After the success of the Gas Can Convoy, I may have been a little over-confident in my subsequent planning sessions.
The next objective I had to deal with was the coolest so far: the Laythe Colony would need a number of small vessels for various functions – why not send them in one Flotilla?
In my head, this was as cool as it gets: based on the modular structure of the Gas Can Convoy, I’d build an aircraft-carrier-style super-ship to carry the ships necessary for the survival of the colony (reusable landers, fuel transfer ships, tugboats, etc.).
The plan called for five ships – one of which would be a muli-part Frankenstein similar to the Convoy. The other four ships would be two landers and two tugs. The landers would include both a ground-stage and a retrieval stage. The tugs would be two-part: a full pusher (with the fuel capacity to act as a mobile gas tank), and a remote-controlled chunk in case I needed an extra engine somewhere.
I went ahead with the Frankenstein framework, despite the fact that my lander design was unfinished. Ignoring the problems, I was super pleased with this section.
Next step was launching the tugs – the landers were still being edited.
We have to step aside and address a mechanic of the game. Bits and pieces of a ship that intersect are considered to be purposeful design elements. Bits of one ship that intersect another ship are (obviously) considered to be a catastrophic disaster. In my design of the tug, the launch consisted of four sections: a launch stage, a maneuver stage, and two sections making up the tug itself. Sadly, I failed to notice that the tail-fins on the maneuver stage (used during launch to help keep the vessel aligned in the wind) intersected the engines of the second tug-stage. As long as the whole ship was one structure, there was no problem. Once the maneuver stage separated from the remainder of the tug, however, the fins caused a massive explosion, ripping the lower tug-stage apart.
As I said: *sigh*
Fortunately, this only affected the first of the two tugs. After a quick visit to the vehicle assembly building to adjust the design, the second tug launched without a hitch. The follow-up was simple (if nerve-wracking): sending a replacement to the secondary tug-stage for the damaged ship.
But now there’s a new problem. The Flotilla is coming along nicely. Unfortunately, the combined ship is so complex, involving so many component parts, that my computer (not a slouch by any stretch of the imagination) is having difficulty keeping up with the demands of the graphics I’m forcing upon it. I could deal with a low frame-rate at this point, if the Flotilla were complete. Unfortunately, as the design stands, I still have two more components (with VERY high part-counts) to attach to the super-ship (the landers and their retrieval vessels), as well as the thrust stage that will move the whole mess to Laythe – basically I’ve got three more ships to add.
Not sure what to do. (On the plus side, the large solar panels fit perfectly around the tugs. That felt good.)