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Spaceplane Landing


Mr.Rocket
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Any help on how to land a spaceplane without parachutes. I have tried a few times, all ending up with a huge explosion. Am i supposed to use thrusters at the last second to make the plane go forward instead of down? Any help would be appreciated.

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Are you landing in atmosphere or without atmosphere? In atmosphere I try to keep my vertical velocity about -5 m/s. I use the brakes to slow it down once I've got wheels on solid ground. I keep my fingers near the roll and yaw control to correct any fiddly behavior it might have. Prefer to keep the wings attached so I can reuse the plane. As for landing one in a non-atmospheric environment. Bring it down like a lander to very near the surface, then nose down and try not to lose anything important. It would be possible to install rear-facing landing legs and just keep it on the tail like a lander.

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Your vertical speed should defiantly be no more than 5 m/s. Your surface speed should preferably be less than 80 m/s. Also, I'd recommend using the KSC runway, as it's perfectly flat, thus you wont have to deal with those tiny bumps resulting in a catastrophic failure.:rolleyes:

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Are you flaring? Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm currently working on a private pilot's license, so I shouldn't be wrong) all aircraft have to preform a maneuver known as a landing flare. What this does is it causes your main gear to touch down before the nose gear. If you put the weight of your space-plane on the nose gear first, odds are it'll snap right off, causing the nose to slam into the ground, followed by a chain reaction of explosions and structural failures. Also, don't flare too much. You don't want to slam to the tail into the ground. If you use FAR, odds are you will stall first, but the end result will be the same.

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Simple answer: boost your forward speed as you land. This will generate more lift which will allow you to land on your wheels. I was crashing all the time. Until one day I figured to try speeding up with engines on during landing...only to find that I got more lift which slowed my fall and actually hit the deck with my wheels. Darn good wheels. I never trusted them before. That was the prob. I was thinking parachutes, when I should have been thinking wheels.

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You could add sepatrons to the nose (it's fun, but not neccesary). Anyways, with hard-to-land planes I usually keep a relatively high speed, fly very close to the ground and towards the runway. A bit before the runway, turn down the throttle completely; you should slow down quite rapidly. When you are above the runway, lift up your nose ever so slightly so you don't land on your nosegear.

Because you are already very close to the ground, you won't have enough altitude to gain any significant fall speed.

It's an ugly way of landing, and won't work with a real aircraft, because they don't loose speed as rapidly as KSP planes.

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OK, some general pointers that I've found work for me:

1) If your plane can't take off at low speeds (50 m/s or so) you will have trouble landing it, even with nearly empty tanks, due to high stall speeds. Note this isn't the "let it gain speed and maybe it will lift off" takeoff - if you nose up at 50 m/s but it refuses to fly, you may find yourself having issues later.

2) Line up your approach at least 5 km away (you can reduce this number as you gain experience). Try putting some sort of beacon 500m out from the runway in each direction, that you can target with your navball. Then, aim to fly over the beacon going due east (or west).

3) Your altitude should be one-tenth of your distance (so if you are 5 km away, your altitude should be 500m). If you are using the beacon for your distance calcs, be sure to adjust for the distance between the beacon and the runway. Also adjust for the the height of the runway. I usually go for +200m to cover both, and if I dip below that a little bit I know I'm ok. Also, remember you don't have to land right at the start of the runway; even commercial pilots like to aim one-third in, so if they're coming in a little low they don't have to react as much.

4) Due to #3, your (negative) vertical speed should be 1/10th of your horizontal speed. So at 50 m/s horiz, you would have -5 m/s vert. This is why the low speed is important; if you have to fly at 150 m/s horiz just to stay in the air, you're vert speed is 15 m/s, which will result in destroyed landing gear and a crash, every time. Don't have these numbers? Kerbil Engineer Redux is my friend, and can be yours too. Why would you want to fly without the instrumentation that is commonly available in private planes? If the answer is "for the challenge of it", then I'd advise mastering normal landings first, before adding in the extra challenge.

5) You can alter your "glide slope" to be less if you are moving faster, but you will be flying closer to the ground, making it more difficult to stay visually centered on the runway as you approach (again, the beacons come in handy, as when you get close they both show up, and you can line them up even if you can't see the runway well). IRL, you would deploy flaps too, but we don't have them implemented yet. You can try to "flare" by pulling up just before "impact" to reduce that negative vertical speed at the last moment, but if your computer suffers from low framerates you're asking for trouble (and its not an easy maneuver unless you're using a joystick).

6) That last bit of #5 reminds me; keyboard flying sucks, even with precision controls enabled. Joysticks give you much better control, and this is critical when your plane is about to touch the ground - that last moment can ruin the entire mission.

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OK, some general pointers that I've found work for me:

1) If your plane can't take off at low speeds (50 m/s or so) you will have trouble landing it, even with nearly empty tanks, due to high stall speeds. Note this isn't the "let it gain speed and maybe it will lift off" takeoff - if you nose up at 50 m/s but it refuses to fly, you may find yourself having issues later.

2) Line up your approach at least 5 km away (you can reduce this number as you gain experience). Try putting some sort of beacon 500m out from the runway in each direction, that you can target with your navball. Then, aim to fly over the beacon going due east (or west).

3) Your altitude should be one-tenth of your distance (so if you are 5 km away, your altitude should be 500m). If you are using the beacon for your distance calcs, be sure to adjust for the distance between the beacon and the runway. Also adjust for the the height of the runway. I usually go for +200m to cover both, and if I dip below that a little bit I know I'm ok. Also, remember you don't have to land right at the start of the runway; even commercial pilots like to aim one-third in, so if they're coming in a little low they don't have to react as much.

4) Due to #3, your (negative) vertical speed should be 1/10th of your horizontal speed. So at 50 m/s horiz, you would have -5 m/s vert. This is why the low speed is important; if you have to fly at 150 m/s horiz just to stay in the air, you're vert speed is 15 m/s, which will result in destroyed landing gear and a crash, every time. Don't have these numbers? Kerbil Engineer Redux is my friend, and can be yours too. Why would you want to fly without the instrumentation that is commonly available in private planes? If the answer is "for the challenge of it", then I'd advise mastering normal landings first, before adding in the extra challenge.

5) You can alter your "glide slope" to be less if you are moving faster, but you will be flying closer to the ground, making it more difficult to stay visually centered on the runway as you approach (again, the beacons come in handy, as when you get close they both show up, and you can line them up even if you can't see the runway well). IRL, you would deploy flaps too, but we don't have them implemented yet. You can try to "flare" by pulling up just before "impact" to reduce that negative vertical speed at the last moment, but if your computer suffers from low framerates you're asking for trouble (and its not an easy maneuver unless you're using a joystick).

6) That last bit of #5 reminds me; keyboard flying sucks, even with precision controls enabled. Joysticks give you much better control, and this is critical when your plane is about to touch the ground - that last moment can ruin the entire mission.

1. wrong, as long as the plane lands at low vertical speed, it's fine. you can have >100m/s horizontal speed when touching down and the wheels wont break.

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1. wrong, as long as the plane lands at low vertical speed, it's fine. you can have >100m/s horizontal speed when touching down and the wheels wont break.

First, that depends on the wheels.

Second, it assumes you're landing on smooth ground, which is OK if you only plan to land at or in the near vicinity of KSC. On uneven ground, landing much over 50m/s is often fatal, and there ain't no runways on other planets.

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another thing to add, it may be easier to land coming from the East.

this is because there's mountain on the west side of KSC, this forces you to make your descend a little steeper and hence a little harder if your plane isnt very agile.

coming from the east would be easier because the east side of KSC is the ocean, and you can afford a clear view on the approach.

----

this shouldnt be a big deal, but if you are not very familiar with landing planes in flying sim games... it may be helpful.

(if you are ok at landing planes on carriers in ace combat/hawx KSP wouldnt be too hard, the hardest part is actually touch down ON the runway instead of next to it, which isnt that hard anyways, if you have enough approaching distance to mess around during your descend)

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First, that depends on the wheels.

Second, it assumes you're landing on smooth ground, which is OK if you only plan to land at or in the near vicinity of KSC. On uneven ground, landing much over 50m/s is often fatal, and there ain't no runways on other planets.

depends on the wheels?

as if there are other sets of wheels for planes in the game.

and why would you land a plane on uneven ground anyways? i dont think planes are made for landing on rough terrain as per my knowledge.

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depends on the wheels?

as if there are other sets of wheels for planes in the game.

But what if you put rover wheels on the thing so you can a) steer and B) drive it like a rover? Lots of folks do this, and rover wheels don't like high landing speeds. Also, there are all kinds of mod wheels available.

and why would you land a plane on uneven ground anyways? i dont think planes are for landing on rough terrain as per my knowledge.

Well, the whole point of making airplanes is so you can fly around on Laythe, Eve, and (if you're a particularly good airplane designer) Duna. You can cover a LOT more ground in a LOT more safety flying than you can in a rover, and it's way cooler besides. None of these places have runways or even very many areas of reasonably flat ground.

And suppose you want to RP sending a plane to recover Kerbals that have landed in a ravine on the other side of the planet from KSC? You have to land in some REALLY bad places then. And this has to be done with a plane big enough to have the range to get there, can carry a bunch of Kerbals, travel fast enough to keep this from being a time drain, and still land at like 15m/s.

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