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, 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.

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