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KerBLAMO (Kerpollo)


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Starting a mission report for my entries to @Superfluous J's Kerpollo Challenge.  The plan is to link to my mission reports in this thread, instead of dumping all the documentation into the challenge thread.

Starting with the basics, I started a new Science Mode game.  I started with the Normal difficulty, then made a few adjustments.  In particular, I'm using Kerbal Experience (Kerbals start off at level 0), but I did enable Kerbals Level Up Immediately.  I chose that option because using the MPL to level up Kerbals is not going to be an option.  While the challenge does allow you to bring an MPL, using the MPL for science is not allowed in this challenge.  So I probably will not even bring a MPL on any of my entries.

Game Settings:

I'm playing a 100% stock game (no mods whatsoever).  I am using the Breaking Ground and Making History expansions, although using the science from those expansions is not allowed in this challenge.  Using the other parts from the expansions is fine though.


Started with a basic Normal game, but here's what I changed.  Actually, I don't think I changed anything on this screen.


Here's the screen showing the Level Up Immediately option selected.


Preparing for first launch: 


A science game starts out with zero science, and no tech nodes unlocked.  But here's the whole KSC to explore!  How much science can you get just wandering around KSC?  Turns out a whole lot.  Before you launch anything, you can collect Crew Reports, EVA Reports, and Surface Samples from the launchpad and runway.


Need some kind of rover to get to the other biomes in the KSC.  Hmm.  With only a few tech nodes unlocked, the rover is going to be very Red Green (clunky).  Here's the first KSC explorer I came up with.  Two lander cans, and whatever science experiments are available to throw on.  Starting out, that's not much.  You move it by rolling.  Steering is very difficult, but possible.  Top speed ~7 m/s.


This design is better.  It works with an empty fuel tank in the middle, but when you get the Materials Bay, might as well bring that along too.  Steering is better than the first 'rover', but top speed is now ~4.5 m/s.  Above 6 m/s you risk blowing up the Materials Bay.


Eventually, I was able to unlock basic airplane parts.  Now I can build a proper rover, and explore KSC fairly easily.  For a different challenge (Elcano), I have actually circumnavigated Kerbin on both land and water, so if needed I could reach any biome on Kerbin at this point.  But that would be tedious.  I only explored KSC, the shores (land outside KSC), the water east of KSC, and the Grasslands biome west of KSC.  After exploring those areas with only Goo, Thermometer, Pressure, and Materials bay, how much science did I come up with?  (I'm using normal, 100%, science returns..)


Enough to unlock this much of the tech tree.  And I haven't left the surface of Kerbin yet.


Here's how many reports are possible without leaving the immediate vicinity of KSC.  None of them are worth very much, but they add up.


The first mission will be to just orbit Kerbin and get the crew back to the surface, collecting as much science along the way as you can.  I plan on doing a fly-by of Minmus too, then maybe see how much gas is left.



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You may be the first to unlock docking ports before doing the first launch. I didn't even know that was possible.

Just to be sure you know, you don't need to do the docking part on Kerpollo as it doesn't fit into the other mission goals.

Also welcome to the challenge! I'm on vacation right now so won't update the page for a few days.

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The First Mission 

For the Kerpollo challenge, there will be exactly nine launches, no more and no less.  Although it is allowed to tackle the missions in any order you choose, I am choosing the standard 'Orbit Kerbin' as my first mission.

The challenge rules specify you are prohibited from landing anywhere but the target body (in this case Kerbin), but you are allowed to do fly-by's of other bodies if able.  Also, if you have any docking ports unlocked, you must leave a Kerballed orbiter, then re-join with the orbiter before returning to Kerbin.

I don't think the intention was to do an orbiter and lander docking operation on the first mission.  But, since I do indeed have a docking port unlocked, I'm going to do just that.  So here's my mission plan, subject to change:

  • Launch into a roughly 100X100 km orbit.
  • Separate an orbiter with a Kerbal inside, and leave the orbiter in Kerbin orbit.
  • Take the lander (which won't actually land anywhere..) out to Minmus.
  • After orbiting Minmus, evaluate how much fuel is left.  Maybe orbit Mun as well.
  • Return to Kerbin orbit, rendezvous and dock with the 'orbiter'.
  • Bring the entire crew back to Kerbin.
  • Collect as much science as I can along the way.

The Launch: 


Sitting on the launchpad, ready to launch into Minmus's inclination.  I'm bringing Jeb, Bob, and Bill.


Orbit.  The base ship has a 3-crew Onion capsule, and the Materials Bay.  The 'orbiter' is the small lander can on top.  The lander can will be crewed by the Engineer, with NO probe cores!  It only has a docking port, 4 RCS ports, and 2 solar panels.  Controlling it with NO SAS is going to be tricky, but I think I can pull it off.  


After separating the 'orbiter, with Bill inside.  Bob and Jeb remain in the bigger ship, headed to Minmus.


After dropping the lower booster stage, here's what's left of the 'lander'.  Which, again, isn't going to land anywhere.


Made it to Minmus.  I collected science from Space High and Space Low, actually entered orbit of Minmus.  I have enough fuel to pop outside of Kerbin's SOI, and get an orbit of the Sun, so that's what I burn for next.


After Minmus:


I exited Kerbin's SOI, and collected science from orbit of the Sun.  My original plan was to duck back into Kerbin's SOI and fly-by Mun.  However, I have a lot of fuel left.  Maybe Duna?


Sure, Duna it is.  I got High and Low fly-bys of Ike.  I meant to get a Low fly-by of Duna too, but miscalculated how low I would need to be.


I did get the fly-by though.


Return to Kerbin: 


The return to Kerbin was pretty standard.  Unfortunately, I did my capture burn at Kerbin in the most inefficient way possible however, and didn't have enough fuel to complete the mission without using the atmosphere to slow me down.  I'm very careful with aerobraking, so it probably took me dozens of passes to bleed off speed.  I lost count.


Eventually I bled off enough speed, here I'm getting lined up to rendezvous with Bill in the 'orbiter'.  No, I didn't forget about him!


Approaching Bill's orbiter.  Both the big 'lander' and the orbiter have RCS.  It would be easier (much, much easier) to use the big lander, which has Jeb, to perform the docking.  But I wanted to try docking with no SAS, because I might need to do that in a later challenge entry.


So, here I am in a lander can with no SAS.  Carefulling, carefulling.




Don't forget to transfer Bill back to the 'lander'!  That would be typical of me, to forget about a Kerbal in orbit and blow the entire mission.


Bill's back in the lander.  Which is actually going to land, after all!  It's just going to land on Kerbin.


On the way down.  I was really tempted to put a Kerbal on EVA, and get and EVA report hanging from the side of the capsule.  In the end, I chickened out.


Landed.  Getting science from the Desert.


The End Results: 


Here's the science I recovered from launch #1.  I didn't actually land on any body, except Kerbin at the end of the mission.  I'm playing with normal science returns (100%).


Bob and Jeb managed to level up to level 3.  Bill never left low Kerbin orbit, so he didn't level up.


Things I wish I'd done differently:

  • Top item is I wish I'd attached an antenna to transmit Crew Reports back to Kerbin.  I didn't bring an antenna because I planned on just bringing all the science back to Kerbin, and none of the vessels had a probe-core.  However, you get 100% transmission rate on Crew Reports.  Otherwise, the only way to get the Crew Report stored in the capsule is to take out all the reports from the capsule and put them back in, thus resetting the Crew Report for further entries.  That's a pain.  Next time I'll bring an antenna for the Crew Reports.
  • Next time, I might try to leave a Pilot in the 'orbiter', because controlling a pod with no SAS is not easy.  I now have access to a better variety of pods, so that will be more do-able in future missions.  I think.
  • For a ship I just cobbled together pretty fast, this one was very easy to fly.  Even though at launch I had a Zero-Star Pilot at the controls.  I hope the rest of my ships are this stable during launch.
48 minutes ago, Superfluous J said:

You may be the first to unlock docking ports before doing the first launch. I didn't even know that was possible.

Just to be sure you know, you don't need to do the docking part on Kerpollo as it doesn't fit into the other mission goals.


I was afraid that I would be horribly bad at collecting science, because I normally use the MPL to quickly fill out the tech tree.  So I went overboard collecting all the science I could from KSC and the immediate vicinity.

And yes, I figured that the docking on the first (Kerbin Kerpollo) mission was probably not required.  However, since I had the docking port, I went ahead and incorporated that into the first mission anyway.  Poor Bill got left in low Kerbin Orbit, and missed out on a great trip.

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Munpollo Complete!   ---   Kerpollo Mission #2.

I've completed my second Kerpollo mission.  For the second act, I chose to visit Mun.  For the rules of the Kerpollo challenge, see @Superfluous J's challenge thread, linked in the first post in this thread.

I was not very confident in my ability to collect science the hard way- without exploiting a MPL.  So before my first mission I was aggressive in collecting science from KSC.  During my first mission I was also aggressive.  During this second mission, I was still aggressive, but I think I can relax a little bit.  I'm now confident I can complete the tech tree before I finish the last Kerpollo mission.

My goals in this second Kerpollo mission were:

  • Launch a ship
  • Orbit Mun
  • Send a Kerb'd lander to the surface, leaving a Kerb'd orbiter above Mun.
  • Rendezvous the lander with the orbiter, and dock.
  • Return all the Kerbals to Kerbin safely 
  • Possibly visit other places (fly-BY only!)
  • Collect as much science along the way as I can

So, without further ado (maybe a little ado..), here's the mission:

The Basics: 


Here's my tech tree at the start of Mission #2, which will be Mun, or Munollo.


Here's my ship in the VAB, or part of it anyway.  It's pretty big, but I suspect big ships are common in this challenge.  Anyway, you can't see it all in the hangar, it's too big.


Here she is on the launchpad.  For this mission, the little thing on the top will be the lander.  Gotta admit, even though it's only a game, I still get nervous looking at all that fuel sitting in one place.  If she goes, you'll hear it three states away.


After a little tweaking, I got it stable enough to get to orbit.  This is orbiting Kerbin.


The Core Mission - Land on Mun:


Orbit of Mun.


Separation of the lander.  Val and Bob are going to the surface.


De-orbit burn.  Yep, just a single little engine (I think it's called the Spark?) is plenty for the task.


Val next to the flag she planted.  To save weight on the first mission, I only had capacity for 3 Kerbals- and Val didn't get to go on the first mission.  So I was happy to let her pilot the lander to the surface.  Now both Val and Jeb have lots of experience, and will both make awesome pilots for the rest of the missions.  Without probe cores, it's really nice to have a few experienced pilots.


Bob riding the lander like it's a bull.  He's waiting to pass over a new biome, to get another EVA report.


I tried to plan the rendezvous so it would occur right at dawn.  As you can see, I missed it by about 15 minutes.  I can dock in the dark no problem, but I'm going to wait till the sun comes up to get better screenshots.


Ok, the sun is up, let's dock!  On the first mission, I practiced docking with no SAS, and it went well.  So well that I didn't even put RCS on this orbiter.  This one was no problem- with Val now bona-fide pilot, I have all the SAS I need.


Docked!  Val is going to transfer over to the orbiter.  Bob is doing it the hard way, on EVA.  Gotta do that to transfer the science from the lander to the orbiter.


Dropping the orbiter- we won't need that anymore.


Not sure where this is, but looks like Bob accidentally dropped a wing-nut, you can see it just to the left of the solar panel.  Or maybe he did that on purpose?!  That wing nut probably wasn't holding anything important.  


Other Places Visited:


Haven't been to Eve yet!  It is, after all, only my second launch.  At Eve, I miscalculated how deep into the atmosphere I could go before blowing up.  Thank goodness for quick saves, something the Elcano Challenge has ingrained in my brain.  Anyway, I did dip slightly into Eve's atmosphere to get science from the Upper Atmosphere.


Wanted to get science from Gilly High and Gilly Low.  Gilly Low is really low, gotta be below 6 km.  At this altitude, Bob could almost drag his hand along the surface as he goes by.  Nothing bad happened, but I did make a lot of quick saves before venturing this close.  Yikes.


Coming Home: 


I wanted to hit the poles, and this arrival seemed like the perfect opportunity.  We're comin' in hot!


After blowing up in Eve's upper atmosphere, I'm really careful about re-entry.  Heck, I'm always careful.  I thought I could dip down to 85K at Eve, but that didn't work out.  Kerbin is being nicer to me, no thermal issues at all.


Descent to the poles!  Well, kinda sorta.  I actually landed on the 'Ice Shelf'.  But hey, that's a new biome too!  During this descent, I got really bold.  I EVA'd Bob while under canopy, so he could get an EVA report while flying.  He held on tight, and it worked out fine.


Here's Bob playing golf.  Hope it's not a white ball, cause he'll never find a white ball here.


Wrapping Up:


Here's the science I got.  Actually, since I brought an antenna this time, what I brought back isn't the whole story.  I transmitted Crew Reports and EVA reports when I was able to, since those don't lose value in transmission.  Pretty much everything else I brought back.


Everyone made it to level 4.


Here's what my tech tree looks like after my second launch.  I'm breathing a little easier now- I'm now confident I'll be able to complete the tech tree.


Lessons Learned, and What's Next?: 

  • I've seen other players comment about this and now I've seen it first-hand.  After you spend time arranging all the 'cargo' items the way you want, the game doesn't keep track of your work.  Things like EVA Science Kits, Jet Packs, Parachutes, Repair Kits.  If you leave the VAB or SPH and come back, the game resets the Kerbal's inventory.  That almost caused a big problem for me.  Luckily I had packed a lot of spares for the trip.
  • Having an antenna to transmit the 100% items (EVA and Crew Reports) was really handy.  I'm going to keep doing that if I can.
  • As for what's next?  Not sure, except I'm certain it will not be Minmus.  I'm thinking Dres or Eeloo, although I could probably pull off Duna/Ike or Moho.
  • I like rendezvous and docking.  There, I'm just going to say it out loud- I enjoy that.  One of the earliest computer games I played, on an Apple II+ no less, was actually called Rendezvous.
  • Hate to say it, but science is more funner when you don't use the MPL.  Who would've though?
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Drespollo Complete!

The run out to Dres and landing was smooth.  The return to Kerbin was a disaster.  I didn't intentionally do fly-bys of other bodies on this mission, although I inadvertently made multiple passes by Mun, which was not helpful.

The ship is essentially identical to the ship I used for Munollo.  I added bigger boosters and a bigger antenna, otherwise no big changes.  When I built it, I didn't have access to the full-length S3 size tanks, so there are several half-size S3 tanks tacked together.  I considered swapping the half-size tanks for the full-size ones, but decided not to tinker too much with a ship that actually flies well.  

Starting Out:


Tech tree at the start of mission 3, Dresollo.


The ship in the VAB.  The solid boosters are bigger, and the antenna is bigger.  Otherwise I didn't change much.


Sitting on the launchpad.  For this launch, I'm bringing Jeb, Bill, and rookie scientist Erisen.


Launch and Voyage to Dres:


Orbiting Kerbin.  Erisen is on EVA checking out the new Gravioli Detector.  The bigger solid-fuel boosters I used really helped, the lower stage is nearly 3/4 full of fuel.  Enough to get me all the way to Dres.  The upper stage, which will be the orbiter, has over 6,000 m/s in it, even more after I ditch the lander.  So at this point, I'm expecting DV will not even remotely be a problem.  That was foreshadowing, later on DV will become a HUGE issue.


Orbiting Dres.  Took a little more DV than I expected to circularize at Dres.  However, I still show 3,600 DV, and that number gets bigger after I drop the lander off.  So still feeling good about DV.


Lander separation.  Erisen and Jeb are going to the surface.


Same little Spark engine will be more than plenty for this trip.  Dres is slightly less massive than Mun.  So any lander that works on Mun will also work on Dres.


Erisen on the surface of Dres.


The Return to Kerbin:  (cue the ominous music)


Getting positioned for a rendezvous with the orbiter.  As in Munollo, the orbiter does not have RCS.  Since there's only an engineer on board, it doesn't even have SAS.  So the docking will be flown entirely by the lander.


This time I timed the rendezvous better, so that the vessels would be docking shortly after sunrise.


Docking complete.  


Erisen bring the science from the lander to the orbiter.  Afterwards, we are going to lose the lander, we don't need it anymore.


After ditching the lander, our DV jumps up to 4,400.  That should be much more than needed to get to Kerbin.  But it wasn't.


A lot happened to get from the last screenshot to the next one.  I used the game's new Transfer Planning Tool, and it works really well.  However, it seems to put a priority on using early launch windows over efficiency.  It also seems to only consider the DV to get to your destination, but not the fuel needed to circularize.

The planner found me a fairly efficient transfer to Kerbin, so I took it.  Reaching Kerbin, I realized I would need over 3,000 m/s to circularize, and I didn't have it.  My velocity was too high to do aero-braking effectively.  It was looking like I would have to scrap the mission and start over.  I considered making passes by Duna or Eve, but my inclination was going to make those options too DV costly.

I ended up doing multiple fly-by's of Kerbin, I lost track of how many, but it took over 10 years I think.  Eventually I got my velocity close enough to Kerbin's where I was able to use my remaining fuel and aero-braking to finally capture at Kerbin.  I ended up accidentally doing 3 passes by Mun, which really messed my orbit up.  My final entry to Kerbin's SOI had me set up for a perfect equatorial orbit.  In the next photo, you can see my orbit ended up being polar, and slightly retrograde.  At that point I didn't care, I just wanted to land on Kerbin, and didn't care where.

Oh, take a note of how much DV I have left.


After all that, I ended up landing about 50 km from KSC.


I forgot to take screenshots of the after-landing screens, too exhausted from the struggle to get back to Kerbin I guess.  Anyway, I did bring back some science.  Not enough to complete the tech tree, but should be enough for what I have planned next.


So as a mission summary, the mission at Dres went extremely well, the return to Kerbin was a complete disaster, and we came pretty close to losing the whole mission and having to start over.

One skill I'm not great at is planning long-range trips efficiently.  I normally bring ISRU everywhere I go, and usually have leftover fuel tanks everywhere if needed.  The Kerpollo challenge does allow ISRU, although that appears pretty late in the tech tree.  I could have brought ISRU this trip, but didn't because I thought I didn't need it.

The new transfer maneuver planner works great, and I like how it saved me the hassle of hunting for a good transfer.  However, as bad as I am, I think I can plan much more efficient transfers than the new planner does.  I'll have to play with that some more.

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Minpollo Complete!

I saved Minmus for late in the tech tree, needed some advanced parts to complete Minmus the way I wanted to.   I'm pretty sure this entry doesn't break any rules of the Kerpollo challenge.  I did launch from the runway, but that has already been ruled as acceptable- as long as it's the KSC runway.

I fully expected this run to be unsuccessful, because I hadn't fully tested the equipment.  Just in case everything worked, I took screenshots along the way.  Turns out the equipment performed as expected, so my 'test run' ended up being my 'entry run'.

Starting Out:


Here's my tech tree starting out.  It's a little lopsided- there's only one item in the final tier opened up.  But that's within the rules, you can open up the next tier if the previous tier is fully opened.  The item I opened up should be a hint at how I'll complete the Minmus run.


Yep, with a plane.  She might not be pretty, but she sure is goofy-looking.  Powered by 6 Rapiers and 2 Nervs.


Sitting on the runway.  Hard to tell from the photo, but the plane is actually sliding sideways across the runway, with the brake set.  The wheels and landing gear are still a little buggy.  I cranked the friction control up, fixed the sliding problem.  Yep, I'm taking a bi-plane to Minmus!




I like to launch directly into Minmus's inclination, so I'm turning south a tad.  There's actually a little more wing area than I really need on this plane, so it lifted off just fine at about 90 m/s.  I started the rotation at 80 m/s, and it rotated easily.

Edit:  OMG!  Notice anything funny about this next photo?  I forgot to take off the parking brake!!  I thought it was a little sluggish and sloppy on the runway, now I know why!


Accelerating.  Seems to burn a little less fuel if I get supersonic fairly early in the climb.  My target is 1,550 m/s before the engines lose power.  Anything over 1,400 m/s will get me to orbit though.


Still gaining speed in Air-Breathing mode, but I'll need to switch to Closed-Cycle real soon.  The nose is starting to get hot.


I usually consider launching into an inclination within 1.0 degrees of Minmus to be good enough.  Hey, I got exactly 1.0 degrees!  Not my best launch, but it'll work just fine.


Here's a shot in orbit of Kerbin.  I brought 5 Kerbals along, including 2 pilots.


At Minmus:


Orbiting Minmus, it's time to get the lander out.  Only one Kerbal is going to the surface in that little lander can.  I think it'll be Val.


Carefulling!  Carefulling!


One smart thing I did was put a few lights in the cargo bay.  Otherwise it's hard to see where everything is.  The lights are not just for better screenshots, I need those lights to know where everything is.


Descending to the surface, looking for a nice flat spot.  Minmus is chock full of flat spots.  I used the really tiny side-mount engines this time, not sure why.


Landed on Minmus, with a flag.


Seems like all the pilots always bring their golf clubs with them.




Off the surface, need to rendezvous with the orbiter.


Taking it very slow and cautious here.  Carefulling!


Getting lined-up.


Slowly getting there.


Just need to drop it in now..


I think this shot is actually the moment of docking contact- the RCS thrusters are firing like crazy.


Docking complete.  Phew!  Docking in a confined space is certainly difficult, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.


On the way back to Kerbin, it was hard to pass up the opportunity to do a Mun fly-by.  This time the fly-by was planned, and didn't cause me any problems.


Return to Kerbin:


Uh oh, she's getting a little warm.  I'm disappointed in that nose-cone, I've had better luck with the shielded docking port.  It didn't blow up, but you'd think a rocket nose-cone could take heat better.  I have plenty of fuel, so I don't need to do aero-braking.  But I wanted to see how the plane handled it.  Handled it well, except for the nose-cone.


My encounter with Mun allowed me to get back to an equatorial orbit.  I debated landing at the Desert Runway, for extra science.  In the end, for a SSTO mission, I like the symmetry of returning to KSC.


Lining up with the runway.


Looking good.


Taxiing back to the hangar.  I think the magenta square is where I landed coming back from Dres.  Must have planted a flag there.


Val showing off the hardware.  We brought back everything we left with, except the fuel.


She's a beauty!


Wrapping Up:


I wasn't very aggressive collecting science on this mission.  But it's enough to unlock one more item in the final tier.


Couple of newbies went up to level 1.


Final Thoughts:

  • I didn't fully sort out the landing gear before launch.  Sliding across a perfectly flat runway with the brakes on is disturbing.  
  • To save space, I put the few science experiments on top of the lander can.  Unfortunately, this made them inaccessible from the ladder.  While in the cargo bay (in space) I had to have Val use her jet pack, and wedge herself into the space between the lander and the cargo bay.  That was poor planning on my part, wish I'd placed the experiments better.
  • The plane seemed to fly fine in almost every loading condition.  Not sure how I pulled that off.  Many of my spaceplanes end up requiring fuel to be moved around to keep the COM in the right place.  This plane didn't seem to care where the COM was.
  • Moving a ship this size with 2 NERVs is S L O W.  But, I wanted a lot of DV to play with.
  • If I had desperately needed more science, I could have flown over most of Kerbin's biomes with the fuel remaining when I got back to Kerbin.  I'm pretty sure I'll close out the tech tree after my next launch, so not worried about the science remaining on Kerbin.
  • Pretty happy about pulling this one off.  I brought back every part I launched with, a true SSTO.
Edited by 18Watt
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Eveollo Complete!

Finished a run out to Eve and Gilly.  Eve is very hard, this is the first time I've ever recovered a Kerbal from the surface of Eve.

The objectives for this run are fairly straightforward, just difficult to accomplish:

  • Launch a single ship from Kerbin with enough components to complete the mission
  • Fly to Eve
  • Land on Gilly, then rendezvous and dock with a ship left in orbit.
  • Land on Eve, then rendezvous and dock with a ship left in orbit.
  • Bring all Kerbals back home safely.

I approached the ship design by starting with the Eve ascent vehicle, the hardest part of this leg of the challenge.

Next, figure out how to get the ascent vehicle safely to the surface of Eve- that isn't easy either!  After that, then start building a rocket around the Eve lander/ascent vehicle.  I made a few serious mistakes along the way, but managed to salvage the mission.

Starting Out: 


Here's my tech tree at the start, almost all filled out.


The vehicle in the VAB.  A tad over 70 m tall.  I think the fairing alone weighs over 3 t.


Sitting on the pad.  I'm bringing Jeb, Val, and Erisen (a scientist.). Kinda wish I'd brought an engineer instead of the scientist, I needed to do some EVA construction at a few points, but wasn't able to.


Blazing into the sky.  Powered by 8 Vector engines, and 8 of the giant SRBs.  Actually files fairly well.  


Shedding the fairing.  I forget how much the giant fairing weighs, but it was significant.


In orbit of Kerbin.  Until I lose the giant first stage it turns very slowly in space.  I put just enough reaction wheels on it (2) to make it useable.  Above the booster is a transfer stage, then the orange/black Eve lander, and near the top is a Gilly lander.  At Eve, the Gilly lander becomes the crewed Eve orbiter.


Transfer and Gilly:


Maneuvering to Eve.  Eve is easy to get to.


Arriving at an odd angle, and trying to correct to end up in Gilly's inclination.  I didn't do very well, but got close enough to work.


The ship arriving at Eve.  I am not going to do any aero-braking to capture at Eve, because there's too many parts I can't afford to lose.


Arrival at Gilly.


The little lander at the top separates.  The docking port is at the bottom of the lander, so when I dock I'll need to back into the target ship.  The 'control from here' feature on the docking ports makes that less awkward.  


Landed at Gilly.  I'm 99.9% that is not the flag I selected when I started this Science Mode game for the challenge.  I haven't figured out why the flag is a different pattern.  Or maybe I'm losing my mind.


Back up, to dock with the mothership.  It's a tight fit, and I'll have to avoid the big truss.  The truss holding a second Inflatable Heat Shield was an unavoidable design quirk.  


Getting lined up to back into the docking port on the Eve lander.  There's a few meters clearance with the Inflatable Heat Shield, but should be fine.  I just need to take it slow.


Docking complete, the Gilly lander is back where it started, on top of the Eve lander.  At Eve, I'll leave the Gilly lander in orbit.


Eve Descent:


At Eve I'll leave the Gilly lander in orbit.  However, the transfer stage still has a little gas left, and I don't want to lose it!  So...


I'll dock the Gilly lander (now Eve orbiter) to the transfer stage.  Not sure if adding docking ports to the side of the transfer stage was the best way to go, but it worked.


Now the Gilly lander (Eve orbiter) is attached to the transfer stage.  Not only is there fuel, but the big antenna is also on the transfer stage, might want that for a little longer too.


The Eve lander separated from the transfer stage.  I know the boom with the second Inflatable Heat Shield looks goofy and clunky.  The problem is the drag from the heat shield is enormous, and the ship ends up pointing into the wind.  I needed to counteract that, and the only thing I could find that was as draggy as a heat shield (and that could also take the heat) was.....another heat shield.


Starting our descent, buckle up!  Deploy shields!  All hands on deck!  Coffee!  We need coffee!


My first 3 attempts all ended up in the water, which I was trying to avoid.  Quicksave to the rescue.


Below 50 km the drag is like hitting a wall.  This ship ends up getting around 9 g for several seconds, but manages to hold together.  I'm pretty sure this approach ended up in the water too.


Once it slows down, the first item to go is the boom and upper heat shield.  Then the parachutes come out.  After the parachutes deploy, I drop the lower heat shield.


Landed!  The parachutes slow me down to ~8.5 m/s.  I use the propellers to slow down even further, touching down at about 2.0 m/s.  The Terrier engines mounted on the side tanks are only for the de-orbit burn.  After the de-orbit burn I shut them down- they are completely useless at Eve's surface.




Eve Ascent:


Both heat shields ended up landing nearby, intact.


The initial ascent is with propellers only.  I went to a lot of trouble arranging the solar panels on one side of the ship.  Then I ended up having to launch into a slightly inclined orbit, and my whole solar panel plan went down the drain.  I still had enough electricity to make it though.

I set the rotors to max-torque with the throttle, then control the blade pitch with an action group.  I'm watching rotor speed and blade AOA primarily.  After I light the main engine, I'll stage away the side tanks as they run dry.


I'm hoping to reach 15 km or better with propellers.  About a third of the way there.


Passing 10 km.


Passing 15 km.


Almost 17 km, and it's out of steam.  Next I'll light the main engine, and stage away the lower part, won't need the landing gear or big fins anymore.  Again, I'll drop the side tanks when they run dry.


Sorry about not having screenshots of the main ascent stage burning.  Things get really busy once the main stage is going (it's another Vector..), and I didn't have time to hit the screenshot button.  Here's the upper stage burning.


Docking the Ascent Stage:


Here's the first really major problem I had.  One of the last things I did before launch was add a small RCS tank to the Ascent ship.  Looking back through the screenshots, the Ascender RCS tank was fine when I arrived at Gilly.  However, when I left Gilly, the RCS tank was gone!  I didn't notice it until this point, when I have to dock!  Gonna be a problem docking a ship with no RCS.  Not sure what happened to the RCS tank, it was mounted on the bottom of the Ascent stage, should have been hard to damage.  Especially in orbit of Gilly.


Oh well, no use crying about the lost RCS tank now.  Actually, it is possible to dock without RCS.  And that's what I'm going to do.  I'm too deep into this mission to let a missing RCS tank make me start over.


Here's how I dock with no RCS-  I get within about 50 m of the target vessel, and zero out my relative speed.  Then, I switch to the target vessel, and point the docking port at the other ship.  Then I switch back to the little ship, and very slowly start heading towards the target.  Tiny bursts of thrust above/below or right/left of your flight path can adjust your path.  Keep it as slow as possible, because if you get going too fast the only way to slow down is the flip the ship around and use your engines.


Anyway, docking with no RCS can absolutely be done, and isn't that hard once you've done it a few times.  It's much, much easier with RCS though!  Still can't believe my RCS tank disappeared at Gilly.  Grr.


Here's another mistake I made.  I packed a small nosecone, so I could use it during the ascent from Eve.  Every little bit of drag counts at Eve.  The problem was I didn't bring an Engineer.  Doh!  So it would have been nice to put the nose cone on for the Eve ascent.  Ended up not needing it.


Getting Home:


There's still fuel in the transfer stage, and I don't want to waste it.  I think I could just barely make it home without that fuel, but an extra margin never hurts.  It would have been more aesthetic to have my lander cans docked in-line with the transfer stage, but I didn't figure out how to make that work.  It was easier to just put side-mounted docking ports on it, at approximately the COM.  To find the COM of the transfer stage, I just eyeballed it, took a wild guess.  I got pretty close- it works!


So I'll use up the fuel in the transfer stage, then discard it.


Discarding the transfer stage, I undock both lander cans.


Now I have to dock the two lander cans together.  This will be easy- the Eve ascent stage may not have RCS, but the Gilly lander can still does!  Piece of cake.


Lander cans joined together.  I only need the upper 'Gilly Lander', but again, there's still fuel left in the Eve ascent stage.  Why not use it?


Getting the last drop of fuel out of the Eve ascent stage.


Ok, that stage is empty, time to drop it.  From here on out I'll just use the Gilly lander, which will take the three Kerbals back hope.  I hope.


I have enough fuel left that I don't need to aero-brake.  But I give it a shot anyway.


I'm getting pretty bold putting Kerbals on ladders while flying.  In earlier versions of KSP they would quickly slide off the ladder.  The current version of KSP seems to hold them on the ladders pretty well.  Gotta get that Flying over Kerbin EVA report!


Final Shots:


The capsule splashed down somewhere on Kerbin.


Got a lot of science, enough to finish off the tech tree.


Erisen made it to level 4 on this mission.  Kinda disappointed that Jeb only got 3 XP for landing on EVE.


Tech tree all filled out now.


That was tough!  Here's a few of the mistakes I made, or lessons learned on my Eveollo mission:

  • Not sure what happened to my RCS tank for the Eve ascender.  That could have been a big problem.
  • I used the inflatable airlock to EVA on Eve without using a bazillion ladders.  However, the science I collected on the surface of Eve ended up stuck in the airlock!  I couldn't find a way to get the science from the surface up to the capsule.  So I missed out on a little science on the surface.
  • I do wish I'd configured the docking arrangement on the Transfer stage a little better, so I wouldn't need to have my landers sticking out of the side.  It ended up working just fine, but looks a little goofy.
  • Wish I'd brought an engineer.  However, I wanted two pilots for sure, and thought it would be neat to take a scientist to the surface of Eve.  I think an engineer would have been a smarter choice.
  • I actually managed to get a 3-seat Eve lander to work.  However, if I take 3 Kerbals to the surface, that means I would need 4 seats for the trip back to Kerbin.  And I could see the size of the project snowballing at that point.  So I just took 2 Kerbals to the surface of Eve.
  • During testing, I only looked at ascending from Eve into an equatorial orbit.  But during the actual mission, I had to launch into an inclined orbit, about 10 - 15 degrees.  So all my planning with solar panel arrangement was wasted.
  • Still scratching my head about why my flags changed.  I looked at screenshots from previous missions, and they were definitely a different design.  That's weird, and I wonder if I can change them back.
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On 11/2/2021 at 11:38 PM, 18Watt said:
  • Separate an orbiter with a Kerbal inside, and leave the orbiter in Kerbin orbit.
  • Take the lander (which won't actually land anywhere..) out to Minmus.
  • After orbiting Minmus, evaluate how much fuel is left.  Maybe orbit Mun as well.
  • Return to Kerbin orbit, rendezvous and dock with the 'orbiter'.

Well within both the letter AND spirit of the rules. Way to stretch your advantage for maximum benefit.

On 11/2/2021 at 11:38 PM, 18Watt said:

However, I have a lot of fuel left.  Maybe Duna?

Sorry I misspoke. THIS is how you stretch your advantage for maximum benefit!

On 11/2/2021 at 11:38 PM, 18Watt said:

I was really tempted to put a Kerbal on EVA, and get and EVA report hanging from the side of the capsule.  In the end, I chickened out.

It's not that bad. You only get upper atmosphere and flying over, and you can get "upper atmosphere" from 69,999 meters up which is basically still in space. you can get "flying over" by jumping. No need to risk anything. :)

On 11/2/2021 at 11:38 PM, 18Watt said:

Bill never left low Kerbin orbit, so he didn't level up.

And I hope he had a deck of cards with him.

On to Munpollo...

On 11/3/2021 at 4:07 PM, 18Watt said:

Possibly visit other places (fly-BY only!)

Oh boy here we go again!

On 11/3/2021 at 4:07 PM, 18Watt said:

That wing nut probably wasn't holding anything important.  

They always put extra ones on just in case. I mean, probably.

On 11/3/2021 at 4:07 PM, 18Watt said:

Bob could almost drag his hand along the surface as he goes by

I've heard others refer to this as "grinding" like in Skateboarding, where you skid along haphazardly on the trucks and not your wheels. I love doing it as well. Try it on Dres some day through the canyon. :D

On 11/3/2021 at 4:07 PM, 18Watt said:

I'm now confident I'll be able to complete the tech tree.

...by the end of Minpollo.

On 11/3/2021 at 4:07 PM, 18Watt said:

Not sure, except I'm certain it will not be Minmus.  I'm thinking Dres or Eeloo, although I could probably pull off Duna/Ike or Moho.

...or not Minpollo. :D With your tech tree I think you could do any of the bodies. I did Jool and Eve with full tech trees but I don't recall needing any of the super high-end items. I think the biggest need was Vectors for Eve ascent and I don't think they're top-tier.

(I'm out of time now but will get to Dres later tonight. I've given you credit for it in advance because it's pretty obvious you have the ability and understanding of the challenge rules)


Edited by Superfluous J
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2 hours ago, Superfluous J said:

It's not that bad. You only get upper atmosphere and flying over, and you can get "upper atmosphere" from 69,999 meters up which is basically still in space. you can get "flying over" by jumping. No need to risk anything. :)

Thanks for your comments!  I have smothered my fear of putting a Kerbal on a ladder in the atmosphere!  If you are truly the 5th Horseman, I'm sure you recall a time when Kerbals would quickly slide off ladders on EVA.  Even in outer space.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, er actually it was probably 50 or 70 times, shame on me.  Seems to work fine now.

Working on Moho right now, a place I probably fear more than Eve.  I'm at Moho right now, with probably twice the dV I need to get back to Kerbin.  I've started with more dV than this and run out of fuel trying to get back home though.  Trying to be patient waiting for optimal windows is hard for me, but I'm being more disciplined on this run.  I think I made 3 or 4 passes at Eve, then at least 10 passes at Moho to get my capture speed as low as possible.

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1 hour ago, 18Watt said:

If you are truly the 5th Horseman, I'm sure you recall a time when Kerbals would quickly slide off ladders on EVA.  Even in outer space.

I am and I do. I still put a little ledge on ladders when I'm planning on extended EVA piggyback rides.

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Mohollo Complete!

The run to Moho and back took some time, both real and in-game.  I'm not great at interplanetary transfers, and Moho has defeated me many times in the past.  This time I was determined not to run out of fuel, and took my time taking advantage of fly-by's to save dV.  Interestingly, the trip to Moho took longer (again, both real time and game time) than a trip to Eeloo normally takes me- a lot longer.  This is an entry for the Kerpollo challenge.

Note: I figured out why my flag was different in the last run- I started building prototypes in a separate sandbox save.  The flag is assigned to the craft.  It can be changed in the VAB, but it took me a long time to find the button to do that.

Starting Out:


Tech tree starting out, still full.  The only item in the final tier I was interested in was the Rapier engine.  Normally I'm excited about getting access to the RTGs.  But for me the RTGs are a way of protecting a ship from going dead, when a probe core manages to drain the batteries completely.  But for Kerpollo missions I'm not bringing any probe cores, and if needed there's always a Kerbal who can get out and push the ship around so the solar panels get light.

In Kerpollo, it is allowed to bring probe cores, for say a scanning satellite.  But when you drop to the surface both the lander and orbiter can not have probe cores.  So I'm not bringing any.  In some cases a relay satellite would be handy, but I don't really need them.


Given my history of being defeated by Moho, a spaceplane seems like an odd choice.  But I'm going Ion Power, the plane is packed full of xenon tanks.  Using Ion engines is ridiculously slow, but good for dV.  Skilled spaceplane builders will also question my choice of the MK3 fuselage, which is not great for drag.  It does work, and I prefer to not have my Kerbals spending years in a 1.25 m tube.  Also the big cargo bays are handy.


Sitting on the runway.  Initial power to orbit will be from 4 Rapiers.  Later I'll switch to 8 Dawn ion engines.  The lander can has a little Spark engine.  I normally do not use positive wing incidence, but for this plane I did give the wings 2 degrees positive incidence, to reduce drag from the giant MK3 fuselage.


I think most Rapier powered planes see better performance if you get supersonic as early as possible.  This one is no exception.


Cockpit view during climb.  Yikes.


In orbit of Kerbin.  The fairings (nosecones) covering the Dawn engines have been discarded, and the bays are open.  The forward solar panels are mounted on a hydraulic cylinder, which was a good way to place them in the forward cargo bay.  Things are pretty tight with the lander can in there, and I'll need room to get it back in and dock.


Solar panels deployed.  In good light, the 4 Gigantor panels are enough to power the 8 Dawn engines at full thrust, even in Kerbin orbit.  At night, the solar panels don't work very good, so I packed several batteries in the rear cargo bay.  They're good for about 2 minutes of full thrust at night, if needed.


Ion engines activated!  The thrust is crazy-low, took me forever just to reach Mun's orbit.  Actually, I did burn up the rest of the LFO through the Rapiers, both to speed things up, and also to lose weight to improve dV.  I saved the LFO in the lander, plus a little Liquid Fuel for the Rapiers on return to Kerbin (and also ballast).


I actually planned this, somewhat effectively- a beneficial fly-by of Mun.  Any dV I can save is a good thing.


Getting to Moho:


Getting to Moho took a really long time, because I took advantage of multiple fly-by's.  I think I hit Eve at least 3 times, then I don't even remember how many passes I made at Moho.  The next photo is one of my later passes at Moho.


After making a bazillion passes at Moho, my orbit is getting closer to Moho's, which means less dV needed at Moho.  At this point, I started to suspect the dV indicator is not telling me the truth.  I actually think I have closer to 8800 dV left, but the display is saying 8000.  Hmmm.


In orbit of Moho, preparing to deploy the lander.  Solar panels are retracted to prevent damage.  At this point, I'm pretty sure I actually have about 6500 dV, but the display is showing 7723.  Well, that's good right?  I have even more dV than I planned on!  Things are looking good!


Lander can separated, time to carefully get it out of the bay.  Looks like Bartzon gets to go to the surface.


Lander is free, just need to drift a little farther away.  I think I'll leave the solar panels stowed on the orbiter.  Even with the lights on there's plenty of battery to keep it running.  The trip to the surface will be pretty quick.


Slowing down near Moho.


Almost there.


Landing successful.


Getting Back:


Lander can coming back to dock with the orbiter.


I got a little disoriented because the attitude of the orbiter is different than I normally use- I wanted the cargo bays pointed towards the sun for better screenshots.  I put lights in the front bay to make night docking manageable too though.


Ok, now I have my bearings, getting lined up.




Remember earlier when I was really happy to find I had 7700 dV left?  Uh oh.  Now things aren't looking too good.  Not much I can do about it now, I have to assume the dV calculator is getting confused somehow.  I still have more than half my xenon left, so I should be ok.  Not sure what is going on to confuse the dV calculator, but it is obviously doing something strange.  A mission to Moho is not a great time to get conflicting dV info.


I ended up making two or 3 passes at Eve on the way back to Kerbin.  Then I think I made at least 2 passes at Kerbin, maybe 3, before circularizing at Kerbin.  I ended up having plenty of dV to spare, but the confusion with the dV display rattled my nerve a bit.


I think this is my first aerobraking pass at Kerbin.  For the first pass I think I went down to about 55 km.  Later passes I was able to go deeper.  After capturing at Kerbin I still needed multiple aerobraking passes.  Obviously I still have xenon left, so I could have used that too.  Aerobraking works a lot faster than the Ion engines.


Solar panels retracted and cargo bay doors closed for each aero pass.




I decided to hit the Desert Runway this time.  And crashed several times before getting it right!  The crashes were due to inadequate testing.  I normally leave a little liquid fuel in the plane on landing, to use as ballast if needed.  So I didn't actually flight-test the plane completely empty.  However, I ended up running my fuel tanks completely empty on this landing, and the plane ended up nose-heavy, which made it difficult to control on landing.  Another few hundred units of LF would have allowed me to balance the plane properly, but I burned up all the fuel.  After a few attempts I was able to wrestle it to the ground.  Lesson learned.


White Sands, request permission to land!


Wrapping Up:


Taxiing back to the hangars.




Science return from the trip to Moho.


A couple of Kerbals leveled up.  Nobody has made it to level 5 yet though.


Tech tree after the Moho mission.  Still filled out.


I'm leaning towards Eeloo for the next mission.  Duna and Ike is another possibility.  Looks like I'll put off Jool till the end.  I'm starting to get some ideas for Jool, but haven't figured out all the details yet.  I'm pretty sure Jool will involve ISRU.  I might do ISRU at Duna/Ike also, just to change things up a bit.

The last time I went to Moho was for another challenge (Elcano).  On that mission, I ran out of gas, and had to send a recovery ship.  The recovery ship also ran out of gas, so I had to send a ship to recover the recovery ship.  I told myself 'never again' about returning to Moho.  However much dV you think you need, triple it, and then add some more.  

For this mission there would be no recovery missions possible.  The Ion engines solved my dV problems, but the burn times are agonizing.  And when the dV display started going wonky, that wasn't helpful either.

I will say that once you get to Moho, it's just another planet, nothing too tricky about landing there.  Solar panels work great at Moho, I didn't try it but I suspect a single Gigantor array would be able to power the 8 Ion engines at Moho.

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Eeloolollo Complete!

I completed a run out to Eeloo and back, using the same spaceplane I used for Moho with a few minor modifications.  Compared to Moho, this one was much easier.

Starting Out:


The tech tree is filled out completely at the start of this mission.

Here's the plane sitting on the runway, ready to launch.  I brought Jeb, Val, Linnie, Lisdock, and Bill.


Trying not to bounce off the water during climb-out.  Actually this plane does really well during takeoff.


Hit my target speed of 1450 m/s and then some.  A less draggy plane should be able to hit 1600 m/s, but the Mk3 fuselage is really draggy.  Two or three extra Rapiers would have gotten me above 1600 m/s if I had been willing to accept the extra weight.


Orbiting Kerbin, with the bay doors open and solar panels deployed.  I added two large Fuel Cells for extra juice if needed.  The four Gigantor arrays power the 8 ion engines at Kerbin, but out at Eeloo they aren't going to do much.


Starting the periapsis kick burn, one of about a dozen to get me to Mun's orbit.  I'm saving a little LFO to power the Fuel Cells later, if needed.  I'll also save a little more liquid fuel to use as ballast when landing at Kerbin.  Although I think I fixed the COM issues I had when completely empty of fuel, I still like to have ballast to fine tune the handling during entry and landing.


It took me some time, but eventually I managed to get a favorable Mun encounter, which kicked me halfway to Duna's orbit.  I estimate it saved me about 500 dV.  The dV is not really critical, I have plenty.  But the burns are crazy slow, the 500 dV I saved probably also saved me 20 minutes real-time.


I actually kinda stumbled into the favorable Mun encounter.  This is actually my second pass at Mun, and the line-up was really good.


Maneuvering to Eeloo:


I'm not great at interplanetary maneuvers, but I can find Tylo with my eyes closed.  If you can find Tylo, you can really make a lot of magic happen.  If trying to capture at Jool, a Tylo encounter can do that with no capture burn at Jool required.  In this case I'm using Tylo to get my Solar orbit to be pretty close to Eeloo's, which will save me a ton of dV when I try to capture at Eeloo.  To get to the red orbit in the photo, all I had to do was push my AP out to Jool, Tylo took care of the rest.


Entry at Jool, with the encounter at Tylo.


By doing a few small burns in Tylo's SOI I got my Solar orbit to match Eeloo's even closer.  


Whizzing by Tylo.


After Tylo, getting to Eeloo took a little more fiddling, but Eeloo was in a good position when I exited Jool, so I didn't have to wait very long to find an intercept.  I think I did need to correct my inclination slightly to get the intercept, but it didn't take much fuel because my orbit was already pretty close to Eeloo's.  Anyway, here I am in orbit of Eeloo.  The solar panels don't even put out enough juice to run a single Dawn ion engine at full power, let alone 8 of them.


Surface, and Return to Kerbin:


Extracting the lander can.  One of the changes I made to the Moho plane is I switched the solar panel mechanism to the left side, and moved some science equipment to the right side.  That was a waste of time.  First, I was trying to un-block the rear cabin hatch to EVA Kerbals, but the hatch was still blocked- I guess the lander can projects too far forward.  Second, I moved the science to the right side so I could access it from the side-hatch.  Later, I realized there is a side-hatch on the LEFT side of the Mk3 pod too!  A lot of work for nothing.


Landed on Eeloo.  Jeb's snack was so cold it froze and shattered.  


Back up at the orbiter, lining up for docking.  It's still a tight fit, but if you go slow it's pretty easy to get in there.


Can't tell if it's actually docked here or not, but you get the idea.


For the return to Kerbin I had plenty of dV, so I didn't plan any fly-by's on the way back.  I just exited Eeloo's SOI and burned right for Kerbin.  I made multiple passes at Kerbin though.  Interestingly, although I didn't plan on doing a fly-by of Jool, I ended up doing one anyway.  After my first bounce off Kerbin my orbit took me slightly inside Jool's SOI.  It wasn't enough to mess up my flight plan, so I just left it in there.  I forget how many passes at Kerbin I made to slow down, maybe 4 or 5.


After multiple passes, I finally capture in Kerbin's SOI, and take several more aero-braking runs before making my final descent.  The next photo is my final descent.


With the ion engines, it's hard to target the landing as precisely as I'd like.  Here I am passing over KSC at 14 km, going 950 m/s.  So I'm going to overshoot a little, and will have to turn around, which is no big deal.


Turned around and lined up with the runway.  Sorry about the dark screenshots, I wanted to land during daytime but with the ion engines I had to take what I could get.


Parked at the hanger, right about sunset.


Wrapping Up:


Brought back a little over 6000 science from Eeloo.  Actually, some of that was from Jool and Tylo.


Finally!  Jeb and Val advanced to level 5!


Tech tree after finishing the Eeloo run, still all filled out.


I only have two missions remaining now- Jool and Duna.  I think I have Jool mostly worked out, my biggest hurdle with Jool is coming up with a workable Tylo lander.  So I'm thinking I'll run to Jool next, and save Duna for last.

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Joolollo Complete!

Whew!  That was a challenge!  Which works out well, I'm doing this to participate in the Kerpollo Challenge.

I might split up the Jool run into two or more posts.  I had a few false starts, which I'm going to call 'late stage testing'.  After that the run went fairly smoothly, with a few rough moments.  The biggest scare was about halfway into it I realized one of my radiators was mounted too far away from the ISRU unit to cool it.  Saved by EVA construction, and sure glad I brought an engineer along!  So, let's jump in:

The Mission Plan:


I'm following the rules for the Kerpollo Challenge.  For the Jool run, I can launch exactly one ship, basically need to complete a 'Jool-5' mission in a single launch.  I'll need to land a crewed lander on each of Jool's 5 moons, while leaving a crewed orbiter above.  I can only land exactly once on each moon, no more and no less.  I'm planning on using ISRU to refuel while in the Jool system.

I have a Plan APlan B, and Plan C.

Plan A:

  • Get the ship to Jool with a single launch.
  • If fuel permits, the first landing will be Tylo, with the dedicated Tylo lander.
  • Next, either hit Bop or Pol to refuel.
  • Then Laythe, which also has a dedicated lander.
  • Then Vall.  Not sure what I'll use as a lander- either the remains of the Tylo lander or the Mothership.
  • Then Bop or Pol, whichever I haven't hit yet.
  • Return to Kerbin with a full tank of fuel in the Mothership.

Plan B:

  • If I get to Jool and fuel doesn't look good for Tylo, I'll start with Bop or Pol, where I can refuel.
  • This is not ideal for a lot of reasons, primarily because I don't have a good 'orbiter' at this point.
  • Then, probably do Tylo (to get rid of the bulky lander).
  • Then come up with a plan for the rest.

Plan C:

  • This is if I can't start with Tylo, and I have problems with docking at Bop or Pol.
  • I haven't tested either dedicated lander for docking without shedding a lot of mass from them (as intended).
  • I'd start with the Tylo lander, if that won't work I'd try leaving the Laythe lander in orbit.
  • Honestly, if it comes down to Plan C there is a good chance the whole mission will fail.

The Ship Design:

There's a ridiculously large booster section.  All I'll say about the booster section is it's typical Kerbal engineering, just add a lot of the biggest boosters, then add more.  Then add a bunch more on top of that.  It's ugly and not very nimble, but I'll only have to use it for a few minutes.

The core vessel (Mothership) has ISRU and a capsule to bring 5 Kerbals back home- so I'm only bringing 5 Kerbals.  At two (or possibly three) of the moons, the Mothership will actually be the lander, and I'll have to leave something else in orbit.  I'm definitely planning on landing the Mothership at Bop and Pol for refueling.  I am hoping not to have to land the Mothership at Vall- during testing at Vall the landings with the Mothership did not go well.   I would be deep into the dreaded Plan C if I'm trying to land the Mothership at Vall.

The Tylo Lander can be seen sitting at the very top of the assembly in early screenshots.  It has two stages.  The descent stage needs to get me all the way to the surface of Tylo.  The ascent stage might make it to orbit on full tanks, but I'm counting on the descent stage still having a little fuel left to help out with the ascent.  Later on, the remains of the Tylo Lander (the ascent stage..) will be used as a Vall Lander (hopefully), and also as an orbiter around either Pol or Bop.  So the Tylo Ascent Stage will probably be with me until I leave the Jool system.

The Laythe Lander is dedicated only for Laythe.  It's a spaceplane, but after departing Laythe the back section will be jettisoned.  I'm planning on leaving it at Laythe (after docking), but if things go really bad it could serve as an orbiter somewhere if needed.

If things go well, the last moon I hit will be either Bop or Pol, either way I'll leave Jool with a full tank of gas.  So hopefully the return trip will be easy, no fancy orbital tricks required- just a straight burn back to Kerbin.

Starting Out:


The tech tree has been filled out completely for several missions now, so I'll skip the photo of the tech tree.

Well, this is a really crummy screenshot of the rocket sitting on the launchpad.  You can only see half the ship!  Who took this photo?  He's fired!  You'll see the top of the rocket in later shots, this is mostly to show the ridiculous 'booster' stage.  StageS.  Plural.  I'm not sure how many Vector engines there are, but it's a lot.


Orbit of Kerbin.  There's still some fuel left in the 'core' of the booster section.  I'll use it!  I'm trying to reach Jool with enough fuel to circularize at Tylo right away, if possible.


Arrival at Jool.  The Mothership is powered by 4 Wolfhounds, which are great but when heavy the TWR is low.  So I didn't get much of a kick leaving Kerbin.  I popped out of Kerbin's SOI with an AP halfway to Duna, then did the rest of the burn in Solar orbit.  I also had to make two laps around Kerbin to get an intercept, so it took a while.  But, I'm arriving at Jool with 3700 dV, which should be plenty to circularize at Tylo, then continue on to Bop or Pol.




Turns out I have enough fuel to circularize at Tylo, and then get to Bop or Pol for an ISRU refueling.  Here I am at Tylo.


The Tylo Lander undocked.  The central part will be the ascender, and I'll use that part for later moons, either as an orbiter or a lander.  For some reason, when I tried to stage the engines alive, the three tanks all separated.  Not sure why, but thank goodness for quick saves.


Descending to Tylo, trying to be fuel efficient.  It's not a suicide burn though, not by a long shot.  I'm too chicken for that.  So I did waste a lot of fuel in the descent, but I was planning on that.  So I should be fine.


Surface of Tylo.  With a little more thought I might have been able to avoid having the ladder.  However, the ladder doesn't add much weight.


Preparing to dock at Tylo.  If everything goes as planned I'll keep the Tylo Ascent stage until I leave Jool.


Docked at Tylo.  Not having the huge Tylo Descent stage helps the dV of the Mothership significantly.  I can't wait to get rid of the spaceplane hanging off the side of the rocket, but I'm stuck with it for a little longer.




I decided to get Bop out of the way.  It's orbit is inclined way out of whack with the other moons, so it requires a bit more dV to get to than Pol.  So getting Bop out of the way early will help me later.


Separated in orbit of Bop.  The little Tylo Ascent stage will stay in orbit with one of the pilots, while the big Mothership will do the landing.  The big solar panels are fine for orbital work, but for ISRU they won't keep up at Jool, so I also have 3 big fuel cell arrays to power the ISRU stuff.


A huge problem at Bop was trying to find a flat spot to land.  I think the Mothership slid a kilometer before coming to a stop.  Sliding is nerve-wracking- the Mothership is tall and easy to tip over.  So keeping it upright was challenging, even in Bop's gravity.


Mothership is full of fuel again, and preparing to dock with the Tylo Ascent stage, now acting as Bop Orbiter.  I also take off with a full tank of Ore, because why not?  I can turn it into fuel later, to extend my dV capabilities.


Docked in orbit of Bop.  The spaceplane is still hanging off the side, but we'll get rid of that at our next stop.




I didn't get shots of the arrival and de-orbit burn at Laythe, because that all happened in the dark.

The Laythe spaceplane does not have rocket engines until I stage away the back half of the plane.  Soooo, to get the plane into the atmosphere, I need to:

  • Put the Mothership (with Laythe lander) into a trajectory which dips deeply into the atmosphere.
  • Separate the Laythe Lander (with pilot on board, please!)
  • Do another burn with the Mothership to keep it out of the atmosphere.
  • Switch to the Laythe plane and complete the descent.

Here's the plane descending to an island.  The plane flies fine, easy to land.  I have way more LF than I need for the descent, so if I had missed an island by a little bit I could use the jet engine to get to one, no problem.


Landed.  Used the landing lights, even in daytime.  Helps me judge when I'm getting close to the ground.


For easy egress/ingress I lower the landing gear.  Note the wings are mounted on structural pylons- that's because I will later stage away the back of the airplane.  If the wings are too close to the fuselage they get hung up on the front section.  I didn't want to worry about that halfway into a Jool-5 run.  Otherwise it's a pretty basic spaceplane.  I didn't want to use a Rapier, just because, so that's the Whiplash engine on the back.  The plane will also make it to orbit just fine with a Panther, but the Whiplash has a little more kick.  The 'upper' stage is just the cockpit, a LFO tank, and two Spark engines.  The 7.5 units of Monopropellant in the cockpit will be way more than I need to dock.


I'm a pilot in real life, but I don't play golf.  But all the Kerbal pilots like to play golf.


Look at me!


Taking off from Laythe, using the Whiplash jet engine.  Testing Laythe planes is easy- if it'll get to orbit at Kerbin, it'll get to orbit at Laythe with room to spare.


Buzzing the hills, we're already trans-sonic.  Maybe even supersonic, it's pretty cold at Laythe.


The Whiplash is plenty, The biggest danger is overheating the nose, otherwise I could hit 1550 m/s no problem.


For the final ascent, I drop the back of the airplane, including the wings.  I close to about 50 m, then I'll switch to RCS for the final docking.


It's not critical that I get lined up with the Mothership, but I like to do that anyway.  I haven't tried the new rotating docking ports yet, I should do that sometime.  I'm so used to lining vessels up the hard way, I always forget the docking ports can rotate now.  I think?


All docked up.  We'll transfer the pilot back to the Mothership, grabbing all the science.


Sad to see it go, but we just don't need the Laythe lander anymore.  So we're going to leave it in Laythe orbit.  In a pinch (Plan C) we could have used it as an orbiter somewhere.  It can hold about 1500 m/s dV (I think), and has full docking capabilities.  But we still have the Tylo Ascent stage, and that will work fine for all the remaining moons.  Man, the Laythe Lander worked really well, and I hate to leave it behind.


Eeloo:  Er, I mean Vall:


On to Vall.  Here I'm in orbit, pretty low.  I'm burning a lot of fuel to get the Mothership to low orbit, because I'm not sure if the Tylo Ascent stage has enough dV to do this.  So I'm stacking the deck in my favor, at the cost of a lot of fuel.  I'm confident I have plenty of fuel though.


Another shot in orbit of Vall.


Stages separated.  I'm going to use the little Tylo Ascent stage to do the landing, leaving the Mothership as the orbiter.  I'm really glad this worked out because landing the Mothership on Vall is actually pretty hard.  I was really hoping to not have to do that, and thankfully things worked out.


Hmm, which pilot to take to the surface of Vall?  Duh, that's a no-brainer.  There's only one choice:  Val is going to Vall.


Val is probably collecting science here.  But even if she wasn't I never pass up an opportunity to have a Kerbal ride their vessel like a bull.  YeeeeHawwww!




Docked.  I only have one moon to go, Pol.  Since I'm taking the Mothership to the surface of Pol, I'm tempted to leave the Tylo Ascent stage here at Vall.  But wait!!!  I still need an 'orbiter' at Pol!  I guess I need to hang on to the Tylo Ascent stage for one more moon.




The last moon!  I'm going to take the Mothership to the surface, and do ISRU refueling while there.  Not sure why the solar panels are highlighted green, but if that's my biggest problem I'm doing pretty good.


Separation.  The Tylo Ascent stage will be the 'orbiter' at Pol.  The solar panels are still highlighted green, no idea why.


Landed at Pol.  Just like Bop, I slid about a km or so before coming to a stop,  The ship is still tall and easy to tip over, so it was another nerve-wracking landing.


Rendezvous with the Tylo Ascent stage, which was the 'orbiter' at Pol.


Docked.  Time to transfer the Kerbal, the science and all the fuel from the Tylo Ascent stage to the Mothership.  Because...


We're leaving the Tylo Ascent stage at Pol.  This little guy has participated in some way with the landing at every moon at Jool.  And did a fine job.  But we just don't need it anymore.  The Kerpollo Historical Society is considering designating the Tylo Ascent stage an official Interplanetary Landmark.  We're just glad it performed so well, it was a mission-critical component every step of the way.  Bon voyage Tylo Ascent stage!


Return to Kerbin:


On the return to Kerbin I had plenty of gas, having just topped off at Pol.  I popped out of Jool's SOI, and did a retrograde burn straight to Kerbin.  After just one (long) lap around the sun, I was able to burn straight to an intercept.


On first glance this looks like a lousy intercept.  It was planned, I wanted to get a landing at the North Pole,  I landed at the South Pole on another Kerpollo mission, but the North Pole is a separate biome.


The Mothership arriving at Kerbin, with 5 happy Kerbals.  


That's as close to a polar orbit as I'm going to get.


For the descent into Kerbin we are ditching pretty much everything.  I have the pods holding 5 Kerbals, a heat-shield, and some parachutes.  That's about it.


Landed, at what I thought was the North Pole.  However, the game informed me I had only managed to hit the 'Northern Ice Shelf'.  Dang.  I was going for the Poles.  Oh well, the Northern Ice Shelf is still a new biome for me in this challenge.


Here's the coordinates where I landed.  88 degrees north apparently isn't far enough north to be the 'Poles'.  Oh well.


Got some science on the Joolollo run.


Everyone who came along is a level 5 Kerbalnaut.  I brought two pilots.  Probably could have done it with just one pilot.  Midway through a Jool-5 run isn't the best time to realize you should have brought two pilots though.  So I brought two, just to be extra safe.


Tech tree after the Joolollo run, still completely filled out.


All in all, I'm really glad I didn't have to resort to Plan B, let alone the dreaded Plan C.  Had a few nervous moments, but the planning and testing I put into this mission really paid off.

I only have one Kerpollo mission remaining:  Duna/Ike.  Not sure why I put off Duna-ollo till the end.  At this point, I don't have anything special planned for Duna, unlike my reasoning for putting off Minmus earlier in the Kerpollo saga.

If you've read this far into this post, I offer my sincere apologies for the long post.

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7 hours ago, Scarecrow71 said:

Don't forget to post in the Jool-5 challenge thread so you get credit for that too!

Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

Hey, I'm currently working on the Duna/Ike run for Kerpollo.  I'm using only parts from tier 6 or lower.  I wouldn't say that I am doing this the 'right way' (applies to everything I do..), but it might give you some ideas.  The ship is working out to be fairly large, but it'll have two to three times the dV actually needed.

Anyway, check this space in the next few days.

I know you are trying to open up one of the tier 7 boxes, but you didn't say which one.  My suggestion is the one with the Seismic Sensor.  The faster you open up new science experiments, the faster you build science points..  Or perhaps you have your eye on some bigger fuel tanks and engines..


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1 minute ago, Superfluous J said:


Exciting for you and me both!  I'm doing Duna/Ike right now.  I hadn't really come up with a good plan for Duna/Ike, so I decided to just do a plain-Jane run, using only parts from tech tree Tier 6 or less.  @Scarecrow71 has already been to Dres, which is arguably one of the most difficult places to reach (and return from), but has had a 'Kerbal Experience' trying to do the Duna run. He's unlocked all of Tier 6, and might be able to unlock one of the Tier 7 nodes.

I'll warn you in advance that I think my documentation for the Duna/Ike run may not be 100% what you expect:  It will be more a description of how I've had success approaching Duna, maybe not as much emphasis on the Kerpollo documentation.  I'm pretty sure you'll see enough to know I did it though.

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Dunollo Complete!  I think this was the last mission for the Kerpollo challenge, trying to think if I missed anybody.

During my Kerpollo run, I put off Minmus because I wanted to wait until I could do it with a space-plane.  For some of the other runs I had a specific goal or plan in mind.  For Duna/Ike I didn't have anything particular I wanted to do.  So I was going to put it off for a bit, but thankfully @Scarecrow71 gave me an idea.  He has tech tier 6 all filled out, but nothing unlocked in tier 7.  So I decided to do Duna/Ike using only parts from tech tier 6 or less.

Getting to Duna is easy, and Ike is so big that encounters with Ike are easy too.  But landing on Duna presents some specific challenges.  There's an atmosphere, but it's so thin that it is difficult to get the benefits from it during landing,  Duna has mountains, which in most cases you want to avoid.  And even where it's not mountainous, the terrain is often sloped to some degree, which makes landers tip over.

So to start out, I try to build a lander which can land using minimal dV, and won't tip over.

Duna Lander:


Note: Almost everything about this mission has way more dV than is needed, often by a factor of two or three.  I didn't want to do any fancy, dV-saving maneuvers.  And I wanted a ship with lots of dV to spare, in case my orbital planning is not perfect.

To eliminate tipping over, I build the Duna lander very wide and flat.  The aerodynamics (drag) are horrible, but Duna's atmosphere is so thin it's almost negligible.  So the basic idea is wide and flat.

The core is a small lander can.  The fuel tanks are mounted radially.  It's powered by 4 Spark engines.  Two or three Spark engines would have been plenty, but I have 4 fuel tanks...

I have 4 regular parachutes, plus two drogue chutes.  The parachutes will not slow my descent enough for a safe landing, but they will reduce the dV required to land at Duna to a very small figure.

I added all the science experiments available at Tier 6, plus some solar panels.  At the top is a small docking port and a small battery.  The Monopropellant contained in the lander can will be more than needed.  I use 4 of the small RCS blocks.  The lander can holds 15.0 units of Monopropellant, but I'll use less than 0.5 units for both Ike and Duna docking.  If you need more Monopropellant, add a tank or two.


Since I added a Materials Bay (Science Jr.?), that seemed like a good place to put the 4 normal parachutes.  I have two Drogue Chutes mounted to the sides of the Lander Can.  The Spark engines will be more than adequate to get to the surface and return to orbit.

Note about the 'chutes:  Duna's atmosphere is very thin, so I recommend adjusting the parachute tweakables for Duna.  In particular,

  • I want the Drogues to open at 3000 m
  • I want the Mains (normal chutes) to open at 2000 m
  • I want the Drogues to activate with 0.01 atmosphere.  In the VAB you can only set them to 0.02 (default).  But in flight, you can change them to activate with 0.01 atmosphere.  So you will need to change them to open at 0.01 atm. in flight.


The Transfer Stage:


The transfer stage needs to have enough dV to maneuver at Duna/Ike, and also take me back to Kerbin.  It also contains the capsule which will deliver the Kerbals to the surface of Kerbin safely.

Note that if you have an engineer to re-pack the parachutes, the Duna lander could be the return vessel.  I'm designing this mission so that the Duna Lander will be left at Duna.

The 'Transfer Stage' starts with a Mk3 Capusule, which holds 3 Kerbals.  On top (and not visible) is a small docking port, which attaches the Duna Lander.

Below the Mk3 Capusule is a 2.5 m heat shield, just in case I need to do some deep aerobraking when I return to Kerbin,

Next is a 2.5 m decoupler, and a 'Half-Orange-Tank'.  That's the 2.5 m tank which is half the size of the biggest 2.5 m tank.  The biggest 2.5 m tanks used to always be orange, so we call them an 'Orange Tank'.  (Veteran KSP players anyway...)

The Transfer Stage is powered by two LV-909 Terrier engines, mounted to a 2.5 m, Engine Plate.  I wanted to use the Cheetah engine, but there is a (undocumented) bug where the 2.5 m shroud doesn't work with the Cheetah engine.  Plus, I think the Cheetah engine might be part of one of the DLC's.  Anyway, I used two Terrier engines on the transfer stage.  A single Terrier would have worked fine too,


The Booster Stage:


One fear that happens with Booster Stages is when you decouple the boosters they can drift into your core rocket, and destroy it.  I have a suggestion on how to fly so that the boosters don't destroy your rocket:  Always fly PROGRADE while decoupling, and throttle down to 1/3 power or less while you separate the boosters.

Anyway, the core of the Booster Stage is a large Reaction Wheel, then two 'Orange Tanks' (Large 2.5 m tanks..), and a Skipper engine.  Trust me, the Skipper engine will be plenty when we're done.


Next I add four (4) side LF boosters.  They consist of one half-orange-tank, plus two full-orange-tanks.  Powered by Mainsail engines.

The nose-cone at the top isn't critical but I think they help.  Note that there are struts running from the booster to the core.  The struts are located near the top and bottom of the side boosters.  The struts help keep the boosters from wobbling,

Also, there is a Fuel Line running from the side-booster(s) to the central tank.  So the rocket will burn all the fuel in the side boosters before any is burned from the central core booster.  This is very basic asparagus staging.


Finally, I'll add four (4) Kickback SRBs, in between the four LF boosters.  If you have tier 6 unlocked, you have access to larger SRB boosters, but for this design they won't fit between the four big LF boosters.  The Kickback SRBs are mounted with struts at the top and bottom, again to add some rigidness during launch.


The booster stage assembled.

The four (4) LF boosters are mounted with 4X symmetry,  The four (4) Kickback SRBs are mounted also with 4X symmetry, in between the bigger LF boosters.  Again, the nose-cones are optional, but I think they help- both with efficiency and also rocket controllability.


The rocket will cost nearly 180K funds, and god only knows what it weighs,  But for the Kerpollo Challenge funds are not an issue, and neither is launch weight.

That's the rocket design in a nutshell.  The design choices might make more sense when you see them in action.  Or maybe they won't.

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Launch, Orbit Kerbin, and Transfer to Duna/Ike:


This is the rocket in all it's glory, sitting on the launchpad.  Flight profiles depend greatly on the TWR of rockets.  For most of my rockets, including this one, I:

  • Burn straight up to about 50 m/s and 500 m altitude before starting the gravity turn.
  • At ~50 m/s or 500 m I start a slow turn to the east (090).
  • When I reach about 5-8 degrees east, I click Pro-Grade hold and leave it there.
  • When the acceleration approaches 2 G's, I throttle back to hold about 1.7 - 2.0 Gs of acceleration,


Launch.  Again, for this rocket (and most of my rockets), I'll burn straight up till about 50 m/s or 500 m altitude.


At 50 m/s or 500 m altitude, I gently roll over to about 7-10 degrees, then engage Pro-Grade Hold.  Note at this point I have engaged Pro-Grade Hold.


Dropping the SRBs (Solid Rocket Boosters).  If I'm holding Pro-Grade (not turning), I could drop the boosters at full throttle.  But often, it is safer to drop the boosters under low thrust,  Note in the photo, while I'm dropping the boosters, I'm holding pro-grade and throttled down, at about 1/3 throttle.


For this rocket, the LF boosters run out of fuel while I'm in space.  In this case, I drop those boosters while the engines are all at zero thrust.  Then I goose the throttle a little to get away from the dropped boosters.  But I'm still holding pro-grade.


Due to the 'asparagus staging' design, when I drop the side LF boosters, the central booster stage is chock full of fuel.  I'm not convinced asparagus staging is ideal in the real world.  But it seems to work well in KSP.


Circularized in Kerbal orbit.  Note my orbit is about 200 km X 200 km.  A lot of threads talk about 'Oberth Effect', which is a very real phenomenon, and occurs in KSP.  However, to realize the advantages of the 'Oberth Effect', you either need a high TWR, or need to make multiple 'PeriApsis kicks', neither of which is practical for this rocket.  We could take some advantage of the 'Oberth Effect' with this rocket, and save about 300 m/s dV.  But we're not going to- because interplanetary plotting is easier to understand if you do it from a Solar orbit.


Transfer to Duna:


First off, I'm going to set Duna as a target.  In map view I right-click on Duna and click on 'Set as Target'.


I'm not going to do this burn.  But if I burned directly from Kerbal orbit (~200X200 km) I could reach Duna's orbit with about 980 m/s dV.  This would be more efficient, but I'm going to just burn to Solar orbit instead.  It will cost me a few hundred m/s dV, but it will be easier to accomplish a transfer to Duna from Solar orbit.


Instead, I set up a burn to just leave Kerbin's SOI, and enter a Solar orbit.


I exit Kerbin's SOI with slightly more velocity than Kerbin so my orbit is a little bigger than Kerbin's.  From Solar orbit it will be fairly easy to plan a maneuver to intercept Duna.


By playing with the maneuver planner tools I end up with a maneuver almost a year away, which will give me a Duna intercept at a fairly low dV cost.


I'll try to fine-tune the burn, by focusing on Duna.


Usually I can fine-tune the maneuver to get closer to the target Celestial Body (CB).  In this case, there's not much I can do yet.  I'll have to wait for the mid-course correction burn.


Not sure if I'm defining the mod-course correction burn correctly.  Usually it's about halfway to the target CB.  If you have to make a full orbit (or multiple orbits) it's about halfway between the PE (or AP if you're going the other way,,) and the CB.  Here I'm placing the mid-course correction burn about halfway between my Solar PE and the Duna intercept.


I pull up the maneuver tool in the lower left corner, and start adding or subtracting from orbital characteristics, like Pro/Retro, Orbital In/Out, and Ascending/Descending.  In this case, my original orbit is above the target plane, and slightly radial-out.  So I need to add a Descending component, and I'll correct the radial out component by adding a retro-grade component to my burn.  If that doesn't make sense, just play around with the maneuver tool.  Fiddle with it until your orbit looks like you want.


In my case, I was able to fiddle with the mid-course correction  to get an encounter with Ike.  Sounds impressive, but really it's not,  Ike is so big it's almost hard to miss.


By focusing on Ike, I'm able to further refine my mid-course correction burn to get an even more favorable encounter with Ike.


After entering Duna's SOI I'll refine it even further with a final SOI entry burn.


Things are starting to line up.  I have a good Duna intercept.  I also have a good encounter with Ike and should be able to circularize at Ike.  I could fiddle with the orbits some more to save a little dV, but I don't need to.  I'll keep it simple, and just do a basic capture burn at Ike when I arrive.


A little more fiddling with maneuver nodes to further fine-tune my Ike arrival.


Arriving at Ike.  When I get within 2 minutes of Ike PE I'll start my retro-grade burn to capture.



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I circularize at Ike, with a ~80X80 km orbit.  Looks like I'm nearly out of fuel, but I'm still using the core booster stage from Kerbin, so I'm fine.  I haven't even used a drop of fuel from the actual 'Transfer Stage'.


Separation.  This went badly!  I forgot to put a pilot in the descent stage- I had a scientist in the descent stage!  Normally this would not be a problem, I usually put probe cores on pretty much everything.  However the rules of the Kerpollo challenge prohibit probe cores in the Lander and Orbiter- so I haven't used any probe cores in the entire challenge.  I could do the landing at Ike with no SAS if needed.  But I'd rather have SAS.  So after separation I need to EVA a pilot over to the Lander, and move the scientist from the Lander to the Orbiter (Transfer Stage).  That involved a lot of furious button pushing, apologies for not having good photos of the separation.  I was really busy!


Lowering my Ike PE to prepare to land,  You can't see the orbit of the 'Orbiter' because I turned off other orbits earlier.  Trust me, it's there..


Val is riding the bull again.  YeeeHawww!


Almost landed,  I forgot to take screenshots while on the surface.  But Ike is almost identical to Mun.  If you can land on Mun, you can land on Ike.  Actually, if you are cutting things really close, I think Ike takes a little more thrust and dV than Mun.  But we're not cutting things close here.  Using the Duna Lander, we have way more TWR and dV than we need for Ike.


Back in orbit, after the rendezvous with the Transfer Stage.  About to dock.


Docked.  I have a few things to do before landing at Duna:

  • Transfer the science from the Ike lander to the Transfer Stage.
  • Transfer fuel from the Transfer Stage to the Ike(Duna) Lander.  I want the lander full of gas when I land at Duna.


Leaving Ike, doesn't take much dV to get to a low PE at Duna.  I'll probably want the transfer stage at about a 100X100 km orbit around Duna.  The Duna Lander will perform best if the descent starts from just above a 50X50 km orbit of Duna.  But I'll worry about that when I get there.


Descent to Duna:


Descending to Duna can be tricky if you want to be efficient.  

Here I'm in orbit of Duna, but the Booster is finally out of fuel.  So I'm dropping the Booster.  The shorter section remaining is the 'Transfer Stage', and has plenty of fuel to get back to Kerbin.


Burning to circularize at Duna.


I end up leaving the Orbiter (Transfer Stage) at about a 145X145 km orbit of Duna.


I separate the Duna Lander from the Transfer Stage, after doing the following checks:

  • The fuel tanks on the Duna Lander are full.
  • There is a pilot on board the Duna Lander (I'll want SAS..)


I lower the orbit of the Duna Lander to ~55X55 km.  Duna's atmosphere only goes up to 50 km.  I want to enter Duna's atmosphere as slow as possible, and more importantly at as shallow of an angle as possible.  Entering from close to a 50X50 km orbit is best.


I adjust the Drogue Chutes.  It is not possible to set the Drogue Chutes to a min pressure of 0.01 in the VAB:  it will only go down to 0.02.  But in flight you can lower the min pressure to 0.01.  So I do that with both Drogue Chutes.  That's not necessary but it helps.


To enter Duna's atmosphere, I lower my PE to about 20 km.  This will give me a very shallow entry.  Duna's atmosphere is so thin that if you come in with a steep approach the atmosphere won't slow you down.


I deploy the Drogue Chutes as soon as it's safe.


I also deploy the main parachutes as soon as it's safe.  I have the parachutes set to fully deploy at:

  • The Drogue Chutes are set to fully deploy at 3000 m.
  • The Main Parachutes are set to fully deploy at 2000 m.
  • Those are not the stock default values, you need to change them in the VAB or in flight.  The stock default parachute values work fine at Kerbin, but not at Duna.


Drogues and Mains are now fully deployed.


Important!!!  While falling under canopy, your velocity is going to be too high.  You need to hit the ground at 5 m/s or less.  The parachutes don't get you that slow, so you will need to use the engines to help out,  How much engine?


While under canopy, slowly add thrust from the engines, until your velocity is under 5 m/s.  Note how much throttle that takes, so you can quickly go to that setting when you get close to the ground- within 100 m of the ground.  Looks like about 4 clicks up on the throttle should do the trick.


Ok, we're within 100 m of the ground, and I'm running the engines a little to get my velocity to 5 m/s or less.  I know from the previous test that it will take about 4 clicks of throttle, or just about 1/3 throttle.


Touched down at Duna.  If I had brought an Engineer I could re-pack the 'chutes, just in case.  But I didn't bring an engineer.


The wide, flat design helps minimize the risk of tipping over.  Plus, the parachutes help keep the Lander pointed upright during landing.


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