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)

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.

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