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  1. 3 hours ago, Nate Simpson said:

    Right now, we’re full steam ahead on new feature development for the upcoming Science update (timing TBD), as well as continuing work on performance, stability, and thermal systems. We’re also working on a few new parts, which we expect to release prior to the Science update. Chris Adderley (AKA Nertea) has cooked up some lovely vacuum-optimized engines with extensible nozzles to help fill out the upper end of the methalox progression. Here’s a sneak peek at one of them, built by artist Pablo Ollervides:

    image.png

    Ooh, love the look of this one. Extendable nozzles should allow for some interesting designs, hopefully we can pack them into smaller cargo bays and shrouds.

  2. Reposting my questions from last AMA, as they seem even more applicable here:

    Many of the more advanced technologies coming later in Early Access fall into the "Way Too Useful" category, as mentioned in the Engines Archetypes dev diary. We've just barely started to see the tip of this with the addition of the SWERV, which currently renders the NERV near-obsolete. What are your goals with regards to balance for these new technologies? Is the intent for late-game parts to essentially replace early parts, or for lower-tech solutions to still be viable and necessary in the late-game? This also applies the other way: how do you intend to incentivize the use of certain "Way Too Useful" technologies to their full potential? For example, torch drives should allow us to reach other planets in a fraction of the time, but there is currently very little advantage to getting somewhere quickly rather than simply time warping through a multi-year journey.

    I'm also curious about how you handle balance with regards to approachability, depth, and realism. There have been many requests over the years for more complex and more realistic mechanics in the base game, including life support, radiation, more realistic aerodynamics, part failures, interstellar material, relativistic effects, communication delay, and more. Some of these could make great additions, while others could be needlessly punishing. Realism in mechanics can lead to more fun and emergent gameplay, but it can also discourage both new and experienced players who become overwhelmed by the complexity There's no consensus on which of these features would actually benefit the game, or how they should be implemented; ask 10 players which is which and you'll get 11 different answers. What are your goals for gameplay balance here, and how do you decide what additions will or won't benefit the game?

  3. 3 hours ago, TheBlackJackal said:

    Thoroughly impressed!  I've never really explored the ion engines.  I know they're useful in long range missions.  But maybe someone could explain if they are more useful than standard engines? 

    The main advantage of the ion engine is its incredibly high ISP. Nothing else even comes close. You can build small ships with insanely high delta-v and go anywhere you want.

    The main disadvantage of the ion engine is its incredibly low thrust. Nothing else even comes close. After patch 1, even the RCS thrusters have higher thrust than the ion engine.

    KSP2's acceleration under time warp makes extremely long burns viable, and the new reactors are able to provide constant electrical power to the engines even without direct sunlight. This makes ion engines far more useful, but I still wouldn't recommend using them for more complex missions such as this one. Being unable to rotate while under time warp makes long burns more difficult. Long burns are also less useful in the limited space of a planet's SOI due to the curvature of the orbit. My current predicament is that I have to rendezvous two craft in very different orbits entirely using ion engines, and I'm struggling to come up with a reasonable solution.

    Something I'd like to try in the future though is building ships that are able to switch between ion and chemical/nuclear thrust. Ion engines could be used for interplanetary transfers, while chemical engines could be used for short high-thrust burns within a planet's SOI. See here: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/engines.php#shiftgears

  4.  Update, finally! Sorry for the wait.

    Spoiler

    After a successful Duna capture, Orman inspects the ion drive and makes a startling discovery. It seems the engines, originally rated for 2kN of thrust each, will now burn only 0.2kN each. Orman speculates that whatever had kept their engines going under insufficient power previously must have had a permanent effect on them.

    This isn't enough to dissuade the crew, however. Preparations for precision landing are already underway. At the very edge of Duna's SOIINSPITE burns for polar orbit.

    e3j3flw.jpg

    Unfortunately, periapsis is still on the dark side of Duna. Circularization will require multiple passes.

    Je3MV2r.jpg

    Thrust is cut to 80% to allow constant power to the engines while in direct sunlight.

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    The sun disappears, the battery runs dry, and the engines cut off.

    Next pass. Engines up to 80% again.

    8h7H5FC.jpg

    The vessel again passes into darkness. The drive flickers...

    ...and refuses to die.

    Tim C tries to shut it down, to no effect. A realization is soon reached: the engines are eating all reactor power, leaving none for the onboard computer. With no computer control, the engines can't be deactivated.

    Patwise prepares a manual reactor shutdown, but Valentina suggests they should just let it run. As long as the ship continues to point retrograde, the engines can only help them, so why not let them? As soon as they're back in sunlight, they can turn them off normally.

    PdYXt4b.jpg

    On the third pass, the crew takes advantage of this idea more directly. Thrust is set to 80% in sunlight, 40% in darkness.

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    Valentina is starting to get impatient with these low-thrust circularization passes, however. With periapsis at 100k and apoapsis at 380k, the orbit isn't quite circular, but she decides that's close enough. INSPITE is go for landing!

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    Valentina, Tim C, and German board the Solomon and prepare to undock. Patwise and Orman are left to watch over the transfer vehicle in orbit.

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    Drogues are deployed early to slow down for precision landing.

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    Touchdown! The Solomon has landed safely on Duna, 11km from Jebediah Kerman and the Arizona Cowboy! Not bad as far as precision landings go.

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    Surface specialist German Kerman inspects a fascinating nearby rock. Unfortunately it seems this landing site is rather flat and uninteresting, German's skills are a bit wasted here.

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    Meanwhile, Jeb says his goodbyes before heading off.

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    The jetpack is nice while it lasts, but halfway there it runs dry and Jeb is forced to run the remaining distance.

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    Rescue! At last!

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    Bonus:

    Spoiler

    You have no idea how many attempts this landing took. Not sure if I can get back up to orbit either.

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  5. Been playing on my laptop up until now. Finally had the chance to test the game on my marginally better desktop today, and the performance difference is astounding.

    Flew a mint-chip flavored craft to both Mun orbit and Minmus orbit before returning to Kerbin. Experienced a very annoying maneuver bug but overall had a lot of fun.

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  6. 2 hours ago, j12sfgd23 said:

    Yeah, they have really been doing a phenomenal amount of research and its super impressive, honestly all the kids who grow up on this are gonna be a different breed when they hit the industry haha.

    I am definitely going to need to do more research into this, (hell, maybe ill do a sim of my own haha), but if I am wrong I will be happy to own up to it. That being said, streamlines can be misleading, especially when youre dealing with supersonics and visuals. Any time a supersonic flow turns, even if it is 0.0001 degrees, there are shocks, which lead to a massive pressure drop and deceleration of the flow, which leads me to believe that these streamlines are likely not representative of what it would actually look like, but I cant say for sure so I wont say anything concrete. All of the information I have given so far is just based on my current understanding of supersonic flow, but I am still not convinced it would not be parabolic.

    Another potential hole in that thread you sent is the strange behavior from transitional -> Vacuum. Think about it, if the plume does expand at the exit due to internal pressure in transitional:

    dQ8olsG.png

    Why would it not also expand in vacuum at the exit, where it has even LESS resistance to its expansion? If what that person said was true, it would likely be closer to: 

    VdxKkBL.png

    Unfortunately I do not know much about ION engine, but AFAIK they are very low pressure, so it makes sense that it wouldn't have a substantial initial expansion. I have no idea though, that is a total shot in the dark cuz I know very little about those electric magic machines.

    ooooh more fun things to read, well guess I know what im doing instead of going to sleep tonight....

    Glad I could help! Its a really complicated topic so i was honestly expecting to do a terrible job haha. But yeah, that's really the best answer, it depends on SOOO much, but generally its a bell that turns conical, with the size of the bell being dependent on the exit pressure of the flow

    Quick question: I didnt see any that fanned out in that paper you sent, would you mind telling me what figure you are talking about? The only ones I see that actually seem to "fan out" are ones that simulate a collision, like a lander near the surface or an engine right after stage separation where the flow is hitting the lower stage

    This is almost entirely over my head, but what little I do understand is really interesting. Thank you for the elaboration! It seems clear this is a lot more complicated than I had thought, but of course it is rocket science. As I understand it the devs are always on the lookout for more in-depth information on things like this, so I hope they see your AMA question and/or this thread. While I'm sure it's near the very bottom of the priority list at the moment, I'd love to see them continue to develop the plumes to make them even more realistic.

  7. The devs have talked about this, see the dev diary here with accompanying diagram showing high-atmosphere vs vacuum plumes:

    Spoiler

    image-1.png

    I believe this was in part inspired by a user response to a previous showcase of the old plumes here on the forums, which Nate showed an interest in learning more about:

    I'm nowhere near an expert and I can't really speak to the accuracy of these plumes, but it seems to me the devs have done their research. I haven't been able to find much in the way of images of engine plumes in vacuum, especially since in real life they tend to be mostly invisible. Best I've been able to find is this video of a VASIMR test in a vacuum chamber, which looks slightly hyperbolic to me.

    Spoiler
  8. I really should experiment with the paint tool more, but every time I try I just go back to the bare metal look. I really like some of the color schemes I've seen other people use, and you can get really creative with it once you start messing with individual part colors.

    Has anyone experimented with the transparency slider? I haven't really been able to get anything that looks good with it so I've just stuck with using it at 0 or 100.

  9. Many of the more advanced technologies coming later in Early Access fall into the "Way Too Useful" category, as mentioned in the Engines Archetypes dev diary. We've just barely started to see the tip of this with the addition of the SWERV, which currently renders the NERV near-obsolete. What are your goals with regards to balance for these new technologies? Is the intent for late-game parts to essentially replace early parts, or for lower-tech solutions to still be viable and necessary in the late-game? This also applies the other way: how do you intend to incentivize the use of certain "Way Too Useful" technologies to their full potential? For example, torch drives should allow us to reach other planets in a fraction of the time, but there is currently very little advantage to getting somewhere quickly rather than simply time warping through a multi-year journey.

    I'm also curious about how you handle balance with regards to approachability, depth, and realism. There have been many requests over the years for more complex and more realistic mechanics in the base game, including life support, radiation, more realistic aerodynamics, part failures, interstellar material, relativistic effects, communication delay, and more. Some of these could make great additions, while others could be needlessly punishing. Realism in mechanics can lead to more fun and emergent gameplay, but it can also discourage both new and experienced players who become overwhelmed by the complexity There's no consensus on which of these features would actually benefit the game, or how they should be implemented; ask 10 players which is which and you'll get 11 different answers. What are your goals for gameplay balance here, and how do you decide what additions will or won't benefit the game?

  10. 5 hours ago, The Aziz said:

    I hardly ever used the plates, despite their obvious usefulness, but it still doesn't help with the fairings which are still single joint, and they "close" around parts only visually.

    I'm not certain what you're asking for here then. You mentioned interstage fairings, that's what engine plates are intended for. You attach a decoupler at the floating node, it automatically creates a fairing between the engine and the decoupler. You then attach whatever you want inside the interstage (like the lunar module if you're making a Saturn V recreation) to the engine plate's interior node. Once engine plates are fixed in the next patch this should be structurally sound without struts.

    Don't get me wrong, there are certain cases where I want to be able to use normal fairings for this so that I have more control over exactly where the fairing closes. I currently have a rocket that uses a combination of engine plates, tubes, and unclosed fairings to get exactly the shapes I want. I don't see how multijoint reinforcement could help here though since the fairing isn't actually attached to the part, unlike with engine plates.

    5 hours ago, The Aziz said:

    The fact that tubes don't allow surface attachments is stupid, let's start with that.

    This would definitely also be nice, but it's worth mentioning that tubes are just another type of fairing. I think being able to attach parts to fairings could be a really helpful feature, but it would likely require them to significantly change the way fairings are set up behind the scenes.

  11. 11 hours ago, The Aziz said:

    There's a subtle difference however. In KSP it's the joints where the rocket is held together, and the weakest joints are where the decouplers are. Sure it makes sense because they're supposed to be detachable, my rockets don't wobble in the middle of a fuel tank or between a tank and engine - it's always the separators. Logical, but there's more to that. Interstage fairings, be it from decouplers or fairings themselves don't provide any structural stability, at all. They're physicsless shells, not metal tubes. Your engine isn't held by the joints around the bottom of the tank above it, it's held by one point on the top of the decoupler. You can try building a Saturn V, or anything that has a smaller spacecraft between stages, hidden inside a fairing. That fairing may as well not be there because it does nothing for the stability, and your lander or whatever will poke through it, because the top of the fairing isn't physically connected to the command module.

    And I doubt it's going to change because of craft tree structure, but gods this needs some work.

    For what it's worth, this particular issue should be fixed or at least minimized with the next patch:

    On 3/3/2023 at 11:40 AM, Nate Simpson said:
    • :1437623226_rocket_1f680(3):Fixed: Engine plate floating node joints less rigid than other stack node joints (were not receiving multijoint reinforcement)

    Engine plates are the intended way of doing interstages now, so this should help a lot. Personally I'd still like to be able to use normal fairings for interstages too (currently fairings cannot be closed against parts like the could in KSP1), and I'd like to see the tube parts be given interior nodes so they can be used as open-end interstages (the tube parts are incredibly useful but they would be so much more useful if you could place stuff inside them). More options is always good!

  12. After some additional minor correction burns, the INSPITE crew prepares for Duna capture.

    Spoiler

    Duna periapsis has been lowered to 85km, with the intent of utilizing the Oberth effect for orbital insertion.

    ej26i6K.jpg

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    As the vessel enters Duna's SOI, a strange transmission is detected. The signal is barely readable, and somehow, it seems to be coming from the planet's surface. Patwise attempts to clean up the message...

    "This is Jebediah Kerman. I have completed the mission objective in honor of our great agency. I will be waiting for your response. Transmission over."

    1PpzZey.jpg

    A kerbal? On the surface of Duna? How did they get there? This was not part of the mission briefing. The crew is shocked, all except Valentina. She knows Jeb, and this sounds like exactly the kind of thing he would do. He must not have even told anybody he was going.

    In any case, it seems the mission parameters have changed; this is now a rescue mission. Tim C will have to be ready for a precision landing.

    First, however, there's still the matter of orbital insertion. Unfortunately, it seems this will prove more difficult than anticipated. Low thrust maneuvers are weird, and nobody at the Kerbal Space Agency quite understands how to manage them yet. Perhaps entering with such a low periapsis was not the best idea.

    QP6k7SC.jpg

    Still, mission control manages to put together a maneuver plan for orbital capture. This obit will take the vessel out to the very edge of Duna's SOI, where it can easily change its periapsis and inclination.

    OyEPUhL.jpg

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    Starting insertion burn, ion drive online. Expected burn time 42 minutes, delta-v 1,537 m/s

    hkdSevi.jpg

    And... oh dear.

    h6Y0lSr.png

    It seems the solar arrays simply don't provide enough power this far out from Kerbol. Patwise is pushing the reactors to their limit, but they just aren't giving enough juice to keep the drive running forever.

    Nine minutes into the burn, the batteries run dry.

    qWjiurE.png

    The engines continue to burn.

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    Patwise and Orman double check the math. Six SP-XXL solar arrays at about 15 EC/s each, two SP-XL arrays at about 5 EC/s each, and two KR4-P3 reactors at 50 EC/s each. Twenty-four IX-6315 ion engines, each running nominal at 2kN/s, each consuming 10 EC/s. That's ~200 EC/s generated, 240 EC/s consumed, and a dead battery.

    Where's the extra 40 EC/s coming from? Did the engineers miscalculate the power usage? Are the engines powered by dark magic? Is it a blessing from the Menu Spirit?

    Orman can't explain it. They seem almost disappointed. The engines are supposed to reduce their thrust automatically if they're not receiving sufficient power. Instead, they seem to be chugging along at full thrust as though nothing had happened.

    Meanwhile, as Duna approaches, Tim C struggles with holding the maneuver while not letting their periapsis get too low. He doesn't fully trust mission control's maneuver plan, and this vessel is not rated for aerocapture.

    p4ZmgS9.jpg

    He activates RCS for better control. Long dormant thrusters suddenly spring to life.

    WT7vLJG.jpg

    Spoiler

    Yeah, I got nothing here. Those floating struts and RCS thusters are ugly. Really hate this part drift bug, especially since it's not game breaking and is therefore probably a low priority.

    Lights within the crew cabin turn off. Back on, then off again, flickering as power fluctuates in the ship. As the dark side of the planet grows closer, things are tense among the crew. Will they make orbit in time? Nobody expects whatever miracle is keeping the engines running to continue once the solar arrays have shut down. 

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    Darkness. For a brief moment, the drive continues to burn...

    It doesn't last. The engines stutter and turn off. INSPITE has failed to make orbit.

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    Valentina steps up. The mission isn't over yet. As soon as they're back in sunlight, they'll resume the burn. They will make orbit. They will land on Duna. They will rescue Jeb, and they will make it home.

    Patwise keeps the reactors hot to recharge the batteries. They'll need everything they can get.

    b2JSdaf.jpg

    As soon as the solar arrays have been properly reoriented, the drive is reactivated. No longer caring where their periapsis ends up, Tim C points retrograde and sets the throttle to max.

    Z7aSWEs.jpg

    Success! We have Duna capture!

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    The crew celebrates, but the hard part isn't over yet. Next step: preparations for landing and rescue.

    zfpoa9z.jpg

     

  13. Spoiler

    Introducing the Kerbal Space Agency's newest line of heavy lift rockets, the Kerbin Launch and Acceleration System for Spacecraft. Despite a rocky development and many, many failures, the KLASS-I is now fully ready for flight. With its twin-Mammoth-II core stage, two Clydesdale solid rocket motors, sleek design, and traditional black and white color scheme, this is a launch vehicle with some class.

    XirzDqX.pnghPK8oSN.png

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    The Kerbal Space Agency's latest project will require three launches. Launch 1: Transfer vehicle.

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    Launch 2: Lander.

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    Launch 3: Crew. The KLASS-Y is the crew-rated configuration of the KLASS rocket, SRBs removed and topped with a Launch Escape System to guarantee the safety of all kerbals on board. Hopefully.

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    Crew module Korion uncouples from the KLASS Upper Stage to prepare for docking.

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    With crew on board, the transfer vehicle docks with the lander and extends solar panels to prepare for departure.

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    This is INSPITE, the Interplanetary Nuclear-Solar Powered Ion Thrust Expedition. Recent developments in nuclear fission reactors and upscaled solar arrays have finally made ion engines viable for long range crewed vessels. This experimental craft will carry a crew of five to Duna for a surface landing before returning to Kerbin. Unfortunately it seems nobody at the KSC understands the concept of launching during transfer windows, and the crew will be required to wait in a parking orbit for a full year and a half before departing.

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    Prepare for burn. Bringing reactors online, balancing reactor conversion rate for stable engine output. Burn duration: sixteen minutes. Delta-v: 539 m/s

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    Burn complete. Next burn in approximately 10 days. Burn duration: [data lost]. Delta-v: 641 m/s 

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    The crew is visited by the Menu Spirit. It is said that this kerbal wanders the skies searching for their long lost ship. A visitation from this mysterious spirit is meant to bring voyagers good luck.

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    Goodbye, friend!

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    Sadly it seems that mission control's estimate of the transfer window was somewhat imprecise. A rather large correction burn will be necessary for an intercept. Next burn will begin shortly. Burn duration: thirty minutes. Delta-v: 1,113 m/s

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    Burn complete. We are on course for Duna! The Menu Spirit has graced the crew with their presence once more to wish them luck on their journey.

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    The INSPITE crew:

    C1Oousd.jpg

    From left to right:

    Patwise Kerman, flight engineer

    German Kerman, surface specialist

    Valentina Kerman, mission commander

    Tim C Kerman, pilot

    Orman Kerman, ion drive technician

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    0 days until next adventure.

    Bonus:

    Spoiler

    Kerbals like to stick their mag boots to each other. A lot. Setting up this group photo was a pain, but worth it.

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    INSPITE blueprints:

    zsqdTW8.png

    Drew these before the Early Access launch once we had the full parts list. Initial idea was to rush something out quickly to test some of the new features on day one, but this did not happen for many reasons.

    Mission objective is to land on and return from Duna.

    In spite of awful performance on my below-spec laptop.

    In spite of the many bugs, glitches, and broken features.

    In spite of my rockets initially flipping over, wobbling, and exploding.

    In spite of the camera bug causing my upper stage to become unusable during my initial attempts.

    In spite of struts disappearing half the time I try to launch and having to replace them all manually.

    In spite of certain radial parts drifting away from my craft during time warp, which irritates me to no end (you may notice floating RCS thrusters in some shots).

    In spite of my game suddenly deciding not to create save files when saving at one point.

    In spite of the undocking bug I keep hearing about and am dreading for when I need to undock my lander.

    In spite of everything, I am having a ton of fun with the game, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

  14. Just now, lemon cup said:

    Very nice take on EUS.

    We need some tank domes/hemispheres so you can really sell the look!

    Thanks! EUS and ICPS were definitely inspirations here. I've been tentatively referring to the crew module as Korion, but at this point the name might just stick despite not really being a replica. 

    Personally I'd love to see bare variants for the methalox and hydrogen tanks in general, would be great for radial placement in vacuum and use in cargo bays (if they were slimmed down just enough to fit inside a cargo bay of the same form factor).

  15. The first days of the new Kerbal Space Agency have been somewhat chaotic. The agency had big plans for a Duna mission, even getting as far as to launch the transfer vehicle to orbit, but problems with flipping rockets, faulty navigation and camera tracking systems, and below-spec mission control hardware threw a pile of wrenches in the work.

    Spoiler

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    To make matters worse, the Duna lander had been thrown into a Kerbol orbit due to a series of onboard glitches, and only then was it discovered that Bill Kerman had stowed away on board!

    Spoiler

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    Between solving their launch vehicle problems and planning a rescue mission, the Kerbal Space Agency had their hands full, and the Duna mission was delayed indefinitely.

    Jebediah Kerman wouldn't stand for this. He wanted to stand on the surface of the red planet, and he wanted to do it now. Stealing a number of rocket parts and an experimental nuclear engine, Jeb and his personal engineering team threw together the Arizona Cowboy, a makeshift spacecraft with one purpose: Duna or bust!

    znmw0S8.jpg

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    Unfortunately, due to an improper gravity turn and insufficient thrust, Jeb didn't quite make orbit and was forced to abort...

    After a successful recovery, Jeb was placed in a long quarantine process. Jeb was adamant that this was unnecessary, as he hadn't even reached orbit, but the KSC insisted: he would not be returned to the crew roster until his quarantine was complete.

    Meanwhile, the Kerbal Space Agency was busy. They hadn't quite resolved their launch vehicle problems yet, but through a series of workarounds, they managed to launch their own nuclear craft to rescue Bill.

    Spoiler

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    Jeb, finally released from quarantine, quickly got back to work. His engineering team insisted that the Arizona Cowboy just wasn't up to the task; its thrust and delta-v were just too low to reach Duna reliably, and now that the Kerbal Space Agency had successfully tested their own nuclear engine, why not just wait for their solution? Jeb only had two words in response:

    "More boosters."

    "More! Boosters!"

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    Orbit! At last!

    Jeb had launched with no regard for transfer windows however, and he would have to wait in LKO for 180 days before burning for Duna. Sure beats quarantine though.

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    Duna injection burn complete! Goodbye, Jeb!

    And welcome home, Bill!

    Spoiler

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    282 days later...

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    Prepare for EDL! Jeb burns what little fuel he has left; it's not much.

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    Shouldn't the chutes have deployed by now?! Jeb frantically messes with the parachute controls...

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    Chutes will not deploy! Ground approaching rapidly! One option left: activate landing thrusters!

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    It's not enough! Its not en-

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    ...

    Prepare for EDL! Jeb burns what little fuel he has left; it's not much.

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    Chutes deployed!

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    The Arizona Cowboy has landed! Seems the landing thrusters were unnecessary after all. Welcome to Duna, Jeb!

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    "This is Jebediah Kerman. I have completed the mission objective in honor of our great agency. I will be waiting for your response. Transmission over."

  16. I was having this regularly happen with my rocket, and I think I finally found part of the cause (for me at least): jerk. Sudden change in acceleration. My tail fin would break off (but still be considered part of my craft, leading to the bug) when I pressed Z to activate my main engine once out of the atmosphere. I tried holding shift instead... and it didn't break off. Pressing X to stop thrust also made it break off, but holding ctrl didn't. It's a very irritating bug, but holding shift/ctrl instead of using Z/X seems to work for me, and hopefully it helps others too.

    Out of curiosity, does this bug only happen with the procedural wing/fin parts? I'd be interested to know if it happens with other parts for people

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