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)

Monday, 3 August 2015

Two Minmus landing operations

From last game session and this one, some management issues became apparent. With twelve ships to coordinate, the order of things got a bit confused. Also, the fun factor got a bit diminuished by having to frequently jump between the individual expeditions and thus not following through with a result. And I am sure it is also confusing to read in the blog entry.

As a consequence, I am now trying to put more focus on each given project before jumping to the next. I also might want to pre-sort my next steps to not again forget some required steps, as it happened in this game session.

The Fuel Ship has again rendez-vous´ed with the Dragon and gets tanked-up to the rim. It is pleasing to experience again how much the Dragon´s fuel payload has increased since patch 1.03.

- plenty of fuel reserves

Then it is time to send the Fuel Ship to Mün, to finally enable further Mün landings with my first Lander-Rover hybrids, namely the Crab Lander and the Yawl.

 - a dire needed load of fuel for Mün orbit

With this pivotal delivery on its way, it is time for some Minmus landings. So I think. One quicksave later, the Tripol lander brakes into low orbit. Once I see some Biomes under it switch in fast succession, I brake the Tripol´s horizontal velocity to zero. I am happy to report a smooth landing in Lowlands and some consecutive hops to Midlands, Slopes and Flatlands. This was not necessarily recognizable from above, for example the "low"lands looked more like a high plateau, and the "mid"lands were adjacent to the "flat"lands.

- Biome classes are not necessarily conform with visual impressions

Once I have four times triple-collected the data from every scientific experiment and stowed it in each capsule, quite some time has passed. I should probably also make the Navitas land soon so that it can commence its mining operation. After all, the Navitas should be filled up and ready to go back to Kerbin before the Duna launch window pops up in about 28 days. So, the Tripol gets a break and I switch to the Navitas.

For the Navitas´ landing spot, I want to find an ore-rich area. The Ore ScanSat has arrived in a high polar orbit. So, switch again, to the Ore ScanSat to activate its scan overlay. The result is for me not very clear. When in the map-view, I see patches of colour, but no legend tells me which colour stands for what. Switching to a monochrome overlay and reducing the %tage (of what? seems to filter the weaker spots out), some blots remain. So, there are the potential landing areas for the Navitas.

Switching back to the Navitas, the overlay is gone. Great, this makes a separate ore scanning Satellite nearly useless, since it is very difficult to remember and find the identified areas without access to the overlay! Thank god I was so over-redundant and also installed an ore-scanner directly on the Navitas. Like this, it is comfortable enough to plot a maneuver node for a landing on one of the brightest spots on the overlay. To be able to use solar power right from the start, it needs to be a landing spot on the "dawn-side" of Minmus. This will take about 30 minutes to reach from the current position. In the meanwhile, I switch back to the Tripol.

 - the Tripol performs excellently so far

Admiring the beatiful view and the Tripol´s smooth operation so far, I suddenly realize that something is missing. The ore surface scanner! I had attached one to a small vessel and brought it here, docked to the Navitas fore and consequently, totally forgotten about it. Too many operations going on to remember every detail. A checklist would probably help, or just, may doing in future some fewer operations?

So, what to do? Reload and loose four landings or just go on? I decide for the former, because I want to test the ore surface scanner and see how it works. The reload takes me back to the moment where the Tripol still is in low orbit.

 - this little vessel should have been already docked to the Tripol

Undocking the little vessel from the Navitas makes me look like a noob again. First mistake is,while I had this time not forgotten to put a solar panel on it, I nevertheless forget to turn its solar panel towards the sun, so it quickly is out of electricity and thus misses its maneuver node. Reload. Then I cannot activate SAS, probably a bug. Reload. Then I cannot seem to activate the engine, even though I clicked on it and also unlocked the fuel tank. Minutes later, I find out that for some reason, I had also throttled its thrust down to zero (probably in order to not falsify the readings from Kerbal Engineer while in the VAB). Reload. Not sure how much deltaV the vessel has, because I forgot to put a KER-computer component on it. Thankfully, the ant engine is super efficient and easily pulls off a major angular shift of its orbit, in order to align to the Tripol´s.

After I finally rendez-vous´d and docked the little vessel to the Tripol, I have to repeat its landing. Since I already realized that the surface view is not very indicative of the according biome type, I look up an according map in the internet in order to plan efficient hops to each of them.

 - Minmus map with the biomes

This time, I start my triple science collecting routine with the more rare to find Highlands. Then Slopes and Lowlands right next to the Greater Flats. Open are still; Midlands, Flats, Lesser Flats, Great Flats, Poles.

At this moment, the Kerbal Alarm Clock points out that the Navitas has reached the designated landing maneuver node (which I of course had to redo after the reload, too). So I switch over and initiate the landing.

- an a bit more precise landing maneuver than usual is required for the Navitas to reach the ore-rich landing area

And again, the landscape from above are deceiving; the Navitas touches down on what seemed to be a plane, which rather is a steep slope. Thankfully, its quadruple pillar structure saves the ship from toppling over (remembering the incident with the Scientia 2, some time ago). Then it is finally time to mine some ore! Drills get deployed and start their tedious work. A bit disappointing is the ore ratio of 0.002159/second. I would have expected more after going through the hazzle to scan and land specifically on an ore rich spot. Briefly, I also wonder what use the ore surface scanner is for; the one on the Navitas shows me an Ore density of about 4%. What am I supposed to do with this knowledge?

- let´s call it Pisa landing position

The slope has another disadvantage; it delays sunrise, and my batteries are emptied quickly by the two active drills plus the ISRU. The latter is underwhelmed by what the two drills deliver and shows a workload of only 0.86%. Further studying the picture, I realize that I forgot to use my landing gear. In a spur of perfectionism, I lower it, but carefully only after I retracted the drills. Thank god I was so careful, because this maneuver causes the Navitas finally to topple. Only an emerency launch saves it. Some desperate close to surface maneuvers later, the Navitas can savely touch down again. I am now very grateful that I had unlocked and added the large reaction wheels; some time ago, the Omniscient had crashed and blown up at such a similar occasion because she was not as maneuverable with her normal reaction wheels.

Leaving the Navitas to work on the ore, I decide to leave this game session before it can suffer more from my late-night sloppyness. I perform just two more sceduled maneuvers; one for the Münbus, which in the meanwhile has entered Kerbin SOI and the conics now also show up for after exiting the plotted Mün SOI. As I had predicted, a retrograde ejection from Mün will result in a nice low periapsis in Kerbin orbit; I might be able to improve this further, once the Münbus has reached its periapsis in Mün orbit. And then I discover, or rather, remember, another management mistake from last session; the Münbus was supposed to wait at Minmus, to bring back the science data from the Tripol which is destined for Kerbin. Oh, well, I suppose there will be other means. I really have to think about doing more accurate to-do lists.

- the Münbus´ gravity assist maneuver for an incoming  low Kerbin orbit

After one last maneuver for the Yawl, which is now coming close to its rendez-vous with the Scientia in Mün orbit, I quit this session. By hindsight, I come to the conclusion which I introduced this blog entry with. My expeditions need more focus, in order to avoid mistakes and to have a better feedback by following through and achieving each expedition´s goal. This session, I felt more like administrating instead of actually doing my expeditions.

Next steps;
- Find a time window on my busy Kerbal Alarm Clock in order to bring the White Goose up to rendez-vous and take over the science data from the Scientia 2, re-staff its crew and send it back to Minmus.
- Bring the Dragon down and hope that its SAS unit does not explode from re-entry heat!
- Finalize the Tripol´s missions and decide how to bring the triple data sets where to.
- Then focus on Mün re-fuel and landing missions.
- Make sure ship crews are properly placed/rotated.

Remembering my conviction to focus a bit more, but this is not possible yet. I would like to focus on the Tripol, but I have to bring the Scientia 2 back to Minmus so that it can take over one of the three science data sets. The second will go to the Navitas, which will also need to be staffed with scientists and engineers to be brought from the Tripol and the Scientia 2. Only the last dataset will be brought back to Kerbin. I am not sure how much science this will be, but each landing so far netted my about 400 science points, so for nine biomes I should probably look foward towards about 3500 science points! And the Mün landing missions haven´t even begun.

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