16 December 2012

Adventures in KSP - Disaster and Despair on the Moon

In this series of posts I'll tell my progression (and my throwbacks) at the brilliant Kerbal Space Program. The current object of my exploration is the moon, or Mun as it is called in KSP. Let's get into it!

The plan was to send an unmanned rover to the Mun and pick up my two stray astronauts who were waiting on the surface. If the vehicle had fuel left after that it could also be used for expeditions around the area - there might be more anomalies around after all. The flight went well and pretty soon the rover was approaching the Munar surface. Disaster almost struck when I tried to slow down above the surface to then detach the rover from its nuclear thruster, which exploded below it. After the dust had settled I checked the rover and, much to my surprise, found it unharmed. Using its RCS-thrusters, I was able to flip it upright and extend the gear - the vehicle was on the Mun and ready, about ten kilometers from my astronaut who was stranded halfway between the MunArch and MunBase Alpha. I went for it.

Some experimenting on the way showed me a few things about my rover. A speed of 12-16 meters per second is good if one wants to be able to control it. Thirty kilometers per hour, that is. Not bad. The thing is rather sturdy, surviving minor accidents without damage. And it's rather fuel-efficient - doing some quick guesstimations in my head I'd think the vehicle can surely be used to about a total of 400 km of expeditions - less than a quarter of which my rescue of two Kerbals would take. It was, all in all, a fine vehicle that should even be able to operate at night, as it had large batteries and two headlights that actually pointed in the right direction.

A fine vehicle.
So, driving to pick up the first Kerbal, Calmore, I went and brought him back to MunBase Alpha, where I had him hop into the habitat and presumably enjoy some hot meal with his colleague. I also learned that parking the vehicle, retracting the wheels was a good way of preventing it from rolling away. Happy times.

Finally something interesting near the base.
So next up was picking up Ed, who was still standing on top of the MunArch. Forty minutes of driving later, the rover was ready to pick him up.

A sense of vertigo...
So, Ed used his jet pack to get down safely, landing by the rover, jumping on top of it and then turning it into the crater-slope to roll down and get it going to the base. Driving there would take another forty-ish minutes but I was in good hope. Having three Kerbals at the base and the vehicle there too would be great. What would I do with it? It seemed I could reach half the Mun with the vehicles good fuel-efficiency. I could try to move in my old satellite close and spot anomalies from a low orbit in order to then send the rover there. Could I find one of the famed monoliths?

I was thinking these things to myself while I was approaching the base when, only a few hundred meters away, I noticed that something was wrong. The base wasn't visible. I came closer and suddenly, the marker disappeared. There was no more MunBase Alpha. A glitch, surely! Terrified I hit the swap-vehicle button and then I was in control of the MunBase, which, for no reason at all, was flying upwards and apart. The landercan and the habitat were still attached to each other but most of the other components were gone, which I had to notice upon climbing with one of the two Kerbals still on board up into the lander can (which controls the base). There was no RCS, no main drive to slow down the fall that inevitably came after the entire base was thrown up into the air to a height of almost three kilometers. In my panic, I tried to have the two astronauts slow down their own descent with their jet packs but it wasn't enough - one of them plunged to dust, one of them smashed into the ground to roll about lifelessly afterwards.

Ed Kerman sat in the rover and looked around. He was alone. There was no MunBase Alpha to go to. He was alone on the Mun - and it was starting to get dark...

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