KSP #2 – The Unmanned Program

In this post I’ll share with you, hypothetical readers, the progress of our Unmanned Program.
str-2-19With the new Stayputnik probe core, we are now able to completely control vessels remotely, this of course, implicitly means some advantages. First off, the safety of not exposing our crew to the dangers of space travel, the probes will be able to explore further without the need  of resources kerbonauts need, also to test out transfer trajectories, collect science data and scan remote planets.
There are some difficulties too, to send commands and remotely control probes will need a connection with the KSC, either directly or relayed by other antennas. This means all sort of complications could arise in practice, everything has to be carefully planned ahead of time with plenty margin for error.

For these series of unmanned missions, the codename Hermes was chosen, representing the smarter and messenger of Olympian gods, suitable for a series of missions intended to establish a communications network

Hermes IHermes 1

The first of the unmanned series, quite cumbersome and heavy, with equipment to do some science experiments up in high Kerbin orbit. This model had no stabilizers for atmosphere part.

  • Y1 D081 H5
    The first probe makes launch, designed to achieve high orbit over Kerbin, as required by contract. This vessel performed well during the ascent stage, it presented a challenge as it requires a direct link with str-2-06KSC, leaving only limited window of time we could ensue commands. After reaching the designated orbit, around 8 to 9 Mm(million meters), we left it to travel around for some days, luckily, one of out str-2-07Kerman scientist drank enough coffee to realize that Hermes I would eventually be drawn by the sphere of influence of the Mun, leading to a sudden lithobreaking. In quick decision, before the link window closes, the engineers decided to do a small adjustment in trajectory, in a way that the vessel will do a fly-by around the mun and do a gravity assist to greatly reduce its velocity relative to Kerbin, with small thrust, Hermes will then be on a free return trajectory to Kerbin.
    Six hours later, the first unmanned space vessel, that made accidental Mun fly-by, safely returned home. str-2-08Without direct command and landing structure, the re-entry process was also breathtaking. First setting the attitude retrograde, burning remaining fuel, release parachutes, and finally wait for touchdown. After the quite exciting voyage, Hermes I was successful.

Hermes IIHermes 2

The second model had a bit smarter design, with a cone shaped tank, it does have a more aerodynamic top and smaller form factor. Airfoils placed at the bottom to help stabilize while in atmosphere and two solid rock boosters.

  • Y1 D101 H5
    This vessel is equipped with a low resolution altimetry device, meant to scan Kerbin’s surface, for proper scanning it needs a highly inclined orbit of 76°, with a dish antenna to keep contact with KSC it also had a very limited window of contact. The vessstr-2-09el shoots up at launch, quickly gaining speed like something we never seen before, with a initial TWR of 2.5, the vessel quickly reaches its terminal velocity. due to its high velocity, its very hard for the vessel to do a ascent curve, but instead it gains altitude very fast, allowing for quickly leaving the str-2-10atmosphere and its respective drag. We designed the stages to be recoverable, but the first one quickly disintegrated due to the high atmospheric velocity, the middle stage however was successfully recovered.

Hermes IIIHermes 3

The third model, was design with a even smaller form factor, with efficiency in mind. Carrying no instruments other than a communications dish, this model was solely intended as providing a communication relay to KSC.

  • Y1 D111 H0
    Later str-2-11codenamed H3 ComSat1, this vessel launches from KSC to a equatorial orbit, and later launched into a Keostationary equatorial orbit. We wanted the satellite to sit right above KSC providing constant communication link, so timing was crucial, we insistently calculated launch times that would result in a tstr-2-12ravel time equal to the rotation time for KSC to end up aligned with the end point… complicated right? Yes it is, but we made it, H3-ComSat1 now sits far above KSC providing almost constant communication to other satellites.

  • *Y1 D124 H3
    The original project was meant to provide full coverage of Kerbin through three of these satellites , however, we soon noticed that it wasn’t quite necessary, with the previous vessel covering an entire hemisphere we would have little use for a second one, so instead we used this already built vessel to complete a contract and be the first one to orbit the Mun.

Hermes IVHermes 4

The fourth Hermes model, similar to previous was quite larger, with bigger tanks for a direct launch to the Mun.

  • Y1 D123 H2 str-2-13
    This vessel’s purpose is to do a fly-by with free return trajectory to the mun, collecting the very needed scientific data. Its free-return trajectory was carefully planned to achieve the best efficiency, str-2-17while getting the closest to the Mun without hitting the ground, its return trajectory being str-2-14shallow enough to slow its high speed down without damaging any of its parts.
    The closest point to the Mun with only six thousand meters high, happened to be right above the great Mun Canyon, granting an exciting visual. Since this all happened on the far side of the Munstr-2-15, no communicationsstr-2-16 were available and all commands were issued before, the KSC staff sure was happy to the see the vessel emerge on the other side.

Hermes VHermes 5

The fifth iteration of unmanned Program, makes use of the intense development and research being made, showcasing all new material. With a core smaller than anything else, this vessel’s core weights only half a ton, up to four or five times less than previous probes. Its also the first craft using fairings in order to protect its most delicate parts. Note too, that we are using a slightly inclined launch angle to project a more efficient ascent trajectory.

  • Y1 D144 H0 H5 ScanSat2str-2-18
    The first of this new type of probe is equipped with a multispectral sensor, with a high inclined Kerbin orbit, it will scan data such as str-2-21infra-red , visible light and higher bands, allowing us to create a biome map and to also detect possible anomalies on the ground.

  • Y1 D150 H1 H5 ScanSat3
    str-2-20This the third scan satellite will be doing a radar altimetry readings of the Mun, allowing us to better plan future manned missions.

Wrapping up

Once again this quite a long time to get up, spent the bigger part of my day, looking back launch dates, gathering info and writing the article, editing the pictures and putting it all together here. So any love shown by leaving a like, commenting and sharing, is much appreciated.
This game makes for some great shots though, I just love looking at them.

Next time, we’ll be diving into aircraft and advancing in the manned rocket designs, see you then, cheers!

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