Flight 10 – Dres
Jeb, of course, volunteered and his lander was prepared for him.
The lander is launched into orbit and the RIS is undocked from the KSS. The two meet above Kerbin.
So Jeb got himself to Dres. With just one minor problem. Although the lander still had a full tank of fuel, the RIS was running very low! The orange tank was completely empty and even the four side tanks over the nukes were slightly depleted. I had to hope that the lander would have some fuel left over after the landing and that the lighter payload for the return journey wouldn’t guzzle so much fuel.
Jeb was confident enough to go ahead and land on Dres in any case, how bad could being stranded in interplanetary space be anyway? So he detached from the RIS and burned retrograde to land. Dres is a small world with a gravity similar to the Mun. In that sense, landing here was easier than landing on Duna although there was no atmosphere to slow descent.
Not at all distracted by the way the world below him was giving his skin a grayish tinge, Jeb expertly piloted the lander to the surface without incident.
Jeb found he could jump just as high here as he could on the Mun but without the glorious view of Kerbin to keep him company. He had a look around for the famous Dres Canyon that had been spotted by astronomers from Kerbin but it didn’t seem to be anywhere nearby.
All in all Dres seems… pretty dull. After doing some science and posing for a selfie…
Jeb does some science things with Goo and samples but swiftly runs out of things to do. He blasts off from Dres, happy to have expanded the borders of Kerbally exploration but a bit jaded that the surface wasnt covered in awesome gray…somethings. What’s awesome and gray? Chicken walkers from star wars perhaps? On reflection Jeb decides that most things that are awesome aren’t gray and decides that the next place he visits should be a different colour.
The lander still had about 150 units of fuel left inside. Jeb transferred this to the RIS and ejected the empty lander cans. It’s still looking extremely tight for fuel however, getting back to Kerbin is going to take quite a lot of detla-V and at this point I wasn’t sure if the craft would make it.
And sure enough, after escaping Dres’ orbit, burning to an encounter with Kerbin and arriving in Kerbin’s sphere of influence, the RIS ran out of fuel… at this point…
No chance of even so much as an aerobrake, the craft was going to head straight back out into Kerbol orbit. I only really had a couple of options at that point, either give up and terminate the mission, starting all over again, or attempting a rescue. I really don’t like the idea of ‘terminating’ Jeb after all he’s done for the KSP so I decided to try and rescue him. All he really needed was some fuel, so I simply launched a fuel tank into orbit.
The fuel tank docked with the RIS and gave it enough delta V for a proper Kerbin encounter. I put both on a suicide burn for Kerbin, undocked the lander then used the RIS’s engines to push it’s periapsis higher, going for an aerobrake rather than a suicide burn.
So the rescue worked! This wasn’t a particularly smooth mission however, I have learned a few things from it.
My main change for future is realising that the current RIS does not have enough fuel for taking landers beyond Duna/Eve. Luckily, it’s design included a nice big docking port Sr. to attach extra fuel tanks in just such a situation (which is how the refueling tank was able to dock). So I sent another gray fuel tank to increase the range of the RIS.
At least this mission did show that the RIS concept could work, even if it didn’t go quite as planned!