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Lifting massive amounts of fuel: Tradeoffs

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So my Jool 5 attempt mother ship is in orbit with all it's components! I did it in one launch so it's not ridiculously over built like my last failed attempt. However, it is fairly large and mostly empty of fuel. Here are the mission requirements.

1.) I need a great deal of fuel in LKO. Probably at least 3 big Kerbodyne tanks worth of fuel. If I fuel up anywhere else I have to spend fuel to come back to LKO, according to the rules of the challenge.

2.) I have around 5,000,000 in funds.

3.) My launch window is in 2 years.

4.) I don't want to make so many trips that I can't look at my computer screen without throwing up. I don't want to ruin KSP for myself. :)

I have a mining installation on Minmus, but it's mainly configured for liquid fuel transport, as I used to use nukes for interplanetary travel. I no longer have the patience for nukes on large mother ships, so I'm going with Rhinos, that means I need LOX. If I go the mining route, I will likely have to rebuild the whole chain.

I do enjoy flying spaceplanes, but I fear these fuel requirements will entail 50 or so trips in any spaceplane I can design. I'm not sure I enjoy spaceplanes that much. I don't suppose any designs out there can lift an 81 ton Kerbodyne?

I need a way to gas up that is affordable and has a good work/life balance. How would you go about this?

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The easy work-life balance option is just to launch the fuel from Kerbin.  Yes, it's expensive, but if you've got 5M funds in the bank, you've got cash to spare. It won't take many launches.  Back before ISRU was an option, I liked a tanker design that consisted of two of the big Kerbodyne tanks stacked vertically atop a Rhino, with radial boosters.  Booster option #1, twelve Kickbacks.  Booster option #2, eight big orange tanks with Mainsails, asparagused.

I forget exactly what it cost (it's been a long while), but I recall it wasn't too bad.  Take off on the radials, then fire up the Rhino at around 10-12km when it gets decent Isp.

(I may be misremembering the exact configuration of radial boosters and what-not, but it's pretty close.  It's a simple, low-part-count tanker that you can slap together in the VAB in a few minutes.  A little trial-and-error will find the right balance.  The moral of the story is:  to put one big 81-ton Kerbodyne tank into orbit, full, start with two such tanks and a reasonable complement of radial boosters.)

That configuration will lift about one big Kerbodyne tank's worth of fuel to LKO.  Three of those and you're set.  It'll cost you several hundred thousand funds, but you've got the cash.  And if you don't feel spendy, one good contract (solar-orbit stations are good) will pay the bill.

Edited by Snark
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