Part 3 - GOING TO THE MUN !!!
Sorry for the delay, had a cold have taken today off as i don't fancy a burst eardrum and it has given me the time to do the MUN test.
There has been quite a lot of tweaks to the stock parts, not only in size and weight, but also in the efficency of the engines. Also the way the parts interact with each other feels noticably different aswell. I have played around with basic to complex constructions and the more complex they become the more of an engineer you as the designer will have to become. Just building a rocket is a game in itself and when you actually build one (hopefully it won't take you as long as me), it really does give you a good sense of satisfaction. It also gives you the drive to tweak your construction for better performance or deifferent tasks.
I also noted that bracing struts are more needed in this version, which is not a bad thing - just makes you think about your build a bit more. I like it.
One downside (if you could call it a downside) to the stock parts is there is no aerodynamic cone for the large fuel tank. So instead i stuck a pointy bit from the spaceplane hanger on top to make it look a bit more purty. But KSP is still in alpha and for the meagre price i have paid, it is more than worth it in my book. My wife already knows what a Kerbal is and gives me the (how many hours will you be on) groan when she sees the kerbal splash screen. Ahhh women, you gotta love em.
Anyway goals for my flight. Establish orbit of approx 85klm high, have orbit in the plane of the MUN, have my ship designed so that no debris will be jettisoned into a permanent orbit. (i want all my debris to re-enter kerbin, or i jettison them into either deep space or the object i am going to orbit land) Its a personal preference really and i know a space collision with debris is a very minor chance. But on a previous build, the space around planet kerbin was utterly littered with rubbish and discarded parts. Then i have to take off from the MUN and get back home.
Anyway back to the deaths
test. As you will notice from the screens below. I am back to the original Kerbals of Jeb, Bob and Bill. Quite frankly, in all my disasters
tests, i have gone through the entire log of pilots. (shame really, some seemed so keen) But as the clones of Bill, Bob and Jeb arose to the top of the pile, test 3 started taking form. It must have been fate.
Now, its sometimes better to go simple in design. Hell, its certainly makes thing easier. So with this advice, i closed my first around it and threw it into the rubbish bin, going for a complex and silly design instead.
One thing to note, is when they get this big or bigger, you have to take care in the groupings of your items such as struts as they can automatically group into a stage you don't want them.
Onto the launchpad and you will see a new feature incorporated in 0.16. In your building phase you can choose struts that hold your rocket into place which is a godsend really. Takes a bit of pressure off of making sure things are level at the bottom. You can see it in the picture above and can see them holding my ship off of the ground in the picture below. Great idea.
Now one word of caution with these struts that hold your rocket. They don't automatically release. You need to place them in the desired stage to disengage or you will end up like me... Full throttle with the hand brake on. Embarrasing really.
Anyway, after a refuel and a telling off by the kerbal bean counters, i managed to get the struts to let go and we are good for the climb !
Climbing away this monstosity of an ugly duckling is climbing well. I have no SRB's (Solid Rocket Boosters) on this design, so its all grunt from the liquid rocket engines.
One point to note is that the new engines (they are massive) are also gimbling. This can create a bit of a problem with taller structures as it can creat an oscilation in your rocket giving (at least) wobbles and (at worst) catastophic structural breakdown. Use with caution and extra bracing. All good fun i'd say.
With the initial climb completed and running under the "mechjeb" module, the rocket begins its turn turn to build up orbital velocity whilst progressing to the thinner air as can be seen in the scale at the centre top of the picture (darker the blue, lighter the air density)
With the big home build and unsightly booster rockets depleted, i happily discard them back to the home land.
Shortly after the next 2 stages burn out and are ready to be discarded. they are released in quick succession and roll violently behind me in the wake of the next stages rocket thrust. Bill, Jeb and Bob are clearly not happy at this point (i don't blame them).
Now this leaves me with my central stage which i will use to transit to the MUN and land coupled with 3 exrtra rockets whose purpose will be to accelerate me into a cirular orbit.
In map mode.
After orbit is obtained. With "mechjeb's" SMART A.S.S. module, i use to postion prograde (easy to do manually with ball) and burn to elongate my orbit and throw the apoapsis out in space to a point where my craft will exit kerbin's gravity and come under influence of the MUN's gravity.
Apoapsis is the highest point above the object you are orbiting and is the slowest point of your trjectory.
Periapsis is the lowest point above the object you are orbiting and is the fastest point of your trajectory.
You can see below my apoapsis elongating away from the planet. A good rule of thumb is to start a prograde burn just before the mun crests the horizon of kerbin in map mode.
As i zoom out in map mode, you can see the new "patched conics" trjectory system in place. Its very intuitive and makes life very easy with transitioning from one planet to the next. HEre you can see that my once round blue orbit line is now a curve ending at a circle followed by a yellow line. This changeover is the point where i encounter the MUN's gravity and will no longer be effected by Kerbin's gravity. You will also see a yellow sphere to the left of the yellow line. This is the predicted position of the MUN when i first encounter its gravity. The white cirle on the arc to the right is the actual position of the MUN at this particular moment.
WIth directional thrusting (in this instance pro-grade). I manouver my encounter with the mun to give me the lowest point i will pass the surface (Marked by yellow periapsis) to a target of around 20klm. The mun has no atmoshpere and low gravity. So i can travel close to its surface without the risk of atmospheric effects.
You can see here i get the periapsis to just under 19K above the surface. That is fine with me.
Now that my preliminary velocity will get me roughly to where i want to be, its time to shut down and enjoy an EVA whilst coasting to the MUN. You will notice that one of the pictures below shows the fuel status of the EVA pack. EVA packs have limited fuel and replenish when you re-enter the rocket. It is also mentioned that they plan to add oxygen consumption in your suit and on the rocket and also adding different fuel types for different items as the game progresses. So you will need to work harder to keep Kerbals alive in later versions.
Using the time warp feature, i progress just before the Mun's periapsis, ready for my retro-grade burn to slow me down so i will orbit the MUN.
In the picture below, the patched conics will show what will happen if i don't slow down. The blue line is my encounter with the MUN. I will shoot by the suface of the MUN at approx 20Klm high and at a speed of just under 800m/s. This velocity will shoot me past the Mun to the end of the blue line where i will loose the influence of the Muns gravity. The break and yellow line say i will pick up Kerbins gravity where at the end of the yellow line i will be spat out from Kerbin's influence into deep space.
With my orbit burn completed i have a stable low orbit around the MUN. Fuel is acceptable at this point. From this position i am free to adjust my orbit to intercept any point on the Mun of my choosing ("Mechjeb" normal+ and normal - will orientate your craft to the correct position to do this - or you can use the ball.)
With landing site chosen (and its hard to tell how level the terrain is from this height - its a case of suck it and see). I go retro-grade once again to slow down and position for a landing on the mun.
Landing gear down and still quite high, (mechjeb once again) has position me veritical with 0 lateral movement in a decent to touchdown. I stand poised ready to snatch control if the ground looks unsuitable.
Successful landing ! Its time to get the little fellas out and walk on the surface of the MUN. I could not help myself. It was low gravity after all! So i made the kerbals jump from high off the ladder to watch them stumble and collapse on the ground. They did well! jumped up and dusted off to some fun acrobatics in low G in the second picture. The second picture shows a kerbal high above the others from a jump and from some random movement he had going at time of jumping, he actually did a full flip in the air to land on his feet. I was quite impressed !
Crew back on board - its time to head home. One good thing about low G and no atmosphere is that getting home is a lot easier than getter here. So burning again, vertical initialy for a short period, i turn the rocket manually into a 90 degree plane and establish an orbit around the MUN. Don't need to go high, just high enough to avoid the mountains and coast into a position to burn for Kerbin.
Patched conics show that i succesfully leave Muns gravity to be captured by planet Kerbin. Not the best capture as i have a very high orbit. BUt its not too bad, i have the fuel.
Using the spare fuel and a retrograde burn. I shrink one side of the orbit so it lies within the atmosphere. Then just before the atmosphere i use all my remaining fuel to slow down for re-entry.
No fuel remaining. I am guaranteed an entry back to Kerbin, so i discard the last of the trash and leave it up to my trusty capsule.
The capsule feels better than previous versions as this one tends to weather cock into the correct direction. Though not yet in game. Re-entry with heat mechanics will make comming home a brand new ball game. So i can't wait. But for now, i make the most of not having heat worries and go flat out like a lizard drinking back to the surface.
Re-entry is complete, we all all but done here. As the air density increases the capsule slow and when i feel its sufficient enough, i pop the chute. 3 kerbals hear the chute deploy, followed roughly about 2 seconds later by a very loud metal ripping sound. They only had about 8 seconds to collect their thoughts before they added themselves to the ever growing list of Kerbal fatalities.
There was one fatal flaw left in the design. On top of the capsule where the chute normall goes. I stuck on an SAS module (provides something akin to gyroscopic manouvering). To that module i stuck the chute. Not just any chute. But the highest graded chute which i suppose is used to bring very large things slowly back to earth.
I guess the high drag of the chute overcame the connection between the SAS module and the Capsule, leaving the capsule to free-fall to its watery demise. The picture shows the chute carefully lowering the SAS module to the water. At least we can use that again next time. ;-)
Ship mechanics have changed quite a bit. It is more challenging now to build worthy ships. This will be even more of a factor when you are planning a trip to the second moon Minmus. As Minmus is very far out compared to the MUN, it will spark some very ingenious and weird looking rockets i am sure.
EVA's. Well, they are certainly the icing on the cake for this one. With all the wonderful modules out there in the community (and even with stock parts) you can make Mun rovers and do a heck of exploring not only on the MUN, but on Minmus and Kerbin as well. There are eastereggs planted around all the areas.
I have not even touched the Spaceplane hanger yet and it will be nice to see what weirdness i can come up with then.
The future looks bright for KSP. Its an easy game to pick up and play. You don't need to troll through books or manuals as its all intuitive to pick up and at the moment there is no penalty for getting things wrong. So you just create, fly, explode, crash (in any order) and then refine and do it again.
The modding community is massive with this game and there are truly some astonishing items to enrich your experience in KSP. BUt as KSP is in alpha still, some mods may become broken with the next upgrade.
With things like oxygen, different fuels, docking, base building, talk of an orbital construction yard, expansion of the solar system and some sort of "career mode". I await eagerly for each new release.
Let me know if you want to see more - or if you are bored of my ramblings.