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ALIEN SKIES: A 6.4-scale playthrough of GPP/Rald

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uawBpsq.png  Vw38RjE.png?1



...the experiment... wrong wrong...

...and the skies here... are very strange...



My memory is still foggy... all of ours are. No one remembers exactly what happened. The greatest minds from all over the Union were gathered together for this, and now, they are stranded here the same as the rest of us. Andrei and Vladislav are convinced the Empress herself was somehow involved. Me, I'm not so sure.

Our prospects now are mixed, at best. We can breathe the air, there is something on the ground that looks like grass, but I don't think we're on Kerbin anymore. And who the PЦҬЇЍ is Toto?? At any rate, we can live here... and the Machine keeps spitting out food. Although honestly the term "food" is a bit of a stretch. But the skies...

They are like nothing any of us have ever seen before. An enormous moon hangs in the sky, painted blue and green and red. Other travellers beckon too, but the stars... there are no stars. Only angry, burning clouds of crimson. Somehow, it is fitting.

It seems we have all we need for the mission, to build a glorious space program for our glorious Union. But we have not heard from them in... I'm not sure how long. I'm beginning to doubt we ever will again. Yet we will press on, if only for lack of anything better to do. The work will keep idle hands from thinking too long on the situation. From the ground up, we shall forge a space program! We shall reach out to the strange sights in the sky, and learn about this, our brave new world!


And perhaps, in doing so, we shall find our own way back to our glorious Union. Could it be so simple? Could these constructs of fire and metal become the bridge between worlds, the vessels to carry us on the long journey home?





OOC is serious business:

The Glorious Ussari Space Program will soon be lost to history, but its shadows live on. So, exactly what it says on the tin: we have here a heavily modded 6.4-scale game of @Galileo's awesome planet pack. I'll get a CKAN file up eventually, but other primary mods include the planet Rald, Kerbalism: cussword-spawner realism-enhancer, and Research Bodies. So I actually don't know what's out in those alien skies, and have tried to avoid spoilers in Galileo's thread. Actual content will follow very shortly as our intrepid crew of marooned Kerbals try to find their way home... or perhaps realize, they already are...

(Also special thanks to @Ten Key for flags, @JadeOfMaar for various assistance getting things running, @KerikBalm for his planet Rald [absolutely not terraformed Mars!] and probably numerous others I'm currently forgetting. :blush:)



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20 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

And perhaps, in doing so, we shall find our own way back to our glorious Union. Could it be so simple? Could these constructs of fire and metal become the bridge between worlds, the vessels to carry us on the long journey home?




I want to see your modlist for knowing's sake but I wonder if that falls under spoilers atm.

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Update #1, day 34.

And so it begins. The Machine spat out instructions this time. First, launch a vessel. Second, learn something new about this strange place. Then it spat out a bunch of parts, some sort of chits, and something that looked like week-old pastrami. Smelt like it, too. 

At any rate, 'the Machine' sounds too ominous, so I tasked Andrei with naming it, if only to distract him from the pastrami. We are now calling it the General Entropy Negation Engine, or GENE. I suppose it's as good a name as any. GENE wants us to launch a vessel. That much, at least, was straightforward.


It's small, but at least nothing exploded. Except Vlad. I warned him to stay away from the pastrami.


We now have some recorded data about this place, too. Andrei has named it "Gael," so I have named him the Official Namer of Things. Since he seems to have a knack for it, and I obviously do not.


As the rocket shot skyward, it kept right on collecting data, recording it to a tape drive. This is a little different from our preliminary simulations back home, but the engineers adapted quickly.


Andrei has named the enormous moon in the sky "Rald," because it reminds him of his father's bald spot. Andrei... has never been a good speller.


There are two much smaller moons, just visible in daylight. Andrei has named one Iota, because it's small, and the other Ceti, because... well, I'm not entirely sure why. But it's better than pointing and grunting.


According to telemetry, our first rocket reached an altitude of 22 kilometers, confirming that there is still air there. Not that you could breathe, though. As it began to descent, right on cue the nosecone separated and armed its parachute with a drive full of data for recovery.


About this point, we realized that while the nosecone had a parachute, the rest of the rocket had no such implement, and being unguided, it of course began coming directly for us at a truly terrifying speed. This led to much running and screaming and poor Vlad had, well, another "accident." We've all made it a point to remain upwind.


As one would expect, the nosecone took it sweet time getting down to us, and after all that running and screaming we had to schlep halfway across the island to go pick it up.


But sweat and foul odors aside, it worked! We have learned about Gael's upper and lower atmosphere, and GENE wasted no time in giving us a new directive: Now that you know about the atmosphere, get out of it. Then more parts, and more chits.


I'm beginning to understand how all this works. The chits seem to be a reward for completing directives. Andrei has named them "roots," because, well, he thought they might be edible at first, and then Vlad... nevermind.

The parts cost roots, simple enough. The engineers seemed quite amused as they assembled our next rocket.


Andrei has named it, "Rocket2." Maybe he's not the namer I thought he was.


Oddly enough, Rocket2 is far simpler than our first concoction. It carries no instruments or parachutes, only a probe core and antenna for rudimentary control...


...so we can be sure it goes that-a-way.


Rocket2 surpasses even our greatest expectations, reaching nearly 190 kilometers before falling back down. Judging by the telemetry, the engineers surmise the atmosphere reaches beyond a hundred kilometers, far higher than the 91 kilometers of home. Actual instruments will be required to pinpoint it.



Rocket2, sadly, was not long for this world. We guess it reached a speed of around two and a half kilometers per second before breaking up in the lower atmosphere, well out to sea and away from Vlad and his cursed internals. It's plain that recovering anything from such heights and speeds will require a significant advance in our understanding.


For now, we're all going to get some rest. Mostly because GENE is quietly humming something about a daisy and it's creeping us all out.



OOC is serious business: @JadeOfMaar Yes, I was planning to include a mod list as soon as I figured out an efficient way to actually capture it. Highly subject to change, and while this install is flirting with the limits of my system memory, it's a good flirt and seems stable enough for a game.



We'll see what happens when I hit those big part counts. :D



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Day 127...

Onward and upward!

That's inspiring, right? They told me I should say inspiring things. Back before... whatever happened, happened. More of the details keep slipping away. It must have taken weeks to build all this, weeks of going back and forth between... but, it feels like it all happened at once. One big... something, that probably left a big hole in the ground.

Well, we built another rocket for GENE. It didn't explode. Or come roaring back at us. That's inspiring, right?

qudKalk.pngWith Rocket3, we have finally passed the atmosphere! The engineers have pegged it at almost exactly 112 kilometers.



Though I'm really starting to regret letting Andrei name everything.


Rocket3 crested at just over 300 kilometers altitude, all the while going more-or-less the right direction. The payload separated just after. GENE wanted us to test out a new heatshield...



Which, surprisingly enough, actually worked. The payload remained stable and kept its data intact all the way back down.



And then it sank. I think we're going to need float on these things. So Vlad had to go swimming. Tried to send Andrei at first, but apparently he's afraid of deep-sea krakens. Deep sea krakens, really! What a silly idea. Although once he came back up with the payload, Vlad did say something about needing a bigger boat...



Next, well... GENE spat out requirements for this...


... along with Vlad's underwear. I'm not going to ask. 


And then this... we've all agreed never to talk about this again...


What was it that junior political officer was always saying? "This, we do not speak of...?"


OK, we're speaking of it again. We actually got it to work.



It worked surprisingly well, even. All this just to test decouplers.



The bigger test was using wings to reduce gee-force on re-entry. Sooner or later, we're going to have to send a person up there. They probably wouldn't appreciate being squished into pulp on the way down. Except maybe for Vlad. He's... off, like that.



It was all going surprisingly well once more, the return vehicle was stable and beginning to actually fly...


...until someone popped the chute at 18km up.


Oh, well, at least this one didn't sink.


Now GENE wants us to put something into orbit next...

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Day 132...

We've done it! We've put an artificial satellite into orbit!

It worked a little too, well actually...


...eventually. This is what the engineer's came up with given GENE's limited part allowance. We had cobbled together enough roots after the last launch to improve the launch pad, now the assembly building is becoming the bottleneck. For some reason, we're limited to a mere 30 parts. That seems a bit arbitrary, but then again I'm not a quasi-sentient analog thinking machine. So, we had to cut some corners. Or, more specifically, nosecones.


No, no, not that way! The other way!


We lack anything resembling a proper guidance program. This very improper guidance program is just Vlad with a joystick and radio. He seems to have the coordination of a slightly above average sea sponge.


That's better. Just keep going. That-a-way. Rald looms in the western sky. More on that later.



After flopping around in manner disconcertingly reminiscent of Andrei's borscht belly, the rocket finally reaches booster separation. He named it, surprisingly enough, Rocket4. I'm beginning to sense a pattern, here...



For some reason, after the non-gimballing boosters separated, Vlad had even more difficulty keeping this thing going straight. He eventually managed to wobble it up to a 138km apo...gee? before core stage burnout and separation.



This was the really hard part. The final kicker stage is completely unguided. The only control is a big red button with a sticky note reading "FWOOSH!" on it. Vlad had to get the kicker stage lined up on the right azimuth before the core stage burned out and directional control was lost. Did I mention this thing also had no roll control at all?


He managed to pull it off, though! Right on course! Er, well, close enough, I suppose. That-way-ish. Now to hit the button and attain a nice, stable, roughly circular orbit...





Well, here's where it all went seventeen... eighteen... nineteen. Someone must have forgotten to carry the one somewhere. Or maybe carried way, way too many of them. Our little metal sphere made it into orbit, all right... with an apogee of nearly fourteen thousand kilometers. That's nearly out to the orbit of Rald. Wait a minute... my limited math skills are telling me something...


See how our little ball is quite plainly moving away from Rald? Well, sooner or later is has to come back the other way. And then go out again. These things go in circles, after all. It turns out our first satellite became the first artificial object to fly by Rald, and once kicked by its gravity, exited the area into a wide solar orbit.

The only trouble is, the batteries ran out after only half an hour. So all this is purely theoretical.


GENE is making noise again.

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Day 147...


If we're ever going to upgrade the assembly building, we need roots.

Lots and lots of roots.

Vlad actually tried selling his body to the science department. They paid him to take it back. Somehow, it still ended up being a net loss...

Myself, I crunched the numbers enough to figure out that I much prefer them soggy after soaking in milk a while. Then I did some math.

Then I realized what a horrible idea that was, and had the engineering department do it instead. They came up with the radical notion that building things that either get thrown away or launched off into the void even especially if they work right is not economically sustainable. So they suggested something that could actually return to our facility after it was used.

This is what they came up with:


Um... it's supposed to do that. Really. Absolutely not a miscalculation...


Anyway, then came the more daunting prospect of finding someone to actually fly it, since none of us here are that stupid qualified. I asked for a volunteer, but no one stepped forward. So then I asked for anyone who didn't want to volunteer to take a step back, so everyone did, except Triti, who was too busy picking her nose.

Which was odd, since she doesn't have a nose...

Well, after a couple of hours of threats, bribery, pleading, and a sock full of butter, we finally managed to get her inside and lock the door from the outside.


Surprisingly enough, it actually flies. Slow and wobbly, but it flies. Though that might be side effects from the sock...


Good ol' Triti managed to dredge up some useful science by just looking out the window and noting what she saw. GENE had offered a respectable amount to further survey several waypoints at low altitude, however.



Triti managed to get the Aero-whatzit back without losing anything too important, so we were able to roll it right back into the hanger for another mission. I gave her a couple of silly ribbons to make up for the sock. She's still bitter about the butter. She never mentioned she was lactose intolerant...



Our next mission came up rather quickly. Someone named Moris came running up waving a handful of roots. I didn't even know we had a Moris Kerman on staff, here. This place just gets stranger and stranger. She offered the funds if we could make her pass out. Vlad went for the sock again, but, well, our butter supply is limited, and eating that much in one sitting just can't be healthy. So instead the engineers decided to involve rockets. Which is much less risky.


Trouble is, only one person can fit inside at a time, so we just strapped Triti to the roof. She should be fine...


We tried strapping the rocket directly to her, at first, too, since the plane really needs that second engine to get off the ground, but that didn't go well. So in the end we put it back on the plane.



It took a while to get up to altitude, but then there was plenty of





FWOOOO-- um, wait a minute, doesn't Triti need to be awake to fly that thing? Maybe we should have thought this thing through a little more...




So anyway, Moris was never heard from again. Triti is still just a tad... well, let's call it testy. Vlad tried to smooth things over with her, but it didn't go well.


Oh, and we had to throw the rest of the butter out.


We'd better not let on what else GENE is demanding...

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Day 238...

This is starting to feel less like blind experimentation, and more like accomplishing something. GENE spit out a small series of contracts (and Vlad's... well, he won't need it anymore...) to put a satellite in a polar orbit and map the entire planet. It took a long time to put together, but this is what the engineers finally came up with:

ydOZFSY.pngIt's deceptively simple, and enormous single solid booster to loft the upper stage with our first proper engine.



Launching to a polar orbit will be even more demanding, but with the huge form of Rald tempting us upward, it's the next logical step.


Plus, we'll actually get to see where we are.


Erm... ignore that explosion... perfectly normal... nothing to see, here...



See? Everything normal, there's the booster right there, nothing to worry about uh, boy...


Ahem, well here we have our new workhorse engine, that Andrei has dubbed the Gandalf 1B. Absolutely not to be confused with that other wizard...


Yes, just ignore that stuck fairing there... we meant to do that... totally planned it... aye, yai yai...



The new engine performs perfectly, boosting our second satellite into space where it continues on a tried and true engine into a 300-km polar orbit.



Our first SCANsat is deployed successfully! Though since it's always in sunlight, all those batteries might have been a bit overkill...



Rald beckons us ever onward...



After a few days, the satellite gives us our first grainy, slightly-out-of-focus look at our new planet. It really is beginning to feel like ours, as this confirms there doesn't seem to be anyone else here at all...


Our string of contracts now complete, we're now ready to move on to... what do you mean, there's still an incomplete contract?



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Day 317...

The limited part count supported by the current assembly building continues to be our bottleneck, so it's back to more surveys for GENE. Our engineers made some... slight modifications to the plane, and managed to coax Triti back in with some chocolate...


The look on her face was pretty priceless. I'll probably regret that, but maybe I can just blame it on Vlad...


She managed to land near the facility for some surface reports without breaking anything off. She still swears she set the parking brake, but, well...


...there was running and... screaming...


After that we tried to send her off over the mountains, but our little aircraft finally reached its limits well below the summit. The little prop engine conked out first, Triti turned back before she lost the jet, too.



After some more root exchanges with GENE, the engineers came up with this...


... and then cheaped out on the improved runway. I mean, look at those gaps in the concrete. So big it's worthless. Triti had to taxi off the runway to actually take off.
And it took her several tries to figure that much out, too...


But this little jet powered beast was finally what we needed to get beyond the mountains ringing our island!



It turns out they're not just mountains, the highlands beyond are incredibly, well, high...


Even at 12000 meters altitude, Triti was only a couple of kilometers above the ground for most of this trek.


GENE sent her on a 1200-kilometer (one way!) ody oddyis odyc schlep across the scrublands for another series of aerial surveys, stretching the range of our newest craft to its limit...


...and then things got... really interesting...


As Triti heads home, a dark form looms on the horizon...



Triti's exact report said, "THIS. WAS. SOME. CREEPY. SCAT. RIGHT. HERE!"


It turns out it was only the daily Rald eclipse, but she kept the throttles firewalled the whole way back, eventually topping out at nearly mach 1.5!


Running on fumes and ignoring the giant freaky shadow in the sky, she swooped over the volcano for a look down inside...


Oh, look, a swimming hole! 10 klicks straight down.


Just before running out of fuel, she swooped east of the facility to grab one more survey spot. She can be quite the little trooper when there's cocoa involved, it seems...


Settling in for a dead-stick landing a short walk from the runway (which is worthless)...


Erm... that'll buff out... probably...



Triti, that's coming out of your paycheck! What? You don't get a paycheck? None of us do? Hmm...

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On 2/25/2017 at 3:01 AM, CatastrophicFailure said:


Sir. You are under arrest. You are charged with the following crimes:

  • 2 uses of the word "schlep"
  • physical and psychological abuse against 2 women kerbals
  • 100 counts of funky humor
  • (Don't make me count) deploying haphazard machinations

Seriously, this is quite entertaining and it has me wondering now if you used to be SQUAD. These writings are possibly too kerbal. :P 

(And I just ran out of likes to give. :( )

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1 hour ago, insert_name said:


1 hour ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

True equality means anyone can be the designated butt monkey. Just you wait. :wink:

Is no inequality in glorious  Ussari Union

Everyone is butt monkey. All at same time. Ussaris volunteer. IF THEY DO NOT WANT TO SEE KOMISSAR.

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2 hours ago, insert_name said:

Is no inequality in glorious  Ussari Union


52 minutes ago, CSE said:

Everyone is butt monkey. All at same time. Ussaris volunteer. IF THEY DO NOT WANT TO SEE KOMISSAR.

With no proper kommissar or political officers present, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before this isolated little society begins to implode. :wink:

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Day 340...

As we approach a full year stranded here, the time has finally come to send one of our brave number on the first step to... anywhere else.

Once more, brave Triti Kerman has been thumped over the head selflessly volunteered for the role!


Vlad drew the short straw and had to distract her. That's probably gonna leave a mark.


As is customary before such a momentous occasion, we asked Triti for some profound and encouraging words before she was unceremoniously crammed heralded into the capsule...


Written here for all posterity are her historic words:

I'll kill you. I'll kill you. I will flarping kill you. I swear I will kill every last Oedipus here. Don't shut that hatch. Don't you dare shut that hatch. You bunch of hornswoggling gobnobbed clatterfarts, so help me I'll-- *edited for content and to run in the time allotted.


The single solid booster was based on the same one that successfully lofted our first SCANsat. 6 gees might have been a bit excessive, but the capsule and it's science package successfully separated just before apogee. Also, there were experiments.


Fearless Triti was lobbed to a height of just over 112 kilometers, barely into space. But barely is close enough.


We again asked for some enlightened words upon engaging in this historic first flight, but all she said was "My Kerm, it's not full of stars!"


We were mostly expecting the star thing, but whatever a "Kerm" is and what she was doing with one in a tiny capsule is still anyone's guess at this point.


10 gees on the descent have demonstrated that Kerbals are surprisingly resistant to liquefaction.




See? We take care of our staff. Not just one but two parachutes!



Triti was in surprisingly good spirits when we recovered her, although soaking wet oddly enough. We attributed the former to her brief time in the sublime embrace of the cosmos, and turning the oxygen supply way down. Because, you know, every gram saved...


Everything was going well until Vlad tried to help her out of her space suit. The doctor says the swelling should go down in a couple days, but he'll have to wear the supporter for at least a week.

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Year 2, Day 32...

Happy new year to us, yay! Although time here is still confusing. Gael has only a 15 hour day, while we're still running officially on a standard 24 hour day. Judging by the rest of the crew, eventually you get used to it... or you have a psychotic episode. So it's probably been more than a year, but I leave the math up to the engineers.

So... remember that incomplete objective I mentioned a while back?

I'm going to read the contract offers better.

The engineers had to build a whole new lifter for this...


I named it the Gael 1a. I offered to let Vlad name it first, as sort of a peace offering, but some things just aren't fit to print. Apparently he's still upset that the swelling hasn't gone down. The doctor mentioned something about eggplants, but I didn't stick around for the details.


This first launch won't even get us to our goal. The whole thing is mostly a test flight, but GENE had the decency to throw us a bone and pay us for it. 


Still haven't figured out what the bone is for...


Booster separation and all normal. With only half its fuel remaining, the core stage has enough power to continue on. Gael's towering atmosphere is proving quite the challenge.



We're running a trio of hypergolic engines on the upper stage. It's not the most efficient setup but we needed the raw power over the Gandalf's efficiency.



Payload separation, still quite a bit short of a proper orbit. Here we have an experiment into an all-in-one universal buss for future missions. It's ridiculously overpowered, but lightly loaded packs over 2km/s into a very compact package.



This test bird packs a suite of experiments, including our first orbital telescope. According to our earlier radar scans, there's no sign of civilization anywhere else on the planet. This new telescope series should pinpoint anything the low-res SCAN missed.



Boosted into an eccentric final orbit, the instruments prove the existence of at least one band of dangerous radiation above low orbit. This may prove problematic to future missions.


Oh, that yellow line in the background?


I'm going to read the contract offers better.


GENE wanted a polar orbit. Simple, right? We were already sending the SCANsat into a polar orbit, easy enough to tack this one on, right?
It's three times the orbit of Rald.


I'm going to read the contract offers better.


Barely off the drawing boards, and the Gael series already gets a major upgrade. The trio of Gandalfs on the boosters is replaced by a single, non-gimballing Robin engine, and two more boosters added.


Behold, the Gael 1b!


All our control authority is coming from the center cluster of Gandalfs, now. I'm sure it will be fine. The extra kick of the new boosters is a welcome, er, boost, to the flight profile.



We added a fourth hypergolic engine to the upper stage, but it's still not quite enough to loft the payload into a proper orbit. At apogee, the first of two solid kick motors will ignite.



Once the probe swings back around, the second motor will fire.



Then it's up to the buss's own engines to boost into the final orbit. Even stripped down to nothing but reaction wheels and antenna, we had a razor-thin margin.



Contract finally complete, with a mostly useless satellite in a mostly useless orbit.



I'm going to read the contract offers better.


Ooooh, this one looks easy! *accept*

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Year 2, day 204...

We've been to busy to update lately. GENE has finally given us our first official missions to explore Rald. First, we'll need some basic science collection and a rough map. We begin by launching the slightly-better-named RaldSCAN into a polar orbit...



It's not the most efficient way to transfer, but the only way to get into a polar Rald orbit with our limited delta-v budget. After loitering several hours for phasing and a boost from what's left in the upper stage, the probe heads off.




Entering Rald's SOI over the north pole. RaldSCAN begins recording gigabytes of data. Right off, the science team guesses it will take hours to return it all.


Rald looks very... shiny.


Peri...-Rald? -ree? is adjusted to maintain line-of-sight to Gael. It's another hit to efficiency, but the alternative is swinging past the planet on the far side and loosing comms exactly when we need them.



Yes, Rald seems very, very... shiny...



RaldSCAN makes several low passes to gather data, before maneuvering to its final 1700km mapping orbit.


As expected, it will take days to transmit multiple gigabytes of data back. The probe's high orbit should keep it in sunlight and within sight of Gael so the downlink can continue uninterrupted.


We now have a proper map of Rald!


Why does it remind me of somewhere else...?


Rald's tiny south polar cap. But we won't be going anywhere near there, the rover won't have nearly enough delta-v to follow the same path as RaldSCAN.


What do you mean, that's exactly where we're going?! Lemme read the...



I'm going to read the contract offers better...



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Do you need the polar-polar transfer because of the raldiation belts? I would have thought that just a small inclination departing Gael will become a larger inclination on arrival at Rald - it's the classic way to use a gravity assist for a large inclination change.

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15 hours ago, CSE said:

Do you need the polar-polar transfer because of the raldiation belts? I would have thought that just a small inclination departing Gael will become a larger inclination on arrival at Rald - it's the classic way to use a gravity assist for a large inclination change.

@NotAgain hit it. Getting to Rald, at least gracefully, is turning out to be quite the challenge. It's big but it has a relatively small SOI, so there's a narrow margin between unplanned lithobraking and missing entirely. Details coming in tonight's episode. :D

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Year 2, Day 246...

Finally off to Rald. The Gael-class lifter is already reaching its limits trying to lob the 3.5-tonne rover and transfer stage into orbit. We need a bigger rocket.



Rald peeks around the corner in mid Gael-clipse as the transfer stage finishes its burn...



The stack was boosted into an initial 45 degree orbit, trying desperately to get far enough out of plane to hit Rald's south pole. The stack was far too heavy for another polar transfer, and with its large size and close orbit, Rald's SOI is proving to be difficult to hit right.


This is the best we could do on our shoestring budget. There's a glug left in the fuel tank, not nearly enough to slow into a proper orbit. This is going to get... interesting.


A few minutes before hitting the atmosphere, the transfer stage burns what fuel it has and then separates. The rover is still coming in at over 3km/s...



Well, that can't be good...



No, it's ok! The rover spared the worst of the heating by taking crushing g-forces instead. The meter pegs at 15 and just keeps going. Maybe we could send Vlad next...



Both chutes deployed, coming down nice and slow in the middle of some kind of dust storm. An odd thing, at the pole...



We've done it! We've landed a thing on the surface of another world! That went... surprisingly well..


The rover records gigs and gigs of data for return, but we've missed our target area by over 200km. That, and being out of line-of-sight with Gael leave us reliant on  RaldScan for data return and control. It's only above the horizon for an hour or so at a time, this is going to be a long trip.


Fortunately, the Bon Voyage autonomous rover software the engineers cooked up means we don't have to sit through it. It probably helps that the rocks here are... well, not very dense:



The rover completes the trek in a few days, then gives the engineers something to actually do, driving in circles to complete a series of seismic scans. But with the intermittent, relayed contact, it's barely sent back a fraction of the data. So it's off once more...


After another schlep of a few hundred kilometers, our intrepid little rover achieves constant line-of-sight with Gael.


It's cold here, but the view is out of this world!


Returning all the data still takes several days.

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