The Orion Launch

The Orion test vehicle launched this morning without a hitch on top of a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.


If you’re wondering what the test is about, or what all the fuss is about, watch this video by Scott Manley as he recreates the test in Kerbal Space Program and explains some of the aims of the test and of the Orion program.

Video footage of the real mission was already uploaded to Youtube and here’s one version I found.

Interesting bits happen at:

  • 5:10 – Separation of the port and starboard boosters.
  • 6:57 – Stage separation.
  • 7:10 – Service module fairing jettison (and launch abort system jettison, but that’s off-camera)

    Watch Scott’s video first as you’ll recognise the same events happening “in real life” on the NASA video.

I watched the World Cup too

Watching the World

Many might be surprised to hear that I watched the World Cup. You see, Bob Kerman left his cup of tea in his command module because in the vacuum of space the tea would boil off. Unfortunately for Bob his command module isn’t pressurized to sea level pressure so his cup of tea is taking an age to brew. You know you can’t get a decent cup of tea high up a mountain?

While waiting he decides to go on EVA and watch the World. His cup will wait.


Kerbal Space Program: The Minmus Space Station

Just over a year ago I docked two space ships in Kerbal Space Program for the first time. It was extremely difficult. The first time you do it it’s like balancing a full cup of tea on a 1m pole while cycling down the road on a unicycle. With the pole standing on your nose. It’s something I’ve mostly shied away from as it’s so frustrating.

However, after watching this video I tried again. Balancing my craft is made a lot easier by “hacking gravity” to test that the RCS ports are in the right place, setting the camera mode to chase, and the docking alignment indicator makes final approach more manageable. It’s still not easy but it’s not impossible. So I went a little overboard..

Space Station around Minmus

This is my space station around Minmus. It has a portable laboratory for processing science experiments brought up from the moon’s surface and plenty of fuel for refuelling. It’s also made up of space craft from 3 different launches all docked together. The capsule on the surface side of the station can be detached and can fly back to Kerbin with any valuable science. As you can see, Kenlorf Kerman is overjoyed with his new space station. He better be, he might be there for quite a while!

OK, so there aren’t any spare docking ports. I’ll, umm, have to send those up on the next launch. It’s lucky that Jeb is a competent pilot and can manoeuvre his craft around with ease when a new section arrives. Nothing scares him.

Jebediah and Kenlorf

Update! The space station has progressed. It’s longer after I sent up more rocket fuel and RCS monopropellant. My lander has been down to Minmus twice collecting science and I sent one command module back to Kerbin brimming with science. I then added a new section to the space station with 4 new docking ports. Getting them there was hair raising. I nearly ran out of RCS propellant. Gulp.

Minmus Space Station

Bring ’em back alive!

This was to be an oh so glorious rescue. I built the rover described here, with some modifications of my own: Larger fuel tank, extra rockets. I tested it on Kerbin. It was able to land without parachutes from 4,000m. Everything was perfect for the rescue of two would-be-rescuers from a previous mission and the Kerbonaut they were going to rescue.


I landed successfully only 3km or so away from their location on the Mun. It was a hair raising landing as it was inside a crater, after the sun had set. Pitch black. I knew it was highland area but when I checked the internal cockpit altimeter and saw the needle sneak past 100m I luckily did not panic but set the rover down. After a quick repair of the wheels and a longer wait until sunrise I headed for my destination.


My destination is deep within a crater and this rover was too top heavy to trust at speed. Much easier to get everyone else to me!



I even drove the other rover that had miraculously survived a crash to the rescue craft and had the two Kerbonauts strapped to external chairs. Everything was perfect.


Getting into orbit was easy. Getting back to Kerbin had it’s fair share of excitement. The Mun caught us again and I ended up outside the orbit of Minmus but then it was back to Kerbin. That’s when disaster struck.


To speed my orbital decay I switched to a landing side and warped time while the rescue craft was around 40,000m. It seemed to work fine but when I switched back all my Kerbonauts were swinging wildly about. I had to get them to leave their seats and board them again to sort things out. Unfortunately as soon as I warped again they went flying off again.


I tried several times using a quick save but no luck. I gave up eventually. Sorry guys, so close but you’re lost in space, possibly to the Kraken.

Still, there’s a lad stuck on Duna and one on Eve too. To be continued …

Edit: I gave it one more go from the save file. I didn’t try to get the Kerbonauts into their seats again but I left my ship drift toward low orbit before firing my rockets retrograde to lose height. I lost sight of the ship, it shot off into the distance but I was able to hop inside and monitor progress from there.
Eventually we landed and yes, all my rescued Kerbonauts were safe and secure. Upside down in their seats to be sure but they live to fly another day!

KSP 2013-12-16 11-10-18-633

KSP 2013-12-16 11-12-01-387

Good job Sondous and Wehrley!

The Snow is cold on Duna

The Desert on Duna

Dondorf Kerman is the first Kerbal on Duna and he was busy. Unfortunately he totally misjudged how thick the atmosphere was and broke three landing gear struts and two of his engines! Luckily he was able to repair the landing gear but he wouldn’t be going home.


Meanwhile Huddun Kerman was determined to save his friend Dondorf but was having teething problems with his rescue vehicle. Getting into Kerbin orbit was proving harder than he thought.


With no rescue in sight, brave Dondorf decided to fly to the north pole of Duna and explore the snowy hills. On the way he carried out several science experiments and was then annoyed after a perfect landing that Duna has no distinct biomes for scientific research. Still, he’d have fun tobogganing down the snowy slopes.


Little did Dondorf know but his final in-flight science experiments were enough for Kerbal Space Centre to unlock the final pieces of equipment. Surely, rescue missions could now be launched to the Mun, Eve and Duna where brave but hopelessly naive Kerbals had stranded themselves. First, celebrations. Everyone got a little tipsy and someone fired Jebediah into the ground with an upside down rocket. Ooops.

Go get Kerbal Space Program, it’s on Steam too!