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.

#WorldCup

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

I hated Gravity until I saw this

The movie Gravity came out in Ireland about a month after it opened in the US so I desperately avoided any references to it until I saw it in 3D a few weeks ago. Some bits of it were really good, the 3D effect of things blowing up were spectacular but Hollywood really took liberties with some aspects of orbiting the earth.

That bit where Kowalsky races to rescue Stone and tells her to shine her torch seemed so far fetched. The violence she suffered when she was ripped off the shuttle sent her spinning off at great velocity. How could anyone spot a tiny torch glowing in the deep reaches and distance of space?

Then it hit me, Kowalsky was a Kerbal. He had a navball and a map. Must be it.

It’s fun on Minmus

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Minmus is a tiny moon orbiting Kerbin in the game Kerbal Space Program. There’s a closer moon, Mun, that I’ve visited in the past but this was my first time getting to Minmus. This moon is so small it has a tiny gravity. A Kerbonaut can jump 10 metres with a single bound! ‘Course, sometimes that leap can land him in trouble..

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On a previous attempt to land I noticed my solar panels weren’t working. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the sun was blocked by the Mun, how was that possible?

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Damn, a lunar eclipse, what are the chances? (and if this was Reddit someone would probably tell me!)

Oh yes. If you’re playing KSP and you’re in a Steam chat, please disable your engines before pressing shift-tab. The sudden take off from the surface when you hit shift can be upsetting.

KSP: docked with Blarney Space Station

Wow, Kerbal Space Program can really test your stamina. I finally docked a crew quarters with my space station this evening. It almost broke my heart and resolve to play this game but after taking a break from it I tried again. After a number of manual test launches I reluctantly enabled the “ascent autopilot” because my rockets were blowing up so often it was getting tiresome. I eventually went overboard and used 4 mainsail rockets and the huge orange fuel tanks. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked!

On "final" approach. I had to repeat this several times to line up.
On “final” approach. I had to repeat this several times to line up.
Crew quarters and 3 Kerbals docked with the space station. Note the illumination lighting up the station.
Crew quarters and 3 Kerbals docked with the space station. Note the illumination lighting up the station.
I messed up when I built the station. There's a docking bay at the end but it's turned the wrong way. Argh!
I messed up when I built the station. There’s a docking bay at the end but it’s turned the wrong way. Argh!

Kerbal Space Program is at times (most of the time) a frustrating and difficult game to play but also has these (too infrequent) joyous moments when something goes right. It took more than a dozen attempts to launch the crew quarters and monopropelent into space and when I finally managed to dock I had a tiny amount of the fuel left. Scott Manley makes it look way too easy!

Scott has some great tutorials but AddMeGamers has some very good ones too that are worth checking out too. Be sure to check out r/kerbalspaceprogram on Reddit as there’s an influx of new players and plenty of help given.

The game recently became available on Steam and it immediately jumped into the top 10 best sellers so I guess there are lots of people sharing my frustration. Great game however, I definitely recommend it!

Kerbal Space Program Docking Complete!

Today the world of Kerbin witnessed a momentousness occasion. Two Kerbal Space Program command pods launched from the surface of the planet docked together in an roughly circular orbit of 99300m above the surface. There was much fanfare and cheering from watching Kerbals in the Space Center but none were more relieved than the six Kerbonauts in the vessels.

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The Kerbals weren’t very good pilots however, offering no help when it came to manoeuvring the two pods together. In fact, the looks of distress and alarm on their faces made me glad they weren’t helping.

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The two pods danced around each other, rotating silently and smoothly in the vacuum of space but firmly refusing to line up.

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Eventually they did line up and slowly inched toward each other before clamping magnetically together.

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Despite his earlier fear I couldn’t stop Rodlong Kerman going on an EVA and with his suit he flew around and inspected the newly joined craft. His attempts to join his Kerbonaut comrades in the other pod didn’t go so well as the pod was already full. Still, he even posed for a photo!

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Electricity in the pods was rapidly depleting until I shut it off. I hope the six Kerbals in the combined craft are ok. I’ll have to send some solar panels up next time and use one of the extra docking clamps. Maybe this calls for a rescue operation?

I’m still a noob at this game but doing this I figured out how to cancel my forwards and backwards movement correctly (it’s just like flying the rocket engines, boost towards retrograde rather than away from the target as you might not be heading towards the target!)
These 2 tips from r/kerbalspaceprogram were invaluable:

  • Use [ and ] to switch ships
  • Disable SAS when you’re docking as your pods will just roll around the docking clamp

Scott Manley has an excellent tutorial on docking which helped a lot too.

Frustrating Fun times.