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)

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Review: One year of blogging

Happy Birthday to you, dear blog! Stay online, and I am proud to have fed you so consequently over this first year of your existence! Also an occasion for a little review and remembering and musing, I guess.

In the beginning, I was impressed by blogs from all those players in EVE: Online and had regularily read a small number of them. Then, at one point, I started to write to a pen pal about "my adventures" from a particular game session, kind of trying to explain to a non-gamer what adventures you can have in a virtual reality. The moment I realized that it was fun to write about "my VR adventures", and this was actually the birth of the inspiration to start this blog. Yet, I wasn´t sure if I could stay so committed to a blog; I would have hated to produce one of those numerous unfinished art webpage. But I am glad that I finally took a heart to start, and I am glad I followed through.

From July until December 2014, my stories were about my adventures in the beta version of Elite: Dangerous, driven in particular by the evolutionary idea of complementing the game soon with virtual reality goggles, the Oculus Rift. Sometimes there were short excursions into other topics which was fun to write about. A highlight certainly was my attending of the Elite: Dangerous Premiere Event and my first Oculus Rift experience. I also dabbled a bit into doing videos from some of my space battles, the most notable I remember were a battle in a Lakon Type 9 freighter versus three Cobras, and a PvP battle in a laser-equipped Anaconda heavy cruiser versus a missile-equipped one. Both fights were very close calls and exciting for me to re-view.

After all this intensity, I indeed felt a bit out of steam when the "final" Elite: Dangerous was released, so there was a little hiatus from 15 December to 20 January and even then I still felt kind of too sore to get back into the game and write about it. Still, in the following, there were some cool highlights, and my game experience culminated in a serene expedition to the galaxy´s upper rim, aka, "Having climbed the stair of stars". Somehow, shortly afterwards, there was this strange moment where a game suddenly is "over".

 - a feeling of being thousand light years out there alone; it is rare for a game to produce such impressions

This is when, from one moment to the other, you just walk away, no goodbye said, because you still believe you will get back to it and into it. Yet, it does not happen. This reminds me of the time when all those "addicted" gamers in World of Warcraft made big announcments about leaving. Most came back because the game was still in their mind and blood. I think the true moment where you walk away from things is when you realize that you gained every experience possible, uncovered every secret, satisfied your craving.

 - Darkshore; shot by another player, I have been there, too; it feels so familiar, an epitome of a romantic craving which World of Warcraft managed to satisfy for me

I might slightly disagree, or maybe even not, with these excellent blog articles ("Tragicocomedia") from a guy who wrote about his computer game addiction. In my opinion, if you still need and want the essence of that experience, you never can walk away with satisfaction and will always crave to come back, unless there is a viable alternative, unless the sleeper wakens. This is not an addiction; this is human nature, because enlightened mankind always have to get to the bottom of things. This is about a life which has evolved above the necessity of looking for food and the pleasure and pain of procreation, refusing to follow ursurped routine without making any sense.

This phenomen kind of reminds me of a chapter in "The Neverending Story" from Michael Ende. Bastian, beaten and hopeless, nurtures a new wish, and thus he is being led to the house of a tree-woman, Madame Aiola, in a chapter which represents being and feeling home. The fruits plugged from and offered by the tree-woman are most delicious and Bastian feels like he can never get enough of them. Yet, as time passes, his craving gets less, until finally, it has been satisfied. The fruits still taste heavenly good, but the craving slowly, imperceptly, has vanished, is satisfied. And Bastian, having experienced and embraced comfort and peace, realises that it is finally time to move on and find his way. (Really, read this book if you haven´t yet, it can become a personal bible about the essence of happiness!)

 - storytelling at its pinnacle

So, here I was in March, satisfied and ready to move on, but the thing to move on towards was not there yet; for example, using VR goggles and having an according VR world to explore. Elite: Dangerous wasn´t as developed as I had hoped and the Oculus Rift´s release is still targeted for 2016. Thus, also a grave danger for the existence of this blog.

This was the where the beta version of the Kerbal Space Programme came to my attention. It had all those things which I was missing in Elite: Dangerous, and the latter anyways would only unfold its true grandeur once the VR goggles are available. In the meanwhile, the Kerbal Space Programme offers the ability to design and construct your own spacecraft, to experience "real physics" condensed into playable format, and a seamless virtual reality where you can go anywhere in the solar system, travelling to and landing on any astronomical body.

I am not sure when I am going to walk away from the Kerbal Space Programme. This might even be soon, once the tech tree has been all opened, every planet been visitied and every possible design to my taste been done. But I am trying to draw the time out until then; there is not much on the computer game horizon which lures me. Maybe Mass Effect 4, maybe the new Shadow Realm CRPG "Hong Kong", maybe one more run through Dragon Age 3? But those games are more like storybooks or movies, thus not suited to be the foundation for original VR adventures; writing here about it would be just like retelling a good book. A good VR game would require the capability of emergent gameplay, i.e. a kind of sandbox environment, or et least the possibility to create your own story from a suitable generic quest structure.

Anyways, for this blog, it will always be stories from about virtual reality first, not just any computer game which I happen to like. Elite: Dangerous and Kerbal Space Programme qualified for this. My next new dream game would optimally be a mix of the realistic galaxy simulation from Elite: Dangerous and the realistic space travel simulation from Kerbal Space Programme, including the building of spacecrafts and the landing on planets, possibly building colonies there; and all with VR goggles, of course...

Ok, enough rambling, onwards and upwards! I hope there will be enough material for me to write about, so that this blog may continue for a long time still.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Little setbacks

I am in the middle of "busy day". The Scientia 2 and the Fuel Ship get into closer and closer orbits with each round of aerobraking. I think, next time, I can drop my cautious approach of 45km altitude and dip in a bit deeper. After three of four rounds like this, I can switch back to the Yawl, which has finally reached the Fuel Dragon. This is the moment when a severe design flaw of the Yawl´s construction is revealed. Of course, I should have seen this from the very beginning.

- the design flaw is easy to spot
Yep, this time it was not a forgotten solar panel or battery, it is the missing monopropellant. Usually included in any cockpit, the Yawl does not have a cockpit but a passenger module combined with a SAS unit.

Trying to achieve a docking without RCS thrusters and only a horizontal engine setup does represent a super hard pilot challenge. I am not willing to follow through, especially since this vessel is supposed to also go to Duna. The point for a reverse of flight has long since passed, so I have to land and recylcle the vessel (nevermind the lost 70,000 credits for the launch stage!).

- re-entry by principal is no problem...
I go for a steep re-entry, since the Yawls orbit is almost above the Space Center. The Yawl compensates the heat from the steep re-entry without trouble. However, I misestimated drag and land a little far before my target.

- ... if the touchdown wouldn´t happen right on top of the mountain ridge!

So, right on top of that mountain ridge, at a very steep slope, the Yawl makes for its feather fall. While I even manage to brake the vessel to a halt and it clings to the slope like an ant, I dare to even push my luck further, trying to drive the lander rover down to the Space Center.

- pushing my luck too far, of course, this ends badly

Ah, scew it. This is bad karma. Virtually everything possible went wrong since the launch of the Yawl. Since I am also not very content the way I did the aerobraking of my two incoming spacecrafts, I decide to reload an earlier safe and redo the whole affair with a fresh load of karma, i.e. from just before the launch of the Yawl.

With all the learning experience from my misadventures, this time I time the launch such that I get a fast rendez-vous with the Fuel Dragon; I had forgotten to look out for this rendez-vous window on my first try, too.

- now equipped also with monopropellant, docking the Yawl to the Fuel Dragon is no problem

After the tank-up, at long last, the Yawl is on course to Mün for further tests. I hope it won´t uncover another such fatal flaw!

- at long last, on Mün intercept

I also use this reloaded occasion to do some deeper aerobraking maneuvers, daring to send the Scientia 2 even down to 38km, which drops its apoapsis from 7 mio km down to 2 mio km.

- slowly becoming an aerobraking expert

However, the setbacks continue right in my next game session. After some more aerobraking, the Fuel Ship finally arrives in LKO and achieves rendez-vous with the Fuel Dragon. The latter has not enough fuel left to fully tank-up the former, and the Scientia 2 is still incoming.

- Fuel Ship arriving at the Fuel Dragon

It is time to land the Fuel Dragon and bring up a second one.

- the heat bars already appeared at the equipment under the cone

Re-entry procedure is "routine", but my vector goes a bit too high. As the Fuel Dragon passes over the Space Center, I suddenly and very unexpectedly see and hear a small "poof", and the spaceplane is gone.

 - some spaceplanes just fade away, it seems

Hitting escape, the report makes clear what happened: The SAS unit (Probodyne Octo) has exploded from overheating. This made the whole plane vanish. Doing a quick check from the tracking station at the Space Center, I can see the plane marked as debris still on its trajectory, but when I want to watch it pass over the Space Center, it is gone. Zut alors, the bad karma continues, and just got displaced to another unfortunate victim, like in the movie "Butterfly Effect", it seems!

There is no way I can guide the Fuel Dragon, or rather, its Octo control unit, safely through re-entry, so I have to swallow that loss. This never happened before, so either Squad again tweaked some game settings in the meanwhile, or I never really guided a Fuel Dragon back down since patch 1.03 hit the game. Looking up my blog entrys, it of course is the latter. I was so happy that I had bought up so much fuel and I never even expected such a failure, so I just left the Fuel Dragon in orbit for extended refuel duty, thereby loosing the "revert flight" option. Still, it is strange. The White Goose has a similar setup with the Octo, being hidden under a fairing, and does fine.

Anyways, this also means that I go back to the drawing board for the rest of my game session. My main goal is to place the Octo a bit more in the back so that it is less prone to heat. For this goal, I use a small cargo bay. Maybe I should think about adapting the White Goose class, too?

- Dragon, revamped design, I hope it fares better!

The new version streamlined the design in various ways (has notably the bigger landing gear and the big reaction wheels and fuel tanks and newly assembled wings).

There is no game time anymore to test this new Dragon class spaceplane. In these two game sessions I have learned that same lesson again; nothing never is routine in the Kerbal Space Programme.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Design of a Yawl

While I just could get ahead with my numerous space expeditions, something still bugs me. The dinghys which I was able to design so far can only transport one passenger. This must be a scientist, so that I can reuse all that scientific equipment. But what if a wheel blows up? I can compensate for only one, by substituting with the landing gear. It would be better if my dinghy had room for two or more crew, so that an engineer can be on board, as well, to repair that wheel or to pack parachutes (concerning the Duna landing).

So I get distracted again and spend one and a half game sessions in the VAB.

- Calamari Lander

Ok, this thing can carry a crew of four and has all scientific stuff on board. I do not worry too much about its mass, the Navitas can afford it. Special about it is the vertically aligned Spark engines. The ore dish is only for balance purpose. And it makes it look like a calamari. Hm, not sure if I like this design.

In between, there are some routine maneuvers, namely, the third pass of both the Fuel Ship and the Scientia 2 for their aerobraking.

- correcting orbital angle to an equatorial one

- how many more passes do I need, I wonder ...

- ... but my Kerbonaut here has fun

Then back to my unfinished design. It also gets some parachutes added, for a fuel-saving Duna landing later on. I want to test if the vessel is capable to land like this. So I add a launch stage for about 70,000 credits, launch, and then stage it at about 4,000 meters. The parachutes work very well, the vessel lands like a feather and does a qualifying test parcours around the Space Center.

Then my mistake: Instead of reverting the flight, I recover the rover, as I used to do during my past tests of the Crab Rover et alia. The moment I press that button, I realise my mistake, but too late; 70,000 Credits are blown out of the window. Dang! This is a little taste of how frustrating the game would be on hard mode, where every little mistake can blow your finances and thus ultimately make you fail your career due to lack of finances.

A little adaptation, making the vessel not really look a calamari anymore, and I want to do a test orbit and de-orbit with my new design. Since this is a kind of picture story again, let me test how linking this one to an imgur account works out:

View post on imgur.com

Uhm. Not very well. Anyways.

- Yawl

The main problem seems to be the wrongly aligned navball, making it difficult to find the proper direction, especially when trying to line up to a maneuver node. This is due to the SAS unit facing forwards instead of upwards, to account for the vertical trust vector instead of the normal, horizontal one. Hm, maybe using the one manned Crab Lander would still be the better idea? Not sure; it is the crappy thrust of its Terrier engine when in an atmosphere, which bothers me. After all, I want to land on Duna and be able to take off again.

- the Crab Lander´s TWR doen´t look too good on Duna

In comparision, the four Spark engines which I chose for the Yawl are going to produce much more reliable thrust in Duna´s atmosphere.

 - after some little tweaks, still not really as elegant as I hoped, but the thrust is acceptable

So, it is time for another test run on Mün, I suppose. Launch almost goes wrong, when the rocket suddenly flips at about 20km altitude. I manage to regain control, but at the cost of having only 500m/s deltaV left in orbit, compared to the 1500m/s which it should have left over.

Then I realize another mishap; one rover wheel has blown. Since I do not have any engineer at the required experience level, I cannot repair it during an expedition and thus my test flight already failed. I wonder how this could have happened. After a reload, the case becomes clear; my latest design tweaks had caused a rover wheel to clip through the fairing. However, this gives me the occasion to not only correct the fairing´s shape, but also to add a docking port on the top. Like this, I can switch the nav ball´s perspective of control from the usual horizontal view to a vertically aligned view, by clicking on the docking port and choosing the option "control from here". I learned this in one of the many gameplay videos. Also, the closer the point of control is to the center of mass, the less erratic the SAS seems to be.

Launch goes well this time, I manage a remotely fine gravity turn. Once in orbit, I plot an intercept in order to fuel the Yawl up again. Then I am going to send it to Mün orbit, dock to the Scientia to take over some crew and then do some landings with both the Yawl and the Crab, to compare their actual performance.

 - the Yawl is in orbit, and on intercept to the Fuel Dragon

Real life does not let me have the time I want, so I logout and resign to write about what little progress I achieved during those meager two game sessions since my last blog entry.

Friday, 24 July 2015

A nice combined satelite deployment & rescue mission

The mission control center offers two new contracts. A simple satelite deployment and a rescue mission in low Kerbin orbit. I can neatly combine them by using my cargo shuttle. Since there is not much else happening in this particular game session, here is just a little picture story about it. I think the value is in documenting that a routine mission can actually unwind flawlessly. A rare event...

A satelite plus a rescue contract in a perfect combination for a spaceplane launch system, my cargo shuttle.
The cargo shuttle´s ascend, phase 1. Phase 2 starts at about 9 km, by dropping the angle of attack down to 8 degrees.

Ascend, phase 3; fire rocket engines once speed starts to drop (~18km altitude), adjust angle of attack between 10-20 degrees. The goal is to achieve your target apoapsis at the same time as you achieve orbital speed (2300 m/s). Too low angle means an inefficient late apoapsis, too high requires a longer more inefficent burn for the final orbital insertion. Shut down jets and air intakes at 24 km altitude.

Orbit achieved; the cargo shuttle can carry two satelites, just in case.

The red orbit is the satelite´s destination; the yellow orbit is that of the stranded Kerbonaut. On the lower right, you see the rendez-vous point with only 1km distance, which I achieved by using a prograde and radial vector to adapt the cargo shuttle´s orbit.

After the Kerbonaut is rescued (her wreck is still targeted in the background), the satelite gets deployed.

Some simple maneuvers to get it to the target orbit. First match periapsis, then orbital angle, then finalize by raising apoapsis.

Cargo shuttle re-entry. Pump fuel to front tanks for a forward center of mass. Drop periapsis to 10km at about a quarter of Kerbin ahead of the landing area. Use airbrakes only for adjustment of your cours towards the landing area, or when heating up too much between 20-40 km; does not happen here when I keep prograde (later, when under 15km, keep horizontal).

I think I finally found inspiration for a name for the cargo shuttle; Firebird!

Touchdown! A arrive at the final approach often too high and thus slow down and glide until touchdown. Pump fuel back from front tanks to aft tanks for (better) maneuverability at low speeds.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Omniscient in solar orbit, Navitas entering service

The busy days are finally there. Before the Scientia 2 and the Fuel Ship enter their second aerobraking pass, the Omniscient finally has reached solar orbit. Six more mission contract goals are checked.

- all the busy conics within Kerbin SOI look now very small

If it just wasn´t for that one darn tourist who wants a solar suborbit! After some more tries to find an efficient maneuver node, the cheapest one I found is a retrograde ejection from Kerbin at about 6,000m/s deltaV. I also asked and got confirmed in the game forum that the sun´s suborbit starts at below 600 km. Ok, at least that means that I can construct a capsule-only vessel with a nuclear engine which is able to pull this off without actually having to travel there for years and/or use slinghots on the way.

After some musing if there is anything else for the Omniscient to do in this solar orbit, and, no, there isn´t, it needs to be sent back to Kerbin. To my surprise, while the deltaV to do so initially is shown as an acceptable 390 m/s, the travel time back to Kerbin is about 16 days! This is almost double the amount I estimated, considering that the travel time to the very outward-situated Minmus was only 8 days. On top, something then goes wrong during the maneuver and the trajectory has surface contact with Kerbin. Reversing it by a little bit pulls my trajectory again out of Kerbin SOI. Redo. Somehow, I cannot seem to get a trajectory which does not touch Kerbin´s surface. So I decide to do a two-step maneuver, to first get into Kerbin SOI, and only then manipulate my trajectory further.

 - getting back "in"

On step two, a litte surprise happens; Mün intersects and helps me getting back up to an orbital trajectory with much lesser deltaV. At least, such is the theory. The conics seem to be pretty unreliable sometimes; I will have to closely guard this flight!

- interesting course, Mün seems to help me saving some deltaV; however the data on my periapsis still says -321,000km

The orbital angle is very crappy, though, and will cost a lot of deltaV to correct. I am not sure what I can achieve with the remaining amount of the Omniscient.

After the Omniscient maneuvered what it could maneuver, the Fuel Ship enters its second aerobraking phase.

- a streak across the dark sky

Before I timewarp any further, I just wonder why on earth I wait for more science points when I could already transmit them from my various vessels!? What I overlooked and realize now while clicking through all the science out there, EVA and crew reports can be transmitted at full science value and they still remain stored and can be processed for the Mobile Lab. I really wonder why I did not realize this until now! Like this, I am able to open two more 160-point tech nodes; one for large reaction wheels, one for large landing struts.

I think that there is enough parts available to finalize my new mothership, the Navitas. Anything else from now on would probably lead me away from my current ship classes, opening up totally new designs.

- there is all the stuff I need for my current Mk-2 ship classes

It is time now to finalize and launch the Navitas, an evolved Omniscient-class mothership. Large reaction wheels should reduce the terrible clumsiness which the Omniscient has to deal with. The large landing struts should allow a safer landing, without having to risk to blow away the engines if the ship sets down too hard.

Since I designed it based on the Omniscient file, I use the same launcher stage setup. Unsucessfully, I must realize.

 - blows up even before lift off!

While the launch of the Omniscient was also a hazzle to figure out, I clearly not remember something like this;

- the entire structure of the launch stage is super wobbly

 Did the game mechanics change and make some parts more wobbly? On top, the ship rotates and I can barely control this manually, thereby very easily sending the vessel off-trajectory. Even after learning how to closely guard the self-rotation, having finally reached some altitude, the next problem appears;

- staging the boosters, they collide and destroy my mid stage

After all these unsuccessful tries, I am pretty sure that the game did not behave like this when I launched the Omniscient. This is painfully embarassing; the reload button gets heavily abused. After almost the full game session consisting of reconfiguring the launch stage, I finally find the culprit: The struts. I needed just one additional long strut which stabilises the mess on the downwards section. No more wobbly, no more collision while staging the boosters. I am not sure I like this behaviour of the game; it seems to be caused less by the intended simulation and more by random wobbly part behaviour.

- the Navitas finally achieves orbit and burns for Minmus

My first plan is to refill the Navitas via the Fuel Dragon, which is still ready in LKO with a considerable amount of fuel. However, I also wanted to use its fuel for the Scientia 2 and the Fuel Ship. Since the purpose of the Navitas´ virgin flight is to test its mining setup, in the end I dare to send it immediately onwards to Minmus, with only 1024m/s deltaV left after the ejection burn.

- I am pretty much proud of this vessel

This basically means that the Navitas has probably barely the deltaV left to land and launch again into Minmus orbit; in order to return to Kerbin, this mining-thing has to succeed. And if it does succeed, I will happily launch the Navitas towards Duna as soon as possible. Being able to resource itself with fuel, I even can use up most of its fuel for a high energy transfer, thereby saving a lot of travel time.

This unexpected early launch of the Navitas also means that my Münbus/Tripol expedition to Minmus might have lost some significance. But I can still use the smaller and thus more efficient lander to cover a touchdown at all biomes. Actually, the Navitas is perfectly suited to complement this expedition, by providing the fuel for any additional landing on Minmus. I think I will have a lot of science points incoming after this venture has passed. The Navitas currently runs un-manned, so the crew from the Münbus/Tripol should be very happy to be provided with such a luxurious base of operations. The Navitas did a high-energy burn towards Minmus, thereby arriving even before the Münbus/Tripol.

However, because the launch the Navitas used up so much time, my game session already has to end here.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Plans proceed slowly

My first exercise in this game session is to bring the Cargo Shuttle, which has brought up and deployed my satelite with the new ore scanner, ScanSat, now safely back to Kerbin. This should be a routine, except for that routine can make you fail pretty quickly, especially in the Kerbal Space Program!

My usually successful approach is to aim for a flat entry angle, by dipping my periapsis down to 15km, with the Space Center being roughly half way between the vessel and its new low periapsis. Depending how well I control my angle of attack and the airbrakes (and the landing gear, which also produces extra drag), I land moreless accurately on the same continent. Thanks to the adjusted drag mechanics of patch 1.04, my airplane can remain very long periods at supersonic speed. This allows me to even more fine tune my destination, by just not having to use the airbrakes so often.

- all systems nominal; yet

Then this little accident happens. I arrive a bit to high for a direct landing and want to dip a bit down. Thanks to this fabulous bad SAS game mechanic and a half-a-second too long tab on the key, my plane oversteers and dips a bit too deep.

- supersonic discombombulation

Remind me to first get below transsonic speed before I start to fiddle some maneuvers! As the drag forces shear my spaceplane apart, the front part remains intact, and my pilot still grins manically. So, let him do this stunt!

 - Cargo Shuttle, uh, front-part, requests, uh, permission to land!

Torque is sufficient to bring the weck into a horizontal position. To further slow down descent, I open the cargo bay doors and hope that they actually have drag and thus airbrake a little bit, too. Well, what can I say, it seems to work out!

- any landing you can walk away from...

This stunt was so cool that I really want to leave it at that and ignore the reload button. However, my finances are stretched thin since I upgraded the science buildings to the max level. Only 220,000 credits are left, and I really do need 280,000 soon. Because the sister ship of the Omniscient will soon be ready for launch, and it is that expensive indeed. And this financial difference is manifest in the Cargo Shuttle. The scedule is very tight for the upcoming transfer window and new short-term missions for a quick cash grab are not available.

So I do reload that re-entry attempt, just to realize that I forgot to do a timely quicksave. Which means, I have to play through the deployment of the ScanSat again, thank god at least the Cargo Shuttle was already in LKO on my last quicksave. All goes well this second time.

 - another one of the frequent déjà vues, aka, reloads

After this little episode, I switch to the Münbus/Tripol and collect gravtiy data for each biome in high kerbin orbit. The elliptic trajectory makes even small spots like the occasional mountain area stay under the ship for long enough so that I can send my scientist on EVA and collect triple data and store it in each pod. This is again 27 science each for the shore, water, grassland, highland, mountain and desert biomes. With some luck even catch two tundra measurements. There are also badlands somewhere, but they are elusive.

- my scientist on the Mübus/Tripol is busy with gravity measurements

I am now waiting for the "busy" period. I could already launch now my new prototype mothership. This one has all new tech on board, which I did not have access to yet when I built the Omniscient. This should be a truly independent interplanetary spacecraft, being able to mine ore with two drills and convert it into fuel with the ISRU converter. According to the TWR data , it should be able to land and launch both on Duna and its moon Ike. It also has aboard the ore and the surface scanner; unfortunately, the last gadget, a narrow-band scanner, is locked behind a 1000-point tech node. But since I do not aim for a specialized mining operation and will have plenty of time over there at Duna until a new transfer window comes up, I will not need a hyper-efficient mining location, anyways.

- the Navitas entering final design

By now, the Scientia 2 is sceduled to arrive in a bit more than one day; it will bring a host of Minmus scientific data, about 700 points iirc. Based on my experience with the Omniscient, the most urgent thing to unlock are the large reaction wheels, so that a 180-degree turn might take not as long as a minute to complete anymore. I also would like to finally unlock and add normal-sized docking ports. This new expensive ship should be a little bit future-proof.

The Navitas, as it will be called, will serve me to cash-in two lucrative mission contracts: Collecting ore from Minmus, putting a station with at least space for 9 crew into Minmus orbit; there is also a flag-plant mission and a science-collection mission, but those will be done by the Tripol. I might want to combine the missions and use the Navitas as refilling point, as it will be shock full of fuel and is going to mine for even more fuel.

In an afterthought, I also add a little satelite with a surface scanning module on a docking port; this equipment was unlocked after the Tripol had launched; in fact, it was unlocked with the first batch of science which the Tripol had collected and was brought home by the White Goose. Since the Tripol will be the vessel to visit all Minmus biomes, it practically must have this one more toy on board! I will try to attach it on the Tripol on its docking port. This will be a bit of a hazzle, as I have to redo this every time when I need to refuel, but what can I do at this point.

If my Minmus operation with the Navitas turns out to be a successful test, I will use this vessel instead of the Omniscient for the Duna expedition. If the test of the Crab Rover over at Mün is also successful, this will be its dinghy. For all its crew to get the experience from a Duna flag exercise, the Navitas should be able to land by itself. The Crab Rover can efficiently cover any additional observation mission contracts, current and future ones. In the meanwhile, the Omniscient can stay in Kerbin LKO and serve as a space station and refueling point.

So far my plans, but, alas, my scedule gets destroyed, respectively turns out to not be as I wanted it to be. The Scientia 2 arrives, sure, but with 3,300m/s and only 530m/s deltaV in its tanks and thus needs at least two more days for another roundabout, aerobraking. Its first round brings the apoapsis down from 44 mio km to 10 mio km.

- a hot affair, but a periapsis of 45km turns out to be still fine for a speed of 3300m/s

In the meanwhile, while checking for more biomes to take measurements from, the Münbus/Tripol  looses its course on Minmus SOI multiple times and is vibrating; I guess the bug attached to the small service bay is still around. Now I know again why I had left that ship in Kerbin LKO! I probably should put it out of service.

- on top, there is another bug; I cannot add a maneuver node anymore on the blue conic

As it is a weekend late night/morning, my concentration is low and I get the feeling things are going to get worse if I go on. Let´s see how things turn out on the dawn of a next game session.