Month: April 2014
Flight 8 – Duna Landing
Having consulted their beloved public, the Kerbals decided to make Duna (KSP’s Mars analogue) their next target. They would use know-how gained from this expedition to build a space-station around Kerbin to help with future interplanetary trips.
The ship used for this mission is a bit more advanced than the ones used to explore Kerbin and its moons. It consists of an orbital booster stage, an interplanetary stage (I-stage), and a lander capable of re-docking with the I-stage once its mission to Duna’s surface is complete. The I-stage can then return the Kerbals back home.
Once in orbit, the booster stage is detached and the I-stage begins it’s burn to Duna.
Once the burn was complete, the map showed I would need 203 days just to arrive around Duna. The boys in the I-stage’s large capsule settled down for many, many days of watching movies, playing risk and drinking slurm. I did feel a bit sorry for Jebediah spending the time on his own in the lander capsule but he’s a resilient chap and I’m sure he was happy enough as he was about to become the first Kerbal to land on another planet.
Eventually however, the lads find themselves in an orbit around Duna. Jeb detaches from the I-stage and begins a burn to put himself on a course for Duna’s surface. He aims to intercept the surface at a shallow angle to maximise the amount of time spent in the atmosphere so it can slow him down.
All goes well and the lander’s parachutes carry it to the surface, requiring only a small burn of it’s rockets for a soft touchdown. On the way down he is sure he sees violent sandstorms but is confident that it was just his imagination and nothing to be concerned over. In any case, the landing site appears clear.
Before long however the sky starts to darken. This concerns Jeb as it is still daytime. After checking and double-checking that he has not somehow donned his sunglasses inside his helmet, he notices the wind start to pick up. And up. Aaaaaand up. Jeb hurriedly jumps back onto his ladders and into the safety of his capsule as the sandstorm descends on him.
After reaching orbit, Jeb makes the tricky rendez-vous with the I-stage. With most of it’s fuel gone the lander is extremely light and very easy to control in a vacuum. However, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to transfer what fuel remained in the lander to the I-stage because the fuel tanks needed to be jettisoned to expose the docking port. For future designs I’ll have to think of a way to dock with the lander fuel tanks so as not to waste fuel.
As they return to near-Kerbin space, the lads can’t contain their excitement. To the horror of the health and safety team back on Kerbin, Jeb and Bob decide to go on EVA while hurtling towards Kerbin at 3000m/s in order to high-five. However, as Bob correctly pointed out, the objecters were way down there and they couldn’t really stop them.
At this point there’s still quite a bit of fuel left in the I-stage. Flush from their sucessful trip to Duna, the boys decide to return home with a bit of flair. They attempt to land as close to the Kerbal Space Centre as possible (some poor sod has to go and pick up their landers from all over Kerbin after all). This is no mean feat (for me at least) as the atmosphere of Kerbin is not taken into account by the navigation system in the game, meaning you have to guesstimate how much you have to overshoot you’re target to allow for the atmosphere slowing you down.
All Kerbalkind celebrated the four brave Kerbalnaughts who made it to Duna (especially Jeb, much to the annoyance of the other three).
Much was learnt about interplanetary manoeuvres, docking in orbit and putting whopping big and heavy stuff into space.
The bigwhigs and eggheads get together to decide how to put this knowledge to use in building their space station.
Everyone agreed that looking at moons was fascinating. However, some bright spark pointed out that they could do the same thing from the safety of a ground telescope without wasting all that fuel. Plus, many Kerbals were eager to learn whether the green-tinged Minimus was really made from frozen slurm – the drink of choice on Kerbin.
So it was, once again, up to Jebediah the Green to venture where no kerbal has gone before and bring back samples.
Flight 6 – Mun landing
Jeb took his time climbing up his new, much larger, rocket ship. This was no mean feat as Kerbals had not yet developed the technical wizardry necessary for ladders in space.
But eventually… Blast Off!!!
Getting to the Mun was quite straightforward now that Jeb had done it once before. Just a slight course adjustment to bring him into an orbit and then down to the surface rather than just performing a fly-by. The main difference was that he now needed a lander capable of a soft touch down and carrying enough fuel to take him back to Kerbal safely.
A proud moment for Kerbalkind! Jeb took the time to play around and generally make an arse of himself. At this point, the scientists at home decided to see exactly how high someone could jump on each body in the Kerbol system. You know, for science.
Eager to set off on his next mission, Jebediah set off for home.
Next up, Minimus!
Flight 7 – Minimus landing
Due to budget concerns (not actually a part of KSP yet but they will be in the future) and the fact that Minimus has much less gravity than Mun, it was decided that a smaller rocket would be used for this mission. Brave Jebediah Kerman was not at all concerned about the greatly increased risk of being stranded in space due to an imaginary economic squeeze.
With the space near Kerbin explored, the scientists at home have to decide where to take their spacely know-how next…
Having “mastered” low kerbin orbital flight, Jebediah Kerman, the valorous explorer, decided he wanted to visit the moons of Kerbin. Kerbin has two of them, Mun (an analogue of Earth’s moon) and Minimus (A captured comet on a much higher orbit).
Wanting to show off, Jeb decided to visit both moons in one flight, crammed full of science goo of course. So he sets off in his new rocket, hoping to get a good look at both before returning home.
Flight 5 – Mun and Minimus flyby
After his fly-by over the Mun, gravity swung Jeb in a wide arc, actually shoving him out of Kerbins sphere of influence! A quick burn of the rocket shoved him back in the right direction. Next stop, Minimus!
Minimus turned out to have a very small gravity well, I had to get pretty close to fall into its sphere of influence.
Once Jeb had taking his pictures and performed his science, he used the rest of his fuel to return to Kerbin for a textbook landing…
After their previous rocket-related jollies, Kerbal space scientists figured that the next thing to do would be to get into orbit around Kerbin.
Flight 3 – Orbit attempt 1
So once again, Jebediah Kerman – the bravest and greenest of all kerbonaughts – crammed himself into a capsule on top of an even greater amount of fuel. This time, instead of going straight up, he would start to turn east (which according to forums is the best direction to get into orbit) after 10,000m and hope to build up enough speed and height to get into a stable orbit.
So how did it go? Well…
Trial and error my friends, trial and error.
So guess what? MOAR ROCKETS!!
Flight 4 – Orbit attempt 2
This time I’m using solid fuel boosters to get some serious height before I start using my main engines and an additional little stage to push me into orbit once I’m high enough.
Sucess! Jebediah completes a couple of orbits around Kerbin, the scientists would have been happy with one but Jeb is having far too much fun so they let him stay a bit.
Eventually however, he exhausts the capsule’s supply of slurm and uses the rest of his fuel to push the craft back towards Kerbin. He lands safely among the mountains, balanced precariously on his brand new landing legs.
Having played the demo of KSP (available for free on steam) and trying out the sandbox mode for a bit, I’m about to start career mode for the first time.
In career mode, you initially only have access to a small number of parts to build your rockets. To unlock more parts, you must venture into space and do some science!
To that end the first thing I’m going to do is send one of my hapless little guys as high as I can and… see what happens!
Flight 1 – 15000m
So after strapping some fuel tanks to a rocket engine at one end and a capsule at the other, its time to take it to the launch pad and hit that enticing red button…
Well apparently it can fly! Who says rocket science is hard? The little sucker got up to 15000m before running out of fuel and starting to fall. Luckily for the kerbal inside, that knobbly bit at the top of the capsule is a parachute and he is able to safely drift for the last few hundred metres.
He even managed to land very close to the launch site. Although the landing was a little rough (the engine blew up when it touched the ground!) the capsule and the kerbal inside were safe to die another day. The Kerbals have learned valuable lessons about the bravery of Kerbalkind and what clouds look like from above.
These discoveries apparently led to some new advances in rocket engineering which allowed me to acquire some new parts…
I can now stage rockets (discard parts of them I don’t need like spent fuel tanks during flight) and cover my rocket in goo! (science goo, obviously). So, changes are hurriedly made for the next flight, even higher over Kerbal.
Flight 2 – 80000m
So, with tanks of goo in hand (science, remember?) Jebediah Kerman steps into the capsule once more. This time, he has even more fuel strapped to his behind which expert rocket scientists all agree is for the best.
By now he is most definitely in space. Jebediah quickly takes pretty pictures of the stars and the Mun and whatnot but of course, what goes up must come down (probably not the most optomistic saying for a space programme but still…). This time, the spent fuel tanks are jettisoned, allowing the parachute to carry our entrepid explorer to the ground with much more aplomb and much less explosions.
Feel free to post any comments or thoughts and stay tuned for more kerbaltude