Traveling Around the Kerbol System
Want to travel around the Kerbol system but don't know how to start? No worries! I will teach you how to go to another Celestial Body while being efficient at the same time. Let's jump in!
- Mun For Dummies: Travelling to the Mun and Back by nicnacnic (For Version 1.0 to 1.2)
- Traveling to Minmus by craigmt1
- 1 Specifications
- 2 Planning Your Trip
- 3 Getting There
- 4 Tips and Tricks
- 5 Conclusion
- Length: 15 minutes - 1 hour
- Difficulty: Moderate
- For Version: 1.0 to 1.2
- Recommended Delta-V: ~3,500
- ~1,500 to ~2,500 for Interplanetary Transfer
- ~1,500 to get into orbit
Additionally, you will need an understanding of orbital mechanics (see Tutorials section), maneuver nodes, angles, and a lot of patience.
Planning Your Trip
Where to go First?
It is best to first go to Duna because of many reasons. It has an atmosphere similar to Kerbin's which is suitable for aerobraking and parachutes. It is also Kerbin's nearest neighbor and possess a moon similar to the Mun: Ike.
You can find a tutorial to go to Duna here.
To go to another Celestial Body, there are some essential requirements that you should have on EVERY interplanetary rocket.
- Parachutes (required for a return to Kerbin)
- Solar Panels and Batteries (especially for probes)
- An Efficient Engine (The Poodle engine or the Nuclear engine should do just fine)
- Fuel (Use AT LEAST a Rockomax Jumbo fuel tank or equivalent)
- Reaction Wheels (The ones in each capsule would work also)
- An Antenna (For communications (ESPECIALLY for probes in Version 1.2))
- Docking Port (This is not required, but is strongly recommended in case you get stranded in orbit)
Make sure your target planet is ALIGNED with Kerbin. Or else, you could be drifting for years and wasting fuel until they happen to match up.
- Phase Angle
- The angle from Kerbin to Kerbol to your destination planet. This could be in front or behind you.
Simple Phase Angles
- Moho: ~250 degrees behind
- Eve: ~55 degrees behind
- Duna: ~45 degrees ahead
- Dres ~80 degrees ahead
- Jool: ~95 degrees ahead
- Eeloo: ~100 degrees ahead
The trick is to get in a position in Kerbol orbit at the same time as your destination planet.
You could also use The Interplanetary Guide and Calculator to calculate your own path.
Getting into Orbit
Simply put, get into a normal Kerbin orbit (about ~80km). That's it!
Planning Your Maneuver
Here's a trick: If you want to go farther from Kerbin, put your maneuver node about ~45 degrees past sundown. To go to the inner planets (Eve, Moho), put your maneuver node about ~45 degrees past sunrise.
Pull the prograde vector in your maneuver until the dotted yellow line crosses the orbit of your target planet (you might have to zoom out). If you set the planet you are going to as your target, you are most likely going to see two white arrows. Play with your maneuver node vectors until you get the two arrows close enough to each other that it turns into an encounter. Don't worry about the periapsis height, we'll change that later on.
Executing Your Maneuver
Face the maneuver node marker on the navball and start burning when the timer reaches half of your EBT (Estimated Burn Time). To save fuel, use the Oberth Effect by only burning for about 20 to 40 seconds at your periapsis. Just time warp around the orbit until you reach periapsis again, then start burning again. Once you get your encounter, cut the throttle.
Minor Orbit Adjustments
Now, we are going to change the height of the periapsis for the target planet. Put a maneuver node about ~10 days or so before your encounter. Focus your view on the target planet then use all the vectors on your maneuver node to get your periapsis to your desired height.
- Periapsis in the Atmosphere: You will aerobrake.
- Periapsis Above the Atmosphere: A Fly-By of the planet. (Unless you burn retrograde at periapsis)
Complete your maneuver node burn and you will now be encountering your target planet.
Hooray! You are now entering the SOI (Sphere of Influence) of your target planet!
Tips and Tricks
A economical way to get to the outer planets is to preform a Gravity Assist. This is where you use the gravity of a planet to "slingshot" you into a larger and more distant orbit. A tutorial can be found here.
Most effective celestial bodies to preform a gravity assist on (form best to worst):
Gravity Assists require a lot of planning - this is not recommended for beginners!
You have now got an encounter with your target planet! Congratulations! With enough fuel, you can now travel around the different planets in the Kerbol system and do more advanced missions. Good luck to you!