Monday, January 19, 2015

KSP: Not exactly according to plan...

Tonight, the game plan was to launch my more developed "Individual Crewed vehicle" into orbit for sustainability trials.

The vehicle itself was actually a good conceptual representation of the Russian Soyuz capsule, and used mostly stock parts.

ICV Km 1
Crew: 1
Engine: LV-909 Liquid Fuel Engine & RCS Maneuvering Thrusters
Reentry: Command Pod Mk1 & Mk2-R Radial-Mount Parachute
Communications: Communotron 16
Fuel: FL-T100 Fuel Tank
OX-4L 1x6 Photovoltaic Panels & Z-100 Rechargeable Battery Pack

Note: the whole idea of the frame is to recreate the utility and the base concept of the Soyuz ship, and to expand on the capabilities of the Stock Mk1 capsule.

And... I wanted something that didn't look american when you looked at it. Call it a stylistic thing.

The ship isn't much heavier than the first manned pod I sent up, so the obvious first step was to build a proton launch platform and mount it there.

ICV launch 1

The Capsule may not have been much heavier, but the additional components made it large enough that we needed to use the next size up of nose fairing in order to completely house the capsule. Thrust to weight, the numbers looked good for a long, steady climb into orbit. 

Unfortunately, the drag on the nose, and the thrust of the second stage didn't add up the way I wanted to. Moments after the boosters jettison, the nose started to drop hard. a minute later, when I should have been pushing 18K meters the altitude started to drop, and before I could react I was at 12K and dropping.

I finally managed to punch the fairings and get the capsuel free of the rest of the rocket. I had just enough time to eject the chute before the altitude went from four figures to three. 
Early splashdown.... You can see the parachute just barely having time to open as the capsule tumbles to the water and the last stage boosters are just about to hit the water at heaven only knows what speed.

All told, the mission was a falure, but the pilot survived and I realized that the proton 1 is an excellent small platform, but I need something with substantially more kick to get the next generation of crews and vehicles. into orbit. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

KSP: Crewed flight / Time speed data

Phase 2: Put a crewed capsule into orbit. 

I know that actually putting a Kerbin in space is hardly the dramatic event it was for the Russians, the Americans, or the Chinese. That being said, the mission was still a chance for me to symbolically take the "next step" and see what type of performance my Proton-1 rocket could give me with a crewed payload.

Individual Maned Crew Capsule (IMCC) Mark 1

Well, this certainly won't be making any interplanetary voyages, but the IMCC (mk.1) is a good, one-man orbital craft with a low mass and durability enough to get into orbit and back to the group. This specific unit relies on the internal gyros for maneuvering, and has a small engine for thrust. 

In terms of endurance, I can confidently sustain about half an hour of maneuver, but beyond that I will need additional power sources and probably RCS jets for more precise activities in orbit or beyond. 

The Flight

Fortunately (in game, and out) the mission was more or less as planned, and reached the objective of a 450Km apoapsis before returning to Kerbin for a wet touchdown three quarters of the way around the globe.

IMCC flight on the pad, moments before Launch. 


The ship was under power/thrust for only the first four minutes of the flight, after that, physics carried the ship for the rest of its 22 minute flight. The take-off and lift phase of the flight was smooth and topped out at 2504 meters per second speed when the engine finally cut off, and we reached a peak altitude of 452 KM above Kerbin. 

At the peak of my first crewed flight over Kerbin, 450 kilometers above the planet's surface. 

Flight Metrics

I tracking the flight and its numbers for my own interests, and to see how my Proton-1 design worked under a 1 ton load.

Like I said before, the ship was under thrust for only the first four and a half minutes of the flight, and I track the altitude and speed for that time period. also are the computer's projected Apoapsis at each moment, and I have calculated how far ( as a % of my current altitude) beyond my current altitude the ships inertia alone could carry me at each point of the launch. 

Its interesting to note that the real gains made in altitude are made once the ship crosses the 28K/1000 m/s mark.

       Time  Altitude (K)  Apoap. % of Alt Speed (M/S)
0:30 4.86 7.74 59.4% 231
0:45 7.40 8.24 11.4% 138
1:00 9.45 10.26 8.5% 141
1:15 11.13 11.88 6.7% 183
1:30 13.12 13.87 5.7% 251
1:45 14.65 15.49 5.8% 313
2:00 16.56 17.60 6.3% 396
2:15 18.72 20.12 7.5% 499
2:30 21.29 23.22 9.0% 265
2:43 23.85 26.66 11.8% 759
2:45 24.29 27.28 12.3% 785
3:00 28.00 34.91 24.7% 1055
3:15 33.35 49.94 49.8% 1407
3:30 40.36 93.78 132.3% 2027
3:45 49.30 437.63 787.7% 2530
4:00 59.53 450.50 656.8% 2504

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

KSP: Proton 1

Okay, so I decided to try something a little different with KSO this time. I am deliberately trying to follow a "development plan" with my space program, where I built up to larger accomplishments. I'm not doing Career mode (well, actually I am, but I'm just not blogging about it, its not nearly as much fun for me right now). But, I am retracing the steps of the superpowers in a sense. These baby steps are meant to be 1, more fun, 2, better time management for me.

So, without further delay...

Phase 1. Put a Satellite in orbit over Kerbin. 

The Satellite: Sat #1
A basic communications satellite

1 x 6 solar panels (2)
Gyroscopic mechanism (control ring)
"Stayputnick" command module
Small fuel tank
Small liquid fuel engine
Communications dish. 
Nothing really complicated here, I just wanted a satellite that would stay where I out it, and stay pointed at what I wanted it pointed at. I kept size and weight down as much as I could,

The Rocket: Proton 1

(Note, I am using a lot of Russian influences in my design ideas, so "proton" is no accident in naming)
A basic orbital delivery vehicle, the Proton uses a four-booster solid rocket first stage, and then a long burn liquid fueled booster for the second stage. Third stage is a smaller take with a similar engine. Overall design is meant to get a small payload into a 100 to 130 KM orbit. Early course stabilization is handled largely by the fins, and later on we have a powerful ring gyro at the neck of the ship for control outside of the atmosphere.

 First stage turns over to second stage at about 7KM altitude and the main engine handled the majority of the accent.

By the time the third stage engages, we the rocket has picked up well over 1000 M/S velocity and we are nearing the outer edge of the atmosphere.

The fuel tanks were good enough that we did an orbital adjustment before we deployed, and set the satellite on a diagonal path in order to see more of Kerbin over time.

Final orbit, satalite deployed at 110 KM over Kerbit. 


All told, the mission took me about 45 minutes to do from start to finish. It was a fun reminder of the basics of rocketry and ballistic mechanics, and did feel a lot more like some of those "first steps" I am used to reading about in my history books bout early space flight.

The takeaway:
From an "in-game" point of view, Kerbin just put its first satellite into orbit, This in itself was was a major earth-moving event in actual history.

Much like the Soviet R-7, I have saved the "Proton 1" rocket chassis for use and further development. The hope is to expand the basic design into two or three chassis for light, medium and heavy payloads to orbit before advancing the whole program forward.

And for a side note, the actual proton rocket class  rocket is detailed here. it is actually a late generation rocket design for the Soviets. Myself, I found the rocket's service record and design straightforward, and effective, which is why I am mimicking the concepts here.

Monday, January 12, 2015

KSS Explorer II (Kerbal Space program)

Well, my previous voyage to Mun was certainly exciting, but I promised it would be back, and I followed through on that promise. Rather than build off of my space station, this ship was assembled in freestanding orbit on its own, four central components, two mun landers, and two unmanned drones for surveying work. A crew of 5 and much, much more extensive science, and engineering facilities.
The Kerbal Space Ship Explorer II

The ship is well more than three times the length of its predecessor, with massive fuel reserves, and more thrust compliments of four atomic engines.

The mission profile was much similar to its predecessor, though with a lot more actually accomplished rather than just hoped for. The plan was to launch of Kurbin orbit, reach Mun, deploy two landers at two sites, and send out my surveyor satellites for mapping at the same time. Then retrieve  all of the same and return home. Once again, the game graphics worked well for the mission, and the whole process was just a beautiful adventure.
Exit burn of Kerbin orbit. You get a good view of the
quad-array of atomic engines at 100% throttle.

The Escape burn from earth was a lot smoother this time, with four engines and a more powerful stabilization system in place. The ships was sluggish compared to the smaller "Apollo" type ships that I was used to using, but there was no doubt that I was going to get where I wanted with this thing.

Like I said before, the visuals made the trip well worth the time involved. 

Reaching Mun and breaking was almost easy with the throttle allotted on the ship. 

I took up a higher orbit than last time, almost 90 KM, and deployed the first lander. Lander #1 went down with a pilot and good fuel for the landing.  I freely admit to using mechjeb (sophisticated autopilot) for most of the advanced maneuvers in this mission.

You can see the solar panels deployed here, as well as the landing flag. The whole thing was smoothly run, which is a major relief after the last mission here. Total time for the first lander on the surface was just under an hour.

Lander two put down in the heart of one of the largest craters. The scenery wasn't too different, but from  an orbit standpoint the geology would (in theory) have been markedly different.I took soil samples, recorded observations and then returned each Kerbil to their lander.
Unmanned orbital surveyor drone 
A good view of the drone with its solar panels deployed. 
The second part of the mission was high altitude mapping mapping. The Drones I built were meant to be able to maneuver as close to Mun as possible without needing life support, or putting a Kerbal in danger. I set one drone up on a 110 KM orbit, and the other at an extremely low 20 KM orbit. While the game doesn't actually record mapping data, I stand by my assertion that even with 1960 technology, the date these two would have brought back would have been excellent.

Docking lander #2
  It took close to an hour of work to get all four separate elements back to the Explorer, each one had to be docked individually, of course. but the process was worth it, of course. When I was done, I made sure to drain all the remaining fuel into the main tanks, and to turn off Lander or drone RCS systems. After last time, I wasn't in the mood to take any chances with fuel. 

Parting shot as I depart Mun, Kerbin and the Sun in the distance. 

The return trip to Kerbin took less then a day and a half (Thank God for time acceleration). With the engines, it was easy and smooth sailing to move into a high earth orbit. 

Return to home orbit. 

The "Werm" and the "Explorer" about to"Kiss." 
The final stage of the mission was to get my crew of Back down to the planet. I short of cheated, the capsules used in the game only sit three, but the Space-X Dragon currently in use will sit 7 once the manned  "DragonRider "unit is authorized for flight. So... I used the parts I had and made a ship I call the "werm" (pronounced "verm" in reference to the German term for "dragon").   I originally loaded the crew with the same ship over a week before, so I kept it in orbit rather than have to built and fly a second one. 

The great beast in its well earned slumber.
Not the most "convention" configuration, but... it worked for me. 

With the crew aboard, I closed down the Explorer's systems and lowered the solar arrays for its period of "sleep" before the next mission.

The Werm returns from orbit as one unit, and separates just before the chutes open. As luck would have it, the process worked, and all five passengers walked away from the landing without a scratch.

Now that's how to end a mission!

And just for reference,
these images of the Explorer I (bottom) and Explorer II (top) for direct comparison.
(note for scale, the command pod on the nose is the same part in each ship)