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06 August 2013 @ 01:05 pm
But the fourth lander stayed up!  
Well, technically, no it didn't.

I made three attempts at launching my overblown ship in Kerbal Space Program last night. The first two suffered catastrophic failure during stage separation.

The third one looked like it was going out of control after the first stage separation. It went through an entire loop de loop immediately after the separation, but i managed to get it back under control. Then when i did the second stage separation the ejected radial boosters didn't get ejected far enough, and they took out the engine for the third stage. However i was able to immediately eject the third stage and the fourth stage was undamaged.

(I'm wondering at this point if i ought to look into the mini-rockets that look like they can be used for stage separation to push the exhausted components farther away.)

So i proceeded along to the moon, actually managing to stay in a pretty equatorial orbit, although i screwed up the expansion and contraction of the orbit a little. I think maybe i reverse what you need to do to contract an orbit at periapsis and what you need to do at apoapsis. (i may need to re-do the tutorial.)

(Also, i was confused about those names at first. But it turns out they're totally correct, apogee and perigee are technically specific to orbits around the earth, and somehow i never realized that before. I'm not sure if it's just never come up in the fiction i've read, or if it has and the authors got it wrong, or they got it right and i somehow never remembered the correct terms.)

But after a few minor mistakes i did end up in orbit around the moon, and did manage to kill my orbital velocity and begin a final descent.

This time i got down to 1700-1800 meters before getting close to the ground. The first time i saw my shadow i panicked because i was going a bit fast and applied too much thrust and shot up again. But then i had a better idea of what i was doing and was able to approach a little more cautiously. There were another two or three false starts (or rather false stops?) where i decided i was going too fast, either horizontally and vertically, and had to break off again, but eventually i managed to touch down gently, with almost no horizontal movement.

Huzah! Success!

And then of course since i hadn't actually gotten around to designing a lander stage and was just landing a rocket on its tail, the whole thing slowly tilted and gradually fell to earth, er Moon, er, Mun. Whatever! And then it started rolling. Luckily i did have some fins on the sides, so that brought it to a stop pretty quickly after a revolution or two.

I had one of the Kerbals go EVA and wander around on the Mun's surface for a bit, and then had a difficult time getting him back inside the ship. (And once you have one going EVA i haven't figured out if there's a way to switch controls back to the ship or to another Kerbal.) I hadn't bothered to include anything like a ladder of course, and the port was on what was now the upper side of the craft, several meters above ground level. I eventually looked up how to use the jetpacks and after several attempts managed to aim him at the port and get him to stick to the side long enough to get in.

Of course after landing i realized i had just a tiny sliver of fuel left (if i'd had to break off and make another approach or two i'm not sure if i'd have made it) and there's probably not even enough to get off the Mun, much less get back to Kerbin. As far as i can tell though, Kerbals require neither food nor fresh air, so they can just sit there on the Mun in their crew module for the rest of eternity.

The story would have been a little different if the third stage had actually survived and i'd been able to use that fuel to get into the transfer orbit to the Mun, saving all of the fuel in the fourth stage for landing and taking off again. Although even if i'd actually managed that i'm not sure if i would have given up my first presence on the Mun so quickly.

In theory one can always send (better designed) rescue missions to retrieve them, though after the number of Kerbals who have exploded on the launch pad, or during stage separation, or been smeared across the surface of the Mun, or been stuck in perpetual orbit around Kerbin, or been sent out of the Kerbin/Mun system entirely and are stuck in orbit around the Sun, the fate of these three guys seems pretty good in comparison. And even if i can eventually design a ship that can actually land on the Mun properly and return to Kerbin, the odds of being able to land close enough to the first site to effect a transfer seems remote =P
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