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Saturn V & Apollo - Stock Real Scale Replica

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Bubbadevlin Presents:

 A 1:1 Scale Saturn V & Apollo Replica

KerbalX Link



"One small step for man, One giant leap for mankind"

With these words - uttered 50 years ago to the day - the astronaut Neil Armstrong, and in turn mankind themselves, took the first steps on the moon. This craft is dedicated to that achievement, and the amazing spacecraft of the Saturn V and Apollo program that enabled such a journey


Development Process

This craft started 3 and a half years ago, when I first made a life sized Saturn V. At that time the size itself brought the incredible challenge, and the realism was less than perfect. Since then I have always planned to do an updated version, but never got around to it until now.

In the time that has elapsed, KSP has evolved massively. New parts, (MH and 5m stuff) features, (Autostrut!) and bug fixes (fairings are now actually bearable to work with...) mean that what I had planned to be an update ended up being a complete rebuild of all aspects. New methods allowed me to focus less on just getting a working rocket, and more on the details. 

With 2500 parts the rocket is massive. The first stage alone uses 48 vectors to lift it off the ground, and the command module uses the F1 analog engine. Almost every aspect is highly detailed  and custom built. The construction took probably 100s of hours, and it was an endeavor that I started 4 months ago with the creation of the LM. The main problem I had with the craft (and is probably half the build time) was the S-1C, which underwent 7 rebuilds to make sure that it both didnt explode in flight, nor once it was staged. 

Due to the obscene part count, lag was also an issue. On the full rocket every part movement or placement means a 5-10 minute load time. (I did build it in sub-assemblys, but those can only go so far). In flight i get about 10-15 FPS, but staging will likewise freeze the game. When the rocket exploded in testing the game would sometimes even freeze for 30 minutes or more (most of the time i would close the program and relaunch it if i noticed any problem with the ascent)



Flight Guide

Despite its size, this is a straightforward rocket, and the above album is of the full J class mission I preformed. However; despite the size, Delta V margins and TWRs are designed to be realistic to Kerbal scale, so wasteful piloting can leave you out of fuel. An important thing to note is that if BG (and 1.7.3) had come out earlier some manual aspects of the flight would be KAL controlled.

Liftoff S-1C

For the main liftoff, simply throttle up to full and stage. No launch clamps or fancy startup sequences were used due to the craft size. An important note is that the S-1C uses SRBs to make a larger plume, so keep the throttle at max throughout the first stage burn. A slight gravity turn near the end of the stage is recommended.

Staging S-II

After first stage cut off, simply stage again. This will activate the Ullage motors on the inter-stage and retro-rockets on the S-1C. Start the 5 J2 engines of the S-II by staging again, and then stage once more to release the inter-stage. Note: The Ullage motors are the RCS motors, so it is important to release the skirt before they burn through all of the craft’s monopropellent. Shortly after skirt separation stage again to release the Launch Escape System. Like the S-1C SRBs are used for plume, so maintain max throttle. The majority of the gravity turn occurs during the S-II stage, but be careful not to spin out due to aerodynamic forces.



Staging S-IVB

A large portion of the circularization burn is preformed by the S-IVB. After S-II cutoff stage again to activate the retros and then a second time for the ullage motors. Stage a third time to activate the main engine. After the ullage motors cut off, stage again to decouple them. Continue to burn with the S-IVB until you are in a stable parking orbit of ~80 Km. Significantly higher than that and you WILL run out of fuel in the S-IVB, and have to use the command module to finish the trans-munar injection burn.

Trans-Munar Injection Burn

To start the burn, stage again. This will activate the second set of ullage motors, and then throttle up the main engine. Burn until you have a clean Mun encounter, then stage again. This will release the LM cargo fairing. Stage again to decouple the command module. Re-dock the command module to the LM and then stage again to release the S-IVB. Preform and needed correction burns using the command module main engine. At this point press AG 0 to deploy the CM’s cargo bay and antenna.




Munar Orbit Insertion

Preform the Munar Orbit Insertion using the Command Module’s engine, make sure that the orbit is not larger than ~20 Km otherwise the lander will run out of fuel upon ascent. Like the real CM, mine has a very high TWR, so be careful.

Munar Landing

To begin the landing, transfer the crew over and undock the lander. (despite many hours of fiddling and it previously working, EVA from the command module is not possible). After separation, control from the docking port (rather than the tilted crew cabin) and deploy the landing gear using G. Note: It is very beneficial to lock the hinges of the landing gear in place before landing. Stage again to activate the LM’s engine, and land the craft like any other lander.




Munar Ascent

Once the kerbals are back in, simply stage (twice if rover is not used) to decouple and activate the ascent stage. Use this engine to orbit and rendezvous with the command module. Dock with the command module and transfer back over to it.


For reentry, decouple the ascent module and leave it in munar orbit. Use the command module engine to exit the mun’s SOI and set up a reentry profile. The capsule has a heat sheild, so thermals should not be an issue. Decouple the service module before reentry by staging. During reentry staging once more will open the command module bay, and staging a second time will deploy the parachutes. Use AG 3 to cut the drogue chutes once the main chutes have opened. Unlike the real command pod, a splashdown is not necessary.




Edited by Bubbadevlin
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