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18W All Contract Challenge


18Watt
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Here's an entry (or the start of an entry) for @Scarecrow71's All Contract Career Challenge, which can be found here:

I'm mostly using default normal career settings, with the following changes:

  • Adjusted re-spawn time to 1 hour, per challenge guidelines.
  • Kerbals do NOT level up immediately, also per challenge guidelines.
  • Persist Kerbal inventory load out is set to on.
  • Allow other launch sites is set to on.  Not sure if I'll use this or not, but nice to have it.
  • Always allow action groups is set to on.

At the beginning of a career, the only contracts available are the World's First ones, which will complete automatically anyway.  Also, the challenge rules do allow you to collect science around KSC at the start of the challenge, to get things moving.  However, I chose to jump straight into a launch, and 'accepted' a few of the available World's First contracts.  I just did a couple of runs through one of my own challenges, which involved scavenging science around KSC too.  It's kinda grindy, and I didn't feel like doing that this time.  

This challenge does allow you to gather science from KSC any time you like and I may end up doing that in the future.  But for now I just wanted to launch some stuff.  So let's get going!

Spoiler

Here's the first two contracts I accepted.  Yeah, they are the basic World's First contracts, which you get credit for anyway.  But keeping with the spirit of the challenge, I grabbed two of them anyway.

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Here's my first rocket, ready to go!  I gathered science from the launchpad, and then blasted off!  Wait.  Does anybody see anything wrong with the next picture?  Look close.  No?  I'll put the answer in the next spoiler window.

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Did anybody see what might have gone wrong?

Spoiler

That parachute trailing the rocket is probably going to slow us down a bit.  Oops, forgot to check my staging.  Let's start over, and try that again.

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The simplest rocket in the world, and it still took me 2 tries to get it launched properly.

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Landed near the R&D facilities.

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Tech tree after launch #1.  (or launch #2 if ya count my staging fiasco..)

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Next mission(s)

Spoiler

I had a bunch of observational survey contracts available.  A few of them were within easy reach of KSC, so I grabbed two of them,

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This launch was actually a fail.  I'm supposed to be below 16.5 km, but ended up a little too high.  I corrected my trajectory on the second attempt, and completed that contract.

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Tech tree.

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Here I am going for the second observation contract, this time heading west-ish.  Completed the contract no problem, but didn't really get any new science, so there's no update to the tech tree.

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Having fun with this challenge so far.  I haven't decided wether or not to use admin strategies.  I normally do use them, and they are allowed in this challenge, but we shall see.

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Here's the next batch of missions.  I've already hit a brick wall, not getting many contracts to perform science.  So I did implement one of the Admin strategies.

Spoiler

Took a couple World's First contracts, escape atmosphere and orbit.  Maybe I'll get them both completed with a single launch.

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It doesn't look like I'll make orbit on this try,

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Nope,  I did escape the atmosphere though.

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Next attempt.  More boosters.

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Yay!  Made it that time.

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Even though I didn't collect any science in orbit (no contract to do so..) I did manage to eke out a little bit in the places I landed or splashed down at.

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I also upgraded the TS.

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And here's some more missions:

Spoiler

Contract to gather science from space.

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Tech tree is filling out very slowly.

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I just needed a few more points to unlock another node, so I sent a vehicle to the runway to grab some science there.  Unlocked flight control, so now I can have SAS on unmanned probes.

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Started taking a bunch of satellite contracts.  These don't help gather science, but I'm getting a lot of funds.

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Ooh, a contract to do a spacewalk!  I did a spacewalk with Jeb, then left him in orbit for some reason.

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Contract to gather science from orbit.  Now I can get EVA science from space.  Yay!

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Sent Val up.  She decided to get her spacewalk done while parked next to Jeb.  Howdy Jeb!

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The tech tree is still pretty thin.  I need to get creative in gathering science.  Money is not going to be a problem in this challenge.

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So far I've upgraded the Launchpad, VAB, TS, AC, Mission Control, and Admin.  I do need to upgrade R&D soon, but not urgent at the moment.

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However, to give us a little boost with science, I accepted 'Unpaid Research Program' at 50%.

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Hopefully more updates to come.  I think I'll try to unlock basic airplane parts next, so I can send a rover around KSC to gather science there.  

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10 hours ago, 18Watt said:

 I've already hit a brick wall, not getting many contracts to perform science.

That's the same wall I hit early on when doing this myself.  It is a slow, grindy challenge at times.  But it is doable.  I know you got this!

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Next batch of missions is ready to report.  After enrolling in the Admin strategy Unpaid Research Program, things began to progress well.  I had a few mishaps of course.

Spoiler

I managed to acquire a little more science by completing satellite contracts (with help from the Admin strategy), and unlocked the basic Aviation node.  Now I have wheels.  

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I also upgraded R&D to level 2, so I can take surface samples now as well.

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Here's a 'Rollver'.  Not a proper rollver, this one actually has wheels, so I guess it's a proper rover.  I'll use it to drive around KSC, gathering as much science as I can.  I'll store the science in the experiment storage box.

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After gathering science from everywhere at KSC, the last stop was the launchpad.  Driving up the ramp, one of my wheels fell into the groove in the middle of the ramp.  I was only moving at about 5 m/s, but the rover exploded, scattering pieces all over.  

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At least the experiment storage box survived.  I wonder if all the science is still intact inside the box?  Yes!!

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That'll give me a nice boost.

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Some new additions to the tech tree.

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A few more missions.

Spoiler

I started accepting some rescue contracts, but for now I'll do a few more satellite contracts.

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I did get a contract to get science from space around Minmus.  I gathered science from space High and Low there.

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Sometimes I omit the heat shields, I can usually get a capsule down safely without one.  But life is much easier with the heat shields.

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Gathering science from space around Minmus was helpful.

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The tech tree is looking much better now.  I'm still missing a few things I'd like for interplanetary trips, in particular better antennas.  But I've unlocked the node with the seismometer.  That will be a big help when I start landing on Mun or Minmus.

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I have a bunch of rescue contracts I still need to do, but I also got a contract to get science from space around Mun.  The seismometer won't help me on that trip, but still should let me unlock at least one or two more nodes.

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I kinda wish I hadn't enrolled in the Admin strategy now.  It helped me get past a hump where I was stuck, but I now have enough tech to finish the tech tree without leaving Kerbin/Mun/Minmus if I want.

This is very much long-range planning, but I do have an idea to unlock the last 3 nodes of the tech tree.  A few days ago, I finally started practicing using the rovermax probe core to locate anomalies.  There's one on Kerbin, Minmus, and Mun which will unlock a tech node each.  So that's one possible strategy towards the end of the challenge.  I have a long way to go yet though.

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Hoo Boy!  Got a lot accomplished.  Bear with me on these, I'll probably forget what some of the screenshots are supposed to show.  Here we go.

Mission to Mun.

Spoiler

Yeah, I know the vessel is named Minmus 1.  But it's going to Mun this time.  On a contract, of course.

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Collected science from space around Mun.  High and Low.  Take a look at the design of the ship at this point, it'll make sense in a few screenshots.  The engine, fuel tanks, and Materials Bay will decouple for landing at Kerbin, I'll just land the capsule.

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Capsule landed at Kerbin.  I was aiming for the Poles, but I think I actually ended up on the Polar Ice Shelf.  No problem, I didn't have science from there either.  But wait!  What's that in the background?  Look just above the letter 'a' in the green text.  What is that?

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Holy guacamole!  I decoupled the engine and fuel tank assembly, and watched it go down.  I was hoping to see an explosion.  But it didn't explode on impact.  In fact, it not only survived the impact, but ended up perfectly upright!  Now I'm mad!  I've been wasting a lot of money on parachutes, turns out I didn't need them after all!!

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That mission to Mun to collect science from space was good.

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Took a bunch of rescue contracts to gain funds.  Plus, I like having a lot of crew members available.

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Ok, let's see what's next:

Spoiler

I don't manage to do this every time, but sometimes I am able to launch directly to an intercept with something.  Sweet.

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What's this?  A contract for the surface deployed seismic sensor on Minmus?  I'll take it.

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Tech tree is slowly getting filled out.

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I now have the handheld science kit, which apparently includes a set of golf clubs.

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Yes, I did indeed accept the surface experiment contract at Minmus.  There's a bunch of issues though..

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One problem is that I don't have any storage containers to hold all the surface deployed stuff.  There's a lot of stuff I need to deploy.  Oh, and by the way, I don't actually have access to the CENTRAL STATION that controls all the surface stuff.  So none if it is going to work anyway!

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Yeah, I really need a storage container to hold all the stuff.  An of course the tech node that contains the CENTRAL StATION is not unlocked yet either.

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Oooh!  A contract to bring back Green Sandstone from Minmus!  I've never actually done one of those, and have no idea if it returns science points or not.  Let's find out!

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Off to find 'Green Sandstone'.

Spoiler

I don't actually have rover wheels, so just flying low and slow over Minmus will have to work in searching for Green Sandstone.  If I was in a rover (doing an Elcano run..), I'd find plenty, my rover would hit several.

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Oh!  Is that green sandstone in the distance?  It's a black speck a tad left of the nose of my ship.

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Yep.  I wonder if I actually get any science gains from bringing green sandstone back?

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Well I'll be!  I DO get some science for that.  Sweet.

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Yup, 150 science for the green sandstone.  Plus some science for recovery of a vessel returning from Minmus.

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Aha!  Now I can unlock the node that has storage containers for the surface deployed science.  

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I also have a contract to do surface deployed science on Mun, too.  I never really use the surface deployed stuff, but for this challenge it seems appropriate.

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I made a mistake it appears.  I generally avoid tourists contracts.  But I see I've somehow accepted one.  I think I meant to do something else, and was going to show off the screenshot.  I just realized, just now, that I accepted the wrong contract.  Rats.

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I think I have everything I need to drop off some surface deployed experiments on Minmus and Mun.  That's probably coming up next.

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Here's the next update.  I'm doing a lot of things I normally avoid for this challenge.

Spoiler

Had a contract to gather surface deployed science from Minmus.  Setting it up.

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Returning from Minmus, made another landing at the poles.  

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Some more good contracts.  Plant flag on Mun!

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Setting up surface deployed stuff on Mun, and planting a flag.

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Contract for a surface outpost on Minmus.  Why not?

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I intentionally packed enough fuel in my lower booster to be able to crash it into Minmus, to set off the seismic sensor.  The booster crashed fairly close to the sensor, but the contract didn't complete.  So I landed near the deployed science station, and switched to it.  As soon as I switched to the station, the seismic contract completed.  Weird.

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Here's a couple new contracts.  I took a rover repair contract, and a science from surface of Mun.

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Part two:

Spoiler

On my way to do the rover repair contract, I'm going to first drop a booster near the seismic sensor I previously set up on Mun.  This time the contract cleared as soon as the booster impacted.

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I have plenty of funds to upgrade the R&D to level 3.

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And enough science to unlock the node with the Gravioli detector.

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I got a contract to do more science on the surface of Mun.  I have all the science equipment now, so I'm sending up a biome hopper.

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Landed on Mun.

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I think I ended up hitting at least 4 biomes on this trip.  At each biome, I got Crew Report, Thermometer, Pressure, Seismic, Gravioli, Goo, Materials Bay, EVA, and Surface Sample.  Phew!  That's a lot.  Next screenshot shows me headed to another biome.

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Hitting all those biomes at Mun was a good run.

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Really wasn't a lot of nodes I desperately needed, but I unlocked some more anyway, until I ran out.

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If anyone is wondering how many rescue Kerbal contracts I've taken- a lot.  I have 20 Kerbals, so I guess I've done 16 rescue contracts so far.

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Right now I have a contract to put a satellite around Gilly.  That won't get me any science, but I'm hoping after visiting Gilly I'll start getting contracts for science at other CBs.  One or two more science contracts on the surface of Minmus should get me pretty close to completing the tech tree.

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Here's another update.  I'm getting close to finishing the tech tree!

Spoiler

Here's a contract to gather science from Gilly!  And it doesn't specify from space or the surface.  So I'll send a probe out there, and gather it all!

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This is the second probe I've sent to Gilly.  However, the first one did not have a contract to actually collect science.  This one does.  I'm grabbing and transmitting science from space high, space low, and all 3 surface biomes.

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Made a little progress on the tech tree.

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Here we go!  A contract to gather science from the surface of Minmus!  I think my biome hopper is capable of hitting most of the biomes on Minmus in one trip.

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Off to Minmus we go!

Spoiler

First though, here's a shot of KSC.  Everything is fully upgraded, except for the VAB.

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Despite the name, this ship is going to Minmus.

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Launch.  

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Orbit of Kerbin.

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Collecting science from the surface.  There's an experiment storage box to hold all the science, I'll bring it all home to Kerbin.

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I managed to hit all 9 biomes with this hopper.  In each biome I grabbed Temperature, Pressure, Seismic, Gravioli, Goo, Materials Bay, Crew Report, Surface Sample, and EVA Report.  That's 9 experiments in 9 different biomes.  I'm bringing 81 experiments home to Kerbin.

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Missed KSC by over a hundred km.  That's ok.

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That yielded us a little over 6,000 science points.

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It's enough to unlock everything except the last 4 nodes.  I need 4,000 more science points.  Unless I manage to find some anomalies.

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I do have a contract for science from Eve's surface.  Also, there's a Sentinel contract.  I'll probably see how those do.

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Well, this could be my last entry for this challenge.  Not because I've completed the challenge (I haven't), but all my existing saves have gone kaput, and will no longer load.  At all.  

Anyway, I got pretty close, and am confident I can complete the challenge.  Here's some screenies up until my game saves all went kaput:

Spoiler

I have some contracts to do a Sentinel, as well as science from space around Eve AND from the surface.

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In hindsight, instead of just dropping a probe to Eve's surface, I should have dropped a biome hopper.  Electric propeller aircraft work extremely well on Eve.  Oh well, next time.

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Getting through Eve's atmosphere is tricky.  I think I'm pretty good at building things to get down, but this is an untested design.  Fingers crossed.  After burning for an atmospheric entry, I retract all the bits that will get destroyed in the descent.  On this probe, that's the solar panels, and the antenna.  I do have a very small non-deployable antenna on the vessel, so that it can still talk to KSC to get instructions.  I have a few relay satellites in orbit of Eve.

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Next, I drop the tank and engine.  I need the probe to enter with the heat-shield first, and the fuel tank and engine might mess the aerodynamics up.  Once I'm inside Eve's atmosphere, the little Terrier engine is going to be worthless anyway.  This is a one-way trip to the surface.

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Eve atmospheric entry starts out reasonable, but it's going to get violent soon.

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It's common to see 9+ G's at some point in the descent.

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Made it to the surface.  Re-deployed the solar panels and big antenna.

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I collected science from space around Eve, as well as science from one surface biome.  Still not quite enough to unlock another of the final nodes.

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Some more science:

Spoiler

Got some contracts to gather surface deployed science from Mun and Minmus.  Probably won't be a lot, but should let me unlock another node.

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This giant rocket is going to Mun.

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Forgot to retract my solar panels during the Mun landing, and one of them broke.  Oh well, there's two more, that should be plenty.

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Trying to deploy the Ion sensor, it kept tipping over when I placed it.  After picking it up and trying again about 15 times, I finally got it deployed without tipping over.  That was frustrating.

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I also deployed more stuff on Minmus.

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I think I did get enough science from those to unlock another node.  And here, I finally have a contract to put a satellite in orbit of Ike.  It's not a science contract, but it seems that after you put a satellite around something you start to get science contracts for that CB.  So this will be worth doing.

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Anyway, that's as far as I got.  All my existing saves are shot, and no longer load.  I might make another attempt at this challenge, there's a few things I might do different.

 

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Starting Over!

Ok, I did another run at the All Contract Challenge.  I did a few things differently.  And this time I completed the challenge!

I unlocked basic airplane parts a little earlier than I normally do.  That made it more reasonable to complete some of the early contracts, where you need to get science at certain altitudes or on the surface at various locations on Kerbin.  Those are much easier with an airplane.  Plus, that made it easier to build a rover to grab science at KSC when I was ready to do that.  I didn't take as many screenshots of this run, but here's what I have

Spoiler

I've lost track of exactly where I was at this point.  Looks like I've unlocked the node with the seismometer, so I've probably done the KSC science grab already, or am about to go do that.

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This time through I didn't really every hit a solid wall where I couldn't do anything.  Here I have a contract for science from surface of Mun.  Yay!

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I think I was able to unlock a node or two after returning from Mun.

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Here's a bunch of good ones!  Plant flag, space science, and surface science, all at Mun!  Those I'll knock out with a single mission.

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That was a pretty good trip.

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Yes!  I've managed to unlock the last science bit, the Gravioli Detector.

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This was on a run to set up deployed science on Mun.  I had a little fuel left in the booster, and tried to land with it, but couldn't keep the rocket upright.  So I had to lift back off, and ditch the booster.  It landed like this.  Weird.

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Deployed science setup on Mun.

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Not really a lot of science from that last trip, but the science from the deployed stuff hasn't started rolling in yet.

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Here's some more shots of the challenge:

Spoiler

Contract to do deployed science on Minmus, AND bring back sandstone, AND that 'Explore Minmus' allows me to gather science from Minmus!  This will be a very good trip.

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Once again, I had a little fuel left in the booster, so I tried to land it.  And failed.  I think it would have worked if I'd planned on landing in the flats first.  But for some reason I landed in lowlands.  Oh well.  I still managed to deploy the surface science, AND get some green sandstone, AND I managed to hit SIX of the nine biomes on Minmus.

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Yeah, that was a really good trip.

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Here we go.  A contract to fly by Eve, and bring back some science too.

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Tech tree before doing Eve fly by.

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Science after returning from first fly-by of Eve.  I have a plan for Eve.  You'll see.

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Ok, close but still a lot of science to go.  Plus, I need at least two satellites in orbit of Eve to do what I'm planning.  I currently have zero, because the first one I sent to Eve I brought back to Kerbin.

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Ok, what's my big plan for Eve?  Patience.

Spoiler

OK!  I have a contract for the surface of Eve.  But I'm not ready yet, I need contracts to put a few satellites in orbit of Eve first.  So for now I'm going to just sit on the Eve surface contract until everything is ready.  Ooh!  Science from Minmus' surface!  I missed three biomes the last time I was there..

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Those last 3 biomes at Minmus got me a little more science.

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Still a little short.  That's OK.  Again, I have a plan for Eve.  If only I could get some Eve satellite contracts..

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Meanwhile, did another run to gather science from Mun.  I think I hit two biomes this trip.

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Everything is unlocked, except the last 4 nodes.  I really need some satellites at Eve.

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That particular 'Explore Eve' contract is asking me to put a satellite in orbit of Eve, and leave it there.  Perfect!

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Some more satellite contracts.  One to go to Duna.  Won't help me get any science, but what the heck.

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Here's a small satellite headed to Minmus.

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Ok, just need one or two more satellites at Eve:

Spoiler

Gilly satellite contract.  Close enough.  After I do the Gilly contract, I'll reposition the satellite to orbit Eve.  That will make two Eve satellites.  Hopefully that will be enough.

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Now, I'm left with the Eve surface science contract.  I need 4,000 more science points.

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So I launch this.  It's kinda expensive, but I'm hoping it will pay off big time.

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3....2....1...Lift Off!!!

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Here we go!

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After dropping the booster, here's a shot of the bottom of the transfer stage.  It has it's own probe core, small reaction wheel, and a few batteries.  It also has a small relay antenna on it, so I'm hoping this transfer stage will function as a third (backup) relay satellite in orbit of Eve.

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Now the tricky part is coming up.  I need to lower my PE to dip into Eve for an atmospheric arrival, then drop the apparatus inside the fairing, and finally bring the PE of the transfer stage back up, because I want to use the transfer stage as a third relay satellite.  Just in case.  So it'll get busy pretty soon.

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Finally, Eve.

Spoiler

Deep breath, this will be nerve-wracking.  Here we go.  This thingy is on a trajectory that will take it deep into Eve's atmosphere.

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Heat shield inflated.  I did extensive testing on this thing.  It's supposed to keep pointed the right way, even though stuff with the inflatable heat shield never wants to point into the wind.

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Yup!  Sure enough, it ended up pointing exactly sideways to the wind, and I can't do anything about it but cross my fingers and hope the fairing holds up.  It's getting pretty hot.

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Made it!  Phew!.  I've deployed the fairing.  

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Next I detach from the heat shield, and presto!  I have a plane to explore Eve with!

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Lands just fine at 35 m/s or less.

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Landed.

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The results of visiting Eve's surface:

Spoiler

I'll run science experiments in as many biomes as I can hit.  

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If I have good sunlight, I can cruise at about 190 m/s on my way to the next biome.  With propellers, it's generally not safe to use physics warp, so all flights will need to be done in real time.

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I ended up hitting 7 biomes on Eve:  Shallows, Lowlands, Midlands, Highlands, Foothills, Peaks, and Impact Crater.  The 4 KerbNet markers in the next screenshot are the first 4 biomes I hit.

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On my way to the impact crater.

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Here's a shot with the middle cargo bay open.  Inside that bay is the thermometer, barometer, seismometer, and Gravioli detector.  The thing on top is some sort of atmosphere analyzer, I've never really used it before, but it did generate extra science in each biome.  So that's absolutely worth slapping on.  Oh, you can also see I've reached 4,000 science points!

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Tech tree completed.

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Plenty of money to upgrade the buildings too.

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I did manage to do this run without using any Admin strategies, so that is certainly possible.  There is an element of luck in getting contracts though.  On the other hand, the first time I did this challenge I was trading Reputation for Science, so perhaps that was holding the contract generation back, because I wasn't gaining as much reputation as I could have.  Not sure.

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