SpaceX space tourism ambitions made real with Crew Dragon s first private contract

SpaceX space tourism ambitions made real with Crew Dragon’s first private contract

Axiom Space has announced its first contract with SpaceX, revealing plans to launch three tourists to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Crew Dragon spacecraft as early as 2021

Building off of the extraordinary success of the privately-developed Cargo Dragon spacecraft, set to be retired perhaps just a month or so from now, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft was designed almost from scratch to safely launch humans into space. While there are few guarantees in human spaceflight, SpaceX appears to be well on track towards its inaugural astronaut launch, and Crew Dragon is scheduled to support that mission – known as Demo-2 – as early as next month. If Demo-2 is successful and NASA signs off on Crew Dragon’s operational readiness, it’s starting to look like the spacecraft might have considerable demand even outside the space agency that funded its development.

Less than three weeks after SpaceX and Space Adventures revealed tentative plans to launch space tourists on a record-breaking Crew Dragon flight, this latest news seemingly implies that a separate company has gone a step further, putting real money down on its own space tourism launch contract. For SpaceX, this is now the second time in less than a month that the Crew Dragon spacecraft has received serious space tourism-related interest. The market, in other words, could be substantially larger than one might initially imagine.

Building the International Space Station’s successor.

Booking a Crew Dragon mission with @SpaceX for our first flight – the first fully private flight to ISS in history.

First announced on February 18th, Space Adventures – a private firm that has been working in the space tourism business for more than two decades – and SpaceX revealed that they’d signed an agreement to potentially support a unique opportunity for private astronauts. Likely completed without any exchange of funds, the joint agreement means that Space Adventures can now begin to seriously pursue customers for a Crew Dragon mission that could reach an altitude that only a handful of NASA Apollo and Gemini astronauts have gone beyond.

NASA’s Gemini 11 astronauts reached an apogee some 850 miles (1350 km) above Earth’s surface while in its orbit – a record that still stands today. (NASA)

As such, there is technically no guarantee that the Space Adventures-SpaceX agreement will translate into any actual Crew Dragon or Falcon 9 contracts, although there is certainly a chance. The tourism company did successfully arrange eight orbital launches and space station visits for seven customers in the 2000s but has been relatively inactive in the decade since then.

Axiom Space, an unrelated venture, is also seriously interested in space tourism but is instead focused on the far more arduous task of building its own space station. Thanks to a recent agreement with NASA, potentially translating to $140M contract to build its first custom space station module, it appears to be increasingly likely that Axiom is not simply smoke and mirrors – depressingly common in space tourism industry.

Aside from three new modules that could become a temporary part of the International Space Station (ISS), Axiom wants to eventually separate its hardware to create the world’s first private space station. (Axiom)

Intriguingly, the contract Axiom announced with SpaceX and Crew Dragon appears to be entirely unrelated to the company’s plans to build its own space station modules. Instead, the contract would see SpaceX train and launch an Axiom ‘commander’ and three private passengers to the existing ISS for more than a week before returning them safely to Earth. Perhaps more impressive is the schedule: Axiom wants SpaceX to launch its first space tourism mission as early as the second half of 2021 – potentially less than a year and a half from now.

Regardless, if this contract does result in Crew Dragon’s first dedicated space tourism launch and Axiom’s customers are satisfied, it’s safe to say that SpaceX will be the first to receive a call if or when Axiom needs more orbital taxi services or rockets to launch its space station modules in the mid-2020s.

A render of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft docked to the International Space Station (ISS). (SpaceX)

If its prices are notably better than what past tourism ventures have been able to offer, SpaceX might even be able to expand the market for private (orbital) human spaceflight, creating an entirely new niche for Crew Dragon. Given that NASA’s Commercial Crew Program contract anticipates requiring no more than an average of two dedicated Crew Dragon astronauts launches per year, it would not take much at all for SpaceX to double the spacecraft’s annual flight rate with the help of orbital tourism.

Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes.

Suborbital spaceflight on kerbin

Suborbital spaceflight on kerbin

wow it’s dusty in here. let’s see.

ok, sounds interesting! the tourist missions are tough, especially early on. the crew pods don’t have much capacity so it’s difficult to fit more than one occupant on a safe rocket. thinking about what happened to

alilja, I’ll want to make sure that the heat shielding is reliable on anything I send up next.

ok, before we get started with the tourist mission there are a couple of other contracts I want to take on.

the two I’m interested in are testing the radial decoupler on the launch pad and testing the Wheesley jet engine on the launch pad. these test contracts are great – they give you experimental tech to play around with so you can discover new parts before you’ve researched them. the ones that require you to do it on the launch pad are trivial. having to do it in orbit (like the one for the rockomax decoupler) is much trickier so we’re going to ignore those for now. let’s see what the TT-38K Radial Decoupler is like.

this is a cool part. rather than having to stage everything vertically like we’ve done on the Rundas crafts, we can stage things horizontally. we’ll throw together a prototype craft to see how this could look.

here’s our test craft. if we were going to launch this, the two fleas on the outer stages would separate , leaving the core stage to keep firing. this is useful for exactly the same reason the stack decouplers are useful: we shed spent weight so that the core stage is more efficient.

the staging is set up to just fire the radial decouplers. firing the engines would be disastrous on this craft – it’s got no fins, thrust control or parachutes and so it would almost certainly just squirl straight into the admin building. let’s not do that.

nclm, our pilot for this mission, lets out a sigh of relief as we fail to activate the second stage. the craft remains firmly on the launch pad. today, this is a good thing.

next up is the contract to test the Wheesley jet engine. jet engines are cool – they’re incredibly fuel efficient and can get craft moving incredibly fast when combined with enough lift surface (usually wings). their main drawback is that they only work in atmosphere. because they’re air-breathing, they require constant air intake otherwise they’ll flame out.

unfortunately we don’t have any air intakes yet so the test for this engine is going to be a bit of a disappointment.

fortunately all we have to do is activate the engine. it’s got no fuel so it’s not going anywhere.

with those two contracts fulfilled we get a nice chunk of space bucks and we go and accept the contract admin requested.

ok. two suborbital space flights. no problem. I mean the last suborbital resulted in disaster but I’m sure this one will be fine. we’ve still got some science to spend so the first thing I’ll do is see what components are going to help us out most.

it’s kind of hard to see but general rocketry gets us the “Swivel” liquid fuel engine, a larger liquid fuel tank and a massive solid fuel booster.

I’m really worried about having another unrecoverable disaster so I’m going to launch a couple of test missions as science craft before we send a tourist up in one of these things. let’s build something that can get into sub-orbit and get safely back down.

so here it is, the Nusku I – named for the babylonian fire god. the hope is that we can flatter the ego of the fire god and not have it explode on re-entry.

The Nusku is a big step up from the Rundas. let’s go through the stages.

first to fire are two brand-new radially-mounted Thumper engines. these are heavy-duty solid fuel boosters which provide massive amounts of lift. on the same stage, at the very bottom of the craft, you can see the good old Hammer rocket. this will get discarded first, then the two Thumpers on the side.

the core stage is an also brand-new “Swivel” liquid fuel engine.

as we’ve mentioned before, liquid fuel engines have controllable thrust so we don’t have to fire them until they’re empty like the solid fuel boosters. the Swivel also comes with “gimballing” – this means we can angle the engine and have the thrust apply in a different direction. this allows us to have some basic control over the craft as we’re firing the engines.

the swivel is fed by two FLT-200 tanks. the total amount of fuel on this craft should theoretically give us enough boost to get into a stable orbit around Kerbin. we’ll see.

the final stage is for the descent.

the final stage contains the command pod and underneath it a service bay. these are handy for keeping delicate instruments out of the way of the heat of re-entry and to stop them generating drag on the way up. I’ve fitted two mystery goo containers onto this so we can do some experiments while out in space.

underneath we have a vital innovation:

the heat shield provides ablator which will burn off during the descent, hopefully keeping the craft safe from the fate of the Untitled series of craft.

before we can launch the Nusku we have to do some improvements to our launch pad which is currently unequipped to handle such heavy rockets.

it costs most of our funds but the new launchpad looks spiffy as heck.

  1. staging – yep, all ok. the Swivel is staged to fire as the flea separates so that should be interesting to watch.
  2. SAS – enabled.

nclm is our pilot for this flight and should be able to keep this thing steady as it ascends.

our flight profile for this will be to tip the craft east a little as it ascends so that we’re not coming it straight down. hopefully this will prevent there being so much heat on re-entry. we’ll see how much fuel there is as we reach apoapse and, if there’s enough, try for an orbital burn.

I check and recheck the staging. everything’s looking good. it’s all down to you now,

nclm. godspeed brave kerbal.

it’s looking good. everyone on the ground is just so so anxious about this one.

the Thumper engines turn out to be really strong making the craft impossible to turn until they burn out. at about 12km up we start to see some extreme heating effects but everything’s holding together so far.

at about 30km the Thumpers finally burn out and we separate the spent lower stage.

the Swivel kicks in and we angle the craft to

45 degrees to start to arc our trajectory. everything’s still in one piece so it’s looking like we might be ok.

a check of our map shows something worrying however.

the apoapse is at about 286km which is a similar figure to what we had with the fatal Untitled craft. an ideal apoapse for an orbital flight is at about 100km. this isn’t a disaster yet but it does mean it’s going to cost more fuel to bring the rocket back down.

the reason for this is too much delta-v. delta-v is an expression of how much you can move the craft given the weight of the craft, the thrust from the engines and the remaining fuel. by strapping on those two massive Thumper engines we’ve sent the craft way too high for its weight. the Nusku II will have to address this.

we still have an almost-full tank of liquid fuel and the decision now is whether to circularise our orbit, thus bringing the craft into an elliptical orbit of Kerbin, or start to deorbit it. with such a steep descent and no knowledge of if the ablator will survive, ground decides to try and circularise.

since we’re over uncharted territory,

nclm hops out of the craft for an EVA report.

and we examine one canister of goo to see how it’s reacting up here. hopefully this one will come back down successfully.

as we near our apoapse, the ground crew do some frantic calculations on the back of napkins, the front of napkins and all over any envelopes they can find. with the delta-v remaining on the craft, there’s no hope of a circulairsed orbit. instead,

nclm should do a short burn at the apoapse to make the descent less steep.

nclm will save a little fuel for corrections as the Nusku comes back down.

nclm reaches space proper he pops the hatch on the second mystery goo. huh. seems like it likes space?

nclm drifts towards the apoapse, they have time to appreciate the view of Kerbin thousands of kilometres below.

nclm gently eases up the throttle as the Nusku reaches apoapse. they target a landing in the sea. nobody knows if the ablator will hold out. the descent profile looks better than the Untitled.

back on the ground, the crew gather around the comms relay as it crackles to life. beneath the static,

the last recorded transmission from the Nusku is: ‘it’s so quiet up here.’

at about 70km the craft hits the atmosphere and

nclm hits the staging to separate the spent Swivel rocket.

on-board temperature sensors aren’t picking up any of the heat that the previous crafts were seeing. for now the ablator seems to be holding out.

but then just as we’re getting close enough to the ground to be safe, one of the sensors goes critical. one of the goo tanks is close to overheating. an explosion here would destroy the service bay, throwing off the heat shield and leaving the command module to burn up.

but fate (or a Babylonian fire god) is with us today. we kill off enough speed before the container gets chance to explode and the command module continues down towards the surface. at 4km we pop the chutes.

unfortunately the placement of the radial chutes tip the command module up and it ends up with its nose facing the sea. it’s not a problem but

nclm would probably have preferred nto to be deposited back onto earth in such a rude manner.

1000m the cutes deploy and the command module starts its slow descent into the sea.

the ground crew are just so relieved.

nclm has splashed down a little way off the coast of the landmass just east across the bay from the space centre. the neighbouring navy is dispatched with some fresh towels and warm cocoa to go and collect

nclm, the first kerbil to ever return from a sub-orbital space flight.

there are lessons to be learnt here though: the Nusku, while an improvement, is too powerful. the outer stages need less thrust and the core stage needs much more fuel. already the R&D department is hard at work on the plans for the next craft in the family, the Nusku II, a suborbital craft designed to comfortably take a passenger into space above Kerbin.

back at the space centre there’s much to celebrate though.

the various experiments and reports from the Nusku gain us another 50 science points, enough to unlock some delicious new tech.

nclm is very much alive and has proved that we have a craft capable of suborbital flights.

and the bank balance isn’t looking too bad – we smashed a couple of distance records on our way over, bringing us up to 77k space credits. the launchpad extension has almost paid for itself!

next time we’ll redevelop the Nusku and attempt to send a civilian into space.

This Space TV Startup Plans To Stream Live Videos Of Earth’s Surface From Space In 2021

This Space TV Startup Plans To Stream Live Videos Of Earth’s Surface From Space In 2021

Sen is planning a constellation of up to 100 video-streaming satellites.

A startup company that hopes to provide real-time video streaming of Earth from space has announced it will launch its first satellite in 2021, with four further satellites set to launch in 2022.

Sen, based in the U.K., said it had contracted Lithunia-based NanoAvionics to build the five satellites, together called EarthTV, which will be equipped with cameras to beam ultra-high definition (UHD) video to Earth from space. The satellites will be among the first to watch events on Earth unfold in real-time, enabling a wide range of services for companies and consumers.

“Sen’s vision is to become a space video company, to stream real-time video from space with a focus on environmental events and human movement,” says Charles Black, founder and CEO of Sen. “[There are already] companies capturing still imagery at different resolutions. What we’re doing is introducing a new type of data to the market, which is video.”

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The satellites will be launched into a Sun-synchronous orbit, one that remains constantly in sunlight, about 500 kilometers above Earth’s surface. Each so-called nano-satellite, less than two meters across, will have use its camera to view Earth in a variety of resolutions, ranging from 250 meters down to just 1.5 meters.

Events that will be observed will include environmental disasters, such as flooding and wildfires, along with the movements of large groups of people. “We feel that video data will help organizations help displaced people by providing real-time or very timely information,” says Black.

Each steerable satellite will be able to focus on these events unfolding on the ground below, and stream them in real-time. Companies will be able to pay Sen to access the service, while members of the public will be able to watch the stream and get a live glimpse of Earth’s surface through an app. “That will enable individuals to watch and track events,” says Black.

Sen has already demonstrated its capabilities on a satellite launched by the Russian organization RSC Energia in February 2019, highlighting the impressive quality of their video footage. But the ultimate goal is to operate a fleet of spacecraft in orbit, providing large amounts of video of Earth’s surface.

The company already has cameras orbiting Earth on a Russian-built satellite.

“I would like to target something like 100 [satellites in orbit],” says Black. “So it’s not going to be a ‘mega constellation’. But it’s going to be one where we have real-time video of pretty much any place on Earth.”

Sen’s goals do not just extend to Earth orbit, as the company hopes to also eventually send some of its video spacecraft to the Moon or even Mars. The goal here is to have spacecraft in place to watch the arrival of future human missions, planned by organizations like NASA and SpaceX, and stream video back to people on Earth.

“As people expand to the Moon, Sen wants to be telling that story,” says Black. “We believe society needs an independent media that can tell that story of both government agencies and private companies that explore the Moon. We’re aiming for the Moon in the mid-2020s at the earliest, and Mars in 2030 onwards.”

For now though the focus is very much on Earth. And with the launches beginning next year, the company hopes to deliver unique views of the planet from space. “With the real-time capability we believe there is very little similar data available at the moment,” says Black.

Basics of Orbital Dynamics – Jaden Weiss

Basics of Orbital Dynamics

Chances are that you have seen a rocket lift off, either on television or via a video. Most people have also seen the iconic Apollo 11 footage from the moon, where Neil Armstrong famously said “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

So, how does a spacecraft get from point A to point B?

4 Forces on Rockets

Thrust

Perhaps the most obvious force acting on a rocket is thrust. Fuel and oxygen react, generating hot gases. As these hot gases exit the base of the engine, an equal and opposite force pushes up on the rocket to conserve momentum.

Gravity (Weight)

If it were not for gravity, the rocket would keep rising forever after the engines shut down. When the rocket first ascends, the engines are fighting gravity, which slows the ascent.

The space above the rocket is not empty — it is filled with tons of air. As the rocket ascends, it must push air out of the way. This transfers momentum from the rocket to the air, slowing the rocket down. In the process, friction on the surface of the rocket generates heat. Drag is also used to slow the crew capsule/return vehicle to safe speeds without expending fuel.

If you have only seen a rocket immediately after liftoff, it may be unclear why lift is involved. As the rocket burns straight up after liftoff, there is no initial lift. However, later in the ascent the rocket tips over to gather horizontal velocity for orbit. When the rocket is moving at an angle to the air, the outer shell acts as a poorly shaped wing surface, generating a force perpendicular to the rocket in an upward direction. Fins on rockets also generate lift in adjustable directions to help steer the rocket.

Ascent

When the clamps holding down the rocket are first released, the only two forces acting on the rocket are thrust and weight (gravity). The balance between the force of gravity and the thrust of the engine is commonly expressed as the Thrust-to-Weight Ratio, or TWR. In order for the rocket to rise, the TWR must be greater than 1, meaning that the thrust generated exceeds the force of gravity on the rocket.

As the rocket gains speed, lift and drag forces increase in intensity and the problem of tilt angle comes into action. The more the rocket tips over, the more it acts like an airplane — the rocket gains velocity more easily because it does not have to fight as much of gravity. However, if the rocket is tilted over more then it gains altitude slower and spends more time in the atmosphere. Lower in the atmosphere, drag is stronger and the thrust is weaker due to opposing pressure from the air.

As the rocket rises higher into the atmosphere, the speed increases and the atmosphere begins thinning out, as there is less air above compressing it. The atmospheric forces initially increase, until an important point in the ascent called Max-Q. At Max-Q, the atmospheric forces reach their most intense point and aerodynamic stress on the structure of the rocket reaches its maximum value. At this point, fuel flow to the engines is reduced to minimizes forces on the structure of the rocket and stop it from being torn apart. During Max-Q, the rocket accelerates less and is carried into the upper atmosphere by its momentum. As the atmosphere thins out, the engines can be slowly throttled back up, holding these forces roughly constant. Eventually, the atmosphere is thin enough that drag and lift drop off despite the increasing speed of the rocket, and Max-Q is passed. This is considered a milestone in a spaceflight, as the spacecraft has (hopefully) survived its worst forces.

Circularization

As the rocket exits on the atmosphere, it is on a suborbital trajectory — if the engines cut out right then, the rocket would fall back into the atmosphere and crash into the ground (or the escape system would activate and the crew capsule would be saved by parachutes).

In order to stay in space, a maneuver called circularization is preformed. The goal of circularization is to reach a point where the spacecraft is neither moving towards nor away from the surface, but is rather carried around the planet by its tangential (horizontal) velocity. This accomplished by burning near-horizontally. As the spacecraft speeds up, gravity changes the speed less and changes the direction of movement more. This continues until the change in speed produced by gravity is close enough to 0.

Orbit

Once in orbit, all movement is made by preforming small burns to tweak the velocity. These changes in velocity change the shape of the orbit. However, since the craft is moving in a circle, a different system of directions is needed than on earth, where we can use cardinal directions as well as up and down.

Directions in Orbit

Prograde & Retrograde — One of the easiest directions to define is prograde — the direction that the craft is moving. Retrograde is the opposite of prograde — it is the direction that the craft is moving away from.

Radial In/Out — Another easy direction to reference with is the direction towards or away from the planet. Radial In and Radial Out are just this — in is towards the planet, and out is away from the planet.

Normal/Anti-Normal — Take your right hand and curl your fingers into a fist. Stick your thumb up. Align the curl of your fingers to the direction of the orbit, and your thumb will point normal to the orbit. If you repeat this with your left hand, your thumb will point anti-normal. These directions are useful for adjusting tilted orbits.

Elliptical Orbits

Spacecraft typically travel in a type of orbit called an Elliptical Orbit — an orbit forming the shape of an ellipse. There are two very important points in an elliptical orbit — the Apoapsis & the Periapsis. The Apoapsis is the highest point of the orbit, and is the point on the orbit where the craft travels the slowest. The Periapsis is the lowest point of the orbit, and is the point on the orbit where the craft travels the fastest. As the craft rises from the periapsis to the apoapsis, gravity slows it down until it no longer has enough momentum to keep rising. As the craft falls from the apoapsis to the periapsis, gravity speeds it up until it is moving so fast that its momentum pulls it back up to the apoapsis.

Imagine that the craft burned retrograde at the apoapsis. The craft would slow down, and thus fall faster. It would then have to fall further to regain its momentum to return to the apoapsis. Therefore, this would lower the periapsis without changing the apoapsis. If it slowed down enough, the periapsis would fall within the atmosphere, and drag will slow it down there. Slowing down at the periapis would mean that it would not rise as far before it started to fall again — this would raise the periapsis. These passes through the atmosphere would continue slowing the craft down, pulling it into a spiral that would eventually crash into the surface (although the heat and drag force would destroy it unless the craft was designed to tolerate these extremes).

Normal burns are used to correct orbital inclination. This is useful when attempting to rendezvous with another spacecraft, where some rendezvous maneuvers assume that the target craft is on the same orbital plane.

Gravity Assists

Now imagine that the moon is in the general direction of the apoapsis, and the craft burns prograde at the apoapsis. It picks up enough speed that the apoapsis intersects the orbit of the moon. As the craft rises, it gets close to the moon and is pulled into an orbit passing close to the surface. If the craft did nothing (warning: several approximations), it would be thrown past the moon, returning to an earth orbit with the same starting speed but in a different direction and at a different point. This is the concept of gravity assists — manuvers which allow slingshots past the moon (or other planets) to change orbits and gather speed.

Alternately, the craft could burn retrograde at the point closest to the moon’s surface instead of continuing. If it slows down enough, the flyby will become an elliptical orbit around the moon. This burn injecting into a lunar orbit is called an injection burn.

Kerbal Space Program, Robbaz Wiki, Fandom

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program is an indie game developed by Squad in which the player can build and fly their very own planes and space craft across the Kerbal Solar System. Factors such as stability, aerodynamics and weight must be taken into account and the game tries to be as Newtonian as possible. The game itself has no real goal other than to explore and mess around in the solar system with which you are provided, and many people, including Robbaz himself, have built a variety of spacecraft which they have used to explore the system and generally mess around (for instance Robbaz built a resort on the moon of the gas giant in the system called Jool). Below is a list of ships and missions, written in chronological order by the Viking Space Program; an organisation founded by Robbaz in 880AD after he had become tired of pillaging England and decided it was time for space to be pillaged.

Space Mission Edit

His first attempt, `Nipple Sky Penetrator Mk. 1` was a failure, as its primary engines exploded due to overheating, followed shortly by the secondary stage as well. The command module then plummeted to the ground. He relaunched the Mark 1 with additional rockets, but it was unstable and fell over on the launch site.

The Nipple Sky Penetrator Mark 1.

Nipple Sky Penetrator Mk. 2

The second tier ship was the same as the first, but with a `Christmas Tree Foot` design. It disintergrated immediately and sent the Kerbals spiralling to their death. The redesigned Mark 2. included several more stages and SAS, allowing the ship to fly smoothly and effectively. This was the first ship to escape the atmosphere of Kerbin, but running out of fuel, the command module was left to float through space.

Mun (Moon) Edit

Mission: To claim Mun for the Vikings.

With a design based around the triangle – the most flawless object you can make – Robbaz was confident of success. While slow at first, his craft made it into the outer atmosphere, but started to spin violently, tearing the ship apart. The second launch of the ship was quick to drift out of control and aim straight for the ground.

“What’s the difference? I added more rockets to my rockets. Fucking genius, this is beyond genius if you ask me. This is fucking flawless. ” – Robbaz when explaining the jump between V.E. Mk.2 and 3.

After a successful launch and detachment of the primary stage, the secondary rockets were detached while still activing, pushing the Explorer out of its line of elavation, and due to weight, it fell back to Kerbin way to quickly. Somehow though, the module survived.

The final launch was a sucess of sorts. The ship reached an orbit, and managed to reach the Mun. However, its fuel was depleted and the parachute didn’t open, causing the lander to smash into the surface.

An unnamed craft, but codenamed the `Liberator ` – As Robbaz said he’d use it to liberate the Moon from the Moon Nazis – was a catastrophic failure. Its first Mark failed to leave the launch pad due to an uneven payload, and the second snapped in two due to too much power.

The prior four Marks were never shown, although the design was probably based on the second incarnation of the `Liberator `. The ship successfully reached space and made a course for Mun. The lander was set for a success, but Robbaz accidently seperated the stages before opening the parachute, leading to his second collision with Mun.

The first launch was an embarrasment for Robbaz, as the power was too great, and he watched the ship explode mere metres above the launchpad. However, during his second launch he managed to successfully land the module on Mun, before sending it home.

Space Station Edit

Mission: To set up a space station in the orbit of Kerbin.

After Robbaz heard the news of an update to KSP, he was quick to design his first satelite, which included a listening device, which he planned to use to spy on Kim Jong Un. He then proceeded to add solar panels to please the hippies, before constructing a rocket to get the station into space, which he entitled the Tittystargalactica Gen 2.

This rocket was a very large, high powered engine with the specific purpose of carrying a heavy weight into space. Before it was launched however, Robbaz questioned how it was supposed to stay together. His fears became real when the ship engines collided and exploded. Upon his second launch, the engines overheated, and as the space station fell to earth the parachutes managed to open. But the sudden force and sheer weight of the space station were too much, and the craft was torn in two.

The third launch was no better. As Robbaz got into the atmosphere and begun to change his angle of elavation, he detached the rockets, but they collided with the station due to the speed they were travelling at already.

His final launch was perfect. Playing a much more cautious game, Robbaz detached the engines easily, and managed to get the station into an orbit around Kerbin. With the station successfully in orbit, Robbaz started to send back reports based on the movements of Kim Jong Un, who Robbaz had intended on spying on throughout the mission. He finished by sending Bill Kerman on a space walk to give his new home a one-off safety check.

This ship was launched after the cameras stopped rolling, so we know nothing about it, except that it was almost visually indentical to its predessecor.

Robbaz designed the Master Cube station from the idea of having a station in orbit to house spaceplanes. The design was extremely simple, being a hollow cube with aircraft bays. Along with the station Robbaz designed cube shaped fighter planes to match. By the end of the 4 episode series, the cube had crashed in the desert, and Robbaz launched a “final offensive” against the cube. One of the strategies he used was to send the prestigious Jeb to attack the Cube, which ended with Jeb surviving yet another aircraft explosion. The cube was finally destroyed after Robbaz built a jet with many bombs attached to it. This suicide mission was flown by the heroic Tombree Kermin.

Docking Edit

Mission: To launch his first commercial space flight, and refuel it at the Tittystargalactica.

Jumbo Jet Viking Airliner

To please the Kerbals stuck on the ground, Robbaz designed a four-wing jumbo jet which had a number one priority of `safety` .

Unsuprisingly, it had a few technical issues. Namely, as the ship exited the atmosphere, the launch engines were detached, and shortly after the ship went into a backwards roll, from which Robbaz could not pull out. We see the plane plummet towards the ocean of Kerbin. The next shot we see the plane’s rear right wing is missing, with all four heavy duty parachutes deployed. As the plane spins downward towards the ocean, Robbaz gives one last speech to his passengers, explaining their imminent demise.

After, his second launch was a success, Robbaz’s biggest issue was docking a jet plane to the TSG Gen 3. (This gen was unseen With no brakes, the two ships collided in mid air, with debris being spread throughout space. As the ship crashed, Robbaz proceeded to sing “Don’t stop me now” by Queen.

After adding MonoPropulsion engines, Robbaz was able to successfully brake and dock the ship and start the fueling process, which he described as `like a baby’s first suckle of the nipple. ` He then announced to his passengers that they’d watch the in-flight movie, `The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. ` Again, he sent Bill to take a space walk around the ship.

Duna (Mars) Edit

Mission: To send a Kerbal to Mars.

A Mars probe based on an `Ant Design` , it was covered in solar panels. Thus, it was horribly slow. To combat this, Robbaz strapped a missile onto the back of it, which sent it into the ocean.

Robbaz then proceeded to launch the Probe the conventional way, by strapping it to a `big, hard rocket ` . The power though was too great, as the rocket soon ripped itself apart.

We next see the ProbeRacer slowly being sucked into the atmosphere of Mars. Noting the immensely low fuel levels, Robbaz admits that the trip was one way – but also refuses to tell Jebediah, the current astronaut. The landing, while a little fast, is successful, and so Jebediah is sent to explore the planet (That Robbaz nickname’s The Cheesecake) and find alien life.

The very boringly named `GasFuelStation` was built to fuel the rescue craft as it travelled to Duna to save Jeb, who had been abandoned there in the previous video. Robbaz launched the ship, fearing its instability, and was no suprised to see a whole half the ship explode and fly away. Thus, he re-enforced the ship, quoting it will `fly like a baby` . Unsuprisingly, the ship did not leave the launch pad, instead exploding in a fire ball. He finally got the GFS into space, before docking it onto the TittyStarGalactica Gen. 4 (Which already had the Jumbo Jet Viking Airliner docked to it as well)

The rescue craft itself, he built the smallest and most nimble craft he could. He tested the craft and its weight by launching the pod alone, which broke on impact, but maintaned shape. His second test failed, and his third launch was classed as being close enough. Bob was sent out of the pod and proceeded to break his neck.

He successfully docked the fully prepared ship with the TSG in Kerbin’s orbit, and after refuelling, he was ready to leave for Duna.

After nearly colliding with the Mun, he arrived at the planet, and as he entered orbit, all of his landing legs fell away. Unphased, he activated the engines and started its decent. After the parachutes nearly caused him to crash, he sucessfully landed on the planet. Jeb, sensing his freedom, quickly drove over to the ship in his buggy, and climbed up the ladder. However, Robbaz realized that there was not enough space in the three man command module for Jeb, and so he set Luler the task of holding onto the side of the rocket as it left Duna. He did not survive.

Space Roover Edit

Mission: To build a Mun Roover that could work on Mun and Duna.

Built using electrical wheels, Robbaz launched a Roover, which was piloted by his newest astronaut, `Fotbawl` . The Roover reached the Mun successfully, but crashed into the surface due to intense speed. Robbaz attempted to correct the situation by spinning the craft like a propeller however, this failed. Fotbawl miracoulusly survived the crash and was launched into a suborbital trajectory, but not for very long. The death of Fotbawl actually led to us hearing Robbaz sing, namely Everybody wants to rule the world, by Tears For Fears .

Seeing success in the MoonRoover, Robbaz kept the design and bolstered more rockets onto the bottom of it. Robbaz had supreme confidence, as he was sending up a hardened space professional, Bob Kerman.

His confidence was well deserved, as his Roover reached Duna and landing successfully, giving Bob another mission to his name.

Colonize Duna Edit

Mission: Sending Kerbals to Duna to set up a base.

Having depleted the fuel in the GasFuelStation, Robbaz decides to launch an entirely new space station with which he can refuel his spacecrafts in orbit. He decides his new station shall be “pimped” with additions such as a “pair of balls” and the ID-Struts, claimed to be strong like “Mike Rowe having a baby with Chuck Norris in a big gay orgy.” His launch stage consists of the traditional plus design made using 17 rockets, which he declares to be “Viking Technology at its finest.” Upon launching, however, he learns that someone left the parking brake on and has to wiggle his ship out. Something somewhere explodes, and his ship climbs up through the atmosphere, to eventually fly apart after he throttles it down. He then reports to Mission Control that they “are out of peanuts,” failing to notice the explosion. On his next attempt, the Fuelstation Mk.2 makes it into orbit.

BALDR was launched out of Kerbin’s orbit commanded by an able crew consisting of John Madden (“the football commentator,” who very understandably was freaking out on ascension) and two other pilots Robbaz neglected to mention. After a very efficient rendezvous with the Fuelstation Mk.2 in which very little fuel was used, Robbaz flew to Duna to land near the seemingly abandoned Roover. Retroburning in a manner that reminded Robbaz of a “Finnish sauna,” BALDR landed on Duna’s surface using its engines as landing gear. Robbaz berated Bob for falling out of the Roover while Aeiou was driving over to BALDR (“Use your seatbelt! Volvo invented them!”) and declared John Madden King of Mars.

Robbaz builds the Badger and equips it with a complement of nuclear-powered cars (for jumping dunes like rednecks) and a rocket plane to fly around on Duna. He lands it on Duna after some Kerbin-side shenanigans and proceeds to have Duna-side shenanigans, two of which result in Kerbal deaths after they fly into the ship on jetpacks. His rocket plane, however, is very maneuverable until it fails to turn, causing Robbaz to abandon it and fly Derwin away using his jetpack. Derwin later flies into the Badger’s ramp, resulting in his death.

Combat Drone and AC-130/65 Edit

Mission: To fight the Corgi Terrorists using ground-attack aircraft.

Robbaz first builds a solar-powered combat drone armed with “missiles auf das Wingen” to fight the Corgi Terrorists. After launching it to a higher altitude using a pair of Solid Rocket Boosters, Robbaz uses his missiles of “peace and liberty, and love and happiness” to take out several of the terrorists before landing on the runway and celebrating with a loud drink that he spills on himself shortly after opening it.

Robbaz then builds an AC130 with rover wheels as landing gear, which he discovers much to the misfortune of the pilot, Steve (“Very well, Steve is dead!”)

Robbaz markets the AC65 as a smaller AC130, with about have the size and several laser guns. These prove very effective at taking out a second wave of Corgi Terrorists until Robbaz flies into his own lasers and the AC65 explodes.

VSP Midgård Edit

The VSP Midgard is a large space explorer constructed in two stages in the orbit of Kerbin, as opposed to on the planet’s surface. With several docking points, a small lunar module was attached to the ship and then launched at the moon, landing with ease. The ship crashed onto the Jool moon of Bop during a rescue mission. Though badly damaged, both sections were able to leave the surface, but only the front part made it back to Laythe. It then crashed into one of the oceans. The loss of it proved to be costly to the company, as its’s successor, the Asgård was not launched for a full year after the crash. Midgård is named after the titular mortal realm in Norse mythology.

VSP Asgård Edit

Asgård was Robbaz’s large space ship that was known for its short term of service. The ship would contain docks for smaller space ships and large fuel tanks. When the game was updated, the ship was decommissioned via atmosphere reentry. Asgård loaned its name from the titular gods’ realm in Norse mythology.

VSP Jötunheimr Edit

Jötunheimr was the latest model of space ship during the time of its creation. The ship is similiar to Asgard with exceptions to its new cockpit and futuristic hull. In addition, Robbaz also launched a cube shaped space station after its launch. While docking settlement probes to be transported to Duna, the ship was destroyed in a mighty explosion, with parts being thrown everywhere. Both Bob and Jeb narrowly survived this accident, with a subsequent rescue operation being launched. Jötunheimr‘s name is based on the realm of the giants from Norse mythology.

VSP Mods Edit

Recently Robbaz has posted an imgur screenshot of his mods folder (I think) for KSP bellow you will find the link to the image + a printed list of the items show in the image.

  • NearFutureElectrical [1]
  • HooliganLabs [2]
  • 000_Toolbar
  • B9_Aerospace [3]
  • MagicSmokeIndustries
  • WheelSounds [4]
  • UmbraSpaceIndustries
  • TextureReplacer [5]
  • CIT
  • 000_USITools
  • CommunityResourcePack [6]
  • ORSX [7]
  • Virgin Kalactic [8]
  • Romfarer [9]
  • SmokeScreen
  • LLL [10]
  • MP_Nazari
  • PartCatalog
  • QuantumStrutsContinued
  • ResGen [11]
  • KAS [12]
  • KineTechAnimation
  • Klockheed_Martian [13]
  • JSI
  • FireSpitter [14]
  • FSHangerExtender [15]
  • CrossFeedEnabler [16]
  • EnvironmentalVisualEnhancements [17]
  • B9_Aerospace_DEPRECATED
  • BoatPartsR3 [18]
  • BoulderCo
  • ActiveTextureManagement [19]
  • NASAmission
  • Squad

Testing opportunities missed ahead of ill-fated Boeing Starliner spaceflight, review finds

Testing opportunities missed ahead of ill-fated Boeing Starliner spaceflight, review finds

NASA: Boeing must come up with corrective plan prior to next spaceflight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – An independent review of Boeing’s ill-fated Starliner spaceflight found testing opportunities were missed before launch and the next time Starliner will fly remains unknown, Boeing and NASA officials said Friday as they revealed the results of their joint investigation into Starliner’s December orbital test flight.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner launched from Cape Canaveral in December without astronauts on board. The spacecraft was bound for the International Space Station to test its launch, docking and landing systems but the spacecraft was forced to return to Earth 48 hours after launch when it missed a critical maneuver to catch up to the space station.

NASA previously said three main issues were discovered during Boeing’s December orbital test flight, two were related to software errors and the third was an intermittent communication problem between the spacecraft and controllers on the ground.

On Friday, Boeing and NASA officials said an independent review team has made more than 60 corrective recommendations to Boeing and identified three specific issues that must be addressed before the spacecraft can fly again.

NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Doug Loverro said, specifically, the review team found Boeing did not run all possible software tests ahead of the first flight.

“There are four ways software could have run,” Loverro said. “We didn’t test all four ways it could have run.”

The independent review team found that too much authority was given to the software board before changes were made to the spacecraft software. Those changes should have been brought up to the design review board, Loverro said.

Last week, Boeing Starliner Program Manager John Mulholland said Boeing will now test the spacecraft software from start to finish prior to launch.

NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders said next Boeing will come up with a plan to correct the issues discovered during the review and present that plan to NASA, possibly by the end of the month. NASA will then need to approve or recommend changes to the plan.

Since 2011, the U.S. has relied on Russian rockets to get its crew to the space station.

NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX to build human-rated spacecraft to fly U.S. astronauts as part of the Commercial Crew program, awarding the private companies a combined $6.4 billion. Both companies have experienced delays as they work to certify their capsules to fly crew to the ISS and bring them home safely.

Due to the program delays, NASA is in negotiation with Russia to purchase extra seats to fly astronauts to the ISS.

The Boeing Starliner Orbital Test Flight on Dec. 20 was part of the process to certify the spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts.

Elon Musk’s company successfully launched Crew Dragon — without astronauts — to the ISS and brought it home for an Atlantic Ocean splashdown last year.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is slated to launch with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley as soon as this spring, marking the first time Americans have launched from U.S. soil since the shuttle program.

After Friday’s call with NASA and Boeing, it’s still unclear if Starliner will have to repeat its orbital test flight before flying astronauts because it did not dock at the space station.

“Quite frankly we don’t know,” Loverro said when asked about another uncrewed test flight. “I can’t even tell you what the schedule will be on that.”

NASA will evaluate Boeing’s plan to correct the Starliner issues before it determines if there will be a second test flight, Loverro said.

Boeing’s Senior Vice President Jim Chilton said the company is ready to repeat a test flight without a crew, if NASA asks.

“’All of us want crew safety No. 1,” Chilton said. “Whatever testing we’ve got to do to make that happen, we embrace it.”

The results of the review will also roll over into another major NASA program Boeing is involved in, the Space Launch System, otherwise known as the Artemis program rocket. Boeing is the prime contractor for the rocket’s core stage and the developer of the flight electronics.

A high-visibility close call like Starliner’s triggers a review of Boeing as a whole in addition to the independent review just completed, according to NASA.

Loverro said this procedure allows NASA to formally document lessons learned from the Starliner flight and perform “an organizational root causes assessment,” meaning NASA will look at both Boeing and NASA organizational processes.

“I think we could all agree that it was a close call, we could have lost a spacecraft twice during this mission,” Loverro said, adding if it weren’t for Boeing’s actions, the orbital test flight could have ended very differently.

Mulholland said the changes from the larger review could help “the whole space ecosystem.”

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Watch live: Boeing tests crew capsule escape system – Spaceflight Now – Breaking U

Breaking U.S News

World News | U.S. News

Watch live: Boeing tests crew capsule escape system – Spaceflight Now

Posted By: newsus November 4, 2019

EDITOR?S NOTE: The test occurred at 9:15am EST (1415 GMT). We?ll have an updated story shortly.

A Boeing Starliner crew capsule will fire off a stand early Monday at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on a mile-high test flight to validate the spacecrafts emergency escape thrusters, a key milestone before human-rated Starliner ships fly astronauts to the International Space Station next year.

The capsule will not be flying any astronauts Monday when it launches off a pad at White Sands on a fast-paced test flight that will last just 95 seconds from liftoff until landing.

But a lot will happen during the flight, called a pad abort test, exercising the Starliner spacecraft?s abort engines, control thrusters, flight software, jettison mechanisms and parachutes.

Liftoff is set for the opening of a three-hour test window at 7 a.m. MST (9 a.m. EST; 1400 GMT) Monday from the same launch pad originally built for a pad abort test of NASA?s Orion crew capsule in 2010.

?I call this an ejection seat for a spacecraft, said Chris Ferguson, a Boeing test pilot, astronaut and director of Starliner crew and mission systems.

The pad abort test will demonstrate the Starliner can rapidly separate itself and gain distance from the launch vehicle should something go wrong, Ferguson said Oct. 22 in a panel discussion at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington.

During a crewed launch, emergency escape engines on the base of the Starliners service module would propel the spacecraft off the top of its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in the event of a failure on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The pad abort test set for Monday morning will prove the Starliners escape system is up to the challenge.

Well go from zero speed, zero altitude, and safely demonstrate about a 1-mile-high, about a 1-mile downrange capability to remove the vehicle and safely bring it down in what will be a desert environment for the White Sands test, but what would be just off the coast of Florida if we, in fact, did have a launch pad abort.

A lot of everything that weve been working on for the last eight years or so (is) all wrapped up in about a 90-second test, so itll be pretty exciting, Ferguson said.

Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft under a $4.2 billion contract with NASA. The space agency also awarded a $2.6 billion contract to SpaceX for development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, giving NASA two new commercial crew capsules to fly astronauts to the space station, ending U.S. reliance on Russian Soyuz vehicles for the job.

Monday?s pad abort test at White Sands will go by quickly, with a few flashes and bangs before three parachutes open and airbags inflate to bring the capsule gently back to the ground.

?This is a full-up Starliner,? said Alicia Evans, Boeing?s pad abort test flight director, in a NASA podcast last week. ?It?s been built up specifically for this test. But because we were testing the integrated system, it has all of the systems required for the pad-abort test, and it?s full-up avionics capability, propulsion.?

On Monday morning, a command will trigger specially-designed valves to quickly open inside the Starliner?s service module, and a high-pressure mix of liquid hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants will rush into four launch abort engines, or LAEs. The chemical propellants will automatically combust when mixed together, generating 40,000 pounds of thrust from each of the Aerojet Rocketdyne-made engines.

The engines, coupled with thrust from smaller orbital maneuvering and attitude control rockets, or OMACs, will push the 16.5-foot-tall (5-meter) Starliner vehicle off the ground. A Boeing spokesperson said the capsule will experience a sustained force of 5 Gs for five seconds while the launch abort engines are firing, the same force astronauts would be under during a real abort off the launch pad.

The Starliner capsule slated for Monday?s pad abort test is mounted on top of the same type of adapter that will connect the real spacecraft to the top of ULAs Atlas 5 rocket. When the craft ignites its four launch abort engines, vent doors on the adapter will open to prevent an over-pressure event.

?At the launch pad, you have the rocket standing next to its gantry,? Evans said. ?You have a launch vehicle adapter, which is structural hardware that adapts the launch vehicle to the Starliner. So that?s how we interface to it. Then you have the Starliner sitting on top of the rocket. And we have a service module as well as a crew module, which is the (combined) Starliner.

?During an abort, if there was to be an accident with the rocket and we needed to save the crew, what would happen is we have four large launch abort engines that fire in conjunction with several more smaller thrusters, called our orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters,? Evans said. ?And that combined collection of thrusters lifts the Starliner away from the rocket and outside of any debris or blast zone that might be created by a rocket.?

During Monday?s test, the abort engines will fire for 5.1 seconds, propelling the Starliner from zero to some 650 mph, a Boeing spokesperson said.

Then thrusters will pulse to flip the spacecraft around and fly tail first on an arc that will take the vehicle to a maximum altitude of approximately 4,426 feet (1,349 meters) above ground level around 18.6 seconds after takeoff.

Boeing?s Starliner pad abort test will last 95 seconds from launch through touchdown of the crew module. Credit: Boeing

The thrusters will stop firing 17 seconds after takeoff, and a series of pilot, drogue and three main parachutes will begin deploying at T+plus 20 seconds, according to Boeing.

The craft will jettison its service module at T+plus 34 seconds to fall to the ground. The crew module will then release its base heat shield, then inflate airbags to cushion the capsules landing at White Sands around 95 seconds after liftoff.

?This is a full demonstration of our landing sequence,? Evans said. ?We have done a lot of subsystem tests of our landing sequence to show which component works individually, and in addition to showing that our propulsion system works to save the crew away from the rocket, the second half of the abort test is that it lands on land the way it would during an actual return from flight.?

On an actual space mission, the Starliner?s service module will jettison from the crew module in space, then burn up during re-entry into the atmosphere. Engineers will get video tracking of the jettison system?s function during the pad abort test, along with observations of the heat shield separation events.

The service module on Monday?s test flight will crash to the ground. Residual propellant inside the service module, which contains all the engines used for the abort test, could cause it to ignite on impact, Boeing officials said.

?We?ll get to actually see our parachutes deploy and billow out, as the reefers allow it to billow and see the crew module starting to float down,? Evans said. ?As we get closer to the ground, we see the base heat shield separate, which exposes our airbags, and then, as we get closer to the ground, the airbags inflate.

?This?ll be the first time that?s demonstrated as on-flight hardware in the air,? she said. ?So I?m very excited to watch all of that take place and then land under parachutes, on airbags, on land, which is the first American vehicle to do that.?

SpaceX completed the pad abort test for its Crew Dragon spacecraft at Cape Canaveral in 2015, and plans an in-flight abort test later this year at the Kennedy Space Center to verity the capsules ability to fire off a Falcon 9 rocket after liftoff. Boeing plans to bypass such an in-flight abort demonstration.

NASA gave both companies the option to decide whether or not to conduct an in-flight abort test.

A Starliner test vehicle sits on launch pad at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico ahead of a pad abort test Monday, Nov. 4. The pad abort test will verify the spacecraft can safely carry astronauts away from a launch pad emergency. Credit: Boeing

?Boeing is not going to do an in-flight abort test,? said Jon Cowart, deputy manager of the mission management office for NASA?s commercial crew program. ?They?re just going to do the ground one. They think that they can get enough data and then extrapolate that out, with good analytical techniques that we?ve endorsed. They will go and do it in that particular way, versus SpaceX, which is going to do both.

?We knew about this up front, both Boeing and SpaceX, when they proposed their contracts to us and said, ?This is how we?re going to get to real flights,’? Cowart said last week in a NASA podcast. ?We understood exactly, and we bought into it. We think, and we agree with them, that we can get all they need from a pad-abort test.?

Kathy Lueders, who manages the commercial crew program at NASA, called the Boeing pad abort a huge test for us.

Obviously, its going to be important for us to understand how the separation works for the CM and SM (crew module and service module), checking out the chutes, making sure that the predictions are lined up right for us, Lueders said Wednesday during a presentation to the NASA Advisory Councils human exploration and operations committee.

Boeing is in the final stages of assembling and testing two space-ready Starliner vehicles inside a former space shuttle hangar at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The first of the capsules is scheduled to launch as soon as Dec. 17 aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a week-long unpiloted test flight to the space station. That mission, called the Orbital Test Flight, will not have an active abort system, but Lueders said NASA wants to see how the Starliner performs on the abort test before going ahead with the OFT mission.

OFT does not have the abort system on it because its an uncrewed mission, but obviously the way the system separates and everything else will reflect on our OFT progress, so its critical for us to get this test going and that we understand it prior to us doing rollout of the spacecraft (for OFT), Lueders said Wednesday.

The Starliners Crew Flight Test to the space station will follow some time in the first half of 2020, with Ferguson joined by NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann.

While final preparations for the pad abort test were underway this weekend in New Mexico, Boeing technicians at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida were readying the first space-ready Starliner spacecraft for fueling. Later this month, it will be installed on top of the Atlas 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral for final integrated checkouts and a full countdown rehearsal ahead of its scheduled liftoff in mid-December.

A Starliner test vehicle sits on launch pad at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico ahead of a pad abort test Monday, Nov. 4. The pad abort test will verify the spacecraft can safely carry astronauts away from a launch pad emergency. Credit: Boeing

The new Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules could be ready to fly astronauts in the first half of next year, according to NASA officials.

The commercial crew program is a new paradigm for NASA. Boeing and SpaceX are in charge, but because NASA is the only customer for the new spaceships so far, the government still has a big say in how the contractors run the program.

?They own the flight tests,? Cowart said. ?Even when they start flying up in the space station, they own the spaceship, they own the rocket. But these particular tests ? they own them, which means we will consult with them, but in the end, they are the ones who own the tests and the results.

?It?s part of their certification,? he said. ?They?ve got to bring the data from those tests to us before they can go fly our astronauts on-board. And we?ve got to say that, ?Yeah, you?ve got the right amount of data and that the data is good and that the vehicle will perform correctly.? But ? this is the thing that?s kind of different from the way NASA has done business in the past. We don?t own the rocket. We don?t own the spaceship ? It?s something more than consulting and something less than owning.?

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

SpaceX – s Dragon Launch Not Smooth But Sailing, Discover Magazine

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SpaceX’s Dragon Launch Not Smooth But Sailing

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Image courtesy of NASA This morning’s launch of SpaceX’s third Dragon capsule has the twittersphere all a-flutter. Falcon 9’s blastoff from Cape Canaveral initially appeared to be a success. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=p4lOJjKGoIY Just after the Falcon 9 rocket launched around 10:10 AM EST, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was tweeting its praises.

Falcon 9 delivered Dragon to its target orbit. All good on the rocket. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

But about half an hour later, things started to get a little messy. “It appears that although it achieved Earth orbit, Dragon is experiencing some kind problem right now,” said John Insprucker, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 product manager on the Spaceflight Now live coverage at Mission Status Center. There was a glitch in the Dragon capsule’s thruster pods, according to an article in the Guardian, and three of the four thruster pods, which guide the spacecraft into orbit, failed to activate.

Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

This stalled deployment of the Dragon’s solar arrays, used to generate power for the capsule, until SpaceX could override the computer, according to a report on NBC.

Holding on solar array deployment until at least two thruster pods are active — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

Within the hour things settled down: The capsule was orbiting Earth with two of its four thruster pods working, en route to dock and drop off over a ton of supplies and science equipment at the ISS.

Solar array deployment successful — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

But two thruster pods are, unfortunately, only two-thirds of the power needed to dock with the ISS. Four hours after take-off, mission control announced that the capsule will not be arriving at the ISS tomorrow as planned. “They are making progress recovering their prop system, but it’s not going to be in time to support the rendezvous and capture for tomorrow,” NASA’s spacecraft communicator told the crew. They are still hoping to attempt a second rendezvous sometime in the next few days. Space station commander Kevin Ford said, as reported Spaceflight Now: “That’s space exploration for you. We sometimes have problems and work through them, and that’s how you learn.” “If not tomorrow, maybe a couple of days down the road we’ll get it licked,” Ford said.

NEWS – Everyday Astronaut

Spaceflight now live

China is sending yet another BeiDou navigation satellite into a geosynchronous orbit on their Long March 3B rocket. This will continue to build the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). Similar to the American Global Positioning System (GPS), BDS is a Chinese satellite constellation that provides users with positioning data.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | CRS-20

SpaceX will be launching its original Dragon capsule to resupply the ISS for a final time. The spacecraft will fly on top of the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral space Force Station, Florida.

Prelaunch Preview: Soyuz STA/Fregat | Falcon Eye 2

Arianespace will be launching the Falcon Eye 2 satellite onboard a Soyuz STA/Fregat rocket from their launch site in French Guiana, South America. It is assumed it will launch in April 2020.

Astra Rocket 3.0 | One of Three

“One of Three” is Astra’s first orbital test launch of their “Rocket 3.0” launch vehicle. It will launch in early March 2020 from their launch pad at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska. On board will be five payloads, which will be delivered to a sun synchronous orbit of 450km (280 miles). UPDATE: Mission scrubbed on March 2, 2020. Rocket 3.0’s maiden flight will be a new commercial mission to be announced mid-March 2020.

Long March 2D | XJS-C, XJS-D, XJS-E, XJS-F

China is sending a mystery payload somewhere to space on February 19/20 (depending on your time zone) on one of their Long March 2 rockets.

Ariane 5 ECA | JCSAT-17 & GEO-KOMPSAT-2B

Arianespace SA is a launch provider company, which is majority-owned by its parent company “ArianeGroup”, a combined undertaking between Airbus and the French group Safran. For this mission, in particular, Arianespace is getting paid by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation to put both of their satellites into an orbit only 35,786 km (22,236 miles).

Prelaunch Preview | Long March 3B/E | Fengyun-4B

Fengyun-4B is the second geostationary meteorological satellite of the Fengyun-4 satellite family with it’s predecessor FY-4A launched on December 11th 2016. FY-4B will be launched by a Long March 3B/E rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | Starlink 5

SpaceX will be launching 60 satellites on top of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. This will be the fourth operational launch of SpaceX’s near-global satellite constellation – Starlink, which aims to deliver a fast, low-latency broadband internet service.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | Starlink 4

SpaceX will be launching 60 satellites on top of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. This will be the fourth operational launch of SpaceX’s near-global satellite constellation – Starlink, which aims to deliver a fast, low-latency broadband internet service.

Prelaunch Preview | PSLV | Amazonia-1

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) NET May 31, 2020 – TBD Mission Name and what it is Amazonia-1, Earth observation satellite Launch Provider (What rocket company is launching it?) Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Customer (Who’s paying for this?) […]

Long March 3B/E | APStar-6D

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) February 28, 2020 – TBD Mission Name and what it is APStar-6D, Chinese television, and cellular satellite Launch Provider (What rocket company is launching it?) China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation Customer (Who’s paying […]

Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat-M | OneWeb 2

Introduced in 1966, Soyuz has been the workhorse of the Soviet/Russian space program. The first launch of the Soyuz 2-1a version on November 8, 2004 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome represented a major step in the Soyuz launch vehicle’s development program. Fregat is the upper (4th) stage of Soyuz 2.1, and it first flew in the year 2000.

Soyuz 2.1a/Fregat-M | Meridian-M No.19L

Russia’s Federal Space Agency is launching a Meridian military observation satellite into a highly elliptical “Molniya” orbit in order to keep an eye on things back down here on Earth. Because it’s a military satellite, not a lot is known about this space vehicle. But where it’s going to in space is really interesting – so let’s look into this.

H-IIA 202 | IGS Optical 7

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is launching the third in a sequence of three Intelligence Gathering Satellites (IGS), called Optical 7, on an H-IIA 202 rocket provided by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

Antares 230+ | Cygnus CRS NG-13 (S.S. Robert Henry Lawrence Jr.)

Cygnus is returning to the International Space Station! Very soon, the Antares 230+ rocket will leap of the pad on Wallops Island located in Virginia in the United States. One of the only rockets to launch from there, it will soon be joined by Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket!

Atlas V 411 | Solar Orbiter

We are going back to our star!! Solar Orbiter is a spacecraft build by the European Space Agency to study the inner heliosphere and its overall effects on solar radiation. How’s it gonna get there? The launch provider, United Launch Alliance (ULA) has this job. Their mighty Atlas V rocket will soar into the Floridian skies propelling Solar Orbiter to on its 3.5 year journey to the Sun.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | ANASIS-II

SpaceX will be launching South Korea’s first dedicated military communications satellite on top of their workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9. The satellite was paid for by Lockheed Martin as part of an agreement when the South Korean government, who bought several fighter jets from the United States. This satellite (formerly known as KMilSatCom 1) will serve as a communications satellite for the South Korean military.

Electron | NROL-151 (Birds of a Feather)

After launching 6 times in 2019, Rocket Lab opens 2020 with their first launch for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)! This is potential for a future of launches for the NRO. Yet again launching from the beautiful, one-of-a-kind, Mahia Peninsula, Electron will soar high into the sky.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | Starlink 3

SpaceX will be launching 60 of their Starlink satellites on top of their work-horse rocket: the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), in Florida.

Falcon 9 Block 5 | Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort Test

SpaceX will conduct an uncrewed In-flight Abort (IFA)Test. This will validate Crew Dragon’s ability to pull crew away to safety in the event of a failure during launch. The capsule will fire its integrated SuperDraco abort motors at the point of maximum dynamic pressure (max q), on ascent, and pull itself safely clear of the Falcon 9.

Prelaunch Preview – GSLV-F10 | GISAT-1

The Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) built and operated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will be launching the GISAT-1, a geostationary Earth observing satellite. It will operate in geostationary orbit above the Southern India region after being launched from Sriharikota, India.

Astro Awards 2019

Hello and good evening ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the 2019 Astro Awards! We will take this time to reflect on the exciting things that have happened throughout the year in spaceflight and space discoveries.

LauncherOne | Test Flight

This is the first orbital flight for the brand new LauncherOne rocket which is air launched from a modified Boeing 747-400 dubbed “Cosmic Girl”. In mid-2019, Virgin Orbit did a drop test of the LauncherOne rocket, rehearsing all the events leading up to and actual launch. Now, it’s time to light this candle!

Soyuz STA/Fregat | CSG-1, CHEOPS, & others

ArianeSpace will be launching the CSG-1 satellite, plus CHEOPS space telescope for exoplanets and three other rideshare payloads, onboard a Soyuz / Fregat rocket from their equatorial launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, South America on December 18 (postponed from the 17th), 2019.

Why Starship won’t have an abort system… but should it.

SpaceX’s upcoming megarocket, Starship, is quickly coming to life before our eyes. Starship will be the biggest, most powerful rocket to ever fly. Capable of taking 100 people to the surface of Mars AND just as important, back. Not only […]

Atlas V N22 | CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test (Uncrewed)

An Atlas V rocket presented by the launch provider ULA for The Boeing Company to launch their CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on its Orbital Test Flight (OFT) mission. This will be a test of the spacecraft and its systems before it launches humans.

Prelaunch Preview – Soyuz 2.1a | Progress MS-13 (74P)

ROSCOSMOS will be launching Progress MS-13 to the International Space Station. The capsule will be launched on a Soyuz 2.1A rocket from Launch Complex 31/6 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Procress MS-13 will carry 700kg of propellent for the ISS, 1,350kg of dry cargo, food, and water for the Rodnik system. This mission will also bring a new treadmill for the astronauts and cosmonaut at the ISS.

Best Space Gifts 2019!

I put together a list of some of my favorite space things, AND to make it the super easiest thing for you, I’ve hyperlinked the photos in this article to take you straight to each thing.

Prelaunch Preview – Falcon 9 Block 5 | JCSAT-18/KACIFIC-1

SpaceX will be launching the JCSat 18 satellite to Geostationary Orbit (GEO) on top of SpaceX’s work-horse rocket, the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 will launch from Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) at Cape Canaveral AirForce Station, in Florida. The booster supporting this mission (B1056.3) flew on CRS-17 on May 4th, 2019, and again on CRS-18 on July 25th, 2019. The booster for this mission is going to be recovered on SpaceX’s droneship, Of Course I Still Love You. As of now, it is unclear whether SpaceX will attempt to recover the fairings with GO MS Chief and GO MS Tree.

Prelaunch Preview – SpaceX | CRS-19

SpaceX will be launching their cargo Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. The Dragon — which has flown twice — will be launched on a Falcon 9 (1056.3) from Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The booster supporting this mission flew previously on CRS-17 on May 3, 2019 and CRS-18 on July 25, 2019. After the booster releases the second stage and Dragon, it will perform a boost back burn, reentry burn, and landing burn. The booster will land on Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1).

How NASA will bake in space for the first time and why that’s a BIG deal!

On November 2nd, 2019, Northrop Grumman performed a spaceflight first, and launched an oven aboard their Cygnus Cargo Ship on a resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft contained just over 3,700 kg of scientific experiments, […]

Prelaunch Preview – PSLV-XL | Cartosat-3 & others

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket on a mission for ISRO itself, plus two USA rideshare payloads, from the FLP at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state, India. The three payloads for this mission are: Cartosat-3 – for ISRO itself, Meshbed – for Analytical Space Inc, USA, and SuperDoves × 12 (Flock 4p mission) – for Planet Labs, USA.

PRELAUNCH PREVIEW – SPACEX | STARLINK-2

Starlink is a satellite constellation operated and manufactured by SpaceX. This constellation aims to provide internet access to secluded areas around the world by forming an initial net of 12,000 satellites in three different orbits. About 1,600 will be in a 550km orbit, 2,800 Ku and Ka band satellites in a 1,150km orbit and about 7,500 V-band satellites will orbit the earth at an altitude of 340km. SpaceX may increase the number of their satellites by another 30,000 (cough 42-thousand cough) at some later point.

Ariane 5 ECA | TIBA-1 & Inmarsat-5 F5 (Global Xpress-5)

Arianespace SA is a launch provider company, a combined undertaking between Airbus and the French group Safran . For this mission, in particular, Arianespace is getting paid by Inmarsat to launch their fifth Global Express satellite (GX-5) into a geostationary orbit only 35,786 km above the Earth.

Electron | Running Out Of Fingers

Rocket Lab will be launching its Electron rocket on a mission for Alba Orbital and ALE Co., Ltd (ALE), from Launch Complex 1 (LC-1) on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. The 14-day launch window for this mission is open beginning from November 25th at 01:00 NZDT. (November 24th 10:00 UTC)

Prelaunch Preview // SpaceX // Starlink-1

SpaceX will be launching their Starlink satellites on their flight-proven 1 st stage B1048.4. This particular 1 st stage has already flown thrice and will become the first booster to fly for the fourth time. It has flown the previous missions Nusantara Satu in February of 2019, Saocom 1A in October of 2018 and Iridium-7 in July of 2018. The rocket will lift off at Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida at 14:51:00 UTC and at 09:51:00 local time.

Are Aerospike Engines Better Than Traditional Rocket Engines?

Today we’re going to look at the history of aerospike engines, go over how nozzles work including things like overexpansion, underexpansion and even expansion ratios, we’ll look at the pros and cons of the aerospike, the physical limitations and problems, then we’ll compare the aerospike to some other traditional rocket engines.

But that’s not all, I obtained never seen before photos and videos of some aerospikes, we’ll get opinions from some people who have actually worked with aerospike engines, look at some promising prospects and compelling concepts and by the end of the video we’ll hopefully know whether or not the holy grail of rocket engines is just waiting to be utilized or if aerospikes just simply aren’t worth it.

Evidence of a volcanic moon beyond our solar system!

In a far far away exo-planetary system astronomers found evidence of VOLCANIC activity on one of the Moons orbiting a Super Earth! Astronomers at the Physics Insitute of the University of Bern and the NCCR PlanetS, found evidence of volcanic […]

Prelaunch Preview: Rocket Lab | Look Ma, No Hands

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) August 19, 2019 12:12 UTC (August 20, 2019 12:12 AM NZST) 1 hour and 40 minute launch window open daily from August 16 – 30, 2019 Mission Name and what it is Look […]

Prelaunch Preview: ULA | GPS III SV02

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) August 22, 2019 13:00 – 13:27 UTC (9:00 – 9:27 AM EDT) Mission Name and what it is GPS III SV02. The second launch of a third generation GPS satellite Launch Provider (What rocket […]

Can Rocket Lab really catch a rocket with a helicopter?!

Rocket Lab just announced they plan to try and recover their Electron rockets using a parachute and a helicopter… Yeah, seriously.

Prelaunch Preview – SpaceX | AMOS-17

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) August 6, 2019 23:23 – August 7, 2019 00:20 UTC (August 6, 2019 7:23 – 8:20 PM EDT) Mission Name and what it is AMOS-17. Communications Satellite Launch Provider (What rocket company is launching […]

DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie will be the first food baked fresh in space!

One topic I get asked about often regarding long duration trips in space is food. If astronauts are away from home for 6 months, like when they are on the International Space Station (ISS), or for around 2 years, like […]

Alaska is helping scientists measure the possibility of life on Titan

One of the most interesting subjects to me lately is astrobiology. This is ironic because I was so bad at bio in school, but lately scientists have been finding so many forms of evidence showing that life can exist beyond […]

Prelaunch Preview – SpaceX | CRS-18

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) July 25, 2019 22:01 UTC (6:01 PM EDT) Mission Name and what it is CRS-18. A cargo Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) Launch Provider (What rocket company is launching it?) […]

Prelaunch Preview – Electron | Make It Rain

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) Two hour launch window daily from 04:30 – 06:30 UTC (4:30 – 6:30 PM NZDT) from June 27th through July 10th, 2019 Mission Name and what it is Make It Rain. A rideshare […]

Prelaunch Preview – Atlas V 551 | AEHF-5

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) August 8, 2019 09:44 – 11:44 UTC (5:44 – 7:44 AM EDT) Mission Name and what it is AEHF-5. The fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite for the US Air Force Launch […]

Prelaunch Preview – Falcon Heavy | STP-2

Lift Off Time (Subject to change) June 25, 2019 03:30 – 07:30 UTC (June 24, 2019 11:30 PM – June 25, 2019 3:00 AM EDT) This is a 4 hour launch window Mission Name and what it is Space […]

Why do cylindrical rockets roll?

Here’s a fun question that not only have I myself asked, but I get asked fairly often, why do we hear a call out like “roger roll” or “roll program complete” at which point we can see the rocket rotate or roll on its X axis…

The best example of this was the Space Shuttle which had a very obvious and dramatic roll program. As soon as it cleared the tower, you can see it making a very impressive and sometimes scary looking roll.

The ISS is opening its doors to tourists!

YES-you heard that right. The International Space Station has announced that they will start allowing tourists to come onboard starting in 2020!! Hear that flat-earthers? This is your chance to answer your undying questions about the shape of our planet. […]

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Kerbal Space Program crash course: 10 steps to the Mun and back

Suborbital spaceflight on kerbin

After four long years in beta, Kerbal Space Program has been officially released as version 1.0. This is an intimidating game full of real science and engineering to learn. Even with endless hours to learn the ropes, it won’t appeal to everyone. However, if you like tinkering and simulation-style games, Kerbal Space Program may come to dominate your free time. So, how do you get started? Check out these ten tips and you’ll be go for launch before you know it.

Play the tutorial and take it slow

You might be tempted to think that getting from one planet to another in a rocket is simply a matter of charting an intercept course and burning fuel. Ah, if only it were that easy. Traversing the emptiness of space is actually all about controlling your orbit.

Playing the tutorial before you start building rockets is a good idea. After all, even the best designs will crash and burn (literally) if you don’t know the basics of piloting. In the tutorial, you’ll learn how to read the nav ball, burn at perigee and apogee, perform a Hohmann transfer, and more.

Your first few rockets ought to be simple and cheap so you can practice without blowing up anything (or anyone) important. Work up to the complicated stuff gradually — reach space, orbit Kerbin, build satellites, and so on. Most people who try Kerbal Space Program never even make it to Kerbin’s closest moon, conveniently called Mun. Keep a cool head and you can be one of them.

Choose the right game mode

In Kerbal Space Program, you manage a space program on the planet Kerbin, which resides in a solar system not unlike our own. There are small rocky planets, moons, and gas giants to explore. There are three ways to play: sandbox, science, and career.

Sandbox has all technologies unlocked and you have unlimited funds to build your rockets and space planes. In science mode you begin only with basic rocketry technology and unlock more parts by exploring, taking readings with instruments, and collecting samples. You still don’t have to worry about money in science mode, though.

Finally, there’s career mode, which is the “real” game. You unlock technology with science points, but those rockets are expensive! You have to earn cash to pay for your launches by completing contracts (randomly generated missions) and implementing administrative policies. This mode is more challenging, but also much more fun.

Failure is part of the fun

Your first rocket will probably blow up. Heck, numbers two and three are probably at risk too. Sometimes figuring out why a design failed is as fun as building and flying a working one. Kerbal Space Program teaches you not to fear failure, and you can always revert a flight to before you blew it up and try things differently.

Even when a mission goes wrong and your brave Kerbalnauts are stranded, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Now you get to design and launch a rescue mission.

Mind your center of gravity and aerodynamics

The building interface in Kerbal Space Program includes a tool that shows you a rocket’s center of gravity. Use this to make sure you aren’t wasting time trying to get a top-heavy design into space. This is one of the primary reasons your early designs will fail. You also need to take into account how that center of gravity will change as your fuel tanks are emptied.

If your center of gravity is off, you’ll have trouble aiming the rocket in the right direction. RCS thrusters and reaction wheels can help you wrestle a somewhat awkward design to its destination, but that’ll only get you so far.

Aerodynamics really matter in the big 1.0 update. Previously, you could get just about anything into orbit if it was balanced well, but now you need to make sure your payload doesn’t have too much drag. Start by making your rockets shaped like a rocket. Simple. Also, make use of the new procedural fairings to cover the payload and make it more efficient for the ascent stage.

When in doubt, add struts

Even if you’ve come up with a well-balanced design for a rocket, you might find it’s a little droopy on the launchpad. Just because two parts are physically connected in Kerbal Space Program doesn’t mean they will stay that way under acceleration. Luckily, there are struts.

These parts are in the structural tab when you’re assembling your craft. They are especially useful for strengthening the connection between stages where your docking ports or decouplers act as a weak point. Simply attach them anywhere you need a little more support. They weigh very little and will automatically disconnect to release stages.

You aren’t dumb, docking is hard

You can only get so much mass into orbit at a time, and that means you might occasionally have to assemble larger craft in orbit or refuel at a space station (which you also have to build). Doing all these things requires docking two craft. It involves very precise control of your orbit, speed, and angle of approach.

Your first attempt at docking will be discouraging, as this is one of the first advanced skills you learn in Kerbal Space Program. Just look up some tutorials on YouTube (here’s a good one) and give it a try. Once you sort out the steps and learn how to read your orbital map, it won’t seem so intimidating.

Pay attention to delta-v

The delta-v of a rocket is its ability to change velocity, and it’s the key to knowing how big to make a rocket. If you want to get really sciency, you can do some math to calculate the delta-v of your designs, which is a function of the mass of your rocket and the amount of thrust it can produce. Kerbal Space Program is designed to be extendable, so there are mods you can add that crunch the numbers for you.

The delta-v figures for reaching various destinations in the solar system are posted all over the internet, so it’s a relatively simple matter to design the right rocket for a task. Just make sure you’re efficient. Use multi-stage designs to dump dead weight so it doesn’t drain your fuel.

Level up your Kerbals

There are three different classes of Kerbalnauts: pilots, engineers, and scientists. Every manned mission needs a pilot, but the other Kerbals serve their purpose too. Scientists increase the value of data you send back to Kerbin, and engineers can repair your craft if something breaks. A fully leveled pilot also has more control over vectors in flight. The catch is that they need to have experience first.

The level system was added fairly recently and adds a little incentive to keep your Kerbals alive. They gain a few experience points for orbiting, landing on planets, planting flags, and so on. Make sure you don’t always fly the same Kerbals or you might find yourself in trouble when a rescue mission comes up. Basically, make sure you’ve got a deep bench.

Mining

One of the big additions to version 1.0 is resource mining, and it can totally change the way you play this game. Ore is available in various quantities all around the solar system, and with the right equipment, you can mine it and produce fuel. This allows you to plan extended missions because you don’t have to fly all your fuel up from Kerbin.

Mining equipment is heavy and oversized, but that’s probably intentional. There are storage containers, drills, and scanners. It takes a lot of planning to set up a viable mining operation, but it wouldn’t be any fun if it were too easy. Before you can find the best ore deposits, you need to send a scanner to survey each body, but once you do, you can set up refueling depots and expand your reach.

As mentioned above, Kerbal Space Program is very mod-friendly. The stock game has filled in the feature gaps over the years, but there are still plenty of cool mods. Some of them change the gameplay, and others add new parts to augment your vessels.

You should probably check out MechJeb, which can be used to display detailed information about your spacecraft and also includes various autopilot features. MechJeb can automate a lot of tasks if you let it, but I think it’s best used to speed up some of the tedious bits of the game. For example, some low-thrust, high-efficiency engines might require you to execute a burn of several minutes to alter your orbit. Why not let MechJeb do that for you?

Kerbal Alarm Clock is also a valuable mod that reminds you when you need to check in on a mission. As you get deeper into Kerbal Space Program, you’re going to launch missions that take years of game time. Rather than speed up time and wait around, you can do other things and come back. Kerbal Alarm Clock makes sure you don’t forget.

If you really just want to play around with Kerbal Space Program and don’t care about “rules,” there’s Hyperedit. This mod allows you to alter anything about your orbit or location of ships, asteroids, and even planets. It can be a lot of fun to play around with, but also handy for compensating for any bugs you might come across.

One final word of warning, mods that add new parts to the game can cause issues when KSP is updated. If they aren’t compatible, you’ll have to wait for the mod developer to update. Otherwise, the game simply won’t load any craft you’ve built that include those parts.

If you follow the above steps, we don’t guarantee that you’ll become the most decorated Kerbalnaut the world has ever known, but we do guarantee that you’ll get to live longer than most of your Kerbalnaut peers.