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The Eve Rocks Challenge (v0.90 only)

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This challenge is now closed

I've stopped reviewing new entries a few weeks ago. Since then, volunteers have taken over. While this worked good enough to get a last batch of entires reviewed (really, praise the volunteers), I don't think this state of affairs should continue forever. Furthermore, the great Aerodynamics Overhaul of KSP 1.0 has changed the nature of the challenge dramatically. Eve still has the highest gravity and the densest atmosphere, but it's a different challenge now.

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

Landing on Eve is simple. Landing a Kerbal on Eve and returning him safely back to Kerbin, however, is the closest you can get to the challenges NASA was facing in the real-world Moon landings. Your rocket need not only be big (though it necessarily will be), but it has to be well-designed to boot: you need to strike the right balance between enough thrust and enough fuel. The surface of Eve is littered with the debris of launchers that were almost good enough. Trying to include any kind of safety margin will quickly inflate the project to ridiculous levels -- and keep in mind that you somehow need to get your lander up from Kerbin and to Eve in the first place, and put it down in Eve's high gravity without creating a debris field then and there.

There will be no scoring system and no leaderboard because really, returning from Eve is quite a feat in and of itself. However, there will be a nice badge for your signature if you make it:

The_Eve_Rocks_Challenge_badge.png(thanks Ziv)

And to spice things up a little, there will be several levels of achievement:

Level 1, I can do this: retrieve a soil sample from Eve and return it safely back to Kerbin.

Level 2, Let's get serious: return a sample from Eve's oceans as well.

Level 3, Going all the way: land at (and launch from) an altitude of less than 500m.

Jebediah's Level: all of the above, without parachutes, wings, or control surfaces.

For Science!: ignore all of the above, but strip-mine at least three biomes for their science and return the results to Kerbin -- in duplicate!

Rules & Restrictions:

- stock physics

- no glitch exploits (do I even have to say this?)

- only stock parts, except where I don't care (see below).

- part clipping: be conservative.

- there have to be pods/hitchhikers for all Kerbals involved. No seat-only lifters.

- the lander as it takes off from Kerbin may not be wider than the circle in the VAB (reasons here). You don't have to do it in a single launch.

To clarify: The lander that goes down to and takes off from Eve has to be very stock-ish, for the simple reason that I may want to try your vessel myself, and I'm not willing to install any mods to do so. It doesn't need to be 100% pure-bred stock, but you should be able to provide a sanitized craft file: that means you must be able to remove all mod parts and the craft must still work. Same for the vessel as it takes off from Kerbin. Never mind the payload, dead weight can be easily faked, but I want to be able and verify the actual lifter myself.

Other than that, well, almost anything goes. As long as you play fair, I don't want to be mean or interfere with your playstyle or inflict pointless tedium. You may use all the mods you're used to as long as they merely solve a problem rather than make it go away entirely. So fuel mining on Gilly will be alright, but ramscoops will be not. Mining on Eve itself is not OK (see this)

Talking about refueling: in LKO, I will be content if you showcase your solution once. After that, you may resort to magic. No need to actually fly a dozen boring milk runs. However, I do want to see a solution that seems halfways adequate. Don't tell me you'd deliver the fuel a spoonful at a time. (more)

About the "For Science!" level: Basically, you have to return two command pods full of experimental results (science containers are explicitly forbidden for this one). Overachievers may also land at sea level without parachutes, but there's no extra points for that: this level isn't about the biggest baddest lander, it's about making a sensible mission.

Please do not expect me to greenlight $your_preferred_technique ahead of time. I don't want to set up a clearinghouse for what is alright and what isn't, because really, circumstance matters more than anything else. If you really don't know if you're overstepping it, I want you to stay on the side of stockiness.

As to part clipping, I hope this helps:


Submission Guidelines:

I want to see a well-lit money shot of every vessel involved (ideally, one should be able to recreate your craft from screenshots), and enough material to give me a good impression of what your mission looked like and how it played out. I don't need to see every single maneuver node and all of your twenty asparagus stages in action, but you should provide one picture every thirty seconds or so. Leave the altimeter, navball and resource panel open during ascents, and if you use MechJeb/KER, also keep the delta-V and orbital info stuff on the screen. Launches from Kerbin need not be as detailed, but I want to see that you launched and didn't just teleport into orbit. I reserve the right to request stockified craft files of your vessel as it is awaiting liftoff on Kerbin and/or Eve before accepting your entry.

If you use rovers / planes / whatever, please don't go over the top with pictures of your vehicle in action. Of course I want to see how it works (especially how it reaches the ground, and any specialties like entering the water or sumsuch), but for purposes of what you did, a single map view with a few annotations easily beats one hundred pics of a rover between dunes.

Please be kind to other people's bandwidth: use a gallery if possible. If you absolutely have to spam a dozen pics in a forum post, have the decency to convert them to JPEG. Short videos of key events may be helpful, but the emphasis is on "short": seconds, not minutes.

Provide the following data:

- weight and part count of the vessel on the launchpad

- weight and part count awaiting liftoff on Eve

- the approximate price tag of your entire mission, if at all possible

- game version

- mods used

- tell me how you found your landing site. "I tried until I got lucky" is perfectly alright, but inquiring minds want to know.

- if there's anything that your are especially proud of, be sure to point it out (provide a direct link to a picture if applicable).

- please also mention the things that didn't work out so well / required a lot of saveloading / you would do different next time.


(Missions marked with a red X have a good orbital view and/or coordinates of the landing site. Not always a good site, but you'll know where it is)

Jebediah's Level:

Gravaar (0.25, 4.5 Million funds and 670 parts, single launch, one Kerbal)

astrobond (0.25, ~1million funds/900parts, 750k/500 of which were a recoverable launcher; one Kerbal single launch)

Laie (0.25, 700k funds (incl. refueling, not counting the huge tug), three Kerbals and a lot of science. X)

Right (0.90, 330k and 272 parts on Kerbin, very nice and to-the-point 3 min. Video submission)

Level3, all the way:

EdFred (0.25, 700k funds and 417 parts in a single launch, one kerbal, wide-footprint lander)

Vaporo (0.25, 1800k funds / 820 parts for 24 stages of aerospikes, single launch, one Kerbal)

totalitor (0.24.2, 850k funds / 394 parts, one kerbal single launch, going all the way: splashed down in Eve's oceans)

bitslizer (0.25, 700k funds / 492 parts plus refueling, one kerbal)

SkyRex94 (0.25, 870k / 393 parts, second launch for the tug, one kerbal)

redsh (0.25, 700k funds / 940 parts for a one man single launch)

Kelderek (0.90, 5m funds and 1800 parts for four Kerbals in a hitchhiker container)

Starhawk (0.90, 4.2M / 1200 parts for a proper Mk1-2 pod).

Level2, getting serious:

Zipmafia (0.25, 1300k funds and 546 parts (~200 cubic struts for a landing gear), one Kerbal and an awesome trike)

Astrobond (0.25, <100k funds and 553 parts, landed at 7500m, went down to the shore using a glider X) Just a wonderful mission. Very detailed gallery of the ascent is also available (almost a movie).

Signo (0.25, beautiful vessel but no info about cost∂ count, basically a repeat of his first mission plus one rover)

redsh (0.25, 1800k funds and ~2000 parts for a two-man lander can(!) and a nifty science rover)

raygundan (0.90, 460k and 500 parts on the pad; rolling launch platform with a very well-made Kerbin launch vehicle)

Level1, I can do this:

Redshift OTF (0.23.5, no funds then, 680 parts and 2300t for a one kerbal single launch)

Signo (0.25, 1370k funds and 630 parts, single launch, one kerbal, landed at ~4600m)

Norcalplanner (0.25, 871k funds incl. orbital refueling, very beautiful mission report X)

kahlzun (0.25, 340k funds and a lot of parts)

hazard-ish (0.25, 600k funds / 600parts, Eve lifter integrated in a mobile launch platform, and a nice mission report as well)

Remkeau (0.90, 1.6M / 800 parts; 326 parts on Eve. Possibly the tallest lander ever, almost Asparagus-less)

Roger C (0.90, 3.3M / 770 parts, refueled in Eve orbit)

WeeBabyStevo (0.90, 1.2M / 312 parts on Kerbin / 150 parts on Eve, very tidy vessel)

Edited by Laie
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My own submission, three Kerbals doing science:


brief mission report (50 pics)

somewhat longer gallery (80 pics)

Eve ascent only (21 pictures)

launch of the Heavy Tug (not in the main report)

sample refueling mission (also left out of the main galleries)

Still need to calculate the cost, including refueling and everything. I needed about 3 million in the bank in order to launch this mission, but half of that was recovered before it really went underway (and spent again, and recovered, and spent again,... jet-powered SSTOs ain't cheap).

In a nutshell, the Eve Lifter went SSTO, docked with a tug, was refueled, and went underway. The Crew, Rover and a few probes were sent to Eve on a seperate flight, re-using a small tug I already had in orbit.

Total unrecoverable expenses for spent vessels and fuel amount to ~700k funds for three Kerbals. There's also another 700k in the shape of a Very Large Orbital Tug left in LKO, with no real purpose save another Eve mission, or redirecting an E-Class asteroid.

Eve Lifter itself: 450k / 314 parts

Lifter with Tug attached: 473 parts

Crew Module, Rover, probes: 110k funds / 109 parts (without recoverable lifter or tug)

- game version


- mods used

Mechjeb, KER, kOS Autopilot, Scansat. Editor Extensions & SelectRoot. Docking Cameras.

This one worked well. While my previous attempt suffered from shorn-off engines, the LFBs are so long that the shear becomes a twisting force by the time it reaches a connection, and the SAS modules are flexible enough to take it. The LFBs are heavily strutted against each other, while everything else is considerably less reinforced. The vessel bends and bobs noticably upon touchdown. This looks bad but is actually a good thing, acting as a suspension. The lander legs aren't really necessary and probably even useless. I put them on so I could "lock suspension" on the downhill side, but this didn't work out.

I was counting on getting reports "flying at Eve" while my rover was going over dunes at high speed. This worked well in the first attempt, but not this time. Either the rover has become altogether too heavy, or the wings are actually keeping me down.

My first attempt:


(click for gallery)

1142 tons, 349 parts (Kerbin)

858 tons, 268 parts (Eve)

Cost: on the order of 1.5 Million, give or take 200k.

That lander had difficulties just standing on Eve. Every physics load and every change of vessel came at the risk that the lander would bounce into the ground, hard, ripping off some engines. I assumed that I'd only need the legs to dampen the touchdown; in the event, I should have mounted the legs lower or have provided something else than the engines for the vessel to stand on.

The upper stage had a dangerously low TWR. It worked out in the end, but I really should have known better than to bring LV-Ns to the surface of Eve.

Edited by Laie
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- no glitch exploits (do I even have to say this?)

Actually, yes you do. The simplest solution to this problem is to exploit glitches like crazy.

I can bring you back a surface sample from Eve in less than a week with no more difficulty than driving around the corner for a loaf of bread... but I'd need to hop into my kraken drive infiniglider to do it.


Otherwise, we're talking a major production with a timescale measured in years.

So yeah... I understand where you're coming from, but you do have to point out no glitch exploits.



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Now OTOH if you want a "real" solution, here's the best that I've got:

You'll need at least 3 of these

http://wikisend.com/download/590830/TR5 SS stack.craft

This is the shotput/ courier launch vehicle loaded with 5 tylo rover 5.0 ss rovers. These rovers are the core of the Eve surface logistics.

Since you'll need to bring lots of fuel and supplies to the surface and join up with the launcher, these will be critical. Out them in orbit and mate them to a startrader mass mover.

You'll need 4 of these:


This is the startrader on a shotput launch vehicle. This is what gets things from Kerbin to Eve and back.

You'll need one of these:

http://wikisend.com/download/733008/Eve Model D test.craft

This is your launch vehicle. It will land mostly empty, so you need to refuel it on the surface using the Tylo rovers.

These are the core of the effort: Shotput/ Courier, Startrader, Tylo Rover 5.0 SS, and Eve Delta.

Shotput/ Courier gets everything assembled and fueled in orbit. Startrader gets everything from LKO to LEO and back. Tylo rover 5.0 SS handles logistics from LEO to Eve surface and on the surface. Eve Delta gets the Kerbal and samples home.

I've already tested all of this equipment for the role, so I know it works.

Multi- million fund effort and a time scale measured in years. Or... I can hop in my glitch exploiter and bring you back a sample by next Tuesday :D



Edited by GoSlash27
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I've been trying to do something very similar to this challenge myself for quite a while. A Sea Level Eve launch vehicle is notably difficult. I recently built one with a lot of KW rocketry parts but after landing at 250m altitude it couldn't do the deed (was probably about 150m/s of high thrust dV short, I had a nuke stage for return that ended up falling back down to Eve with 3+km/s dV; not a perfect design...) Given that my game seems to have developed a bug in .24.2 I will give this a go just as soon as .25 is released.

EDIT: A question for Jeb's Level with no wings/ parachutes/ control surfaces does this mean for use at Kerbin too? Or only in Eve's SOI? (All the other level are by definition only within EVE's SOI so I just am not sure)

Edited by gm537
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gm537: The Eve landing will be enough. And just to preempt the next question: I'm mostly thinking about the lander/launcher in that context, "The Big One". No need to attach a skycrane to each and every thing you wish to bring to the surface of Eve.

And yes, nukes on an Eve launcher are a Bad Idea . I got away with it, barely, but it took me many tries.

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I already did this with my Eve Challenge. Of course I also put the single launch/no refuel stipulation on mine. I even did it with a 2 Kerbal lander can.


(I built a smaller version of this one, where the lander was only 113t, and the entire vessel was in the 800t range, I think.)


Edited by EdFred
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I have serious plans with also visiting Gilly, setting up a base on Eve's surface and also having a scout plane to look around on the surface... the plane will be Kethane refueling so I will be able to go far too.

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I'll be doing this challenge at some point, completely stock (with mechjeb for stats, etc). Intend to launch either from water (prefered) or beach if necessary.

Currently shaving mass, most effective design so far is a 230T lander with a few drop tanks to refuel on surface for Jeb level.

Edited by Himynameisjake
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I already did this with my Eve Challenge. Of course I also put the single launch/no refuel stipulation on mine. I even did it with a 2 Kerbal lander can.


That was in 0.235, when the LFB was the best engine the world had ever seen, right? No resource panel or navball anywhere, but I won't ask you to do that again just for me. I rarely use the 48-7s, much less in numbers, but after some tinkering in VAB, I am convinced that this can work. It's amazing how much dV one can squeeze out of them, ISP be damned.

Nice work. I have nothing to give but rep, so here you are.

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There's one in my signature if you are interested.

Ah, I still remember that one. I was working on my first munar landing when you posted this and was especially impressed with the desposable chutes and the return stage you brought along (like, at all: I'd never even thought about either). Looking at it today, it's the excellent planning & implementation that gets me. Though I still like just how you get rid of the chutes.

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Thanks for the compliment! I really didn't want to carry the weight of the chutes back into orbit so this seemed like a good way of disposing of them, (although I probably would have lost them on the first stage any way).

It's not so much *that* you despose of your chutes, but the how: most people seem to attach them to radial decouplers. Your escape towers are nifty: fewer parts, maybe even more lightweight, and (these days) a lot cheaper. Also more reliable than my own "felled tank" approach.

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Eve is actually tougher than the real Moon. The total mission Delta-v from Kerbin SL to Eve SL and back is something like 18000 m/s, higher than the 15000 m/s needed for the moon. Worse still, about 13000 m/s of that is under high gravity from either Eve or Kerbin, and requires substantial thrust to avoid extreme low efficiency, compared to about 7000 for the Moon missions. This means low-thrust rockets are out-of-the-question for that part of the mission. Additionally, the atmosphere on Eve absolutely prohibits the use of nuclear propulsion for most of the way up, whereas the same cannot be said for that of the Moon.

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This challenge... Whew it is quite the challenge... I thought I had it, but no... Tested the launcher that I thought would be adequate given that it had 11.6km/s dV but nope when the wiki says 11.2 it means ATMOSPHERE or it must since my 10.2 ended up roughly a 1000m/s short of orbit.

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This challenge... Whew it is quite the challenge... I thought I had it, but no... Tested the launcher that I thought would be adequate given that it had 11.6km/s dV but nope when the wiki says 11.2 it means ATMOSPHERE or it must since my 10.2 ended up roughly a 1000m/s short of orbit.

Sort of, the atmosphere on Eve extends up to 95 km, at 10,000 meters you are at Kerbin Sea level atmosphere so you use more time in the atmosphere range of your engines

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This challenge... Whew it is quite the challenge... I thought I had it, but no... Tested the launcher that I thought would be adequate given that it had 11.6km/s dV but nope when the wiki says 11.2 it means ATMOSPHERE or it must since my 10.2 ended up roughly a 1000m/s short of orbit.

Don't get too hung up on delta-V figures, they're kinda pointless in this case. It's better to look at the burn time of your stages and add up these numbers.

If you're a) starting from sea level and B) going straight up at terminal velocity, it will take you two minutes until the ISP of your engines starts to improve. After another minute you'll have almost vacuum ISP. I recommend testing this on the launchpad: tie your vessel down so you stay at atmospheric ISP while going through the first stages, then take off and turn to about 50 degrees above the horizon immediatley -- this will simulate the rate at which the atmosphere gets thinner on Eve. You'll need Mechjeb or something to limit your acceleration to 34m/s².

An Eve launch works approximately like this:

  1. climbing out of the atmosphere, about 180 seconds of TWR=2 and atmospheric ISP (1)
  2. going to orbit, about 90-120 seconds at TWR > 1.5 (preferably higher at first) and almost-vacuum ISP
  3. the last mile and circularization, 1000m/s at low TWR

(1) TWR=2 isn't strictly necessary; but I can't tell you how much longer it takes with lower TWR.

I've seen delta-V values from 9000 to 13000 for vessels that would ultimately show the same performance.

Important: you'll need a pretty high TWR almost all the way. On Kerbin, TWR=1 @30km will safely take you to orbit. On Eve, TWR=1 @45km will get you nowhere.

Edited by Laie
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