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KSP Test Pilot Challenge


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Challenge file has been updated for compatibility with v.0.22

It seems that most of the challenge threads test the player's building skills as much as anything else; who can build the fastest/biggest/smallest etc. I've created a challenge that provides all the craft you need, and they are all stock, so everyone starts in exactly the same place, with exactly the same kit, making it a test of how well you can play KSP using craft designed by a complete stranger, hence the Test Pilot Challenge.

The challenge involves some rover driving, a bit of atmospheric plane flying and of course good old rocketry. The challenge stays within the Kerbin system, so can be played by anyone who is able to get to the Mun and Minmus. Being able to dock will be an asset, though sending your Kerbals on EVA to transfer between ships is a possibility if your docking skills aren't too hot. Either way, you will need to be able to perform rendezvous manoeuvres. The other skill that will earn you a good score is the ability to perform spot landings, as some of the required crew transfers take place on the surface, and we all know how Jeb hates long walks!

Challenge Outline

At the outset Jeb is in the field at one of the remote KSC sites, doing a bit of maintenance, when a job for which his unique skills are admirably suited comes up. He's not answering the radio, so the Remote KSC Crew Shuttle is to be sent out to fetch him. At the moment, the Shuttle is on the launch pad, because some wag thought it would be funny to recharge it using the power backup systems on the pad. Further instructions to continue the scenario will be found on the plaques of the flags you will come across. Where it has not been possible to plant a flag, such as on the space stations, your next destination will be revealed in the name of the craft you have transferred to once it undocks from the station.

To Start

To play the challenge, I suggest you start a new game, and replace the persistent file in your newly created game folder with this one.

If you are still playing v.21.1 use this file instead

Upon starting the game, and being presented with the Space Centre screen, click on the launch pad and select the first option. This will take you to the Shuttle on the launch pad with which you should go and fetch Jeb, who is working out at the old Observation Tower at site 9, to the NW of the runway. Your timer will start when you release the Shuttle rover from the launch clamp.

LR3.jpg

RULES

  • No MechJeb. This is a challenge in the style of the old school test pilots, who didn't use computers
  • Mods that give visual aids for docking are allowed, providing they don't control the craft and do the docking for you.
  • Crew Manifest can be used for transferring crew, as this will encourage people to dock rather than leaving their craft floating nearby while they do an EVA transfer.
  • Quick save and quick load are permitted to recover a situation that has resulted in a position from which you are unable to continue i.e. complete fireball etc., but I would ask that people don't use the f5 and f9 option to try and improve their times by having a 2nd or more attempt at a landing or whatever.
  • The screenshot required for proof of completion is detailed within the challenge. It's important that the screenshot posted is as requested.

Most of the craft within the challenge are of a reasonable size and easy to manoeuvre. All have enough fuel to complete their individual tasks, though one in particular may be a bit marginal if you tend to fly as if you owned an oil company. The stations have lights directed at the docking ports to assist if you happen to be trying to dock whilst on the dark side, and most of the craft that need to dock are also fitted with lights for the same reason.

Action Group key 1 will toggle the ladders on all craft that are fitted with them.

You should be able to complete the challenge in just over 2 hours of real time game play.

My own attempt during a proof of concept flight, gave a time of 3d 22h 24m 28s, which I will put on the leaderboard as a target for others to beat.

40TQgHH.png

N0QEer7.png

Leaderboard

  1. Dodrian 1d 19h 55m 54s
  2. SirJodelstein 2d 11h 15m 31s
  3. Pluto101 2d 22h 2m 1s
  4. immelman 3d 13h 59m 55s
  5. Scarecrow88 3d 22h 24m 28s
  6. Caswallon 4d 20h 2m 42s
  7. Highlad 5d 12hrs 27m 39s
  8. Kasuha 5d 13h 59m 17s
  9. Sirine 6d 18h 40m 10s
  10. zorque 7d 6h 49m 24s
  11. Sirrobert 9d 8h 01m 01s
  12. mcirish3 11d 1h 55m 56s
  13. Xiphos 12d 20h 15m 28s

Edited by Scarecrow88
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So, the score is base on in-game times. The faster win?

I kinda like it. I have the file, and start playing now...

1 quick question...can I quick save and quick load? It seems that I've crash my craft at the offshore island... 2nd attempt did land it safely...but I just want to make sure that I can do quick save/load before going to way of no return.

Edited by Sirine
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So, the score is base on in-game times. The faster win?

I kinda like it. I have the file, and start playing now...

1 quick question...can I quick save and quick load? It seems that I've crash my craft at the offshore island... 2nd attempt did land it safely...but I just want to make sure that I can do quick save/load before going to way of no return.

Quick save and quick load are permitted to recover a situation that has resulted in a position from which you are unable to continue i.e. complete fireball etc., but I would ask that people don't use the f5 and f9 option to try and improve their times by having a 2nd or more attempt at a landing or whatever in an attempt to improve their time.

The score I posted was achieved in a single play through. It definitely can be bettered, as I waited for a few orbits around Minmus before landing so that I could do so in daylight.

Edited by Scarecrow88
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That's a lot of screenshots. Hope you enjoyed the challenge. :cool:

Yes, thanks. I'm having fun times discovering the Flag plate reading, and doing all those rendezvous move.

I believe it must be taking you a lot of effort to setup the scene. Very much appreciated, for a great game.

I hope that the non-sand box version of KSP will have something like this. Mission with objectives and hidden puzzle or things like that.

=-=-=-=-=-=-

And for the screenshots...its my-styles...much in detail.

I don't like... (And all of them without the resources tap open. )

1st screenshot launch,

2nd screenshot Duna landed,

3rd screenshot Kerbin Orbit,

4th screenshot Kerbin landed...

Edited by Sirine
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5d 13h 59m 17s

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It was great fun, thank you for the challenge. I believe I could cut off a day or two but it'd not be that much fun anymore, just trying to get best time knowing what to do.

My second biggest screwup was when I thought I have to land on Mun with the ship from Minmus. I set up everything for landing, prepare my periapsis, quicksave ... then I realized the ship has no legs and I am supposed to go to the station instead, to which I am going perfectly retrograde.

I reversed the orbit and just met the station before I ran out of fuel.

My biggest screwup however was landing back at KSC. On first attempt I landed some 6 km away in hills, then destroyed the rover on the way there. Then about 20 attempts ended in the sea before I finally stopped at the right place. When trying to land on legs I used the acceleration too late and the chute opened, dropping the bottom of the ship with running engine down. It stopped in the air and returned all the way up to the module level before it ran out of fuel - fortunately it did not crash to the module :D

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I hope to see other run this challenge...very meaningful and it did really test your pilot skill.

The OP spends lot of effort setting up the scene, it almost like playing KSP non-sandbox/scenario game.

Give it a try, If you think you are good. Remember the rules...no Mechjeb.

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Thank you for the endorsement Sirine. Maybe the 'no MechJeb' rule is why people aren't taking part - there are very few pilots amongst us.

Kasuha, good attempt. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I see that by designing craft for a specific task, I nearly caught you out when you realised the taxi between stations wasn't designed for landing. Have now added you to the leaderboard.

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That was fun, thanks for the setup, scarecrow! Totally recommended for anyone. No pictures because i don't want to spoil anything, great vessels and bases are waiting for you.

If i have done everything correctly (scarecrow, i have sent you a PM), i think i established a new record. The key to save time is during the long burns, i used my trusty excel spreadsheet to calculate the dV of each vessel, taking a very direct, non-Homann route each time without waiting for transfer windows. Most vessels have been left behind almost empty.

w73u1Rl.jpg

2d, 15h, 11m!

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Due to popular request: Here are the (approximate) maneuver nodes of the long trips from my adventure (did not take screenshots, i just reproduced them with a new setup). All the vessels have (barely) enough fuel for those. The plugin for the maneuver node editing is "PreciseNode" from regex, which i don't want to miss anymore.

SPOILER ALERT! Don't view the later images if you want to figure those maneuvers out for yourself.

I think it is possible to cut some more hours from my time, and i'd like to see more attempts at this. Calculate the dV of your vessel, use the RCS and be aggressive with your maneuvers :-)

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Edited by SirJodelstein
bigger spoiler warning
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First time I have posted to a challenge. And I feel like I actually did a pretty decent job. Almost all landings were unfortunately in the dark, and had at least 4 or 5 quicksave/loads due to rather poor planning on my part. Could have streamlined a few transfers, but saved some time by using the maneuver nodes to align orbits while still as far out as possible.

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4 days, 20 hours, 2 minutes

Edited by Caswallon
Fixed Time
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Timing of the original setup generally leads to the first opportunity to land on Minmus and Mun being in the dark if using a normal transfer. This gives the player the choice of actually landing in the dark, if he is confident enough, or waiting a few orbits until the landing site is in daylight, but at the cost of wasting precious time.

I hope you enjoyed the challenge and I have added you to the leaderboard.

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I want to thank you for this. THis is great and I have not finished it yet. It is funny. I got really good at piloting early on ( I have had the game for over a year now) I started using mechjeb for everything because I got tired of performing the same maneuvers over and over again and I have 3 small children so I needed to be able to leave my pc at a moments notice. But this brought me back to find out if I still got the pilot skills. and so far I do. I have not finished yet. I am orbiting minimus at the moment. I am not going to enter the challenge but this is SOOOOOO fun to play as a mission instead of a challenge. PLEASE submit this for a KSP weekly. From what I have played so far, This deserves far more attention than it is getting.

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Thank you mcirish. Feedback like this is much appreciated, and I am glad that the challenge is achieving my goals when setting it - that anyone who tries it should have fun whilst doing so. I'll look in to submitting it for KSP weekly as you suggest, as I have no idea what their criteria is for such submissions.

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Wow! that was fun. I loved it and you put a lot of work into it. Thanks again. I only reloaded twice once when I crashed the jet the first time i flew it by putting it into a flat spin :( and once on the KSC landing because I missed the land by half a kilometer and did not wont to spend hours swimming three kerbals to shore. (that would have been boring). I did not set any time records but I will enter any way since I only needed two screenshots to do it. you can see I took over 11 days game time.

I hope more people play.

By the way did you use hyper edit to set this up?

Oh and wow those where some easy landers to handle. loved them.

JPEcCHf.png

nrAG9AC.png

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Well this is an awesome challenge. I ran out of fuel on my island to Kerbin station ascend and rendezvous. Had to Jetpack Jebediah 20+km through space. My longest EVA so far. In second screenshot you can see the ascend vehicle marked in the top right corner as being 23km away.

uvdISNr.png

qYDKpK4.png

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Wow! that was fun. I loved it and you put a lot of work into it. Thanks again. I only reloaded twice once when I crashed the jet the first time i flew it by putting it into a flat spin :( and once on the KSC landing because I missed the land by half a kilometer and did not wont to spend hours swimming three kerbals to shore. (that would have been boring). I did not set any time records but I will enter any way since I only needed two screenshots to do it. you can see I took over 11 days game time.

I hope more people play.

By the way did you use hyper edit to set this up?

Oh and wow those where some easy landers to handle. loved them.

I am glad you enjoyed it, as that was my principal aim, to set a challenge that people would find fun.

Yes I used hyperedit to set some of it up. It would have been possible to set it up without, but would have taken a lot, lot longer. All testing was done without though. Basically I just ran through as a player would, reading the plaques and flying the craft in exactly the same way, to make sure that it all worked and flowed together properly.

Have added your time to the Leaderboard.

Well this is an awesome challenge. I ran out of fuel on my island to Kerbin station ascend and rendezvous. Had to Jetpack Jebediah 20+km through space. My longest EVA so far. In second screenshot you can see the ascend vehicle marked in the top right corner as being 23km away.

I am surprised you ran out of fuel on that one, although I admit it doesn't have an over abundance if your rendezvous doesn't go smoothly. I did equip it with more RCS than it really needs, so I guessed you used that too. Either way, I am glad that Jeb was able to make it to the station and trust that he is OK to continue? Hope you are continuing and, if you complete the challenge, post up the required screenshots and I will add you to the Leaderboard too.

Edited by Scarecrow88
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Looking forward for "Part 2" (After the weekly KSP has posted it.)

I would like to suggest going more on surface mission, for example Mun point A to Mun point B. Minmus Point A to Minmus Point B.

And with varieties of craft for player to choose from rover/plane/rockets etc. for going places to places.

And odd placement docking port, which something that "guaranty" MechJeb can't do it.

Some faulty craft. Which purposely test player piloting skill, such as missing landing gear/wheels.

EVA at Mun surface to get to odd places, such as entering to command pod at odd location, example command pod entrance facing downward, and high above, with no ladder provided. Play has to EVA up and going to precision EVA piloting.

Fuel transferring skill should be taken into consideration. Example craft A has 1000 fuel, craft B has 400 fuel, and craft C has 0. Player go from craft A, to craft B, then finally craft C. If player do not reserve enough fuel. He will suffer some serious penalty due to lack of fuel. or not perform docking process.

Part module transfer, example some craft does not have any RCS port, if a player could actually notice that and do some RCS module docking before riding it. At the destination, the docking process will be much easier.

Puzzle on the Flag plate, instead of giving full text/command/instruction on what to do, why don't scramble the wording/sentences, and make it for the player has to really note-down all the 'segment' of wording/sentence to finding the goal/destination.

Example:- Go_to_Mun_Arch.

Flag Plate A: *o_*o_*un_*r*h.

Flag Plate B: G*_*t*_***_**c*.

Flag Plate C: **_**_M**_A***.

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