The Kerbal X is a stock rocket available to all players in sandbox mode. It is a reliable, all-around ship capable of reaching orbit fairly easily and thus is a good way for new players who have issues building their own ships to make it into orbit. It has a total mass of 130.94 t and has 74 parts with the launch clamps. It has no RCS capabilities. Between 0.21 and 0.25, it had SAS capability, but 0.90's change to SAS (to make it dependent on pilot skill) means it doesn't have SAS anymore.
|“|| The Kerbal X is one of the most successful rockets that can be ordered from a catalog. Despite the original design having been meant for a plastic model, it's proved itself quite dependable as a full-sized craft.
The X is capable of achieving orbit around Kerbin, and even features a very optimistic set of landing legs on its upper stage.
The first stage is comprised of three Rockomax X200-32 Fuel Tanks and a Rockomax "Mainsail" Liquid Engine. Also, six liquid fuel booster are staged in an Asparagus design. It has aerodynamic surfaces and a strong structure. The first stage is easily capable of launching the second stage into a suborbital trajectory, with a good horizontal speed at around 90 km, thus making it easy for the second stage to make orbit. However, skilled players may be able to push the second stage of the spacecraft into low orbit without completely expending the first stage. The full stage with all of its boosters has 2700 kN of thrust, for a thrust-to-weight ratio (TWR) of 2.102. The sole Mainsail and relative fuel tank has a TWR of 1.995 (the total mass of the Kerbal X at that time is 76.64 t).
The second stage is a large diameter Rockomax X200-16 Fuel Tank plus a Rockomax "Poodle" Liquid Engine, and the third, final stage consists of only a Mk1-2 Command Pod with a Mk16-XL Parachute. As the second stage also has landing legs and a ladder, and it is hinted by the menu screen where a wreckage similar to the Kerbal X can sometimes be seen, one can deduce that it was intended to land on the Mun. It is capable of doing so, but it barely has enough fuel to get the crew back home.
The first stage's central engine and relative fuel tank has 3476 m/s of ΔV, not mentioning the radial ring of boosters which has approximatively 1225 m/s. This sums up to about 4702 m/s, just about enough to make orbit (4500 m/s), making the Kerbal X a suitable option for orbiting small-to-medium payloads. Some form of propulsion capable to add approximately 350 m/s of velocity is needed on these payloads to complete orbital injection. The maximum payload to Kerbin low orbit of the unmodified Kerbal X is slightly less than 15 tons.
The second stage has 2624 m/s Δv, and the total Δv is 7325 m/s. This total impulse is sufficient for landing on the Mun with the piloting skill of the average player, but not for returning to Kerbin afterwards. This is probably intentional: the purpose of the Kerbal X is to present a new player with a flyable and somewhat capable rocket design, that nevertheless needs some improvement in order to be fully successful. However, skilled players have demonstrated that the design as-is will conduct a round-trip Mun-landing mission. The Kerbal X is also capable of going in to orbit of the Sun. If planned correctly the periapsis of the solar orbit also intersects Eve's orbit.
|6× Booster||Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 3|
|Engine||LV-T45 Liquid Fuel Engine||Rockomax "Mainsail" Liquid Engine||Rockomax "Poodle" Liquid Engine||none|
|Burn time (s)||14, 30.4 (+16.4), 40.2 (+16.4, +19.8) [Note 1][Note 2]||100.5 - 113.0 [Note 2][Note 3]||139.1||0|
- After dropping one booster pair the next one fed all engines except the previous (dropped) two engines causing a longer burn time.
- All engines of the booster and first stage ignite at the same time.
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|Munar Injection||910||✓ Yes|
|Mun Landing||1000||✓ Yes|
|Mun surface orbit||700||✓ Yes|
|Mun orbit return||?||✓ Yes|
|Minmus Injection||1010||✓ Yes|
|Minmus Landing||300||✓ Yes|
|Solar orbit injection||1400||✓ Yes|
|Interplanetary travel||?||× No|
The ability of the Kerbal X to reach orbit with a relatively small rocket for a medium payload (16 t), is significant in its reliability as bigger rockets tends to be more prone to exploding randomly or being unsuited for space travel. The two-stage to orbit rarely leaves any debris (the Mainsail first stage, if the ascent profile was efficient, may remain in Kerbin orbit), and is quite cost effective in career mode, though a rocket with solid boosters could do the same job at a lower price.
The Kerbal X would also be suited to place payloads in a synchronous orbit around Kerbin as it has the required Δv to do so and deorbit thereafter.
With the help of gravitational assists it is possible to reach other planets or moons without changing the configuration.
Interesting use of the Kerbal X, with added RCS and a docking port, is a space station docker, allowing crew transfers or module delivery and docking as the ship has a good margin of additional weight it can carry. If placed properly, the RCS thrusters assure an easy docking and the low chance of failure justifies the uses of the Kerbal X as a crew transfer ship. It has a very low chance of killing the crew.
Another use of the Kerbal X would be to land on the Mun, with added basic functionality such as RCS and docking port, it would be fairly easy to refuel the ship in Kerbin orbit, possibly with another Kerbal X, and fly it to the Mun, land and eventually come back, or at least, go back to Munar orbit.
If one would be willing to be upgrade the Kerbal X, adding a small intermediate stage that can almost finish orbit or adding more fuel to the second stage would be a big increase in performance as 12% of the fuel is used to finish orbit in optimal situation (accounting it used exactly 4500 m/s to make orbit). Of course, one willing to use the Kerbal X often must absolutely add RCS. Another upgrade is to replace the LV-T45s with LV-T30s because it allows an additional payload of 1.5 tons from the reduced mass after using the T30s (0.25t more payload per engine replaced). Further, the Mainsail could be replaced with a TVR-400L Stack Quad-Adapter and four LV-T30 Liquid Fuel Engines to gain enough delta-V to reach low orbit without using the service module engine, assuming the landing gear has been removed.