Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Kerbal Space Program AAR, Mun Tourism

Our last mission had made good money, but we weren't earning enough. Not nearly enough. I had plans for this space program, and for those plans we would need some upgrades. Now I was going to look under every nook and cranny I could find for us to make the money we needed. Luckily, our recent upgrades to the administration building meant we could take on more contracts. We could hold up to 7 now, though only 5 were of any worth.

Three Kerbals booked flights with us to go into orbit around the Mun. One VIP pulled some connections to come up cheap, but the others were paying full price. Good money, but there was more we could do.
The scientists down in the caverns wanted some scientific information from orbit around both the Mun and Kerbin. Specifically, they wanted us to take atmospheric pressure readings from orbit. Of course, there wasn't any pressure there, but it's not like they were spending their own money. Ah well, more for us, we'd put it to good use.
Lastly, a high paying customer wanted something more symbolic. He wanted us to put a flag down on the Mun. Normally, this'd be problematic, because we didn't have near the facilities to land a rocket down on the Mun. Good for us though, our star pilot Ms. Health was itching for a vacation. And where better to vacation than on the Mun herself? Sure, she'd have to use her jetpack for the final bit, but it should have enough delta-vee for her to land safely if we did enough of the work getting her there.

She'd be alone up there for a good amount of time, but all the better. Who wouldn't want to spend a year away from all Kerbal contact? So much less crazy.

Her replacement would be the rescued pilot Hermes. We offered him a better salary, and assured him that all our rockets came with parachutes. Given his the reputation of his name for his failed mission bankrupting the private rocket company that had sent him up, he'd need a new name. Fishman the lawyer gave him one; Stamasd Kerman. I suspect he used some cheap name generation software, but ah well. It'd work out.
The two pilots Ms. Health and Stamasd suited up, along with our three tourists: Melanne, Doodfen, and Buzz. The new rocket is based off The Munner rocket, and would have more fuel, along with some extra crew capacity. A real tourist contraption.
The launch schedule would look similar to our last Munar trip. Things would only change once we were in close orbit around the Mun. Stamasd would be the pilot for the entire trip, with Ms. Health looking over his shoulder to make sure everything was going smoothly, at least until she was dropped off.
Everything went according to plan to get into orbit. Same as before, orbit around the Mun wasn't too hard. Landing though was expensive. Similar to anywhere else, if you want to land safely, you need to kill your excess speed. For nearly the same amount of delta-v that it took to get here from Kerbin's orbit, we'd be able to land. That's a lot of fuel. Now you see why we used parachutes and heat shields when landing back on Kerbin.

That single heat shield allows us to ride a hot cushion of compressed air to eliminate some 1600 m/s, leaving wind resistance and the parachute to kill the remaining 1600m/s. Here, we were balking at losing a mere 800 m/s.

The beauty of rocket mechanics means that overall rocket science didn't matter. Only the ratio of fuel to mass and your efficiency did. Ms. Health has a tiny amount of fuel on her, but that fuel would go a long way. She has about 600 m/s worth of fuel all by herself. The rocket arrives at the low point, and burns against the orbit, just enough for Ms. Health to safely land.

The rocket's still moving at 500 m/s. But that was all she'd need to land.
She leaves the rocket, and boosts off to give the rocket a wide berth. Once she was clear, Stamasd fired the engines to get back into orbit around the Mun. His journey here would be like the last orbit. But Health's trip down would be interesting.

Health's rocketpack had a lot of fuel, but not much thrust. She had to start immediately if she wanted to slow down in time. Things did not go quite as planned. By accident, she clipped the side of the crater, dazing her and preventing her from controlling her flight as planned. It would be a rough ride down.

(Sidenote: I didn't realize ahead of time just how much time would be taken up by the maneuver to get both the rocket into orbit and Ms. Health safely down. I had no idea that Kerbals could hit that hard and still survive. In the future I'll likely try to be a little higher up)

But, eventually she landed. Apparently she enjoyed the crazy ride down. Mun sledding she called it. She couldn't help but look back up at Kerbin and feel something deep inside her.

Everything well with Ms. Health, Stamasd put the rocket on a trek home. This would be simple and straightforward.

Wave goodbye for now to Ms. Health, we'd be back for her...eventually.

And a successful splash down. They had all returned safely, minus one vacationer.
This was easily our biggest haul yet. One mission for more than 300,000 spesos, along with a healthy amount of Science!. Best still, we had enough to upgrade our manufacturing area. Now we'd be able to build some real rockets. And maybe someday go back for Ms. Health.

PS. Full disclosure: I needed to add a bit of fuel to the rocket to make it work. Likely could have done it with the amount of fuel I had given great piloting and more practice, but this episode is taking long enough as is.

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