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, 16 July 2015

Setting up side missions

A big bustle is going to start in my Kerbal Space Programme in about three in-game days: the Omniscient will have finally exited the Kerbin SOI; the Scientia 2 is going to finally be back from its Minmus operation and bringing home a filled Mobile Lab and about 700 science points; the Fuel Ship is going to arrive for a refill, being sceduled to bring that fuel to the Scientia and the Crab Rover in Mün orbit.

The mission control center currently has no new contracts to offer. As my mouse pointer hovers over the time warp button, I hesitate. About 38 days are left until the Duna transfer window is open; have I started all possible science expeditions within Kerbin SOI? They would need to finish still in time to be able to contribute to the Duna expedition. In order to reap science from Mün, the "Lander R Buggy" has been placed there (wtf, sometimes my naming ideas are really crappy! let´s call it rather "Crab Rover" from now on!); in about five days, it will be refilled and ready for action. What about already visited biomes elsewhere, for my latest science experiments, the atmospheric and seismic and gravity instruments?

Since I feel like flying once more an airplane, anyways, I decide to pay a visit to the desert+mountain and arctic+tundra biomes on Kerbin; these pairs are in vicinity and could be covered by one flight and landing each (shore, grassland and highlands I did already cover). With the changes by patch 1.03, it is easy to achieve about 1050m/s at 13 km altitude, causing temperature gauges shifting into the reddish spectrum, so faster I do not dare to go during my extended flight. What I also do is to replace my little drones on both ends of the runway and replace them with flags, planted by a Kerbonaut; this way, my list in the tracking station is not getting cluttered with these inactive vessels.

- this will turn into a déjà vu

Three or four crashes later on my landing attempts in a desert area, I realize that the wing lift ratio might have become a bit too little after the revamp, if you need an airspeed of >150m/s in order to be able to float towards touchdown at the required <~10m/s vertical speed. This is too fast for me to handle a proper touchdown on an uneven landscape. Even after switching to two Mk2 delta-wings, landing speed still needs to be ~120m/s, but I finally manage those landings.

From the desert landing spot, it is just some "driving" until I can reap science also from a mountain biome. For the tundra and arctic biome, I need only a short hop. My science account receives 70 science points from each flight, those are from the new advanced experiments concerning gravimetric, seismic and atmosphere measurements.

- little hop between an arctic and tundra biome

Altogether now 180 science points on my science account would allow me to open another tech node, but I am not sure which one. I think I should aim to first open the ore scanner, in order to find good spots to mine ore; 300 points are required for this.

The scientific exploration of Minmus is still quite open. I could re-send the Scientia 2 there, letting it land by itself again as I did once already or just dock a lander, which will also have all latest science experiments on board. But I could also build a more efficient lander and already send it now, three to four days in advance before the Scientia 2 arrives and can be restocked at Kerbin. Briefly remembering my "Twin pod" Lander prototype, for having multiple copies of scientific data, I rather want a "three pod" lander: One data copy for upload in any Mobile Lab it docks to, one copy to bring back to Kerbin, one copy to transfer to the Omniscient´s Mobile Lab in order to have "food" for during the long voyage to Duna.

For some time, I try to construct a spaceplane which is capable to fly to Minmus and do multiple landings there. However, after about a game session´s time of trying to set one up, I give up for the time being. I probably need to wait until I have opened more tech nodes, e.g. the one with the ultimate RAPIER engines, in order to pull this one off in an efficient way.

And thus, a rather conventional Triple Pod Lander ("Tripol") gets designed and manned by my last three remaining Kerbonauts; the rest of them are all distributed on my operations in space. Besides, letting those rookies "flag" Minmus, which coincidentally is also a mission contract in my books, will be doing good to their experience level. The Tripol´s deltaV potential is high enough to reach Minmus all by its own and do some landings, but as I want a maximum available deltaV for multiple landings on all biomes, it would be good to combine it with the deltaV reserves of the Münbus, which now has floated in LKO for quite some time without having a "real job", apart from occasional LKO rescue contracts.

- Tripol in LKO; of course I had forgotten to add solar panels on my first try...


Of course, this new Minmus expedition is a bit redundant, as I could have gone to Minmus, as originally planned, only with the Scientia 2 again. But like this, I save some time and will have science from Minmus back faster, and the Scientia 2 could then just stay in "space station mode" in Minmus orbit, with the Münbus/Tripol independly doing the landing and courier service.

While the Tripol approaches its docking destination, the gravity detector gives me new science points over each biome and put that data into the three cockpits each, so I have three sets of 6 data already.

I also spend some time thinking about that darn tourist, who wants his suborbital flight to the sun. If I had a nuclear engine plus twelve fuel tanks at 400 units each, I could scrap together a capsule-only ship with about 12,500 deltaV (and a very weak TWR of 0.2). I guess only an ion engine setup could get a higher deltaV potential. However, a direct retrograde burn to achieve suborbit is 7500m/s, so the equally expensive quick return trip would still not be secured. I will have to experiment a bit more with maneuver nodes, there must be a "cheaper" way to achieve a travel itinerary.

 - long range Tourist capsule?

And, whoops, again time has passed. On my third game session since my last blog entry, after launching and docking the Tripol to the White Goose for a refuel in LKO, as well as transferring one set of science points for a quick retrieval via the White Goose, I log out, with the next steps planned as follows:
- Dock Münbus with Tripol at White Goose, burn for Minmus.
- Finally time warp to the innitially mentioned "big bustle".

- refuel and some more spaceous crew cabins while waiting for the Münbus to join in

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