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 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.

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