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Nekozjin Aeronautics Flight Files (aka eddiew's c'logs) - Season 5: Keeping it Simple


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Comic + logs = c'logs. Geddit? No? Well, nevermind. Point is, I realised I'm posting a heck of a lot of semi-comic mission reports to the WDYDIKSPT thread, and I figured it might be nice to have somewhere that I can keep them all with some semblance of order. I'll just add pages onto this as I go.

Career #5 - 1.8

  1. One small jump for a kerbal, one giant leap for kerbalkind
  2. Pielab
  3. Dunamite and Evenger
  4. Freebird and Wren (first gen spaceplanes)


Career #4 - 1.4.x

  1. Passing the Garman line
  2. Boostenthruster (low orbit), Mousebat (Iota)
  3. There's something behind Iota
  4. The Iotian Anemone Anomaly, Business as Usual
  5. A Bigger Rocket, 5 Star Safety
  6. Aiming Higher, The Ceticean Institute
  7. Training Montage, Desert Beagle, Tellumite, Anemone Station, Jets are Useful! But so are Rockets
  8. The Niven Expedition
  9. Doorway to Grannus
  10. Longshots, Recalls and Rescues
  11. Beli Rumbler
  12. Spiceroquette

Community tech tree patch applied to this career (massively inflates the back end of the tree, preventing runaway science progression without making the first missions horrible):


// Tech Tree Scalar by JadeOfMaar + EddieW

	// Excluding things like rover wheels and jet parts. These do not really get you to space any better
	// and imho shouldn't be so expensive.
	// Note that the mk3 parts are allowed to get more expensive.
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[fieldScience]]	{ @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[highAltitudeFlight]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[advancedMotors]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[hypersonicFlight]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[aerospaceTech]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[aerodynamics]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[supersonicFlight]] { @cost *= -1 }
	   @cost = 50000
	   @cost = 24000
	   @cost = 11250
	   @cost = 5250
	   @cost = 2500
	   @cost = 1100
	   @cost = 525
	   @cost = 240
	   @cost = 95
	// put the excluded parts list back to their original costs
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[fieldScience]]	{ @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[highAltitudeFlight]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[advancedMotors]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[hypersonicFlight]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[aerospaceTech]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[aerodynamics]] { @cost *= -1 }
	@RDNode:HAS[#id[supersonicFlight]] { @cost *= -1 }

// move KerbalFoundries' smallest wheels into a lower tier (alongside the buggy wheels from stock)
	@TechRequired = fieldScience
	@TechRequired = fieldScience

Career #3 - 1.3

  1. The Undiscovered Country
  2. We Like the Moon
  3. Progress Montage
  4. A Martian Oddity
  5. Kermen are on Mars, Rovers are on Venus
  6. Ambling Towards Failure (Jupiter), Bring Them Home (Mars), Wings and Wheels (Earth), Lil Hottie (Mercury), Tinlion (Saturn)
  7. Bring Tin Home!
  8. Cloudspear (ssto), Attempting a landing on Europa, Skylance (ssto), Pupper Fetcher (crane?)

Mods used in this career: planets - SSRSS === visuals - Foreign Eagle sky | Tex Replacer | Ambient Light === parts - Near Future | SpaceY | DMagic Orbital | KNES | LETTweakscale | Scansat | Foundries === gameplay - Bon VoyageCTT | HETTN | Trajectories | Transfer Window Planner

Career #2 - 1.2.2

  1. Early days
  2. Plane pain
  3. Unstable orbits
  4. Lonely on Iota
  5. Why I-ota...
  6. Oh, the Manatee!
  7. Anticipatory mining Tests, One does not simply walk into Mo'dur, Tellumo what...
  8. Interplanetary Mice, Buggy Robot, Hot Bot
  9. Christmas on Tellumo, Desertfox
  10. Gold Moons, Desert Willy
  11. Sandy Pants
  12. Terrible Spaceplane
  13. The spice must flow, Recall
  14. I'm not saying it was aliens...
  15. Hotwings express
  16. Minor Misjudgement, Planes Hotels and Automobiles

Mods used this career:  Planet packs - GPP | Rald === Visual enhancements: SVE | SVT | Foreign Eagle sky | Tex Replacer | Ambient Light === Parts: Near Future | SpaceY | DMagic Orbital | LETTweakscale | Scansat === Gameplay: CTT | HEN | Strategia | Trajectories | Transfer Window Planner

Career #1 - 1.1.3

Important note: In this career I make heavy use of KR&D to improve my ships by investing excess science points in exchange for better stats on parts. It's sort of cheating, and sort of balanced, because you have to work hard and earn them. Upshot; early designs might work if replicated in stock, later craft will not fly with pure stock parts because engines won't be powerful or efficient enough to do the job. But this isn't a thread about showing off stock craft anyway :) 

On the whole, production quality improves as we move down the list. After about #11 I start using brightness/contrast/hue/saturation adjustments to improve visibility of details. Please don't hate on me for the early posts :) 

  1. Early missions: MunpigDuna BeagleVatil ExplorerHavet UMunwolf IIMunwolf IIIIke!Eevee (Eve), Dres FreebirdMunwolf IVMunwolf VMunolithobreaker MunolithobrakerFido Rover (Rald)
  2. HawkwindBadgerald (Rald)Skyball Station (Rald), Gillyboat
  3. Vall-iant, Dunaworrybehappy
  4. Discovery One (Jool)
  5. Spidertug, Firebird (Rald survey)
  6. Mohoho and Kal-louse, Preghastly, Thomas the Tanker, Joono Revisited
  7. Sarnusulose, Munbunny, Ranger Rover (another Rald survey)
  8. Ranger II spaceplane and Duna Bug (Duna survey)
  9. Investigator IV spaceplane design evolution (yet another Rald survey - can you tell I like this moon?)
  10. Firebird IV (Mun, Minmus, Rald training runs), Firebird V (Gilly), Tektonik (Tekto)
  11. A Mohovian Odyssey
  12. We can't help but like Ike, Sarinator
  13. Sylveon (crewed Eve landing and return - single launch)
  14. Road Trip (Rald), Thunderhawk design
  15. Launching the Thunderhawk (SSTO seaplane)
  16. Ocean Birds (Laythe)
  17. Space Druids (Vall)
  18. Big Dumb Rocket (Tylo and back), Superheavy (tanker maintenance)
  19. But it doesn't exist (Dres), The challenge
  20. Logistics Nightmare (learning to use KAS+KIS properly)
  21. Hard Edges (Slate and Eeloo), Space Eggs (Ovok and Hale), Science Fiction-y (improved engines)
  22. Fat Little Rocket (Tekto), Bipolar (Minmus)
  23. Who's Lum? (Urlum)
  24. Sand and Ice (Plock, Karen)
  25. Neidon it again! (Neidon, Nisse, Thatmo)
  26. Interstellar species and Epilogue

Mods used this career: Planet packs - OPM | K-Plus R | Rald === Visual enhancements: SVE | SVT | Nebula | OPM-VOTex Replacer | KerbinSide | Ambient Light === Parts: Near Future | SpaceY | MK2-X | MK3-XMK4Hab Pack | DMagic Orbital | LETTweakscale | Scansat | SEP | Atomic Age | SETI Greenhouse === Gameplay: KRnD | CTT | Hide Empty Nodes | Strategia | Anomaly Surveyor | Trajectories | Transfer Window Planner | Rover Contracts


Munpig. Lyssa Kerman leads the first crewed mission to another world with a lightweight little ship designed to grab some surface samples from Mun.



Duna Beagle. Mission control weren't really sure whether the Beagle would survive the trip to Duna, so they had the engineering team make the cheapest little doohickey the possibly could. The orbiter got most of the science instruments, since it would stay well above harm's reach.



Vatil Explorer. Mission control failed to read the '0.8g' stat on the official data sheet, resulting in a lander that was only just barely capable of getting to ground safely.



Havet U. In many ways, this planet proves to be the little brother of Vatil. A little paler and a lot smaller, it proves no problem for the lander.



Munwolf II. Do not ask what happened to Munwolf I. Jay Kerman, Leo Kerman and Thystle Kerman deploy a number of surface experiments.



Munwolf III. Lyssa Kerman, Llew Kerman, Otter Kerman. Went to Minmus due to a failure to communicate the name of the vessel to the mission planners.



Ike!! Probe. Designed by our engineers in the southeast.



Eevee: hopefully evolves into vaporeon.



Dress Freebird. Nothing to report.



Munwolf IV. It just keeps getting bigger...



Munwolf V. No really, it's huge now.



Munolithobreaker Munolithobraker. An inauspicious name.



Fido Rover. Fearless Rald explorer.


Edited by eddiew
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32 minutes ago, UnusualAttitude said:

...particularly the biomimetic spaceplanes and the insectoid rovers... :)

Well in that case it's lucky I'm leading with... :) 

Hawkwind Alpha. When nature gets it right, the engineering team is sure to pinch the idea.


(Not a spaceplane, but it did fly surprisingly well. Low glide speed, easy to set down upon the ice. The mission was to find the crashed redacted, but photos were redacted and redacted.)


Badgerald. Mission control thinks it is about time to stop letting the interns name new vessels. At least it isn't Spaceship McShipface. Piloted by Ellie Kerman, science officer Leo Kerman , with junior engineer Otter Kerman on hand to stick the experiments to the ground. Or not.


A confusing mission in many respects. The atmosphere provided less braking than expected and a small engine burn was needed in addition to the chutes. A complete lack of friction upon the green Rald-goo caused the away team some issues, with the lander wandering up and down the hill several times during the stay. This was only made worse by the fact that they had brought some deployable surface science experiments which either behaved flawlessly, or flew away like a firework as soon as they were plugged in... (out-takes below, I tend to F9 when physics stops obeying its own laws).



Skyball Station. Because we need to keep an eye on Rald. Not quite as small as a functional space station can get, but pretty close. Mission control was pleased by the small budget.


Sadly the scientist in a cage design didn't make it to production. Despite looking good in the VAB and simulations, it turns out that kerbals trying to get out of a chair while inside a hollow part would be teleported to somewhere on the 'outside'. They were also unable to access or reset the experiments without leaving the chair, which make the whole effort pointless. (Yes, I tweakscale the materials bay to 0.625m because it is silly.)



Gillyboat. There's gold in them thar hills!


This was the longest mission to date, but kind of dull. Gilly landers tend to do a lot of nothing while waiting for the miniscule moonlet to come up to meet them. On the up side, the awesome power of ion drives in the inner solar system presented an unplanned opportunity to return all the science. Capitalising on the recent construction of Skyball Station, Gillyboat returns to Rald orbit, where Kelley Kerman collects the raw data for processing.


Joono. After the success of Gillyboat, it seemed only natural to slap an ion drive onto another probe. This one went to Jool. Stupidly. While those amazing Near Future solar panels are indeed all-dat at Kerbin's distance from the sun, out at Jool they produced a meagre 0.1ec/s each, with the result that Joono is relegated to 100m/s burns between long pauses to allow for a recharge.


Amazingly... it proves to be enough for a landing. Operating at the exact maximum throttle the solar panels can sustain, Joono is able to drop onto Pol with a TWR of 1.01, which basically required a dead stop at 25km and then a vertical descent downwards with the engine ticking away all the time.


Returning to orbit was at least slightly easier. With the batteries fully charged, a single burn kicked Joono up almost out of Pol's SoI, and there was enough charge to circularise by the time it reached AP. Mission control parks the probe at Bop while pondering what to do with the remaining fuel.

Mission control makes RTG research a priority.

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Vall-iant. The little probe that didn't cheat. No, really, it didn't. Even if it looks like it did.

Debuting the KSC's new RTG solution for power when out at the Joolian moons, this little lander is highly compact and easy to stick on the front of a nuclear transfer stage.


Kicking off its outer fuel tanks allows Vall-iant to return to orbit with 2km/s available for further missions. Since nothing has ever returned from Jool before, mission control is keen to make a first of it.


Ok, so the real story is I was so sure I could gravity assist back home with 2km/s. I spent hours on it, and it almost worked... I could get a PE down around Kerbin's level by using Duna, but just couldn't find a viable encounter to reduce the AP, such that the flyby speed was far too severe to risk aerobraking. With Rald in it's low-orbit location, it couldn't help me out with a gravity assist because it's SoI is just too darn small. In the end, as bed time approached, I got bored and cheated. Having slept on it and regretted my actions, a retcon was required.


In the end, this was probably the more interesting option anyway :) 


Dunaworrybehappy. The big red one.

The biggest conventional rocket of its time, this is the first mission to use 3.75m parts from Space Y. Having been recently burned by poor planning for fuel requirements, mission control massively overspecs the ship, leaving not only a small tank, but half the transfer stage in Dunan orbit as the lander descends.


But what gave rise to this rock formation? Did an ancient race of proto-kerbals carve it from the rocks? Or is it just that given enough time and space, sooner or later a shape appears in it?




A new SSTO is launched to return the crew of the Dunaworrybehappy to KSC. With turbocharged rapiers and a nerva pushing out 920 isp, it reaches LKO with more than enough range to make the short hop to Rald and back.


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12 minutes ago, DMSP said:

Was Gilly Golden?

Sadly it turned out to be a texture glitch, the night lights from Kerbin were getting mapped onto Gilly. Went away after I'd restarted the game. Had it been permanent, there would of course be a mining station on that spot now :) 

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17 hours ago, UnusualAttitude said:

Oh, cool! An official eddiew thread! (Does this also make it a Thr'eddie?)

*joins the club* I approve of the Thr'eddie. :)

Gilly should be golden... It'd make perfect sense for why Eve holds onto him. On that note, I got the same thing with Mun when I launched a Duna probe from there...

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Discovery One. CONTAINS MAJOR ANOMALY SURVEYOR SPOILER. Skip to the next log if you don't want to see it.

The biggest, most expensive, and most ambitious mission ever launched by kerbalkind, the Discovery One is a marvel of technology. Investment with KR&D has yielded nuclear engines with 960 isp, yielding a mighty mothership with 11km/s in the tank. Docked on the dorsal and ventral ports are twin landers, each with their own miniature engine from Atomic Age, capable of a full 5km/s each.

Mission; investigate a mysterious signal around Jool.







(Ed: there was a glitch in the VAB which rendered the pods unable to access their fuel. Since they legitimately had 'enough' to accomplish their tasks, the two landings were done with the infinite fuel cheat, but since they were broken they were then abandoned and marked as debris for the debris-eating space kraken.)


Brief Interlude. The launch of Starcrossed Station (we'll be seeing this again in a few panels). Not the easiest thing to get into orbit, but with a gentle throttle and excess delta-v, it reaches 100km. With docking ports of all sizes, a science lab and plenty of solar power, it is ready to become the new drop-off point for all returning missions. They also seem to be growing some mysterious green herbs. The less said about that the better.



Discovery One resumes.

The coast back to Kerbin is long and slow, but eventually the mighty mothership swoops past Mun, taking advantage of a gravity assist to reduce its insertion burn.



Indeed, Skyball Station is still chewing over the data from Duna... But since it is now superseded by the more capable Starcrossed Station, it is earmarked to be decommissioned once the research is complete.



And finally, boots meet tarmac again, for the first time in seven years.

Mission status; successful.

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Spidertug. A simple doohicky to drag heavy objects around in space. Current mission: leave an orbital fuel depot at Rald.





While the Firebird II performed 'acceptably' in tests, the design team felt it lacked a certain... je ne sais quoi. So they pulled the wings off, swapped the intakes, and asked the research team whether they could send some data to the folks in engineering in order to pep up the engine performance a bit.

As it turned out, they could.


KR&D investment in the engines alone was something around 2000 science points, plus a bit on top to lighten the cockpit, docking port, and wings. Upshot, a lightweight, long range SSTO that was an absolute joy to fly.

Having been sent the coordinates of some interesting features on the Raldian radar survey, River and Nimoy refill the tanks from the depot recently dropped off by Spidertug, and head back down to the surface.


Shadowing them home from Skyball Station, Tora Kerman pilots the old Dunaworrybehappy lander capsule to a landing. Despite initial plans to decommission the station, Firebird has just dropped off a ton of data, and further expeditions are planned, so for now the science crew remain aboard. Never hurts to have two labs in operation at the same time, after all.


She lands somewhere between Aberkeen and Dunkee.

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Mohoho and Kal-louse. Basically the same probe, basically the same problem. Similar sized vacuum worlds tend to generate similar solutions.



Thomas the Tanker. Bringing some personality to fuel depots.



Preghastly. An ugly asymmetric probe, but surprisingly well balanced during flight. Excepting somehow one of the three fuel lines wasn't connected and required manual pumping.



Joono Revisited. With 2km/s in the tank, there were plans for Joono. Unfortunately, someone let the astrophysics intern have a go at route planning and they didn't notice that the periapsis at Laythe would happen in the dark. Which meant horribly inefficient burns either side of the moon. Mildly disappointing not to have mapped Tylo, but as final destinations go, at least Laythe is a pretty one.


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Sarnusulose. A combination of Near Future structural components, Atomic Age mini-engines, and KR&D allows this advanced probe to travel further than anything in kerbal history.

Slate proves to be a good gravity assistant, effectively closing the orbit around Sarnus for a pittance hapenny worth of fuel, leaving some 7km/s available to explore the system.


Despite being tiny, lumpy, and awkward to land on, Hale turns out to be one of the most scenic locations in the kerbolar system. Only the teensiest amount of thrust is required to descend from it's 25m/s orbital velocity, and it proves easier to point at the ground and treat it like a docking. If you thought Gilly was small, Hale is smaller.


Ovok on the other hand... mission control does not know what kind of chickenly entity will one day hatch from this shell, but instructs Sarnusulose to set down gently enough to avoid awakening it.


Nobody quite expected to find Eeloo here, but it's not the first body to have randomly relocated during the two decades that KSC has been in operation. The sudden migration of Rald might have been a warning that something was afoot, but somehow the astronomers still missed this entire planet deciding to buddy up with some friends. Still, it looks less lonely now, so that's a plus.

The probe has enough TWR to land, so it does. Mission control starts to wish that they'd put some surface science experiments on it, and admonishes the planning team.


Munbunny. Why not have both high tech and adorable?



Ranger Rover. There is discussion at mission control as to whether a mining station on Rald would be beneficial. Despite this moon's inexplicable migration outwards in its orbit, and subsequent capture of Minmus as a sub-moon, Rald is still a very convenient place to visit. With an oxygen atmosphere, light gravity, stunning views and cornucopia of green goo, it really is a prime candidate for off-world mining, offering reasonable crew safety in the event of industrial accidents.


Ranger Rover turns out to be a stunningly good design. The engineering team spent many long minutes weeks ensuring that no matter which way the driver flips it, the only things that can ever touch the ground are the wheels, or the steel chassis, resulting in military grade impact tolerance. During the entire expedition, not once does the rover suffer a puncture, and when the inevitable flip happens, the onboard reaction wheels are quite enough to set Ranger Rover back on his feet.

The Range I spaceplane on the other hand... the engineering team is still blushing over that one. The lack of visible tailfins, they assured us, would not be a problem because there are vertical stabilisers embedded within the wings. Well, that turned out to be true, but they were entirely insufficient. It is rumoured that the entire ship was designed by an intern while the senior engineers went for beer, because the lack of anterior fuel tanks is one of the classic mistakes of plane design. On returning to Kerbin with tanks mostly empty, it turns out there is no way of pumping fuel forwards, resulting in it all sloshing around near the CoM. Combined with the lack of vertical stabiliser, it produced a plane that was outright dangerous to land, and which would enter a flat spin at the slightest provocation. The vessel was immediately retired upon landing and will never fly again. A mark 2 has already been tabled which should resolve the problems.

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Ranger MKII. Because mission control didn't check the details before launch.


This landing was... absolutely terrifying. Simulations were done based on a lighter fuel load, and aiming for the midlands. The top-up in LKO, added around 20 tons of fuel that hadn't been accounted for, and the highlands are a good 4km higher - which really matters on a planet where the atmosphere clings to the valleys. Fortunately, the same refuel that had added weight also added range, so the mighty KR&D'd nervas were able to bring the ship round in a wide loop, washing off speed over an additional 50km circle. Powerful ventral thrusters provided by Space Y did a lot to soften the impact, but tore through the available oxidiser quickly, resulting in the final touchdown being rather heavy.

Debriefing transcripts note that the crew were pretty tightly clenched by the time the tyres finally came to rest upon the reddish dirt.


As breaths and other gasses are finally released, the Duna Bug is deployed. Based on the proven and resilient Ranger Rover, this tough little vehicle has no problems handling Duna's relatively gentle terrain, although a dust storm impairs visibility and forces a brief halt.


Return to Kerbin proves much less clench-inducing, although some aerobraking is required to allow a visited to Starcrossed Station before descent. Aerobrakes? No, there were only ever two aerobrakes... ¬_¬ 

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Investigator SSTO Evolution. The Ranger II was a solid design, but MK3 parts can't handle a cargo as big as the Ranger Rover in a recoverable format due to awkwardness with the cargo ramps. Solution? MK4 spaceplane parts. And a steep learning curve on how to make them go to space.


I revived the old 0.90 intakes and scaled them up to 2.5m because darnit they were the coolest ones we had. Also made a 2.5m rapier using the same stats that Tweakscale assigns, but which is KR&D compatible, allowing science to be invested into improving them later.


Investigator IV Deployment. Because when it's both beautiful and functional, you need to send it somewhere fun.


The long drive coupled with poor planning means that the sun is setting as Thystle and Leo reach the foothills of the volcano. Travelling during the night is too risky, even with the RTG power source and headlights, so they have to spend the dark hours camping out upon the orange sands.


Returning to the investigator reveals a design flaw in the MK4 cockpit... jumping up underneath it, kerbals tend to headbutt the hull and bounce off before they get chance to grab onto the ladders, but eventually both Leo and Thystle manage to grab hold. 

Leaving the samples with River and Ollie in the lab, the rover team decides to set out early next morning. Perhaps a little too early.


The punishing canyon proves to be a true test for the Ranger Rover's capabilities...


Fortunately it turns out Thystle knows how to handle machines.


Since Rald's unexpected migration outwards to the edge of Kerbin's SoI, it seems to have swept up Minmus as a moon of a moon. With fuel to spare, it would be wasteful of the opportunity to just pass on by, so the crew stop off to plant flags and collect minty samples for later tasting research.


Turns out that MK4 cargo bays have issues keeping the heat away from their contents. This was noticed on the way up, but mission control decides to try bringing the rover home anyway. It doesn't go very well... future rovers will be left in-situ. 

The Investigator IV however is a sterling success. Plenty of thrust, champion range and excellent gliding capacity make for an airframe that will surely see regular service in the future.

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Firebird IV. General training and maintenance missions. When an airframe 'just works' it's hard not to keep on using it.





Er, so yeah, I usually do edit the save file to set the names/professions of my kerbals. This time... I didn't need to. Merlin Kerman, legit and on Mun. Of course I had to rescue him!


Firebird V. Because moar boosters tanks makes for more range. Since there are still some lower ranked kerbals, mission control decides that a more intensive training run is required.



Tektonik. A cloudy world with a hazy view of Sarnus and massive glitches in the ocean shaders, hence the landing on the land :P  With a low gravity and heavy atmosphere, the heatshield was totally unnecessary, and the parachutes almost so. Freefall speed seemed to be about 30m/s and there's a fair chance that with no ablator and some airbrakes a probe this light would have had a graceful touchdown.


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The Odyssey. Building on lessons from the Discovery, the Odyssey features a 2.5m docking port aligned with the CoM and thrust allowing for heavy towing without the need for symmetrical balancers. The advanced LV-N engines punch out a neat 1000 isp and 110kN each, with the unladen range being somewhere around 15km/s.



Nono Rover. Because as fancy as the Odyssey is, it's only one half of the equation.



A Mohovian Odyssey.


At this point, the crew notices there is a complete lack of materials bays or goo canisters on the Odyssey. 600,000 roots worth of hyper advanced cruiser, and the intern assigned to the basic science payload fell asleep on the job. Fortunately, Nono has us covered for now, and a quick EVA allows recovery of orbital data.

An anomaly surveyor contract wants the crew to scout out the deep sinkhole at the northern pole - aka the Mohole.


(Ed: it turns out to be the buggiest, most terrifying part of KSP I have ever encountered. Parking the rover within 500m of the rim resulted in a kraken attack within a minute, flinging the rover skywards at upwards of 50m/s. The last screenshot above is about 1.5 seconds before the rover departed skywards. F9 was needed often. Eventually, I left Nono nearly a kilometre away and jetpacked all the way over to get within range of the waypoint. It wasn't fast, but it go the job done without explosions.)


(This never happened. It was all a dream.)


(Also, it turned out that SVT lowers the terrain around the Mohole by about 3km, making the waypoint unreachable. I edited the save file and brought it down to a level with the rim, because I didn't want to restart the mission due to such a silly thing.)


The Moholian terrain is rather bothersome with SVT, being somewhat... puckered. By pure luck, the team has set down on the most accessible side, and logically head straight south in line with the wrinkles so's to avoid having to tackle the brutal slopes. There's a good chance that any other choice of longitude would have prevented the trip from continuing and forced an ascent to rejoin the Odyssey; but thanks to this unexpected turn of luck, the opportunity arises for a major expedition across the Mohovian biomes.


At last the pucker is left behind and smooth hills rise to either side. The girls celebrate their arrival at the highlands with a well deserved selfie. A small dispute arises with mission control as to the definition of a 'highlands' biome that is darker than the surroundings and only 145m altitude, but the ground crew puts their foot down and refuses to acknowledge science data from the feature.


The steady pace continues, Moho's blistering sun providing oodles of power through the modest solar panels. By the time the sixth biome is reached, Jinx, Fern, and Piper Kerman have travelled from the north pole to 8 degrees south of the equator in an epic voyage that they never want to repeat in their lifetimes.


By outrageous fortune amazing planning, Jinx Kerman begins the ascent at just the right time to intercept the Odyssey as it passes overhead. That's surely going to be one for the history books!

Lily Kerman turns out to be possibly the luckiest kerbal of all time. Stranded in orbit around Moho you say? Well, guess who just happens to be in the area!


Of course, as Jinx Kerman now knows, the Odyssey is not designed to land, so a new ship has to be launched to bring the crew and science data home. Sounds like an excuse to wheel out our favourite airframe!


Transferring Nono to the Investigator's cargo bay is a little tricky, but well worth it. Surface samples are dropped off for processing at Starcrossed station, and the crew returned to ground.


Refuelling the Odyssey. Because it turns out that when your cruiser holds over 20,000 units of fuel, you need a big refueller.


Thomas the Tanker is retired with his tanks now dry. He does his job well, but he just doesn't have the capacity to service the modern era of spaceships. Bring on Thomas II!


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We can't help but like Ike. 

For reasons unknown to kerbal, someone offered a contract to take some orbital temperature readings around Ike and offered 600k roots + 115k per waypoint. Obviously, there was only one thing to do!


...mission control acknowledges that there isn't technically a need for a dropship, but it would have been a shame to send the Odyssey out without a crew, so Jinx Kerman, Tora Kerman, Lily Kerman, Piper Kerman, Merlin Kerman, Rei Kerman, Fern Kerman and Yuki Kerman are handed a flag each, loaded aboard the new Yumi class vessel, stuck on top of a 3.75m rocket and fired towards the sky.

Surprisingly, everything works out fine, and they not only rendezvous with the Odyssey at 190km, but attach the missing science experiments from the initial Odyssey launch. Plus a mobile processing lab because Starcrossed is so hopelessly overloaded that there's no point even wishing for those boffins to get on with it. They're pondering over the Jool data, let alone the results of the Moho mission.

Capture into Dunian orbit is... peculiar. Ike is available to provide a gravity assist, which reduces the insertion to 600m/s in order to set up an encounter with... Ike. Perhaps this is overkill for a mothership packing 14km/s with a full cargo, but it never hurts to economise on the easy stuff. 

By the time the Odyssey and Yumi are in Ike orbit, the lab is stuffed with 748 data and merrily producing 50 sci/day. Some debate arises among the crew as to whether they should go for a landing on Ike as planned (world first) or Duna (more interesting by far). While it is true that Yumi packs 3km/s in her KR&D improved tanks, she hasn't been designed or tested for atmospheric performance. Plus, the engineers point out, TWR on Kerbin would be 0.43, which is rather close for Duna lift off. At this point, everyone decides they like Ike after all, and no further questions are raised. Descent prep will begin when Yuki and Fern have gotten through some of the initial orbital data.


Some of the crew seem to be wearing the wrong colours... there's only two pilots here and there should be at least three engineers.... One to fix for later. Still, nice to meet an old friend while out hopping.


Having gathered a slew of data from three different biomes, Yumi is down to just 760m/s in the tank and mission control calls it quits. 

Tora Kerman, piloting for the ascent, decides to try a little number she's heard tales of from the Moho expedition - probably egged on by the pilot from the Moho expedition in the chair next to her. She aces it, and Yumi ends up within 2km of the Odyssey at its apoapsis. Any closer and she'd have poked it right in the eye.

The return window to Kerbin is some time away, but that will give the onboard lab a chance to process all the rocks from Ike's surface.

Despite the perfectly successful mission, it seems a shame that Yumi didn't get many biomes covered. Noticing that the Odyssey has unused space for oxidiser aboard, it is decided that future short-distance missions like this one should probably top those up to allow the lander to have multiple runs.


After a surprisingly long time, someone finally thought to hire the KSC to check Duna for ore. Initial results are optimistic. Whether Duna is really a great location for a fuel station is another question, since Ike is undeniably easier to get off of... but at least we know now.

Over the next 120 days, with the Odyssey's lab and Starcrossed station both working flat out on their vast treasure hoards of data, a crackpot sum of 20,000 science points are sent back home. The question the research team are trying to answer is how best to employ it all... options tabled so far:

  1. Keep it! We need all we can get for our high energy physics project! Results? How can we have results before we start? But trust us, it'll be awesome.
  2. Allocate the lot to our nuclear engines (with KR&D). An additional 400 ISP would put even the distant outer planets within the grasp of medium sized vessels! Did I hear someone ask for a spaceplane to Laythe and back?
  3. Our aerospikes are still just the basic starter model. Another 30% ISP might let us get serious about exploring Eve's shorelines.
  4. Complete the Near Future branch of the tech tree, and possibly beef up the thrust of the super efficient engines therein. While having nervas at 1600 ISP is tempting, some of the advanced NF engines are beyond anything that they could ever reach.
  5. Cut some of the weight off our aerodynamic parts. Everyone knows that the sexiest ships look like planes, so we could make it easier to make planes!

Three months later, as the science data has been mostly processed...



Sarinator. Far, far away, there once lived a blue ice giant... and it's lumpy blue moon.


In tight Sarin orbit, Daphne turns out to be cracked little moon made of blue ice. Mission control makes a note to equip any future expeditions with rubber gloves.


Fosno is less attractive, and mostly used to provide a gravity slingshot, raising the apoapsis so's to reduce the fuel costs of achieving a retrograde orbit to match S/0-S2. This green little moonlet is somewhat reminiscent of Minmus, although it seems more apple-y than minty.

Naturally, the next two explore contracts are for two other moons of Sarin - both of which are in prograde but eccentric orbits :huh:  With only 2500m/s left in the tank, it seems very unlikely that Sarinator can explore both of these, although there is a chance that it could manage one or the other, with some careful use of gravity assists to change orbital plane around Sarin.

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After many, many hours of design and simulation...



...mission control finally agreed to release the funds for an Eve mission. It's ambitious and it's dangerous, but it'll be great publicity, and they really do want to know if the planet is primarily covered in blueberries.


There's something... exceedingly eerie about being in orbit of Eve. Perhaps it's because you know that only 10km below your feet is the most ferocious atmosphere in the system. Maybe it's because you know that Eve is pulling on you hard enough to shrink your spine by two inches - if you weren't in orbital freefall. Whatever the case, the atmosphere here is a little creepy, and the crew resolve to be done as quickly as possible.


Descent was a little scary. Sylveon's CoM is a bit too high behind the shield and she tends to tip slightly off-retrograde. Fortunately that shield is so darn huge it keeps the airbrakes in the slipstream anyway and nothing burnt off. There's a nasty spin kicks in about 25km, which seems to be the SAS overusing the fins and getting locked into a feedback loop - but it settles once the parachutes are deployed. Final touchdown is about 1800m altitude in a highlands biome that wasn't quite as high as mission planning had hoped.

With a final impact speed of 6.3m/s, it's a relatively lazy touchdown, and Lyssa becomes the first kerbal to set toe upon the purple sands of Eve. For once, even her fearless grin fades into a thin lipped expression of one who understands just how demanding this planet is on travellers.


What Lyssa did not realise from the simulations was that taking off from Eve feels like you're doing everything at 3x timewarp. The thick atmosphere yanks you around with the slightest whiff of control authority, while the heavy gravity tears through your first two stages much quicker than you expect. In the end, Sylveon could probably have reached orbit with more fuel remaining, but these are lessons that are learned by doing. In the end, the mothership only makes two orbits between decoupling, and Lyssa returning to space - an efficient snatch and grab that didn't leave any time for the krakens of Eve to strike.

(Ed: And not a single science point has been KR&D'd into either the vector or the aerospike engines on that lander :D  The tanks hold about 5% more fuel, and the pod is about 20% lighter, but that's pretty much as far as the cheating goes. TWR was always over 1.2, and it reached orbit with 1km/s spare, so I suspect it would have flown with pure stock.

Future missions, yes absolutely I will be improving the atmospheric ISP of those engines, and probably their thrust. I don't fancy trying to land a fancy rover with current equipment. Lander design heavily inspired by things in the Eve Ascent Challenge thread. Because geebus hell it's hard to get your head around Eve without some guidance to get you going! That planet just mocks you for anything you do even slightly wrong...)


The Investigator MPV Edition is yet again employed to collect everyone from LKO, piloted by Jay Kerman, who insists on bugging Lyssa every time she gets home. Its tanks prove capacious enough to top up the Sylveon transfer ship (new name pending) completely, so it remains docked to Starcrossed and available as a heavy-duty tug in future.

The Odyssey was visited by a Thomas II tanker while the Sylveon returned from Eve, and so only needed a few extra units to top her off fully, but since the Investigator has fuel to spare, the Yumi dropship is also given a refuel. The pair can remain in orbit until an appropriate mission arises, or perhaps Sylveon will take over the job of transporting Yuki while the Odyssey can carry a heavier lander. Either way, point is never to waste a good asset once it's in orbit, and mission control now has three up there.

Following the return to ground, the engineering team were strictly reprimanded about their choice of docking ports. It turns out that off-axis junior ports have basically no structural rigidity at all, causing the Sylveon's lander pod to swing and sway wildly in the cargo bay whenever the Investigator made in-atmosphere manoeuvres. This dangerous circumstance was unfortunately captured by journalists' cameras and is now an indelible part of public record. The PR department is trying to convince them that this was an experimental male mail plane...


Fortunately, the Investigator's glide speed is only 50m/s and only the terrier engine was lost when it inevitably collided with the runway, although once again this plane landed so short that it only recovered for 98% value. Pilots are henceforth instructed to taxi further than they actually need to.

Future retrievals that absolutely must have only a junior docking port will be arranged to allow decoupling of everything except the command pod, and the port will be fitted on-axis at the front of the cargo bay.

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Road trip! Kelley and Doohan Kerman driving the rover, with Roddenberry, Nimoy, Merlin and Lily remaining with the ship.

It's still dawn when Kelley and Doohan roll off the ramp, so they pause for a quick systems check while the sun rises overhead. As the light improves, they set off over 25km of rough terrain on which the Investigator had been unable to safely set down. Mission control knows better than to underestimate the landing distance required on Rald, and will not accept anything less than a 4km strip as viable.


With the survey done and the sun still high, mission control asks if the expedition could drive 50km to the 'nearby' Kellas Sea, a biome as yet unexplored. Since the Ranger Rover is such a pleasure to drive, it's hard to say no to.


On their way, they encountered a miraculous thing; a wide, squarish area of completely level ground and a not-useless 6.7% ore concentration. Planting a flag, they radio back to the Investigator, requesting that the ship come to meet them for a better assessment of the area's suitability as a long term base location.


Not only do the crew have to abandon the rover (it doesn't survive a return to Kerbin anyway), but mission control dumps them in the armpit of the system while they crunch through 700 science data. (It would have been more, but the rover carried 5/7 of the instruments... something of an oversight on the part of the mission design team there.)

On the whole, we can't be too surprised at the outcome. Merlin, Kelley, Lily, Doohan, Nimoy and Roddenberry Kerman are unanimous in their decision that spending three months plus in a cold, dark, glum corner of Rald is unacceptable, and, unbeknownst to mission control, decide to find a more palatable location.


The Kargyre impact basin seems a good candidate. Not only is it lush, green, and with nice views, but it has some good flat spots as well. In fact, it has some really good flat spots. So good that they wish they still had the rover's ore scanner, because this would be a good base location if it turns up positive. On the other hand, it's even further from the equator than the Kellas sea, so perhaps its better that they don't find out. Besides, if they reported a reading, that would mean admitting to mission control that they aren't at the south pole any more.

Doohan Kerman starts preparing a good technical reason for why they might be short of fuel and unable to return to Kerbin without a top up, something to do with leaky containment fields. Everyone else heads for the beer-fridge and wonders whether it's practical to walk to the lake they saw during the descent. 

Mutiny's such a strong word... let's swap it for ones like 'wilful' and 'headstrong'.


Still, what mission control never finds out won't hurt them. Despite the unexpected and smoothly covered up change of plans, the Investigator's mission has been a stunning success, returning over 2500 science points and raising the sum total of all kerbal knowledge to over 28,000.

Meanwhile, the engineering team have been busy...


At 34 tons, the Thunderhawk is a little heavier than hoped, but her capabilities aren't in any doubt. KR&D'd Space Y thrusters and provide enough grunt for about 3-4 vertical touchdowns or take offs in a 1g environment. The general tactic seems to be to enter a controlled stall as close to where you want to be as possible, which will drop air speed to around 25-30m/s and allow the thrusters to control the descents from there.

The power of the turbocharged rapiers + LV-N is now well and truly back in the realms of 0.90, allowing the Thunderhawk to reach LKO without even sipping from its precious oxidiser, and that docking port on the nose... well, it's probably obvious what that's for :) 



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Really enjoyed this. I'm now inspired to add Rald to my 1.2 career when it starts in earnest (hopefully next week). I also hope that R&D or something similar makes the jump to 1.2.

Do you know if Rald plays nice with Sigma Dimensions or 64 K? I definitely want to be playing in a larger scale than stock.

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1 minute ago, Norcalplanner said:

Do you know if Rald plays nice with Sigma Dimensions or 64 K? I definitely want to be playing in a larger scale than stock.

You'd have to ask @KerikBalm about that, tbh. One of his options for Rald is a Duna replacement, taking it up in scale from the location I have it at.

But yes, it's a really nice extra to have :) 

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Well, I'm on 1.2 pre- release right now, and kopernicus isn't working, and thus rald isn't working...

When I have Kopernicus working again and some more time, I'm going to update the moon variants of Rald... placing them in resonances that should be stable in the long term even if KSP did an N-body simulation.

For the inner moon variant this would involved Mun being moved a little farther out so that its orbit is 7 days instead of ~6.4, and Minmus would come ever so slightly inward so its orbit is 49 days instead of 50-51, making a 1:7:49 resonance for the system. The outer moon variant I think I'll just move Rald inward to be in a 7:1 resonance with Mun, and I'll also modify the orbit of Minmus around Rald.

I don't have any plans at the moment for the L4/Duna versions... but that south pole terrain really looks a bit screwed up, I may try changing the heightmap near the poles to see if I can make that any better.

Ambient light increases are also being considered.


I see you moved Rald from the inner moon variant to the outer moon variant... any factors in this decision that you care to mention?

You mentioned a 4km landing requirement for your spaceplane on Rald, the latest version of the inner moon variant had the atmosphere below 500m thickened by up to 15% at sea level, which would help in many areas (it was mainly to make low tech airbreathers more viable, since a closer Rald is more likely to get visits earlier in the tech tree)

The Duna-Rald version... that's going to need even more space. The gravity is ~14% higher, and the orbital velocity is increased even more than that... so if you were landing at >100 m/s, you'll need a bit more lift now because previously the lift required would actually be significantly less due to travelling at a significant fraction of orbital velocity (100 m/s used to be 1/9th orbital velocity, for the Duna version its more like 1/13th orbital velocity

49 minutes ago, Norcalplanner said:

Do you know if Rald plays nice with Sigma Dimensions or 64 K? I definitely want to be playing in a larger scale than stock.

I've never tried it with that mod, but the heightmap and .cfg file derived from the RSS Mars data, which is essentially 10x KSP scale.

I'm told the high res height map should actually look better on a bigger planet. I see no reason it wouldn't behave well when scaled up, since I started by scaling mars down to 1/10th radius without changing much about the heightmap (kept the same resolution). Obviously airbreathers to orbit will be much harder, but I suspect someone using a scaled up system doesn't want to see these ridiculously OPd airbreathing spaceplanes anyway.

Edited by KerikBalm
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24 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

Obviously airbreathers to orbit will be much harder, but I suspect someone using a scaled up system doesn't want to see these ridiculously OPd airbreathing spaceplanes anyway.

Probably not, but you never know. :) My thought is to go 3.2x if R&D doesn't make the jump to 1.2, or 64K if it (or something similar using the new upgrade mechanic) does get updated for 1.2. I've never made an SSTO in anything but stock scale, so it might be a challenge worth tackling with a larger Kerbin.

Edited by Norcalplanner
Dang autocorrect
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I don't see any terrain scatters in your recent screen shots of Rald, are they turned off?

I'm *almost* tempted to look into changing the ground scatter. Right now it uses Duna's terrain scatter, and thus its nothing but boulders...




I think KSP and kopernicus support terrain specific terrain scatters. If I recall correctly some parts of kerbin have cactus rather than trees. Some parts also have grass tufts.

I haven't looked much into terrain scatters for Rald... maybe they don't show up everywhere? Perhaps I should pay more attention to them.

Perhaps  in the greenish areas I could maybe reduce the number of boulders and add some tufts of grass? I don't want to go with large trees... but maybe some small plant stuff would be ok.

Edited by KerikBalm
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10 hours ago, KerikBalm said:

I see you moved Rald from the inner moon variant to the outer moon variant... any factors in this decision that you care to mention?

You mentioned a 4km landing requirement for your spaceplane on Rald, the latest version of the inner moon variant had the atmosphere below 500m thickened by up to 15% at sea level, which would help in many areas (it was mainly to make low tech airbreathers more viable, since a closer Rald is more likely to get visits earlier in the tech tree)

I think at first I wanted to try using it for a gravity assist, but in low orbit it didn't really have chance to do anything because you swoosh through a small SoI too quickly for it to really kick in. Out at Minmus it tends to get more chance to help you out, but it's less likely you'll get the encounter with it on the right side of Kerbin. Really, I like both, and if I start a new career I don't know where I'll choose to put it. The downside of low orbit was that a lot of satellite contracts ask for geosynchronous, which doesn't work well :) 

I'm not too worried about the long landing requirement any more - there are mitigation options, and all of the problems and solutions apply on Duna as well. My current favourite is simply heavy vernors at the front and bottom, but a ventral cargo bay with a couple of action-grouped engines in it should work for stock players. Thicker air at the coasts certainly won't hurt though :) 

7 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

I don't see any terrain scatters in your recent screen shots of Rald, are they turned off?

I've got scatter at 50%, I just assumed some areas were meant to be smoother than others ^^;

I like the idea of small plants rather than boulders.

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Launching the Thunderhawk. 


Mission control knew from the start that the 34 ton Thunderhawk was heavier than the Odyssey was designed to tow, but somehow nobody has done the maths to work out just how much it would affect the mothership's range, and everyone just waited until they were docked to see what the computer readouts said. Conclusion; something needs to be done.


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