Well, we made some more changes.
The central section of the carrier was originally slated to hold two full landers (and their support ships), one sticking out in either direction along the third axis of the ship. This was a solid idea except for the flaw I already identified – the part count of this ship is getting absurd, and it’s still not done. If I wanted to keep my framerate above one per second, I needed to change things around.
The obvious solution – unfortunately – is that we can’t take two landers with us. On the plus side, the whole point of the lander support ship is to be able to relaunch the rover once we’ve finished performing science on whatever we were exploring. In theory, that means I only need one, right?
So that’s the new plan: somehow remove the docking panel, and insert a single lander into the forward docking port (eliminating any offsets to the center of mass will be important later once this monstrosity finally gets moving).
But because this is KSP, we’ve got another problem. The lander arrangement is too heavy/unstable to launch into orbit in one piece. (I didn’t get a picture of the explosion, but trust me… it’s only a few seconds away.)
For reference, that’s three sections (from the top down) oriented upside-down making up the greater-lander: rover, lander/skycrane, and orbital insertion stage.
Well, since the rover weighs next to nothing compared to the rest of the lander, we could split it into two launches: the rover/crane and the orbital stage.
Sending the orbital stage up first, I stashed it on the aft unused docking port, while I used the maneuver tug to dock with the pesky central docking panel that’s still in the way. (Sort of the Kerbal version of that riddle about crossing the river with a chicken, grain, and a fox.) On the plus side, I managed not to damage the carrier. On the down side, I broke part of the panel, so it took way too long to wiggle the piece out as it waved back and forth on the nose of the tug. Fortunately, I don’t care about the panel or the tug once they’re out of the way, so if all it cost me was time, that’s a good deal.
Next, deorbit the tug, and move the lander’s orbital stage into place.
Send up the rover and crane.
Insert tab A into slot B… GENTLY!!!
And we’re set. Well, for now. We still have one more component to the carrier: engines (and the necessary fuel) to get us to Laythe.
This session was lots of fun, but was also incredibly nerve-wracking. I think the next few posts might be a history lesson for the Kerbal-Shine universe: our excursions to the Mun, our first probes to Jool, and the loss of a great hero – and his subsequent cloning. We might also introduce the growing crew of the Laythe Colony project.