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How To Tell if You Are Screwed: Kerbal Edition

The Optimist

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Good morning! Thank you for tuning in. Today on the show, we are discussing methods to detect imminent death, and possibly some ways to avoid it. 

Are your rockets exploding often? Do you not enjoy dying a cold and miserable death in interplanetary space? Than this guide is for you!


>Spotting potential disaster at LKO:

Low Kerbin Orbit, or LKO, is a common first chapter to any good space mission. But it's also a place where many things can go wrong. Here's a short list of possibilities:

1: Used stages coming back uninvited.

Imagine this: You're in a massive interstellar tug, with 10000 m/s of Delta-V that you just launched with a huge, asparagus staged rocket. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a flash of orange. No, it's not a meteorite. It's a 4.5 ton empty fuel tank traveling at a relative velocity of 60 m/s, tumbling at you. And it's all over. Here's why it happens: When you jettison a empty stage after you've reached a stable orbit, do not forget that it's still there. And the decoupling force will have changed its orbit slightly. So, when you begin your transfer burn with low TWR engines, your changing orbit might intersect with the debris' one. And unlike previously orbiting debris, the relative velocity is low enough to render the collision. 

Method 1: To guarantee a much safer orbit, raise your apoapsis 40 meters or so (assuming you were in a circular orbit) and then circularize. Always works.

Method 2: Jettison the second stage before you stablize your orbit, and finish the burn with your second stage one. A bit of a waste of dV, but probably worth it.


2: Accidental reentry:

RCS is like a fine cheese: It causes garlic breath and makes you sick. Jokes aside, if your RCS placement is not perfectly balanced, using it will cause orbital fluctuations. Sometimes, when you're using it for a prograde/retrograde hole in conjunction with a engine gimbal, it might end up never stabilizing due to the momentum from the engine gimbal. If the RCS blocks are thrusting toward each other, you've probably got this problem. Check your orbits once in a while.

Method 1: Get some reaction wheels. Thank me for this tip. Profit!

Method 2: Use the RCS balancer mod. Credit to the creator.


>Spotting potential disaster on the launchpad and in atmosphere.

The launchpad is actually the first step towards the stars. And it may be your last if you aren't careful. Here's some things to watch out for:

1: Staging errors.

A novice mistake, but a debilitating one nonetheless. One easy trick: make sure your first stage (the biggest number on the left) has no decouplers or parachutes on it. Also make sure your launch clamps, if you have any, are on the stage with the engines. Or bad things will happen. Very bad things.


2: Air-assisted decoupling

Notice your asparagus staging sagging a little? That's natural. Notice your fuel tanks ressemble gelatin dessert? That's not good. What tends to happen is that the radial mounted engines, when not aquedately strutted, can decide to go to space without the rest of your spacecraft. This in itself is a reasonably bad thing, but what's worse is that they seem to be attracted to the central part of your ship. And they'll crash into it. 

Method 1: Struts. Attach them to the radial tanks and link the other end to the central shaft. Need proof that it works? Download it and try it out.




Edited by The Optimist
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