KSP update time! I still haven't gone to Duna, though Enterprise is completely fit up and ready for the trip:
The reason is simple enough: time, or lack thereof. Between RL projects, this blog, CSM duties, and some major news affecting Rote Kapelle in EVE, I just haven't had time for KSP time in large batches. I know for a fact that I'm going to want to devote three or four hours in one sitting to a Duna mission: transfer orbit there, running the mission, and coming home (or trying to). I'm not going to try to run that mission piece-meal. In particular, I know myself well enough that I'm not gonna be comfortable putting a crew in Duna orbit without at least getting them on their way home during the same session. ;-)
Still, I'm pretty confident about the mission spec, particularly since I gave Enterprise the ability to cut away her two outboard fuel tanks to conserve weight as a contingency. With the current design, I don't even lose any science by doing so. I'll just dock all the science mods temporarily to the top of the lander using those "shuttles" then cut the shuttles loose for the trip home. We'll see if that's necessary.
Still, I have had time in 30-40 minute blocks to play KSP so I haven't been completely idle. One of the reasons the Duna mission is on hold is because Duna itself is in the exact wrong part of its orbit:
I know I can warp time of course, but I can't do it in real life. So instead, I ran a quick Pathfinder mission to Moho using the same design that had successfully gotten me to Minmus, Eve, and Duna. Holy crap, Moho is a hard target to hit! It has a tiny gravity well, is fast moving, in a somewhat eccentric orbit. I never did actually succeed. As you can see from the picture above, I managed a fairly close pass, did get into Moho's influence, and almost got into orbit...
...close enough to touch, almost! But no dice. I fell short by a little under a thousand meters per second so only managed a fly-by. Still, that picked me up about 200 science so the trip was definitely worth the time and trouble. But I am really really starting to see why people use the various auto-pilot and orbital assist mods. I think Enterprise's mission to Duna is going to be the last few transfer orbits I run manually. At the very least, I need to go watch a tutorial video or two on them. I feel like there's some small knack to it that I'm not quite getting.
In the meantime, the other thing I could do in 15 or 20 minute batches involved this KSP space station that I've always been intrigued by (it's not mine!):
Now I'm sure this beast has massive, massive module lag and I know there is a way with mods to just insert stuff into orbit without launching the components. Still, I was intrigued by that huge truss. Had it been magically placed into orbit or had it been launched? And in particular, if it had been placed in orbit, why the structural spars holding it to its anchor? Then I noticed the radial decouplers about four segments from the far end of the port side. Had that thing been launched? And in particular since there were no docking ports, had it been launched as a single unit? That was a question that interested me enough to tinker with some rockets (often, my favorite part of this game) and try it.
And on a smaller scale, I succeeded:
That's four Mainsails in the center, four Skippers on the four smaller outboard fuel tanks, and eight SRBs. The truss itself has no engines. I put probe cores at either end of the truss to fly the beast, stiffened up the launcher with plenty of spars, and amusingly it got into orbit just fine...
A final push brought it up to my first station's parking orbit, trailing it by a few thousand kilometers. Probe cores at the top of each of those four fuel tanks kept them from
becoming huge debris pieces and I just deorbited them one by one. I then sent my bigger shuttle from my existing station to take charge of the truss, and viola:
Of course, once I had the truss in orbit it seemed silly not to send up the pieces necessary to rebuild my station the way it should have been built the first time... So say hello to Liberty Station: half the parts, half the launches, just as capable in all respects as my first station, Freedom.
And I haven't seen part lag go yellow yet even with another monster spacecraft on its grid. While fueling it up, I also tweaked my fueler design to be unmanned which saves both parts and weight.
As you can see, the bottom 4/7ths is about empty, but the top is still full when I get it docked with either Liberty or Enterprise. Only tricky part is that I use more RCS fuel because I ditch the SAS with the second stage. I'll have to think about redesigning that, maybe. That's all for now, though! I'm still loving the game, still enjoying myself immensely, still patiently waiting for enough time to run my Duna mission. Soon(tm).