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)

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!

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