Today while toying around with some ideas for a launch vehicle for the first Kerbal to eventually ride into space I came across the stock Two-Stage Lander that comes with the game and thought about using it to establish a couple of manned ground relay stations. I figured if I could do this then I wouldn’t have to send up as many manned stations into orbit to get decent coverage for my relay network. In fact I think that even just one should give be enough downrange coverage to be able to get that pesky probe into Low Kerbin Orbit!
I made a few additions to the stock lander so that it could function as a RemoteTech relay station. I went a bit overboard with the batteries and solar panels but at the time I wasn’t too sure exactly what the electricity usage would be like throughout the Kerbin night. These are the parts I added:
- RemoteTech Deployable Antenna
- Communotron 16 Deployable Antenna
- 2 OX-STAT Photovoltaic Panels
- RemoteTech RemoteCommand module – allows the Kerbals aboard to command unmanned probes
- 2 Z-500 Rechargeable Battery Banks
- 3 Z-100 Rechargeable Battery Parks
- 4 SP-B Photovoltaic Panels
- 2 Mk2-R Radial-Mount Parachutes and
- ISA GPS Unit – will show the landers position on the map generated using the ISA MapSat mod
- Mechanical Jeb pod – provides the output for vehicle stats
Looking at the map I decided a good, easy to get to location would be on the eastern coast of the peninsula to the east of the space centre. At 12.52 tons the lander is many times heavier than the probe so I didn’t want to have to design too large a rocket to get a station further away. I managed to stick together some liquid fuel tanks and engine along with a pair of solid fuel boosters, supporting struts were also needed, and sent it out to the launch pad.
Bill and Jebediah Kerman (all the Kerbals seem to be generated with the same last name) would be the first two lucky (or unlucky?) Kerbals to ride anything I’ve built, although they will not be leaving the atmosphere on this trip. Initially the launcher accelerated rather slowly and I thought that I might have to abort the mission lest the two Kerman’s perish in a fiery explosion, however it soon picked up speed and was on a ballistic path finishing up in the ocean just east of the peninsula. Inputting the rough coordinates for the landing site into the MechJeb landing page provided both the distance to run and a predicted landing site. This was particularly helpful once the lander began it’s descent as I wouldn’t have to keep swapping between the map and camera view to determine where the thing was going.
With a bit of fine tuning from four of the landers five liquid engines (the fifth was a backup) I was able to slow the forward velocity enough that it would come down over the land. With the two parachutes and the engines to slow the descent Bill and Jebediah touched down close to the coast 387.7km from the launch site. Bill even made time for a quick photo opportunity beneath the lander.