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Team Galileo Grand Tour


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Part 0: Mission goal and craft

This mission will attempt to land a Kerbal on every body with a surface in all three Team Galileo planet packs: Galileo's Planet Pack, Grannus Expansion Pack, and JNSQ

This mission does not qualify for the linked challenge, due to JNSQ's changes to the stock solar system. Nevertheless, I will attempt to follow its other rules (although I may need to use the debug menu for the purpose of circumventing a bug; I'll note each time this occurs).

The mission includes ISRU, but as an additional challenge, each refueling stop must be on a different celestial body.

In order to make the systems fit together properly, JNSQ is included at 1x scale (using JNSQ_Rescale_1X), and GPP is included in its secondary configuration (using GPP_Secondary).

Unlike my previous mission, I am using some other mods as well, selected to ensure a mix of realism and balance with stock parts. Notably included is Explodium Breathing Engines, which is so important to the mission that I can justify its use only because its engines, following the path of realism, are strictly worse than their stock counterparts (except for the range of bodies on which they can operate).

Full modlist:

Spoiler

KSP 1.12.3, Making History, Breaking Ground

 

Better Crew Assignment

Better Time Warp

Explodium Breathing Engines*

Grannus Expansion Pack

Galileo's Planet Pack**

JNSQ***

Keep It Straight

Kerbal Engineer Redux

Missing History

Near Future Launch Vehicles

Near Future Solar

Planet Info Plus

Precise Node

ReStock+

Simple Fuel Switch****

Stock Jet Adjustments*****

 

*With custom configs for GEP, taken directly from CelestialBodies.pdf: Sirona 83% ExL and 2% ExV, Brovo 2% ExV, Epona 1% ExV.

** With optional mod GPP_Secondary.

*** With optional mods JavelinEngine and Rescale_1X.

**** With custom config to add an additional oxidizer-only option to every affected tank.

***** Only the atmosphere curve extender, in order to provide more realistic performance at high pressure. The additional air compressor parts have been removed, as I'm not confident they work with the latest version of KSP, and wouldn't want to use them anyway.

 

 

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During orbital assembly, I also had these mods installed, but didn't use them and uninstalled them before leaving LKO after realizing I wouldn't want them:
Astrogator

Gravity Turn

JX2 Antenna

 

 

There are a lot of places I need to visit, so I've compiled a list of all the celestial bodies with their most important properties.

(0.0) List of celestial bodies

Spoiler

The list is formatted as follows:

Average distance from primary: body name (radius, surface gravity, atmospheric pressure at datum, other notes)

 

  • Sun (70300 km, 27.7 g, star)
    • 5.81 Gm: Moho (260 km, 0.29 g)
    • 10.85 Gm: Eve (820 km, 1.4 g, 10 atm, explodium atmosphere, explodium sea)
      • 34.77 Mm: Gilly (12 km, 0.075 g)
    • 15.01 Gm: Kerbin (640 km, 1 g, 1 atm, oxygen atmosphere, water sea)
      • 36.38 Mm: Mun (160 km, 0.145 g)
      • 58.79 Mm: Minmus (64 km, 0.05 g)
    • 22.88 Gm: Duna (320 km, 0.34 g, 0.04 atm)
      • 14.67 Mm: Ike (84 km, 0.06 g)
    • 37.63 Gm: Edna (104 km, 0.08 g)
      • 1.908 Mm: Dak (8 km, 0.008 g)
    • 45.07 Gm: Dres (144 km, 0.12 g)
    • 75.91 Gm: Jool (5600 km, 1.04 g, gas giant)
      • 35.06 Mm: Laythe (440 km, 0.58 g, 0.6 atm, oxygen atmosphere, water sea)
      • 64.09 Mm: Vall (220 km, 0.18 g)
      • 117.2 Mm: Tylo (360 km, 0.32 g, 0.2 atm)
      • 233.2 Mm: Bop (76 km, 0.05 g)
      • 295.8 Mm: Pol (52 km, 0.03 g)
    • 143.8 Gm: Lindor (3200 km, 0.94 g, gas giant)
      • 23.44 Mm: Krel (60 km, 0.03 g)
      • 42.86 Mm: Aden (120 km, 0.07 g)
      • 75 Mm: Huygen (268 km, 0.15 g, 1.5 atm, methane atmosphere, methane sea)
      • 123.8 Mm: Riga (300 km, 0.18 g, 0.06 atm)
      • 230.3 Mm: Talos (200 km, 0.11 g)
    • 188.5 Gm: Eeloo (240 km, 0.15 g, 0.02 atm)
      • 12.72 Mm: Celes (80 km, 0.04 g)
      • 25.87 Mm: Tam (4 km, 0.0035 g)
    • 210.9 Gm: Hamek (180 km, 0.1 g)
    • 684.8 Gm: Nara (1440 km, 1 g, 40 atm, hydrogen atmosphere)
    • 7000 Gm: Ciro (70980 km, 25.8 g, star)
      • 3.496 Gm: Icarus (160 km, 0.16 g)
      • 6.992 Gm: Thalia (270 km, 0.3 g, no ore)
        • 11.3 Mm: Eta (60 km, 0.05 g)
      • 10.49 Gm: Niven (400 km, 0.5 g, 0.12 atm)
      • 13.98 Gm: Gael (600 km, 1 g, 1 atm, oxygen atmosphere, water sea)
        • 28 Mm: Iota (100 km, 0.085 g)
        • 55 Mm: Ceti (150 km, 0.135 g)
      • 22.38 Gm: Tellumo (1000 km, 1.9 g, 10 atm, oxygen atmosphere, water sea)
        • 1.455 Mm: Lili (7 km, 0.015 g)
      • 39.16 Gm: Gratian (550 km, 0.75 g, 0.5 atm, methane atmosphere)
        • 10.3 Mm: Geminus (230 km, 0.22 g)
      • 72.72 Gm: Otho (3500 km, 0.92 g, gas giant)
        • 20 Mm: Augustus (350 km, 0.35 g, 0.1 atm)
        • 32 Mm: Hephaestus (125 km, 0.08 g)
        • 65 Mm: Jannah (105 km, 0.065 g)
      • 139.8 Gm: Gauss (2500 km, 1.03 g, gas giant)
        • 18.5 Mm: Loki (180 km, 0.1 g)
        • 57 Mm: Catullus (1200 km, 0.9 g, 5 atm, hydrogen/methane atmosphere)
          • 6 Mm: Tarsiss (320 km, 0.17 g, 1.4 atm, methane atmosphere, methane sea)
      • 274.1 Gm: Nero (5000 km, 0.97 g, gas giant)
        • 30 Mm: Hadrian (300 km, 0.18 g, 0.4 atm, nitrogen sea)
        • 48 Mm: Narisse (90 km, 0.04 g)
        • 80 Mm: Muse (130 km, 0.08 g)
        • 135 Mm: Minona (120 km, 0.06 g)
        • 800 Mm: Agrippina (50 km, 0.03 g)
        • 1625 Mm (retrograde): Julia (30 km, 0.015 g)
      • 419.5 Gm: Hox (250 km, 0.14 g, 0.01 atm)
        • 12.5 Mm: Argo (80 km, 0.035 g)
      • 542.6 Gm: Leto (210 km, 0.12 g, 0.005 atm)
      • 2000 Gm: Grannus (30170 km, 71.4 g, star)
        • 0.26 Gm: Taranis (200 km, 0.2 g, tidally locked, lava sea)
        • 1.764 Gm: Toutatis (350 km, 0.45 g, 0.04 atm, tidally locked)
        • 2.480 Gm: Nodens (700 km, 1.1 g, 2 atm, oxygen atmosphere, water sea)
          • 19.92 Mm: Belisama (250 km, 0.27 g)
        • 5.897 Gm: Sucellus (150 km, 0.14 g)
          • 4.7 Mm: Caireen (30 km, 0.02 g)
        • 11.9 Gm: Sirona (3000 km, 1 g, gas giant)
          • 35 Mm: Airmed (160 km, 0.15 g)
          • 70 Mm: Brovo (300 km, 0.35 g, 0.15 atm, methane atmosphere)
          • 120 Mm: Damona (80 km, 0.06 g)
        • 23.5 Mm: Epona (500 km, 0.6 g, 1 atm, methane atmosphere)
          • 17 Mm: Rosmerta (50 km, 0.03 g)
          • 90 Mm (retrograde): RAB-58E (10 km, 0.009 g)
        • 37.3 Gm: Cernunnos (120 km, 0.07 g)

In total, there are 77 celestial bodies, of which three are stars and six are gas giants, leaving 68 for me to land on.

 

The mission craft is composed of seven modules, which are launched separately and assembled together in LKO.

(0.1) Mothership (Team Galileo Grand Tour)

Spoiler

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The mothership, Team Galileo Grand TourTGGT is powered by six "Cherenkov" nuclear engines from Restock+, providing 1800 kN of thrust. The engines account for over half of the dry mass of TGGT alone, providing significant vacuum TWR that should hopefully be enough to land on thin-atmosphere bodies like Duna and Niven. Most of the rest is fuel and ore storage, with a drill, large Convert-O-Tron, fuel cells, and radiators for refueling.

It also includes some scientific instruments (not for the science but for readings of temperature, pressure, and so on), an ore scanner, an antenna, RTGs for power when not refueling, and of course, grand tour flags.

Near the top are three docking ports and four claws for docking to the other modules, and fifteen large reaction wheels for steering.

At the top is a command pod for three kerbals, which can detach along with a heat shield and parachute to return them safely to Kerbin.

 

Since there's no separate refueling module, TGGT will bring all the other modules down to the surface with it in order to refuel. This (along with TWR concerns) means that I will be trying to use all of the other modules as early as possible.

(0.2) Oxygen-breathing plane

Spoiler

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The plane for Kerbin, Laythe, Gael, and Nodens. It is powered by one RAPIER and two NERVs. Both engines are quite efficient throughout most of the ascent, allowing space for oxidizer to power the RAPIER in closed-cycle mode for a bit. This lets the plane have enough thrust and Δv to SSTO even from Nodens, allowing it to be reused for all four targets. However, its TWR, Δv, and thermal tolerance are no match for Tellumo.

The plane is somewhat heavy and doesn't really have enough wing area to land fully fueled on Gael, so it includes twelve parachutes to slow it down even further.

(0.3) Methane-breathing plane

Spoiler

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The plane for Tarsiss, Huygen, Epona, Gratian, and Catullus. Its main feature is the "Sphinx" jet engine at the back, the explodium-breathing equivalent of the Panther. It provides nearly identical performance to the Panther, except with significantly reduced ISP (4072 - 1810 s compared to 9000 - 4000 s). The front half of the plane includes a LFO tank with three Twitch engines to pull the plane to orbit, and detaches to provide extra delta-v at Catullus. (This means I have to use it at Catullus last, leading to some otherwise strange routing.)

Getting this plane to work reusably at Gratian was difficult: the delta-v margins are very tight, and I needed to add a drain valve to remove any excess oxidizer and parachutes on the wings to land safely in Gratian's thin atmosphere.

Brovo also has some methane in its atmosphere, and the plane might be able to work there as well. The atmosphere there is thin, so using TGGT will probably be easier, but I'm not actually sure.

(0.4) Eve lander

Spoiler

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Eve is big enough that it needs its own, non-reusable plane. It is quite similar to the methane plane but does not have a docking port at the front because it will only be used once.

There is an additional oxidizer tank at the back, and the front stage uses a bigger engine (confusingly also called "Sphinx", from Near Future Launch Vehicles) to provide the TWR needed for Eve, along with elevons to provide additional steering.

(0.5) Nara lander

Spoiler

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Nara needs its own plane for a lot of reasons, primarily its enormous size. This plane is almost identical to the one for Eve except that it has more fuel in the front and uses the hydrogen-breathing variant of the Panther engine, the "Lion". As with the Sphinx, the Lion has the same thrust curves as the Panther but even worse ISP, at 3076 - 1368 s. As a result, the plane requires extra oxidizer drop tanks, which are mounted on the sides. Still, the Lion greatly outperforms rocket engines, which near Nara's surface have an ISP of zero.

You might notice in the picture that the plane has storage for one kilogram of Explodium Vapour, the methane version of Explodium not found on Nara. This is due to a bug in Explodium Breathing Engines: originally, the ExL version of the Mk1 Diverterless Supersonic Intake (which I use here) had the correct ExL harvester but only ExV storage, making it unusable. I tried to fix it manually with a patch to replace the storage with ExL, which correctly added the ExL but somehow kept the ExV storage. I'm not sure why, but this plane will never enter a methane atmosphere (and even if it did, it doesn't have any ExV harvesters), so it shouldn't cause any unusual behavior.

 (0.6) Tellumo lander

Spoiler

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The Tellumo plane. It uses a fairly similar design as the methane lander, but Tellumo's high gravity and orbital velocity require an upgrade from Twitch to Cub engines, as well as a heat shield at the back. Oxygen-breathing engines are already much more efficient than their methane-breathing counterparts, so the RAPIER's higher maximum speed but lower efficiency than the Panther is worth it.

(0.7) Taranis ferry

Spoiler

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Taranis is the one place that TGGT doesn't have enough Δv to land on from anywhere else, even with gravity assists.

Clearly, the solution is to throw even more Δv at the problem using a dedicated, completely non-reusable vehicle.

Since the Δv requirements are so large, I focused almost entirely on payload reduction, even choosing the lightweight but non-retractable OX-4L solar panels, which I would never use in almost any other situation.

At the top is the actual lander. It consists of the bare minimum required for a lander, with a single Ant engine, a command chair, the smallest reaction wheel, battery and solar panel available, and just enough fuel to get from low orbit to the surface and back.

The rest of the craft is almost entirely xenon engines and tanks, which provide over 40 km/s of Δv.

 

Edited by Leganeski
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Part 1: Assembling Team Galileo Grand Tour

The modules are launched into orbit separately and dock together.

(1.1) TGGT

Spoiler

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TGGT and its launcher on the launchpad, 16 seconds after the start of the game.

TGGT includes a probe core, so it can launch unmanned. It launches with no ore in order to keep launch mass down to a more reasonable amount.

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TGGT separates from the launcher and completes the rest of the ascent under its own power.

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(1.2) Oxygen plane

Spoiler

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One of the requirements of the oxygen plane is being a Kerbin SSTO, so it doesn't need a launcher.

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The Rapier loses power and switches to closed-cycle mode while the NERVs turn on.

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The plane runs out of oxidizer and the NERVs finish the ascent.

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The plane has a lot of extra fuel, and gets to TGGT with plenty remaining.

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Jeb gets out and boards the main (well, only) crew cabin.

(1.3) Methane plane

Spoiler

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The Sphinx doesn't have a rear node, so some slight symmetry abuse is needed to attach the lander.

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On the launchpad, with Val piloting.

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Standard launch profile.

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The launcher has a lot less spare fuel, but it still manages to meet up with TGGT.

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The launcher, about to be detached, transfers its remaining fuel to TGGT's tanks.

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There isn't enough crew space to store six kerbals from six module launches, so Val jetpacks back down to Kerbin.

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Using the EVA pack decreases both mass and surface velocity, allowing Val to survive re-entry and safely parachute to the water.

(1.4) Tellumo plane

Spoiler

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On the launchpad. The heat shield necessitates a much longer fairing.

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The Tellumo plane is bigger, requiring a two-stage launcher.

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The single-use landers attach to the claws.

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The odd angle makes TGGT horribly unbalanced, so Bill reduces the problem by pushing the Tellumo lander to a better angle.

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Bill manages to survive re-entry completely unassisted.

(1.5) Nara plane

Spoiler

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Bob pilots the lifter, eager to get back home as fast as possible.

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He stays long enough to push the plane into position, then immediately jetpacks back to Kerbin.

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Bob reflects on his terrifying experience in space and decides that this mission is not for him.

(1.6) Taranis ferry / lander

Spoiler

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Bill is back, piloting the Taranis ferry. It is quite small compared to the planes before it, but not much lighter.

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Docking to TGGT. The angle is good enough; Bill doesn't need to adjust it.

The Taranis ferry is not designed to ever encounter any atmosphere at all, so everything is sticking out exposed.

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There is now enough space in the crew cabin, which Bill joins.

(1.7) Eve lander

Spoiler

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Val pilots the Eve lander and docks with TGGT. Eve is the next destination, so the plane remains full.

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TGGT, fully assembled, from above. It's a mess but at least somewhat approximates being balanced.

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Val joins Bill and Jeb to form the official mission crew. There's no scientist, but this is sandbox mode, so one is not necessary.

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The craft is now ready to leave LKO and start the grand tour.

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Team Galileo Grand Tour, fully assembled and crewed, ready to begin the grand tour on day 14.

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Part 2: Eve

TGGT leaves LKO and explores the Eve system.

(2.1) Leaving Kerbin

Spoiler

The extra modules are heavy, so I want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. The single-target modules are the best, because they only need to fly on one planet before I can forget about them. Of those targets, the nearest one is Eve.

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TGGT takes the next transfer window to Eve.

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TGGT still has okay TWR even with everything else attached, so it can perform the maneuver in one burn.

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Testing how much Δv it will take to get to low Eve orbit and then Gilly from there.

As it turns out, I don't actually have enough fuel to go to Eve first, so I head towards Gilly.

(Aside note: the stage Δv readings on the side are wildly inaccurate; the overlapping stages and unactivated engines from different modules mess the calculations up. I've added an empty stage at the bottom which should display the amount of Δv that TGGT has remaining in its main tanks; it seems pretty accurate but doesn't include the extra I can get from refining stored ore. I don't have any ore yet, but once I get some, it will mess up that number as well.)

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The actual Eve encounter. Eve's atmosphere begins at 55 km, so it is safe.

(2.2) Eve Gilly

Spoiler

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Gilly happens to be positioned in a relatively good spot.

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Capturing at Eve.

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The Gilly encounter. I need to have a periapsis of at least 25 km for the ore scanner to work.

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Ore data for Gilly. It looks very good, and Gilly rotates slowly, so I find a landing spot without too much trouble.

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Descending to the surface from 25 km up takes a while.

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Gilly's gravity is no match for TGGT's powerful SAS.

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Valentina gets out and plants a flag. She is the first kerbal to step foot on another world, and in fact the first kerbal to step foot on any world at all.

(For those wondering about the date: in 1x scale JNSQ, years are 462 days long.)

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TGGT begins refueling. There's just one drill, but the amount of time this adds is negligible compared to the rest of the mission.

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The ore tanks fill up for the first time.

The Jumbo Holding Tanks from Restock+ have a good mass ratio, so I'm using three of them to store 105 tons of ore. More than that would decrease my ability to do really long burns.

(2.3) Eve, for real this time

Spoiler

After refueling, I have enough fuel to go to Eve. In fact, I have a lot more than that.

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Low Eve orbit. Bill gets out and boards the Eve plane.

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TGGT lowers its periapsisis into the atmosphere, detaches the Eve plane (to the left of the navball), and re-circularizes.

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Bill enters Eve's atmosphere. The plane is going quite fast, but it's not very heavy.

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The plane's two engines, both called "Sphinx". The jet engine is from Explodium Breathing Engines and named as a methane-breathing variant of the Panther, while the rocket engine is from Near Future Launch Vehicles and named as a vaccuum-optimized variant of the Otter.

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The first temperature peak. At this point, the plane begins to point forward due to drag, and cools off slightly.

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The plane is starting to slow down. It has cooled down to 1643 degrees, but the atmosphere is rapidly getting thicker.

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The second temperature peak, 14 degrees away from overheating.

After this point, the temperature decline is caused by the plane generating enough lift to reduce its downward speed.

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The plane has slowed down and now steers very responsively.

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The plane comes in for a landing on the beach, but the wheels repeatedly bounce off the ground and don't settle down.

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Bill manages to bounce over to the ocean, where the plane finally comes to a halt.

 

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Bill swims to shore and plants a flag.

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The sun sets just as Bill is swimming back to the plane. Even without visual mods, its reflection on the sea still looks cool.

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The next morning, the plane begins its ascent.

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It takes a few seconds to build enough speed to take off, but Eve's atmosphere is really thick.

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The plane has enough thrust to fly straight up.

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At 1 atmosphere, the plane begins to lose thrust, and turns towards the eastern horizon.

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The engine switches to wet mode to break the sound barrier.

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The jet engine reaches its maximum speed and rapidly loses thrust in the thinning atmosphere.

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The rocket stage ignites, and the elevons quickly stabilize it.

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The TWR of the rocket stage started out high and quickly gets even higher, making circularization very quick.

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The rocket stage spends most of its remaining fuel matching planes with TGGT. 

At this point, its TWR is so high that the thrust limiter must be turned down for precision.

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TGGT finishes matching planes and achieves rendezvous.

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Bill returns to TGGT, leaving the near-empty rocket behind.

 

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Part 3: Nara

TGGT heads to Nara and drops off another single-use plane.

(3.1) Transfer to Nara

Spoiler

Of the other single targets, the closest one is Nara. Also, Nara is positioned for a direct Hohmann transfer from the inner system during year 1 to intercept it at its ascending node and apoapsis, so I want to utilize that by making such a transfer as early as I can.

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After waiting a year for the transfer window from Eve, TGGT starts burning for a the transfer to Nara.

Nara hasn't really moved much along its orbit in the four years since the save file started, so the transfer is still relatively good.

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I overestimated how far above the atmosphere I actually was, and underestimated how much a four minute burn would lower my altitude.

This resulted in the ship going five kilometers into the atmosphere, but even at that altitude, drag isn't a very big problem

6 hours ago, Leganeski said:

this plane will never enter a methane atmosphere

Well... um... whoops? I guess I was wrong wait no, Eve's atmosphere has evaporated explodium, an unidentified mix of long hydrocarbons, not methane. Explodium may be identical to methane for all practical purposes, but I stand by my statement. Anyway, nothing happened to the Nara plane.

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Also, it appears I underestimated the cosine errors from such a long burn. My trajectory ends up missing Nara's orbit entirely, but a relatively cheap maneuver fixes that.

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Before going to low Nara orbit, TGGT heads to Prax to refuel. (I've exhausted my ore, so the 1899 m/s remaining Δv figure is relatively accurate.)

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Nara capture. Nara is clearly visible below the ship, but not prominent this far away.

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The thrust on two of the engines is turned down to compensate for the imbalance in the craft.

The path I took is almost certainly not the most efficient way to Prax, but it's relatively simple, and I had enough Δv for it, so I continued on.

(3.2) Prax

Spoiler

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Since I matched Prax's orbit so closely, insertion is very cheap.

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Ore data for Prax. It's relatively good, but annoying to target given Prax's fast rotational period of 4 hours.

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Landing proceeds smoothly. Note, however, the landing legs sinking into the ground.

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Jeb gets out and plants a flag.

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The drill is clearly touching the ground, but refuses to mine, saying "no ground contact".

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TGGT hops over to a different site. The problem seems to resolve, only to return after time warp is activated.

I tried all kinds of things to fix the drill, sending Bill out to move the drill around; going to a different location, taking off and landing back down again. Nothing worked. Looking back at it, I suspect the problem might be related to the landing legs sinking into the ground.

Given that the drill managed to start mining ore the second time, this is clearly a bug, so I used the debug menu to place TGGT on Minmus (while preserving latitude/longitude), refuel there, and then place it back on Prax. The result is a full ship at a location with ore that it already managed to reach, the same situation as if it had actually refueled there.

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The result. The drill contact bug still remains.

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Launching back to orbit. Prax doesn't have very high terrain, so the gravity turn starts quite early.

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The burn to low Nara orbit.

(3.3) Landing on Nara

Spoiler

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TGGT has much lower TWR when full, so circularization is split up.

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Jeb boards the Nara plane, and gets a close up view of the GPP grand tour flag.

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Similarly to the Eve descent, TGGT deorbits, releases the plane, and reorbits.

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Due to odd behavior involving pivoting the claw, Jeb is somehow misaligned from his seat. How does that even happen?

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Thankfully, getting out and back into the seat fixes the alignment.

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Jeb enters the atmosphere. Somehow I opened the wrong KER readouts and didn't notice, so it isn't displaying temperature.

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The plane soon enters a tumble.

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After slowing down... the tumble continues. I guess I never retested stability after adding the drop tanks.

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Draining the drop tanks halfway shifts the CoM forwards, allowing the plane to regain stability.

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Stall speed is incredibly low in Nara's thick atmosphere, allowing the plane to touch down gently.

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Jeb gets out and plants a flag.

I sure hope the plane works too; I hadn't expected the drop tanks to be half empty at this point.

(3.4) Returning to orbit

Spoiler

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The plane takes off just as easily as it landed.

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The plane turns vertical to get out of the lower atmosphere as fast as it can.

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5 kilometers up and the drop tanks are already empty.

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Ascending vertically at terminal velocity is really important to maximize efficiency when the atmosphere is this thick.

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Finally, the atmosphere begins to thin out, and the Lion activates wet mode. Fuel levels are disturbingly low.

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The jet stage runs out of oxidizer a lot sooner than I would have liked. The plane hasn't even broken the sound barrier.

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The Sphinx once again proves its usefulness as an upper stage engine, and the elevons stabilize the rocket very quickly.

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Despite fuel shortages, the efficient ascent profile (and insanely high TWR) allows the rocket to finish circularization.

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It even has enough fuel to rendezvous with TGGT, although not by very much.

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Overall, Nara went a lot more smoothly than I was expecting; once I had partially drained the drop tanks, the lander was very stable and responsive at all stages of the ascent.

 

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Part 4: Tellumo

TGGT heads to the Ciro system and begins exploration.

(4.1) Going interstellar

Spoiler

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Nara has a very significant Oberth effect for outward transfers; 1475 m/s of this maneuver is just getting to Nara escape.

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As with the Eve ejection, I'm doing this burn all at once because partially drained tanks means higher TWR.

Lili would be the optimal refueling point for going to Tellumo, but it's too deep in Tellumo's gravity well to reach safely with the remaining fuel. I decide to refuel at Julia instead, mainly because its weird retrograde orbit makes it annoying to transfer between it and Nero's other moons, and going there now means I won't have to do that.

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Ciro's orbital inclination leads to a Nero encounter from a horrible angle, leading to a high periapsis latitude that can't be easily fixed.

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Nero capture. Nero looks even more stunning up close.In the current version of GPP, Nero's atmosphere starts at 300 km.)

(4.2) Julia

Spoiler

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Nero's SOI is really big, so despite the high periapsis latitude, intercepting Julia is still relatively cheap.

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Of course, I still haven't matched planes with Julia, making capture a bit more expensive. However, Julia orbits so far out that it is still perfectly manageable.

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Ore data for Julia. It's okay, but like Prax, Julia's four-hour rotation period makes good sites difficult to hit.

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The landing gear works properly this time.

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The obligatory flag.

With Better Time Warp, travel time is not really a concern at all; I have previously encountered what I think were bugs due to excessively large dates, but none anywhere near this soon.

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Refueling proceeds smoothly; I'm growing more confident that the issue on Prax was related to the landing legs.

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Julia's terrain is hilly but really low; I start turning immediately.

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This is a stable orbit; Julia really is as smooth overall as it looks from far away.

(4.3) Tellumo

Spoiler

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I use a direct route to Tellumo. GPP offers plenty of gravity assist opportunities but also plenty of refueling spots; there's not much reason to save every bit of fuel when I'll need to go to all the potential refueling spots at some point anyway.

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The capture burn. It was going to be a circularization burn but I stopped it after realizing my actual TWR was well below what the burn time indicator was implying.

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Tellumo's extreme gravity in fact requires circularization to be broken up into multiple passes.

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TGGT performs the plane detachment maneuver once again. Jeb is also on the ship, but for some reason his icon in the lower right is missing.

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The plane inflates the heat shield and enters the atmosphere facing forward to maximize drag. However, the drag is not enough.

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I didn't really want to turn the plane backwards because it makes the heat shield annoying to remove, but the nose cone would overheat otherwise.

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The heat shield slows the plane down successfully.

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After some swinging around and quite a few attempts, the heat shield comes off without breaking anything.

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The plane splashes down at a moderate speed. I found that extending the landing gear greatly increases the chances of surviving a sea landing intact.

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Val gets out. No flag can be planted, so she takes a water sample instead.

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At sea level, the atmosphere is too thick to breathe. The 5% carbon dioxide in the air certainly doesn't help either.

(4.4) Returning to orbit

Spoiler

This was definitely the most difficult piloting I have done so far in the mission, and I don't anticipate anything in the rest of the mission matching it. Tellumo's 1.9 g of surface gravity means that everything happens really quickly, and the thin Δv margins meant that I needed to maintain precision at this high speed.

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The plane manages to get out of the water relatively early, saving fuel that will soon become very important.

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The star visible just to the left of Tellumo's ring is Ciro; it is missing its sunflare somehow. However, this appears to be a purely visual effect; I haven't noticed and wouldn't expect any gameplay consequences.

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Tellumo's atmosphere is really thick but thins out really quickly, so the plane goes straight up at maximum throttle.

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As the pressure drops below 1 atmosphere, the engine begins to lose thrust.

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However, the RAPIER picks up thrust again as the Mach number increases.

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The increased thrust does not last long, and the engine dies down. The fuel tank is almost completely out of fuel.

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The large gimbal range on the Cub engines stabilizes the rocket stage.

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The rocket stage does not have quite enough fuel to get to orbit.

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Val gets out and jetpacks the rest of the way to orbit. With the EVA pack's low thrust, this is only doable because she was so close to orbit to start.

Almost every last bit of fuel was used getting to that point, revealing the importance of the quick exit from the water. In previous attempts, where I didn't make it out of the water until about 45 m/s, I ran of fuel too early and couldn't make orbit.

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Val has enough EVA fuel remaining to reach TGGT but no access to maneuver nodes, making rendezvous difficult. Instead, TGGT comes to get her.

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Val gets back in the ship, holding the water sample.

At this point, there are a few different directions to go. Gael, Lili, and Gratian are all close by and would be nice to get out of the way, while the Taranis ferry is the last single-use module and can be released from a range of orbital positions (although definitely not here). This post catches up with the current state of the mission, so I don't yet know for certain where TGGT will go next.

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Part 5: Gael

The oxygen plane lands on Gael while TGGT refuels on Iota.

(5.0) Quick mod update

Spoiler

I was experimenting with visual mods throughout the Gael exploration. I added PlanetShine, Waterfall (with Restock configs), and Tracking Station Evolved, but PlanetShine didn't seem to be working right, so I removed it after landing on Gael. None of these mods should affect the actual mission whatsoever, only the visuals and the tracking station.

As the part count of TGGT drops and FPS improves, I might add more visual mods.

(5.1) Transfer to Gael

Spoiler

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The transfer to Gael. It looks expensive, but most (1726 m/s) of it is just escaping Tellumo's huge gravity well.

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The burn is split into two parts. For some reason, the burn time indicator seems to use the TWR value from the end of the burn, leading to it underestimating the actual burn time of large burns.

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Gael capture coming from Tellumo is relatively cheap.

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I've encountered Gael with the Iota descending node right at periapsis, so the plane change is very cheap.

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Valentina gets in the oxygen plane and detaches from TGGT to go to the surface.

(5.2) Iota

Spoiler

TGGT heads for Iota while Val aerobrakes the plane down to Gael.

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Intercepting Iota from elliptical orbit is cheaper than I was expecting. It makes sense, though: Iota is a lot farther out than the stock Mun.

 

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Iota is full of ore and rotates slowly; finding a good spot is much easier than on Prax or Julia.

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Bill gets out to plant the flag. Iota is unbelievably white; the engine plume is barely visible behind it.

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Refueling goes smoothly. I'm still not sure of the cause of the ground contact bug, but the landing legs sinking into the ground (which they don't do here) is looking more and more likely.

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(5.3) Gael

Spoiler

Meanwhile, Valentina tests out the oxygen plane.

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The first of too many aerobraking passes. I wasn't sure how low I could go, so I lowered my periapsis gradually.

Gael's atmosphere begins at 70 km, so this pass was overly cautious and didn't really do anything.

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As it turned out, the plane is relatively well suited to aerobraking, and I could have gotten away with far fewer passes. (Note the mission elapsed time, which started when the plane decoupled from TGGT.)

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The parachutes do their job; this plane flies really poorly at low speed and a normal landing would have been very hard. I'm not sure whether the 1.2 tons of dry mass is worth it, but I can't redesign the plane now.

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Val plants a flag. Despite the resemblance to Kerbin, her journey is far from over.

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Guess what happens when you forget to put your helmet back on?

I was prepared to handle some things going wrong, but certainly not this. Well, that's what quicksaves are for.

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The actual takeoff. I would have stayed on the ground a bit longer but I really didn't want to run into the ocean; this plane is a lot heavier than the others and I doubt it could take off from water.

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Val remembers to put her helmet back on.

With 23 tons and only one RAPIER, the plane generally has some trouble breaking the sound barrier, but lowering the pitch to horizontal seems to work.

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Even a single RAPIER is really effective.

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As the RAPIER loses thrust, the NERVs take over.

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The RAPIER flames out and switches to closed-cycle mode. The combined thrust is overpowered for Gael; it's mainly this high to take on Nodens.

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After running out of oxidizer, the NERVs finish circularizing.

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TGGT is still at Iota, but the plane has a lot of leftover fuel; it's more than enough to get there.

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Matching orbits with TGGT.

Iota is so bright that it's really hard to read the closest approach label in front of it. I have to turn the camera to the side to adjust the intercept properly.

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Valentina redocks to TGGT and rejoins Jeb and Bill in the crew cabin.

TGGT's fuel tanks are still mostly full at this point. The next destination will probably be Gratian, but I'm not entirely sure where I can refuel near it: the mountainous terrain on Geminus is difficult to land on and I don't want to refuel there with a still unbalanced ship.

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Part 6: Gratian

TGGT goes to Gratian and tests out the methane plane for the first time.

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(6.1) Transfer to Gratian

Spoiler

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Iota's orbital period is an annoyingly large fraction of that of Gael, and it isn't at the right place during the Gael-Gratian transfer window.

However, waiting for Iota to move into position doesn't add too much Δv to the total transfer cost.

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At the start of the Iota ejection burn, I found out the hard way that I forgot to turn off the engines on the oxygen plane after it docked to TGGT.

I didn't bother reloading; they consumed very little fuel in the few seconds they ran before I shut them down.

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I'm falling down to Gael and doing the ejection burn near the atmosphere in order to maximize the Oberth effect. In many cases the TWR of TGGT's nuclear engines wouldn't be high enough to do this kind of ejection, but here the maneuver is not too large.

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At least for now, storing fuel in the oxygen plane is not worth the unbalancing it causes, so I move all of the remaining fuel to the main tanks and lock the tanks on the plane.

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The encounter with Gratian isn't at a great angle, but it's not too bad, and the capture burn is manageable.

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During the capture burn, I got an accidental Tellumo encounter. I've often had these sorts of encounters before, but not many with a non-giant planet, and especially not at such a good angle. Unfortunately, I am not planning to go to the Tellumo system again any time soon.

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I need to get TGGT's orbit very close to the atmosphere (which begins at 55 km), so I do the last of circularization in a separate burn.

(6.2) Landing

Spoiler

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Bill gets in the methane plane.

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The plane has working rocket engines and can deorbit itself, but instead lowers its periapsis using a catapult-style separation maneuver in order to conserve fuel.

 

Why do I need to save 13 m/s of fuel?

This plane is mainly designed for Catullus, and so includes a lot of oxidizer to get out of the thick atmosphere there using the jet stage. It has to function as a SSTO on Gratian in order to work properly on Catullus, but it's not designed as a Gratian SSTO at all. I can't add more fuel to the rocket stage without running out of oxidizer during the air-breathing phase of the Catullus ascent, and there's only barely enough fuel to reach Gratian orbit. During testing, if I tried to reach even a 65 km orbit for more room between it and the atmosphere, I ran out of fuel. As a result, I'm using this plane for Gratian but saving every bit of fuel I can.

 

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Orbital velocity on Gratian isn't nearly as fast as on Catullus, so heating is not a concern.

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Another consequence of the Catullus optimization is that the plane doesn't have very much wing area, so it can't slow down to a safe landing speed at only 0.36 atmospheres. Instead, parachutes are deployed to slow down further. Even then, 11.7 m/s straight down is only barely safe.

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All four objects visible in Gratian's sky during the day, from top to bottom: Sun, Geminus, Grannus, and Ciro. Ciro is actually much brighter than the other stars, but it doesn't appear that way because it's still missing its sunflare.

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Bill gets out and plants the flag.

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I just discovered this menu; it allows you to rename your vessel and change its type. Here I fix the name and set the type to "plane".

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The plane takes off more quickly than I was expecting and manages to avoid the hill up ahead.

As it turns out, that was because the engine was in wet mode the whole time. I'd like to say that was intentional, but I was planning to take off and start the ascent in dry mode to save oxidizer, then switch to wet mode later.

Regardless, using wet mode during takeoff worked very well, and the extra oxidizer consumption isn't a problem anywhere but Catullus. In fact, I'll probably do the same thing on Epona, and definitely on Brovo if I end up using the plane there.

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The plane cruises past the sound barrier. The speed of sound is slower than on Kerbin due to Gratian's cold temperature.

The performance of jet engines is a function of Mach number rather than speed, so a lower speed of sound means that the plane can go supersonic more easily but reaches its maximum speed earlier. Here, this is bad because I need to get as much speed as possible out of the comparatively-high-efficiency jet stage.

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The end of the air-breathing stage. Look at how much oxidizer I have left; the wet-mode takeoff wasn't a problem at all.

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In fact, there's so much leftover oxidizer that I have to drain it to reduce the mass of the rocket stage.

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The plane circularizes with only 41 m/s to spare. That's not enough to rendezvous with TGGT, so TGGT will have to meet with the plane.

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The plane docks and Bill rejoins the crew cabin.

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I have to rename TGGT as well; the "methane lander" name from the plane had taken priority.

(6.3) Leaving Gratian

Spoiler

There's a lot more fuel left in the tanks than I was anticipating, probably because I'm not carrying the heavy Tellumo lander around any more. I have over 5000 m/s left, so I decide to go directly to the Grannus system.

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The burn time is underestimated somewhat here, although it's not as far off as at Tellumo.

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During interstellar transfers, even somewhat ridiculous correction maneuvers can still be pretty cheap. Here, I'm aligning my Epona ascending node with periapsis in order to make the plane change burn cheaper.

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The encounter trajectory, as is usual for Grannus, is an ellipse that only barely exceeds the SOI limit. This makes the capture burn negligible.

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Grannus does have a working sunflare, and its increased brightness from closer up is noticeable.

TGGT has now made it to Grannus. Its next destination, visible as the target during the Grannus capture maneuvers, is the Epona system.

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Part 7: Epona Taranis

mYRMzS4.png

 

TGGT continues its journey to Epona. But before it can get there...

(7.0) Visual mod update

Spoiler

I installed Scatterer around this point, after the Taranis lander with its long stack of autostrutted parts separated from TGGT and reduced lag. As a visual mod, this does not affect the mission at all.

(7.1) Preparing encounters

Spoiler

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When TGGT reaches its Taranis descending node, Jebediah gets in the Taranis ferry and detaches it.

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The five ion engines start successfully and begin the plane change burn.

The batteries aren't nearly large enough to do all of the burn at once; instead, the solar panels slowly recharge them. This far from Grannus, though, each panel generates only 0.002 charge per second.

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Three days later, the burn finishes. The engines weren't on the whole time; they ran at full power and then stopped while the batteries recharged.

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Next up is the much larger burn to lower periapsis. Each battery charge only lasts for 14.6 m/s, so it was somewhat tedious.

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The burn takes fourteen days. Thankfully, I'm moving so slowly around Grannus that even then, cosine losses are negligible.

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A bit later, TGGT reaches apoapsis and finds an Epona encounter. It will take 53 years to get there.

48 years later...

(7.2) Reaching Taranis

Spoiler

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Jebediah reaches Grannus periapsis and begins to circularize. Here, there is no shortage of solar power, and the ion engines can run continuously.

The burn is multiple hours long, and has to be split up into many periapsis burns ... of up to 5000 m/s each. Using ion engines.

Better Time Warp was very helpful here; using 27x physics warp made the process much less boring.

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After a few burns, the first stage runs out of fuel and is jettisoned to reveal... more xenon.

Taranis is hard.

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Finally, I have an orbit matching that of Taranis pretty closely. I wouldn't do this to get to any other planet, but I have so little time in its SOI that I can't do any big maneuvers there.

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The first attempt at capturing into Taranis orbit. It fails due to a lack of solar power. The panels say "direct sunlight", which is not the case, but aren't generating any measurable power.

Oh wait, there is direct sunlight, but only from Sun and Ciro, both of which are very far away. Well, that would explain the low power output.

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The second attempt, which fails because the solar panels are "blocked by Taranis." Uh, what? I'm over the day side; the craft's shadow is even visible on the surface.

Maybe it's because Taranis is blocking Sun, even if Grannus is visible. Well, that's certainly inconvenient.

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Eventually, I find this ridiculous capture maneuver. It's overly expensive, as you might expect, but it happens while the solar panels are still working.

This is an ion-engine craft; an extra 150 m/s is no big deal.

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Approaching Taranis, for real this time. Note that I haven't entered its SOI yet.

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The panels are generating a ridiculous amount of power. Here, this one panel is generating over 2500 EC/second. For reference, I'm using about 18 EC/s in total to power the engines and reaction wheel.

I'm not sure this is even the correct amount of power; by my estimate, this panel should be generating at most a couple hundred EC/s. I guess the takeaway is that Kopernicus support for interstellar solar panels is buggy, but I can't really do anything about that. Anyway, even the correct amount would still be complete overkill, so this doesn't matter very much.

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Circularization. The solar panels are blocked at periapsis, and I can get maybe 25 m/s on each battery charge, but that's enough to circularize over a few passes.

(7.3) Landing on Taranis

Spoiler

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Jeb gets in the lander.

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The lander detaches from the rest of the craft. It is designed to be as light as possible, consisting of 135 kilograms of LFO along with everything necessary for a lander in the smallest size available ... and a used decoupler.

Whoops.

I should have used a stack separator, but I didn't think of that when designing the craft, and it's too late to change it now.

 

The decoupler weighs 10 kilograms, which is certainly not good on a 355 kilogram lander, but it's not a total disaster. On the bright side, it means I don't have to try to balance the lander on the Ant engine.

The decoupler lowers the available Δv of the lander from 1478 m/s to 1426 m/s. According to the Δv map, landing on Taranis and returning to orbit both take 720 m/s, for a total of 1440 m/s. Uh oh.

However, that number is for a moderate-TWR craft starting from and ending at a 20 km orbit. My orbit is at an altitude of 8 km, just above the highest mountains. The lander is so small that even the single Ant engine, providing 2 kN of thrust, results in a Taranis TWR of 2.8 - 4.4. The actual descent and ascent costs should be lower than 720 m/s, especially if I take advantage of the high TWR by starting the gravity turn early.

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Landing. I happened to land at an altitude of 4904 meters, further reducing the fuel cost to 685 m/s.

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Jeb plants the flag.

I had plans for what to do if the lander tipped over after Jeb stopped piloting it and got out, but the decoupler makes all of that unnecessary.

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I'm launching from 4.9 km and need to reach an 8 km orbit, so the ascent needs to be very horizontal. The engine's TWR has increased even more, allowing me to maintain a time of about 12 seconds until apoapsis.

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The mostly-horizontal ascent profile saves even more fuel, reducing the ascent Δv cost to 607 m/s and leaving 134 m/s to rendezvous with the main craft.

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I'll need the extra fuel, because apparently I forgot to equatorialize the main craft's orbit before detaching the lander. I can't do that now because the craft doesn't have any control without Jeb in the chair.

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The lander has enough extra fuel to complete the plane change burn, although not by very much.

For some reason, the stock Δv readout stopped working, but KER is still displaying the correct value.

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When the lander finishes rendezvous, it has just 4 m/s remaining. That's 0.05 units of LFO, or about 250 grams.

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Jeb returns to the main craft.

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I have to perform the Taranis ejection burn on the day side, limiting the prograde component of the possible escape velocity and losing most of the potential Oberth gains. However, I still have 2112 m/s remaining in this stage (the stock readout and KER disagree on the Δv value; KER is correct), which I expected to jettison in Taranis orbit, so this is well within the margin of error.

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Again, Taranis appears huge even just outside of its SOI. Its left half is visible in the picture not because of the ambient lighting boost (which Scatterer seems to disable), but because it's backlit by Ciro.

Jebediah is now in a low Grannus orbit close to Taranis, while TGGT is on a trajectory towards the Epona system, where they will rendezvous.

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Quote

I guess the takeaway is that Kopernicus support for interstellar solar panels is buggy, but I can't really do anything about that. 

@Leganeski, have you installed Kopernicus' MultiStarSolarPanels.cfg?  It's required for multi-star support.  Just download it from the Kopernicus GitHub and install it into the Kopernicus/Config folder.

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14 hours ago, OhioBob said:

@Leganeski, have you installed Kopernicus' MultiStarSolarPanels.cfg?

I thought I did (this would have been in the middle of section 7.3, right after the plane matching burn), but it didn't seem to do anything. Maybe it doesn't affect vessels that have already been launched?

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On 6/15/2022 at 7:11 AM, Leganeski said:

Maybe it doesn't affect vessels that have already been launched?

Apparently, this is not the only problem. I started a new save with exactly the same mods and put a copy of the last stage of the Taranis transfer vehicle into Nodens orbit. The solar panels still produced excessively large amounts of electricity.

I'll do some more testing, but unless I figure out a way to fix the problem, I will attempt to simulate the proper output of the solar panels by limiting all maneuvers to a single battery charge whenever I'm further than 491 Mm away from Grannus.

 

Why 491 Mm?

After detaching the second stage soon after leaving Taranis, the transfer vehicle has three OX-STAT solar panels. However, the panels are facing different directions and can't rotate independently, so at least one of them is always facing away from the star and not producing power. The maximum power output occurs either when one panel is facing directly towards the star and producing full power, or when it is facing directly away from the star, meaning that the other two panels are each pointed 60 degrees away from the star and producing half power. In either case, the power output is the same as the maximum output of just one panel.

The listed maximum output of one solar panel is 0.35 EC/sec, at Kerbin's average insolation of 1360 W/m2. However, the craft has one ion engine, which requires 8.74 EC/sec to operate at full power. This means that the solar panels need to be producing at least (8.74 / 0.35) ≈ 24.971 times the listed value, which can happen when the stellar radiation flux is at least 1360 * 24.971 ≈ 33961 W/m2. Grannus produces this much flux at a distance of 491.3 Mm.

(Taranis is well within that distance, so being able to use ion engines freely near its orbit is correct.)

 

I shouldn't need to worry about any of this too much longer, though, because the mission of the Taranis transfer vehicle is currently nearing its end, and none of the other modules have any solar panels.

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 Part 8: Epona


After making an interstellar voyage starting from Iota with plenty of fuel to spare, I realized that the mission is getting somewhat boring and not challenging enough. I don't have to do any gravity assists or weird maneuvers that make KSP what it is; I can just brute-force my way to the next destination and refueling stop with TGGT's massive amount of Δv.  

To try to make the mission more interesting, I'm adding a new restriction to the mission goal:

  • Each refueling stop must be on a different celestial body.     

This goal is secondary to the main goal of landing a Kerbal everywhere, and I won't stop the mission if it turns out I can't do it. Nevertheless, I have followed this rule so far and will try my best to continue following it in the future.

Importantly, asteroids and comets are not celestial bodies, so I will not refuel at them at all.

(This is also one of the main reasons why I didn't refuel at Ceti, Lili, or Geminus: I want to be able to use those places as refueling stops to get to Icarus and back.)

I expect this rule to make the most of an impact at Belisama, where the original mission plan involved four different refueling stops in order to get to and from Toutatis and Nodens.

In the outer system, though, it's not as much of a big deal because of the abundance of small moons everywhere. How can I make the mission more Kerbal? Well...

N1WKTUc.png
     
(8.0) Visual mod update

Spoiler

Thinking that the lighting issues I had encountered earlier were an issue with Kopernicus that might have been fixed in the recent slew of releases, I reinstalled PlanetShine.

As it turns out, I was wrong; it was definitely a PlanetShine issue. I uninstalled PlanetShine shortly thereafter.

As always, none of this affects the mission at all.

 

Edit: No, it wasn't actually PlanetShine. The bug showed up again even with PlanetShine uninstalled. My next guess as to the source is Scatterer, but the issue isn't nearly important enough to warrant removing Scatterer. It leaves the surface visible, in almost the correct color, and resolves itself quickly, so I will probably simply ignore it.

     
(8.1) Return from Taranis, continued

Spoiler

Mz7TEUn.png

The last of the second ion stage. It's so close to Grannus that the maneuver looks like a moderately small course correction, not the nearly 2000 m/s burn that it is.

KliAtwG.png

When I get there... Grannus is actually legitimately blocked by Taranis. Well, I can just do the burn during the next orbit nine hours later.

BgeDtZc.png

Better Time Warp continues to be helpful. With only three stages left, I can speed the physics warp rate up to 43x.

Lxs1saf.png

The second stage runs out of xenon.

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The third stage is small enough that I can use it all in a single burn.

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With such a large burn, cosine losses exceed 90 m/s. However, I have so much Δv that this much is pretty much negligible.

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9WIocLO.png

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The last stage takes the craft to a Sirona encounter, where it will perform a gravity assist.

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I want to get as much out of the assist as I can, so I go very close to the edge of the atmosphere at 320 km.

CuCzUiK.png

Approaching Sirona. Its ring (right) and Airmed (left, next to the mouse pointer) are visible.

cEQRNfV.png

Sirona, lit by Ciro.

oSUv18M.png

Sirona, lit by Grannus.

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Sirona (center) and Brovo (top right).

AerrV6J.png

About a year later, I have another Sirona encounter.

V9AMZS2.png

Sirona. The day, night, and Ciro-lit sides are all visible.

D2qngiS.png

This assist has a very close pass to Brovo, almost an encounter. In fact, I had to move it north to avoid getting a Brovo encounter.

9y0hsg1.png

The second assist is enough to get to Epona, where it performs... another gravity assist.

wpMzRIT.png

Grannus is still a lot brighter than Ciro here, but it's much closer than in the inner Grannus system.

KEJ4t5b.png

The Epona assist leads to, you guessed it, another Epona assist about six years later. But before that, TGGT finally arrives at its Epona encounter.

 

(8.2) Intermission by Valentina and Bill Kerman

Spoiler

Bill: "I know we're on a course to Rosmerta, but Rosmerta is the best place from which to leave the Grannus system. If we can only refuel there once, shouldn't it be when we're leaving?"             
  
Val: "You're right. I'll go change our course to reach RAB-58E."             
            
Bill: "To reach what?"             
            
Val: "RAB-58E, the other moon of Epona."             
            
Bill: "What? That doesn't sound like the name of a moon."             
            
Val: "It's not, it's an asteroid name."             
            
Bill: "Why does it have an asteroid name if it's a moon?"            
            
Val: "Well, it's the dimmest thing viewed from Kerbin that technically qualifies as a celestial body in the solar system, so it wasn't discovered until quite recently, and its weird orbit meant that it was misidentified as a regular asteroid until even later."
            
Bill: "So they just haven't had enough time to give it a proper name?"             
            
Val: "Mostly, but some people are saying that since it's not gravitationally rounded and has an irregular orbit, it's still an asteroid, not a true moon."             
            
Bill: "That's ridiculous! What about Gilly? Besides, where do you draw the line between "rounded" and "not rounded?"   
            
Val: "Gilly was discovered way before the asteroid naming convention was invented. As for being "rounded", I remember Bob had some definition about "full PQS scaling" or something like that, but it was way too technical and I couldn't follow it at all.             
            
Bill: "Yeah, I know what you mean with Bob. Anyway, I think that if RAB-58E orbits Epona and has its own gravity well, then it should be a moon."             
            
Val: "I suppose so. It at least means that TGGT can land there the usual way instead of using its claw like we would have to do on an asteroid."            
            
Bill: "So shouldn't it get a name?"             
            
Val: "Sure. I propose we name it Rab, after... uh... the Celtic god of... um... retrograde orbits? It's totally not just a shortening of RAB-58E."
            
Bill: "Sounds good to me. That's a lot easier to say."

(TL;DR: I'm giving RAB-58E the nickname Rab because it's easier to type and say.)

 

(8.3) Rosmerta RAB-58E Rab

Spoiler

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Rab orbits retrograde, so TGGT's Epona encounter needs to be shifted to the other side of Epona.

JwRS49p.png

Even coming from the SOI limit of Grannus, Epona is large enough and orbits slow enough that the capture burn is completely reasonable.

W7WCptx.png

Passing Epona. The lighting from Ciro is even more apparent here.

vyqxKOO.png

Rab orbits really slowly, right next to Epona's SOI limit, so circularization is even easier.

VTTwaIZ.png

Ore data for Rab. It's not what I was expecting, but I guess this is what happens when there are only three biomes.

Targeting even that one biome with ore is not easy, because Rab spins so quickly, completing a rotation in just three hours. In fact, TGGT's orbit just above the scanner limit is slower than this.

TMRFfqR.png

This maneuver would never be possible somewhere with more gravity, but here I can do pretty much anything to my orbit cheaply.

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Reaching a low equatorial orbit means that I can target the biome much more easily.

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Bill plants the flag. After experiencing the gravity, he is starting to reconsider his previous opinion about whether Rab really is a moon.

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A jump takes Bill 100 meters into the air, enough to experience noticeable Coriolis forces.

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Refueling proceeds as normal.

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TGGT leaves Rab and heads towards low Epona orbit.

Epona rotates reasonably fast, so I reverse my orbit to prograde at apoapsis.

nta3MQb.png

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As with Gratian, I lower my orbit very close to the edge of the atmosphere at 45 km.

mFGZ29J.png

This time, I remember to equatorialize before releasing the lander.

 

(8.4) Epona (finally)

Spoiler

I spent a lot of time making sure that the methane plane could fly on Epona. I fine-tuned the amount of LFO in the rocket stage and even added Explodium Breathing Engines configs for GEP. I really want to test it and make sure that I did everything correctly.

On the other hand, I realized that the oxygen plane could also work there. Its engines aren't particularly efficient in Epona's lower atmosphere, but it has a lot of fuel, and it doesn't need to go all the way to the datum level where the 1 atmosphere of pressure would make the NERVs unusable. I also want to test this out of curiosity.

So why not test both?

gm7WwfO.png

Both planes have a docking port, so they can attach to each other.

IXn2lfr.png

Orbital velocity on Epona isn't too fast, so heating is not an issue. However, the planes do enter an uncontrollable tumble.

bTICdHM.png

Thankfully, they both have parachutes, and Epona's atmosphere is dense enough that they work well.

YhVeJGo.png

After some sliding, the planes roll to a halt.

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Val plants a flag.

The oxygen plane is much heavier than the methane plane, causing the methane plane to dangle in the air.

28tt3N2.png

Bill also brought a flag and doesn't know what to do with it, so he plants it too.

HQZT8fW.png

To get back in the plane, the astronauts use the incredibly realistic strategy of jumping into boarding range.

 

(8.5) Return of the oxygen plane

Spoiler

8L8VfQB.png

Epona's atmosphere has no oxygen. The plane itself does, though, and the RAPIER can operate in closed-cycle mode, allowing the plane to get off the ground before hitting the upcoming hill.

YSeLXJA.png

With all three engines, the plane is significantly overpowered, and ascends really quickly. This is only seven seconds after the last picture.

v3Mk54y.png

Eventually, the plane runs out of oxidizer, but the NERVs have regained enough specific impulse (here, 652 seconds) to be usable on their own.

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b8wxSmW.png

9c1sk8Y.png

Fuel is a bit tighter than on Gael, but that still leaves plenty to spare for returning to TGGT.

FdduvIh.png

TGGT doesn't actually have anyone left on it, but it does have a probe core, allowing it to align its docking port with the oxygen plane.

 

(8.6) Return of the methane plane

Spoiler

O5emOny.png

The methane plane is actually meant to operate here, and the engine starts successfully.

yApKKo0.png

It takes off the ground even more quickly, and that's with the engine in dry mode!

CvSl7CV.png

The Sphinx on dry mode manages to take the plane well past Mach 1 (which is a lot lower on Epona due to the cold temperature), at a steep angle.

x6AUfac.png

d5pmQku.png

The plane finishes the rest of its air-breathing ascent in wet mode.

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By the time the rocket engines activate, the plane has a significant vertical speed that proves very helpful for getting to orbit.

kDfHiPc.png

Belatedly, I remember to drain the oxidizer in the jet stage, which is still about 75% full.

(I need all the oxidizer I can get in the jet stage during Catullus ascent, so it's overfilled for anywhere else.)

ENFyiiW.png

OD3q8XZ.png

The plane makes it into orbit and docks with TGGT with some fuel to spare. The margins, though somewhat tight, are nowhere near as close as they were on the slightly larger Gratian.

 

At this point, Jeb is still in the Taranis transfer vehicle orbiting Grannus near Epona, and TGGT is in low Epona orbit with still mostly full tanks. Both are headed towards the Sirona system.

 

Edited by Leganeski
Update lighting issue information
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Part 9: Brovo

Jebediah rejoins TGGT at Brovo, where the atmospheric capabilities of all the remaining modules are tested.

W1QoFKq.png

 

(9.0) Note on illumination

Spoiler

I've been encountering this behavior, which I thought was intentional lighting from Ciro.

I eventually traced it to what appears to be a bug in JNSQ_Rescale_1X, causing the range of Sun's illumination to be 36.9 Tm (way beyond Ciro) rather than 3.69 Tm (just far enough to reach Ciro's SOI most of the time, but not any celestial body inside of it).

As a result, every time I have said "lit by Ciro" since coming to the Grannus system, it was actually Sun, not Ciro, and was likely unintended behavior. (If so, it's a very understandable mistake: I can think of a place where a single extra zero typed at the end of a number would have caused it.)

As cool as the lighting from Sun is, it's ultimately not realistic: at its average distance of 7 Tm from anything in Ciro's SOI, it should be roughly as bright as Mun viewed from Kerbin or the Moon viewed from Earth. At the correct brightness, it would be noticeable in the sky, but not bright enough to light up the ground any meaningful amount.

I think I've fixed this on my installation as of now, but I haven't yet tested it to make sure. If I did it correctly, the change should appear somewhere around the middle of part 10 or so.

 

Edit:

This was in fact unintended behavior in JNSQ.

1 hour ago, OhioBob said:

This bug has been pointed out to me already and has been fixed, though not yet released.

If you're also using JNSQ_Rescale_1X, @OhioBob's comment has a fix for it, involving dividing the keys by 10 and multiplying the slopes by 10 in all of Sun's IntensityCurves.

 

The journeys of the Taranis transfer vehicle and TGGT to Brovo overlap significantly in time, so for clarity, they are described separately here rather than in chronological order.

 

(9.1) TGGT to Brovo

Spoiler

9dl68Bg.png

Ejecting from Epona to Sirona is relatively cheap as far as interplanetary transfers go.

PaqfrlA.png

Further corrections lead to a Brovo encounter. It doesn't look great, but the inclination will actually turn out to be useful.

rFDIS4j.png

Even coming from an interplanetary trajectory, Brovo's motion around Sirona reduces the capture burn a lot.

vhTTrcH.png

Sirona and Brovo.

feL1H6G.png

Instead of equatorializing at apoapsis, I burn to a polar orbit.

QrTMYBx.png

Now that I'm in a "stable polar orbit between 30 km and 1500 km" (wow, that condition is annoying to satisfy), I can do an ore scan.

cibSJ7H.png

There's a nice patch of ore right by the equator.

On an unrelated note, Brovo is rather dense. It's even denser than Duna, which is roughly the same size (6.7% larger radius, 2.9% less surface gravity) and a lot warmer. I can't think of a plausible explanation for this, but the discrepancy is minor enough that I wouldn't be surprised if there was one.

MfpFknK.png

nEWvzaI.png

TGGT heads to a low equatorial orbit after completing the scan.

 

(9.2) Return from Taranis, the finale

Spoiler

K1FIaHB.png

Jeb refines his second Epona assist (from section 8.1) to intersect Sirona's orbit nicely.

JEZaB7n.png

NkP0UEG.png

Why Brovo?

I can't do any large burns, and in the Grannus system, it is very hard to capture around anywhere just 80 m/s at a time. However, Brovo makes it a lot easier. Its motion around Sirona significantly reduces the relative speed of an intercept to a safe speed for aerobraking at its atmosphere, and its moderately-sized gravity well reduces the cost of capture even more.

I don't know how low I should put my aerobraking periapsis, so I guess 45 km, somewhat below the edge of the atmosphere at 65 km.

YpHd5jD.png

Maximum aerodynamic heating. The craft has a really low ballistic coefficient because it's so small, and it's also not going very fast, so I'm nowhere near overheating.

(I've set up a maneuver node at periapsis with the amount required for capture; most of the maneuver is done through aerobraking.)

p1GaoGi.png

This side of Brovo appears blue because it's the night side (i.e. Grannus is below the horizon), and is visible because it's illuminated by Sun.

Come to think of it, that's probably why the solar panels say "direct sunlight": there is direct "Sun-light", just not light from the star that would actually power the panels.

kts4SEY.png

At periapsis, the ion engine (which now has significant TWR because it's almost half of the craft by mass) provides a boost to the deceleration.

2YSTZgd.png

The craft is successfully captured around Brovo, but it's not out of the atmosphere yet.

WfTwcDv.png

As it turned out, I overshot the capture by 145 m/s. I'm still in orbit, though, so this will work.

dLPQ94n.png

I set up a modest plane change burn...

MU2Jpnm.png

... and end up 0.9 m/s short when the battery runs out.

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However, my periapsis is now above the atmosphere, so I can do the rest on the next orbit.

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Having established that the craft can make 80 m/s burns, I lower Jeb's orbit the rest of the way to TGGT.

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The mission of the Taranis transfer vehicle, to get Jeb to Taranis and then back to TGGT, is now complete.

U6OC6mx.pnghY7Fvdt.pngrarHqJd.png

Jeb deorbits the transfer vehicle, jumps out, and jetpacks over to TGGT.

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The last stage of the Taranis vehicle, now uncontrolled, continues into the atmosphere.

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Tj9D7GX.png

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Now all of the remaining solar panels are where they belong -- in low Grannus or Taranis orbit, attached to inaccessible debris. Doing all of those gravity assists was fun, but I'm very glad that I don't have to worry about solar panels any more.

 

(9.3) Landing the planes

Spoiler

Which module is designed for Brovo? Well... none of them. I had originally planned to use a dedicated lander for larger bodies with thin atmospheres, but scrapped the design after realizing I didn't need it.

I currently have the methane plane, the oxygen plane, and TGGT itself. When I started the mission, I was planning to use TGGT here, but it turns out I can use all three!

aLPfzTV.png

Bill gets out and repacks all the parachutes.

bRDpoRc.pngADk4xSg.pngh8yhLSk.pngfyb1qRm.png

The catapult-style deorbiting maneuver is used again. Not because the fuel savings are necessary, but because it's awesome!

Oex78FZ.png

Even if the lighting from Sun is unintentional, it definitely makes landing a lot easier.

XrwzwYI.png

The oxygen plane lands safely using its trusty set of parachutes.

oF773YR.png

That star is Sun, its dimness a constant reminder of how far TGGT has travelled.

9YT0tPt.png

Val plants a flag on the surface.

tcEKiqD.png

One orbit later, the methane lander detaches using the same spinning maneuver.

3navJOw.png

WIx7B0z.png

Wait, is that Valentina's landing site? It was pretty low and flat; why not go there?

5LrGsfE.png

I deployed the parachutes a bit too early, and will have to drive the rest of the way to the site.

umIP5iE.png

Landing planes on Brovo is hard. The atmosphere is less dense than Kerbin's, but there's also less gravity. In theory, these should just about cancel out, but in practice, it makes everything a lot more bouncy.

DCSCsmB.png

After some more attempts, the plane finally makes it to the ground safely.

Trying to get closer to Val and the oxygen plane, I tried to turn on the engine, but instead of pressing the 2 key (mapped to "toggle the jet engine"), I accidentally hit 3 (mapped to "drain the oxidizer"). This cost me some oxidizer before I could turn the draining off, but I have a lot of excess oxidizer, and the loss shouldn't affect the plane's ability to return to orbit.

7FcVsne.png

q4H57Ab.png

After that, I turn on the engine correctly and drive over to the flag.

9m52CWS.png

Jeb is very excited to finally be on solid ground again, and claims Brovo for himself.

 

(9.4) Landing TGGT

Spoiler

Now that TGGT doesn't have anything attached to it, it can go through air without the risk of lateral asymmetry causing it to flip over.

gS2JWvW.png

pdv8r4T.png

TGGT deorbits over the ore patch.

n0ILrzl.png

You thought that parachute was for the emergency return capsule? Well, yes, it is, but it can come in useful whenever there's enough atmospheric pressure.

gGChpKa.png

Nuclear engines and regular parachutes: certainly not a standard combination. It works only because of the low gravity and cold temperature.

QhzE2w9.png

TGGT touches down safely... on an 18-degree slope.

EFfKuXs.png

Six minutes of sliding later, it finally comes to a halt.

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Bill also has his own flag.

WgJZccZ.png

The ladder is out of reach, and there's no one left in TGGT to extend it.

YVwqyqr.png

Thankfully, TGGT has a probe core, installed just in case something like this happened, and can extend the ladders all by itself.

pzhQAA4.png

I run some science experiments to see what they say.

"Perhaps flight would be possible on this moon." Having just landed two planes there, I would be inclined to agree.

H11juez.png

Refueling proceeds smoothly.

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Liftoff is a bit slow with the relatively high gravity (well, high compared to a normal refueling spot).

lWPLSRa.png

VI8TtiO.png

TGGT is not even close to aerodynamic, so I ascend very steeply to get out of the lower atmosphere as fast as possible.

OnF9dYT.png

yRcFHb5.png

There's still plenty of fuel and ore left, more than enough to get to the next destination.

 

(9.5) Rejoining the oxygen plane

Spoiler

B6Jvycu.png

The medium-size landing gear lets the plane drive right over Jeb.

fxVwfKj.png

The first attempt at takeoff crashes into a hill. Maybe bringing these planes down to Brovo wasn't a great idea.

byremCc.png

This time, I coast to the bottom of the hill before trying to take off.

fN0RPSC.png

OsoIz0d.png

It works! I have absurdly high TWR with all the engines on, so the plane quickly reaches supersonic speeds.

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The plane runs out of oxidizer, but the NERVs are performing quite well at this altitude.

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I overshot the apoapsis-raising burn and ended up at 96 km, well above the 68 km orbit of TGGT. Well, I guess this means I have already completed the first step of rendezvous.

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The rest of the redocking process happens the same way as it did on Epona.

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Valentina and Bill are on TGGT in low Brovo orbit, ready to continue further into the Grannus system. Jebediah has decided to take an extended vacation on Brovo, and will remain there until TGGT comes back to Sirona.

Edited by Leganeski
Update information on lighting issue
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12 hours ago, Leganeski said:

(9.0) Note on illumination

This bug has been pointed out to me already and has been fixed, though not yet released.  To fix it, just open the file JNSQ_Rescale/JNSQ_Bodies/Sun.cfg and replace the intensity curves with the following:

Spoiler
				ScaledIntensityCurve
				{
					key = 0 1 0 0
					key = 600000 1 0 -2.405E-07
					key = 1200000 0.9 -1.202E-07 -1.202E-07
					key = 2400000 0.8 -6.010E-08 -6.010E-08
					key = 4800000 0.7 -3.005E-08 -3.005E-08
					key = 9600000 0.6 -1.503E-08 -1.503E-08
					key = 19200000 0.5 -7.515E-09 -7.515E-09
					key = 38400000 0.4 -3.758E-09 -3.758E-09
					key = 76800000 0.3 -1.879E-09 -1.879E-09
					key = 153600000 0.2 -9.393E-10 -9.393E-10
					key = 307200000 0.1 -4.698E-10 -4.698E-10
					key = 614400000 0 -2.348E-10 0
				}
				IntensityCurve
				{
					key = 0 1 0 0
					key = 3600000000 1 0 -4.008E-11
					key = 7200000000 0.9 -2.004E-11 -2.004E-11
					key = 14400000000 0.8 -1.002E-11 -1.002E-11
					key = 28800000000 0.7 -5.010E-12 -5.010E-12
					key = 57600000000 0.6 -2.505E-12 -2.505E-12
					key = 115200000000 0.5 -1.252E-12 -1.252E-12
					key = 230400000000 0.4 -6.263E-13 -6.263E-13
					key = 460800000000 0.3 -3.130E-13 -3.130E-13
					key = 921600000000 0.2 -1.566E-13 -1.566E-13
					key = 1843200000000 0.1 -7.828E-14 -7.828E-14
					key = 3686400000000 0 -3.913E-14 0
				}
				IVAIntensityCurve
				{
					key = 0 0.9 0 0
					key = 3600000000 0.9 0 -3.608E-11
					key = 7200000000 0.81 -1.803E-11 -1.803E-11
					key = 14400000000 0.72 -9.018E-12 -9.018E-12
					key = 28800000000 0.63 -4.508E-12 -4.508E-12
					key = 57600000000 0.54 -2.254E-12 -2.254E-12
					key = 115200000000 0.45 -1.127E-12 -1.127E-12
					key = 230400000000 0.36 -5.635E-13 -5.635E-13
					key = 460800000000 0.27 -2.818E-13 -2.818E-13
					key = 921600000000 0.18 -1.409E-13 -1.409E-13
					key = 1843200000000 0.09 -7.045E-14 -7.045E-14
					key = 3686400000000 0 -3.523E-14 0
				}

 

 

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