Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kerbal Space Program AAR, The First Orbit

We were officially a space program now, but there was so much still available to us. We had only scratched the surface of what was above-ground. As usual, the first step in our next endeavor is to see what contracts we can find. One comes to mind. It's time to get into orbit, the real first step of any serious travel in space.

While I'm at it, an engineer offers a small contract to use their newly developed booster to help us into orbit. They pay for the booster's cost and give an additional small bribe payment.

Getting into orbit with our current launchpad is possible, but given our current funds, we should have enough to build our rocket and upgrade the launchpad at the same time.I ok the upgrade, and my lackeys get to work.
The new pad can support a whopping 140 tons, whereas the old was limited to a mere 18. We won't be limited by the launchpad for some time. It's time for me to begin my design work.

As I'm working, my researchers come to me with a big development. They've got a new type of fuel and engine for us to use. Essentially, we mix lamp oil (aka Kerosene) with liquid oxygen (usually known as LOX), rather than using our solid rocket fuel. The big benefit is better performing rocket fuel, especially when there's little or no atmosphere. The downside is the engine is expensive, so we're better off using our traditional solid fuel boosters to begin with.

Eventually, after much testing and simulation work, I settle on our new design:

Heh, it looks like a -
Legal adviser: "Don't finish that sentence."
For once, I listened to him. The new rocket used our new liquid fuel engines, along with a new concept called "staging" where we ditch parts of the rocket as they run out of fuel. My engineers were happy as it meant they could use explosives. I do admit that planned explosions make for a good view.

The rocket is brought out to our shiny new launchpad, and our pilot Ms. Health suits up again.

The trip should be straightforward: Set off the three bottom boosters. Dump the two on the sides when they empty

 and drop the big one soon after. This should get us out of most of the atmosphere.

Continue boosting with the final engine, turning towards the east. Turn the rocket off once we'll reach 70k km, putting us out of the atmosphere.

Coast until we're almost out of the atmosphere. We want to get as much out of our fuel as we can. Then, we face straight east and go for a full burn 

until we get on a proper orbital course. We'll know we're on the correct course when we go around the planet without ever touching the atmosphere.

Success! Our periapsis is above 70k km! My legal adviser insists I use these names for our flights. Periapsis stands for the lowest point in an orbit, while apoapsis stands for the highest point in the orbit. High point and low point are trademarked, or so I hear.

We have Ms. Health go around the planet twice. It's very strange to have someone go by at 2200m/s without any active propulsion. As she comes around again, we go for something different. She's got plenty of fuel left; we could deorbit now, but we could also go further. The people in charge have decreed 250,000km out to be "very far into space". We can easily reach that far and still come back, so I have Ms. Health prepare for the next burn.

Which comes to the weirdest part of orbital mechanics. In order to reach a higher point in space, we'll thrust into our orbit. In this case, that means we're thrusting straight east in order to go up.

Everything completed, we wait 30 minutes for her to come to the apoapsis.

Well said. We finish our observations and begin the trip back. Unsurprisingly, if thrusting into our orbit sends us further out, thrusting against our orbit brings us closer. In this case, closer means coming back into the atmosphere.

All that's left to do is wait. As we hit the atmosphere, we jettison the engines and tanks, and have the heat shield protect the craft.

Then we watch as 2000m/s of speed is burned up in the atmosphere.

Letting us gently fall to the sea for the last 300 meters.
Leaving us with another successful mission, and some much needed Science!
Now the fun times could begin.

PS. I went into more detail this time around because getting into a basic orbit is the bread and butter of space travel. Bonus picture from testing:

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