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 scattered around, 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 after undocking. 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 next time.

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!
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