with the ISRU ship as well.  I did not bring gear to land on Laythe or Tylo, as the ROI for those looks questionable, and I don’t think I’ll need them.

I also launched a probe (separate launch..) which will perform docking at every body.  I’m going to hit them all, except for Moho.  This is looking very good- I’ve done docking at Kerbin, Mun, Minmus, and Kerbol (solar), getting Rendezvous, Station Start, and Docking in each situation.  I have Leadership Initiative running at 25%, so these are all generating a lot of cash.  I’m guessing I’ll have the funds to upgrade the remaining facilities before I get to Eeloo.

If not, I’ll still be Returning from Jool and Eeloo, probably just orbits at Laythe and Tylo.  I also have another trick up my sleeve too- I’m still collecting a lot of science even though the tech tree is filled out.  I can cash those science chips in for cash too, and I’ll have a lot of science when I get back.

I did overbuild the probe though.  I was not sure if the probe and ship needed to arrive separately at each SOI to get the Rendezvous/Station/Docking bonuses.  So the probe has over 5,000 dV.  After testing it out, I discovered the probe and ship can arrive at each SOI together.  Then they just need to be separated and get some distance between them, and re-join.  I probably could have done this with a probe powered by only a few hundred m/s dV in RCS, the 5,000 m/s LFO gear I brought was not necessary at all.  Oh well, it will still work fine.

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No Contract Challenge, Launch 8 (Dres):

Spoiler

I'm using a Nuke engine to get to Dres and back.  The Nuke engine isn't cheap, but my launch costs on this one are under $90K, not horrible.

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Arriving at Dres.

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Landed on Dres.  Yep, I brought the Dalek again.

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Rendezvous with the Nuke tug, to get back to Kerbin.

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Not sure why I'm on EVA here.

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Back at Kerbin, dropping the Nuke portion.  The Dalek portion will do the deorbit burn.  It needs to be a really good deorbit burn, because I don't think I brought any heat shields on this trip.  The lander can won't survive a regular entry, needs to be slowed down a lot.

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Landed back on Kerbin.

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Plenty of science.

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Lots of funds now.  If I haven't upgraded the R&D, that's probably next on my list.

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No Contract Challenge Launch 8.5 (Moho):

Spoiler

I forgot to name this ship "Ship 9", so my numbering is going to be out of whack.  This one is going to Moho.  On return I'm going to try to recover the Nuke engine if I can.  Again, launch cost under $90K.  

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Burning to get to Moho.

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Landed on Moho.

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Returning to Kerbin, trying to recover the Nuke portion.  Fingers crossed.

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I hope 6 parachutes is enough.  The Nuke isn't going to help much, it's about useless at the surface.

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Safe spashdown!  Not too far from KSP either.

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More science.

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Funds are looking good, but unfortunately not nearly enough to do what I want to do next, which is launch a gigantic ship and hit the rest of the CBs.  I don't have enough funds to upgrade my VAB and launch facilities, and even if I did I don't have enough to launch the massive ship I've been planning.  So, I ended up going a different direction.

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No Contract Challenge Launches 9 and 10 (the rest of the CBs..)

Spoiler

Many thanks to @Superfluous J for pointing me in this direction.  My new plan is a scaled-down version of a ship capable of reaching every body (except Moho) in a single launch.   Launch cost is a little high at $360K, but this ship will hit the Jool-5 plus Eeloo, so the return should be pretty good.

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Launching the big ISRU explorer, a.k.a. 'Ship 9'.

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Ship 10 is a probe which can dock to Ship 9 at every CB I visit.  I wasn't sure wether the probe needed to arrive separately at each CB to get the Rendezvous and Docking bonuses, so I packed the probe with about 5,000 dV.  Turned out it does not need to arrive separately, so the 5,000 dV was not necessary- I could have sent up a lighter probe with 100 m/s dV and accomplished everything I needed to.  Oh well.

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The first docking at Kerbin.

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I got bonuses for rendezvous, starting a station, and docking.  Hmm.  If I do this at every CB, the finds are really going to add up.

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Getting Docking Bonuses at CBs I've Already Visited:

Spoiler

Docking Bonuses from Mun.

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Forgot to screenshot the docking bonuses at Minmus, but I did them at Minmus too.  Here I'm refueling at Minmus.

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Docking bonuses around the Sun.

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Eve...  These are really adding up!!

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Gilly, where I also refueled.

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Out to Ike, where I refueled.

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And Duna...

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Dres, stopping again for fuel.

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Jool, Laythe, Vall, Tylo, Bop, Pol, and Eeloo:

Spoiler

Forgot to take a screenshot of it, but I did get docking bonuses around Jool.  Here I'm getting docking bonuses around Laythe.  I did not bring a Laythe lander, although I think it may have been worth doing.  Although definitely not necessary, because....

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After reaching Laythe, I had enough money to upgrade the rest of my facilities!!!  No Contract Challenge Complete!!

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Well, might as well finish the mission as planned.  Here's a landing on Vall.

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I also didn't bring a Tylo lander, so I just took the docking bonuses.

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Here's Bop.  As usual I did not find a flat place to land..

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Here's Pol.  I actually found a flat spot to land!  Yay!

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And Eeloo.

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Yep, I'm still doing the docking bonuses at every CB.  They are adding up fast!

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Return to Kerbin, and Finish Screens:

Spoiler

Returning to Kerbin, I just did a direct burn from Eeloo.  I didn't want to leave the ISRU ship in orbit of Kerbin out of gas, so I refueled at Minmus before returning to LKO.

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The lander can returning to Kerbin, missed KSC by a long ways.

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More science brought back.

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More funds recovered.  

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Another shot of KSC, fully upgraded.  I have $7.5M at this point.

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I could also get another $879K from selling my science in the Admin building.  As you can see, I have Patents Licensing and Leadership Initiative running, they were both a big help.

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Here's a screenshot showing all the contracts I've done- zero!

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No Contract Challenge II.

I'm making another run at the no contract challenge.  Not sure if I can do it any better than my first attempt, but I'd like to try a few different things.  Mainly, I'd like to see if I can do it without using MPLs to spam science and money.

Ship 1:  My first launch was identical to my first launch in my earlier run at this challenge.  I gathered some science around KSC, and my first launch simply orbited Kerbin, with another attempt at booster recovery.

Ship 2:  My second ship is a little more ambitious this time.  I upgraded the AC and LaunchPad before launch.  The AC upgrade allows me to do EVAs, for more science, and also additional bonuses.  I started out with a fly-by of Mun, getting science both high and low.  Then I went to Minmus, and landed.  Getting to Minmus without the base-level TS (Tracking Station) is a little tricky.

I don't quite have enough funds to upgrade the R&D, so I still can't take surface samples.  But I did plant a flag.  I also managed to transmit enough science to unlock RCS thrusters.  So I'm considering making Ship 3 a probe with RCS to get rendezvous, docking, and station bonuses.  I think if I bring some fuel in the probe I can get those bonuses at Minmus, Mun, and Kerbin before bringing Ship 2 back home.

I'll warn y'all in advance- I probably won't post a great deal of screenshots from this run.  I'm doing this a second time just to try a few different strategies.

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No Contract II - Ships 3 and 4:

Ship 3:  I did launch a probe to rendezvous with ship 2.  I was able to get rendezvous, station, and docking bonuses at Minmus, Mun, and Kerbin before bringing ship 2 home.  I left Ship 3 (the probe) in orbit of Kerbin, for potential future use.  I was able to upgrade R&D and start Leadership initiative at 25%.  I also had enough science to obtain the Seismometer, which should accelerate my science gains.

Ship 4:  I sent this ship to a Mun Landing, then on to Minmus to biome hop.  I built a much larger ship than needed to have plenty of fuel to biome hop at Minmus.  I think it cost well over $30K.

With ship 4, I'm able to collect surface samples, and have Thermometer, Pressure, Seismometer, Goo, and Magnetometer (didn't bring a Materials Bay..). I was able to land on Mun and get a surface sample.  At Minmus I had enough fuel to land at 5 biomes- Greater Flats, Flats, Great Flats, Lesser Flats, and Lowlands.  At that point I had enough fuel to get back to Kerbin, with not much to spare.

On return to Kerbin, I have $259,647.  Upgrading the VAB will cost me $225K, but that would leave me a little over $34K to get to Duna or Eve.  So I'll need to either keep the part count to 30 or less, or keep the launch cost to $34K or less.  I'm out of ideas for the night, and will give some thought to my next move.

It would also be nice to upgrade Mission Control, in order to get maneuver nodes.  That's $75K.  One option would be to send another probe up, and get rendezvous and docking bonuses at Duna or Eve.  

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No Contract II, ship 5:

I launched Ship 5 to Eve and Gilly, and got back home safe.  I made a few mistakes, but nothing I wasn't able to recover from.

I had left a probe in orbit of Kerbin, and brought that along with Ship 5 to Eve, to get rendezvous/docking/station bonuses.  I spent some money upgrading the Mission Control facility, so I could have maneuver nodes.  That ended up being a waste of money- my antennas were not big enough to talk to Kerbin, and I'm still not clear on how to properly use remote pilot assist.  

The probe actually has RCS, but I wasn't able to use that either because I was too far from Kerbin.  I did not put RCS on the main ship headed to Eve, so I had to do all my docking without RCS.  Doh!

I thought I was being pretty smart when I brought an extra Okto2 probe core to upgrade the core on my probe.  The engineer pulled that rocket surgery off nicely.  And like the Mission Control upgrade, the upgraded probe core did me no good, because I wasn't able to control the probe anyway.  I did pat myself on the back for doing the EVA construction successfully.  I had even planned for this event, and purposefully made sure the original probe core was not the root part.

I got rendezvous/station/docking bonuses at Solar and Eve orbits.  Then I got frustrated at Gilly, where I was getting rendezvous and docking bonuses, but not station start bonus.  I thought there was a bug going on, and tried several things to make the station start complete.  I eventually discovered the cause-

I was undocking the probe from Ship 5 at about 87X87 km orbit of Gilly.  That is well inside Gilly's SOI.  However, the little force exerted on undocking the Docking Port Jr.'s was pushing my probe into a fly-by trajectory!  Took me about 5 reverts before I finally figured out what was going on.

I had originally planned on leaving the probe at Eve/Gilly to save on dV for the return home.  I also planned on skipping the 'Eve Low Orbit' science, again to save on dV.  But after landing on Gilly I realized I probably had plenty of dV, so I brought the probe home to Kerbin with me, and also did a dive towards Eve to collect Eve Low Orbit science.

After returning to Kerbin (left the probe in orbit..) I now have a little over $2M funds, and 4600 science.  I could max out R&D if I needed to, but I think I'll hold off on that.  More important to me right now is upgrading VAB so I can use more than 30 parts.  And maybe the TS, so my probes can talk to Kerbin a little better.

Oh, Ship 5 cost a little over $42K to launch.  That's expensive, but I was able to bring the probe home, and also do a dive towards Eve, so I think the added cost paid off well.

Next up is probably either Moho or Dres.  

 

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No Contract II, Ship 6 (Duna and Ike):

I'll include some screenshots in this post.  My sixth launch sent two Kerbals to Duna and Ike.  I brought the probe with me for the docking bonuses.  Went pretty well.

Ship 6 Screenshots:

Spoiler

It's hard to see, but there are 3 Lawn Chairs on the ship.  I'm only bringing two Kerbals, the reason for the third seat will be clear in later screenshots.  At $60K it's an expensive launch.  I'm starting to think that spending a little extra on launches can pay off if you are able to accomplish more with each launch.  I had to upgrade the VAB to level 2 and the Launchpad to Level 3 to accommodate this launch.  I did a similar mission with the Level 1 VAB and Level 2 Launchpad last time, and it worked.  This time I wanted more fuel and more parts.

FDrmd9D.png

In a previous mission, I upgraded the probe with an OKTO2 core.  However, I didn't want to drag a huge antenna with me, and the probe core is useless without a connection.  So I had the Engineer put the third Lawn Chair on the probe.  Voila!  Now I can control the probe just fine.  It actually looks like fun!

9E7PPoe.png

Reconfigured after landing on Ike.  I just took the lander down to Ike.  There was fuel left in the booster, as I had hoped.  So I docked back up.  I'll drag the fuel to orbit of Duna.  The probe hanging off the side is odd-looking, but I didn't have enough places to dock it in-line.  The engineer could have moved a Docking Port Jr. over to the back of an engine, but I didn't bother- this setup worked fine.

3EJk3h6.png

I used the booster's fuel to de-orbit to Duna.  What I should have done was again left the booster in orbit with the remaining fuel, and taken the lander down alone with maybe half-tanks.  That would have been more efficient, and left me with a lot more dV to get home.  I figured that out too late to implement though- the Old Fashioneds were getting to me.

HRIaN2o.png

Yep, just wasting the fuel in the booster.  I really should have left it in orbit, and taken the last of the fuel after landing on Duna.

1LgPB5R.png

Landed on Duna, with a full tank of gas.  If I'd left the booster in orbit, I could have departed Duna orbit with a full tank of gas, or pretty close anyway.

43Buj0P.png

Docking with the probe.  At least that has a full tank of gas.  Returning the crew to Kerbin, I made one more upgrade to the probe:  I swapped solar panels.  The probe ended up with the two 1X6 deployable panels, while the Lander got the probe's single-pane panels.  Now the probe will have less chance of being oriented in a way that it doesn't get sunlight on the panels.  Although that's still technically possible.

YLJqDNb.png

Brought back a bunch of science from Duna.  Not quite enough to finish out the tech tree, but will get me pretty deep into it.

3Y2BRGr.png

I also now have plenty of funds.  Probably will upgrade R&D.  I don't think I'll need more than 255 parts, so the VAB is a low priority.  Perhaps upgrading the TS?  By putting a Kerbal in a Lawn Chair on the probe, I don't really need the TS upgrade.  Although I do miss out on Maneuver Nodes.  Maybe I'll upgrade the TS after all.  I really miss Maneuver Nodes.

E6aBZwP.png

 

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Interesting to see how different our early upgrade paths are. I've been putting off R&D over and over again because I keep wanting something else. you're going interplanetary without maneuver nodes so you can get more stuff. :D

23 hours ago, 18Watt said:

I'm still not clear on how to properly use remote pilot assist.

From what I remember of it (and this is super old so perhaps not even viable) you need a remote control unit AND a pilot on board a ship. What constitutes a "remote control unit" I'm not sure, but IIRC those big ugly inline probe cores nobody uses count as them.

23 hours ago, 18Watt said:

the upgraded probe core did me no good, because I wasn't able to control the probe anyway.

That's not true, is it? A better probe core has more "lock to" options so you can aim prograde/retrograde/normal/etc even without a connection. You can do a lot with those controls.

23 hours ago, 18Watt said:

 I also planned on skipping the 'Eve Low Orbit' science, again to save on dV.  But after landing on Gilly I realized I probably had plenty of dV, so I brought the probe home to Kerbin with me, and also did a dive towards Eve to collect Eve Low Orbit science.

Actually diving down towards Eve from Gilly, getting the low science, and then ejecting to Kerbin from your Eve Pe can be CHEAPER than returning to Kerbin directly from Gilly.

 

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5 hours ago, Superfluous J said:

Interesting to see how different our early upgrade paths are. I've been putting off R&D over and over again

I'm not 100% sure, but I'm finding that spending a little extra early can speed things along.  One example is the extra science experiment (Seismometer) in Tier 2.  I'm collecting as much science as I can everywhere, but having one extra experiment really accelerates science fast. There's a lot of viable approaches to this though.  R&D also allows surface samples and resource transfer.  Another savings from R&D is with larger parts it's easier to keep the part counts at 30 or less, so I could put off upgrading the VAB for a while.

I'm finding I can accomplish a lot with a 30-part count limit, so I put off the VAB.  I quickly needed the Tier 2 Launchpad though, my ships tend to be significantly heavier than they really need to be.

Getting to Minmus with the base-level TS was a challenge, but doable.  However, I really did not want to leave Kerbin's SOI without the TS upgrade.  I think most players would agree with that..

5 hours ago, Superfluous J said:

That's not true, is it? A better probe core has more "lock to" options so you can aim prograde/retrograde/normal/etc even without a connection.

Yes, that is true (what I meant is you are correct..)  And I did use the additional modes.  While I wasn't able to get the probe completely lined up with the ship, I was able to get within about 45 degrees or so- all 6 basic modes are 90 degrees off from each other. (Pro, Retro, Normal, Anti-Normal, Rad In, Rad Out.). Just getting it within 45 degrees did simplify docking.

 

Edited by 18Watt
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No Contract II, Ship 7 (Dres and Jool):

I launched ship 7, an ISRU vessel capable of going anywhere except Moho.  The plan was to bring the probe for Rendezvous/Docking/Station bonuses, and visit Dres, the Jool 5, and Eeloo.  Then return to Kerbin.

I was able to upgrade all facilities before reaching Eeloo.

The flight path ended up being:

  • LKO, rendezvous with the probe.
  • Minmus, to refuel.  I launch the big ISRU ship with partially empty tanks, just need enough fuel to get to Minmus to refuel.
  • Drew, where I again refueled.
  • Jool, with an assist from Tylo to capture.
  • Laythe (orbit only), Vall (orbit only), Tylo (orbit only), Bop, Pol.

Reaching Pol, I had enough funds to fully upgrade all buildings.

Notably:

  • I never visited Moho or Eeloo at all.
  • Never landed anything on the surface of Eve, Laythe Vall, or Tylo.
  • I did use Leadership Initiative at 25% when I was able.
  • Did not need or use a MPL at all.
  • I would not say the vessels I build are particularly efficient or cost-effective, although I do try.

Perhaps the best achievement I'm taking away from this challenge is I think I've finally figured out how to make Remote Pilot Assist work!  Well, I didn't figure it out on my own, of course.  Many thanks to @Superfluous J and other forum members for (repeatedly) explaining what is required to make that feature function.

What next?  Try not to laugh.  I might make a THIRD run at the No Contract Challenge.  Now I'm curious if I can do it without using Strategies in the Admin building.  Seems like it should be possible, but I'll need to build ships more economically that I normally do.

 

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