Clockwork Gremlin plays Kerbal Space Program Part 3: From Kerbin to the Mun

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had earned this much SCIENCE!

The tech tree so far

The tech tree so far

Oh look, only 70 more SCIENCE! until solar panels!  And I just unlocked the Science Jr. module!

The Science Jr. is capable of extracting considerably more SCIENCE! from areas than the Mystery Goo pods  2.5x as much, according to the wiki!  This is good news for SCIENCE! collection.  Down side is that it’s a bit larger than a Goo pod, so I can only reasonably fit one of them onto my rocket.

Mission Four

A rocket which looks like this

Now with additional SCIENCE! capacity

Now with additional SCIENCE! capacity

So we get out on the launch pad, and of course, the first thing we do is

At least it's silent about it.

At least it’s silent about it.

you guessed it.

Easiest SCIENCE! yet.

Easiest SCIENCE! yet.

I know, I know, time for the real launch.

Mission Five

Up we go!

Up we go!

Once the first stage burns out, it’s time to grab our first (REAL) record from the Science Jr.

And already we've nearly doubled our supply of SCIENCE!

And already we’ve nearly doubled our supply of SCIENCE!

Already we’ve got more science than the last mission.  Next up, the goo pods!

Technically, it's not so much that space is cold as it is that the extreme low atmospheric density makes it easier for evaporative cooling to take place at much lower temperatures.  Ice water will boil in a vacuum.

Technically, it’s not so much that space is cold as it is that the extreme low atmospheric density makes it easier for evaporative cooling to take place at much lower temperatures. Ice water will boil in a vacuum.

And we’ll come back down again.  Just for fun, I checked what the other goo pod had to say about atmospheric re-entry.

That's...special.

That’s…special.

Hey woah, is the command pod on fire!?  Let’s get another look at that!

We're going nose-first because the command pod and goo capsules are heavier than the Science Jr.  In real life, this would be highly inadvisable.

We’re going nose-first because the command pod and goo capsules are heavier than the Science Jr. In real life, this would be highly inadvisable.

The pod doesn’t right itself even after I pop the chutes.  If anything, it’s even more upside-down

Good thing Jebediah has an intestinal fortitude that would intimidate mindless killer robots.

Good thing Jebediah has an intestinal fortitude that would intimidate mindless killer robots.

And splashdown.

It almost looks like a boat!

It almost looks like a boat!

Let’s see what the remaining goo pod has to say about that!

Get back here!

Get back here!

Haven’t made a water landing yet.  Let’s see what Jebediah thinks.

You big baby.

You big baby.

Hey while we’re here, let’s take a sample of the water!

You say that water...causes things to become damp?

You say that water…causes things to become damp?

Time to collect the EVA and surface samples

Almost worth as much as the Science Jr.

Almost worth as much as the Science Jr.

and the rest of the rocket

...nevermind.

…nevermind.

And now we have enough SCIENCE! to afford those sweet, sweet solar panels!

Electricity is no longer a limited resource!

Electricity is no longer a limited resource!

If you’ll excuse me, there’s one last critical piece of tech to grab, and now that I can recharge the batteries without spending precious rocket fuel, it’s time to wring all the SCIENCE! we can out of near-Kerbin space.

Mission Six

You know the drill.

science

science

Jebediah steps outside for some fresh air

Jebediah steps outside for some fresh air

Show me what you got

Show me what you got

Buy some Flight control

Better steering for fun and profit

Better steering for fun and profit

We use this new-found information to build THIS monstrosity!

Mission Seven

It takes a lot to get where we're going

It takes a lot to get where we’re going

See, the sun has a LOT of science!  To get there, we have to leave Kerbin, past the Mun, past Minmus, out into interplanetary space.

We need a lot of fuel for that.

Preparing for orbital burn

Preparing for orbital burn

Fortunately, seven engines throw out a LOT of thrust, so it’s not so hard to circularize the orbit once we’re up.

FINALLY in orbit!

FINALLY in orbit!

Come to think of it, this is the first permanent orbit I’ve put anything in since I started this campaign.  The down side to seven engines is that they burn a LOT of fuel, and take up a LOT of weight.  I’d prefer not to waste fuel if I don’t need to, so I’ll empty out the radial fuel tanks, and dump them.

Don't need these anymore.

Don’t need these anymore.

Now that the mass of the rocket has changed, I’ll need to tap the accelerator so Kerbal Space Program will re-calculate my burn times.  I’m down to less than 1/7 of my previous thrust, it would be awkward to miss a shot because I started a burn too late.

New thrust calculations say...

New thrust calculations say…

Interesting.  By happy coincidence, the mass jettisoned just about balances out the thrust lost, meaning this stage is actually 7x as fuel-efficient as it was before I shed the extra weight.

Time to make a bid for escape!

Second star to the right, and straight on forever.

Second star to the right, and straight on forever.

While waiting for my rocket to escape Kerbin, I noticed something.  The game was running physics calculations, and the floating-point round-off meant that my projected orbits were being juggled just a little.  This alerted me to an interesting opportunity.

Why hello there!

Why hello there!

Yes, that IS a free flyby of the Mun!  Not exactly a guarantee, but I Vincent insisted, so I was able to dial up a more sure one.

Click for reference.

Vincent has a long history with the moon.

Increased the mission time significantly, but the Mun is just chock-full of SCIENCE!  I don’t even have to land, and with the new solar panels, there’s no energy budget to worry about.

Totally worth it!

Totally worth it!

So I sap the Mun dry.

Unfortunately, this correction burn happens to have put me on a collision course for Kerbin.  Fortunately, I can use the Mun’s gravity to help me deflect just a little.  By adjusting the time spent in the Mun’s gravitational field, I can push myself into a near flyby of Kerbin, instead of an intimate encounter.

Adjusting orbits

This gives me something of a free Gravity slingshot, and helps reduce the cost of wasted fuel coming back down from the previous escape trajectory, and back into a new one.

Less-than ideal gravitational slingshot.  Better than nothing.

Less-than ideal gravitational slingshot. Better than nothing.

Ideal would be if the periapsis was exactly on the night-side.  It wasn’t, but the orbit was elongated enough already, it wasn’t a huge issue.

Finally, we leave Kerbin space, and enter true orbit around the Sun.

We're in space!

We’re in space!

Look at all that Science!

Between the solar panels replenishing our electricity supply, the Goo pods and Science Jr. and the unplanned Mun flyby, this mission netted a truly absurd amount of SCIENCE!

I'm the rocket king, I can do anything!

I’m the rocket king, I can do anything!

For bonus points, the probe still has most of that last fuel tank left.  That little guy’s mission isn’t over just yet.

3 thoughts on “Clockwork Gremlin plays Kerbal Space Program Part 3: From Kerbin to the Mun

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