The 1.11.0 release added a new form of Field Rocket Surgery. In addition to bug fixes, “As of version 1.11.1, additional kerbals outside during an EVA allow engineers to manipulate heavier items.” I’ll have to try that at some point.
I played with this new toy to eventually transfer fuel between ships not suitably equipped with fuel ducts prior to launch. This also required discovering/remembering how fuel transfer works. The keys turned out to be 1. ensure the ducts reach across the heat shield (heat shields and certain other parts prevent fuel flow) 2. ensure the ducts are NOT across docking ports (the ducts disconnected upon reload when they crossed docking ports) 3. exit to space center/tracking station/etc. and reload the ships after docking. There is something sticky about parts before/after docking which I’ll get back to but which prevents the fuel transfer buttons from showing up properly prior to reloading the docked ships.
Perhaps more entertaining than the success were the attempts leading up to the success. Prior to figuring out the bit about fuel ducts not working and disconnecting when spread across docking ports, I managed to 1. move a single fuel tank from one ship to the other 2. fuel it up 3. transfer it back.
This worked so well I tried to repeat it with the other 3 tanks, but the fuel disappeared when I transferred them back to the original ship. Repeatedly. I gave up before I completely drained the tanker. At least one tank was enough to get home, although I had to be careful with the thrust because the center of mass was way off due to uneven fuel.
While exploring the physics of docking and fuel transfer, Bill “Schrödinger” Kerman managed to simultaneously be inside and outside. When I told him to knock it off and get back inside he refused, but when I invited him outside he produced a third copy. While questions remained (if one died, would Bill be both dead and alive? What if I left one in orbit and returned the other to Kerbin? What would I do with the third?) I decided to exit the game and reload, and the clone(s) didn’t return.
I nearly lost Enfurt Kerman during a rescue mission without rocket surgery. I usually avoid creating debris by releasing stages on suborbital trajectories, but I do try to classify junk from rescue missions as debris, at least until I get a Claw. When Enfurt’s craft was reclassified, I could no longer switch focus to it. I was temporarily unable to tell Enfurt to EVA because I couldn’t focus on his ship to select his portrait. Fortunately, I was able to select the crew hatch, and he successfully escaped the debris.
Since then I’ve performed more advanced Field Rocket Surgery. I started by scavenging a Clamp-O-Tron Jr from a ship which was ready to go home to equip a station with too many small ports and too few tiny ports. Since I’d already transferred the data to the Mobile Processing Lab and the Science Jr. wasn’t on the re-entry stage, I decided to move the science experiments to the station. This might save enough mass to have dV for another rescue. Even if it didn’t, I had enough fuel on the station I refuel the lighter craft for another rescue anyway. After moving parts around, I realized that the part stickiness works both ways – I had gained fuel while moving the tanks, and I’d also gained data in science experiments from which I’d previously transferred data.
The result was a stripped down vessel unsuitable for landing, but with many times the dV I needed to do another rescue in Minmus orbit. I left the heatshield and parachutes in place, just in case I forgot to avoid rentry with it. My intent is to hop between orbits to perform the remaining Minmus SOI rescues for which I have contracts. It’s a good thing I had extra dV. I adjusted orbit to mostly retrograde (maybe 140 degrees) before realizing that my a previous rescue was still on the stripped-down ship rather than the station. The current plan is to meet back up with the station on the other side of the orbit, reverse orbit to transfer crew to the appropriate return vessel, then reverse orbit again to perform the intended rescue. That might have been a bit of a drain on the station’s fuel, but with the extra sticky fuel, I think the station is still coming out ahead. Plus, the station is getting several fuel tanks. The single large tank the station previously had was enough for holding fuel, but I find it convenient to have smaller tanks available for filling up less than 100% while preserving the required fuel to oxidizer ratio.
- Three 1x6 solar panels are just barely more than needed to fully power a Mobile Processing Lab in Minmus orbit. Moving extra panels from visiting ships was a nice option to have.
- Mk0 Liquid Fuel Fuselage is more mass-efficient than the Mk1 for the same amount of fuel, but it is also more expensive. However, they can be stacked together to reach landing legs past an Atomic motor. The result has a somewhat high center of mass, but the extra dV is nice for hopping around Mun and Minmus.
- I’m considering re-using parts across missions by moving them across ships. It sounds interesting to get working, but once it works I suspect it’ll be more bother than just blowing credits on launching more payload. I suspect mining for fuel might fall into the same category.