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What's the best way to get something docked 'sideways'?


stephensmat
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I'm assembling a new 'Mothership' in Kerbin Orbit, and so far the only hard part is the engines. I've got three engines that I plan to link side-by-side, as I did with my first Mothership, where I re-purposed boosters.

These new 'Drive Sections' are more ungainly. I have large fuel tanks with docking ports on the side, but the main engines are on the rear end, so I have to finesse them a bit to get them to link up. I have to kind of 'gather momentum' in the right direction, and then I hit 'Control From Here' on the relevant docking port, rotating it towards 'target',  and it's basically like throwing darts at my spaceship. Docking is not my strongest skill.

 

Anyone know a faster way?

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25 minutes ago, stephensmat said:

Anyone know a faster way?

you can place a small engine on the opposite side of the docking port, or maybe a full rcs system. you use that engine for the docking operation, as it's pushing straight through the center of mass.

then, once you docked, you discard the engine. eva construction or decoupler, your choice

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10 hours ago, stephensmat said:

Anyone know a faster way?

I don't know about faster, but whenever I do any kind of complex orbital assembly, I use a tug, which is basically a flying RCS tank with a docking port (or two; I tend to use Sr. and standard Clamp-O-Trons and build tugs to suit) and probe core for control (and obviously all of the electrical and communication support that it would need).

For your application, you might consider fine control mode for your RCS.  You get that by hitting caps lock  and can tell that you are in fine control mode when the pitch, yaw, and roll indicator arrows (on the lower left of the screen) turn blue instead of orange.  Fine control is slower, but it has the advantage of using compensated thrust, which is to say that it will adjust each attitude jet for you to try to push the thrust vector through the centre of mass.

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