Kerbal Log 5 – Platform One

Sent Shelbus Kerman and both halves of my new Kethane drilling platform/refinery to the Mun.  Fuel production is now live!

Platform One

Platform One

I can now produce Kethane, Liquid Fuel, Oxidant, and Monopropellant on the Mun.  Technically I can also produce Xenon Gas but there isn’t a container for it at the platform yet.

Next step is an orbital fuel depot, and some kind of tanker to move fuel there.  After that, it’ll be easy to refuel ships at the Mun after escaping Kerbin orbit and send them on interstellar missions.

Kerbal Log 3 – Gantry Crane

So, here’s the new gantry crane on the runway for testing:

Gantry Crane

Gantry Crane

Looks a bit flat?  Luckily, we have Infernal Robotics parts to extend it.  This is just the “packed” format for transporting.

The outer stabilizer wheels are on hinges.  While this didn’t really save much space, it allows them to be angled up or down to assist in moving across slopes.  They can even be angled down at 90 degrees allowing it to raise off the wheels altogether and onto the struts for a semi-permanent installation.

The main crane platform itself is on telescopic rods.

Extended Crane

Extended Crane

I’ll figure out how to ship this to the Mun later 🙂

 

Kerbal Log 2

So today I delivered a bunch of parts up to the MunBase, using KAS containers.

Jebediah moves a parts container around

Jebediah moves a parts container around

There was an extra solar panel, and a couple of extra batteries for the new rover, plus a bunch of other pieces.

All of this got me realizing though, I’m going to have a crapload of debris at the base soon.  While I could just abandon and delete it, I wanted to deal with it more realistically.  I also wanted a means to get new base pieces aligned better…

Enter Infernal Robotics.  This mod adds a bunch of rotating pieces that together with the stock girders and structural pieces and the KAS parts means I’ll be able to build some kind of crane.  Originally I was thinking about a RCS-powered lifter, but that would likely end up being far too unwieldy for docking alignment work, not to mention requiring a ton of fuel to run.  Ground vehicles can run on pure electricity, which I have in infinite supply due to the solar panels.

So, time to design our new crane.  Here’s the requirements:

  • Wide base.  If it topples over, we’re screwed.
  • Lightweight.  We need to get it up there and land it without too much hassle.

Well.  Those two seem to be giving us problems already.  If it isn’t heavy, it

isn’t going to be that stable and is likely to break apart if it lifts wide loads.   Lets put some thought into it, though…  what we really need is an overhead or bridge crane.  That looks somewhat easier to construct with relatively lightweight structural parts.

Here’s the concept design:

Crane Concept

Crane Concept

I can either use KAS strut attachment parts on the crane, or the KAS electromagnet.  The latter allows you to pick up items without an attachment point, so I want that if possible.

Problem.  The electromagnet isn’t researched yet, I need about 900 more science…  sure, I can “cheat” to get it but I enjoy doing things career mode-style.  So, time for another mod as I’m getting a little bored of same old science stuff:

Tarsier Space Technology adds space telescopes (think Hubble) and hard drives for storing science.  Going to see if we can do this with just the telescope part, though.  It’s time to put a space telescope in Kerbin orbit!

I’m going to use a higher orbit than my other satellites.  Not really to avoid hitting them – it’s space after all, and there’s tons of room (famous last words, I expect) – but a higher orbit means a smaller Kerbin, and therefore less chance of it being in the way.

 

Kerbal Log 1

So I’m thinking of trying to keep a log of my progress in Kerbal Space Program… lets see how long that goes before I give up!

Today I added the Kethene mod to my setup, which gives you the ability to scan, drill, and extract Kethene to manufacture fuel away from Kerbin.  This means I’ll be able to create refuelling platforms without having to ship supplies from the Kerbal Space Center, which is incredibly expensive (not that costs have been implemented yet) due to having to expend at least six times the fuel you want just to get it off the planet.

By drilling for Kethene on the Mun, I figure I should be able to operate a tanker ship of some kind to get the fuel to a new base in Mun orbit, which ships can then dock with to refuel.  Doing all of this on the Mun means far less gravity to fight, and therefore far less fuel expended in getting it to where I want it.

However, first this means being able to search out Kethene deposits.  I’ve been thinking of an expansion to MunBase One anyway, so it made sense to equip this for the job.

I wanted to get as much as possible on this launch, while trying to keep the weight down from the previous one as it was a real sod to land.

So, the first thing to go was the command pod.  Yes, really.  This thing would be just as easy to pilot in using a probe core, so that’s what it got!

Instead, there’s now a one-man RCS/Ion lander stuck to the top, which I’m hoping will make a useful little aerial scout vehicle once it arrives.  This is equipped with a radiation scanner, camera, and thermometer for doing sciencey-things, and also has the nifty new Kethene scanner.  There’s also a new buggy, improved over the last one through the use of new structural parts I was able to research – most notably structural panels and I-beams.  Both of these made mounting wheels vastly easier than before as they immediately align flush to the surface.  The new buggy is also equipped for Kethene scanning.

Another issue last time was ejecting the empty fuel tanks/thrusters from the base module.  These were just in the way of future expansion, but unfortunately barely rolled away.  They also exploded during reloading, but thankfully didn’t damage anything in the process.  This time I added sepratrons – hopefully they’ll eject the engines to a safe distance.

Everything has been fitted with KAS connector ports for refuelling, an oversight I made on the previous base parts.  This means if I can’t get the expansion to align for docking perfectly I can just land it nearby and run a connection.  Luckily, there’s also a container of spare parts in this shipment so my Kerbals can attach some to the main base part too.

Speaking of aligning for docking, I’ve added wheels to this base part. Yes, wheels.  I really wish I’d done this last time, too, as trying to relaunch a couple of feet into the air to use the RCS thrusters to realign the base was really hairy.  I’m not 100% certain they’ll take the weight, but it’s worth a try.  I’ve aligned them above the landing strut level, so theoretically I can land, retract the struts, and then be sitting on the wheels to drive the base to its final destination.  Again, if this doesn’t work I can just use the KAS connectors to link to the main base.

Base Expansion – design phase

 

Well, time to see if it works.  I’ll be sending up a couple of extra Kerbalnauts with this as we’re going to need more rover/scout crew .  In the event of probe core failure, one of them should be able to hop into the lander module and take control from there, too.

Jebediah himself is going up on this one, to take permanent command at MunBase, accompanied by Calrey Kerman.  This leaves me with just Bill, Bob, and Merlie at KCS so we’ll have to recruit a few more Kerbals when we’re done with this mission.

So, uh. Turned out I need a ton more struts to hold this thing together!  Luckily no real damage done, just half the base expansion and a rover stuck on the ground next to the pad!

On The Launchpad

On The Launchpad

 

A Jebediah's-Eye View from inside the habitat pod.  Oh look, there's Calrey!

A Jebediah’s-Eye View from inside the habitat pod. Oh look, there’s Calrey!

So, uh. That’s as far as I got.  At that point something screwed up in my design file.  Any changes resulted in the game crashing.  Luckily I managed to save most of the ship (everything except the rover and its docking arm) as an assembly, so a quick restart later we were back in design mode.  This gave the the opportunity to revisit the rover and its docking arm anyway, and I implemented a much lighter version in its place.  I also felt this would let me get away with less fuel on the lander stage – so that went too, along with a little redesign to get maximum elevation on the solar panels using a girder.  You can see the final result later.

Okay, fixed version launch!

Oops.  Terribly unbalanced…

Lets try that again.

Well, it wasn’t very stable, but I managed to wobble it over to the Mun and get it down.  While I got into the correct crater, I was way over on the other side of it – 50km away!

After the lucky landing, there was no way I was going back up, so away went the fuel tanks and it was time for an overland trek!

Oh, and the ejection mechanism on the engines worked perfectly (at least something did!)

The MunBase expansion has landed

The MunBase expansion has landed

Then disaster struck yet again – this was just far too unstable to drive on a slope – the tower caused it to topple over the second it got moving on an incline.

Jebediah EVAed up to the scout pod – if we detached that, then we might at least be able to salvage the base without so much weight up top.  Nope.. no dice.  It was still dangerously unstable.

The next three or four hours were spent driving the base expansion across the Mun’s surface… with a number of RCS thrusters turned off and a couple on to allow me to manually stabilize the overweight part.  In addition to this, I managed to wedge the rover under the heavy end and attach it using KAS parts, which helped a lot too.  The thing was still near impossible to drive uphill due to sheer weight, so RCS thrusters were used once again for this.

Eventually we arrived, and it was time to dock.  Five or six attempts at smacking the docking ports together finally resulted in a lock!

MunBase One was complete.

Main Crew: Jebediah, Calrey, Billy-BobDorf, and Sherfen Kerman.
Science Lab: Obgee and Dolan Kerman.

All in all, a successful mission.  The Ion scout had to be abandoned at the landing site, but it turned out it wasn’t powerful enough to actually fly without RCS assistance anyway.  Back to the drawing board for that one!

Future plans:

  • Send over a 3-man lander to park at MunBase in case anyone needs to fly out.
  • Ship over many more spare parts (especially KAS pipe attachments)
  • Send over a new 1-man Kethene lander, this time powered by RCS alone (ditch the Ion engine for extra RCS fuel)
  • Send over a fairly large tank of RCS fuel.  This stuff is being burned faster than its arriving (the rovers are burning a lot of it, plus most of what was sent in was burned up moving the base expansion.)
  • Find a way to dismantle the original large solar panel, which is now obstructed by the new paired panel.
  • Revise the Rover design – there’s nowhere near enough battery power, or add a second solar pane, or maybe both.
  • Put up an orbital probe around the Mun scanning for Kethene deposits.