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Gotta go fast! Career speedrun


king of nowhere
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It's my fault, I admit it. I already have 3 long challenges running, but I stumbled over the speedrun challenge and couldn't resist picking it up.

As the name says, the purpose is to complete all objectives in career as fast as possible

Quote

1:Flag  on every celestial objects EXPECT JOOL AND SUN

2:Return from every object‘s surface EXPECT jool (high atmosphere is enough)and sun(low space is enough)

3:Catch an astroid and bring one to kerbin orbit.

4:Do these all above in shortest IGT(in game time) IN CAREER MODE

That's quite a lot of stuff to do, but most of that is irrelevant because it can be done simultaneously.

The slowest thing is the mission to Eeloo. Now, I know from having done it in my DREAM BIG mission, it is possible to make the Eeloo-Kerbin trip in one year with 10 km/s deltaV. So I figured, a fast ship with lots of xenon can have 30 km/s. 10 km/s to eject from Kerbin, 10 km/s to capture around Eeloo because that kind of trajectory will have a tremendous intercept speed, then 10 km/s to return to Kerbin followed by hard aerocapture, it is possible to make this mission in less than 2 years. Similar considerations go for Jool; Jool is a bit closer than Eeloo, but it requires more stuff to do once you're there.

Everything else can be done while waiting for the two years of those missions. As for farming the science required - which includes ion engines and rtgs - it can be accomplished by biome-mining Mun. I bet it can be done in a week.

So here's the objective. Starting career, land everywhere and return in two years.

Edited by king of nowhere
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Part 1: Time is money

Farming money and science, to unlock half the tech tree and earn a few millions in a week

FB9IMQH.png

To this purpose, launch a dozen Mun missions simultaneously in day 1

Spoiler

To make science fast, I need to carry instruments with me while in other missions. Those instruments require science to be unlocked. The fastest way to do so is to mine the ksc biomes.

Goo and crew reports from the launchpad unlock the thermometer. With the thermometer, I unlock the barometer.  With the barometer, thermometer and goo I make a simple roller to get multiple biomes.

AflM7nq.png

An early roller to get science from around the ksc

As soon as I get enough for materials bay, I make another, more advanced roller.

M9Qc1BG.png

A slightly more complex roller, including material bay

Finally, I get enough science to unlock wheels. They aren't strictly required; in the nanodiamond caveman challenge I farmed the whole ksc without them. But they do make things a lot easier.

h3ttqUd.png

Finally, a real rover

With this rover, I got all the remaining ksc biomes.

KkPvB6G.png

Aftermath of science farming ksc biomes

And so after 31 minutes I already have all the early science unlocked. That's enough parts for some serious missions.

Now I start really looking at contracts. I try for ones that can be done quickly.

bQn6G6g.png

An early, simple satellite. The contract pays 50k :funds: in advance

Those satellites, though, still take one day to fulfill - because they generally require a burn far from Kerbin to enter the exact orbit, and I need to get there. Still, the money paid in advance is already a lot more than the cost, and they pay real nice (150k :funds:) once fulfilled. And they double as relays. And they are invaluable for quickly fulfilling the "science from X" contracts.

Yeah, I'm hoping for those, but not getting many. And part testing at the launchpad pays little and is boring. On the plus side, I got a few contracts requiring to drive a rover a few km from the ksc and take some basic measurements paying a lot of money; they financed my early expansion, especially upgrading most buildings.

Still, my next goal is to launch a lot of Mun missions. For that I need more astronauts, and for that I need rescue contracts. I try to arrange a rendez-vous, thinking it's a requirement before those contracts start popping up. But actually, they pop up as soon as I upgraded the astronaut complex.

YDGsv4q.png

Rescuing a stranded kerbal...

EMWuZbX.png

... with a Mun lander!

So I start grabbing a lot of those contracts. The advance payment covers the cost of the rocket, and if I time well the launch, the whole rendez-vous operation takes no longer than 15 minutes. But I'm not just rescuing them; I send up Mun landers to rescue those kerbals, and they are immediately sent to Mun. No wasting time on landing them.

This way, I launched a bunch of Mun missions at 30 minutes intervals from each other.

yyJAuOk.png

After a while, no more contracts pop out. This puts a stop to the escalation

At the end of day one, after six hours in game, I have 7 landers headed towards Mun, and two satellites (no science, but they pay well). And I still have one or two kerbals to rescue around Kerbin.

FB9IMQH.png

The flotilla of landers headed to Mun at the end of day 1

Keeping track of so many missions wasn't easy - and I'm not used to it anymore, as I only run single mission challenges in the last two years. Still, the landers arrived at Mun in sequence, and the important thing was not missing their injection burn. Then if I had 10 free minutes I'd land one of those parked in Mun orbit.

A9BtNGc.png

A Mun landing. Bob has a modified ship for docking, because I wrongly thought it was necessary

EwR7090.png

A striking landing location near the south pole

Having to keep track of so many ships, making sure I wouldn't miss any of the important maneuvers, was tricky, and it slowed down operations. Still, at the end of the second day I already had a few landers on the way back.

FkwBG8T.png

At the end of day 2, Mun landing operations are in full swing

don06WW.png

Day 3 and three-quarters. All landers landed, and are now coming back

My Mun landing capsule wasn't great. Reentry was tricky, because of the exposed science jr.

lqAmLmg.png

A dangerous reentry

It would survive only if aligned very closely to retrograde. Which I had to do manually, because by the time I sent the flotilla, I still hadn't unlocked the hecs probe core. And of course it took multiple passages, which slowed things down. I should have collected science in the command pod and arranged for a hard aerobraking with a thermal shield.

On the plus side, most of those landers still had some 300 to 600 m/s left, which they could use to brake and make things easier.

D8w6f4o.png

At around 25 km of altitude, aerodinamic forces flip the pod. Fortunately, by this point it's slowed down enough to not be melted by the drag. Barely

So it took a couple of days for most of those landers to return. Meanwhile, I also run more easy contracts to get money. Especially for the expensive R&D complex upgrade to level 3.

Anyway, by day 5 most of the landers returned, and I had enough science to unlock all late game science instruments. With those, I made a new rover to finish mining the ksc.

FLjAdhx.png

Beginning of day 5: a final ksc rover, with gravioli detector, seisometer, and gravioli reader

fnBIufB.png

I never quite appreciated how nice the kcs is

Once upgraded to level 3, the R&D complex has a ton of sub-biomes. In the end, I got almost 1000 science from this tour

0PuL5w1.png

Science collected from mining the ksc

And that's finally enough to pay for RTGs. Now I can finally prepare the Eeloo mission.

dqBkQPo.png

Science and money at day 5

I was planning to get there in one week, but five days were enough. I could have done it even faster, with better Mun landers. But one day more or less doesn't change much.

 

Edited by king of nowhere
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Part 2: Money is time

The Eeloo and Jool missions are launched, using a lot of xenon to make faster trips.

bO3cv4b.png

Eeloo mission

Spoiler

Eeloo is the farthest target, gotta launch for it immediately.

As I mentioned, I estimate 10 km/s to get there in less than one year, 10 km/s as intercept speed, and 10 km/s to return. So the mission is as shown in the introductory pic.

It's got 30 km/s - actually a tad more, considering that I'll be dropping spent tanks and that for the return trip there will be no chemical fuel or relay satellite. It's got solar panels to leave Kerbin faster, and RTGs for Eeloo.

Still, I made a couple of mistakes with this. First of all the scanner/relay satellite; it's supposed to leave after landing at Eeloo and get into a polar orbit, but I realized later that to send a scan I need 200 electricity. So the satellite as it is is useless for scanning. It's ok, I'll just spend a few hundred m/s to get the whole lander polar for the scan, and only drop the satellite afterwards.

Secondly, I should have designed the return module to drop the science stuff before starting the return trip. Instead, for the way I put the docking port, I will have to carry that extra mass all the way back to Kerbin, only for it to burn in the atmosphere.

By the time I realized that, though, I already had progressed gameplay by a few hours, and none of those flaws are critical, so the mission goes on.

The price tag is steep, but it could have been worse. I kinda got used to my motherships costing tens of millions.

I didn't give this ship an official name, though sometimes I think of it as the Xenonmorph.

eIR7Fx1.png

Launching the payload is easy with access to twin boar engines

EW3iLF3.png

I should have put more struts

lvYdkPs.png

Better!

7QhRasI.png

Leaving Kerbin

hiZmEcm.png

Planned trajectory to Eeloo

The Kerbin-Eeloo alignment is not good for this mission. Eeloo is behind Kerbin, which means - unless I want to enter a retrograde solar orbit, something that would be too expensive even for this lofty deltaV budget. So the only way to reach Eeloo is to go around he sun. And to do it fast enough, I have to lower solar periapsis a lot. Hence the beginning of the trip is a 4800 m/s burn in Kerbin orbit (actually I planned it in a Kerbin escape trajectory, to better simulate what happens with ion engines) to lower solar periapsis. On the plus side, I will also reach low solar orbit, which is one of the targets required by the challenge.

In low solar orbit, I will benefit from a tremendous Oberth effect, so that a 5.6 km/s burn (which more or less completes the target of 10 km/s to eject towards Eeloo) will be enough to reach Eeloo in 250 days.

Unfortunately, the game sucks at finding me intercepts, so I have to make a lot of guesswork. Also, it seems such a trajectory would have a 14 km/s intercept speed. It may leave me with limited fuel on the way back. I may alter the trajectory slightly to have a slightly longer trip for a smaller intercept speed. I'll see, this is still just a rough outline. It is also possible that, Xenonmorph having significantly more than 30 km/s, I can totally afford to spend 25 km/s to get to Eeloo.

The Jool mission is more complicated, because I have 5 moons to visit, and the atmosphere of the gas giant. For this I planned a mixed approach: send everything to Jool in a massive mission, then once there have different landers go to each moon. Then have 2 return vehicles pick up the kerbals to carry them back. The objective is to minimize the time spent around Jool.

However, to launch that massive collection of separate vehicles, I needed a 5 m aerodinamic fairing. And a level 3 VAB, because I was above part limits. For the tech, I had a couple more Mun landers returning with science, and for money, I got a couple days to farm. A couple contracts to test a mammoth and a vector in high atmosphere netted many hundreds of thousands, while a contract to repair a rover on Mun paid one full million - plus some extra to also plant a flag there, something I was about to do regardless.

XCIu6xk.png

Also, I got the chance to test: you can use two robotic arms simultaneously. No, you gain nothing from it, but it does look cool

The whole Jool mission costed a bit less than 2 millions, and it was big enough to actually create some problems.

PHoOJmB.png

Too long rocket, not enough struts. Also, those solid boosters are a bad idea

QRDMF0w.png

Five twin boars made it

X0OtEJo.png

Unveiling the fairing

dgAWgta.png

This fairing does look good

OVgT4eh.png

Still the fairing, in IVA view

Yes, but what's inside the fairing? Cue the dramatic music.

bVOvSd8.png

The Jool mission in all its illogic glory!

T36YFqn.png

From a different angle

ffttpX9.png

Schematics

Ok, let's break this down:

1) Return vehicle. It has a bit less than 10 km/s, it returns three kerbals. It will gather the crews from the three inner moons and return

2) Second return vehicle. This one holds two kerbals, and it will pick them up from Bop and Pol

3) Laythe lander, which will also dive into Jool's atmosphere. It is a plane, it aerobrakes like a spaceplane, it uses some jet engines to gain some elevation, then it jettisons the wings and makes a rocket ascent.

4) Small landers. One will go to Bop, one to Pol. They have a small amount of rocket fuel for this, though I probably could have landed them with the ion engine directly.

5) Tylo lander, the biggest of the bunch

6) Vall lander

7) Relay/scanner probes; there are two more behind, because I wanted to make sure I wouldn't run out of xenon for one of them

8) Xenon supply to reach Jool

The whole complex will move to Jool using the landers own ion engines. It has a bit less deltaV than the Eeloo mission, but it should suffice because Jool is a lot closer.

GNE9Kjf.png

I eject from Kerbin with a chemical engine, to avoid having to repeatedly raise apoapsis

yC5MUDD.png

Trajectory to Jool

Jool has the same problem of Eeloo, and I used a similar approach - a bit mitigated because I have less deltaV to spend. I'm counting on making the return trip in significantly less than one year.

And those are the two tricky missions. Everything else should be a cakewalk.

Edited by king of nowhere
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On 9/6/2022 at 6:22 PM, king of nowhere said:

Part 2: Money is time

The Eeloo and Jool missions are launched, using a lot of xenon to make faster trips.

bO3cv4b.png

Eeloo mission

  Reveal hidden contents

Eeloo is the farthest target, gotta launch for it immediately.

As I mentioned, I estimate 10 km/s to get there in less than one year, 10 km/s as intercept speed, and 10 km/s to return. So the mission is as shown in the introductory pic.

It's got 30 km/s - actually a tad more, considering that I'll be dropping spent tanks and that for the return trip there will be no chemical fuel or relay satellite. It's got solar panels to leave Kerbin faster, and RTGs for Eeloo.

Still, I made a couple of mistakes with this. First of all the scanner/relay satellite; it's supposed to leave after landing at Eeloo and get into a polar orbit, but I realized later that to send a scan I need 200 electricity. So the satellite as it is is useless for scanning. It's ok, I'll just spend a few hundred m/s to get the whole lander polar for the scan, and only drop the satellite afterwards.

Secondly, I should have designed the return module to drop the science stuff before starting the return trip. Instead, for the way I put the docking port, I will have to carry that extra mass all the way back to Kerbin, only for it to burn in the atmosphere.

By the time I realized that, though, I already had progressed gameplay by a few hours, and none of those flaws are critical, so the mission goes on.

The price tag is steep, but it could have been worse. I kinda got used to my motherships costing tens of millions.

I didn't give this ship an official name, though sometimes I think of it as the Xenonmorph.

eIR7Fx1.png

Launching the payload is easy with access to twin boar engines

EW3iLF3.png

I should have put more struts

lvYdkPs.png

Better!

7QhRasI.png

Leaving Kerbin

hiZmEcm.png

Planned trajectory to Eeloo

The Kerbin-Eeloo alignment is not good for this mission. Eeloo is behind Kerbin, which means - unless I want to enter a retrograde solar orbit, something that would be too expensive even for this lofty deltaV budget. So the only way to reach Eeloo is to go around he sun. And to do it fast enough, I have to lower solar periapsis a lot. Hence the beginning of the trip is a 4800 m/s burn in Kerbin orbit (actually I planned it in a Kerbin escape trajectory, to better simulate what happens with ion engines) to lower solar periapsis. On the plus side, I will also reach low solar orbit, which is one of the targets required by the challenge.

In low solar orbit, I will benefit from a tremendous Oberth effect, so that a 5.6 km/s burn (which more or less completes the target of 10 km/s to eject towards Eeloo) will be enough to reach Eeloo in 250 days.

Unfortunately, the game sucks at finding me intercepts, so I have to make a lot of guesswork. Also, it seems such a trajectory would have a 14 km/s intercept speed. It may leave me with limited fuel on the way back. I may alter the trajectory slightly to have a slightly longer trip for a smaller intercept speed. I'll see, this is still just a rough outline. It is also possible that, Xenonmorph having significantly more than 30 km/s, I can totally afford to spend 25 km/s to get to Eeloo.

The Jool mission is more complicated, because I have 5 moons to visit, and the atmosphere of the gas giant. For this I planned a mixed approach: send everything to Jool in a massive mission, then once there have different landers go to each moon. Then have 2 return vehicles pick up the kerbals to carry them back. The objective is to minimize the time spent around Jool.

However, to launch that massive collection of separate vehicles, I needed a 5 m aerodinamic fairing. And a level 3 VAB, because I was above part limits. For the tech, I had a couple more Mun landers returning with science, and for money, I got a couple days to farm. A couple contracts to test a mammoth and a vector in high atmosphere netted many hundreds of thousands, while a contract to repair a rover on Mun paid one full million - plus some extra to also plant a flag there, something I was about to do regardless.

XCIu6xk.png

Also, I got the chance to test: you can use two robotic arms simultaneously. No, you gain nothing from it, but it does look cool

The whole Jool mission costed a bit less than 2 millions, and it was big enough to actually create some problems.

PHoOJmB.png

Too long rocket, not enough struts. Also, those solid boosters are a bad idea

QRDMF0w.png

Five twin boars made it

X0OtEJo.png

Unveiling the fairing

dgAWgta.png

This fairing does look good

OVgT4eh.png

Still the fairing, in IVA view

Yes, but what's inside the fairing? Cue the dramatic music.

bVOvSd8.png

The Jool mission in all its illogic glory!

T36YFqn.png

From a different angle

ffttpX9.png

Schematics

Ok, let's break this down:

1) Return vehicle. It has a bit less than 10 km/s, it returns three kerbals. It will gather the crews from the three inner moons and return

2) Second return vehicle. This one holds two kerbals, and it will pick them up from Bop and Pol

3) Laythe lander, which will also dive into Jool's atmosphere. It is a plane, it aerobrakes like a spaceplane, it uses some jet engines to gain some elevation, then it jettisons the wings and makes a rocket ascent.

4) Small landers. One will go to Bop, one to Pol. They have a small amount of rocket fuel for this, though I probably could have landed them with the ion engine directly.

5) Tylo lander, the biggest of the bunch

6) Vall lander

7) Relay/scanner probes; there are two more behind, because I wanted to make sure I wouldn't run out of xenon for one of them

8) Xenon supply to reach Jool

The whole complex will move to Jool using the landers own ion engines. It has a bit less deltaV than the Eeloo mission, but it should suffice because Jool is a lot closer.

GNE9Kjf.png

I eject from Kerbin with a chemical engine, to avoid having to repeatedly raise apoapsis

yC5MUDD.png

Trajectory to Jool

Jool has the same problem of Eeloo, and I used a similar approach - a bit mitigated because I have less deltaV to spend. I'm counting on making the return trip in significantly less than one year.

And those are the two tricky missions. Everything else should be a cakewalk.

Uhmmm.........

Are you sure you have enough time to deaccerate ?your maneuver is roughly 15000 m/s!

Your TWR is kind of TOO LOW.:confused:

Edited by Kerbal123_Furry
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13 minutes ago, Kerbal123_Furry said:

Are you sure you have enough time to deaccerate ?your maneuver is roughly 15000 m/s!

Eeloo's SOI is pretty big; a maneuver of that size could be accomplished over the course of up to four hours. The craft has quite a few ion engines, which look like enough to achieve the necessary 0.9 - 1.0 m/s2 acceleration.

Of course, if the burn starts before entering Eeloo's SOI, then there's effectively no time limit.

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4 hours ago, Kerbal123_Furry said:

Uhmmm.........

Are you sure you have enough time to deaccerate ?your maneuver is roughly 15000 m/s!

Your TWR is kind of TOO LOW.:confused:

 

3 hours ago, Leganeski said:

Eeloo's SOI is pretty big; a maneuver of that size could be accomplished over the course of up to four hours. The craft has quite a few ion engines, which look like enough to achieve the necessary 0.9 - 1.0 m/s2 acceleration.

Of course, if the burn starts before entering Eeloo's SOI, then there's effectively no time limit.

four of those ion engines will be dropped before eeloo, since rtgs alone won't have enough electricity to power more than 1. I did put those extra ions, with the gigantors solar arrays that power them, on the first tanks that will be discarded.

but the burn will start well outside of eeloo's SoI. days before, if needed. It's not like I can get any meaningful Oberth effect anyway, except in the few minutes I'll be close to Eeloo, so burning in solar orbit really makes no difference.

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5 hours ago, king of nowhere said:

 

four of those ion engines will be dropped before eeloo, since rtgs alone won't have enough electricity to power more than 1. I did put those extra ions, with the gigantors solar arrays that power them, on the first tanks that will be discarded.

but the burn will start well outside of eeloo's SoI. days before, if needed. It's not like I can get any meaningful Oberth effect anyway, except in the few minutes I'll be close to Eeloo, so burning in solar orbit really makes no difference.

Wow,nice idea.

When will you update?Cant wait to see new progress!!:wink:

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8 hours ago, Kerbal123_Furry said:

Wow,nice idea.

When will you update?Cant wait to see new progress!!:wink:

right now, I have 4 missions I'm playing.

the first is my rss+kerbalism grand tour. it's still my main mission.

the second is an elcano on wal.

the third is this one

the fourth is a bunch of elcanos on minor planets.

so, my time is split there, and progress is slow. additionally, next monday the school starts; being a teacher, I will have a lot less free time.

updates will be slow. but they will come

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15 hours ago, king of nowhere said:

right now, I have 4 missions I'm playing.

the first is my rss+kerbalism grand tour. it's still my main mission.

the second is an elcano on wal.

the third is this one

the fourth is a bunch of elcanos on minor planets.

so, my time is split there, and progress is slow. additionally, next monday the school starts; being a teacher, I will have a lot less free time.

updates will be slow. but they will come

Great!Im looking forward on this!

plus where did you come from?the school starts so late

In China school started on 9.6 this year and starts on 9.1 in normal situation.Covid-19 delayed the school a little.

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Part 3: Small, boring missions

launching missions to all the other targets is fairly straightforward and not very interesting, but it must be done

TrF5OKa.png

The Eve mission

Spoiler

The next farthest target is possibly a comet, so the next thing I launch is a telescope in solar orbit. It will take a couple days to get there.

Meanwhile, the next farthest target - the only one that still is difficult to reach in one year - is Dres, and that's where the next mission is sent.

E9HN8tg.png

Dres mission

The craft has a similar design and scope as the Eeloo mission, but it's a lot smaller and cheaper, and it relies solely on solar power. Going to Dres in one year wouldn't be a big deal, if the planet wasn't completely misaligned for that. It's behind Kerbin, but not so far behind to make it convenient to just go around the sun. So I basically launched with a lot of radial speed to get there.

JlSRNtg.png

Planned trajectory to Dres

pNWnhCn.png

Actual trajectory to Dres, with intercept speed

On the plus side, my trajectory does manage to touch Dres like a Hohmann transfer - albeit one launching from Moho - so the intercept speed is not too bad. The Dres lander didn't carry as much xenon as other landers.

Moho takes a lot of deltaV to reach, but at least its fast orbit means I can use an ctual Hohmann transfer, or at least something similar.

Nhu5htm.png

The Moho mission

QsL8g0d.png

Trajectory to Moho

Ok, this isn't a trajectory to Moho yet, but I will burn retrograde at solar periapsis to syncronize for a passage with Moho on the next orbit. With an ion engine I don't get any meaningful Oberth effect from Moho anyway.

A large plane change in solar orbit is not the best way to approach a Moho transfer, but it is easy and I can afford to spend some extra fuel. The lander itself is somewhat based on the Vall lander, with a separate return pod for the return trip.

Then I have to put again some effort into this, because Eve is not easy. I am going to brute force it, I don't want to deal with another helicopter like I did in my latest grand tour, but I'm still trying to keep a reasonable mass. Also, I had to wait a couple days to launch this to get a mammoth engine.

TrF5OKa.png

The Eve mission

The Eve lander proper is around 150 tons, and its size makes it unpractical (i.e. very expensive) to use ion engines. Instead, I am adopting an isru approach. The ship will reach Kerbin orbit without staging - except for the lateral fuel tanks - and will refuel on Minmus. Then it will go to Eve, and refuel on Gilly. Then it will land on Eve; to avoid a complicated system to shield the lander from the heat of reentry, I'm planning to just burn some fuel to slow down. Refuel again, then leave Eve. Halfway through the height of the rocket there are a bunch of empty canisters where I strapped on the parachutes, but one of them is also hosting the relay/scannery satellite and a small, fast ship to return to Kerbin safely. I will transfer the pilot to this new ship by EVA, a solution which I find inelegant, but I didn't want to put a docking port on the lander and face aerodinamic issues.

The convert-o-tron is tied to the first stage, so the rocket won't waste too much deltaV carrying it halfway across the atmosphere. It would have been better if I found a way to discard it before beginning Eve ascent, but I couldn't.

jiKts47.png

Launching the Eve mission. It's got terrible aerodinamics, but enough rockets to compensate for it

Duna is the easier planet to reach. I went for something simple there, without having an orbital module. Which would have been the most efficient way, but carrying a bunch of xenon to Duna's surface and back won't be a terrible waste. In this mission I used the landing pod directly as return pod too, with a therma shield to survive reentry at Kerbin.

S5RRQf3.png

The Duna mission

Unlike other missions, this one will actually wait an actual transfer window, since there is one starting around day 30 with arrival at day 300.

I forgot to include the scanner/relay sat, so I had to launch it separately.

Finally, I've got to grab an asteroid. And a comet, the challenge didn't specity it but it does feel in the spirit of it. I could just take a small asteroid with a small rocket, but it is inelegant. I aimed for an E class.

6TEhjFn.png

The asteroid/comet grabber

This mission also entails isru at Minmus, and possibly on the asteroid itself. It starts from Kerbin with a mammoth engine, which is soon discarded for a more efficient wolfhound. The setup forced me to grab the asteroid from the front, then I realized this would not work when landing on Minmus. So I had to put a couple engines there too, to take off from Minmus. I couldn't find a better way if I wanted to use one single wolfhound for propulsion. They are to be jettisoned soon after takeoff, so the inefficiency is minimal - and far compensated by using a wolfhound instead of any other engine.

As I want to grab both a comet and an asteroid, I launched two of those.

i1AA3og.png

Comet catcher discarding the first stage

It's barely day 10, and a mission to every target is on their way - except the Duna missions, waiting for the transfer window.

Now, I was very enthusiastic when I started this challenge, for having to gather the science and money for an Eeloo mission as fast as possible. Now that it's done and I have a bunch of easy missions - many entailing long ion burns - I am getting bored, and as a result I didn't do much testing. I barely tested that the Eve ascent vehicle works. So I can't guarantee I won't need a rescue mission. I am fairly sure for the inner planets I can do that too before the 2 years time limit.

Edited by king of nowhere
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  • 2 weeks later...

Part 4: Scrap it and do a better job

The mission to Eve and the comet catcher were awful, and couldn't perform their missions. So I had to reload back and remake those vehicles, with a bit more testing. The Moho mission too.

VGAzLOz.png

Temporary Eve lander + comet and asteroid catchers

Spoiler

After carrying on with the career for a few days, my three planned ISRU missions - the Eve lander and the asteroid/comet catcher arrived at Minmus to refuel. Or at least to try it.

q8nGu53.png

Comet catcher lands on Minmus

I got used with kerbalism ISRU, which is a lot more complicated and has much stricter requirements, but it has one advantage: drills were changed to hold a bit of ore (or water, or nitrogen, or whatever resource you're mining) so that you won't need an ore tank. I forgot about that, so my vessels were unable to actually mine anything. I sent a fast mission with an engineer and three spare tanks, and in a few days this problem was solved.

Then I discovered that mining was still going super slow. I quickly discovered that the problem was with the lack of radiators. Yep, here's another thing I forgot was required to get any speed. In my kerbalism missions I can only mine with my colossal motherships, which already have everything they could possibly need, and I don't have to worry about such minutiae.

I fixed that too, and still mining was super slow. Oh, right; in stock, you need an engineer on board.

The comet catcher was bound to take over 100 days to refuel, missing the passage of the known comet. As for the Eve lander, it had a low level engineer on board, but not enough; considering it has to refuel on Gilly and Eve too, it's too slow.

So I reloaded back to before launching those missions, and went back to the drawing board.

I put all the missing parts from the start. I included some crew pods for engineers in all vehicles. For simplicity I also decided to join the three vehicles - the Eve lander, asteroid catcher and comet catcher - into a single one. It refuels on Minmus, and then it separates.

To have high level engineers, I prepared a fast mission to land on Mun, Minmus and go in solar orbit, on high energy trajectories to save time, so I'll have level 3 engineers. Which I will promote once on Minmus with a science lab. Which I now realize is not included, so here's another change I have to make.

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A fast ship just to promote three engineers

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That decoupler is to fulfill a contract to test in solar orbit

Those ISRU vehicles are not the only thing I have to fix, though. As I was trying to find the right save to reload, I noticed the Moho mission is also faulty. Look at the image in part 3: it has two ion engines, both docked to each other. They will get detached in Moho orbit, but how is it supposed to actally get there? So I also fixed that mission.

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The new Moho mission, with an extra ion engine it can actually use. And an extra xenon tank because I have money to spare

As for the ISRU missions, I started to test them seriously. After making sure they can actually refuel on Minmus this time, I tested the Eve lander a bit. Here I discovered a bunch of other critical flaws:

- there was no way for the crew to leave the pod and return. Fixed by adding a second crew pod at ground level. It was that, or using a really long stairs.

- when jettisoning the spent parachutes, the sepratrons are not enough to push them away. They fall over the rocket, damaging it. Adding another sepratron was enough, barely.

- the parachutes themselves don't work properly, when they are activated they tear the ship apart. Adding parabrakes to soften the shock of sudden opening works.

- the landing legs are placed too high and don't touch the ground enough. Move them downward for increased stability.

- the landing legs explode after a few minutes on the surface due to stress over them. Add more landing legs.

- there were no science instruments on board. Though they were not strictly required, as a crew report is enough to fulfill the challenge, I added them.

- the lander also needs some batteries, and a probe core. Added both.

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Testing the parachute landing on Eve. This time successfully

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Testing that the ladder doesn't block the surface level exit

Now that I added stuff I don't enough enough thrust for launch. Added more engines and fuel to be dropped in Kerbin's atmosphere.

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New engine pack

I'm finally ready to launch.

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Liftoff. This thing really should not fly

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This thing has terrible aerodinamics, so I launched mostly vertical. Then I realized drag is still small compared to weight, and inclined more

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Last stage separation, this will go to Minmus

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In orbit

I made it to orbit with 2500 m/s, and I could have launched more efficiently. But money is not an issue, so I don't feel the need to repeat with a smaller launcher.

And now the challenge can go on.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Part 5: missions missions to everywhere, none of them arriving

Dealing with a bunch of correction maneuvers. Most noteworthy thing is the launch of a new scanner/relay for the Eeloo mission

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The Eeloo mission ejects a first couple of drop tanks

Spoiler

The conjoined spaceship uniting all three ISRU missions is launched to Minmus. Meanwhile, the ship with the engineers is sent on its journey to promote them.

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First on Mun, here separating from its extra tank

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Then to go in solar orbit, and return to Minmus

This trajectory wasn't easy to set up. I sent the ship away from Mun with enough speed to reach solar orbit in a few days, then as soon as I get outside Kerbin's SoI I make a large retrograde push to return to Kerbin. Had to add some radial components to avoid missing it, an operation that was complicated by being unable to select Kerbin as target while in Kerbin orbit. And I had to time it all to hit Minmus on the way back.

The fuel available is barely enough to perform the mission, which is no coincidence; I could eject faster from Mun to save time, so I set things up to use all the fuel I have and be done as fast as possible.

Eight days later, the engineers are returning to Minmus, while the ISRU multimission is already waiting for them.

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Trajectory to rendez-vous the ISRU multimission with the engineer promo mission

The trajectory looks complicated, but it's really just a small plane change and a couple concentric orbits to syncronize the arrival of the two spaceships at the same periapsis at the same time.

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Rendez-vous. Transfer to be done by EVA, because I didn't think I could grab the engineers ship with a claw

Rendez-vous was at day 18. This time, with high level engineers, it only took 4 days to refuel. The ship is ready to go on day 22.

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ISRU multimission full, ready to leave Minmus

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Jettisoning the lab, now that it's done its job of promoting the crew

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Removing the nose cones. I should have done that before landing, but it's a small difference

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In Minmus orbit, separating the ships

Now the three missions can take different paths.

First of all the Eve mission.

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The Eve mission trajectory to Eve

Eve is passing in front of Kerbin right now, meaning a transfer window just closed and there won't be a new one for a while. So I have to transfer outside of a window - something not unusual in this career. I push solar periapsis lower than Eve, to catch up with the planet. It's quite expensive  (1310 m/s) because from Minmus I have negligible Oberth effect. Once at solar periapsis I lower apoapsis (701 m/s), arriving at Eve at solar apoapsis; this reduces intercept speed at350 m/s. Without this maneuver - if I had just lowered solar periapsis and crossed Eve orbit - I would have needed 1400 m/s to leave Minmus (would have needed a lower solar periapsis) and 1200 m/s Eve intercept, for a total of 2600 m/s; this way I need only 2350 m/s. Doesn't seem much, but the Eve mission is intended to be a multistage Eve ascent vehicle; it doesn't have much deltaV it it's got to stay whole, and it must land on Gilly before it can refuel again.

The comet catcher, instead, had to be scrapped. In part 3 I had a nice comet to reach, but after I reloaded to remake the mission, it spawned in a different - and very inconvenient - spot. You can see it on the left of the image on the previous pic. It's behind Kerbin, going slower, so to catch it I'd have to make a tour around the sun, lowering periapsis to be faster; this is what I've done for both Eeloo and Jool. However, to reach those planets I had a huge amount of deltaV. This time I have much less, and it's not enough. I also tried to see if I could get a gravity assist from Eve, but the inclination is all wrong, I'd have to make a 20 degrees plane change in low solar orbit. While I could catch that comet with some longer trajectory, I can't return it to Kerbin in two years. And no other comets spawned.

Well, the challenge didn't specify a comet, so I can skip this mission.

As for the asteroid, I have one intercepting Kerbin in day 205.

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Asteroid catcher, first part of the mission

The first part is just matching inclination. It's a high orbit, so even a big inclination change is not too expensive.

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Second part of the asteroid catcher mission

And then it's just a matter of playing with orbital times to syncronize my passage at periapsis with the passage of the asteroid.

I launched a new Duna mission, this time made a bit better than the previous one. It's probably got way too much fuel, but money is not an issue.

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The Duna mission

The Duna mission will wait in orbit until the launch window.

Now it's time for some assorted course corrections and other intermediate maneuvers. First of all, the Eeloo mission.

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Eeloo mission at perihelion

The Eeloo mission has reached perihelion - also fulfilling the "low solar orbit" condition - and has to perform a fairly large maneuver to reach Eeloo. Here shown in all its glory; this close to the sun, the solar panels are just shy of overheating.

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Looks good

Now it's time to refine the trajectory. Which is very hard, because the game does not cooperate. It can't find intercepts the regular way.

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Here you can see the game is giving me an intercept in the past - telling me close approach was 257 days ago

I set about to do it by trial and error; I try a bit of a radial burn, time warp one year, and see how close I am to Eeloo. 200 m/s radial is not enough, I pass in front of Eeloo. 250 still in front. 330 I'm now passing behind Eeloo... Eventually I find the right amount of burn to get an intercept.

However, intercept speed is very high - 12 km/s - and I'll also need a lot of deltaV to return back. I'm no longer sure I have enough xenon, so I reduce mass by ditching the relay.

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Eeloo mission ditching the scanner/relay

If you remember, it was faulty anyway, requiring to stay with the ship to have enough battery to perform its mission. By removing it, I gain over a km/s. Of course now I have to send a new one.

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The new scanner/relay for Eeloo

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It has to be launched vertically due to poor aerodinamics. A fairing would have been too large and heavy anyway

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And its trajectory to Eeloo

This time I can take a less breakneck trajectory, because I don't have to plan for a return. I can arrive in one and a half year. And I have a lot more deltaV than I'll actually need. Since this trajectory is more sane, the game also finds intercepts a bit more easily.

Other missions go on. Here we have the Moho mission jettisoning the chemical stage (which still had some leftover fuel after leaving Kerbin) during the plane change.

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Moho mission jettisoning the last chemical stage

 

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Moho mission, updated trajectory to Moho

And then it's finally time to launch the Duna mission. I don't use a pure Hohmann transfer, to save some time. Still, the mission has plenty of fuel and plenty of time available.

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Planned trajectory to Duna

The Eve mission performs its plane change to align to Eve.

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Updated trajectory to Eve

And then it's time for a big maneuver on the Jool mission.

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Jool mission, jettisoning the chemical stage

This was made difficult by wobbling; the version of ksp I'm using still suffers from some strutting bug, where it won't make struts between docking ports - something that caused no small amount of nuisance in my caveman Jool 5 mission. I'm using the same install. I had to reload back and use an engineer to salvage a strut from the chemical stage to hold the Tylo lander in position.

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Jool mission, using the ion engines

For propulsion of this mission, instead of including a special stage, I decided to add a couple of ion engines to the Tylo lander (which will be removed by an engineer later) and use it to propel the thing.

LiTx4CX.png

Planned arrival at Jool

As you can see from the picture, I'm using a gravity assist from Tylo to reduce the speed a little bit, but I'll need a large maneuver to capture at Jool. This will be a hard mission to pull off, requiring great timing for all the landings.

I'm having the additional complication of lacking xenon. Oh, there's plenty to reach Jool, but I was planning on leaving a couple tons for the return stages. This included a healty extra, which I will have to use for capture around Jool. Well, nothing I can do about it. I will just have to do my best with whatever xenon is left after capture.

The Eve mission is about to perform its last course correction. Time to also plan a Gilly encounter.

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I can regulate inclination to match Gilly's orbit

The Eve lander still has 1450 m/s, it will be able to reach Gilly without problems, halfway through year 1. No worries there.

A few more days, and I have a complication: the asteorid catcher and the Eeloo scanner/relay have a planned maneuver at the same time.

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Planned maneuver at the same time

The Eeloo scanner/relay is making a long burn on ion engines in solar orbit, so it's less time sensitive. I split its burn in two hales, first half done first, then I swap to the asteroid catcher - whose maneuver is time sensitive - and finally back to the Eeloo scanner/relay to finish the 6 km/s burn.

To sum up the various missions:

- Eeloo: low solar space achieved. Well set up for arrival at the end of year 1. Should have 10 km/s left afterwards (including jettisoning the lander).  Feels safe.

- Jool: xenon level low. Uncertain whether I'll have enough left for a timely return on Kerbin.

- comet catcher: mission scrapped for the comet being in a too bad orbit; wasn't required by the challenge

- asteroid catcher: on its way, feels safe.

- Dres: safely on its way, no problem anticipated

- Duna: safely on its way, no problem anticipated

- Eve: ahead of schedule, no problem anticipated

- Moho: safely on its way, no problem anticipated

So all looks good except the Jool mission, and possibly the Eeloo missions, which may have to eat up too deeply into their xenon stocks and may not have enough left to return to Kerbin fast enough. We'll see.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Part 6: EVEntually you find a way when you need it MOHOst

The missions for Eve and Moho reach their intended destinations. There were a lot of unplanned difficulties, especially on Eve, but all worked out in the end.

In other news, the asteroid is caught without problems. The Jool mission is in jeopardy and it got lightened of its arrays like the Eeloo mission.

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Eve landings rarely go as planned

Spoiler

First mission about to arrive is the asteroid catcher.

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Asteroid catcher about to grab its target

It's got plenty of fuel and the asteroid is relatively slow-moving. Way overkill.

The Jool mission worries me, it's costing more than planned and I risk not having enough xenon to return. Since a lot of mass was the four relays and I already sent a new one for Eeloo, I figured I could do the same here. For Jool I want at least two of them, and for simplicity I want to launch them together. Also for simplicity I don't want to have to design another launch vehicle, so I came up with joining two copies of the Eeloo backup relay.

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The Jool relays ready for launch

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First stage separation

And they worked pretty well. Some aerodinamic problems with that big antenna, but nothing that cannot be overcome with deltaV.

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Scanner-Relays route to Jool

This time I have a bit less time constrants because I don't need to return those relays, and the planetary alignment is better. The relays can be sent to Jool cheaply enough. Intercept speed is around 5 km/s.

Now that I'm safe in having some backup scanners, I can remove some dead mass from the Jool mission.

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Away the scanners

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Now that there are no more docking ports, an EVA engineer also removes empty tanks

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the new Jool mission

I got rid of 7.5 tons. I still don't feel safe, but it's an improvement.

A few days forward, the asteroid catcher finds the asteroid.

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It's smaller than expected, but harder to grab than anticipated

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Capturing the asteroid

It turned out, the asteroid catcher has enough fuel to move the asteroid in Kerbin orbit without even needing to mine more. With enough fuel left to move it to a safer orbit where it won't risk hitting Mun. With enough fuel left to go anywhere around Kerbin.

Well, that's one item of the list I can cross.

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After course corrections, the Eeloo relay is set for an Eeloo intercept. Fuel is plentyful, no problems foreseen

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The Eve lander arrives to Eve

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And finds a trajectory for Gilly

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Where it drops the scanner-relay

Remember, the plan is to refuel on Gilly, then use fuel to rocket brake. This way I don't have to invent a thermal protection system for the Eve landing.

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Orbiting Eve

I completely missed taking screenshots of the time spent on Gilly.

Then again, I was orbiting Gilly, with a bit of fuel left, and a ship that already managed to replenish its fuel tank in 3 days. You can trust that I could land and resupply without showing pictures.

Now, before I land on Eve, I need to detach the return pod. That was stored in two pieces.

pbNYutH.png

The return pod: some assembly required

Alas, the back part - which has the engine - doesn't have signal to maneuver, so I have to reload and bring in the scanner-relay.

I took some pics of the trajectory involved, but really, those things have 5 km/s, and it only needed to go from Gilly to high Eve polar orbit. I think I can skip the passages.

One thing I won't skip, instead, is mentioning that I almost failed to get a scan because scanning Eve took a lot more electricity than other places. Maybe it's related to the planetary surface? Anyway, the probe didn't have enough battery.

2pajsbO.png

Eve scanner out of battery

It's been a long, long time since last I scanned a planet. But reading the wiki, I discovered that I can set antennas to transmit the science in small packages. So it took 10 minutes, but it could download the data. It's weird that this setting is not the default; what possible advantage is there to losing a science transmission rather than wait a few minutes to download it?

Anyway, I could scan Eve, the mission is safe. Wait, I read the conditions of the challenge again and they mention nothing about scanning. What the hell? I'm sure it was mentioned, and performing science too. No idea. Anyway, now all my missions have scanners, may as well use them.

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Return pod assembled successfully

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Rocket braking to land

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Burning up in the atmosphere

Ouch! Not enough fuel. Did I make a faulty vehicle? Can this mission be salvaged at all?

Reload back and find out.

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This time I actually took a pic of Gilly

Above pic is to show that the ore tank is full. The previous time I just forgot, assuming I'd have plenty of fuel; I also skipped loading a few tons. Totally neglectful.

But the bunch of extra fuel is not enough for a safe landing. No, I need to aerobrake. Can this ship aerobrake practically? Whether I will continue this challenge hinges on this question. I have exposed solar panels; if I have to keep a too shallow periapsis and brake for less than 1 m/s at every passage, it would become way too boring - and time consuming - to do and I will just give up. First I'll spend a few hundred m/s to bring orbital time below half a day, because this is still a time sensitive mission. Then we'll see.

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At periapsis, 4 m/s lost. Nothing is exploding

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Out of the atmosphere, 7 m/s gained

Seven m/s. Not ideal, but it's something. And after a few passages, with lower apoapsis the lander spent more time in the atmosphere and increased braking.

Now I just have to do this... a few dozen times... On the plus side, none of the other missions will require my attention for the next 60 days or so, I don't have to worry about missing maneuvers.

Remember to keep the ship constantly rotating, else the solar panels will burn up. I also have to repeat the maneuvers with the relay, with its slow ion engine. Sigh. Sometimes the stuff I do for this game makes me wonder if I'm secretly some kind of masochist.

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8 days and many, many atmospheric dips later

I should be ready to land. Let's try.

Even though I had enough fuel to slow down to 1500 m/s, Eve's gravity is really strong, and it accelerates the lander again. No, I couldn't follow a more shallow trajectory like in a suicide burn; I had to keep out of the atmosphere.

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The rocket survived, damage assessment

Turns out I lost only three pices: one solar panel (out of 6) and two landing legs (out of 12). I don't want to keep aerobraking (not to mention assembly the escape pod and everything related to it), let's try and see if the lander still works.

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At least it's got enough parachutes to land without rockets. Touchdown was successful

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Ejecting those lateral tanks with parachutes

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The previous model fell over the rocket, but two sepratrons instead of one did the trick

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Tommaso went out safely from the dedicated "elevator". He didn't even need the ladder

Now a few more days of ISRU, and we'll be back to orbit.

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Liftoff. The landing legs have a bit of fuel, may as well use it before jettisoning

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The second stage up high in the atmosphere

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The last stage, in space

Ok, this trajectory must have been horribly inefficient. It's a problem with Eve ascents I never managed to fix; first you want to go straight up to avoid the atmosphere, as fast as possible to reduce gravity drag. Then you would like to perform a gravity turn, but you're already going very fast and the atmosphere is still very dense and you can't steer, you have to keep going straight up. Well, the lander had more than enough deltaV to compensate.

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Moving to the return pod, carrying science

Orbital mechanics are unfavorable to return to Kerbin now, and I have a chemical engine, not some ion engine with 10 km/s (probably I dreaded needing a dozen apoapsis raising maneuvers to escape Eve's gravity). I must be somewhat conservative, Tommaso will wait in orbit for a while. Meanwhile, the Moho mission is also arriving.

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At Moho

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Separation with the scanner-relay and the cruise stage once in orbit

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Detaching the lander

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Landing

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No problems

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Back to orbit

The lander had a good 300 m/s more than needed, all went well.

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Trajectory to return to Kerbin

For this mission I overestimated how much xenon I'd need, so I now have 17 km/s. The only mild complication is that I would like to start with a burn on the shadowed face of Moho, but the solar panels disagree with that. Still, I have such a stupid amount of xenon, returning is trivial. I'm not even trying to optimize the trajectory.

Now back to Eve; the purple planet reduced distance with Kerbin, and even though the ideal transfer window entails an arrival in year 3 (i.e. too late) now it's good enough.

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A 3800 m/s to return to Kerbin. The return pod has 5200 m/s, it will be safe

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But it runs out of fuel before completing the maneuver

Yep. Having the thermal shield decoupling in the same stage messed up with the deltaV assessment. I really only have 3300 m/s. I have to look for another trajectory.

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Here it is, to Kerbin with 2700 m/s

In this trajectory I burn retrigrade at apoapsis to time the arrival on Kerbin at the next apoapsis. It's not an ideal flight plan, but it will bring Tommaso home before the end of year 2.

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Some EVA engineering on the return pod

I should not need more deltaV, but just in case a bit of EVA construction allowed jettisoning the spent tank. I can't get rid of the docking port because it's the root part, I put the engine back on it.

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On 9/5/2022 at 11:13 AM, king of nowhere said:

But I'm not just rescuing them; I send up Mun landers to rescue those kerbals, and they are immediately sent to Mun

This is the funniest thing I've read today - Kudos! 

"Help, help! I'm low on snacks ... you want me to go to the Mun? OK..."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Part 7: A premature end

The Jool mission arrived to Jool. It got captured in orbit. However, it was seriously lacking in xenon. I don't have enough to return to Kerbin. Not on a high energy trajectory, at least.

If this was one of my main challenges, I'd go back to the drawing board and fix the problem. Just adding 4-5 extra xenon tanks would suffice. Except that would require replaying every other mission too. Lots and lots of slow xenon burns.

I lost the passion in this challenge long ago. I picked it up thinking it would take a few weeks. Now I don't have a problem I can immediately fix, and I don't have the dedication to reload all the way back. The worst part is, it wouldn't even be interesting. There is no engineering to be done, no playing with orbits. All I'd have to do is add a bunch more xenon, and then do exactly what I've already done. I've already shown completing a return mission from anywhere in 2 years is possible, I'd only need to follow through.

So, I'm giving it up.

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