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Starbound - A JNSQ Adventure


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STARBOUND

Spoiler

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Introduction

Oh boy, here we go again. I'm Misguided Kerbal, and here I am starting another mission report (hopefully we'll finish this one.) Anyway, I've been meaning to do a full JNSQ playthrough for quite a while now so I'm quite excited for this. 

This is going to be in JNSQ - sandbox mode, but with my own personal restrictions, as I really hate the grind of Career and Science mode and just want to do my own thing. All of this is my own interpretation, of course - though you will see strong inspiration from things such as BDB and Raptor9's craft catalog and the likes.

So, what exactly are we doing here? Good question, imaginary voice in my head. The end goal - land a kerbal on every single body in the JNSQ system. We'll see how it goes.

 

Restrictions

Spoiler

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Notes:

- Quicksaving and Reverting are allowed, however, only if a glitch of the game itself (such as a Kraken attack) happens, not for player error.

- I was thinking of turning on require signal for control, however, consider this - many probes are preprogrammed to do their mission without much human guidance from mission control simply due to the lightspeed delay. Therefore, when I play the probe I am acting the part of the preprogrammed control code responding to stuff, rather than as a human mission controller. That's my own justification, anyway. I might change this though, simply for gameplay purposes.

 

Modlist

Spoiler

Note: I'm not listing the dependencies here, only the mods themselves. I personally feel this gives a better overview of the mods than just the folder name (which can be sometimes confusing.)

 

Astrogator

BARIS 

Benjee10's Historical Kerbal Suits

Benjee10's Historical Kerbal Heads

Coriolis Space Systems

Chatterer (with Chatterer+ soundpack)

Conformal Decals

Cryogenic Engines

Distant Object Enhancement

Engine Light Relit

Environmental Visual Enhancements

Habtech2

Heat Control

Internal RCS

JNSQ 

Kerbal Atomics

Kerbalized Decals and Flagpack

Kerbal Konstructs

Kopernicus (required for JNSQ, of course, but also powering zorg's sunboost config)

Kopernicus Expansion (using this for footprints)

Kronometer

KS3P (with custom config, since TUFX isn't supported for mac)

KSC Extended (unfortunately, without Kerbinside Remastered. Doesn't work on JNSQ, so I had to leave it out. However, JNSQ adds its own airbases anyway so it's fine.)

Mark IV Spaceplane Fuselage

Mechjeb2 (note: I'm only allowed to use Mechjeb after I've done whatever by hand at least once.)

Modular Launch Pads

Near Future Aeronautics

Near Future Construction

Near Future Electrical

Near Future Exploration

Near Future Propulsion

Near Future Spacecraft

Final Frontier (with the JNSQ ribbons)

Persistent Rotation

Planetshine

Planetside Exploration Technologies

Realplume (just a fallback for the engines without waterfall configs)

Reentry Particle Effect Renewed

Restock

Restock+

Rocket Sound Enhancement

SCANsat

Scatterer

Snacks!

Stockalike Station Parts Redux

TextureReplacer

Waterfall

USI Survivability Pack (modified for just the floats)

 

note: I do intend to add Far Future Technologies in the future, if we ever get to that point.

 

Completed Missions

Spoiler

Here's a list of all the completed missions so far, in chronological order. This list will be updated as the mission report goes on.

Mission Result Scale:

Success - Full completion of mission objectives, with no problems.

Partial Success - Partial completion of mission objectives, and/or minor system failure.

Failure - Failure to complete mission objectives, and/or major system failure.

Catastrophic Failure - No completion of mission objectives, major, catastrophic system failure.

 

Moho 1: Suborbital flight mission utilizing the Arrow launcher and the Moho capsule, designed to put the first Kerbals into space as part of the Moho program. Successfully launched Jebediah Kerman into space, making him the first Kerbal in space. Result: Success

Moho 2: Suborbital flight mission utilizing the Arrow launcher and the Moho capsule, designed to put the first Kerbals into space as part of the Moho program. Successfully launched Scott Kerman into space. Result: Success

Moho 3: Suborbital flight mission utilizing the Arrow launcher and the Moho capsule, designed to put the first Kerbals into space as part of the Moho program. Successfully launched Valentina Kerman into space, making her the first woman in space. During flight, a malfunction occurred with the retropropulsion pack, however, this was not detrimental and the mission was completed. Result: Partial Success

Moho 4: Suborbital flight mission utilizing the Arrow launcher and the Moho capsule, designed to put the first Kerbals into space as part of the Moho program. Carrying Alan Kerman, the flight was aborted a few seconds into the launch due to rupture in the main tank of the Arrow booster. The launch escape system activated and successfully pulled the Moho capsule away from the malfunctioning booster, and safely landed on the launchsite grounds. Result: Failure

Explorer 1: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a low Kerbin orbit. 18 seconds into the flight, a leak was detected in the main fuel tank, as well as in the second stage. With the malfunction of the second stage, Explorer 1 ended on a suborbital trajectory and impacted into the ocean shortly after launch. Result: Failure

Explorer 2: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a low Kerbin orbit. Completely nominal first stage performance and second stage ignition. However, fuel leakage caused the second stage engine to malfunction and shutdown prematurely, causing Explorer 2 to be placed on a suborbital trajectory and impacted into the ocean shortly after launch.  Result: Failure

Explorer 3: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a low Kerbin orbit. 20 seconds into the flight, upper stage leakage and failure was detected, along with the main guidance system failing shortly after. Rocket impacted into the KSC grounds and was destroyed. Result: Catastrophic Failure

Explorer 4: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a low Kerbin orbit. 15 seconds into the flight, a leakage was detected in the main fuel tank. However, the booster continued to perform nominally. During stage separation, the upper stage failed and left Explorer 4 on a suborbital trajectory, which impacted into the ocean shortly after launch. Result: Failure

Explorer 5: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a low Kerbin orbit. 5 seconds into launch, a malfunction caused the main booster engine to shutdown, causing the rocket to plummet and impact the launchpad, causing considerable damage. Result: Catastrophic Failure

Explorer 6: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a low Kerbin orbit. 15 seconds into the flight, a leakage was detected in the main fuel tank. However, the booster continued to perform nominally. During stage separation, the upper stage failed and left Explorer 6 on a suborbital trajectory, which impacted into the ocean shortly after launch. Result: Failure

Explorer 7: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a low Kerbin orbit. Successfully inserted Explorer 7 into a 216 km * 188 km orbit, becoming the first artificial satellite of Kerbin. Shortly after separation, 1 of the 4 redundant antennas went offline, as well as a few batteries malfunctioning. However, the satellite remained functional. Result: Success

Explorer 8: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a low Kerbin orbit. Successfully inserted Explorer 8 into low Kerbin orbit with no problems, demonstrating that Explorer 7 wasn't a fluke. Result: Success

Explorer 9: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a high Kerbin orbit and to test the relight capability of the Pug upper stage. 3 seconds into launch, a malfunction caused the main booster engine to shutdown, causing the rocket to plummet and impact the launchpad, causing considerable damage. Result: Catastrophic Failure

Explorer 10: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a high Kerbin orbit and to test the relight capability of the Pug upper stage. The first stage performed nominally, however during circularization the engine became stuck at full throttle. This was fixed by shutting off the fuel tank valves, however this meant losing engine relight capability. Explorer 10 was inserted into a 887 km * 116 km orbit. Result: Partial Success

Explorer 11: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a polar orbit. 7 seconds before launch, a minor gyroscope failure occured, however this was deemed non-critical and the flight continued. 12 seconds into the flight, a major leakage occurred in the main fuel tank. However, the booster continued to perform nominally. During stage separation, the upper stage failed and left Explorer 11 on a suborbital trajectory, which impacted into the ocean shortly after launch. Result: Failure

Explorer 12: Orbital launch attempt utilizing the Javelin launcher and the Explorer satellite, intended to place the Explorer satellite into a polar orbit. 9 seconds into the flight, a leakage was detected in the main fuel tank. However, the booster continued to perform nominally. During stage separation, the upper stage failed and left Explorer 12 on a suborbital trajectory, which impacted into the ocean shortly after launch. Result: Failure

Moho 5: Orbital flight mission utilizing the upgraded Javelin launcher and the Moho capsule, designed to put the first Kerbals into orbit as part of the Moho program. Successfully launched Alan Kerman into orbit, making him the first Kerbal in orbit. Result: Success

Moho 6: Orbital flight mission utilizing the upgraded Javelin launcher and the Moho capsule, designed to put the first Kerbals into orbit as part of the Moho program. Successfully launched Valentina Kerman into orbit, making her the first woman to enter orbit. Result: Success

Moho 7: Orbital flight mission utilizing the upgraded Javelin launcher and the Moho capsule, designed to put the first Kerbals into orbit as part of the Moho program. Successfully launched Scott Kerman into orbit. Result: Success

Moho 8: Orbital flight mission utilizing the upgraded Javelin launcher and the Moho capsule, designed to put the first Kerbals into orbit as part of the Moho program. Successfully launched Jebediah Kerman into orbit. Result: Success

Pioneer 1: Munar flight attempt utilizing the Javelin-2 launcher, designed to put the Pioneer, a derivative of the Explorer satellite bus, into orbit around the Mun. Successfully inserted into Munar orbit, and became the first spacecraft to orbit the Mun. Result: Success

Pioneer 2: Minmar flight attempt utilizing the Javelin-2 launcher, designed to put the Pioneer, a derivative of the Explorer satellite bus, into orbit around Minmus. Lacking enough propellant to brake into Minmar orbit, the spacecraft unintentionally became the first spacecraft to exit Kerbin's SOI and enter interplanetary space. Result: Failure

Pioneer 3: Minmar flight attempt utilizing the Javelin-2 launcher, designed to put the Pioneer, a derivative of the Explorer satellite bus, into orbit around Minmus. Successfully injected into Minmar orbit, and became the first spacecraft to orbit Minmus. Result: Success

Leo 1: Orbital flight test of the Leo spacecraft, using the Vanguard launcher, designed for advanced pathfinder operations in low Kerbin orbit as part of the Leo program. Successfully launched Jebediah and Bill Kerman into orbit, marking the first flight of both the Leo spacecraft and the Vanguard launcher. Result: Success

Leo 2: Orbital flight mission of the Leo spacecraft, using the Vanguard launcher, designed for advanced pathfinder operations in low Kerbin orbit as part of the Leo program. Successfully launched Scott and Bob Kerman into orbit, with Bob Kerman becoming the first kerbal to conduct an EVA. Result: Success

Leo 3: Orbital flight mission of the Leo spacecraft, using the Vanguard launcher, designed for advanced pathfinder operations in low Kerbin orbit as part of the Leo program. Successfully launched the first all-female flight crew, Valentina and Tracy Kerman, into orbit, with Tracy Kerman becoming the second kerbal and first woman to conduct an EVA. Result: Success

Leo 4: Orbital flight mission of the Leo spacecraft, using the Vanguard launcher, designed for advanced pathfinder operations in low Kerbin orbit as part of the Leo program. Successfully launched Alan and Gus Kerman into orbit and rendezvoused with Explorer 7, with Gus Kerman conducting multiple spacewalks to investigate the derelict spacecraft. Result: Success

Leo 5: Orbital flight mission of the Leo spacecraft, using the Vanguard launcher, designed for advanced pathfinder operations in low Kerbin orbit as part of the Leo program. Successfully launched Frank and Bob Kerman into orbit in a dual launch mission in conjunction with Leo 6. Result: Success

Leo 6: Orbital flight mission of the Leo spacecraft, using the Vanguard launcher, designed for advanced pathfinder operations in low Kerbin orbit as part of the Leo program. Successfully launched Pete and Bill Kerman into orbit in a dual launch mission in conjunction with Leo 5, and successfully rendezvoused with Leo 5. Result: Success

 

Chapters

Prelude

Chapter 1 

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

 

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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Posted (edited)

Prelude

"We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." - John F. Kennedy

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Spoiler

January 1st, 1960

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Ten years ago, we seemed poised to exterminate ourselves. The 13 nations of Kerbin had each built up a substantial nuclear arsenal, enough to annihilate the entire planet two times over and seal our fate as a species.

Our forefathers realized exactly how reckless we had been, and the nations each signed a treaty, forming the United Kerman States. United together as a species, under the same night sky of Mun and Minmus.

In this past decade of peace, kerbalkind has prospered unlike we've ever seen before, unified under a single banner. We have made great strides in the arts and the sciences, and our combined knowledge will only continue to grow.

Today, we have an opportunity. An opportunity to expand our horizons and look beyond just our home planet. The eyes of the world look towards the sky above - the inky void of space. We have an opportunity to go where no Kerbal has gone before, to find out what lies beyond our home planet.

Which is why, today, I officially announce the formation of KASA - the Kerman Aeronautics and Space Agency, to explore the cosmos and begin the exploration of space. We have vowed that space is not a place to be filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

This will be the next great endeavour of Kerbalkind. Just as Kolumbus sailed across the sea to the new world, we will sail into the vast expanse of space. We choose to go beyond, we choose to go to space, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. 

We meet today at the new Kerbal Space Center - constructed for Science, built in the pursuit of Knowledge. A place not for enriching uranium, but the minds of bright young kerbals.

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Behind me is some of the brightest, most skilled and talented of our generation, the Moho 8. Jebediah Kerman, Bill Kerman, Bob Kerman, Valentina Kerman, Scott Kerman, Alan Kerman, Gus Kerman, and Tracy Kerman will be some of the first intrepid explorers to head into space as part of the Moho program.

It will not be easy - there will be many challenges along the way, but space is there, ready for us to explore. It will be the next great frontier. Today, we set sail on the greatest adventure that kerbalkind has ever embarked on. It will be filled with challenges, and it will be dangerous. But we will be ready.

Thank You.

 

- President Teddy Kerman, in his speech "We choose to go to Space"

 

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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Awesome, looking forward to this!

I'm in a similar boat as you, doing a full JNSQ  crewed exploration playthrough but in career mode and with Kerbalism.

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Posted (edited)

I meant to get this out on the same day as the prelude, but I started messing with some mods. Long story short, we have a few more mods to add to the modlist! Most notable are BARIS and Snacks, since I decided I needed more of a challenge. I think it'll be quite interesting to see how it goes since I've never really played with life support or failures before.

 

Chapter 1

"Before one can run, they must learn to walk." - Unknown

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Spoiler

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Commander Jebediah Kerman stood in front of the gleaming Moho-Arrow rocket. The Arrow was literally just a converted ballistic missile, stockpiled in great numbers during the cold war. Its simplicity was also its advantage - it was easily mass produced, and quite reliable, excellent when you might need to launch a warhead anytime on short notice. To adapt it for civilian use, all that really needed to be done was to replace the former warhead with the spartan Moho capsule and upgrade a few avionics systems here and there.

To some, even the thought of riding on a missile was disconcerting. But of course, not for Jeb. He was the Jebediah Kerman - first kerbal to break the sound barrier, daring test pilot, and a veteran combat ace. And soon, he would become the first kerbal in space.

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As he walked towards the ladder, he couldn't help but admire the engine. After all, it would be taking him to space. He hoped that the welders had done a good job.

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Before he climbed into the cramped capsule, he took one last look at his surroundings. Today he was launching from McDonald Missile Test Range - a formerly decommissioned missile test range now used for launching civilian rockets. Soon, the brand new Kerbal Space Center would finish construction and all launches would be moved there.

Looking around once more, he clambered into the tiny capsule and technicians sealed him off.

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"Control, Moho's all ready to go."

"Copy Moho, green lights across the board. You are go for launch."

"Roger, control. Finalizing launch sequence."

10.

9.

8.

7.

6.

5.

4.

"Ignition sequence start."

2.

1. 

"We have liftoff!"

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"Control, all systems looking good. We've cleared the tower."

"Copy that, Moho."

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"Trajectory green, go for roll program."

"Roger control, beginning roll program."

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"and... MECO. Releasing capsule."

"Copy that, Moho."

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The sensation of gravity disappeared. Jeb was now the first kerbal in space.

"Control, Moho. What a view!"

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Jeb didn't have much time to admire the view though. The Arrow was powerful enough to boost the moho capsule onto a suborbital trajectory, but it couldn't reach orbit. In fact, he was on a ballistic course - again, just like a warhead.

"Moho, reentry in one minute. Go for turnaround maneuver."

"Copy that. Initiating retropack jettison."

The emergency deorbit retropacks were jettisoned, intended to slow down the Moho if it reached a trajectory too fast or steep. However, it wasn't needed this time around.

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Plummeting through the atmosphere as it got thicker and thicker, the capsule began to heat up. Of course, the heat shield, designed for all this, took the heat. Unfortunately though, Jeb took the brunt of the force. For a few good seconds, he pulled over 15 Gees. Certainly not a comfortable experience. But worth it? Maybe.

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Still mostly in the upper atmosphere, the drogue chute deployed to slow the capsule for main chute deployment.

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"Control, main chute is deployed!"

"Copy that Moho, we have visual confirmation of deployment."

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"Splashdown!"

"Copy that. How are you feeling, Jeb?"

"Can't wait to get back up there again."

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Jeb engaged the radio beacon and breathed a sigh a relief. In a few minutes, he would be fished out of the water by a carrier and brought back ashore. But that wasn't on his mind. He was Jebediah Kerman. The first kerbal in space.

Valentina would be jealous.

 

Spoiler

Mission Summary:

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I'm not quite sure why Jeb didn't get the first Kerbin EVA ribbon though.

 

 

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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Posted (edited)

This one is a bit long, and might be slightly boring. To be fair, Mercury-Redstone wasn't the most exciting program. However, since this is complete, bigger, better missions will be coming up soon!

 

Chapter 2

"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department, says Wernher Von Braun." - Tom Lehrer

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Spoiler

After Moho 1 launched the first kerbal into space, media attention quickly tapered down. After all, who cared about more, nearly identical suborbital launches that didn't achieve anything?

However, there were bigger plans being drawn up, and all of them needed pilots with flight experience. Scientists also appreciated the medical data gained from the Moho program, and thus, it was cleared for 3 more launches - enough to get all 4 pilots in the astronaut corps valuable flight experience that couldn't be gained from the rudimentary simulators available.

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A week after Jeb's historic flight, Scott Kerman launched on Moho 2, aboard another Arrow rocket. Scott was Jeb's younger, less experienced counterpart - Jeb's protegé. A former fighter pilot, he was nearly already on par with Jeb, and his career looked bright and promising.

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Flying a nearly identical trajectory as Moho 1, the mission was practically indistinguishable from the previous mission.

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However, a slightly prolonged trajectory meant Scott endured less gees during reentry. Mission Control took note of this for the next flight.

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Minutes later, Moho 2 made a safe splashdown in the ocean.

Spoiler

Mission Summary:

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Also, while Moho 3 was being prepped, BARIS threw an event card:

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I don't think it'll matter, but it's good to have.

Another week later, Moho 3 rolled out for launch. It would be carrying Valentina Kerman - if all went well, Valentina would become the first woman in space. Valentina, another seasoned pilot of the Cold War was renowned across the globe for her daring stunts and skill flying experimental aircraft. She was also cooler headed and more rational than Jeb - a valuable asset to the Astronaut Corps. 

Today she would be finally getting her flight. Mission Control created a modified trajectory, learned from the previous mission to try and prolong the suborbital hop.

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The Arrow booster performed a much more aggressive gravity turn maneuver, intended to add more velocity and push the Moho to a slightly longer stay in space.

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This new trajectory added up to a shallower, but longer trajectory. Scientists were delighted - they would have a few more minutes to perform science.

However, Mission Control quickly discovered a problem with the retropack. Fortunately, it wasn't fatal - the Moho would be able to return to Kerbin fine, due to its suborbital trajectory. Control made a note to add more engines to the orbital variant of the Moho, for extra redundancy.

Spoiler

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So much for the 'increased reliability' event card haha. 

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Valentina engaged the radio beacon and patiently waited to be recovered. She was the first woman in space, but she wasn't satisfied just yet. One day, she would beat Jeb's records. "Just wait and see, Jeb. Wait and see."

Spoiler

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With the month of January coming to a close, the final Moho-Arrow launch, Moho 4, was prepped for launch. It would be carrying Alan Kerman, another experienced test pilot and skilled naval aviator. 

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However, a few seconds into the flight there was a rupture in the main tank, and the order to abort was given. 

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The solid rocket boosters in the launch escape tower lit almost instantaneously and pulled the capsule away, while mission control commanded the defective Arrow booster to shut down.

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Having done its job, the LES tower was jettisoned, leaving the Moho capsule to deploy its parachutes as if it was a normal mission. Meanwhile, range safety blew up the Arrow booster to prevent damage to the launchpad.

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Alan clambered out of his capsule, the launchpad just a short walk away. While he had not had a successful mission, the impromptu test of the abort system was still a success. 

"Well, we didn't get very far today, did we?"

Spoiler

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The mission summary didn't show the Kerbin EVA ribbon and all the other ones he got, which is weird. However, in the regular FF menu, it does show all the ribbons correctly.

 

 

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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2 minutes ago, Maria Sirona said:

What about uncrewed missions?

That's what's coming next! While I'm mainly focusing on the manned missions here, I do want to have a good mix of probes. Next chapter should have the first satellite in orbit, if all goes well.

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Posted (edited)

Well.. I would have gotten this out earlier, but I proceeded to have 6 launch failures in a row, literally. If you thought the last one was long and boring... here we go again. I promise things will get more exciting - unless we happen to have 6 launch failures in a row again. In fact, I originally thought I only had 5 launch failures in a row but I got so confused I missed one. 

 

Chapter 3

"It always seems impossible until it is done." - Nelson Mandela

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Spoiler

While the Moho program was busy launching the first kerbals into space, engineers had been working on a new challenge - placing a satellite - an artificial moon, into orbit around Kerbin.

Putting something into orbit would be a much greater challenge than simply launching something onto a suborbital trajectory. It would require an entirely new launcher, something more powerful than the existing Arrow launcher.

Of course, missiles much more powerful than the Arrow had already been developed - ICBMs, or Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, powerful enough to put many heavy warheads on a suborbital trajectory to nearly anywhere around the world.

For the new Explorer satellite program, the launcher would be derived from the Javelin missile, powerful enough to loft a small satellite into an orbit around Kerbin. With construction at KSC nearing completion, the Javelin-Explorer stack would be launched from TLC-40 at the KSC.

"Booster."

"Go."

"Telemetry."

"Go."

"Payload."

"Go."

"Range Safety."

"Go."

"All systems go for final launch countdown. Go for ignition sequence."

"Ignition!"

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The engines on the Javelin roared to life. Compared to what it was designed to carry, its payload was relatively light, and it leaped off the launchpad.

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"Control, we have a problem here."

"Go ahead, Booster?"

"The first stage tank is leaking, sir."

"Roger, Booster. Can we still make it to orbit?"

"We'll try."

"Alright, keep an eye on that."

"Sir."

"Yes, Telemetry?"

"Upper stage is giving negative readouts, sir."

"Copy that."

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The Javelin continued on its journey. With a now defective upper stage, Explorer-1 would be doomed to a suborbital trajectory. However, perhaps the mission was still salvageable. Maybe they would get some valuable science?

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Shortly after payload separation, one of the 4 antennas on the probe failed. However, this was non-critical, and it really didn't matter at this point. After all, the failed mission would just reenter through the atmosphere in a few minutes.

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Somehow, the central probe core managed to survive reentry relatively intact, and impacted the water at 43.2 m/s shortly after. This came as a shock, as no one expected the probe core to actually survive reentry. Engineers duly noted this down for future reference.

Spoiler

While waiting for Explorer-2 to integrate, I got this card:

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A week later, Explorer-2 was rolled out to the pad on a fresh Javelin booster. Surely, the first launch attempt was just a fluke, and this time it would be successful. 

It wouldn't be.

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With a completely nominal first stage performance, it seemed as if Explorer-2 was on track for orbit. Flight controllers cheered at successful stage separation.

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"Flight, Telemetry."

"Go ahead?"

"Telemetry indicates second stage failure."

Explorer-2 would be fated to the same fate as Explorer-1.

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Once again, the probe core survived reentry intact and slams into the ocean, breaking up.

After thorough inspection of the entire rocket, engineers were confident that Explorer-3 would succeed. "3rd time's the charm", they said. Mission Control echoed this mentality. What could go wrong..?

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...only to have the upper stage fail 30 seconds into the flight. To strike another blow, I wasn't paying attention and accidentally flipped the rocket over shortly after the main onboard guidance system failed.

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As a rogue rocket no longer responding to commands, Explorer-3 slammed into the ground right next to the KSC.

Slightly shaky, and after rigorous inspection, Explorer-4 was rolled out to the pad. "4th time's the charm?" the engineers said shakily. Administration threatened to cut funding to the Explorer program and launch an investigation if this launch wasn't successful.

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"Not again..." sighed the Flight Director.

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Once again, the Pug upper stage failed, leaving Explorer-4 on a suborbital trajectory.

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Disappointed with the complete and utter failure of the Explorer program, Administration began a thorough investigation. However, they couldn't track down any specific faults that were causing the failures of the tanks and upper stage. 

Since they couldn't pinpoint a specific problem, the go ahead was given for static fire tests to increase reliability and further stress-test the stages.

Spoiler

Random event card - ironic, considering the morale caused by 4 consecutive launch failures, eh? 

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The main Javelin booster was tested, and no problems were found.

Meanwhile, the Pug upper stage testing uncovered a slew of problems:

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However, they were eventually ironed out, with successful static fires:

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Administration was confident that the Explorer program would get back on its feet. The engineers were less confident. "We have to do more testing! Much more rigorous testing, for every single situation!" 

However, Administration gave the go-ahead and Explorer-5 was rolled out on a fresh Javelin booster anyway, as the static firing tests had clearly fixed all problems.

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Only to culminate, in once again, catastrophic launch failure, with the main booster engine shutting down just 5 seconds into the flight.

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The booster fell back onto the launchpad, resulting in an utterly complete and embarrassing failure. While the embarrassing failures of the Explorer program were already known, this catastrophic failure brought it into an entirely new light. Citizens began to wonder if it was really worth it to try and launch a satellite into orbit, and if it was even possible.

Administration was put in a state of complete and utter chaos. Paranoia creeped in - were tall pink men swooping in with their UFOs and sabotaging the vehicles? Congress was also annoyed - while they had committed KASA to a nearly unlimited budget, no progress was being made. Threats were made to divert the funds to other development projects.

Finally, a compromise was struck. The Explorer program had 2 more launches to get into orbit, otherwise it would be cancelled completely and replaced with a new development program, or even worse, the entire space program would be outright cancelled.

Pressure was at an all time high. As Explorer-6 rolled out to TLC 40, pad crews poked and prodded every single available crevice of the rocket for problems. Nothing seemed wrong.

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However, Explorer-6 would befall the same fate as its brethren.

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Paranoia surged through the space agency. They had one more launch to get this right, and it didn't look like it was going to be successful. Before going ahead with launching Explorer-7, Administration began another thorough investigation of the entire assembly line and integration procedures.

They finally found what the previous investigation had attempted to, but hadn't uncovered. I changed the BARIS flight experience modifier a bit because I was so frustrated Quality assurance managers were found to be faking quality checks on the stockpiled Javelin boosters, and not performing the required safety checks to a necessary level. 

Doubtful about the launch of Explorer-7, Administration began thinking of a new rocket development program. Halfway through the month of March, as Explorer-7 rolled out to the pad, pad crews coined it the name 'Unlucky Number 7'. The stakes couldn't be higher.

"Booster?"

"Go."

"Telemetry?"

"Go."

"Payload?"

"Go."

"Range Safety?" 

"Go."

"Again, all flight stations confirm - go for launch?"

"Booster looks good sir."

"We're ready."

"Probe is secure."

"Range safety armed and primed."

"Copy that - all flight stations, go for final launch preparations. There's no going back now."

"Go for final countdown procedure."

"10"

"9"

"8"

"7"

"6"

"5"

"4"

"Ignition sequence start."

"2"

"1"

"Clamps release."

"Liftoff! We have a liftoff!"

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"Explorer-7 has cleared the tower."

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"Booster, status?"

"All systems nominal, flight. Number 7 is go."

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"Telemetry indicates nominal stage separation, flight. Second stage looking good."

"Copy that."

For the first time since Explorer-2, the Pug second stage ignited and began to perform nominally.

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"Flight, we have nominal payload separation. Explorer-7 is in orbit around Kerbin, 216 by 188."

Cheers erupted throughout Mission Control, throughout the entire world as the launch was being streamed live on Television. They had done it - Kerbin now had a new moon - an artificial one.

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Shortly after separation though, some minor electrical problems occured. It was non-critical, as the satellite could remain on its 3 redundant antennas and internal battery and still remain operational. However, this was noted for future testing - engineers were still shaken by the previous failures.

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Spoiler

One more event card:

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Sad, but it doesn't seem to have affected any of the Moho 8 - probably just one of the applicants.

Anyway - that was a doozy. I never want to experience that again, next time I will do lots more static firing and testing before running a mission. But yes, we did it. 

 

 

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Sorry for the delay, the first time I wrote this chapter I was about 90% done when I accidentally hit refresh, and the forum editor didn't catch it like it usually does. Also, I've been trying to fix a few mod issues (all fixed now!). Anyways, this isn't the most exciting of chapters, but it does lay the foundation for the next one.

Small sidenote, I probably spend the majority of the time I spend writing chapters actually just looking for a quote, so if anyone has any good quotes, please send them to me. 

 

Chapter 4

"The only guarantee of failure is to stop trying." - John C. Maxwell

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Spoiler

With the success of Explorer 7 (and, of course, the 6 consecutive failures of the Javelin booster before it), feelings about the Explorer program and the Javelin launcher were mixed. After all, Explorer 7 could have just been a one off fluke, and considering the performance of the Javelin booster thus far, it wasn't unlikely.

However, Administration gave the go-ahead to extend the Explorer program by 5 missions, in a seemingly blunderous move. The public and representatives in Congress questioned this move - after all, what was the point of extending an already expensive program that was plagued by failures?

Administration had a legitimate reason for the program extension though. Simply put, the upcoming (extension of) the Moho program needed a launcher, and it would be cheaper to simply throw funds at the Explorer program to build up reliability than to spend time designing a entirely new launcher from scratch.

At least, that was what Administration hoped. Even under this circumstance, engineers within KASA itself questioned this move. Combined with unfavorable public opinion (quote: "why are they spending my money on goddarned failed space contraptions? spend it on something useful!"), the Explorer program was under high pressure to continue performing favorably.

With the goal for launching a satellite into orbit completed, Administration drew up some tentative plans for Explorer 8-12. Explorer 8 would be simple, being a repeat of Explorer 7 and hopefully proving it to not be a fluke. Explorer 9 would test the limits of the Javelin rocket and see exactly how high an orbit it could be inserted into, as with Explorer 7 there was an excess of fuel left in the upper stage. This would also test multi-stage relight capability, vital for possible munar missions.

Explorer 10 would attempt to insert into a polar orbit, as being in a polar orbit allowed for comprehensive scanning of planets, as instead of being confined to a simple orbital track, Kerbin would rotate 'under' the satellite allowing for coverage of nearly the whole planet. Explorer 11 would go into a geostationary orbit - by matching the same speed of rotation as Kerbin, a satellite could maintain a nearly constant position over a certain area. Building on this, Explorer 12 would test a new technology known as satellite relay - bouncing signals off satellites back to Kerbin, theoretically avoiding long, expensive undersea cables with satellite dishes and transmitters.

The launch manifest was ambitious, and jam-packed with new technologies, leaving some still skeptical of the continued Explorer program. However, with the green light given, Explorer 8 rolled out to SLC-40, ready for launch.

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Booster performance is completely nominal, and the upper stage lights flawlessly with no problems.

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With completely nominal and flawless performance of the Javelin booster, Explorer 8 separated from the spent upper stage. Engineers confirmed the performance seen on Explorer 7, with the Pug upper stage having about half of its fuel remaining once in orbit. This was duly noted for the planned upcoming Explorer missions which intended to use this excess fuel capacity.

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Spoiler

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Look, it's the KSC!

With the flawless success of Explorer 8, the Explorer program was charged with newfound confidence and renewed vigor. Explorer 7 hadn't been a fluke - Explorer 8 had done it again!

With this much-needed morale boosting success, Explorer 9 was rolled out to the pad, ready to test the limits of the Javelin booster.

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...only to culminate in catastrophic failure, reminiscent of Explorer 5.

Spoiler

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kinda funny, but not really.

Also, I got an event card right after this:

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...ironic.

With another catastrophic failure, Administration quickly launched an investigation. What they found was nothing, BARIS was just being difficult that impurities in the fuel mixture had created a buildup of soot, causing a clog in the turbopump and triggering catastrophic failure. To remedy this, engineers designed a new, higher-energy fuel mixture that contained much less impurities.

Spoiler

At this point I was having some issues with Realplume not working, so I installed waterfall configs for the Bobcat and Cheetah engines. I dunno which look I like better - the Realplume plume looks less 'real' imo, but it looks better, and the Waterfall config looks a lot better at high altitude. I dunno about this one, but I think I'm sticking with the Waterfall plume for now.

Since Explorer 9 had culminated in catastrophic failure, its launch manifest was bumped up to Explorer 10 (which didn't really change much, as the Explorer satellites were all pretty much identical.) 

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"Booster's looking good, flight. All systems nominal."

Powered by the new fuel mixture, the Booster performed phenomenally with no problems. 

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The Pug upper stage lit, and began its circularization burn. The planned mission would put the stage through its paces - the stage would have to relight 2 times after the circularization burn.

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However, halfway through the circularization burn, the engine once again ran into a problem - a leak had caused the main throttle control valve to fail, leaving the engine stuck at full throttle.

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After some intense deliberation, engineers came up with a solution: setting the thrust limiter to zero opening a bypass valve in the tank and draining all of the fuel into space, along with the pressure that fed the little engine. 

However, this meant that the engine could no longer relight and perform the original planned mission.

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Even under these circumstances, Explorer 10 still reached one of the highest orbits yet, if much lower than planned.

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With this partial success, Explorer 11 was free to take on the polar orbit test that was originally intended for Explorer 10, with the geostationary orbit test being bumped up to Explorer 12. However, this sadly meant that the satellite relay test would be delayed - but the technology was already behind schedule anyway, so this wouldn't matter that much.

While Explorer 11 was being integrated in the VAB, engineers bumped into a problem on Explorer 7:

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The internal heaters keeping the sensitive electronics safe had failed, leaving Explorer 7 a crippled satellite. However, since it didn't have that much of a purpose anyway, it was more of a morale blow than one that actually mattered. However, engineers made sure to include redundant heaters on the next generation of Explorer satellites, if that would ever come.

Spoiler

What actually happened was a lot more interesting - remember the battery failures on Explorer 7 that I played off as 'no big deal'? Well, turns out that I wasn't paying too much attention. With 3 out of the 4 batteries gone, Explorer 7 would run out of energy on the nightside, and gained a slow tumbling movement (blame persistent rotation combined with lack of SAS.) This meant that while the solar panels were all functional, the tumbling meant that that the solar panels couldn't actually get any charge, since as soon as they got a sliver the satellite tumbled over. And since the satellite didn't have enough energy to stop the tumbling, Explorer 7 slowly used up energy until it ran out. When I attempted to fix it in the tracking station, only then did I realize that the satellite completely died. Interesting stuff.

Shortly after the situation with Explorer 7, Explorer 11 finished integration and was rolled out to the pad for its polar launch attempt. Polar launch from the KSC required taking a 'dog-leg' trajectory, or performing expensive inclination changes in orbit, since the KSC was designed to take full advantage of Kerbin's rotation and launch into an equatorial orbit. 

In fact, it would have been much more efficient to attempt a polar launch attempt from a sounding rocket range up in the northern latitudes. However, even the missile test sites at the most developed sounding rocket ranges up north would require extensive and expensive infrastructure to support the Javelin rocket, thus, the polar launch attempt would be performed from the KSC. Since the upper stage had plenty of fuel left after the circularization maneuver, this was deemed easy enough - the Javelin booster would just perform a regular equatorial orbit injection, with the upper stage would change the inclination.

This also hit two birds with one stone, as the inclination-changing maneuver would require a separate burn, requiring the engine to relight and testing engine relight capability. 

However, it wasn't going to be that easy. The first sign of failure came while Explorer 11 was still on the launchpad:

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One of the gyroscopes on the upper stage began sending faulty telemetry, and then abruptly cut off. However, with the gyroscope being a redundant spare out of the 4 gyroscopes available, this was ignored - it would be lengthy and painful process to roll the Javelin all the way back to the VAB and investigate this minor issue.

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Shortly after liftoff, a major leak was discovered in the first stage - it turned out that one of the main fueling valves hadn't been properly sealed. However, the mission carried on - perhaps, at the very least, Explorer 11 could still limp to orbit?

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All hopes of salvaging the mission were dashed when the upper stage once again failed, leaving Explorer 11 on a doomed suborbital trajectory reminiscent of the previous failures.

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With another failure to get even to orbit (I'm looking at you, Explorer 1-6), it was another demoralizing blow to the space program. However, with Explorer 12 ready to go, the program simply pressed on.

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Unfortunately, Explorer 12 received the same series of failures and suffered the same fate as Explorer 11. Once again, the space program received a demoralizing blow.

The public was also outraged - there had already been so many failures funded with their precious taxpayer money. Now, after being promised successes, why were more failures happening for absolutely no reason?

The future of the space program was uncertain. What would happen next..?

Spoiler

For those who have been following this mission report, I'm sure you guys know the arduously slow pace of this space program. Personally, I didn't expect that either - but then again, I never expected 6 consecutive failures in a row.

To be fair, it's actually mostly me to blame; I made some design choices that I would have never realized sucked without BARIS. First, I didn't do that much static fire testing to build up reliability on either of the engines. However, I also didn't build redundancy into the booster itself - the engines are major points of failure, because they are the singular engines of their stages. There is no redundancy to compensate for failures of the stage - if the engine goes kaput, that's it.

I also have a hypothesis of the Pug engine continually failing - the Pug engine has both an engine module and a built-in fuel tank, and if the fuel tank breaks, the engine breaks as well. Therefore, the Pug engine has double the chance of failure.

Anyway, I'm going to do more 'off-camera' static firing to build up reliability, and hopefully we can progress at a much faster pace.

 

 

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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I like the design of your Explorer rocket.

The only failure mod I have deal with is via kerbalism, and that does not have any failure modes for the fuel tanks, but I have encountered engine failures on several occasions. Similar to what you mentioned, I have designed most of my crewed vessels with multiple engines out of fear that a  failure of the engine will strand/kill the crew. And with requiring life support there really isn't a possibility for a rescue.

Good call on running several static fire tests.

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51 minutes ago, cxg2827 said:

The only failure mod I have deal with is via kerbalism, and that does not have any failure modes for the fuel tanks, but I have encountered engine failures on several occasions.

Interesting, out of all mods I would have thought Kerbalism would have had failure modes for everything.

 

52 minutes ago, cxg2827 said:

Similar to what you mentioned, I have designed most of my crewed vessels with multiple engines out of fear that a  failure of the engine will strand/kill the crew. And with requiring life support there really isn't a possibility for a rescue.

Indeed, I originally designed a lot more spacecraft for future programs, but with lessons learned here, I'm going back and designing them with even more redundancy out of fear. It's something that I never even considered before installing a failures mod, which has been really eye-opening. You really have to do a lot more testing and design than just 'haha space rocket go boom.'

 

54 minutes ago, cxg2827 said:

Good call on running several static fire tests.

Hopefully, they actually work!

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Posted (edited)

This one is a short one, and for once I don't actually have that much commentary. Here we go!

 

Chapter 5

"Zero G and I feel fine!" - John Glenn

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Spoiler

The nearly consistent failures of the Explorer program had brought the space program a lot of bad publicity. With the lack of results, KASA faced scrutiny from every angle - the public, normally excited about the prospect of space exploration, viewed the current space program as a waste of their taxpayer money. The press reported on the seemingly continual embarrassing failures of the upstart space program, and Congress threatened to cut funding entirely if results weren't seen soon.

In dire straits, Administration launched an internal investigation to thoroughly examine the agency and determine what exactly had caused so many repeated failures in the Explorer program. Normally ignored, engineers finally had their chance to voice their opinion on the matter - according to them, the Javelin booster, with its roots as a missile, was designed for simplicity and reliability, not redundancy.

Opinions were also voiced on quality control - it was uncovered that pad crews and engineers, pressured to meet launch deadlines, hadn't been conducting quality checks to the extent mandated by Administration and skipping over some inspections entirely, while some contractors had been manufacturing parts to a lower quality standard than designed.

Spoiler

So, I've discovered that I've been stupid this entire time. See, it's all about BARIS. For those who don't know, in BARIS, parts have a quality rating that determines failure. To increase that rating, you can integrate a vessel in the VAB to increase quality. 

However, parts also have a starting quality, so for example, if you just launched a rocket with no integration and the starting quality was 5, all parts on that rocket would have a quality of 5.

By default, BARIS's starting quality is 5 (I think, anyway.) With my tinkering, I set it to 10, since I thought that was more appropriate. But even then, that wasn't enough, since it turns out that integration only adds about 35 ish quality. That means that after integration, nearly all my parts had a quality of 50, without any quality bonuses gained by flight experience.

I don't understand BARIS fully yet, but I'm pretty sure that 50 quality (out of a total of 100, but I set quality cap to 95) means a lot of failures. So I bumped the starting quality up to 45, which means an integrated quality of about 80. I originally thought about making the quality about 70 instead of 80, but I'm a bit sick of failures (that, and I think space programs usually have pretty high standards, even fresh ones.)

To make up for this, I set the flights per part quality bonus back up to 5, when I had originally changed it to 3, to compensate. I still think 5 flights is a lot for just one quality, but then again, parts just have more quality now, so it should make some sense.

I think. I still don't fully understand BARIS yet.

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Administration concluded that what success the Explorer program had achieved was a miracle. Future programs would take the findings into account - increased redundancy, stringent quality control checks, and reliable contractors.

With lessons learned, the agency moved on to its next challenge. While the Explorer program had been going on, engineers had been hard at work adapting the Javelin booster to a new challenge - sending a Kerbal into orbit. While the Arrow booster had already sent the first Kerbals into space, those were mere suborbital hops - launching into a stable orbit something the mass of the Moho capsule would require extensive modifications to the Javelin booster.

Combined with the relatively shaky flight history of the Pug upper stage, that mostly meant designing a new high energy upper stage to push the Moho capsule all the way into orbit. This required a brand new engine, powerful enough to push this larger diameter upper stage. Luckily, a new engine had already been in development for just this purpose - the Sphinx engine, nearly an order of magnitude as powerful as the existing Pug engine.

The rest of the modifications to the Javelin booster were relatively minor. The tapering bulkhead of the booster would instead be extended to accommodate the increased diameter of the new upper stage (christened Sphinx, after the engine). The booster would also be slightly stretched, to squeeze out just a little bit more performance.

Unwilling to repeat the failures of the Explorer program, a rigorous testing program was begun, with the Sphinx engine undergoing many static fire trials to ensure reliability and engine relight capability.

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As designed, the Sphinx engine performed perfectly in static firing with no hiccups to speak of. With static fire tests complete, the Moho program was ready.

...

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Out of the 4 original Moho flights, Alan Kerman had been on the last. With a stroke of bad luck, his flight had been the only one that failed. Of course, Alan understood that it was out of his control. As a seasoned test pilot and aviator, he understood that things went wrong. But of course, he couldn't help but feel as if the odds were stacked against him.

He knew he was lucky - after all, at least he had a chance to actually get in a spacecraft. Thus far, only the pilots of the astronaut corps had been flying - while the Moho was technically flown by remote guidance from Mission Control, the pilot had to be ready to take over incase anything went wrong, like on his flight. It was also seen as an opportunity for the pilots to gain flight experience, for future programs.

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By any rate, his stroke of bad luck had landed him an opportunity. Originally, Scott Kerman had been slated to fly onboard Moho 5. Jeb's protegé, he was arguably the most qualified option behind Jebediah himself - Administration wouldn't let Jebediah fly since he had already claimed the mantle of first kerbal in space. With Moho 4's failure, Alan was reassigned to Moho 5 in Scott's place.

While Administration claimed that he had been assigned to Moho 5 simply so that he could gain flight experience (much to the annoyance of the rest of the Astronaut Corps), he knew that he had been intentionally given the seat on Moho 5 to make up for the failure on Moho 4. He was, of course, elated - it was his first chance to properly pilot a spacecraft; being remembered forever in the history books as the first Kerbal in orbit was just a bonus.

Oh, that, and the envy from the rest of the Astronaut Corps for a long time to come. Just a small bonus.

...

"All stations, this is Launch Control. Go for final countdown sequence."

10.

9.

Alan Kerman shifted in his seat, strapped to the chair with a complex system of harnesses. He instinctively reached to wipe the sweat off his forehead, only to be blocked by his helmet faceplate.

8.

7.

He tried to ignore the fact that he was sitting on a huge tower of explosive, combustible fuel, to no avail. He blinked, trying to prevent the sweat from dripping onto his eyes.

6.

5.

Shifting his head, Alan turned to face the tiny window on the side of the hatch, his only view outside. He could see the launch tower right outside, looming over him and obstructing his view. Mere moments earlier, he had stood there, contemplating his existence.

4.

"Ignition sequence start."

The voice rang from the speakers embedded inside his helmet. Shifting his head back to the console above him, he steeled himself and braced for liftoff.

2.

Below him, he felt the low, deep rumble of the Javelin roaring to life, enormous amounts of fuel fueling a hungry beast as it awoke from its slumber.

1.

A clank echoed throughout the cramped Moho capsule, and Alan was pressed back into his seat.

"Liftoff! We have a liftoff!"

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Guzzling fuel, the booster leaped off the launchpad and continued upwards, skywards, ever higher. It was like the rocket itself knew that it was destined for the stars, as it pushed ever higher and faster and higher and faster, fuel flowing out and combusting at an incredible rate.

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Piercing through the clouds, the rocket continued on its journey. From the roof of the VAB, technicians in the middle of their shift dropped their wrenches, admiring their handiwork riding on a trail of fire to the stars.

Alan peered through the small porthole, bouncing against his seat as the rocket shook and shuddered violently, like a beast trying to gnaw through its restraints. Outside, the sky faded from a crisp, clear blue to a darker shade, the clouds receding through the background.

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Live on televisions across the world, millions of kerbals watched as the Javelin continued onwards towards the stars. An entire generation of young kerbals would be inspired to head to the stars, and beyond.

Inside the capsule, the violent shaking had calmed down, and the roar of the rocket had been quieted to a muffled rumble in the background. The atmosphere retreated, while the empty vacuum of space approached and welcomed the Javelin with open arms.

As soon as it had started, the rumble died down, and Alan began to feel a sensation of weightlessness. This sensation was to be short-lived; with a loud clang, the booster stage fell away. The booster would drop back into the atmosphere, burning up and impacting into the ocean. It would sacrifice itself to keep the rest of the rocket on its way.

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With a muffled roar, the Sphinx engine ignited, pushing Alan back into his seat. While still powerful, the push was noticeably more gentle.

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Right on cue, explosive bolts detonated to jettison the launch abort tower and the fairing between the capsule and the upper stage bulkhead, no longer needed. 

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And then, the pressure pushing Alan back into his seat disappeared, with him being kept in place only by his harness. Another set of explosive bolts fired in synchronization. 

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He watched as the upper stage slowly drifted away, receding into the darkness. Without the force of gravity, only his harness kept him in place inside the capsule. 

"Moho, this is Control. How was the ride?"

"It's as smooth as riding a bronco, I'll tell you that."

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In a 227 km by 109 km elliptical orbit, the Moho capsule would circle around Kerbin for one and a half orbits before deorbiting and returning. The flight would be filled with activities, with scientists eager to try everything in microgravity ranging from different types of food options to just observing how certain materials behaved.

The military (technically, the Kerman Civilian Defense Corps), with their own stake in the space program, was keen to investigate the possibility of Kerbin observation from orbit, though under the cover of scientific observation. However, the small porthole of the Moho capsule meant that it was hard to see much in any detail. Perhaps, a stationary satellite platform with film cameras would be more effective.

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After one and a half orbits, with primary mission objectives complete, Mission Control gave the signal to deorbit and return to Kerbin.

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While the Moho capsule had originally aimed for the waters next to the KSC, a miscalculation caused the capsule to land in the rolling plains to the west of the KSC. While designed for a splashdown in the ocean, the Moho capsule could land on land, however, it meant a rather hard landing.

Alan Kerman climbed out of the capsule, taking in a fresh breath of air. 

He laughed. "In your face, Jeb."

Spoiler

Mission Summary:

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Honestly, I expected Alan to get more ribbons.

 

 

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Maria Sirona said:

Also, i thing the space program needs more reliable non-military rockets (just for that awesome diversity, if nothing else).

Definitely! I do have a bad habit of designing a singular launcher (at least, one for each size class). I switch them out if they get old, but there's not much variety. I'll try my best to mix it up this save.

 

19 hours ago, Maria Sirona said:

I really enjoyed that storytelling part, more of that in the future please :D

I'll try my best, though I did mostly do some extra storytelling for this one since it's an important mission. I do enjoy writing storytelling parts, but it does get a bit exhausting (and repetitive, I feel. You can only have the same launch sequence so many times.) I do think it adds a lot of neat perspective for sure, so I'll try my best to incorporate some more.

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Sorry for the long wait - I had everything ready but I just didn't have time to write this, since I was getting into a few other commitments.

 

Chapter 6

"I see Earth! It is so beautiful!" - Yuri Gagarin

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Spoiler
Spoiler

Random event card I got before launch:

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He actually has some decent stats! However, since I don't need astronauts right now, he was promptly discharged sent to training. Maybe I'll re-hire him in the future.

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Moho 6 rumbled off the pad, with Valentina Kerman strapped tightly in her seat. She grinned. While the other, pampered astronauts of the corps despised the constant shuddering and vibrations of launch and the cramped conditions of the Moho capsule, Val could care less. She was going to space today - to orbit. She couldn't care less.

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With all systems performing nominally, the Javelin leapt off the pad. It seemed like the booster had finally proved itself to be a reliable launcher - it was a shame it would be retired soon. Val would know, she had been part of the design team for the next generation of crew capsules, along with Jeb.

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Moho 6 would take a slightly more aggressive trajectory than Moho 5, intending to reach a higher orbit.

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Finally, the Moho capsule was in orbit, free to carry out its mission. While Moho 5 had been in orbit for just about 1 and a half orbits, Moho 6 would double that to 3 orbits. This extra time in orbit would be well spent - with Val's piloting skill, the Moho capsule would undergo all sorts of piloting tests, including maneuvering tests with the rudimentary altitude control system. While the altitude control system hadn't been designed for maneuvering, it worked well enough - the data gleaned from these tests would be put to use in future designs.

[ normally, I would have epic screenshots of these things here, but they didn't actually happen. I just warped 3 and a half orbits to the retroburn. ]

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With the mission complete, Mission Control gave the go-ahead to deorbit and return to Kerbin. A trajectory was plotted to (hopefully) land Val safely off shore of the KSC.

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However, later analysis would reveal that I was dumb, and forgot to compensate for the reentry itself there had been in error in the trajectory calculations - one kerbal would later sheepishly admit that 'I forgot my slide rule at home... so I just scribbled on a napkin.' Undershooting the KSC, the Moho capsule would end up landing in the desert sands of the western continent.

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Spoiler

Mission Summary:

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Next up was Scott Kerman, on Moho 7.  Originally selected for Moho 5, Scott had been bumped from his mission in favor of Alan Kerman. The mission plan would be identical to the previous missions, with the sole exception of Scott performing 5 orbits instead of 3. Of course, the Defense Corps discreetly ordered Scott to image certain locations of interest.

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With lessons learned from the previous missions, Moho 7 perfected the more aggressive gravity turn maneuver, allowing for higher orbits.

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With no problems, Moho 7 successfully returned to Kerbin after completing its mission. However, once again, the trajectory issue persisted and the Moho capsule landed in the desert (albeit, a different one from Moho 6.)

Spoiler

Mission Summary:

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In an attempt to gain public approval, the final mission of the Moho program would end off with a (hopefully, not literal) bang. Moho 8 would aim to break many of the previous records set by the Moho program. 

Pushing the spacecraft to its limits, Jebediah Kerman would circle Kerbin for over 10 orbits - nearly an entire day spent circling Kerbin in a cramped capsule. The time would be packed with observation duties the limited science which could be performed in the Moho spacecraft.

Moho 8 would also be the first spacecraft to launch at dawn (for no real reason, but it did look cool).

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Unbeknownst to Mission Control, Jeb entered his own calculated trajectory into the flight computer instead of inputting the precalculated trajectory data provided by Mission Control. Later, it would be discovered that the precalculated trajectory data had failed to take in account the rotation of Kerbin below the capsule, and that Jeb's calculations were perfect.

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The trajectory calculations paid off, and Jeb splashed down just one mile of the recovery zone.

Spoiler

Mission Summary:

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Anyway, rambling sidenote like usual: the writing in this one sucks- mainly due to writer's block. The Moho program is kinda boring, so I'm glad to finally get that out of the way so I can move on to the next program (which I've already planned most of it out, because that's just how I work.)

I did do a thing in GIMP though:

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I finally managed to get KVV working, even though it has a few problems. Turns out it's compatible with 1.12.3, it just has a few annoying bugs.

 

Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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Posted (edited)

Getting back into the rhythm of things!

 

Chapter 7

"Shoot for the Moon - even if you miss it, you will land among the stars." - Unknown

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Spoiler

Ever since the dawn of Kerbalkind, Kerbals have looked to the stars... only to find their view of the night sky blocked by the looming presence of the Mun overhead. Despite that, the Mun became engrained into the very fabric of Kerbal culture and society. The Mun was the Great Protector, its presence at night a comforting one. When Kerbol went to sleep, Mun shone bright, a beacon of light in a sea of darkness. Mun shone Munlight upon weary travelers, guiding them safely to their destination. Ancient Kerbals navigated the high seas with the aid of the Mun, sailing away to far off lands with its blessing.

Minmus was discovered quite a while later, during the Great Awakening. Curious kerbals pointed crude, telescope-like contraptions towards the stars - and found a tiny little ball of green. Confused, many theorized that this must have been made of cheese. Clearly, this was a cosmic meal fit only for the gods - Kerbol was saving it for a later snack. Only later, to the disappointment of many, was it discovered that Minmus was a ball of rock, just like the Mun.

With their (relative) proximity to Kerbin, it was quite obvious that Kerbin's two companions would be some of the first targets for the aspiring space program. 

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A heavily modified extension of the Explorer satellite bus, the Pioneer probes would aim to make the first trips to Kerbin's two moons. The Pioneers would be a magnitude more capable than the Explorers, with its own maneuvering engine, robust communications equipment, improved redundancy (especially on the batteries - lessons had been learned from the Explorer program), and rudimentary scientific equipment. A notable improvement from the original Explorer bus would be the foil blankets covering the entire spacecraft - when an engineer's mother came to tell him a bedtime story and tuck him into bed, he realized that wrapping a satellite in nice warm blankets would probably make it nice and snug too.

While leaps and bounds ahead of the spartan Explorers (them essentially being just batteries and a radio transmitter with solar panels stuck on the side), the scientific capabilities of the Pioneer were still quite minimal. With the spacecraft mostly being engineering testbeds anyway, this wasn't seen as critical. Future, more well-equipped missions would do that.

The Pioneers would be launched onboard the Javelin-2 launchers, the same ones used to launch the Moho missions. This extra lifting capacity would be well-needed - while the Pioneers itself were tiny (only about 1.5 times the weight of the Explorer satellite), they were going to be traveling an order of magnitude further than anything ever launched before.

With the first Pioneer spacecraft ready for launch, it was stacked onto a waiting Javelin-2 booster and rolled out to LC 40, ready for its trip to the Mun.

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The launch performance was completely nominal - with the majority of its problems ironed out, the Javelin booster revealed itself to actually be a quite capable and reliable workhorse.

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Safely in orbit, 2 of the 6 antennas were deployed - the others, still stowed, wouldn't be able to deploy while still mounted to the upper stage. This had been built into the design, as the two antennas were more than suitable enough for contact with Mission Control. The other four were only needed for transmitting science.

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Shortly afterwards, the Sphinx engine relit to send Pioneer to the Mun.

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Two days later, the Pioneer stack arrives at the Mun.

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Once again, the Sphinx relights - this time for the final time, to brake Pioneer into an orbit around the Mun.

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With its propellant expended, the upper stage is discarded and the Pioneer itself continues its burn.

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Settling into a stable orbit, Pioneer deploys the rest of its antennas and its scientific instruments, most notably the magnetometer boom.

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An astounding success, Pioneer-1 returned the first (rudimentary) orbital observations of the Mun. With the success of Pioneer-1, Pioneer-2 rolled out to the pad a week later, bound for Minmus. For Minmus, the upper stage bulkhead mounting the Pioneer was filled with fuel instead of just being a structural adapter, for the extra delta-v needed for Minmus.

Spoiler

Got this event card during integration:

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With a completely nominal orbit insertion, Pioneer-2 set out on its journey to Minmus.

Spoiler

Small sidenote here: getting the transfer to Minmus was super annoying. Astrogator had a stroke and kept plotting the Minmus transfers too low, so I had to plot the transfer manually. The problem is, Minmus's orbit is already quite annoying in stock KSP, but it's exacerbated by JNSQ. After a good few minutes of fiddling around with the maneuver nodes, I finally managed to get a transfer. 

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Two days later, Pioneer-2 arrived at the Mint Mun.

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However, there was a problem - even with the upper stage and probe delta-v combines, the stack didn't have enough propellant to actually brake into an orbit around Minmus. Just 100 m/s short, the stack would zip past Minmus and head into interplanetary space. Me Mission Control assumed this was just a trajectory error, and the spacecraft performed its retroburn anyway.

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However, just as predicted, the stack didn't have enough delta-v. Zooming past Minmus, Pioneer-2 would become the first probe to exit Kerbin's sphere of influence and enter interplanetary space.

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Spoiler

Event card:

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And, (just to rub it in, perhaps) for some reason, multiple Micro Moment Control Gyroscopes decided to fail.

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After reviewing Pioneer-2's flight data, engineers decided the best course of action was to switch out the Javelin-2 booster with the Javelin-2A, which was augmented with 6 solid rocket boosters. This extra delta-v boost would (hopefully) leave enough extra propellant for Pioneer to successfully insert itself into a Minmar orbit.

However, there had only been two probes produced. Luckily, a flight spare was found laying around and was converted into an operational satellite, Pioneer-3. Mounted on the Javelin-2A, Pioneer-3 was rolled out to the pad and prepped for launch.

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Spoiler

Event card I got during maneuver node fiddling (astrogator still refused to work).

And I just realized, I forgot to check on the astronaut corps after seeing this card :0.0:

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Spoiler

Arriving at Minmus, another event card:

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Nice one.

18 days later (which confused me, since the previous transfer was only 2 days), Pioneer-3 arrived at Minmus. (I am still confused about why that took so long. My best guess is just different transfer timings.)

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The Minmus encounter would end up being... not ideal. Pioneer-2 would have to inject into a highly inclined orbit. However, with a good chunk of delta-v remaining, that would be fixed in the future.

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At this point, Mission Control began receiving odd orbital telemetry data from the probe. After me realizing that I accidentally put Pioneer-2 in a retrograde orbit analysis of the telemetry, control concluded that somehow, Pioneer-3 had injected into a retrograde orbit around Minmus.

However, with the probe's fuels tanks pretty much full, this was easily remedied with a series of orbital maneuvers. Control also used this opportunity to straighten out the orbit's inclination to something roughly equatorial, and to lower the orbit for better science data.

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Settling into its new orbit, Pioneer deployed its magnetometer boom and communications array, and immediately began sending valuable science back to the KSC.

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Spoiler

After the missions were done, I noticed the messages thing was full in the tracking station:

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Somehow, some of the tiny little gyroscopes all decided to fail on each probe. Weird. Checking in on the probe itself confirmed this:

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I didn't end up finding anything else, but I did snap a neat picture:

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Edited by Misguided Kerbal
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2 hours ago, Misguided Kerbal said:

"Shoot for the Moon - even if you miss it, you will land among the stars." - Unknown

False. Any KSP player knows that id you miss the Moon you will land among the humans, or end up in a high and remote Earth orbit, or even worse, get sent to a solar orbit

2 hours ago, Misguided Kerbal said:

Minmus was a ball of rock, just

HERESY! Minmus is made of ice... Cream! Mint-flavored ice cream! :D

2 hours ago, Misguided Kerbal said:

when an engineer's mother came to tell him a bedtime story and tuck him into bed, he realized that wrapping a satellite in nice warm blankets would probably make it nice and smug

Awww, that's so cute (:

Edited by Maria Sirona
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9 hours ago, Maria Sirona said:

HERESY! Minmus is made of ice... Cream! Mint-flavored ice cream! :D

Green cheese! :sticktongue:

9 hours ago, Maria Sirona said:

Oh, why do you need an equatorial orbit? Isn't an inclined orbit better because it goes over more surface?

I didn't think of that, because I'm dumb The Pioneer satellites are pretty much engineering testbeds, so there's not much (I literally just stuck a magnetometer and a thermometer on it, and only because it looked cool). In the future, I'll send dedicated satellites (I have SCANSAT installed), but for now I just stuck them into equatorial orbits because they looked cool. They might be useful as relays for future missions.

9 hours ago, Maria Sirona said:

Also, poor kerbonauts :(;.;

BARIS is a cruel mistress. Luckily, I did check back up on the Astronaut Corps and they're all okay.

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On 7/9/2022 at 11:19 PM, Misguided Kerbal said:

18 days later (which confused me, since the previous transfer was only 2 days), Pioneer-3 arrived at Minmus. (I am still confused about why that took so long. My best guess is just different transfer timings.)

2 day transfer to minmus is pretty quick. Looking at your trajectories for Mun and Minmus intercept, it looks like you are burning for short-transit instead of delta-v efficient. from my experience, a hohmann transfer to minmus is usually 7-8 days.

A rocket with enough Delta-V to get into Mun orbit should also be able to reach Minmus typically. If you aren't already, use the included Delta-V chart they added with the mod as reference. For Minmus, i usually wait for the space center to be under the path of Minmus' orbit so I can launch into it's plane and not worry about the inclination change. This makes the transfer burn a little easier as well.

I also recommend downloading PreciseNode, as this makes plotting transfers so much easier (I dont see it on your mod list).
 

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19 minutes ago, cxg2827 said:

2 day transfer to minmus is pretty quick. Looking at your trajectories for Mun and Minmus intercept, it looks like you are burning for short-transit instead of delta-v efficient. from my experience, a hohmann transfer to minmus is usually 7-8 days.

Looking back at what I did, I think I forgot to account for the Minmus transfer windows. I was launching at odd times, that's probably what screwed the transfers and astrogator up.

21 minutes ago, cxg2827 said:

A rocket with enough Delta-V to get into Mun orbit should also be able to reach Minmus typically.

Yeah, Pioneer-2 did get to Minmus, but it was about 100 m/s short of the braking burn. With the SRBs stuck on, I got the boost I needed for Pioneer-3.

22 minutes ago, cxg2827 said:

For Minmus, i usually wait for the space center to be under the path of Minmus' orbit so I can launch into it's plane and not worry about the inclination change. This makes the transfer burn a little easier as well.

That's probably a smart idea, I'll keep that in mind for the future. 

22 minutes ago, cxg2827 said:

I also recommend downloading PreciseNode, as this makes plotting transfers so much easier (I dont see it on your mod list).

Never heard of it before, I'll go check it out! Although the mod list isn't up to date, I've been adding mods. I should probably get around to updating it actually.

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