Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kerbal Space Program AAR, Moniez!

We were a true space program, that much had been shown so far. Yet, we were also a poor space program. That would need to be rectified if we wanted to do grander missions. To begin, it was time to get serious about funding. I was going to send our star pilot Ms. Health on a fundraising campaign.

That taken care of, I went to go looking for more contracts. There's one for a flyby of the Mun, but I don't want to do that yet. My plans require more money. There are, however, a good variety of quick and easy contracts. I settle on two that will be just perfect for training a new backup pilot.

Luckily the adds for more crew members was still out and I had a stack of applicants to choose from. Quickly leafing through the papers, one caught my eye. A captain was applying to my program! Not even aware we had captains, I quickly brought him in for an interview. Sadly, he informed me that "Captain" was a title he gave himself due to the many hours of flight simulation games he had played. Ah well, his experience should save me the 30 minutes of flight training we'd normally give so we could more quickly make some money. Capt. Kiwi Kerman seemed a welcome addition to the team.
We got him quickly suited up and a rocket designed for this easy test. The mission: haul two types of parachutes up to a height between 4000 and 9000 meters, going at a speed of 140-210 m/s. Usage of the parachutes is optional, but recommended. Capt. Kiwi sees his rocket, and seems reassured at the ample amount of parachutes available.
I should point out, my legal adviser does not find the name of this rocket (Tiny Missile) at all amusing. Nor does Capt. Kiwi, unfortunately. But this is one of the perks of being in charge - I get to make the decisions.

The launch and mission go smoothly. Capt. Kiwi hits the big red button, and is quickly lifted to the appropriate height and speeds, earning us the contract money. He releases the parachutes, and seems to enjoy the lengthy trip down.
20 seconds up, and 2 minutes later he's still floating down lazily. No wonder he had so many hours of flight simulation if this is how he spent all his time.
Another minute and a half later, and he's finally landed. though upside down. I inform him that rockets should land on their bellies or bottoms, landing on their noses are for missiles. Good job for a first mission though. While the crew get him and his rocket back to base, I go look for more contracts.
We've got two missions, each to aerial survey a nearby area. I call for confirmation that these contracts are, in fact, meant to be sent to the space agency. Where I'm informed that yes, of course we were supposed to get them. Who are an aeronautics agency, after all, and who else would? No one else is crazy enough to go above ground for any length of time. Having lived up here for so long, I had forgotten just how crazy I was compared to a normal Kerbal. This would explain so much.
Here is our mission, simple yet complex. We were to take readings of the areas marked here. Simple, given how they were so close together, yet complex in that the closer area required a reading below 17,100 meters. The further required one above 17,300. I work out that with the correct ballistic trajectory, we'd be able to satisfy both conditions with a single rocket, and so get Capt. Kiwi ready for his second mission.
My naming of the new vessel (The Short-range Missile) causes my legal adviser to just shake his head. I take it as a victory. Capt. Kiwi looks alarmed, but I assure him that it's not actually a missile, but turns out he's worried about the lack of parachutes. I reassure him that his first mission was abnormal, we've done plenty with this single parachute, and only one has ended up in a fiery death. I don't think he was very reassured, but he got in anyway.

A quick launch later, and things were going well. Capt. Kiwi was on the right course to achieve both contract goals.
He takes both readings, and we're very promptly paid for our tests. Now all he has to do is splash down without crashing. When I spoke to him earlier, I was correct that the single parachute would be more than enough to keep him safe. The number of parachutes would not be the problem, but the shallowness of the launch.

The trajectory was close to having the same problems that killed Jebediah so long ago. Too shallow, and he doesn't spend long enough in the atmosphere to lose enough speed so that he can safely deploy the parachutes. No number of parachutes would save him then, they'd all snap as soon as they were released if he couldn't kill enough speed. He'd need to be going under ~254m/s if he wanted to safely splash down.

Unfortunately for Capt. Kiwi, it looked like he was going just a bit too fast.
He was coming down too fast for the parachute to safely deploy. He was slowly losing speed, but we couldn't wait. Any longer and the parachute wouldn't have time to slow him down regardless. He'd have to fire the parachute and hope it didn't snap immediately. Maybe the engineers were wrong in their estimate.

He pushed the button, releasing the parachute.

We waited with bated breath to see what happened. Would he slow down, or would he follow Jeb to a watery grave?

Success! The parachute didn't fly apart, and he released just in time, slowing down to his final speed of 7 m/s at 30 meters above the ground. He wouldn't be wasting company time floating down this time!

There was still money to be made, but with Capt. Kiwi a tad shaken with his near brush with death, I'd need to find someone else in the short term to fill in.

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