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Everything posted by jimmymcgoochie

  1. “How could you possibly not return it?” Ask Laika. Why no Val Cleaver when he gives big bonuses to keroxide?
  2. Rockets flip for a few reasons, but they usually boil down to aerodynamic instability and/or an inability to steer effectively. The test launch of Starship/Superheavy is a good example of both of these things as a combination of failures in the engine control systems and the engines themselves greatly reduced steering authority while the rocket itself was aerodynamically unstable due to the fins at the top creating drag, eventually leading to a complete loss of control. With such a large fairing you're going to get a lot of drag at the front, which is bad- you want the centre of lift/drag to be behind the centre of mass to create passive stability. Adding large fins to the bottom might help, especially if they have control surfaces that can add some extra steering force. Your first stage is dominated by engines that can't gimbal- solid boosters and Making History Kodiaks- with only five gimballing engines (Mainsails or Mastodons, I can't tell from the screenshot) in the centre. With all the gimbals in the centre of the rocket there's not a lot of leverage to correct for any deviation from prograde and the draggy fairing will quickly cause it to flip backwards out of control. Swapping to liquid-fuelled boosters that can gimbal e.g. Mainsails or even Mammoths would give you more control authority.
  3. Breaking Ground is more than just the KAL controller and robotics, there’s a whole set of deployable surface experiments and surface features that you can either scan with a probe or in some cases pick up and take back home with a Kerbal. I’ve used the robotics parts for a variety of things but never the KAL controller, that thing is too complicated for me
  4. If you’re not going to hire any staff, at least do some facility upgrades with that extra money! You could upgrade Admin and get a third Program going for more income or upgrade R&D to increase the researcher cap, or possibly both with what you’ve got saved up. I think you can go all the way to lunar landings if you get a bit creative with Gamma configs, specifically making them able to relight in flight, then there’s the RZ.20 which I used to power a crewed lunar lander (single stage design using small hypergolic thrusters for final descent and the RZ.20-Mk2 for everything else) and as an upper stage both on LVs and for interplanetary probes. Just because something didn’t happen IRL doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened had the funding not dried up.
  5. The rear tank on the Crummock R2 is high pressure when it shouldn’t be, it’ll cost you more to tool and build and also cost you delta-V from extra weight. For downrange rockets, 30-35 degrees is a better angle to aim for, if you go too high on the way up then the Earth will curve away from under you until you come down almost vertically.
  6. Why are you saving up so much money? Spend it on engineers and researchers!
  7. Moonflight 1 completed its voyage to the Moon and captured into orbit. Damien and Lynda still didn't know which of them would be landing on the Moon, but the decision would be made by fellow astronaut Olga flipping a coin in Mission Control- with the result going Damien's way. They both suited up, depressurised the capsule and Damien made his way down to the lander's hatch, boarded and started up all the systems that would be needed for the landing. A short while later he undocked, performed a deorbit burn and headed for the surface. The target area was the Sea of Serenity, chosen for its almost flat terrain and lack of obstacles, except for one crater right in the middle that Damien somehow managed to almost land in before adjusting his trajectory to avoid it. The reliable RZ.20 performed flawlessly and the terminal descent thrusters fired up to bring the lander to a soft touchdown. With the landing systems off, RCS disengaged and cabin depressurised again, Damien was finally ready to take the first steps on the Moon's surface. The TV camera above the hatch captured every moment as he descended the ladder, poked at the surface with the toe of his boot and then stepped down to the ground. The images were broadcast live on TV throughout Europe, Australia and the rest of the world, even reaching an Antarctic research facility where the occupants were braving winter conditions only marginally more hospitable than space. With the eyes of the world watching, Damien assembled and planted a ceremonial flag bearing a modified version of EuROSTAR's logo with a star in the centre and a plaque on the base with the date of the landing: 14 July 1966. The stay on the surface was relatively short so Damien had a lot more work to do: gathering samples of the lunar surface was high on the list, though getting a core containing both the fine lunar dust and the material underneath proved challenging without the benefit of Earth's gravity to force the core drill down into the surface or to provide the necessary anchorage to crank the handle; some experiment time was dedicated to investigating how to walk in low gravity, which led to Damien tripping and falling flat on his face in front of several hundred million people on live TV, while more time was spent deploying small experiment packages on the surface including retroreflectors, seismometers and micrometeor detectors, With the science done, Damien boarded the Europa once again and prepared to lift off to rendezvous with Lynda in orbit. Due in part to the course correction to avoid landing in that crater, the landing site was slightly north of the Penguin Mk2's orbit and during the time spent on the surface the Moon's slow rotation had brought the lander back underneath that orbit, allowing a direct launch into the same orbital plane and inclination. Better still, the ideal launch window was at a point where the orbiter was about to fly overhead, meaning the two spacecraft were in close proximity when the Europa reached orbit again and a rendezvous could be performed within an hour of liftoff and within one orbit of the Moon. The lander's automatic docking system brought it in close to the capsule before advancing to dock. Once docked, everything useful from the lander- propellants, supplies and those precious samples* - was moved over to the capsule. With ample fuel remaining, the decision was made to keep the lander attached for the return burn so its engine could be used if the orbiter's failed; it didn't, but it's still better to have and not need than need and not have. The return to Earth was uneventful and soon it was time to say goodbye to the lander and prepare for re-entry. Re-entry was fierce at such a high velocity but the heatshield was up to the task and the parachutes deployed over the eastern Atlantic, bringing the lunar duo safely to a splashdown between Cape Verde and the Canaries where a flotilla of European naval vessels were waiting to pick them up. There would be parades, ceremonies and interviews galore in the weeks and months to come, but with the capsule lifted aboard HMS Ark Royal, Damien and Lynda, safely ensconced in their quarantine pods, could enjoy a well-earnt good night's sleep. And so concludes this report. It took a fair amount of config bashing and a little bit of suspension of disbelief regarding HTP's long term degradation to get this far, future tech options are very limited and there won't be a better place to end it unless I tried to go all the way to a Mars landing, which isn't something I want to try with such limited tech.
  8. Try setting the elevators and ailerons to deploy in opposite directions as airbrakes, or maybe a split tail. Adding some water to the cockpit as thermal mass or a nose spike to reduce the friction on the cockpit itself might help prevent overheating. Aiming for the water is actually safer than trying to land in the desert without parachutes, at least the water is flat!
  9. As preparations for the big Moon landing mission accelerate, Algol Jupiter is also accelerating as it falls into Jupiter's vast gravity well. A course correction to align its trajectory with Ganymede's orbit should allow flybys of the four major moons- Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto- if the propellant margin allows. As it continued its journey towards perijove(?), a new series of orbital imaging satellites were being prepared for launch on Empress rockets. The first Arcturus launch failed due to a significant lack of delta-V and the return capsule was destroyed after trajectory analysis showed it was going to land in North Korea, while the second launched on a significantly upgraded rocket and made it to its target orbit only to encounter severe power shortages that left it unable to run effectively. More work will be required to make the satellite operate effectively. Back at Jupiter, the trajectory planners have really earnt their money with this one: A double flyby in a single orbit! More upgrades later, the newly improved Arcturus Mk2 launches on an Empress Mk2B. Upgrades include improved isogrid fuel tanks with reduced dry mass, solid rocket boosters with a 4+2 staggered staging pattern and lighter, more efficient solar panels to provide the necessary power for the camera array. Each satellite has enough film for around a year of operation and there are another nine planned for launch over the next year or so. Meanwhile, the construction works at Woomera have finally completed. The VAB was expanded and extended to allow three rockets to be built and integrated at once, while the Astronaut Complex was upgraded with new training and medical facilities to get the astronauts trained faster before each mission and recuperated sooner afterwards. And now for the main event: Moonflight 1 is go for a Moon landing! First, the Blitzar: Then the Quasar tanker: Meanwhile, Algol Jupiter approaches Ganymede and thanks to Gas Giants Enhanced new image enhancement techniques gets even better images of Jupiter as it gets close. Less than a day later it also flies by Io at even closer range. With all four astronauts fully trained for the lunar mission, the choice of who gets to go was decided by a random number generator picking names out of a hat. Damien and Lynda were the lucky duo chosen for Moonflight 1, while Olga and Rene will be the backup crew ready to help out if anything goes wrong. Much careful manoeuvring later... The lunar stack is assembled, fully fuelled and ready to depart. Next stop: the Moon!
  10. Post the full log files, something could be failing earlier to cause this exception spam.
  11. Which folders did you install and where? Send a screenshot of your KSP GameData folder and make sure there isn’t a GameData inside GameData.
  12. Woomera is a bad place for rocketplane flights, the desert around it is relentlessly lumpy and impossible to land in. Water landings are much safer, and parachutes and ejector seats are a must in case you end up heading for a sand dune. You should also use fine control mode (caps lock) for high speed flight to avoid tearing the wings off. Funnily enough, data from the crew reports got transmitted back during the descent so there wasn’t any left by the time it landed. Heavy satellites is geared towards Soviet R-7 style rockets, they’re much more expensive in terms of LCs and production costs so the program pays more and gives a bit more time, I doubt it’ll work with only British engines.
  13. An abnormally large group of journalists, reporters and photographers gathered in Woomera, braving the heat of the desert summer to watch history in motion. They were about to be treated by two rapid-fire launches: first, a Quasar tanker to top up the orbiting Blitzar's tanks. A short time later Rene Sørenson and Lynda Wilson sat in their Penguin Mk2 capsule as a sudden downpour pelted the windows in front of them, sending onlookers scurrying for cover. Just when it seemed the launch would have to be delayed until the next day, the rain stopped and the launch could proceed as planned, minus any photographs of the launch. One plucky photographer had driven to a point downrange of Woomera and managed to snap a picture of the rocket after booster separation; he was promptly arrested for breaching the safety cordon. Once in orbit, the lander's name was finally revealed: Europa. (How original...) It took just under a day for the Quasar tanker to rendezvous with the waiting Blitzar... ...with the "lunar stack" of Penguin Mk2 and Europa arriving a day later. Keeping track of four separate vessels all trying to manoeuvre around each other at the same time was a logistical headache for mission controllers on the ground, but with Lynda and Rene looking out the windows and some very careful movements all around, the docking was done and Moonflight 0 was ready to depart. The journey to the Moon was uneventful. Lynda and Rene spent some time running scientific experiments in deep space to compare the results with those from low orbit and snapping some photographs of the Earth growing ever smaller in the windows. The Blitzar booster expended the last of its propellant to begin the lunar capture burn, after which the Penguin Mk2's own engine took over. The mission plan required first a loose capture into an elliptical orbit, followed by a second burn to lower the orbit a few days later. This gave the crew ample time to run more experiments in lunar orbit and a photograph that was later published as "the first picture of everyone": Trying to take a picture with a free-floating camera in space wasn't easy, especially when your colleague keeps arguing about which way "up" is; however it also showed how terms like "up" have a very different meaning in space. The pair spent nearly a week in lunar orbit, taking the Europa lander on a series of manoeuvres to test the propulsion systems before returning for rendezvous and docking practice, after which the remaining supplies were transferred to the capsule and Europa was programmed to deorbit itself, meeting the Moon at last. With the lander gone, it was time to come home. Recovery crews were already racing towards them as Lynda and Rene touched down safely in the Australian desert, landing just as the sun came up and so avoiding the heat of the desert summer before being flown by helicopter to the quarantine site at Woomera. The success of Moonflight 0 brought significant rewards financially, scientifically and technically, but perhaps more importantly it showed that all the necessary components for a Moon landing were now in place and had been tested as far as they could be short of actually landing on the Moon. Closer to home and flying relatively under the radar, metaphorically speaking, Olga and Damien's mission aboard OrbLab 1 met its initial 30 day target duration and then another 30 days after that before the decision was made to bring them home. They returned to Earth a few days after Moonflight 0 and splashed down in the Southern Ocean to the south of Australia, ensuring that they'd be rested and recuperated in time to begin training for the Moon landing mission with Lynda and Rene. The success of OrbLab 1 didn't grab the headlines nearly as much as Moonflight 0, but it nevertheless demonstrated a lot of key technologies that would be required for longer-term crewed spaceflight and highlighted some areas where technology currently fell short- the prototype space toilet was on the receiving end of some scathing reports by both Olga and Damien for being uncomfortable, difficult to use and in full view of the entire station. And the smell... With those two successes and a huge influx of funding, EuROSTAR could begin a series of facility upgrades and constructions: an even larger Vehicle Assembly Building, so large that the current one could fit inside it, was constructed around the existing VAB to minimise disruption, giving it the appearance of a set of nesting dolls; the astronaut training and support facilities were upgraded with pioneering underwater EVA practice pools and artificial lunar surfaces; the tracking and communication systems at Woomera and the three DSN sites were all upgraded to yield greater bandwidth for broadcasting live audio and video from the lunar surface; the research and development facilities at Woomera were also upgraded with cutting edge equipment and state of the art computers, with significant funding invested in other sites across Europe to ensure that new technologies would continue to be developed and new discoveries made (and to appease a fair few politicians who weren't very impressed with the "European" space program spending nearly all of its time and money in Australia). While all that was going on, Canopus Mars had been waiting in orbit trying to charge its batteries enough to deploy its lander. Solar panel wear and the distance from the Sun had combined to make this a long and arduous process, but at last there was enough power stored up to deploy the lander without the orbiter dying in the dark Martian night. Mars' atmosphere is very different from Earth's and even more so Venus', with very low pressure expected making aerobraking and landing under a parachute much more challenging. Mars' smaller size and lower gravity meant that orbital velocity was less than half of Earth's so re-entry heating wouldn't be nearly so severe, but it remained to be seen if the atmosphere would be thick enough to slow the lander down enough before it crashed into the surface. The lander's sensors recorded as much as they could during the descent, beaming the data back to the orbiter above which then relayed the data through Algol Mars back to Earth. It soon became clear that despite the atmosphere's relative thinness, it was still slowing the lander more than initially expected and it would fall well short of the targeted landing site in Hellas Basin, instead coming down in the Martian night. The kevlar-weave parachute deployed while the probe was still supersonic and dragged it down to around 12m/s, faster than expected and potentially too fast for the probe to survive; worse still, the heatshield had been jettisoned and so couldn't be used to absorb the impact as it had on Venus. With several minutes of light speed delay, all mission controllers on Earth could do was watch the data and hope that the lander would survive its hard landing. The altitude ticked down as the velocity stayed stubbornly high, then all telemetry cut out. A few seconds later... The signal returned, now relaying directly via Algol Mars as the Canopus orbiter had gone below the horizon. The probe was on the ground, intact and with all its instruments still functioning. Its batteries lasted long enough to transmit the first images of a sunrise from another planet, revealing a barren desert of rusty dust and rocks, along with the first glimpse of Earth from the surface of another planet. The data would be reviewed and re-reviewed before being released to the world, simultaneously dashing hopes that Mars was secretly harbouring life and raising the prospects that it simply didn't harbour life at that one specific location or that the lander's relatively simple suite of instruments couldn't detect it. With the next Mars probes planned to be broadly similar to their predecessors with a few new or upgraded instruments, the question of whether Mars held alien life would remain unanswered for some time yet. With the USA pinning their hopes on Apollo and the Saturn V, both still in development, and the USSR's lunar ambitions seemingly stalled after the death of Sergei Korolev and perpetual underfunding, Europe enters the final stretch of the race to the Moon with a seemingly unassailable lead...
  14. The logs are saying there's a d3d11 error (error code 0x887a0005) just before the crash. I remember seeing something similar a while ago and I think the issue was caused by outdated GPU drivers, so try updating those? There are also some errors about non-ASCII characters, including in the Duna vessel that's being loaded just before the crash. It might just be coincidence, but try changing the name and see if that helps?
  15. Turns out I was saying it wrong this entire time! Sorry, Ner-tea.
  16. You don’t need to save up for building upgrades, they happen over time in PLC and you can trim their speed to balance the budget. Some newer versions of PLC also include tooling costs in the unlock subsidy. Running a surplus of over 100 funds/day is unnecessary, you could be hiring more engineers and researchers with that to get everything done sooner. You didn’t actually start the training for Clare Wood the first time as you didn’t select her name to add her to the course.
  17. There are still some tests to run on the Penguin capsule before it goes to the Moon and Penguin 4 will be completing those. Olga and Damien have been trying some more advanced re-entry simulations to try and improve their accuracy; nine days after launch, having pushed the capsule's life support systems to their limits, they put the training into practice. The previous record was just under 20km from Woomera... ...which was absolutely smashed as they touched down within the perimeter fence. With all key systems now certified, the Penguin Mk2 is greenlit for the initial test flight in low Earth orbit ahead of lunar missions. It'll use the same capsule (with improved heatshields) but a much larger propulsion module powered by an upgraded RZ.20 rather than a Larch-1 and is intended to brake itself and the lunar lander into orbit of the Moon with enough fuel left over to return to Earth after the landing is complete. Meanwhile, over at Mars... The capture stage had plenty of delta-V left after the capture burn, but was detached anyway to maximise solar panel exposure as panel wear was higher than anticipated and combined with the weaker sunlight this means the probe is struggling for power. Algol Mars is also approaching its destination, but before it gets there the first Penguin Mk2 is ready to fly. This mission will test its ability to fly with nearly ten tons of extra mass docked to the nose- for lunar missions this will be the lander, but for now it's a science module of similar size and mass with some pretty sophisticated equipment on board for Rene to play with- er, perform experiments with. The Penguin Mk2 is the first spacecraft ever to have a docking port on each end- this is to allow it to dock to the Blitzar lunar transfer stage and the lander at the same time for the TLI burn. This is also the first time a spacecraft has launched without a trained pilot at the controls, since Olga and Damien were still in their mandatory rest period after their last mission. The automated docking system did its job perfectly and the flight testing could begin, along with a sizeable number of science experiments and the first use of laboratory equipment aboard a spacecraft to process samples and generate data that could be transmitted back to Earth. In the future, such equipment could replace the need to transport physical samples back to Earth for analysis, but for now it's just a prototype and duplicate samples will be brought back at the end of the mission to compare with the transmitted data. Algol Mars then arrived at its destination and successfully captured into orbit. Algol Mars' orbit was deliberately left more eccentric to gather data from a wider range of altitudes. By coincidence, it's also going in the opposite direction to Canopus Mars, just like their siblings over at Venus, which might make things a bit more complicated when planning the lander deployment. Despite the additional space offered by the lab module, the fact that they had to put on their EVA suits and depressurise both sections before they could move between them was proving increasingly wearing on Lynda and Rene. Neither module was all that spacious either and after two weeks they were getting short-tempered and irritable with each other and controllers on the ground. The final test of the Penguin Mk2 was to boost itself and the lab module up to a very high apoapsis, simulating a lunar capture burn, before undocking from the lab and commanding it to deorbit itself with its RCS. With that done, Lynda had the chance to perform the first EVA in "deep space" at over 100Mm altitude. The new heatshields worked as expected* and after enduring a re-entry velocity of close to 10km/s the capsule splashed down safely in the Pacific to the east of Australia. Data comparison between the samples returned and the data generated by the science module's lab is ongoing and has resulted in some changes to the planned "space station" due to launch by the end of the year. With OrbLab 1 nearing completion, there was just time for a course correction by Algol Ceres to set up its encounter with the largest body in the asteroid belt, with enough propellant left over to capture into orbit- assuming the anti-degradation systems do their job for the remainder of the flight and the HTP doesn't decay. And now it's time to launch OrbLab 1. It was decided to launch it into a 55 degree inclination orbit to ensure regular flyovers of Europe, allowing all those who have funded EuROSTAR's successes (through their taxes or the various "your name on the rocket/lander/flag/etc." fundraisers over the last few years) to see the station fly overhead in the night sky The fact that this also means it'll fly over many major cities and interesting places in the USA and USSR is entirely coincidence, and the fact that it's carrying photographic equipment to take pictures of terrain and weather features on the surface below is entirely scientific. A short time later Olga and Damien launch aboard Penguin 5 to visit the station. The crew will still have to EVA to get over to the station, however it's much roomier than any previous spacecraft and even has wall-mounted sleeping bags and a prototype space toilet. The rendezvous was uneventful, with the exception of a nice sunrise as they were moving in to dock: The initial plan is for a 30 day stay, however OrbLab 1 is provisioned for up to 120 days of occupation by a crew of two and has a second docking port available to allow a supply craft to dock while the crew are present. The crew will be putting it through its paces for a few months, which means Lynda and Rene will be flying the first mission to the Moon. Beginning what's become known as Moonflight 0 is the launch of the Blitzar booster stage. The first launch just after the start of 1966 was scrubbed after a booster engine failed to ignite due to a sensor issue, forcing a rollback and some sensor replacement before launching on the second time of asking; the second launch also had engine trouble, this time on the second stage as one of the HM-7s failed to ignite, but the other four engines were able to burn for longer to make up for the failure and Blitzar 1 made it to its target orbit. Two more launches will be required: a Quasar tanker to fill up the Blitzar's fuel tanks, since it's too heavy to be launched fully fuelled, and the capsule and lander which will launch together. A second Quasar tanker will be on standby for the duration of the mission in case the Penguin Mk2's engine fails, at which point the Quasar tanker will fly itself out to the Moon and serve as a booster to push the crew back to Earth. Will 1966 be the year we see European boots on the Moon?
  18. Trying to balance on a hill by putting the magnetometer UP the hill will never work, the mass is all in the base and not the boom; put it DOWN the hill so it props it up.
  19. It's time for Canopus Venus to deploy its atmosphere probe. Venus will still get in the way so the Canopus orbiter won't be able to relay the signal from the atmo-probe/lander, but adjusting Algol Venus' orbit using most of its remaining propellant would allow it to act as a relay instead. The timing had to be just right so Algol Venus was in position overhead. This proved trickier than initially thought as the two spacecraft were actually orbiting in a roughly similar plane but in opposite directions. The probe hurtled into the atmosphere at just under 8km/s, racing across the terminator which bathed the clouds in eerie blue light. Venus' atmosphere is a lot harsher than Earth's: at 100km Earth's atmosphere is barely noticeable, but at the same altitude on Venus the probe was pulling over 10 gees as it decelerated hard, coming to a near halt horizontally while it was still above 65km altitude and beginning a long, slow fall to the clouds below. The parachute was designed to be resilient to both temperature and aerodynamic forces, but the magnitude of both was too much for it to bear and it was torn to shreds when it deployed. The heatshield then crumpled on impact which cushioned the probe itself from what would have been terminal damage. The science experiments had been recording everything they could from the moment the probe separated from its orbiter and they painted a vivid picture of the conditions under the clouds of Earth's nearest neighbour. Hopes of finding a lush jungle planet, already shaken by the orbital data, were dashed for good: Venus was no tropical paradise, but a horrid nightmare of blistering heat, immense pressure and at least one layer of cloud that seemed to be made of pure sulphuric acid. The probe survived for just over two hours before succumbing to the inevitable, well before its batteries ran out but just long enough to transmit the critical data. It was, however, the first probe to enter another planet's atmosphere and land intact on its surface, yet again cementing Europe's lead in the Space Race. Somewhat less impressive was the discovery that a mistake in the blueprints for the Rigel lunar lander had resulted in the magnetometer being attached incorrectly. Instead of being bolted to the base of the lander, the magnetometer was instead bolted to the top of the decoupler underneath it and so was detached with the upper stage instead of staying with the lander down to the surface. An internal investigation has been opened to find out a) who's responsible for this blunder and b) why nobody spotted the mistake before two Rigels flew with their magnetometers incorrectly attached. In the meantime, Rigel 3 performed its descent and landed near the lunar north pole on the near side. The return stage had been redesigned slightly from previous Rigel missions, using smaller and lighter thrusters in an attempt to improve the tight delta-V margins. This ended up backfiring completely as the new thrusters were less powerful than the previous design and also had no gimbals or thrust vanes for steering and the use of near-constant RCS thrust to maintain control combined with the less efficient ascent trajectory caused by a lack of thrust more than made up for any small gains from the lighter thrusters. Rigel 3's return stage was running on fumes by the time its return trajectory was finalised, even more so than Rigel 1, but it still managed to return the capsule and its precious sample to splash down in the Pacific where a Royal Navy destroyer was waiting to collect it. Preparations are now well underway ahead of the planned missions that will lead up to a crewed Moon landing: a test of the new Penguin Mk2 in low Earth orbit, then a full dress rehearsal of the landing using the Penguin Mk2, the Europa lander, the Blitzar TLI booster and a Quasar-based refuel tanker, and finally the landing itself.
  20. I started a new RP-1 run, got a year in on the first day and the very next day a big update changed the starting conditions so I started again,
  21. Time to plan some lunar missions, starting with the lander. It will need to pack a sizeable fuel reserve to land and return to orbit plus any orbital manoeuvring, yet have enough finesse to make a controlled landing. The best engine for the job is the RZ.20 with its high ISP and ability to repeatedly relight, however it lacks the fine control necessary for a gentle touchdown; that problem could be solved by adding some partially throttleable hypergolic thrusters similar to those used on the Rigel landers, which have the versatility for a landing but not the efficiency for the descent and ascent. A mockup was created and tested mathematically using data from previous missions including Rigels and Quasars. The results were promising- healthy delta-V margins were predicted, while a heavy reliance on tried and tested hardware (the lander's fuel tanks and engine were heavily based on the Quasar) should mean relatively few complications will arise during the final design and construction phases. Now that engineers have a good idea of what the lander will look like, they can focus on getting it to the Moon along with the capsule that will transport the crew there and back again. A single launch mission was ruled out due to the time and cost required to build a huge new launchpad and associated infrastructure for the huge rocket it would require, while lunar orbit rendezvous would require two Constellation launches with at least a two week delay between them, making the rendezvous more difficult. Ultimately the mission planners settled on an Earth orbit rendezvous mission in three launches: first a large trans-lunar booster would launch into LEO on a Constellation- only partly fuelled due to mass constraints- followed by a top-up tanker based on the Quasar and launched on a Kronos to fill up the tanks, and then the combined Penguin-based capsule and lander would launch together on a second Constellation and join with the booster to be flung at the Moon. Re-using existing rockets and designs as much as possible and performing critical rendezvouses while still in low Earth orbit would minimise risk and allow an abort at more stages of the mission, while the Quasar tanker would also have the delta-V to launch itself to lunar orbit as a backup Earth return stage in case of engine failure on the capsule. While the lunar plans were taking shape, back on Earth it was time for science specialist Rene Sørenson to have his first orbital flight with veteran pilot Damien O'Reilly commanding Penguin 3's mission. The crew had a series of experiments to run for their week-long mission and there was even time to give Rene a taste of EVA action. The re-entry was targeted for Woomera and ended up less than twenty kilometres away, not a bad result after re-entering from an apoapsis of almost 1000km! The next mission to launch was Algol Ceres, intended to make the first visit to the largest body in the asteroid belt a permanent one by capturing into orbit and studying it in great detail. Everything was going so well... ...until it wasn't: Double engine failures on the HM-7 and Larch-1 killed the mission completely, leaving it drifting aimlessly out of Earth's gravity well. A hasty meeting was convened to make a decision: Algol Vesta was already built and the Vesta window was two months away, but if launched as soon as possible it might be able to visit Ceres instead, with a replacement able to be built just in time for the Vesta window. The next transfer windows for Ceres and Vesta are quite different- the Ceres window is a lot less favourable while the next Vesta window will be a lot better, so the decision was made to launch Algol Vesta to Ceres instead. A quick bit of spray-painting later... No engine failures this time! A course correction will be required in solar orbit but the mission is looking good so far. Lunar mission plans are almost finalised and key technologies are being prepared- improved MLI to further reduce hydrogen boiloff and an upgrade to the RZ.20 with an increased expansion ration to increase vacuum ISP- with an initial Earth orbit test flight of the Penguin Mk2 capsule planned with a science module of a similar mass to the lander.
  22. Yes. When exactly, I can't say, but it's a when rather than an if.
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