katateochi

The Wrong Brothers - career mode done differently (pic heavy)

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"It was agreed that this mountain should be remained Mt. Villain and would need to be further investigated using an unmanned (and possibly armed) drone that would be so small it would be immune to lag effects."

I assume you meant renamed, but great story- er mission report overall

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Just over a year, wow. I've made a few attempts at space planes since I started reading this, they were all dismal failures. I think to start getting the hang of them in going to copy a few of your designs to get a basic idea, I may even start a new career and play through this way. Once I get through my current career though. I think one or two planetary landings out side of Kerbin will get me the rest of the tech tree.

It's there a good guide out there that explains the difference in piloting a space plane? I can fight the design out, but the flying seems really different.

Yeah space planes are tricky, I've got the hang of making an SSTO that can reach LKO and return but its taken me much longer to figure out than rockets and even so these craft don't carry a payload and only take a single kerbal. Building an SSTO plane that can take a payload to LKO or make IP transfers is still something I find hard. I've seen one guy who took a full orange tank to Duna in an SSTO so I know much more is possible.

They do require a quite different ascent profile to rockets, I don't know of any guides but I'll try to explain my SSTO approach. First you need enough Jet engines to overcome the crafts weight, I don't have a rule to guide this but once you leave the runway you should be going around 100ms and accelerating as you climb. Then you need to have enough intakes to feed the engines at high alts, but I've never needed to stack intakes. I find one ram intake per engine is the minimum, more is better, if you can fit a ram intake somewhere and it looks good (this is very important) then fit it. I've also found that space planes benefit from having a load of reaction wheels. This helps hold them steady as then engines start to flame out and during landing when the fuel is nearly empty and the weight has shifted it helps keep them level. A lot of my early space planes would tumble out of control as they re-entered the lower atmo, lots of reaction wheels solves this quite well. The Sprinter SSTO can stay level when one engine flames out cos of its over-abundance of reaction wheels. I try to put the Jets as close to the central axis as possible as this helps reduce spinning out during flame out and they are bound in pairs to action groups and I shut them down in pairs as the air runs thin. The outer most engines are shut down first.

After take off I climb at about 50-60 degrees until I reach about 16km and then pitch down to about 20-30km (thou this is quite dependent on the craft's TWR). The aim is to gain as much horizontal speed while still in the atmo, the faster you are going the more air is being forced into the intakes, but you also want to continue to climb so its a balancing act. You want to try and accelerate to around 1000ms surface speed while around 25km. As the engines start to flame out, shut down your outer most jets and fire up your rocket engines. At this point I raise the pitch to about 30-40 as you don't want to spend much time burning rocket engines in the atmo. Try to keep the inner most jets running as long as possible by shutting down the outer ones in pairs. Once your last jets engines are shut down and your on just rocket engines you should be at around 30km and climbing at around 100ms. You should have been continuing to accelerate all this time, if not then your rockets engines are not powerful enough or you don't have enough intakes to supply the Jets in the higher atmo.

Once all my jets are shut down I switch to map mode to watch the Ap. Keep a pitch of 30-35 until the ap is around 40km and then pitch down to about 20 and keep gradually reducing the pitch. The Ap should be getting pushed away from you resulting in a wide sub orbital path. After that it's standard rockety circularising.

Hope that makes sense and helps a little.

"It was agreed that this mountain should be remained Mt. Villain and would need to be further investigated using an unmanned (and possibly armed) drone that would be so small it would be immune to lag effects."

I assume you meant renamed, but great story- er mission report overall

Oh, well spotted, darn typo's!

UPDATE

After Jeb's successful landing on Minmus the entire population of Kerbin had their sights on that familiar object that had hung above them, taunting them with its apparent closeness while remaining untouchable. Mun was next on the menu.

Jeb's previous landing on Minmus had been a major milestone, but it was largely regarded as an important stepping stone. Mun was much more significant in kerbal folk law, to land on it would be to fulfil a dream that had been at the heart of the space program.

Amidst a media frenzy the latest craft was rolled out of the SPH. Considerably larger than anything seen before with eight jet engines, two LV-T30's and two LV-909's, "the Oddity" was going to be the first SSTO to carry a payload which would enable Jeb to make the most significant journey in the history of the kerbal race; to set foot on Mun.

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There was some speculation that the craft was supposed to be called the Odyssey but due to a typo and the auto-correct feature of a kPad it had been incorrectly named.

Tucked inside the Oddity's hold was a lander designed to descend to land on Mun and return to orbit where it would re-dock with the main craft. The goal of the Oddity's design was a 100% reusable solution to landing and returning from Mun, only a flag and Jeb's footprints would be left behind. To increase efficiency the landers two 909 engines double up as the transfer and orbital capture engines for the entire craft, the T30's are only used during ascent to LKO.

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Once again Jeb tore down the runway and started his ascent.

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As the craft reached 24km the outer most jet engines where shut down and the landers 909 engines were fired up. Shortly later at 25km the next two jets where shut down and the powerful T30's where brought online. By 34km all the jet engines had been switched off and the Oddity was now running under rocket power.

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A very wide ascent path raised the Oddity's Ap to 110km at a point 1 third of the way around Kerbin while also raising the Pe to 30km. The T30's work was now done, from here on the 909's would do all the work. A short burn of the 909's brought the craft into a circular orbit and Jeb began his calculations for Mun transfer.

The transfer burn lasted 8 minutes as it was done on just the 909's, but time was a resource Jeb could spare, fuel was precious.

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Eight minutes later the Oddity was on her way and settled back for the journey and pondered what the next phase of the space program should be.

Six and a half hour hours later the Mun was approaching fast and Jeb prepared to bring the craft into orbit. A short burn of the 909's brought it into a 140 by 60km orbit. Now it was time to prepare to separate the lander and for Jeb to carve an indelible mark in the history books.

He extended the walkway leading from his cockpit into the Oddity's hold and made his way to the lander.

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Once in the lander's pod he initiated the separation sequence to release the lander from its dual docking port connections (a process that involved hitting the release switch several times until both ports relinquished their hold). Then began to thrust back to reverse the lander out of the hold.

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Now clear of the main craft he did a short burn to lower the Pe to 6km above the surface on the far side of the moon.

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As he approached the 6km Pe he was still travelling over 500ms. He now had to do a hard burn to kill his horizontal velocity and then refine his landing position as he closed the final few km.

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Legs down, just a few hundred meters to go...

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A few meters remaining, all horizontal speed killed, descending at 2ms...

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Touch down!!

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Jebadiah Kerman was safely on the surface of Mun. He'd landed in the crater known as the FarSide crater. He radioed back to KSC to report his status and was almost deafened by the cheers from mission control.

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"I'm leaving the lander and making my way down the....erm, someone forgot to put a ladder on this thing. I'm descending to the surface with my EVA pack..."

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"I'm on the surface!"

Standing on the Mun's surface, opening and closing his mouth, Jeb gazed at the terrain in wonder. It was even greyer than he'd imagined, it was truly a monochromatic world.

He planted the mission flag and took some readings and soil samples for later analysis before re-boarding the lander.

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Once back on board he ran some experiments on some captive goo and some other random materials that the scientists had pulled out of their lab coat pockets. As he ran the experiments he couldn't help but wonder "why do these materials get to travel in a larger module than me?".

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The scientific study now complete, it was time to return to orbit and rendezvous with the main craft. The lander was tilted over at a 20 degree angle where it rested, held in place by its two powerful reaction wheels, ready for takeoff.

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The 909's fired up again (almost burning the flag) and Jeb began his ascent back to LMO to rendezvous with the main craft.

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Half an hour later he drew alongside the Oddity and prepared to redock. The duel docking port system ensured that it would be docked at the right angle relative to the main craft which was essential as the landers engines where required to make the return transfer.

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With the lander safely back in the hold Jeb made his way back along the walkway to the main cockpit and prepared for the final leg of his journey.

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He set a higher approach Pe than on previous missions, his aim was to aero brake into LKO and then wait for the right time to descend. He'd had some close shaves in previous missions and didn't want to risk coming in over another mountain range, or worse over the sea. Also the low slung design of the Oddity meant it required a very level landing field so this time he was going to land on the runway at KSC.

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He hit kerbin's atmo at 38km which was low enough to reduce his Ap without exposing the craft to high re-entry forces. It wasn't quite low enough to bring him into the desired orbit so he had to make a second pass though the atmo.

After two passes through the upper atmo he'd brought the Ap down to 300km and he could now target his landing site. He still had plenty of rocket fuel left to adjust his descent path and even more jet fuel left in case he'd miscalculated the descent and had to fly to the runway.

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The descent was almost on target, a bit too far to the West but that also gave him time to get himself well lined up.

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The mission had gone perfectly so far, perhaps too perfectly. As any space plane pilot knows, the final descent and landing can often be the most treacherous time. Engineers seem to focus 98% of their design on take off and getting to the objective and have been known to forget completely about how the craft will land. To be fair, the landing only represents a couple % of the actual mission time which is perhaps why the engineers over look it and also why the pilots and engineers don't get on too well.

As nothing had gone wrong so far, Jeb was feeling a little uneasy as he approach the runway. He knew the craft was equipped with as many reaction wheels as it had intakes, so even though its balance was different it would still hold a level path, but he just had a feeling that something would go wrong. His thoughts returned to the I'll fated test trials of the Oddity MKI which had spun out of control during its test re-entry flight and he'd been forced to eject.

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Suddenly, a mere stone’s throw from the runway, there was a bang and a small explosion on the left wing. One of the front wing panels had ripped off and disintegrated and another wing panel had come loose.

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Thankfully these wings where more important during takeoff and it only caused the craft to list slightly to the left. Jeb was able to counteract the list and the craft glided over the runway and touched down. It was perhaps the best landings Jeb had ever done, the craft touched down so gently that for a moment he wasn't sure if he'd touched the ground.

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After years of dreaming, a primary goal of the kerbals had been realised. Mun was now within their grasp and all they had to do was refuel the Oddity (and patch the left wing) and the totally reusable craft could travel there again and again.

However the ever critical Jeb had already decided that a more efficient approach could be designed. The Oddity required a considerable amount of fuel to facilitate a single Munar landing and there where many sites on Mun that required scientific study. Jeb's new plan was to build a larger SSTO that could take a considerably heavier payload into LKO and then assemble a craft in LKO that would be able to perform several Mun landings. Even though the heavier SSTO and its payloads would require more fuel than the Oddity, he calculated that with this new system he could make 4 Munar landings using the equivalent amount of fuel required to run 2.5 missions with the Oddity. It would also be a refuelable system and after completing its first 4-landing mission it could be refuelled in LKO ready for another mission to 4 more sites on Mun. As only fuel and replacement sci modules would be needed on the 2nd mission its efficiency would be increased to 2 times that of the Oddity. A heavy lift SSTO would also open up many more possibilities such as sending a probe to one of the other bodies in their solar system.

tbc......

(sorry if the images are in a lower res. I've had to upload them using my phone as I'm still without proper internet. I think they should be ok, but I can't actually see them properly myself.)

Edited by katateochi
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It's a nice touch having kerbals so completely dedicated to the runway that they'll try a horizontal takeoff on the Mun.

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Did the primary buffer panel just fall off your gorram ship for no apparent reason? Fortunately, Jeb is a leaf on the wind.

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Thanks for the comments guys! :)

Kata, this is awesome, and DAMN THATS A LONG POST!

thanks man. yeah soz about the length, got carried away. Next mission is way more complex but I'll try to make it's recount more concise!

It's a nice touch having kerbals so completely dedicated to the runway that they'll try a horizontal takeoff on the Mun.

How else do you take off!? ;) At leasts that's how the kerbals in this career think. Straight up, that's just crazy talk!

The oddity is a great craft. I love how you've used the lander engines, and it looks fantastic too!

I felt like those two 909's should be put in a museum after returning from this mission. They did all the work aside from ascent to LKO. Stalwart little engines!

Did the primary buffer panel just fall off your gorram ship for no apparent reason? Fortunately, Jeb is a leaf on the wind.

Yes gorram-it!! Damn why didn't I think of working that into the tale! The line in my sig is only a sentence or two apart from that line! But I'm always a bit afraid to proclaim that anyone is a leaf on the wind, incase that dooms them to getting a spike through the chest!

Next mission is well under way so should have that up before long. It's a complex one so lots of pics to upload. btw was the res of the pics ok? I could only see them at low res cos I'm using my phone as a hot spot currently (which sucks). Should have proper net next week sometime, yay!

Once I get connected again and can get to my dropbox I'm going to post all the craft files for this series, don't know why I didn't think of doing that before.

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Great thing, that Oddity! Ingenious :). Great job flying it, too.

So on landing, what happened? Did you hit one of those invisible birds we always hear but never see?

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UPDATE (sorry for long post, but it was quite a complex mission).

Jeb had proved that it was possible to land on Mun and return safely, but it was now time to step up the Mun exploration. During his previous orbital passes he'd identified a number of different places. His keen scientific senses had told him that goo and other random materials would behave differently in these different locations, and there was also that one place that seemed to have some kind of structure. More Mun mission where needed and although the Oddity was a capable reusable means to run several missions it was not the most efficient.

The plan was now to make a further 8 landings on Mun and this was going to require a new approach. The Oddity was able to take a small payload directly to Mun orbit, but what was really needed was the ability to take a larger payload into LKO where, for the first time, assembly of the craft would be completed in space.

The mission was going to be run in two phases, Jeb would make the first 4 Mun landings and then Bob would take over for the next 4. It was the first time that anyone other than Jeb would be leaving LKO.

To this end a new payload carrying SSTO was commissioned, one that dwarfed all previous craft, even the Oddity which currently held the title of largest aircraft. The naming comity was on vacation at the time of its launch, so it was simply called the "SSTO transporter", but its name was not important. With 12 jet engines, 2 LV30's and 2 aerospikes the SSTO transporter was able to carry a 23 ton payload to LKO.

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As the other Kerbals stared at it, they struggled to see how this much larger vessel would be more efficient, but Jeb assured them that it would be at least twice as fuel efficient as the Oddity and the 8 landings would be carried out in much less time.

Its first task was to carry a transfer section into LKO. This section weighed 23 tons and would be used to shuttle science modules and fuel between LKO and LMO. With this cargo in its hold the Transporter struggled to leave the runway, its wings bent under the weight as it laboured to gain altitude.

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Gradually it pitched up and began its slow ascent gaining speed bit by bit.

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After the longest 15 minutes of Jebs life he finally arrived in a stable 100km orbit and released his payload.

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Now he had to return to KSC and pickup the next section.

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Considering the size of the craft it actually landed surprisingly well, by mass it was mostly just wing at this point and glided in with all the grace of a fat opera singer and taxied to the SPH.

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The 2nd payload was much lighter as now most of the fuel required for phase 1 was in orbit. This payload consisted of the transfer section command module, 4 science payloads, the Mun lander itself and a small transfer section which would take the lander (unmanned) to LMO.

This time the Transporter was piloted by Bill while Jeb took up a rear view seat in the pod of the lander and reclined back, laughing quietly to himself at the thought of the expression of terror that would be on Bills face.

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The transporter cleared the runway much sooner with this light payload and soon was in orbit. After a quick rendezvous manoeuvre they approached the transfer section and began deploying the cargo.

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Jeb moved to the transfer section's command module (TSCM) to begin the assembly process. The first thing to do was disconnect the TSCM and a spare fuel tank that was there to balance the cargo.

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The ballast fuel tank was re-docked with the transporter so as not to leave debris floating in space and now the TSCM was free to dock with the science modules. Mean while Bill bid Jeb fair well and moved the transporter to a safe distance in accordance with the LAG process (or Leave Enough Gap).

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Jeb now disconnected the sci modules and left them floating nearby while he jumped into the lander pod once more to move its transfer tank into position.

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The lander on its own could not be unmanned, but the transfer tank had an onboard computer that would guide the lander from LKO into Mun orbit. The lander was now ready to depart and Jeb jumped back into the TSCM so he could begin docking the sci modules to the transfer section.

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The sun was just going down as he started this process so he does apologise for the quality of pictures.

The four science modules (each consisting of a materials module, two goo pods and a thermometer) where each attached to their own docking port on the transfer section and then the TSCM was docked to the front.

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For no other reason than wanting to get a better picture Jeb waited for the Sun to come up again so he could properly document the assembled transfer section. No one on Kerbin would ever see this assembled craft as it would remain in orbit, even after the completion of the missions (unless something went wrong in which case the TSCM could disconnect and parachute to safety).

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Meanwhile Bill, having several terror fits landed the transporter back at KSC. While his colleagues do like to tease him for being so easy to scare, they all had to admit that considering he never flown anything before, landing the largest plane ever built, at night, was quite commendable.

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The mission was now go for transfer and the lander began its transfer burn, followed shortly by Jeb in the transfer section.

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6 hours later the two craft approached Mun and prepared to capture orbit and rendezvous with each other.

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Once the lander was in orbit the transfer tank with the onboard computer undocked and fired its de-orbit engines, its work done, it was going to rest forever, several feet below Mun's surface.

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Shortly later Jeb caught up with the lander and transferred to it.

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The next step was to pick up the first of the science modules;

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And depart with it, heading for his second ever Mun landing.

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Once again he found himself on Mun's surface. He was about to radio his report to KSC when he realised that someone had forgotten to put an aerial on the lander!

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Darn it he thought, no one will get the hear my witty remarks about each location. Oh, well at least I can take samples and store them and perform the other tests. And I can always plant a flag as proof of my presence here.

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With the flag planted and science performed he set off to rejoin the transfer section where he would drop off the current sci module and pick up a fresh one and some more fuel.

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Now he would just have to repeat this 3 more times till each of the sci modules had been used. The Transfer section had enough fuel to restock the lander for each trip to the surface and then a bit spare to make the trip back to LKO with the modules and their precious data.

There was the real risk that this could end up being more like work than rocket fuelled fun, so Jeb picked his landing sites with care and each one was unique and interesting. But none so astounding as his second landing. This time he was going to find out what that thing he had seen from in orbit was...

As he approached he could see it was a huge rock formation, shaped into an arch that dwarfed his little lander as he set down beside it. He attempted to get some science readings from it, but his equipment refused to acknowledge its presence and simply returned results from the surrounding landscape. Clearly this thing was not natural. The only explanation was that some Squad of aliens must have put it here, but when and why?

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He planted a flag by it and another on top of it for good measure and departed, there was an eerie feeling here and he wanted to get on with this mission.

The 3rd landing was done in the pitch black which was a little unnerving and he burnt more fuel during the descent than he would have liked. But it was not a problem and he still had enough to return to the transfer section to collect the final sci module.

The last landing site was in a large canyon and was largely uneventful aside from his flag fell over and slid away and he had to chase after it.

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After re-planting it and doing the obligatory science he departed the surface for the last time

Now all the science modules had been used it was time to return to LKO. He left the lander in orbit and jumped back into the TSCM and began the transfer burn home.

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Several hours later he aerobraked into orbit. Meanwhile the transporter SSTO was departing with another heavy load of fuel to re-supply the transfer section.

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Rather than deploying this payload the transporter docked directly to the transfer section to refuel it and then departed taking the empty refuel module back down with it.

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There was some concern that they'd never tested landing with a load in the cargo hold, but it landed just fine.

Now for the final step of phase 1, a new set of science modules had to be brought up and the used ones returned to LKO. The science modules had also been fitted with an aerial to fix the problem of the missing aerial on the lander.

A modified version of the sprinter was used to transport the sci modules as they where a light payload. Bob flew the sprinter as he was going to trade places with Jeb and become the 2nd Kerbal to walk on the Mun.

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The next step involved a lot of docking and undocking. The TSCM disconnected from the transfer section and the Sprinter docked to the transfer section. Then the TSCM used its RCS thrusters to stack the used science modules into pairs and move the new modules from the sprinter onto the transfer section and then move the used modules to the sprinter.

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Finally Jeb and Bob traded places and the two craft disconnected. Bob then began his first ever mission to the Mun (actually his first ever mission anywhere) while Jeb took the sprinter back to KSC with the used science modules.

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With all these nice roads around KSC Jeb was able to taxi right up to the science centre and deliver the pizza sci modules directly to their door.

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The 4 sci modules returned 732.7 points.

With Bob now on his way to Mun, phase 2 was under way. Like Jeb he had to complete 4 landings and after each landing return to the transfer section to switch science modules and pick up more fuel. The Study was mainly focused on the equator and even though Jeb had been to the more interesting landing sites Bob was still in awe of what he saw. It was perhaps best that Jeb had the more challenging landing sites as Bob was not as skilled a pilot. On his final landing he touched down at over 15ms and damaged 3 of the 4 legs on the lander. Fortunately he'd brought a wrench and was able to make repairs.

His return to Kerbin was different to Jebs. Rather than leaving the lander in orbit and hitching a ride back along with the science modules Bob was going to pilot the lander back to Kerbin as its pod was now stuffed full of soil samples and other report data. The science modules on the transfer section would travel back to LKO unmanned.

This time after dropping the last sci module back at the transfer section the lander didn't take on much more fuel, just enough to fill its small central tank. Then on a sub orbital trajectory the landing engines and tanks where jettisoned, the lander was now powered by two smaller engines which would be used to get it home.

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The transfer section departed unmanned shortly after Bob and the two craft arrived at Kerbin close together.

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After aerobraking into orbit Bob prepared to descend to land, without wings!!! This was going to be the first ever landing (that wasn't a emergency eject) that was going to rely on a flimsy bit of cloth rather that on solid wings. Bob was a little apprehensive, but Jeb had assured him his calculations where good. He had to get as close to KSC as possible as unlike all the other craft he wouldn't be able to fly to the runway.

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As it was he got within 10km of KSC, but that was still a long way to walk. Kerbals hate walking and Bob was not looking forward to the hike. He was just about to get out when Jeb radioed him and told him to stay put. I'm coming to pick you and your pod up Bob, stay there.

A very hastily modified VTOL left the runway and sped towards Bob's pod and landed nearby.

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Jeb taxied it around and reversed up to Bob's pod while Bob rocked the pod onto one side. The VTOL reversed over the pod and lowered itself down to align the ports. After a short process know as a wiggle dock the two ports connected and the VTOL raised up again.

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Moments later they touched down at the runway and taxied to the crew quarters.

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Jeb was eager to see the results of all the data and he wasn't disappointed. The retrieval of this pod which had made 8 landings on Mun returned 1276 points!! Much more than any other mission had yielded.

There was just one thing left to do and Jeb set off in the sprinter to collect the 4 science modules from orbiting transfer section. 4 new modules where taken up to be left on the transfer stage so it was ready for another mission, but currently nothing was planned for it. It would just sit in orbit until it was needed.

The return of the 2nd set of sci modules was a little disappointing. The first 4 had brought in around 732 points, this set only yielded 379, clearly Bob was not as proficient a scientist as Jeb. But it didn't really matter, over all this mission had retuned 2387 points and the only non-reusable section was the lander.

The SSTO transporter had proved to be a very versatile craft, able to take all kinds of payload into orbit so long as the weight was 23 tons or less. It would now form the backbone of future missions and Jeb had many plans for its use.....tbc.

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That was a beautiful mission!

I love the way you used docking ports for so many different purposes: fitting the payload in a tight cargo hold & unpacking, re-using the same lander with four different science experiments, sending the experiments down on another spaceplane and more!

Edited by Psycix

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Ingenious designs and mission concept! Love it!

It must have been a real chore designing that recovery VTOL that could still fly right after attaching the pod to the rear end.

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This is the most ridiculously over-complicated mission I have ever seen. Not that that's a bad thing. :)

Your next project: an all-boat space program.

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And you've hit it out of the stadium again. Overcomplication and multiuse are the signs of a great KSP engineer. :)

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Ingenious designs and mission concept! Love it!

It must have been a real chore designing that recovery VTOL that could still fly right after attaching the pod to the rear end.

tbh that VTOL wasn't too hard. I put the VTOL engines slightly behind the COM rather than directly on it, but its real secret is that it has 3 inline reaction wheels which compensate for the shift in weight. Also the pods fuel tank was almost empty so it wasn't that much of a change in weight. It just worked without needing any tweaking. It almost didn't dock thou, I had to wiggle the two craft about quite a bit before they docked.

That was a beautiful mission!

I love the way you used docking ports for so many different purposes: fitting the payload in a tight cargo hold & unpacking, re-using the same lander with four different science experiments, sending the experiments down on another spaceplane and more!

Docking ports are such wonderful glue!

This is the most ridiculously over-complicated mission I have ever seen. Not that that's a bad thing. :)

Your next project: an all-boat space program.

All boat?! I think that is outside my skill set! Although I do really want to make a plane that can land on water like a ski plane. So far the only water landings I've managed are with VTOLS, everything else just disintegrates if it gets splashed slightly. It seems water is a pretty darn dangerous thing.

Thanks for the comments guys! I'm trying like hell now to get the rest of the tech tree unlocked before the update on Tuesday. But, as I still don't have proper internet I'm not going to be able to get the update when it comes out so I'm gonna stick with this project till its done. This next chapter didn't further the scientific cause that much, but it had to be done.

UPDATE:

The aircraft spotters who camp out at the end of the runway where wondering what was going on. They knew that no science missions where planned for a few months but the SSTO transporter had been seen taking off twice carrying unknown payloads.

Jeb was also seen strapping a very lopsided payload to the top of the light cargo sprinter like someone over-packing a cars roof rack. What the heck was he up to? The next scheduled mission was some way off as it required waiting for a transfer window to Duna, but Jeb was busy doing something!

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The head of the science department approached him and demanded to know what this was all about, but Jeb just grinned and climbed into the sprinters cock pit. Well, If you won't say what your doing at least listen to reason and don't fly with such an unbalanced payload, its only going to end in tears! But the roar of the sprinters engines drowned him out and, with a few wobbles, Jeb climbed into the sky.

Bill was the only other person to know what was going on. He was currently deploying a heavy payload into orbit on a path to rendezvous with the other large payload which Jeb had previously taken up.

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Jeb had previously taken up a 4 man hab unit and a tug module and he was now approaching them in his lopsidedly loaded sprinter.

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The tug was then used to shunt the payload from the sprinter and dock it to the hab unit.

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Once the girders where in position he docked the sprinter to his construction. He now needed to wait for the payload Bill had deployed to arrive as it contained some much needed fuel that would enable him to get home again. While he waited he space walked over to the hab unit and boarded it.

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Several hours later the fuel module arrived and docked under its own control.

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The first ever space station was now operational! Jeb named it GammaLeo after a famous kerbal astronomer.

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The reason Jeb had built it without telling anyone was he knew the scientific community who funded him would never have agreed to it. They just wouldn't have seen the point in it as it wasn't going to ever generate any science points for them. But Jeb could see the bigger picture. This station would have many functions; other craft could refuel at it, payloads could be stored on it for later missions and most importantly from in LKO it could be used to determine when transfer windows to other planets would open up.

He knew that he was going to get and ear full from the scientists when he returned to KSC, but it was done now. He climbed back aboard the sprinter and undocked from the station to begin his return flight.

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The standard approach that he'd now flown countless times was going fine and the runway was approaching fast.

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Suddenly at around 500m up the sprinter plunged nose first towards the ground. This modified sprinter had been altered to carry a payload mounted above the wings and had never been tested flying without cargo. The unloaded weight was now below the centre of thrust and it had put the craft into a death dive.

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He cut the engines, but at this low alt there wasn't time for them to power down in time for him to pull the nose up. There was only one way out; Eject!!!

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As he floated down he watched as his craft burst into a fireball below him and all but disappear. I'm never going to hear the end of this he muttered to himself. There hadn't been an aviation miss-hap since his ill fated mission to orbit Mun and that was quite a long time ago.

Back at KSC shouting could be heard from the science centre. "We never agreed to this station thing, its cost tons of fuel to assemble and as far as I'm concerned all you've done is put a motel in space! What use is something that doesn't generate scientific data!? And on top of it all you've wrecked a light cargo craft...We agreed to fund your air craft development in exchange for scientific data or at the very least innovation in craft design. Instead of a new aircraft we've got something that just sits in orbit. You claim its a training centre and it could be used to stage scientific missions but how exactly do you plan to take people up there, our craft can only carry one person at a time".

Jeb stormed out of the science centre muttering, "I'll show those land locked idiots" and headed straight for the SPH.

Several days later the SPH doors opened and new craft rolled out, the HunterS. A new high speed design, able to carry 4 passengers and armed with 4 science seeking missiles that would be launched from orbit.

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Unlikle most other craft its intakes where recessed inside the craft to improve aerodynamics and general mean appearance of the craft.

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Before it was ready for its first mission Jeb had to test the missile system and a new eject system that would eject all 5 crewable pods.

The obvious place to test fire the missiles was against the large building in the middle of KSC that had absolutely no purpose;

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(that aught to freak the scientists out).

The abort system deploys a chute on the main craft, but that's only to help pull it out of the way of the ejecting pods, not to save the main craft;

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For the first time some new recruits where brought into the space program. Three new victims recruits who would be trained by Bob on the space station in the art of reasonably unsafe low gravity environments.

The HunterS took off, the first ever flight to carry 5 Kerbals, and headed for orbit.

Once in orbit it fired 3 of its 4 science seeking missiles, each at a different area of Kerbin before going on to rendezvous with the station. Each of the missiles carries 4 scientific sensors and an atmospheric sensor in their nose cones. Unlike the earlier missions where an entire aircraft was needed just to fly a single thermometer to one location, this system enabled the deployment of many sensors to several locations in a very short space of time. On entry to the atmo they jettison their fuel tanks and engine and then parachute to their target.

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That aught to keep the scientists happy said Jeb as the first missile left the craft.

After launching 3 science missiles the HunterS was nearing the station and prepared to dock. As part of their training the recruits where give the job of piloting it to dock.

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Once docked the 3 recruits and Bob transferred to the station and Jeb prepared to depart. Before departing he launched the final science missile so it's call sign would be from the station which he hoped would convince the scientists back at KSC that the station was a useful component in the quest to understand the tree of science.

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Arriving back at KSC he had one further test to do on the HunterS. High speed landing. Most craft slowed to between 50-70ms before touch down (some older ones where even slower), but the HunterS should be able to touch down at much higher speeds. Jeb hit the runway moving at at 110ms and the craft performed perfectly.

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The sprinter had previously been Jeb's favourite craft, but now the HunterS had superseded it.

Now all that remained was to retrieved the missiles and examine the data. He was slightly bemused by the results returned. While controlling the missiles they reported high value data from the atmo sensors, however the returned results where much lower. But all problems are opportunities in disguise to the kerbal mind set and this just meant that more missions would have to be run (which meant more fun).

The Tree of science was getting closer to being understood. But there where concerns that a natural phenomena which scientists predicted would strike on the 3rd Tuesday of December could cause all their hard work to be undone. The pressure was now on to complete the study of the Tree of Science before then. To that end the next planned missions would take the Kerbal explorers further than ever before, breaking out of Kerbins orbit and reaching for the other planets in their solar system. The planet Duna was the natural choice as it had an atmosphere that would facilitate landing an air craft, but it would have to be a very different style of air craft.....tbc

Edited by katateochi
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I think this last part was faked. If the plane was already docked to the semi-station, how did the fuel ship get there? Was it... a rocket?

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Good luck flying on Duna. It took me quite a while to figure that one out. The actual flying around there isn't that hard, it's the landing. There's really no such thing as level ground anywhere, and pretty much all of the surface other than the relatively few depressions and mountains is 2000-3000m, which equates to like 16-20km on Kerbin. So if you don't do VTOL, the only way to survive landing on Duna is to have the ability to fly SLOW at high altitude.

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This was great and I could see an argument for changing career mode to play out more like this.

Though I do like the idea of Kerbals inventing rockets before they even get around to wheels, so that would need to stay.

How did you unlock so far into the science tree just bumming around Kerbin?

Well, if you get 17.5 science from the atmosphere with the materials lab, and 7 from the goo, and 5 from crew crew reports and 9 from surface samples, then you could get pretty far by doing it correctly and efficiently. I hadn't even landed on the Mun and brought back the science and got too the science techs that cost 90, and got some of them too.

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I think this last part was faked. If the plane was already docked to the semi-station, how did the fuel ship get there? Was it... a rocket?
Now, now... No conspiracy theories :)

ah lol, Vanamonde you are a very observant KSPer. It wasn't faked, but I did tell it a bit out of order and missed some details out to keep it shorter. I certainly didn't use a, what did you call it, a rocket? What is this rocket thing you speak off?!

The 1st flight I left out of the telling was Jeb in the SSTO transporter taking the hab module up. He then landed and set of with the girders on the smaller Sprinter craft, but I mucked the timing of the launch up so he had to wait a couple of orbits to get a rendezvous. So while he was waiting Bill took off in the SSTO transporter carrying the fuel module, this 3rd flight wasn't timed to get a direct rendezvous either but Bill's orbit was set to gradually catch up with the hab module, so he dropped the payload and went back down to land. Then I went back to Jeb in the Sprinter and completed his rendezvous and did the first bit of assembly. That took half an orbit and then I had to wait a few hours and orbit a few times for the fuel module to get in the right position so that it could use its really week little engine and thrusters to complete the rendezvous maneuver.

No rockets here, its been ages since I've set foot in the VAB which feels really weird as I used to spend all my time in there! I think I've almost got planes out of my system now!

Good luck flying on Duna. It took me quite a while to figure that one out. The actual flying around there isn't that hard, it's the landing. There's really no such thing as level ground anywhere, and pretty much all of the surface other than the relatively few depressions and mountains is 2000-3000m, which equates to like 16-20km on Kerbin. So if you don't do VTOL, the only way to survive landing on Duna is to have the ability to fly SLOW at high altitude.

I'd never flown an aircraft on any other planet before, so it was pretty interesting! I did manage to find a place on Duna which was "reasonably" flat(ish), the kinda darker areas when viewed in map mode. Was your aircraft powered or a glider during descent?

I was going to write this next chapter tonight, but its got really late, so I will do it tomorrow (hopefully before the update arrives).

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I'm loving this storyline :) Surprised at how far it's come from such humble beginnings. Excellent Kerbalship. Keep it up!

For the planet mission, if landing is difficult, might it be an idea to fly into a planetary atmosphere, enjoy the view etc, then return to orbit without ever landing? All the fun of flight, without all the messy "ground" stuff.

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I'm loving this storyline :) Surprised at how far it's come from such humble beginnings. Excellent Kerbalship. Keep it up!

For the planet mission, if landing is difficult, might it be an idea to fly into a planetary atmosphere, enjoy the view etc, then return to orbit without ever landing? All the fun of flight, without all the messy "ground" stuff.

lol, yeah, flying is always perfectly safe, its just the ground that is the problem!!

UPDATE (sorry for the delay, I borrowed my neighbours internet so I was able to get the update and that's been a tad distracting)

Looking at the HunterS and it's sleek streamline design Jeb felt pretty pleased, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing, that maybe he was getting away from what it meant to be truly Kerbal.

So for his next mission he went back to a more Kerbalish design.

The mission was to take a craft to Duna, one which would be able to glide in the thin atmo. Once the craft was deorbited it would rely just on wing lift to control its descent, no parachutes and its small engine and minimal fuel would only be used for the ascent back to orbit. And so it was that the DunaGlider was brought into existence.

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The challenge was how to get the glider into orbit, it had a very high lift but no where near enough fuel to ascend to LKO on its own. It needed an ascent stage, but any additional fuel tanks and engines added behind it also required lots of wings to balance the high lift forces exerted by the light-weight glider. After many failed attempts Jeb came up with an ascent stage which while small in terms of the number of fuel tanks, had a massive wing span. The ascent stage had 3 jet engines and 2 aerospikes and as little fuel as possible. It would use up some of the gliders fuel during the rocket stage of the ascent and the glider would then complete its orbit on its own 909 engine, using up most of its remaining fuel.

The Glider could take a single pilot, but it also had an on-board computer that would fly it unmanned into orbit. This was the first aircraft to take off without a pilot!

With perhaps as much lift as some of the larger craft, but only a fraction of the weight, the glider and ascent stage where practically land-phobic and leapt of the runway moments after the Jet engines fired up. Once into the upper atmo the ascent stage switched to its aerospike engines and pushed the glider into a wide suborbital path.

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Once in space, on a suborbital path, the ascent stage separated and the glider completed the orbit using its single 909 engine.

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The ascent stage, also equipped with semi-sentient control computers, would return and attempt a landing. It was not well balanced once separated from the glider so there where concerns that it would not be able to land at all. To that end it was also equipped with parachutes which it turned out were essential. As soon as it hit the thicker atmo is started to spin wildly out of control, never mind trying to land it, it looked like it was about to rip itself to bits. But once the parachutes opened the spinning stopped and it gently floated down to land.

Actually gently was perhaps the wrong word because while it did 'land', the main section (engines, fuel tanks and flight computer) now sit, comfortably nestled in a pile of crumpled wings. This component would need some tlc before it could be reused!

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Now the glider was in orbit the next stage was to bring up a transfer stage that would propel the glider to Duna and bring it (and the crew of course) safely back home.

The SSTO transporter was used to take the transfer stage payload up to orbit. Advances in science meant that this payload contained a hazard which had never been seen before, a single Nuclear engine.

The transfer stage was able to take two pilots as it was decided that Jeb would need someone to talk to and make sandwiches during the long journey to Duna. Once in orbit it was dropped on a course to rendezvous with the glider and Jeb went back down to land in the transporter.

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The transfer stage lacked any of its own control systems so it was the systems on-board the glider that would complete the rendezvous and docking process.

The gliders docking ports sit some way inside it so the transfer stage has two docking prongs that had to be carefully slid into the glider to make the dock.

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Finally Jeb and his trusted sandwich maker Bill boarded the HunterS (piloted by a new recruit Matrick). The HunterS carried a different load-out to normal, rather than its 4 standard science seeking missiles, it carried two larger probes which would be docked to the transfer module. One would be used to study Duna's moon while the other would take readings in Duna's upper atmo and do a higher resolution scan of the surface to help identify a landing site for the glider.

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Once in orbit and rendezvoused with the glider Jeb, Bill and the two probes transferred over.

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Bill was a little concerned to find that his quarters where right next to the nuclear engine, he was worried that this might effect his sandwiches.

The single Nuclear engine started up and the two began what would be the longest ever mission to date. It's low thrust meant the burn time to get an intercept with Duna was over 10 minutes, 10 minutes of wonder and excitement for Jeb, 10 minutes of heart stopping panic for Bill.

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Within a few hours they passed Minmus's orbit and where now going (boldly) where no Kerbal had gone before. Before long they had left Kerbins influence and entered a Solar orbit. While in a solar orbit they took some readings to pass the time. The journey out to Duna took 65 days (or from Bill perspective 390 sandwiches). On arrival some course corrections where made to put them on a low pass to areobrake into orbit.

For the first time they got a glimpse of this alien terrain. Jeb was thrilled to see it but at the same he realised that finding a landing site was going to be a tall order.

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Once in a stable orbit the two probes where released.

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The first one would make a couple of passes around Duna's moon, Ike. The first pass would take it within a few km of Ike's surface, then it would swing out in a wide orbit around Duna before coming back around Ike for a high pass and being slung back into a lower Duna orbit, where it would aerobrake and then rendezvous with the transfer module.

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Meanwhile the 2nd probe would enter Duna's upper atmo and scan for a good landing site (and do some science)

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Jeb transferred to the cockpit of the Glider, which was a bit of a squeeze as the cockpit was fairly well covered with protective wing panels. During tests on Kerbin he'd found that doing a little dance on top of the cockpit was the key to climbing in, in space it was a little harder but after bumping into it a few times he managed to board.

Next the glider separated from the transfer stage where Bill would wait, managing the probes and preparing sandwiches for the return trip.

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After a very short burn the Glider had lowered its Pe to 2km above the surface, from here until landing it would not use its engine again.

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Initiallty the descent was very fast, but started to decrease as the atmo got thicker. As Jeb reached the 11km mark the glider began to lift up again and gain alt. Moving at around 800ms, Jeb needed to bleed of some horizontal speed and get closer to the ground. He pitched down and dropped several km before pulling up in a swooping maneuver, bleeding of his speed and returning to a level flight. After a couple more swooping manoeuvres he was down to just 2km above the surface and moving at 200ms.

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Now in the thicker atmo and moving much slower he was able to bank the glider and change course towards what looked like the most idea landing site. He was now skimming along above the surface maintaining a very gradual descent of just a couple meters per second and gradually reducing speed. He had to maintain enough speed to maintain lift, but at the same time needed to slow down enough to make a safe landing in this ruff terrain.

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After gliding for around 15 minutes he was now down to under 100ms and just a few meters from the surface. Ideally he wanted to be under 70ms for touchdown so he continued on, keeping his nose pitched up ever so slightly to maintain a level flight. The terrain here was favourable for a touchdown and he'd now reduced his speed to under 60ms. He pitched down ever so gently and the land came up to meet him gradually and in a friendly, totally unthreatening way, Duna was welcoming him in.

Wheels down, prepare for landing;

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TouchDown!!

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Brakes!! BRAKES!!! The brakes where almost totally ineffective and he had to resort to firing his RCS thrusters to slow down and stop.

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Finally the craft stopped. Jeb had landed on Duna!!

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He lowered the craft onto is belly (to make climbing back onto it easier) and got out. The colours stunned him, this was a much more beautiful place than Mun, the horizon looked like it was on fire and Ike was being slowly roasted in it.

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He leapt off the craft and went round to the back where some of the science gear was located. The other science gear was hidden in the nose of the glider and quite inaccessible from out side. But he had various bit of string labelled with numbers in the cockpit that would pull open the goo and material containers.

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He'd do that later. For now he was going to go for a walk. Unlike his trips to Mun which where quite short on the ground, he had 10 days to wander about and see this new land.

Meanwhile back in orbit Bill was watching the progress of the Ike probe as it approached the night side of Ike. Its path put it at a mere 5km and with the hilly terrain this was low enough that the probes lights could pick the terrain. As it passed its lowest point it ran some experiments before zooming off to enter a wide Duna orbit.

(images "enhanced" so they're not just black)

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Once at its furthest point from Duna it ran some more Goo tests before swinging back around Ike and returning to a low Duna orbit.

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Meanwhile the second probe adjusted it orbit to rendezvous with Bill in the transfer module. The probes where equipped with transmitters in case it was not possible to collect them again, but the goal was to return them both to Kerbin.

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A few days later the Ike probe re-entered Duna's orbit and completed its rendezvous with the transfer module. Both probes where back safely, now it was Jebs turn to make a safe return.

Before departing he transmitted a crew report back to KSC with the satellite dish housed in the Gliders nose cone and then prepared for take off.

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The Glider took off with ease and without needing to pitch up too much gained altitude rapidly.

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After some (not entirely optimal) rendezvous manoeuvres he arrived back at the transfer module and the two craft docked once more. They where all set for the return home but had to wait for a transfer window to open.

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Finally they where off, the Nuclear engine pushing them away from Duna and making Bill's sandwiches glow with yummy goodness.

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After another long journey the brave explorers could see their home world once more and prepared to aerobrake into orbit.

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Now back in LKO it was time to begin the landing procedure. The plan had been for the glider to separate and for Jeb to pilot it back to the runway at KSC. Then either Bill would deorbit the transfer module and parachute to land, or the SSTO transporter could come and collect the module and land with it. However Jeb decided to try something entirely different. Its still not yet known if Bill was in agreement with Jebs new plan, as he is still in hospital being treated for post traumatic stress.

Rather than separating the craft they began their decent together.

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To begin with it maintained a steady heading but as it approached KSC control was lost and the craft started tumbling over and over.

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The high lift of the glider section fighting against the heavy weight of the transfer module behind it. The crew on the ground look up in horror and watched helplessly as this tumbling ball of fire moved towards them.

It seemed that Jebs plan was fatal, but nothing had exploded yet and he still had a confident grin as he pulled the parachute deploy lever. Suddenly the craft levelled out, the drouge chutes now provided the lift in the rear that was needed to balance the craft and Jeb was able to turn it towards KSC.

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Slowly the craft moved towards KSC at about 10ms forward and 10ms down. Then as they passed over the land and just before the second chutes opened Jeb released the transfer module.

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As he glided away from it, its second chutes deployed and now it would land on its own. He knew thou that it would be irresponsible to not keep a close eye on it, so he banked around and headed towards it.

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Finding that the glider was now ultra responsive in Kerbins low atmo Jeb showed off a bit by passing directly under the falling transfer module

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As he turned around again for another pass he could see the module had touched down.

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He did a couple of low flybys to check that it had landed intact

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It looked fine so he turned to head to the runway and land.

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The glider was a litter resistant to the idea of touching down, but Jeb persuaded it and gently brought it in to land.

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The only damage to the transfer module was the LV-N had fallen off but that was ok, the science probes where safe, oh and so was Bill.

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The first ever InterPlanetary mission was complete. The Kerbals had taken their first step into the great beyond and returned safely, well Bill was a nervous wreck, but aside from that, it was a great success. Recovery of the Glider returned 1489 points and the transfer module brought back a further 932.

Now it was a matter of desciding how to spend these 2421 points.

The tree of science was now getting close to being completely understood. This is the level of understanding after spending the points from this mission;

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It would still require another 3050 points to complete it. Could this be done with a single mission? And where should the next mission take them? Jeb had much to ponder.....tbc

Edited by katateochi
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...Jeb transferred to the cock pit of the Glider...

You might want to get that fixed. :P

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