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, 2 March 2016

Dragon Flight

Sometimes, after a row of failures, even the simplest achievements feel like a tremendous success. The Kerbal Space Program evokes this kind of experience often.

Remember, we had the Fuel Dragon docked and ready to leave again for re-entry.

First phase of re-entry. The spaceplane keeps its intended alignment, thanks to correctly a figured balance, having the remaining fuel pumped into a tank a bit ahead of the center of mass.

Second difficulty: To aim descent properly so that the spaceplane can reach the runway with the meager fuel which it has left. Looks good...

Arrgh! As the atmosphere gets thicker downwards, the lift from the wings increases, making the Fuel Dragon overshoot the Kerbal Space Center (down there right next to the starboard wing)! Electricity ran low, so I had to shutdown reaction wheels, which did not allow anymore for a high pitch angle of attack (would have acted like an airbreak).

From experience: Do NOT try a U-turn at supersonic speed... slow down to well under 500 m/s and then curve very, very carefully. Do not have too much engine power (intended for the full weight plane), so shut down the wing engines. Works like charm, good speed control. From my pilot cousin I know that you better control altitude via speed and not by pitch. Much needed advice, because controlling this jumbo is very difficult...

... and even more difficult when my EVE realism mod has the game to place dark impenetrable clouds in the way! Can´t see my target! Note to self: Need to place beacons at runway!

Made it through, looks good, looks good...

Landing gear, check! Carefully now, I am not fully aligned, do not maneuver to strong or the plane will become uncontrollable, very slight adjustments, do NOT panic...

... whew! Made it just barely. Somehow I am rarely able to hit the runway with sluggish planes like this.

It´s a hugh relief and success to have brought my first heavy spaceplane in this career game through a sucessful orbital flight! Snacks for the crew!

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