Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Monday, 27 April 2015

Mun mission packs

These are my last sessions with the beta game client 0.9 of the Kerbal Space Programme. Three more sessions have passed until I was able to tackle my stacked number of missions on Mun.

First step, finally get some fuel cheaply and efficiently into orbit. So despite my frustration which I expressed in my last blog entry, I went again to the drawing board and designed once more a new space plane. And, what can I say, it finally works out!

- this plane knows how to fly, finally; behold the White Goose

- landing sucessful, but did not hit the runway; then ran out of electricity; had to build a rover to pull the White Goose back to base (for full recovery of funds)

Second step. Since I discovered last time that my Swan ship combo does not work too well with an asymetric composition, I send a second Swan Lander which docks at the Swan Yacht´s belly; thus, symmetry is restored.

- Set course for Mun

Third step. Burn for Mun; easy enough established with a maneuver node. Also the rendez-vous with the Warthog waiting in Mun´s orbit is achieved without problems. However, the Warthog has only one docking port, which is occupied by the old Mun lander. I should have invested a bit wiser. My Swan Yacht has brought along enough docking ports, but things are going to be a bit difficult when I would need the Swan Yacht to go back to Kerbal for another run of fuel.

All ships docked together have a deltaV of 1300m/s. This makes me think about whether I should bring the Warthog back home like this and decomission it? The hyrid spaceship/spacestation concept might be not efficient enough. Besides, with another Swan Yacht, I could dock a big space station and a fuel tank in the middle between them and thus bring a huge space station and supply base to any location I want.

- I wonder if the one docking port will hold up to the strain if I bring back the "whole package"...

Anyways, before I ponder more about this, my Swan Landers need to go to work. Fourth step.

However, before I really get used to how to pilot them, I crash two of them (i.e. reload the game two times because I am too time starved to launch new landers from Kerbal again). On my first try to land, I totally overestimate the trust of its tiny engines and splash with about 100m/s into the Mun´s surface. The second reload, I manage to touch down, but have to realize that the rover wheels are not really tough. As I set down laterally with 8m/s (a maneuver which is a bit difficult when you can only really slow down with the main engines, by flying backwards), one rover wheel gets destroyed. Even though I manned the Swan Lander with a Kerbal Engineer, who should be able to repair rover wheels, I have to realize that his experience level is not high enough yet.

 - almost there...

My third landing works out fine. Using up a bit more fuel, I slow down its fall very cautiously and touch down with 2m/s. Whew. I should have added landing struts or a complete set of plane wheels for the touchdow.

- the Swan Lander has, well, landed

It is really an awesome feeling to drive around on an alien planet, after that endless tries on space planes, travelling through space. Mission achieved! A very rewarding experience, indeed!

- the cockpit view is awesome

Unfortunately, the problems finally become apparent. Nothing new for Kerbals:

I equipped the Swan lander with a deltaV of about 2300m/s, but now there is only about 1300m/s left, which is probably not enough to visit another landing zone. This is a setback; I had hoped that this version would be able to tackle more than one landing. But at least I have enoug deltaV to really get back to the mothership in orbit, which the first minimalist Mun lander from the Warthog failed to achieve.

After the Swan Lander 1 is back in orbit and needs some time to achieve rendez-vous, I launch the second one. This one gets to tackle some "fly over" mission points. The same result here; after shifting orbit three times for three different mission points, its deltaV potential is too exhausted for tackling a landing and I have to dock back to the mothership.

From my Mun mission stack, I still have to reach two landing areas. However, my overall fuel capacity is again low. Each landing area needs a completely refilled Swan Lander, and if I refilled them from the Swan Yacht mothership, it would leave the Swan Yacht with only 62 units of fuel and thus in the same situation as I already had the Warthog in. Damn.

Option one, I leave the Swan Landers here and bring back some fuel with my Swan Yacht. Option two, I stay here and come with an additional Swan Yacht, packed with additional fuel tanks. I am undecided and want to ponder it for a while.

Doing another fuel transport from Kerbal to U-limb station is a perfect distraction. Unfortunately, this spaceplane thing really really is a balance act on a hair. Engines start to cut out badly at 35km at 1300m/s speed. Optimal would be 44km at 2200m/s. I think I can use some of that fuel, because U-limb can only hold 1440 units, while the total on board is more than 2000 units. So, I fire the rocket engines at 35km. Whoops, as I finally enter orbit, all is burned up, except for those 1440 units which I wanted to transfer to the station. A second major multiple screw up on my try to rendez vous, and only 260 units are left once I dock at the station. Sigh. This was not really worth the hassle, was it? At least I can take Kelgee back with the plane in order to finish that mission; Kelgee was the Kerbal which I saved from orbit during one of my last sessions; I had left him in the space station to recover while the Swan Yacht moved onwards to Mun.

I quickly undock my spaceplane again and prepare the landing. I have almost not enough remaining fuel to de-orbit where I want, so I have to fly a bit farther once I am back in the atmosphere. However, I am content that I do a rather precise landing, just some few meters to the left out of the runway. Fine for me!

After this inefficient interlude, it is time to decide how to proceed the Mun mission. The old Mun lander and Swan Lander 1 get filled up to the brim with fuel and are undocked, to be left in Mun orbit. After all, it does not make sense to take back unused fuel to Kerbal! Before undocking them, I correct the orbit back to an aequatorial one; the Warthog had been still on that tilted orbit when it went out of fuel, so many game sessions ago.

A deltaV of 500m/s is left to propel the Swan Yacht docked together with the Warthog into Kerbal orbit. It is very difficult to control, and the now again asymetric composition of the Swan Yacht with only one lander does not help. Both ships swing wildy during acceleration, it looks scary, but the docking clamps hold. I discover that I can alleviate the swinging by switching off the large gyrowheel on the Warthog; no idea why this caused the instability.

While I wait for the Swan Yacht to get back into the sphere of influence (SOI) of Kerbal orbit, I engage in a little supplementary project. Fuel starvation has been a permanent problem so far. Therefore, the Swan Yacht should be equipped with some additional fuel tanks. The small Rockomax tier 2 fuel containers have a flat, almost disk like, form. Four of them, equipped with two docking ports each, stack nicely. They will be decoupled and docked one by one on each of the Swan Yacht´s upper and lower docking ports. This should transform my multipurpose Swan Yacht into a good interplanetary fuel transporter wth a very balanced and symmetrical payload.

However, getting the fuel disks up into orbit strains my launch pad´s maximum weight allowance of 140 tons. After some pondering, the only solution is to bring them up empty and refuel them later via separate fuel runs with the White Goose. This decision in turn allows me to still add a small thug to the rocket´s payload, which will later serve to arrange those tanks efficiently, so that they don´t need any own power. [By hindsight, I could have thought about equipping each discus with a control and engine unit so that they might double as probe or sattelite...]. I name the rocket practically the "Fuel Disks".

- Fuel Disk, plus a little space thug

Some time later, a second fuel flight of the White Goose and said Fuel Disks are on rendez-vous to U-limb station. Since my last rendez-vous disaster, I learned my lessons and meticously achieve synchronized orbits just by adapting apopapis and periapsis. Like this, I need only a few two digit number of deltaV each to finally dock to U-limb. Since I was so efficient, there is still some fuel left in the launcher rocket of fuel discus rocket. Same with the White Goose, which this time is able to tranfer 1090 units of fuel to the space station´s tanks.

I am a bit undecided about to which docking port at the station I should attach the fuel tanks for now. Then a little accident with my keyboard controls cause a mishap (pressing "Z" for full throttle....), and I spend about 30 minutes to get back from where my thug catapulted its payload. Once everything is towed in, I cannot help and feel proud about my now grown-up space station, which now looks like a hub of bustling activity, with a docked thug boat, the White Goose, which is waiting to take over and bring down my four incoming astronauts from Mun, and a vastly extended fuel capacity of about 4000 units (1440 of them in modular disks ready to be docked to a Swan Yacht if needed). It would be a matter of three more fuel flights with the White Goose to fill it all up.

- pinnacle of my beta 0.9 career mode game

I switch back to the incoming Swan Yacht. Its SOI changed to Kerbal orbit. However, I realize now that I might have left a bit too much fuel at the Mun. A deltaV of only 280m/s is left, and I have to close down from a periapsis of 4 mio km. Playing around with a maneuver node, the only thing I can achieve with this amount is a periapsis of 48km, which I use for aerobraking, i.e. the atmosphere´s drag on my ship will substitute for a retrograde trust. I never did this before but saw and learned this from youtube videos.

After about ten orbits, the aerobraking brought the apoapsis down from 9 mio km to 500,000km. I use my remaining 28m/s deltaV to lift the periapsis back to a safe level at 76km. I believe I can consider "my kerboys are back home"; the final steps would now just a matter of another rendez-vous and a de-orbiting flight with the White Goose. OTOH, this is probably a somewhat light-hearted assumtion, since things can go wrong anytime in Kerbal Space Programme... Not that I would not want to tackle this challenge, but game sessions always pass by so fast and tomorrow the new game client is out!

So, this has to be it; a nice conclusion of my time with the Kerbal Space Programme 0.9 Beta version. I did not finish all Mun missions as I wanted to, but the expedition itself is basically completed. I have left about 1 mio credits and a good basis for further expeditions into space. This was so far a very exciting and challenging adventure which provided for a lot of fun and excitement. And I have tried and tested a conceptual foundation which will prove very useful in the course of a new career with the new game client.

- our boys are back home

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thoughts and anticipation

Soo... another session in the Kerbal Space Program passed with me trying to figure out a vessel which can bring an actual, full "jumbo" fuel container into orbit. The general issue here is that you need fuel to bring mass out of the gravity well into orbit, and more fuel means more mass, which is a kind of self-amplifying problem. The more fuel you want to bring up, the more engines and fuel you need to use in order to do so, which in turn, also add to the total mass. So, if you need 2 tons fuel for 1 ton mass, the total mass for fuel required for 1 ton payload is not 2 tons fuel because the mass of the fuel has to factor into the calculation, too. You need to calculate the fuel requirement for the total mass of 3 tons. Mathematics mathematics, no idea, but guys like Mr. Moore or Mr. Tsiolkovsky had the idea, and in the end they came up with that famous deltaV formula (Mr. Moore already as early as in 1813, 15 years before Jules Verne was born!) which gives you an idea how much change of speed you can get out of a certain combination of fuel+payload+enginepower, and this is also why staging a rocket is so efficient, despite the waste.

Anyhow, one full session, three completely new and different spaceplane designs, and all failed to reach orbit efficiently via exploiting the highly efficient jet engines. One spaceplane design kept diving nose down once it reached 7km height, even though I experimented with a center of lift way in front of the center of mass; probably a bug. Another time, I put 8 inline airscoops per jet engine, throttled them down as much as possible from 25km+altitude and still they had their burnout at 34km maximum. Similarly, I couldn´t bring my rocket SSTO to higher altitudes than 25 km with jet engines, even though I saw some videos where people where able to do this. And, hell, even I managed to do this two or three times, but it seems really really like balancing on a hair.

Ah, well, it is probably unrealistic anyways to have jet engines which can propell you into orbit and "air hogging" (a very familiar term for long term Kerbal gamers) might be also unrealistic, thusly this kinds of spaceplanes could be considered more as cheating than "playing by the rules". After all, the Kerbal Space Programme is rather about having a almost realistic physics to wrestle with! I guess the mixed LF/jet engines at higher tech levels are really first intended for the spaceplane-design-approach. To get them, I still need to upgrade the science institute, which costs a whopping 6 million of cash...

In the meanwhile, some news on Elite: Dangerous. Frontier has finally unveiled the biggest feature of the coming update on Elite: Dangerous, "Powerplay". Factional warfare, in a much larger scale than this term is used in EVE Online. I can´t say I am surprised, since David Braben always has stressed his idea of a "living" universe where the players can influence power struggles.

I think this is a great idea which will for sure engage and be fun for many players! I am curious about it, too. However, I asked myself if this would make me come back into Elite with the full intensity of my last year´s conviction? No. Re-reading some of my blog entries, it is very clear to me that Elite is for me about being able to have your own goals and being able to interact with the galaxy as a virtual/physical world. Society, human factions and human politics is not something appealing for me out there. Quite the opposite. An immersive virtual world via the Occulus Rift, a realistic galaxy, spaceflight and a certain unexplored "wild west" feeling with the possibility to settle into some of its endlessness for yourself, is more to my liking.

So, by all means, guys, play your powerplays, but I want to goddamn land on a planet and found and build new stuff. I want to be a pioneer and not a pawn as a spy, merchant or soldier, and the pioneer is a little bit of all of those archetypes.

One of the other bigger changes is a revamped mining system. Finally! I wonder if that would serve to make expeditions into the unknown even more profitable than just by selling data?

Indeed it is difficult to explain. I love space games not as a tool for a story about continued human struggles against each other (we will never change, will we?), but as a story itself about the marvel and endless possibility of human existence. Of course there should be struggle, but the goal of the struggle needs to be more for me than just changing a coloured line on a map.

So, Frontier, bring out that "landing on planets" expansion, already! Let us discover things, build our own stuff, and make our own fortune!

As usual, my time is too little to play every game as much as I´d like to... but I am really curious about the final release of the Kerbal Space Programme on Monday and it will surely eat up all of my game time for some more time! What I especially like about the announced new features is that the science module will be now actually useful and give us a reason to have orbital stations (beyond being a meeting point for re-fuels). And of course, more and lots of different contracts: Tourism, science, part recovery, scanning and mining; the latter will also serve to provide for resources like fuel, so hopefully this will alleviate all those attempts to bring up the required significant amounts of fuel into space!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Screwing up is part of the fun...

... or, that is what I make myself believe. Some bold plans from my last blog entry meet the battlefield (and, thus, don´t get away unscathed).

First of, my fuel SSTO rocket leeches a lot of fuel on its own until it is finally docked to the spacestation; just about 1000 units are left for transfer. Well, better that nothing, but far behind the originally planned full "orange tank" (should have been the full 2880 units).

Second, I decided to further move along that "new design" route and also design a new Mun lander craft. Also made from plane parts, it should both look good, have more deltaV than my current Mun lander and also double as a rover, i.e. have wheels. Well, it took a while but I finally came up with an according design which makes and survives a test drive from the Kerbal runway to the adjacent hills. And, it looks good!

- Swan Lander/Rover

Setting up a launch configuration for the Swan Lander is simple, just by attaching two of those large solid fuel boosters, and off into orbit it then goes under its own power. Suspiciously unproblematic it goes, I must say.

In the meanwhile, I docked both the Swan Yacht and the Fuel tanker at the U-limb station. Which then proves to be the source for an error: The navball is still set to "target" mode, which screws up the prograde marker, and thus I switch back to the Swan Lander, which is also supposed to meet and dock at U-limb, and start a burn into an entirely uncorrect vector. After some seconds I wonder why the orbital vectors don´t adjust the way they are supposed to... and it´s too late, the Swan Lander is on an entirely different orbit with a periapsis way out at 800,000 km, and all fuel is burnt away before I can correct that error. Sigh.

Well, in this case the mountain has to come to Muhammed, I guess. Undock the Swan Yacht, set intercept for the Swan Lander.

In the meanwhile I check mission control and find a new contract in where I should save a Kerbal in close orbit from its predicament. It is badly payed, but how can I refuse a Kerbal life saving mission? However, it takes a while to adjust the orbit of the Swan Yacht to get close. In my vanity ("I got plenty deltaV, let´s use it!!"), I burn much more fuel in order to achieve a faster rendez-vous. Then I have to fiddle with the astronauts RCS-EVA controls, which unexplicably are different than a spacecraft´s RCS controls... but finally, a Kerbal life is saved and a first and new astronaut aboard the Swan Yacht.

Shifting orbit again in order to finally catch that rogue Swan Lander. Again, vanity takes a healthy bite, and in my attempt to do a fast burn towards the target already at a distance of 176km with two vastly different orbits, I totally screw up my orbit and most of the ship´s deltaV. Once I realize my mistake, I have to start from scratch, and after every vector is "repaired" and the Swan Lander finally docked to the carrier Swan Yacht, also a lot of deltaV is expended. So, I have to redock to U-limb and take the remaining stash of fuel from there before I can finally move on to Mun.

- the Swan product line, all in one

I also realize that an asymetric setup, i.e. having the Swan Lander on the Swan Yacht´s "back" instead of coupling it in a staged order, is not good even when in vacuum. The center of thrust is off and the ship´s torque power is barely enough to keep the course straight. I can apply only 2/3 of power before the ship veers off. I maybe can compensate by also activating the Lander´s engines, but right now I don´t dare to do so because my fuel capacity is already lower than I would like.

Anyways, the deltaV-pool further drops significantly by having to piggy-back that Lander. In the end, there is not enough fuel at the station in order to re-fill what I have lost in my hybris maneuvering, and even less so the Swan Lander´s empty tanks. Which means... yeah, another fuel tanker needs to be sent up! Unfortunately, an entire game session has again passed, so I need to postpone this venture until next time.

At this pace, I hope I can still finish all open missions and return all astronauts from Mun before the final game comes out next monday!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Kerballing with style

Yeah, the challenge of spaceship construction, space flight and landing on planets is still luring me into the Kerbhal Space Programme. I have spend about four game sessions since my last blog entry in order to prepare my next steps. My "Warthog" spacecraft is still orbiting Mun and I used its last fuel reserves to re-dock to the Mun lander, them being now effectively a space station around Mun. However, I need my  three Kerbals safely back at some point, and I still want to tackle those last two landing missions on Mun. A second mission is in order. Just sending up and out another Warthog of similar design would cause redundancy and repeat the same problem of probably being too fuel starved, so I should better invent something new and better.

The transfer between planetary orbits is going to be a frequent thing, and from the forums I see that specializing your spacecrafts is the most efficient way to go. Launching new spacecrafts is done by launcher-configurations, fuel and crew can be brought into orbit via spaceplanes, landing on other planets is done by landers which are specialized according to the gravity and atmospheric requirements, transfer of orbit between planets is done via a "transfer stage".

Which means, I should better design a proper transfer stage. This one will travel to Mun, bring new fuel to enable the lander to reach the last two mission points and then bring back my Kerbals. The space station will  remain there for probable later missions again on the Mun.

And, I figured, since spacecrafts kind of stick around like old furniture, and my Warthog designs seem to be very, well, plain, I might as well invest some thought into a nice design as well. Behold the result after almost two game sessions, the Swan Yacht.

- pride of my fleet, Swan Yacht, docked at U-limb station

The Swan Yacht is a sleek design, inspired by of what few nicely designed stock elements are actually available, without having to resort to clipping-tricks, and some 60s sci-fi art and Star Trek. I use the stock parts for planes, which are not cylindidrical but a bit oval and flattened out. A sweeping wing structure does carry two engine nacelles which are equally made from plane-parts. As enginges, I choose the nuclear engines, a decision which incurred me some headache because of the prevalent real-life culture of condemning everything which alleges to nuclear power as being too dangerous. However, since that craft will never again touch Kerbal ground, and nuclear engines are much more efficient than your standard liquid fuel engine, they basically are a must for a spacecraft which is going to work as a proper transfer stage.

Overall six nuclear engines applying 60 tons of trust each on a hull of a mass of overall about 33 tons. This is a rather low thrust-to-weight ratio (TWR) of 1.1something, but a transfer stage does rather need efficiency and not power, and already TWR of 0.5 would be sufficient in "open space" (which means I can still attach additional mass to my transfer stage, which is the concept indeed). A delta-V of about 5000m/s should be more than enough to reach most planets in the solar system. Plenty of docking ports make sure that I can attach whatever I need to bring along, and also have in mind a configuration by which two Swan Yachts could dock to and serve as engines for a larger mother ship structure. To be efficient, I try to build things to stay around. So, I now have a beautiful white working horse which will probably be the base fleet for all my further ventures into the Solar system.

Launching the Swan Yacht is done under its own engine power, but due to its low TWR supported by two large solid fuel boosters for the first 10km. I have to reload my first attempt because I realize too late that I forgot to actually attach some monopropellant for the maneuvering engines. The clou about the Swan Yacht is that it does not have a cockpit, but a passenger unit which accomodates four Kerbals; the piloting is done by a computer. Yes, we are modern, who needs pilots these days anymore?

A second attempt at launch results in a crash because I loose control at around 15km. I assume that this was due to the fact that the plane parts do have a lift rating each, which pulls the ship "up" and thus is a bit off-vector when you do a vertical rocket launch. With some care, the third launch finally arrives in orbit, some 200 units of fuel remaining. Magnificent! Now to bring up a refuel and my transfer stage will be actually ready to work as a sleek beautiful spaceship and not some simple stage-construct.

Unfortunately, my following attempts to bring up a spaceplane tanker fail repeatedly. I had already  constructed a tanker spaceplane, but had deleted it accidentally because of me confusing version numbers. Trying to re-conceptualize this plane failed, to the point where I wondered how the hell I was able to get that first tanker up in orbit at all!?!

- this plane didn´t make it all the way up

Finally, after two more game sessions, a newly designed spaceplane tanker is ready and goes into orbit, docks with the Swan Yacht and transfers about 1000 units of fuel. Not enough for a complete refill, so I want to apply another delivery. Unfortunately, I did not pay enough attention to the Center-of-Mass / Center-of-Lift position on my spaceplane tanker when it is empty, and it happens as it must; the plane becomes uncontrollable during descent and crashes. Damn, two full game sessions and about 60,000 credits gone for what should have been a simple refuel maneuver!

- this plane finally went up, but came back down a little too hard...

 - ... aaand again a failed attempt

A bit frustrated, I decide to stop any further attempt with spaceplanes until the final version of the game is out, which is going to sport a new atmospheric physics model, anyways. Instead, I look at a few pictures for a rocket-based SSTO tanker and give it a go. Half a game session later, I have an almost full "orange tank" (Rockomax "Jumbo-64", about 2000 units of fuel left) up in space, attached to a launcher stage consisting of 16 jet engines and the enormous LFB KR-1x2 engine (fueled by a X200-32 tank). As this is now for sure way too much fuel for the Swan Yacht, both the latter and the tanker get rerouted to my "U-limp" orbital space station. Being a remainder from a past mission, it was good that I did not scap it; it can now serve as a refueling depot and ready-room for crew members.

As usual with playing an engaging good computer game, time just flies by and thus my fifth game session since my last blog entry has to end.

News today are that the final version of the game is going to come out on April 27th. This will mean a reset of my career campaign and some new game mechanics. Good! This game has me hooked so very much right now and I do not mind to restart with an already slight knowledge advantage from having come this far during the beta phase.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Kerbals around Mun

Similar to those nice "Isinona-Videos", there are some neat "let´s play" videos out there for my other current game, Kerbal Space Programme. The good ones manage to entertain and educate the new player like me, like for example the series done by DFWanderingKid. Well done!

To continue my little excursory report on my ventures in said Kerbal Space Programme in the course of three game sessions:

After some more tries, I completely rebuild my drone space plane design and I finally make it work. It seems the problem of my previous design was indeed that the center of thrust was too much below the center of mass. Finally, I am able to transport about 900 units of rocket fuel up to my waiting "Warthog" space craft and land my space plane safely back down at the Space Center. Jay, that was quite a challenge! And my Warthog is finally filled up again to the brim with 1440 units of fuel.

- this one worked out (don´t know why and how, anymore...)

Sending up and docking a lander unit, my expedition to Mun is ready to go. The "poodle" engine fires up and the Warthog´s potential deltaV looses about 800m/s until it is on intercept course for the Mun. After I burn retrograde, my first mission is checked; I have put a "space station" in orbit around Mun.

- "Warthog"

The rest a mix of "flight over" and "land" missions, for which I use my lander. However, it turns out that I once more brought along a too little amount of fuel. My lander barely manages to land at two close-by nav points and to get up again into a rendez-vous-orbit with the Warthog. I have to switch to the RCS monopropellant tanks in order to finalize the orbital rendez vous. On top, I placed the RCS thrusters wrongly, i.e. not at the center of mass, which causes every try to apply lateral or vertical thrust in a rotation of my lander, effectively leaving it only with forward/backward thrust in order to to a relyable straight approach. With a little bit supportive maneuvering also by the Warthog, the Lander is finally back docked. Whew. What is tremendously helpful is a mod which finally allows me to actually see the nav points during flight, not only on the mission map; I am sure I would have used much more fuel without a clear guidance.

- minimalist lander

The Lander gets re-filled and is off again for some flights over some nav points, taking crew reports or temperature logs. Again, I underestimated how much fuel the required angular shifts of the orbit takes up. After catching the last nav point, there is not enough fuel to re-angle back to the Warthog´s aeqatorial orbit. I have to use the Warthog with its much bigger and thus much more inefficient engine to catch up with the Lander´s orbit.

After this maneuver, I have only left about 200 units of fuel, which translate into a deltaV of about 670m/s. I wonder how much I need to get my spaceship back to Kerbal? Can I siphon off another 110 units for a last excursion with the Lander before? Certainly not... playing around with a maneuver node, I realize that I need a deltaV of about 200m/s in order to get back at least into a remote Kerbal orbit, with a periapsis of about 5 mio km. So, no way I can get back my crew and resolve those last two nav points, albethey close to each other on Mun´s surface. What a pity. Maybe I should send a mission up to re-fuel the Warthog instead of leaving now and coming back later. What approach is more efficient, I wonder?

I decide to decide this in the next session; if my Warthog gets stranded around Mun, it is not a big problem. After all, the Warthog was built as a spaceship/spacestation hyprid and thus as enough room for my three Kerbal astronauts to not get crazy during long séjours (I am sure they can play plenty of Elite: Dangerous on the ship computer during that time in offline-modus...)

I am very content that my mission made it this far at all, despite my misestimates on the fuel requirements, my beginner-style flight maneuvers (I am sure I am burning more fuel than required if I knew more about orbital flight mechanics) and the crappy RCS capability of my Lander.


Wregoe EU-K B39-0. I am about 792 ly away from my "home" system Yakabugai. It sure feels farther. My goal was to continue exploring for a bit and reach HIP 46659, a system with a black hole. But first, as usual, I have to get reaquainted with controls and stuff, which takes some time. However, I am a bit screwed. I must have mistyped the system, because the navigation tab does not find it. How then was I able to plot my course already last session? Weird. And very very annoying. Some more tries and I find the culprit: An empty space in front of the first letter. Sigh. It seems I am spoiled by the so much advanced google search interpretation.

I usually do not bother to surface scan gas giants, but sometimes I do when they are close by anyways. As such I discover once more a gas giant with ammonia based life. I am not sure but I think rewards for discoveries have been modified during my absence. Let´s see if Frontier made gas giants a bit more attractive for explorers.

After I scanned about a dozen systems, this session ends uneventful.

 - "sunset"

Quite a break later, I dip again into Elite Dangerous. I just had told some friends about that amazing computer game which tries to simulate our whole galaxy, and by doing so, I suddenly wanted to see it again. So, log-in, and I spend quite some time just browsing through the galaxy map, admiring this wonderful piece of computer programme, knowing that I can visit everyone of those goddamn plenty of stars. By chance, I stumble upon Gliese 398.2. This is another system which contains a black hole, just 498 ly away from current position in HIP 53627, but I cannot reach it with my frameshift drive; too short ranged.

Four systems farther, I think that the two gas planet´s moons look different and resolve to scan them. Nine surface scans later, I am disappointed; its just your standard pieces of rock. Since I am getting a bit bored (such a masterwork of a virtual galaxy, and virually no consequences attached) and I log out again. The latest newsletter about the next update for Elite: Dangerous, called power play, looks very interesting. Apparently, Frontier is going to overhaul the mission system, and it is not going to be the main change, which they still hold back!

- pilot is absent for a little while