Assembling the Jool Ship
With the lander design sorted out, it was time to start assembling
our Jool mission.
The final plan was to make a single launch of the ship and landers,
but empty of fuel. The ship would be fueled in orbit before
launching the mission.
Well that didn't go well, need more connectors.
This time we launched and made orbit!
Though we got to orbit and realized we forgot
a docking port; also no command chairs on the landers. Ooops.
Although not really intended for a Kerbin landing, the ship landed fine.
Let's try that again:
There were a few more bugs in the design, back to the drawing board again.
We landed OK despite removing a few of the parachutes.
One last time!
Launched a refuel mission and
managed to dock somehow, though had issues with running
out of electricity at critical times.
Next refueling flight, this one had some extra solar panels
to provide more power:
In addition to fuel, we are transferring more Kerbals to the mission.
A few fun EVAs although we ran into the Kraken a few times.
Ahhh! Terrifying! We couldn't remember which of the landers were
occupied so we had to peek in the window to see.
With the current 100ton booster the Kerbal scientists realized it was
going to take at least 7 launches to fuel up the craft. With the
Kerbal pilot's horrible docking skills this would take years of effort.
So a C program was written to exhaustively search the rocket equation
design space for something that could give 400t of cargo 5000Δv.
This was the result:
Well that one isn't going to space today.
Added some bracing and things went a bit better though it tends
to spin a bit during launch.
The first attempt was underpowered and never managed to dock,
although the crew transfered via EVA.
These big and massive ships are hard to dock at the best of times.
Partly due to lag.
Partly due to the 7° inclination orbit the mothership is parked
in for some reason.
Partly due to underpowered RCS. It also doesn't help that
due to insufficient electrical supply docking maneuvers tended to
be slow, and fell completely apart when we entered the night side
of the orbit.
It's good the final mothership design had extra docking ports
as we fortuitously hit the secondary one after missing the primary.
This refueler had barely enough RCS left over to lower perapsis to 64k meters
So while eventually it will land, it might be months before aerobraking
finishes the job. Note to self to leave enough fuel for re-entry
Minor changes to the fuel tanker. Vernor engines, removed the dodgy fuel
lines (I don't really understand how those work, it was making engines
flame out early), more solar panels, extra SAS.
Final fueling and crew transfer. The tanks aren't completely topped
off but hopefully it's close enough.
Let's hope we have enough Δv to get to Jool.
There are some last-minute concerns
we don't have enough solar power; there were plans to possibly
leave the tanker attached for that reason, but in the end that
plan was rejected.
Onward to Jool!
More Kerbal stories...