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Elcano IV: Circumnavigate all the things!


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With no use for more rovers, all I had to do was drop the slightly battered Mk VII I brought from Jool out of the hangar and let it roll down the hill, then cuddle up the Mk VIII to the Hangarmoth so an engineer could attach a KAS pipe, suck it clean of MP, LFO, etc, and let it roll too? Simple, as we see from Arald Kerman strolling away. One unusual thing was that a little after doing this, the Mk VII exploded - from the F3 log, as if most or all of it had suddenly reached 2500K.

I didn't worry too much about that - a bit, but not too much - until I couldn't lift Carol Kerman off the ground with RCS in Eeloo's gravity, and also she seemed quite unable to manage the ladders on the Hangarmoth. I was a bit concerned then; I could recover her by walking to the Mk VIII, roving back up the hill, and docking it with the Hangarmoth... but it was a long way away, it too might explode for no reason, and frankly the Hangar docking all expedition has not been ideal. I did not pay close attention to the Hangar docs telling me about the vehicle insertion plane, but also since Hangars won't accept anything moving too fast the whole scheme of slapping the rover into the bay by lifting up the door - a thing I had no control over the speed of - was not ideal. If I did this again, the bay would have KAS winches to load the rover in at a precisely controlled speed.

However, on examing her inventory it turned out she was carrying about 750kg mass, having scooped up a few ground mounting points worlds ago and not noticed. Eeloo's gravity is low, but even so! I dropped the heaviest stuff.


Docking up with the QA for the last time.

Farewell to Eeloo, and on a course for Kerbin. The end is in sight for my bold kerbonauts, who will have spent well over an Earth decade on this expedition.

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On 5/11/2023 at 6:03 PM, damerell said:

Of course my screenshot process would break down immediately after being thread of the month

Oh yeah, forgot to say, "Congratulations on getting Thread of the Month!"  And no, I am not responsible for choosing those- @adsii1970 does the Threads of the Month all by himself.  While we're on that subject- Adsii always needs users to make thread nominations every month, which you can do by 'reporting' the thread.  Just make a note in the 'report' that it's a nomination.

And no, don't nominate the Elcano, definitely not eligible due to the goofball running it is a moderator..


On 5/15/2023 at 11:44 PM, damerell said:

Docking up with the QA for the last time.

Oh, that is sad and happy at the same time.

On 5/15/2023 at 11:44 PM, damerell said:

Farewell to Eeloo, and on a course for Kerbin. The end is in sight for my bold kerbonauts, who will have spent well over an Earth decade on this expedition.

:prograde: :retrograde: :antinormal: :normal: :antiradial: :radial:  Congratulations @damerell!!!  Welcome to a very elite club!

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On 5/17/2023 at 6:28 AM, 18Watt said:

And no, don't nominate the Elcano, definitely not eligible due to the goofball running it is a moderator..

Oh. Yes, on reflection I see why it can't be eligible. Pity, though.

This one's going to be a bit overindulgent with screenshots, starting with the maneuver that brought us home (a bit out of order since the last screenshot above is after execution).


Circularised above Kerbin. No problem there - pulse units were getting short, but there's nothing to conserve LFO dV for and no fancy docking manuevers for the Hangarmoth to carry out.

I've never built an SSTO before, and thought I'd have a go at it, partly so my kerbals could land on the runway not in the drink. I don't think I'm very good at it - this one isn't carrying more payload than a passenger cabin, and gets to LKO with a mere 750m/s dV left.

However, that was enough to rendezvous and dock up. Then I could refill its tanks with LF (a fortunate decision, it turned out) and do a dozen fiddly EVA transfers.

Farewell to the QA - centrifuges spun down, lights off, reactors shut down, everything else turned off. The Hangarmoth might have been able to leave the QA as a space station and deorbit, but I wasn't going to try it.

A pretty eclipse on the way down.

A bit of fiery death, but this was as dramatic as the reentry got. What was less welcome was that, with astonishing precision, I managed to arrange that the point where I got into ordinary flight was about as far from the KSC as possible. (At least I had thought to remember to make sure it was dawn at the KSC before starting). Good job I refilled LF from the Hangarmoth; I flew around Kerbin.

I'd like to tell you I landed easily on the first attempt, rather than bouncing and going around. Other lies are available.

And for the first time in a very long time, Svetlana breathes the air of home... and wonders who didn't put a ladder on this thing, anyway?

That's basically it for this one, modulo RSS Earth, but I plan to make at least one more post to review the mods I used for the help of other circumnavigators.

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Posted (edited)

Last but not least, a list of the mods I used which made a significant difference in the trip, and/or which I used heavily.:

  • ABookCase Orbital Reference System. Mouse over your orbit for contextual details. I've been using it so long I forget stock doesn't do it.
  • Action Group Manager Renewed. Manage action groups in flight. Great for this kind of mission where you might dock something, undock something else, find some entirely new mode of operation you didn't even dream of when setting out...
  • Alternate Resource Panel. The mode that displays time to full/empty is very useful for projecting ISRU outputs, and unlike the stock panel you can mouse over it without every part on the ship with ElectricCharge getting highlighted at once.
  • Astrogator. MechJeb's transfer window planning is sometimes a bit erratic; it was useful to have something else.
  • Atmosphere Autopilot. I flew halfway around both Kerbin and Laythe - and with this, given the aircraft design was sensible, I could plot the course and leave it to it.
  • B9 Procedural Wings. Generally, I'm a fan of building ships out of blocks that maybe aren't quite the right size - I don't use procedural tanks, say, or TweakScale in arbitary increments - but particularly in a FAR world it's pretty hard to get satisfactory wings; the stock modular wing parts are very fiddly to get a useful wing out of.
  • My own Campaign for Real Electric Charge. A make-your-life-difficult mod; rovers had to carry nuclear power (or perhaps huge LFO tanks and fuel cells), there is no chucking a 55 tonne EV around by sticking three solar panels on the roof.
  • Connected Living Space. Another make-your-life-difficult mod, important on this trip where the QA and Hangarmoth's crew spaces were nowhere near each other.
  • Dated QuickSaves. I was quite willing to quicksave and load outside of the actual roving, and this makes it enormously easier to work out which quicksave you want.
  • Dock Rotate. There are other options - Infernal Robotics and the new stock Breaking Ground parts - with a wider range of functions, but Dock Rotate did everything I wanted here for vessels that change shape - the Hangarmoth swapping to belly-sitter mode, the anti-roll arm on the rovers, the self-righting mechanism on the Mk VIII - but it's also just very useful for its original purpose, to line up everything nice and square after docking. Dock a drill module, point the drills at the ground? Easy. Get the Fertiliser tanks precisely fore and aft to aid with balancing mass? Also easy. And if I'd thought of it, rotatable auxiliary engines would have been a huge boon.
  • Docking Cam. Camera view out the docking port itself, and some stats on relative positions and speeds. A tremendous aid and one that makes a lot of sense.
  • Docking Port Alignment Indicator. Valuable once you know how it works, but if I had to give up one of these and Docking Cam, it would be this.
  • EasyBoard. Press 'B' to want to board, 'F' to want to grab a ladder. The kerbal does it when in range. Sounds trivial, but it makes life so much nicer.
  • Editor Extensions Redux. Vastly better control of part symmetry and positioning. Indeed, now I look at it, it does a bunch more stuff I've been doing by hand with Precise Editor.
  • FAR. Important for more plausible flight physics, especially for the Eve ascent.
  • Fuel Tanks Plus and other mods by NecroBones (Lithobrake, Modular Rocket Systems, Space-Y, Space-Y Extended). A generous corpus of extra rocket parts, many of which are useful for building excessively huge rockets.
  • Hangar. Hides craft from the game (turns them into lumps of mass in the part they docked in), then pops them out on demand. I could maybe have got one rover into the bay on the Hangarmoth, docked it up, and suffered the results of adding that part count to the Hangarmoth/QA package. Two? Never (although there is space). Hangar made this mission vastly easier, but not in an unrealistic way, just by offering a lot more effective part count - and, at that, even though my use of it could have been much better arranged.
  • Hangar Extender. Nothing to do with Hangar, it lets you go outside the VAB/SPH to assemble huge craft. I may have employed one or two huge craft on this trip.
  • Hooligan Labs Airships provided the inflatable envelope to get off Eve.
  • Inline Ballutes are the big doughnut-shaped balloon/parachute things that got me down on Eve and Laythe.
  • Kerbal Alarm Clock. Warns you of upcoming maneuvers and SOI changes for unfocused craft. Vital in the early stages with ScanSAT probes en route to the entire Kerbol system.
  • Kerbal Attachment System / Kerbal Inventory System. I gather stock has an inventory system now, but I'm used to this. Mainly used for sucking the fuel out of rover delivery probes that some idiot didn't put a docking port on... and yes, there is a better answer to that, but the ability to carry spare radiators in case some were damaged then decide just to fit them anyway was valuable, too.
  • Kerbal Engineer Redux. There are other mods to plaster the screen with information about vessel and flight, but this one is the one I used.
  • Kerbal Foundries / KSPWheel. Without this wheel physics mod and the accompanying parts I think this journey would have been vastly more frustrating.
  • KerboKatz PhysicalTimeRatioViewer. Sure, the clock is yellow, your computer can't keep up - but by how much? This tells you. Useful early with a slower computer and a mod for fine control of physwarp to adjust physwarp to play in more-or-less real time, and also useful later when the physics time per frame setting was wrong; it told me immediately something was up, and by how much.
  • kOS. A programming language inside KSP. Landed the Hangarmoth, balanced the fuel, ran the fuel cells on the rover, controlled overspeed by turning the brakes on, stopped me flipping downhill by turning the brakes off if the rear wheels weren't on the ground, tapered off pulse size during maneuvers.
  • ManeuverNodeSplitter. I wish I'd known about this ages ago. Where you've got a maneuver (like one of those week-long LV-N transfer burns) that's long enough to give a significant cosine loss in dV, you can split off some smaller chunks and do one of those each time round your orbit when correctly aligned.
  • MechJeb. Besides the obvious maneuver planning and execution functions, its Rover Stability Control does its very best to keep your wheels facing the ground. (However, https://github.com/MuMech/MechJeb2/issues/1572 was an unfortunate interaction I had to patch out myself).
  • Mk2 Stockalike Expansion. I really like these Mk2 parts - most unusually, an early prototype of the Eve lander was a plane with a rocket piggyback, as for Laythe, but the higher fuel needs gave it three Mk2 hulls side by side, done with this mod's T and X pieces.
  • Mk IV Spaceplane System. Bits of it got used in the Hangarmoth, but the main thing is that the Kerbian Sea Monster is a Mk IV hull upside down.
  • NavHud. Puts the navball's lines and markers on the main display, so they're not so teeny-tiny.
  • Near Future Construction. A wide selection of mostly-structural parts. A huge chunk of the Hangarmoth, and bits of the rovers, are made from its Octo-Girder struts.
  • Part Commander Continued. Use part right-click menus without finding the part and right-clicking it. Pretty handy when a bunch of converters and whatnot are buried deep inside some monster vessel.
  • Precise Editor. Set parts' position and angle with great precision while editing. I used it for all sort of fine adjustments, but most obviously it was necessary to make the engines rotating around on the Hangarmoth come into the correct position relative to their new docking ports.
  • QuickExit, for those times when KSP's jankiness or my own bad decisions demanded an immediate halt to proceedings. Just quits the game without going through half a dozen menus.
  • RasterPropMonitor (along with the DE IVA Extension and various IVA prop sets). Makes the in-cockpit MFDs functional, which if you want to do all your roving with a kerbal's-eye view, is very useful.
  • Recoupler. Connects together stack-attach parts that meet, so you can make circular stations. Connects up the Hangarmoth's living space and the rovers' rollcages.
  • RemoteTech. Light-speed delay communications with remote probes, which need appropriate antennae. Another make-life-hard mod; one I quite enjoyed given that you can control probes from a ship with sufficient crew, which gave another reason to bring 12 kerbals not the boring-but-optimal two (one to drive the rover, one to run the ISRU).
  • SCANsat. Altimetry and biome maps were nice, and I've not even tried the stock scanning facility, but for this trip a big benefit was the Been There Done That part - once I had it working, you don't need a stack of flags to see where I've been, the path is just there on the map. A great pity I didn't have it working for Eve, which was by far the most complex route.
  • Ship Manifest, mostly because it gives a handy way to move crew around which respects Connected Living Space restrictions.
  • Station Keeping. Expend a bit of RCS in the Tracking Station to make a very fine adjustment to an orbit. I can't think of any other way to have communications satellite clusters that stay correctly spaced.
  • Stockalike Station Parts Expansion Redux. Provided the centrifuge habitats on the QA and a certain amount of other crew movement space. Given the USI Life Support requirements, the alternative would have been a huge bus of USI Tundra modules, much less interesting to look at.
  • Stockish Project Orion. Otherwise I'd have to get around the system burning LFO like some sort of caveman.
  • Structural Tubing Restructured. The rollcages on the rovers.
  • TAC Fuel Balancer. Not so much for balancing per se, but a handy interface for pumping the stuff around after docking or before undocking, or just for monitoring one specific resource.
  • Targetron Adopted. I find it very hard sometimes to target stuff from the map. This lets me just pick out the ship I want.
  • Tracking Lights. The smaller spotlight in this was the big headlights on the rovers, far more effective than the ones they came with, and with exact control of facing. (Indeed, they can be configured to ludicrous levels, but I just wanted something more like a high-power headlight for roving off-road in the dark than leaning out the window with a flashlight).
  • TweakableEverything. Adds a few useful part tweaks... indeed, I'm kind of wondering if this configured the brightness/range on the Tracking Lights?
  • The USI mod constellation, mostly for the Life Support mod which provides a more complex system than "if one kerbal-day needs x grams of supplies, 12000000 kerbal-days needs 12000000x grams of supplies", but its Tundra parts provided the metal and uranium manufacturing for pulse unit manufacture.
Edited by damerell
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Posted (edited)

So, RSS Earth.

Conventional wisdom is that FAR and boats don't get along, but it turns out boats are quite a lot faster in a FAR world. After a bit of adjustment to this to improve stability - as ever, "stick on a bit of dihedral and hope" works out nicely for the FAR designer, and the slightly deeper keel to the stern helps to cut down on the normal disaster mode where the nose pitches down enough to start an uncontrollable yaw - we have a Mach 0.8 boat. (This is faintly absurd - almost twice as fast as Spirit of Australia - but I didn't arrange it and I'll take a result that will let me do RSS Earth at all...)


This boat has very approximately a range of 10,000 km (it speeds up on empty tanks, but not dramatically, getting up to about Mach 0.9), a quarter of the way around the Earth. It isn't the ridiculous size of the Kerbian Sea Monster... well, at this point I stopped editing this post and thought, aha, what about the Kerbian Sea Monster? I'd rather enjoy using it again.

RSS Earth offers a choice of space centres; the obvious start point is Omelek Island in the Marshall Islands.

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I decided not to use the KSM. The FARboat has nearly the range, is not so utterly horrible on land, and won't be such a pain to refuel (by virtue of not being incredibly huge).


  1.  South of Sarangani in the Philippines, 5.2927 N, 125.3938 E. There are a bunch of islands in the Pacific, but they should be small enough to avoid. Circa 4,700km.
  2. In the Balabac Strait between the Philippines and Malaysia, 7.4925 N, 117.0772 E. Handily, a great circle route to this should pass between Sulu and Basilan, major islands in the Philippines. 950km.
  3. Singapore, or in the drink just south of it. 1.2472 N,104.1257 E. A great circle route passes the major islands to the south. 1600km.
  4. 5.425N, 97.548 E, coming up the side of Indonesia, but the navigation around Singapore will have to be done by satellite map to pick a clear path through. 900km.
  5. 6.040N, 95.411 E, north of Sabang. 250km.

At this point the boat will have done 8400km. It will be 1500km from Ceylon, and at least a reasonably close flight from Satish Dawan or Wengchang. By this point I'll have a better idea of the boat's range, and will know if I can press on to Ceylon or must refuel before leaving the Indonesian coast. I haven't thought about the exact design of the refuelling aircraft, but I think refuelling will have to be done on land.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

I started. The ground seemed weirdly sticky on departure - not something I'd seen in testing - and I had to use more than the 1% throttle it had taken to roll up the runway previously. Hope that isn't an ominous sign for the canals.

I also am not sure why my ScanSAT satellites can't scan anything above a given latitude. The sensors only work with the surface in daylight, but the border is well below the latitude of the Arctic Circle. I think I may have launched the 85 and 90 degree inclination ones with exactly the wrong phase such that they keep coming up there in darkness; they've only been up for a couple of Earth days and maybe I'll eventually get more. However, I don't intend to go north of the Mediterranean, so it's kind of moot.


I could make no sense of the biome map until I realised Omelek Island is much too small to appear given RSS's topography data resolution. It's just a tiny blob that exists to support the KSC (perhaps only _when_ the KSC is there?) so the whole thing is Water biome. That may also explain why it's such an odd colour. It was only after this realisation that I stopped trying to work with the altimetry map.

I'd fiddle with the throttle as I sailed, finding that worrying pitch oscillations set in around 275m/s in spite of MechJeb's best efforts. That means I've been gradually reducing throttle as fuel burns off, and makes the fuel situation more encouraging (at the cost, of course, of a longer journey); after travelling 15 degrees West, I still had a projected endurance over 10,000 km. I'll easily make it to Ceylon; the decision will be rather whether I can extend it further.

Another oddity is that the apparent depth of the boat varies considerably. Sometimes looking at it from the side makes it look as if it's hovering over the sea supported by fairies; sometimes it looks as if the Goliath's base is nearly in the water. The cockpit IVA view, in the meantime, is sometimes underwater and sometimes over it - and it's quite happy to be underwater when from the outside I seem to be hovering.

First sight of land (the bright pink Shores biome) on the zoom map, which I am going to go nowhere near because 270 m/s is not a speed you want to be anywhere near the land at. There's no prospect of significantly altering course, although in an emergency I can whack the thrust reverser on the Goliath, hit 100% throttle, and hope.

And shutting down for the night IRL. A perceptible BTDT track on the map, but this is going to be a long trip even at ludicrous speed.

Edited by damerell
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Course change at waypoint #1. Openstreetmap and RSS Earth seem to agree well enough on where things are that the position I picked out with OSM is clear of the land, but close enough to have a decent view of it. I regret having no external cameras (since the cockpit view itself is mostly weirdly submerged); my first "refuelling" stop might actually be to exchange this boat for one with a few minor improvements of that kind. I made the course correction by throttling down to 10% and letting speed drop to a "mere" 120 m/s or so, at which point the boat is quite controllable.


Circa 4700km done - perhaps 1/10 distance already.

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This is a pretty extreme example of the submersion thing. It's just a visual glitch - my ASL height is pretty normal - but it's pretty alarming.

Passing through the chain of islands with Sulu and Basilan. As expected, the course avoided the big islands, and as it turned out it avoided the small ones without correction.

Passing within eyesight of Mapun in the Philippines. I didn't plan this, it just ended up on my course.

And about to pass waypoint #2. Next is the leg to Singapore.


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Approaching Singapore. I'm about to throttle down to a mere 150 m/s or so to negotiate the islands, then run up the side of Indonesia at full speed.


The remaining waypoints were passed without incident. I clearly have enough fuel to make it considerably further, so I laid in waypoints for Sri Lanka, north of Socotra, the Bab-el-Mandeb, and the mouth of the Gulf of Suez. When I get to Sri Lanka I'll assess whether I can cross the Arabian Gulf on the remaining fuel. I'm not outroving the Sun, and I'll have to keep an eye on when it gets dark - open sea sailing in the dark is one thing, but I don't want to be in the Gulf of Suez or the Suez not-actually-Canal.


MechJeb as trim control is working adequately; I can leave the game long enough to get coffee or go to the loo (or write up my screenshots) and make adjustments when I return.

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Passing Sri Lanka, no problems so far, right?


Shortly after, huge pitch oscillation set in, and this happened. Fortunately, the crew weren't killed, but I guess that means the time to bring a fresh boat with some design changes is very definitely now. Also, admire how they are floating above the surface of the sea...

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I could just have sailed another boat from the nearest space centre, but there's quite a lot of land in the way so I decided to fly it over. I tried bolting a huge wing and a couple of jet engines to the top of the boat, but while this flew OK it proved impossible to splashdown without knocking off the boat's Goliath. Hangar to the rescue; ship the boat in a giant Hangar with wings, engines, parachutes, and landing gear bolted to it, producing the Bullet Bill of aeroplanes.


Splashdown. An easy trip, but I'd have saved IRL time by not messing about with aircraft at all, just sailing a boat over.


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Your boat has some impressive speed! 

Are you going westbound?  Having never used RSS Earth, I'm curious if you are able to cross at Panama and Suez.  Not sure how well RSS replicates those sea routes.  Just taking a wild guess, I assume you need to do some short land drives at Panama, and maybe Suez as well.

As you know, you'll be the first to complete an Elcano on RSS Earth, good luck!

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, 18Watt said:

Your boat has some impressive speed!

Ridiculous speed, really, but I'll take what I can get. I am, yeah, going westbound - the speed of dawn is faster on Earth than the boat can travel, and for long sea legs I don't really care if it's day or night, but I might as well have the extra time in the sailing day.

I checked a while back, and there are no canals at Panama and Suez; this, I think, is because the topographical data used for RSS Earth isn't at a fine enough resolution to capture them. However, there are some extremely smooth flat stretches of land and I think it'll be a reasonable drive. I don't know if you count this as a sea circumnavigation because there are canals there IRL.

20 hours ago, 18Watt said:

As you know, you'll be the first to complete an Elcano on RSS Earth, good luck!

Only if I do complete it. This rescue mission has been pretty frustrating - I thought I'd got a fresh boat delivered above, but no - it turns out popping the Hangar wrecks the boat, either by collision with the Hangar debris or by the Kraken pulling it apart. Either I got very lucky in testing, or doing it in shallow water is less dangerous somehow (not impossible - the Hangar sinks rapidly when popped and then everything bobs up).

I had to go back to the old idea of bolting a wing to the top of the boat. One important improvement was ditching the wing before trying to splash down - its parachutes (seen just ahead of the wing control surfaces) deploy first and between that and leaving the engines running at about 5% throttle, when I decouple it from the boat, it soars away rather than slamming into the boat. It even splashes down undestroyed. The second was using an inline ballute for a bit more drag and, more importantly, making the main chute a RealChute, which does not autocut on ground contact. This means the stern of the boat hits the sea quite slowly and the engine is not destroyed.


Falling into the sea - parachute not yet fully deployed. In the distance you can see the wing doing the same thing. Annoyingly, I forgot to switch on the BTDT at takeoff, so (when that bit of the map isn't covered in plane icon) there won't be a trail on it for the rescue mission. Much more annoyingly, on splashdown I found the boat stuck to the sea - even at full throttle it would only do about 1.3 m/s. This is an occasional FAR-hates-boats problem; I uninstalled FAR and reloaded the save.

The rescue crew jump out for a nice dip, probably to sit in the cabin of the wrecked boat while they await recovery from the tracking station. The boat can move fine once again, but of course will only do about 55 m/s. This boat isn't quite identical to the first one; they both have a docking port aft of the Goliath (originally intended for refuelling if I manage to empty the tanks on a boat before destroying it, but used to attach the parachutes) but this one has a second one further forward used to attach the wing. Other than that it's the same design.

Reinstall FAR, reload, fingers crossed... the sea is no longer sticky, and the voyage can continue!

Edited by damerell
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Posted (edited)

I decided to keep speed down to 250 m/s, at which point I hope there will be no more alarming incidents. I crossed the Arabian Gulf, and stopped for the IRL night North of Socotra. I don't know how close to the Suez Canal I care to get during in-game night, but I certainly don't want to cross it; when I shut down there will be an opportunity to design and fly a refuelling aircraft.

The new boat also has a JSI camera, so I can look at the dark from an IVA view if I like.


Edited by damerell
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Posted (edited)

I didn't really have a clear idea of how safe it is to manuever at speed, or how big the boat's turning circle is, so here I am slowing right down with the aid of the thrust reverser having panicked rather at the apparent sight of land on the horizon. (I also have no idea what the range of vision from the IVA camera is, but it can't be enormous, it's not mounted particularly high above sea level).


Threading my way up the Red Sea. Even at 220 m/s the boat is much less alarming to maneuver - and in view of the above, I wanted to find out how fast I could go in relatively close quarters before I have to sail through the Med.

Edited by damerell
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Edited; the last screenshot was the Red Sea. This is me picking my way through the Gulf of Suez, slowing down and zooming in the map as the end gets nearer.


Very close now.

I planned to come to a complete halt just off the shore, but I saw the loom of the land nearby and was going slow enough (about 20 m/s) to lower my gear, run up the slope, and brake out of the drink. The nearest space centre is Palmachim... but on reflection, I should cross the Suez Canal relatively light on fuel.

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I decided to wait for dawn, but proceed on the assumption that the route of the Suez Canal would be basically flat on RSS Earth, and as such I could plug along it at 40 m/s (at which speed it should take 1-2 hours) guided by the altimetry map without taking more special precautions.

This did not entirely prove correct.


The ground is full of little imperfections to ping you up into the air. I must design what I am now going to call the Mk III FARboat (incorporating some of the anti-roll lessons learned earlier) and fly one to this site.

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Posted (edited)

I didn't do a redesign, thinking rather perhaps it was a one-off but also that laying down a lot of waypoints (and tweaking the kOS script a bit) to enable me to follow the route of the canal more closely might help find the flattest terrain. Flying out, I got a good view of the lakes in the Suez Canal - working out exactly where the shores were from ScanSAT imagery was not ideal, but I was able to do well enough to avoid either barreling off a cliff into the water or slamming into the shore.


This parachute-based rover dropping is surprisingly precise. Meldun and Lopont Kerman, who are going to have a busy day, land within easy sight of the failed rover.

And here they have made their second delivery of the day. I plugged on from here, discovering that the lakeshores have surprisingly steep and awkward terrain... and knocking off a tail wing. This didn't really interfere with my ability to rove or to sail around lakes at moderate speed, so I just put up with it, because there seemed to be a possibility that I'd flip this rover, too.

Which I did. At least unlike the completely disintegrated one near Sri Lanka the hull here is not a complete writeoff, but as mentioned it's a busy day for the recovery kerbals - and I'm going through engines at a fair old rate. When I started out I naively worried about refuelling, but it turns out I've yet to manage to run a tank dry without first destroying the vessel. At this point I did make a design change.

A good view of the Nile delta from another replacement shipment.

Their second delivery of the day completed; this version of the vessel has an anti-roll arm. It remains to be seen how badly that'll affect sea performance, but I don't really expect it to be a very serious issue.

IVA view while roving - I would say it doesn't help that the view of the ground ahead is so poor, but the bits of terrain that ping me up are Krakenish abnormalities, not visible lumps.

And finally into the Mediterranean. This was a struggle - I think if I had known when I started both how good the sea fuel consumption was and how troublesome the canals were going to be, I would have gone around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. Now I'm here, however, I'll make for the Panama Canal - it's shorter, more of it is lakes, and I have a better idea of the problems that might arise.

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Passing the north coast of Africa quite close, but I trusted my own waypoints.

It turned out the Straits of Gibraltar are quite small. Who knew?

But I was through, the waypoints still being good. After this I laid in a course for Panama - 7,000 km away, my longest sea leg yet - but when I get closer I'll lay a course through the Caribbean islands.

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In the open ocean, the biome map is more useful - I don't want to go anywhere near the pink of Shores.


Very roughly halfway across the Atlantic, I plotted more waypoints; I aim to pass east of Puerto Rico. For this kind of thing I plot a great circle route between (say) Gibraltar and the Panama Canal, then look at where that hits the land to find where I need intermediate waypoints. This keeps the course corrections minimal - there would be no way I could guess where I'd hit the Caribbean islands without doing that plot.

Here I stopped for the night IRL. There's a fair way to go beyond Puerto Rico, so the 1,913 km displayed is misleading, but very roughly I estimate I'll reach the Canal before in-game night. I won't be short of fuel, but it's an ideal time to fly out a tanker of some kind - not least because writing off boats shouldn't really let me dodge the need to refuel altogether.


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Passing Puerto Rico. I've throttled down here for a maneuver. The arc traced on the map from Gibraltar is rather pleasing.


The Sun is setting as we cruise down the coast of Colombia.

Near-disaster - I had not accounted for this headland in the North of Panama, and I trusted my waypoints enough not to slow down for the hill on the left, only getting alarmed as land reared up dead ahead. At that, I thought for a few seconds it must be beyond Limon Bay, but then I thought again about the scale and slapped the thrust reverser and full throttle. This quickly got the boat down to a speed where it could steer clear of the headland.

The visual map is fuzzy, the biome map not much help ("Shores" covers both shallows and beach), and it's dark. I decided to stop here and wait for enough light to pick my way into Limon bay.


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The resupply aircraft in flight. It's a funny shape; the Mk2 tail has an extensible docking port mounted on the base which can be lowered onto the boat by adjustment of the undercarriage spring strengths. There's a Wheesley on each wingtip - the thrust reversers make it very easy to maneuver on the ground - and a Mk2 Expansion "Mule" at the back which provides about as much thrust again. (If it had to go a very long way, it will do about 0.85Ma with the Wheesleys alone, and since they have considerably higher fuel efficiency than the Mule, the Mule could be throttled down in cruise flight). It's not a lot faster than the boat, so a 2,000 km flight from Cape Canaveral took a couple of hours.


I suspected the lakes on the route of the Panama Canal might not exist, given KSP1 can't have water above sea level; I hoped that might make them dead flat patches of blue-ish ground. My hopes were rewarded; I had a relatively easy landing here. Now I just have to not flip the boat on the way.

(Boring and optimally, it would have been easier to just set off, probably flip the boat somewhere in the Panama Canal, and fly out a new one with a full fuel load - but I wanted to demonstrate I could do the mid-trip resupply operation. Likewise, this is why the resupply aircraft has enough fuel to fill the boat up from empty.)

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I'd landed some way inland, so I set off in the boat to meet the resupply mission. Was it too far?

Roving in the cockpit on a very flat surface, but still, I was not very alert for this to be the point where I realised the aircraft was there.

Docked, and transferring fuel. I can honestly say this bit of the mission worked like a dream.

After my difficulties at Suez I was worried about the terrain ahead - and the Panama Canal was made through much rougher terrain than Suez - but I plugged on and to my complete surprise landed in the Pacific. I ... just ... have a 9000km sea leg to go.


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I'm still amazed at how little trouble I had on the route of the Panama Canal. Admittedly, I did get pinged up a few times, and I guess without the anti-roll modifications I might well have flipped the boat.

9,000 km was, alas, an underestimate - waypoints not set up properly. The distance is well over 10,000km.


Dunno how many screenshots I can get out of this, but I'm 2,000 km past that point; 8,000 left.

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