When we last left our intrepid Kerbals, Jebediah had just gathered me some Science! Where exactly he got it from is largely irrelevant.
The important part is that we’ve got some science. So let’s start spending that science.
So just in case you don’t want to zoom the picture in, the last two missions garnered me 28 science. Basic Rocketry costs a paltry 5 science, so I went ahead and picked up Survivability as well, because it gives us a nice, super-efficient rocket engine, radial-mount parachutes(You can never have too many parachutes. Unless you’re on the Mun. Then no amount of parachutery can save you.), and basic landing struts. Which would be SUPER useful if I was going to land on anything in the remotely near future.
So now we’ve got better engines, better fuel tanks, a STACK DECOUPLER, and the all-important Mystery Goo Pod, it’s time to send up something else to gather some more SCIENCE!
Some people would create a truly impressive craft. Scott Manley would probably find a way to get a Kerbal to the Mun and back again with what I’ve got now. Instead, I’ll be building this thing:
Who am I kidding? Scott Manley could visit every planet in the Kerbol system with that thing. Me? I’ll be recording some new information from low-Kerbin orbit.
I’ll start with a legitimate launch. We’ve got three Goo pods, so I can record information at three separate points in the flight.
Science experiments, much like crew and EVA reports, will hold whatever information is in them until you opt to transmit the information back to KSP HQ, or discard it. Also like crew and EVA reports, each experiment is capable of gathering a given amount of SCIENCE! from a given location in the Kerbol system, at varying levels of Scientific Value. Transmissions, in addition to requiring utterly exorbitant amounts of electricity to send, also tend to be remarkably inefficient as far as how much SCIENCE! you get out of them. For this reason, unless you have a really good way to replenish your supply of electricity(Solar panels), you’re probably better off recovering the craft, which has a generally MUCH higher efficiency rate than transmissions. Mystery Goo is one of the more efficient transmission systems, and you still won’t be able to squeeze that last 0.1 SCIENCE! out of the system without bringing it back to KSP to be checked out. One of the reasons I bought Survivability, besides the really handy radial-mount parachutes, is because it’s the fastest route to getting your hands on solar panels. They’re tiny and not super-efficient, but they also don’t need to be deployed, and they’re less fragile than panels which do.
Generally, the further from Kerbin you get, and the more difficult an area is to get to, the more science that area is worth. You’ll rarely get more than 10 SCIENCE! from an experiment or report if it takes place on or near Kerbin. A bit further out, you start getting around 25 and better science, and if you can escape Kerbin’s gravity well and start orbiting the sun directly, you start getting utterly mind-boggling amounts of SCIENCE! Which is good, because at that point, tech levels start costing mind-boggling amounts of SCIENCE!
Anyway, at this point, I’ve run out of fuel and my periapsis is only at about 20km, well-inside Kerbin’s atmosphere. This means it is NOT a stable orbit, and in fact if I leave the mission, it’ll eventually decay and crash. Probably killing Jebediah. So it’s time to prepare for a return. And by “prepare,” I mean “toss out the engines and pray I don’t have too many in-atmosphere orbits.” It can take a while for an unstable orbit to decay if it’s only grazing the upper atmosphere. Fortunately, our orbit doesn’t graze the upper atmosphere, it burrows deep into Kerbin’s sky.
And of course, since we’ve made landfall, it’s time to send Jebediah out of the pod for another EVA report, and plant a flag.