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Safety First Space Program


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The Safety First Space Program Challenge

In this challenge, you'll need to imagine an alternate universe, where the safety of each Kerbal comes first.  At all costs!  This space program will not launch any Kerbals, it will be probes only.  The safest Kerbal is one who never leaves the Astronaut Complex!

Basic Rules:

  • Start a new career game.  Do not launch any Kerbals.  Ever*.
  • Complete the Tech Tree and upgrade all buildings, using only un-Kerballed probes.

But I can't actually do anything at the start of the game!  (Here's two ways to handle that..)

Spoiler

Because stock KSP does not actually give you any probe cores at the start of a career save, here are two methods you can use to unlock the first probe core:

  1. You can send a Kerbal to the Launchpad or Runway to collect science around KSC.  (You can do this at other launch sites as well if they are available in your save- Allow Extra Launchsites is an option you can set before you generate your save.  There is plenty of science available at the KSC.  As soon as you have collected enough science to unlock the basic probe core, do NOT launch any more Kerbals for the rest of the game.  A list of all the biomes at KSC can be found here.  
  2. Alternately, you can 'cheat' yourself exactly 65 science points using the F12 menu.  65 science points is enough to unlock the first probe core.

Again, as soon as you are able to unlock the first probe core, do not launch any more Kerbals, not even to wander around the KSC grounds.  The Kerbal safety nuts have allowed a Kerbal outside the Astronaut Complex, but only long enough to unlock the first probe core.  After that, it just isn't safe to venture outside!

What about Kerbal Rescue Contracts?  You have the option of handling those in a few ways:

Spoiler

You may handle Kerbal Rescue Contracts in a few ways, your choice:

  • You can ignore them completely.  After all, they can live forever in their capsules, so it might be safer to just leave them in orbit, instead of risking a fiery re-entry or violent splashdown.
  • You can choose to send un-Kerballed rescue ships up to recover them.  The rescue contracts can generate a lot of funds!  Once you have recovered a rescued Kerbal, they are never to be launched again though.
  • Another option:  You may choose to use any rescued Kerbals.  However, if you recover them to Kerbin they can not be launched again!  So, if you want to use them long-term, you will need to just leave them in space.  The rescue contract might expire, and you'll lose some funds from not fulfilling the contract on time, but at least you'll have Kerbals available to use if needed.
  • If you do choose to use rescued Kerbals, you might want to enable the setting 'Kerbals Level Up Immediately', which is in the advanced game settings (I think).  

Again, however you choose to handle Kerbal Rescue Contracts, once you recover them to Kerbin you can not launch them again!

Ok, then what about Tourist contracts?  Tourists are also not allowed to be anywhere near any vehicles.  Again, all in the name of safety!  (Thanks @Scarecrow71 and @OJT for pointing this out)

Mods:

Mods are fine.  If you are using mods which significantly alter gameplay, or add overpowered parts, consider that makes this much less of a challenge.  On the other hand, some mods could make the challenge more difficult!

If you are able, post a brief summary of how you completed the challenge.  Even better would be to create a Mission Report in that section of the forums, and link to it in this thread.  Be sure to describe some of the game settings you used, as well as any mods you used.

Notes and Tips:

  • Be careful accepting Station or Base contracts.  Some of them only require the station to be delivered, but some of them also require specific Kerbals to be on board.  Probably don't want to accept the contracts which require specific Kerbals, because you can't launch any Kerbals...
  • If you play with Comm Net enabled (I do..), keep in mind that you won't be able to fully control probes when they pass behind celestial bodies.  Unless you have a relay network in place to maintain communication links.

I just completed a career save doing this challenge.  I play stock, and chose to do Rescue Contracts, but did not actually use the rescued Kerbals for anything.

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This has a pseudo-Caveman feel, especially at the start where you can't do much other than farm the KSC.  I might have to get in on this goodness, even if only to flesh out the latest challenge I've got rolling around in my brain.

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2nd post in Mission Report.

I've got all of Tier IV and part of Tier 5, as well as first upgrades on the Launchpad, Tracking Station, and Mission Control.  Tomorrow I tackle a VAB upgrade.

@18Watt, I noticed that you didn't mention anything about tourist contracts.  Are we allowed to take those, or due to not launching any Kerbals are they off the table?

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16 minutes ago, Scarecrow71 said:

I noticed that you didn't mention anything about tourist contracts.  Are we allowed to take those, or due to not launching any Kerbals are they off the table?

Not OP, but I'd argue that is even more dangerous for Kerbals if they have no means of controlling the vessel :lol:. So I assume that tourist contracts are also off table

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26 minutes ago, Scarecrow71 said:

I noticed that you didn't mention anything about tourist contracts.  Are we allowed to take those, or due to not launching any Kerbals are they off the table?

That's a good question!  I actually was never offered any tourist contracts during my run-through, I don't remember what exactly triggers them.  I think I'll also exclude launching tourists.  In the name of Safety of course.  On the other hand, they really don't do you much good, aside from generating funds.  I don't think you can have them perform any science or navigation duties.  So probably not a big deal if you did accidentally accept one of them..

14 minutes ago, OJT said:

I'd argue that is even more dangerous for Kerbals if they have no means of controlling the vessel :lol:. So I assume that tourist contracts are also off table

Yeah, let's go that direction.  I'll add a section in the rules covering this.  But again, if you already 'accidentally' accepted a few tourist contracts, I don't think you've really gained anything other than a few extra funds.

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Can I add a few mods in to say, make probes come before crew, and also, not demanding you do docking, rendevous, etc, around every single body, demanding you then return, only to get a new contract for that body

Also, going to do this on EoE which means
Much more dv required to go to some of the planets
No fission engines(since all fissiles have decayed)
KSPIE(Makes techtree longer, my goal is to land on every body including in other star systems, so I need something to get me there, I will not be using warp drives since those are not fun to use as compared to a "Slowboat")

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3 hours ago, kspnerd122 said:

Can I add a few mods in to say, make probes come before crew,

Yes.  As stated in the rules the goal here is to do a career without using living Kerbals.  In a stock game, you have to work around a limitation.  But if you have a mod that opens probes early, that is allowed!  Please document which mods you are using, because other players might want to do the same thing!

3 hours ago, kspnerd122 said:

Also, going to do this on EoE which means
Much more dv required to go to some of the planets
No fission engines(since all fissiles have decayed)
KSPIE(Makes techtree longer, my goal is to land on every body including in other star systems, so I need something to get me there, I will not be using warp drives since those are not fun to use as compared to a "Slowboat")

As I mentioned, some mods might make this challenge easier.  And some might make it harder.  Again, please describe which mods you use, and how they helped you or made things harder.

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I decided to have a crack at this as well. Why not, I haven't played KSP in quite a while, might aswell shed off some rust with this. Playing on Normal difficulty with CommNet on

First: gathering science to unlock the steaming pile of junk Stayputnik. I did three roller cruises: one with Mystery Goo from Launchpad across the grass (which counted as Shores biome) to Runway. Then I unlocked the Thermometer and Barometer and did the same route again and then did the Runway-to-SPH-to-VAB route to gather the last piece of science I needed to unlock first probe core. I actually gathered a bit more science points than I would need, so I took the liberty to unlock some extra stuff for future endeavors

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Spoiler

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Tech tree at the beginning of "Probe Only" section

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First attempt at suborbital: failed. Stayputnik, turns out, has no reaction wheels and its shape proved to be more blunt than I anticipated and the rocket flipped. Thankfully, I saved it with parachutes and did some in-flight science while descending

Spoiler

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Second attempt at suborbital: partial failure. I addressed the issues of first rocket with some of newly unlocked parts. I did reach space and I did conduct science there, but in the efforts of trying to make the whole rocket recoverable I kinda forgot that passive aerodynamic stability works both ways and the rocket plummeted into the ocean at Mach 2

Spoiler

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Third time's the charm: I decided to shelve reusability for now and simply made the science capsule detach before reentry. Mission successful and LKO science recovered

Spoiler

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I unlocked a better probe core and attempted to reach orbit to get contract money and I also accepted the contract to test Terrier engine to unlock it early

First attempt failed: SRB burned off too early and second stage flipped due to aero instability. Saved it with parachutes

Spoiler

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Second attempt (with liquid fuel 1st stage) was successful, albeit with thinner margins than I planned

Spoiler

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Orbit

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After unlocking first reaction wheel and better winglets I built the Mun rocket. It simply made a fly-by of the Mun and returned to Kerbin on free return trajectory. Gained some science from space near Mun, but most importantly I earned good money from it which I could utilize for KSC upgrades

Spoiler

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After that I mostly spent my time doing contracts (Haul Part X to Y, Test Part Z and so on)
Most successful launch of the day was this satellite: it did two satellite contracts, Mun Orbit contract and Minmus Temperature Survey contracts all in a single launch, earning lots of moolah for the "Probe Go Brrr" Space Program
 

Spoiler

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Here's my KSC and Tech Tree after yesterday's shenanigans. Let's see how it goes today

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On 9/8/2022 at 11:05 PM, 18Watt said:

Yes.  As stated in the rules the goal here is to do a career without using living Kerbals.  In a stock game, you have to work around a limitation.  But if you have a mod that opens probes early, that is allowed!  Please document which mods you are using, because other players might want to do the same thing!

As I mentioned, some mods might make this challenge easier.  And some might make it harder.  Again, please describe which mods you use, and how they helped you or made things harder.

KSPIE makes it easier by adding late game engines(But these engines require a HUGE amount of science and funding) I dont use warp drives anyways
EoE has an Unwritten rule to not use RTGs or NERVAS(or other fission engines such as those added by KSPIE)
EoE also has a much more Dv intensive solar system that is designed to encourage flyby missions since say, a capture burn without assists at calefact will cost 5.6 km/s

Near Future LV(Adds a bunch of engines which can work decently well but arent OP)
I am required to go to ALL bodies including extrasolar systems

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Second day was kind of uneventful, but there were still some milestones achieved

I've built a plane that I used to complete Kerbin contracts

Spoiler

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I did three Minmus landings. Also first soft landings on other celestial body

Spoiler

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I've built a recoverable booster. Contracts pay very well and I wouldn't save much money from recovering boosters in the first place, but I liked the challenge

Spoiler

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And I also had to redo the Mun orbit mission. I tried to get science from space high above Mun, but during reentry the Science Jr. exploded, even though it was protected by the heatshield and previous reentries with said capsule went without issues. I modified the reentry capsule to transfer the Science Jr. data into Experiment Storage Unit and eject the Science Jr. before reentry, and second attempt was successful

Spoiler

Failed attempt: Science Jr. exploded, but other experiments survived. Heatshield flew off behind the capsule after Science Jr. exploded

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Second attempt: successful

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But most importantly: I fully upgraded my tracking station and I unlocked more powerful antennas, which means that I can commence first interplanetary missions during next session. Things will get more interesting from there

KSC and Tech Tree progress

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Edited by OJT
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Nice challenge!

I decided to try starting in vanilla on hard mode and doing the initial science collection without using science rollers, because those things are dangerous! In hindsight, I'm not sure that was a good idea. It is doable… but not easy or fast.

Basically, without science rollers you can only get crew report and goo canister science from two mini-biomes (launchpad and runway). To get science (other than EVA reports) from other biomes you need both an engineer and a scientist: the engineer carries the science instruments to each biome and deploys them on the ground, the scientist runs the experiment and collects the data. (Alas, you can't do that with goo canisters, since they're too bulky to fit in a kerbal's inventory.)

So, after unlocking the first two research nodes (basic engineering and survivability) and getting the thermometer and the barometer, you still need 45 science to unlock the node that gives you the Stayputnik. And you can effectively only get 5 science per biome (EVA report = 1.4, termometer = 1.4, barometer = 2.2) so you need to visit nine different KSC biomes, not counting the ones you've already explored to get the 20 science for the first two nodes (that's probably launchpad, crawlerway, runway, shores and VAB). You can still get barometer science from those, of course, but even if you do that for all five, that's still only 11 science, i.e. equivalent to two unexplored biomes. That's basically a full tour of the KSC — on foot, with two kerbals that you can only move one at a time. :rolleyes:

It gets slightly easier if you can also grab science from the building mini-biomes: "VAB Main Building", for example, is a distinct mini-biome from "VAB". But it seems that trying to deploy science instruments in those can be hazardous — I managed to attach a thermometer to the VAB wall, for example, but after going "click" it disappeared inside the wall and was nowhere to be found. Maybe dropping them on stairs might be safer…

(Also, it really helps early on if you break safety regulations a bit and take one EVA report while jumping to get that sweet "flying over Kerbin's shores" science. :D)

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2 hours ago, vyznev said:

Nice challenge!

I decided to try starting in vanilla on hard mode and doing the initial science collection without using science rollers, because those things are dangerous! In hindsight, I'm not sure that was a good idea. It is doable… but not easy or fast.

Counterpoint: in science rollers, Kerbals are strapped into their seats and are secure. When walking outside they can accidentally sprain their ankle, which is against kerbinian OSHA regulations

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14 hours ago, OJT said:

...but during reentry the Science Jr. exploded, even though it was protected by the heatshield...

I've had that issue too.  In my case I can usually keep the temperature under control by gently rocking the reentry vehicle back and forth a tad.  That requires a reaction wheel of some sort, and some electricity.  For some reason the vehicle wants to enter skewed a little bit, even though things look fairly centered.

9 hours ago, vyznev said:

That's basically a full tour of the KSC — on foot, with two kerbals that you can only move one at a time. :rolleyes:

Ouch.

9 hours ago, vyznev said:

(Also, it really helps early on if you break safety regulations a bit and take one EVA report while jumping to get that sweet "flying over Kerbin's shores" science. :D)

That's a good idea!  I could be incorrect, but I think I accidentally got one of those while riding on an early rover (airplane wheels and a jet engine), and taking an EVA report while the thing was still rolling somewhat.  Never occurred to me to just jump!

 

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I'm doing a second run at this, because I'm curious how much of the tech tree I can clear without visiting other planets.  I'm also not using Admin strategies, so I don't skew my results.  (I normally do use Admin strategies..)

So far I've managed to unlock the entire tech tree, except for the last 4 nodes.  Those last 4 nodes are 1,000 points each, so I'm short 4,000 science points.  There might be 1,000 points I haven't bothered to acquire from Kerbin/Mun/Minmus, but it would be really grindy trying to find those points.

I've unlocked that much of the tree without visiting any other planets.  Although I did send a Sentinel probe into solar orbit for a Sentinel contract.

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The latest entry of my foray into this.  Much like @18Watt's second run, I'm not using any Administration strategies.  I, however, haven't even come close to mining all the science on Mun and/or Minmus; I've got multiple biomes on each body that I can strip if I need.

After doing the latest stuff here, I'm curious as to what the record is for return trip dV.  I got a return window from Eve to Kerbin with 179 m/s, and I had to quicksave before I executed that node because I was afraid the computer was wrong.  Nope, it worked.  Anybody know what the record is?  Is there a challenge out there that tries to figure this out for peeps?

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