18 December 2012

Adventures in KSP: Some Housekeeping

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!

So, before going any further into deep space, I decided that current projects, like my presence on the Mun and the Kerbal Space Station (henceforth abbreviated to KSS) needed some refinement. I had read up on the bug that had destroyed my first Munbase and had found a somewhat working solution to it (editing the safe-file) should it come up again. First order of business was enlarging and remodeling the KSS though. I didn't like the thruster-section I had docked to it and it would need more docking-ports than it currently had in order to grow into something like the orbital platform I had in mind. Getting to work on the space-ship designer, I constructed a re-usable orbital vehicle designed for docking with parts and then moving them about in space, called the Deliverator. The Deliverator was the first segment I sent up into orbit, thus allowing me to send any other object up to a somewhat stable orbit and then be able to go fetch it with the Deliverator.

The first new Segment was a cross-shaped docking section that would allow for multiple modules to be attached on different arms. This hub would allow me to build up the station to a nice size. I used a small-diameter asparagus rocket to get it into a low Kerbin orbit, sent the deliverator and then deliverated it to the KSS.

The Deliverator, doing it's thing.
The next section was a bit larger and heavier, consisting of a central spine around which there were four docking-clamps, each holding a one-man escape-pod, each with its own separate fuel-tank, thruster, separator and parachute. This escape-pod section was going to give the Kerbal onboard the KSS the knowledge that, in an emergency, there was actually a way to get back down onto the planet. Attaching it to the KSS, I realized that I now had a lot of SAS-force attached in different angles - turning on the SAS was threatening to rip the station apart. So it's off for now. I also detached the old maneuvering-module as the Deliverator could now play that part for the station.

The KSS. Four modules, right now, but good enough for the time being...
I was feeling to lazy for sending up the final module, a fuel-tank. I can still do that whenever I use the KSS as a platform for assembling an interplanetary space-craft or something like that. Thus, the next thing to do was working on my presence on the Mun. The idea was that the munar base should have a rover-refueling station. Now the rover that's currently up there won't be able to be refueled because it lacks a docking-port but I would have to replace it anyways once it ran out of fuel. I re-designed it with a docking-port instead of the ion-drive in the back, which had turned out to be useless anyways. Then I whipped up an RCS-fuel tank on little legs, as well as a skycrane to deliver it, in order to test the whole thing on Kerbin (so the height of the docking ports on both the fuel-station and the rover would actually match).

For some reason, this was way harder than it looks.

On my second attempt, I got the height just right. The rover and the fuel-station connected and I was able to transfer fuel from the large tanks into the rovers little ones. Awesome. This meant that a rover could be almost fully re-fueled three times when on the Mun. Now all I had to do was get the thing up there.

I launched the skycrane-fuel-station-block to the moon. It worked quite well but even though I had replaced the skycranes thrusters with nuclear ones it ran out of fuel far more quickly than I had anticipated, leaving the fuel-station and the now detached and landed skycrane about three kilometers from my munbase. Seeing as Munbase Beta had a lot of fuel in its own tank left, I decided to lift off the station instead, flying it over and landing it right next to the two objects. I also launched a crew-retrieval vehicle up to the mun, so that the crew of Munbase Beta would have a way to get back to Kerbin if need be but it broke upon landing. So here's the current state of Munbase Beta:
I did have another glitch. Notice the weird leg on the base... Still, isn't this awesome?
Then I dispatched the rover to check out the crash site. Driving through the night to look at the wreckage of the only way home must have been somewhat depressing for the poor Kerbal driving but some things just need to be done.

"Uhm... MunBase Beta, this is Rover Ex 1... Looks like we'll be here for a while."
So, now that things on the Mun and in Kerbin Orbit are somewhat stable, the next target is going to have to be Minmus. And then the rest of the solar system. Will I ever find a monolith though? I am unsure, now that my low-munar satellite hasn't been yielding any results other than the two MunArchs I had already known. We'll see what the future brings.

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