Kerbal Space Program Stories

Thread purpose: Telling good stories in Kerbal Space Program.

If you’ve not played Kerbal Space Program, and you read this forum, you probably should. It’s most excellent. Space mechanics. IN SPACE! With Kerbals. And boosters. And struts.

Always remember, boosters and struts. Not just boosters. That turns them into “boomsters.”

So, Jeb’s On the Mun…

The launch went well, up until the first staging. Kick those SRBs off, and… oh. Whoever assembled the rocket sort of bolted the SRBs to the next stage tanking, ignoring entirely the radial decouplers that were there to remove the boosters. Well, fine, we carry extra Delta-V for things like this, right? So, haul the dead weight up, keep going, and… great! Orbit, Mun transfer with a bit less fuel than desired, but as long as the center fuel tank is mostly full, should be able to recover. Carry some good science, do an EVA, grab a sample, and return. Just a regular week on the job.

Descending over Mun went fine, drop the spare fuel tanks (asparagus staged, as is right and proper), get low, prepare for landing.

About 100m up, near a hover, someone twitched. Someone’s thumb twitched. On the spacebar. When someone had quite forgotten to bother with the stage lock feature to prevent, say, dumping your landing stage 100m above the Mun.

So, a quick trip turned into some explosions, a bit of scattered debris, and a far longer stay than expected.


There’s a perfectly good rescue ship in orbit. Unfortunately, Mun is tidally locked to Kerbin. And Jeb? Well, he’s on the far side of the Mun. There are no relay networks in place to handle this sort of situation, meaning that, right now? Either the landing is in the dark (bad idea), or the landing is without any sort of control. Also a bad idea.

But, never fear, a stack of relay satellites is being pondered, penciled, and perhaps even constructed and launched! We shall blanket Mun with relays!

Just send another mission? Jeb can wait.

No pilot on the backup ship?

Well, that was the problem. The backup ship had no pilot - and Jeb was on the far side of the Mun, where I either had no comm network signal (playing with comm network requirements).

But, a relaysat hauler solved the problem nicely. With coverage all around Mun (random polar orbits, didn’t have enough delta-V to really put them where I wanted because of some 360s during ascent), I was able to then rescue Jeb.


With a giant whopping haul of science from Mun, too!

I found getting a light ‘all in one’ lander to minimus easier than doing the mun as the early missions for campaign science, tbh.

I’m pretty sure Minimus round trips require less delta-V, but I can never hit the thing until I have orbital planning. Mun has enough of a sphere of influence that you can just wait until it’s about 45 degrees ahead of “opposite Kerbin” from you, burn, and get captured.

I love my micro probes. They probably don’t love me.

Launch a ton of them into orbit (you can typically fit 6-8 in a launch), orbit Mun or Minimus with them, and as you get “Record temperature/pressure/etc” missions, just lob a probe down, get what you need, and then if it’s got fuel left, land it for later use (I like to name it based on how much fuel or delta-V is left), and if not? Seismic studies. Definitely.


Alright alright you wore me down. I guess it’s time for me to join the guild of Kerbinauts…


There have been a few ups and downs. Mostly downs. You’d think a space program trying to achieve orbit should have at least as many ups as downs, but I guess that just makes me a maverick in the field of gross crimes against the laws of physics.

As in the example below, several misunderstandings led to firing engines and decouplers in entirely the wrong order.


So I just restarted the full career mode now that I’ve got a few things figured out. First try I wasted a lot of time and money (and lives, but lets save that discussion for the board of inquiry ok?*) learning which button does which and how to keep the pointy end of these things facing into the wind.

*It was Jeb. Jeb got smoked in atmo. I guess there was a shift change at the assembly building and somebody put the heat shield on the wrong side of the decoupler.

New career started and a few hops done. Lets try a plane, I like to think I understand a little bit about those.


So here it is after finding a few parts ‘left outside near a wing factory’ and a couple engines that surprisingly just ‘fell off the back of a truck’. Or so my sketchy delivery guy tells me. Lets see how she flies yeah?

Update: I do not understand anything about those.

3 Takeoff attempts with entirely too much fuel resulted in tail-strikes on the runway every time. After only loading 50% fuel we actually made liftoff and got to fly around after a fashion.

Are the keyboard controls for aircraft in this just really difficult, or did I just design a horrible aircraft? Turning was… not what it should be.

Huh, looks like Saba Island to me…


Woah, I actually got this thing turned around, and lined up for final approach!

No flaps, no slats, no brakes, no spoilers. What could go wrong?


I really didn’t expect to make it back, that’s why I rigged the top of the aircraft with ballistic parachutes.

They say any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. Here’s Jeb after his first good landing:


Came pretty close though. Touch-down was half way down the runway. Classic PIO, tried to force it down and wheel-barrowed off the nose-wheel. Resulting bounce tore a tail fin off and Jeb was immediately demoted from ‘pilot’ to ‘passenger’ for the remainder of the flight.

But he’s alive! Ok, I’m going to get back to something that looks like I know what I’m doing.

Yeah I uhh… I meant to do that…


So apparently we used too long of sheet metal screws for the SRBs, which remained firmly attached to the rocket body after staging the decouplers. You can see the decoupler itself slipping out the side there though, in a launch that brings up the hauntings of the final Columbia shuttle mission…

That’s as far as I’ve gotten for now. I’ll be back some time after I figure out how to get in polar orbit. I came pretty close but just don’t have enough tech unlocked yet to reliably get to orbit and have any fuel left. Also I’ve failed the ‘orbit the moon’ tutorial twice now so I’d better try that again…

Aerodynamics in KSP are… unreal, at best? I struggle with basic flight as well. It’s mostly designed for handling a rocket going up, and planes suffer badly until they’re powerful enough to be more or less guided rockets skimming along the upper edge of the atmosphere.

You should have wheel brakes on the ground, for “Well, they slow you a tiny bit faster than aero drag…” values of brakes. Try the B key.

As for your boosters in the last one, have you discovered the joys of the radial symmetry build tool? Because that’s some funky booster alignment.

Also, mouse on the coupler - and if you rotate the camera around to look down from the top, you can verify they’re hooked up to what you wish.

I thought I did. That’s where you press x to cycle through arrangements of 2,3,4,6 etc around the center of the rocket right? What looks wrong with the SRB alignment? They’re placed opposite of each other.

If my sticking gimbal-ed engines around looks weird, it’s because I don’t have steerable fins unlocked yet, and I’m struggling to build larger rockets that are steerable in the lower atmosphere without them.

cool, I think I’ll just avoid the planes then. I had to basically turn the thing with rudder. Banking <90 degrees and up-elevator behaves like there’s no gravity vector being accounted for.

Hm, it looked like the right/highlighted one was lower than the other, but that might just be an illusion, looking at it more closely.

And, yeah, planes are bizarre. One thing that helps, slightly, is to turn off the surface deflection for irrelevant things. Otherwise you end up with all your control surfaces being used for roll, and a bunch of other weird deflections (ailerons trying to impact pitch). You can toggle what they’re used for, and while it doesn’t turn it into X-Plane, it does make it slightly less horrid.

That’s a lot of battery for a relay! Does it buy you anything?

Also, that’s a ton of high gain antennas. (4? So really 0.28t) One is enough to hit a level 1 tracking station from Minus. Is a relay with 4 strong enough to hit another such relay when one is orbiting Mun and the other is in low Kerbin orbit? I’ve never tried it, but I think that would be enough.

Ability to operate shaded for a while. I’ve had dead relaysats before that I couldn’t reposition with shaded panels, so I tend to go for overkill.

I think so. I get a lot of inter-satellite communication, which is the goal when I’m polar orbiting Mun. And I still lose a probe every now and then to dead spots. :confused:

So I just lost an important probe on the dark side of the Mun because I forgot that radio links don’t work so well with a giant rock in between the antenna and Kerbin (duh). Do your satellites position themselves in orbit, or do you drop them off from the mothership one at a time?

Also what kind of orbit did you put them in? I’m trying to decide if I’m willing to try for some kind of triangle constellation.

You’re playing with comsat requirements in your first goround? Dang. Hardcore!

You can do it either way. My initial collection were not propelled as I had no small motors at the time. It’s nice to have a bit of an engine on them to spread them out.

Polar. Spacing is… well, the mothership ran out of fuel after one or two deployed, so later ones are mostly “Whatever dV they get from the decoupler, try to fire them in different directions.” It’s not an optimal orbital configuration at all.

Planes in KSP are basically crap if the CoG isn’t near the CoM. And even then… crap.

Kerbal solution is ‘obviously you need a full relay network’

No, that’s a NASA solution. Kerbal solutions would be “Lob more rockets, in a hurry, in the general direction of Mun, with a hope that they sail past it and relay signals back long enough to manage relaying for the probe before leaving Kerbin’s sphere of influence.”

I didn’t think I started anything other than the default settings but… I’ve got line of site issues and occasional insufficient gain issues. Still trying to get this probe-core thing figured out. Like yesterday I took some magnetometer readings and then found out 1 of the small round batteries isn’t enough to complete the transmission from Mun in one charge. ugh…

Speaking of which, only some probe cores are capable of acting as relays right? So if i’m not running one of them, i need the dedicated ‘relay’ antennas? I thought I could get a couple satellites talking through each other during my nano-lander mission to Mun, but i must be missing a component or something…

Manned missions are going well though. I appear to have landed on a giant wasabi pea:


and with nearly 1200dV to spare! So I did some science, took off, landed again, did some more science and now Jeb’s just chillin’ and listening to podcasts while the batteries charge before taking off for Kerbin.
Boy do i I really need the next tech level of solar panels now.

In the meantime R&D continues on larger rockets with limited success. I’m trying to get a small station or even the 3-man command pod into orbit with reasonable stages and i can’t make it work. Sure, I’ve got delta-V. i’ve got delta-V for days; but with such a horribly low TWR I’m at full throttle all the time and still not to orbital velocities by the time I’m ~20 degrees PAST the apoapsis and on my way to rentering the atmosphere.

I also tried shoving a space station into orbit. You wanna know how that went? You can probably already guess:


Boosters AND Struts!

I don’t think probe cores can relay without the relay antennas, but their built in antennas are so weak that it doesn’t really matter.

I’ve lobbed extra relays up out of KSC, trying to get previous ones control long enough to gain orbit because I failed to do so before losing contact with KSC. I tend to avoid risking Kerbals on the first flight of new craft.

That’s exceedingly Kerbal. :slight_smile:

It’s very disappointing that the “Escape Rocket” thing shows up so late in the game. It would be very, very useful early on to have a “Uh. UH. Ok, we go NOW!” ability when doing some sketchy launches.