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)

Friday, 12 February 2016

Career game stepping stones

Some little impressions of my career game progress during the last three or four game sessions.

While the Mün flyby with the Spaceglider is still underway, I also launch a Minmus flyby with the same version of the Spaceglider; it is only little more deltaV required. While I wait for the return of both vessels, some other contracts vy for attention.

Automated vessel for a rescue contract, a pain in the ass, that contract; 4 million kilometers out there, it takes an eternity to hit the location.

This is the trajectory where I try to hit the rescue location. Even a near miss takes an eternity to compensate on a this far out orbit.

Another automated vessel, this time for some tourists who whished a Mün flyby. Fuel is not enough for a return, so it has to enter about 15 loops of aeobraking. On the front is a heat shield, which unfortunately is loosing its ablation layer faster than expected...

On its 17th loop, the heatshield is spent, right when re-entry finally happens. Omg. What I try here is to bring the full vessel´s broadside to bear for aerobraking in the upper atmospheric layers. Should have thought of this earlier! However, deeper down in the atmosphere, controls are not strong enough to keep it stable and the vessel starts a permanent sommersault.

It looked really bad, but somehow the vessel held together and finally stabilises. I even think that the permanent sommersault helped a lot in distributing off excess heat. Unfortunately the vessel ends up with the spent heatshield front! Luckily, even a spent heatshield has some good heat resistance to offer, which is just enough for the final phase. I did not expect anymore that my six tourists would survive, but they do!

Don´t know which spacecraft this was anymore, just to point out that a sling shot maneuver via Mün to Minmus, which I got the chance to do here, did not really save deltaV.

Mün and Minmus flybys with all available science experiments yielded enough science points to unlock the Mk2 fuel tanks plus some other toys. Together with two test contracts for both M2-sized Skipper and Poodle engines, a reincarnation of the old Münbus-class (from my last career game) was sent into orbit. Here re-named as "Spacefish" class.

In order to save costs on the expensive Skipper engines on the launch stage, they get a control unit and I steer it back down through re-entry. Key is to use the launch stage until shortly before orbit is achieved, then separate stages, quickly finalize orbit and quickly switch back to the launch stage and pilot it down. The nearer the point of touchdown is to the space center, the more your cost saving is. I found that a touchdown on the other side of Kerbin only recylcles 15% of the costs.

Spacefish launched with just a pilot and I used it to fulfill a "put a station into orbit" contract. However, shortly afterwards, two tourist contracts with six tourists popped up. Two of them for a Kerbin orbit, four wanted Mün and Minus flybys. I stuffed them into a new version of the Starglider and got them up and to dock. Conventiently, I also had a contract for doing a first docking in space.

In order to get those six tourists at once into orbit, I again had to build a new iteration of the Spaceglider. It took some time to have one with two more crew cabins plus RCS thrusters for docking maneuvers but still enough deltaV to make it into orbit. For a long time, I experimented with a second batch of external tanks, but this produced too much drag, eating up tons of deltaV in the lower atmosphere. In the end, a slimmer version made do. I am again very proud with the result.

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