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[0.20]Apollo style spacecraft: Apokee MS


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Before the great forum purge I had an Apollo style craft that was quite popular, I thought I'll share it again:

0.20 update

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Apokee MS is now upgraded to 0.20. The improved rover now use seats and total part count for the vehicle is reduced, KDS delta-V improved.

Link to 0.20 update: http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/showthread.php/28133-0-19-1-Apollo-style-spacecraft-Apokee-MS?p=389094&viewfull=1#post389094

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Apokee Munar Sortie - a munar orbit rendezvous spacecraft capable of Mun/Minmus landing and turning. It's features are:

  • Launch abort system able to save the crew at all stages of ascent
  • Efficient launch system using asparagus staged boosters using clustered engines
  • The KDS - Kerbin Departure Stage performs final circularisation as well as trans-munar injection just like S-IVB
  • Transposition, docking and extraction
  • Smart KDS capable of being controlled after MEM extraction
  • two man MEM landing using Munar Orbit Rendezvous
  • MEM deployed two man rovers
  • probed MEM and Apokee spacecraft

Let's run through an example Mun landing mission to check out these features:

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Feature 1: Launch Abort System

Firstly, any sensible manned mission need a way for the crew to bail out in the event that something goes wrong with their booster rocket. With the Apollo spacecraft a combination of LES tower (in the early stages of launch) and Service Module engine (after LES tower ejection) are used to move the command module away from the booster rocket in the event of a failure. With our case, our Apokee spacecraft's SM engine is so powerful that it has greater than 1 TWR on the surface of Kerbin. Add to this the fact that the booster rocket is all liquid powered and does not use any failure prone Mainsail means the Apokee MS's abort sequence can use the SM engine for all stages of the ascent, thus saving weight that would otherwise be used for the LES tower. In the event of an abort shutdown commands are sent to all engines, the decoupler separates the Apokee spacecraft from the rest of the stack and the SM engine is activated.

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Feature 2: Efficient launch vehicle

Similar in design to the Zenith family of launch vehicle the launch vehicle for Apokee MS consists of six pairs of asparagus staged boosters each equipped with three LV-T30 and one LV-T45. The use of clustered engines avoid the usage of failure prone mainsail and improves the vehicles overall Isp. The six booster will push the centre core to near orbital velocity where final climb to orbit will be finished by the KDS.

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Booster rocket separation at about 75m/s short of orbital velocity.

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Feature 3: Kerbin Departure Stage

Similar to the Saturn V's S-IVB third stage and the Earth Departure Stage of SLS, the Apokee MS is equipped with a specially designed upper stage design for multiple firings. After booster separation the KDS is first responsible for acceleration the spacecraft for the final 75m/s to insert into a 75km parking orbit. Once the spacecraft have been checked out and the phase angle is lined up, the KDS is then fired again to accelerate the spacecraft for a further 860m/s for trans-Munar injection. But that's not the only thing the KDS can do - in fact it's been over engineered to have 1352m/s of delta-V, enough also for mission to Minmus, Duna and Eve. The use of a KDS ensures that both half of the Munar stack will still be fully fuelled when entering Mun SOI.

In the above picture we can see KDS after parking orbit has been established. The stage still has some 93% of the fuel after parking orbit insertion.

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The Apokee MS stack in Kerbin parking orbit. The components from left to right are:

Kerbin Departure Stage - Munar Excursion Module with two Munar Roving Vehicles - Apokee Service Module - Apokee Command Module

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KDS performing the trans-Munar injection burn to send the stack to the Mun

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Feature 4: Transposition, docking and extraction

As with the Apollo spacecraft, Apokee is position at the top of the rocket to allow launch aborts. With the MEM underneath it it must perform a manoeuvre known as "transposition, docking and extraction" just as Apollo did to pull the MEM free of the KDS after trans-Munar injection. To do this use action group 1 to separate the MEM and CSM, switch to CSM, open the shield on the docking port, move a bit away from the MEM, turn around and dock with the docking port on top of the MEM. Once you've done this stage the KDS to free the MEM from the spent stage.

Note there is a trick here - when you first separate the MEM and CSM there would be that ugly engine shroud on top of the MEM's docking port. This part is not physical so you can ignore it and dock, but if you want to get rid of it like I did here for a clean look just exit to tracking station and then select the Apokee spacecraft again. When you come back the engine shroud will be gone.

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Feature 5: Smart KDS

I hate space junk, even those far away from LKO. Thus the Kerbin Departure Stage have been designed with probe core, solar panels, batteries and RCS system to allow space loitering and manoeuvres after spacecraft separation. As with Saturn V's S-IVB I recommend deliberately crashing the stage into the Mun. This allows space junk clean up and you could also pretend it was part of a Mun seismic wave experiment to map Mun's interior if you've already left equipment on the Mun, as NASA did with the S-IVBs.

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Mun orbit insertion with the Apokee SM engine. Note that you might want to deactivate the MEM engines if you've accidental staged them earlier.

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Feature 6: Munar Orbit Rendezvous

As with Apollo, the actual landing will be conducted with a dedicated spacecraft purposely designed for landing. This "Munar Orbit Rendezvous" mission profile decreases total mission weight as the fuel to get back to Kerbin no longer needed to be landed on the Mun's surface and then launched back up into orbit. The MEM (and Apokee CSM) is powered by RTG and has downward facing lights so feel free to land on the night side.

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Feature 7: Munar Roving Vehicles

As with the late J class Apollo missions I foresaw a need for a rover on the surface to carry the crew around. Without a rover the landed kerbalnauts will be either restricted to within walking distance of the MEM, or resort to using their MMU for flying around. A rover greatly extends the range of exploration possible for a single landing site. Each rover is robotic controlled with seat for two. Powered by combined RTG and solar panels and is equipped with full suit of four scientific instruments (action group 3 to toggle). Use action group 2 to deploy the rovers. Two rovers are carried for CoM balance, the redundant rover provides insurance against loss of rover accidents as it can be driven out autonomously to bring back a stuck crew.

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Due to the tight tolerance in packing the rovers the deployment tend to be a bit violent. In the case of broken wheels your brave kerbalnauts can fix them by walking up to one and right click on the broken wheel and select "Repair Wheel".

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Fun with rovers on the Mun. Remember you can switch to docking mode for easier driving without torque forces.

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Once the landing is done, the crew returns to the MEM and lifts off to join back up with the CSM in orbit. You'll notice that I deliberately picked a rather high 50km x 50km Munar orbit and the MEM got back with a bit of fuel still left. Even higher orbits are possible by using up some of that 160L RCS fuel.

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Feature 8: Probed MEM and CSM

With the crew back in the Apokee CSM the MEM is undocked from the CSM and moved away to be lift in Mun orbit. Both the Apokee and the MEM are probe core'd so with the two docked together you could in fact use them as a deep space bus to move five guys around within the Kerbin SOI. Alternatively since the MEM is SSTO from the Mun surface once there is one left in orbit the next trip to the Mun surface will only require a Apokee style spacecraft and fuel for the MEM. Once refuelled the MEM could be used as a reusable shuttle between the Mun surface and orbit as many times as you have fuel for, bringing up or down two people at a time.

In this particular case I had a look at the Apokee's fuel level and decided that there was way more than enough to go home. So before undocking I fully refuelled MEM both with bipropellant and monopropellant. Thus next trip to the Mun surface won't even need refuel of the MEM - all that's needed is a ship that can reach and dock with the MEM and then go back home.

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With the mission complete, the crew fires up Apokee SM engine for trans-Kerbin injection to go back home.

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SM jettison, re-entry and splash down.

Craft file:

http://www./download.php?1g1wya8rfusl684

Edited by Temstar
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I love write-ups like these! Very comprehensive mission you have there: do the rovers ever fall on their backs and become unable to right themselves?

On the Mun and Minmus gravity is light enough that even if the rovers land on their back then can right themselves with the torque of the probe core.

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I remember that you had a version of this which used SRB's and was lower on the parts count,

It was 18. ish

Do you still have it hanging around? can I find it somewhere on mediafire or somewhere or is it long gone?

Thanks

Halsfury

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What this guy?

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It's 258 parts vs the new one at 334 parts. Most of that increase comes from the two rovers which are made up of lots of little parts. If you want to cut down parts at launch you're better off just deleting the rovers yourself rather than reusing the old one.

But if you insist you can still get it at:

http://www./download.php?cad6k05b1jpca22

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FYI: The lunar landing vehicle was called the LEM.

It's actually Lunar Module. NASA got rid of the "excursion" because it sounded "frivolous".

Since we're landing on the Mun rather than Luna (and because I have no problem with the word excursion), in KSP I call these landers MEM.

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Your design inspired this beast, which can make it to anyplace in the system. 903795_3959913215666_1927412770_o.jpg

IN FACT that stock orange tank setup underneath the MEM is from your original craft file! Complete with your original engine cluster/probe controller setup.

Edited by engraverwilliam
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Yes that's it,

I run KSP on a laptop, and as a result 300 parts is a bit steep, so is 258 parts but it's tolerable, My most recent 3 man Mun mission class is only 144 parts but I remember this class and intend to pull it apart in the VAB and look for building techniques

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  • 2 weeks later...

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So with 0.20 out, I've decided to upgrade Apokee MS to 0.20 standards:

The following improvements were made:

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1. Part count decrease from 334 to 322

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2. Apokee stack improvement. Two RCS tanks removed from the Apokee spacecraft - previously there were too many. Even with six Roundified RCS tanks you really have to work the RCS system to run out. 800L of extra fuel added to the KDS, KDS now have over 1600m/s of delta-V, easily enough to reach Duna.

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3. Upgraded MRVs - now using seats instead of ladders so there is no longer a need for the "roof" to keep the Kerbals on the ladder. The new low profile rovers now better resemble the Apollo LRV. The new form factor also allows the previous "violent deployment" issue to be fixed. Now the rovers can be deployed smoothly without damaging any wheels. As before use action group 3 to deploy rovers.

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The new rover climbing a steep hill.

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The MRV paying a visit to MOLAB Base.

Craft file: http://www./download/4llvr596too1ncf/Apokee_MS%282%29.craft

Edited by Temstar
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Hey,

I should really look better first. I just landed your lander on mun and came here to thanks you on the design and say you should add seats to the rover when I read you had. MEH

Thanks though for the great ship.

Tommy

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Hey,

I tried returning this craft back to Mun orbit after Bob Kerman and a fellow Kerbal had finished their science experiments. But it did not get into orbit, I used mechjeb to land which I guess is fuel efficient? How shall I do it differently next time?

Cheers

Tommy

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Hey,

I tried returning this craft back to Mun orbit after Bob Kerman and a fellow Kerbal had finished their science experiments. But it did not get into orbit, I used mechjeb to land which I guess is fuel efficient? How shall I do it differently next time?

From what orbit did you start your descent? The lander is tested to to descent from 50km x 50km orbit to surface and then get back to that orbit. If you start with a higher orbit and try to return to a higher orbit then I can't guaraentee you will get back.

If you're off by a little bit you can use RCS to finish climb to orbit. The lander has a fair bit of RCS fuel.

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From what orbit did you start your descent? The lander is tested to to descent from 50km x 50km orbit to surface and then get back to that orbit. If you start with a higher orbit and try to return to a higher orbit then I can't guaraentee you will get back.

If you're off by a little bit you can use RCS to finish climb to orbit. The lander has a fair bit of RCS fuel.

Yeah I started 200km x 200km.

Thanks for the reply

Tommy

P.S I have created some huge overkill lander which is dew to land soon.

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OK... T&D went well, getting into Munar orbit went well (on the 2nd try, MechJeb and it's trajectories, incautious time warp, and only half a cup of coffee are a poor mix)... So now for the n00b question (is OK, I', still a N00b), how do I get the crew from the CSM to the MEM?

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OK... T&D went well, getting into Munar orbit went well (on the 2nd try, MechJeb and it's trajectories, incautious time warp, and only half a cup of coffee are a poor mix)... So now for the n00b question (is OK, I', still a N00b), how do I get the crew from the CSM to the MEM?

You EVA two guys across:

1. Hit the EVA button that shows up when you hover your mouse over the picture of one of your crew

2. He's now on the outside, hit space bar to let go of the capsule, hit r to turn on MMU pack and then jetpack your way to the MEM lander can door

3. When you're at the door, hit f go grab hold of the hand hold, hit f again to go inside

Repeat for the other person. When you come back from the Mun do the same thing to get back in the CSM.

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