Month: April 2014

5) Lets go to Mars dude!

Posted on

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.

Thats a big rocket! 520 tons at launch
Thats a big rocket! 520 tons at launch

Once in orbit, the booster stage is detached and the I-stage begins it’s burn to Duna.

Duna I-stage

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.

Ike (right of the picture) is Duna's large moon, almost as big as the planet itself
Ike (right of the picture) is Duna’s large moon, almost as big as the planet itself

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.

Courageous Jebediah is not at all concerned about detaching from the ship that is his only chance of returning home
Courageous Jebediah is not at all concerned about detaching from the ship that is his only chance of returning home

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.

Duna parachute

Jeb finds he can't jump particularly high on Duna. Still higher than he can back on Kerbin though.
Jeb finds he can’t jump particularly high on Duna. Still higher than he can back on Kerbin though.
Duna canyon
Jeb also makes a note of a huge canyon nearby. A bit far for him to go on foot but he scribbles notes down in case future missions can investigate further

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.

Sandstorm
Shiiiiiiiiiii……
Duna take-off
Jebediah decided to take off immediately. Because he wanted to get some pictures of the storm from above. For science. Not because he was scared. Absolutely not.

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.

Duna soon to dock

 

Docking is an awkward process, luckily made much easier by what remains of the lander being small and easy to manoeuvre. Easssssy does it...
Docking is an awkward process, luckily made much easier by what remains of the lander being small and easy to manoeuvre. Easssssy does it…
Got it!
Got it!
The I-stage returns home, complete with Jeb's lander
The I-stage returns home, complete with Jeb’s lander capsule.

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.

Having being cooped up on his own for well over a year, Jeb is extremely excited by this social interaction. Bob of course is more reserved.
Having being cooped up on his own for well over a year, Jeb is extremely excited by this social interaction. Bob of course is more reserved.

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.

However…

That's not bad for a first attempt if I do say so myself
That’s not bad for a first attempt if I do say so myself

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.

 

 

 

Advertisements

4) One small waddle for a Kerbal…

Posted on Updated on

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!!!

Probably not the prettiest ship I could have built but it does the job
Probably not the prettiest ship I could have built but it does the job

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.

Jeb plumped for a nice, flat looking crater to land in
Jeb plumped for a nice, flat looking crater to land in
And brings the lander to the surface with all its bits intact!
And brings the lander to the surface with all its bits intact!

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.

Jeb was only too happy to oblige
Jeb was only too happy to oblige

Eager to set off on his next mission, Jebediah set off for home.

Unfortunately the landing site was on the far side of the Mun so Jeb wasn't able to take a classic 'blue marble' pic from the surface but he figured this would do.
Unfortunately the landing site was on the far side of the Mun so Jeb wasn’t able to take a classic ‘blue marble’ pic from the surface but he figured this would do.

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.

The slightly smaller rocket, complete with what in retrospect are unnecessarily huge boosters.
The slightly smaller rocket, complete with what in retrospect are unnecessarily huge boosters.
Intercepting Minimus with its wide orbit was achieved by a complex, dangerous and frankly accidental gravity assist from the Mun.
Intercepting Minimus with its wide orbit was achieved by a complex, dangerous and frankly accidental gravity assist from the Mun.
Jeb manages to touch down on the icy worldlet.
Jeb manages to touch down on the icy worldlet.
And finds out he can jump really frikkin high!
And finds out he can jump really frikkin high!
Jeb managed to land on the near side to Kerbin this time but due to the distance it still wasn't quite the blue marble pic he wanted to show his mum. Still, he managed to get Kerbin, Kerbol (the sun) and the Mun all in one shot.
Jeb managed to land on the near side to Kerbin this time but due to the distance it still wasn’t quite the blue marble pic he wanted to show his mum. Still, he managed to get Kerbin, Kerbol (the sun) and the Mun all in one shot.

With the space near Kerbin explored, the scientists at home have to decide where to take their spacely know-how next…

 

 

3) Fly me to the Moon(s)

Posted on Updated on

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

The Mun is firmly in Jeb's sights
The Mun is firmly in Jeb’s sights
Jeb managed to get pretty close to the Mun and much fun and science was had by all.
Jeb managed to get pretty close to the Mun and much fun and science was had by all.

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!

Doesn't look like much from up here.
Doesn’t look like much from up here.

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…

Almost.

Sideways landing

 

2) Into Orbit

Posted on Updated on

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…

At first all went well, and Jeb began his turn at 10,000m
At first all went well, and Jeb began his turn at 10,000m
The fuel ran and out and we are pretty damn high! Surely we are in orbit now!?
The fuel ran and out and we are pretty damn high! Surely we are in orbit now!?
Hmm... that doesn't look like the flight path of an orbit to me...
Hmm… that doesn’t look like the flight path of an orbit to me…
Naa, I'm pretty sure thats not an orbit. Looks a bit dangerous.
Naa, I’m pretty sure thats not an orbit. Looks a bit dangerous.

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.

The boosters add a hell of a kick to the launch
The boosters add a hell of a kick to the launch

 

The main engines do the rest of the work
The main engines do the rest of the work
That's more like it!
That’s more like it!

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.

I mean could you say no to that face?
I mean could you say no to that face?

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.

"Time for a bit of climbing? Naa I should probably get back"
“Time for a bit of climbing? Naa I should probably get back”

1) Have to start somewhere…

Posted on Updated on

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…

I'm sure NASA has some way of holding it upright but apparently Kerbals don't yet, just hope it's not too windy!
I’m sure NASA has some way of holding it upright but apparently Kerbals don’t yet, just hope it’s not too windy!

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.

Up it goes! So far so good!
Up it goes! So far so good!
And down it comes...
And down it comes…

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.

Well, I'm no expert but I would say that's definitely space.
If the Kerbals built a great wall you would totally be able to see it from here.

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.

The tanks are successfully ejected away from the main capsule.
The tanks are successfully ejected away from the main capsule.
Which then lands safely on Terra Firma (Kerba Firma?), allowing Jebediah to take a selfie.

Feel free to post any comments or thoughts and stay tuned for more kerbaltude