[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1147"] Planet Moho[/caption]
Since my last post about Kerbal Space Program (KSP) titled Moho? More Like MoFo You Mean!, the Kerbals and I have been trying to work out the capabilities needed for a ship sent to Moho with a lander to land it and return said lander to Kerbin. It is a daunting mission. It may be the hardest mission in KSP, though I've not tried a landing on the planet Eve yet. It's certainly the hardest thing my Kerbals and I have attempted. As I mentioned in the last Moho post, the difficult thing with Moho is stopping when you get there. Its sphere of influence (SOI) is under 10,000 kilometers with a bloody fast orbital velocity. That's very little room to stop in once you arrive. It's like parking a car in your garage coming in at Daytona 500 speeds. It's possible though, and we have done it in our simulations. (That's where you run a mission, see how it turns out and then press F9 to go back to the quick save you made before you left. ;-) ) We've also simulated a successful landing. What we have not done is simulate all that and manage to get back into orbit and return to Kerbin.
At this point you're probably asking what have we managed to do. Well, we've determined that three nuclear engines do not have enough thrust for a usable orbit around Moho unless you start decelerating right after you enter Moho's SOI - and maybe not even then. We've also determined just to get from Kerbin orbit to Moho orbit requires very nearly 4000 m/s of delta-v. That's a lot of rocket fuel. We've also determined there is no way to get that much fuel into orbit in one lift.
Knowing all this, the Kerbal Scientists and I have decided to build a Moho spacecraft like you would build a space station: one piece at a time. That way I can send as much fuel as I want into orbit and dock it to the lander in a long chain of tanks. This makes for a somewhat cumbersome spacecraft to turn, but it's all done in a vacuum. So long as no radical maneuvers are needed, and a well planned mission should have none of those, the spacecraft performs acceptably. So what does that look like? Well, I've taken a few pictures while I watched my Kerbal team assemble the ship in a 650 kilometer orbit. Be sure to read my notes in each picture's description for a better understanding of the craft and its assembly.
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With all the simulations I've already managed to run, there is something else required for this mission I'm starting to suspect. As I've said, I can get a lander there and land it. I can probably get it back into orbit at this point. But to get it home I am going to have to send it more fuel - in orbit - around Moho. This is turning out to be the hardest mission to plan yet. Nonetheless, we are undaunted. I am positive my Kerbals are up to the task. I'll update everyone again in about a week.