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Post subject: Re: One Small StepPosted: May 18th, 2024, 9:10 pm
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Location: Trikona, West Siadria
Tara Maraski - Wandering Star

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Tara Maraski (Wandering Star) was the first Siadrian manned mission to Mars, and the first mission to successfully land humans on the surface of Mars. Departing in April 1985, the 5 astronauts would spend 907 days in space, with 340 days of those days on the surface of Mars in the southern portion of Acheva Agos (Lunae Planum).

The mission has its origins in the Space Race of the late 1960s and 1970s between the Diotisch Raumfahrt Bund (Diotan Spaceflight League, commonly referred to as the Bund) and the Hythrian Friendship Treaty Space Organization (abbreviated in Siadrian as KUVAT). The Diotans would narrowly win the race to land a man on the Moon in 1972, with the Hythrians doing so successfully the following year. This loss, combined with several high-profile disasters including the loss of three Siadrian astronauts on the surface of the moon in 1975, would significantly decrease public enthusiasm for manned space exploration as the 1980s began to approach.

KUVAT Chief of Operations Jovan Valaris would begin pushing for a manned Mars mission as early as 1974, believing it would reinvigorate enthusiasm for manned spaceflight. Many of his assumptions were based on the successful deployment of what had become known as Project A, a top-secret nuclear thermal engine whose development had been ongoing since 1971. An expansion in KUVAT’s budget for the tenure of President Jakov Samari (a personal friend of Jovan), would encourage these plans, and a tentative date of 1987 was set for the launch of the Mars Hypothesis ’87.
The Lirtava Scandal of 1980 and resultant collapse of the government would dramatically change plans. The newly formed Liberal interim government was desperate for programs to slash to cut costs, with recession looming, and the “bloated” KUVAT was one of the first to be put on the chopping block. Initially slated to be canned along with most of the other manned missions planned for the 1980s, Jovan was able to save Mars Hypothesis ’87 alone—though with the conditions that R&D costs be limited as much as possible. Worse yet, 1981 would see the cancellation of Project A, having produced no prototype capable of operating within acceptable limits. Much of the mission architecture had been based on the theoretical specifications of Project A, requiring significant redesigns and recalculation to almost every mission component.

Acting President Liska Aravin confided in 1982 to Vrasa Paliśi, who he had lined up to take Jovan Valaris’ position as KUVAT Chief of Operations when Jovan inevitably resigned, that he expected the program to be cancelled, and that the requirements he had given them were impossible especially with the cancellation of Project A. Diotan intelligence gathering had been well aware of Mars Hypothesis ’87 for several years, and was content to let them carry on—expecting that either they would see reason and cancel the mission or, more likely, suffer another major disaster that might entirely destroy the program. They would further put pressure on the Siadrians by announcing their own manned Mars mission, Mars 90, with an earliest possible launch date in 1985 (though internally they expected delays and a realistic launch date of 1991). Jovan was well aware that cancellation of Mars Hypothesis ’87, now known as Tara Maraski, would likely mean the end of Siadrian manned spaceflight for at least 30 years, if not longer, and that coming second place again was not acceptable. He would announce that year that Siadria was going to be first to Mars, and that they were going to launch in 1985.

The final design settled upon in 1984 consisted of five major mission components to be sent up in 3 main launches, along with about 40 launches of their medium lifter Pašatar-7 for fueling and other minor components. These five components were: the Transfer Module, Command Module, Lander Module, Ascent Module, and Habitation Module.

The Habitation Module “Ilamar” and Ascent Module “Tarkoloros” were to be sent first, unmanned, along with all the supplies needed for the excursion team during their time on the surface. The Habitation Module was a two-story structure with about 81 square meters of internal space for the three members of the excursion team. It would descend inside a protective aeroshell and had 4 small solid fuel engines on the sides for terminal descent and landing. The Ascent Module would directly follow, landing as close as possible to the Habitation Module. The Ascent Module did not contain any fuel or engines for the descent, instead relying on a contraption called the “Sky Crane” which was contained with the Ascent Module inside the aeroshell. It carried the Ascent Module underneath it using cables, and upon reaching a designated altitude above the surface, would fire its 8 solid fuel engines. Upon zeroing its vertical velocity, it would release the Ascent Module to soft land on inflatable cushions, and then fly off to impact the surface at a safe distance. This was considered one of the most significant possible points of failure, as the technology had only been replicated for much smaller payloads, though in the event of failure the crew would still be able to safely abort the landing and return home.
The other three modules made up the crewed portion of the mission. The Transfer Stage “Jakmakis” was by far the heaviest single module of the entire mission, containing the fuel needed for Trans-Martian Injection, as well as a nuclear reactor to power the entire ship for the duration of their flight to Mars. The Transfer Module was powered by a twin-nozzle RK7 engine, using a fuel mixture of Pentaborane(9) with tetrafluorohydrazine as an oxidizer. While never used on a prior mission, this fuel mixture was chosen as it was storable at room temperature, a significant factor for mission components which were to spend long periods of time with no human supervision, and high in specific impulse. The Transfer Module would be mated via docking clamps to the combined Command and Lander Modules, and then discarded to burn up in the Martian atmosphere upon reaching Mars.

The Command Module “Ekesvar,” also known as the Return Module, would house the crew going to and from Mars, as well as housing the two members of the flight team for the duration of the surface excursion. It contained supplies in detachable conformal storage units, and had the single-use lander module atop an airlock. It also had a heat shield intended for use during orbital insertion to conserve fuel, which would be discarded once this was achieved. The Command Module was powered by 4 RK71 engines, using the same B5H9/N2F4 fuel mixture as the Transfer Module. The Lander Module “Ukatukos” was detached only when the excursion team was to land. It had no ascent capabilities, with its only engines being 4 small solid fuel engines intended for use during terminal descent to slow the craft for landing.

Of the five astronauts on the mission, 4 were Siadrian military personnel, 1 Navy, and 3 Air Force. Of note, the first Siadrian astronaut to both land on the Moon and return home, Paschim Sola, piloted the Lander Module and commanded the excursion team. Her inclusion was controversial owing to her political activities, being an outspoken communist and political persona non grata. However, her inclusion was insisted upon by KUVAT Chief Staffer Leksa Markanjan, who considered her piloting skills second to none, and necessary for the dangerous descent to Mars; which would be done with no communication with Earth and requiring significant manual input to ensure the lander landed close enough to the Habitation Module for the crew to walk the distance with the duration of their oxygen. In return, Arva Talis, a member of the Internal Compliance Bureau (Siadria’s internal intelligence gathering agency), was chosen as flight commander. Her known connections within the Siadrian government created a significant amount of tension, particularly between Arva and Paschim, who knew that Arva existed solely as a watchdog for the government due to her political leanings. The other crew members were: Samar Vesir and Loras Vikrit on the excursion team, and Kapran Sekim on the flight team. Samar Vesir was the lead scientist on the mission, a Navy officer and geologist, who was to conduct studies about Mars’ geological past and surface resources, while Loras Vikrit, the sole civilian, acted as the mission’s doctor. Kapran Sekim was an air force officer and physicist who did most of the flight planning for the mission owing to the 22-minute delay to Mission Control.

The first components of the mission (Habitation Module and Ascent Module) were launched in late 1984 without a hitch, and the go ahead was given for the rest of the mission in early 1985. Following the successful launches and assembly of the Transfer Module in orbit the crew would be ferried to their ship in April 1985, and following a week of final tests to ensure everything was working as intended, performed their Mars insertion burn on April 19, 1985.

Barring several brief communication lapses, the flight to Mars would be relatively uneventful, and the crew would begin final approach to Mars on January 15, 1986. After discarding the empty Transfer Module, the Command Module would successfully enter Martian orbit the following day, and preparations would begin for landing. The Command Module was able to successfully locate the Habitation and Ascent modules approximately 2.5 km away from one another, and sent the command to pull the two modules out of hibernation, allowing for final diagnostic checks with the internal computers. With both landed modules reporting no issues, the excursion team landed later that day, just over a kilometer away from the Habitation Module. They would proceed directly to the Habitation Module before planting a flag and recording an address to be relayed back to Earth.

The pre-supply drop launched with the Habitation and Ascent modules also contained a small, unpressurized rover, which was used to ferry supplies back to the Habitation Module as well as travel to nearby sites to look for evidence of water. The landing site’s location close to Zehan Chosar (Echus Chasma), which was believed to have been formed by liquid water, was of particular interest, and the excursion team would collect some 500 kg in samples from the surface to be studied upon return to Earth. As the Habitation Module came pre-assembled, little needed to be done to make it functional, and the crew would report no issues with it during their 340 day stay on the Martian surface.

Owing to the nature of the mission, it was highly cut down, mostly intended as a political statement more than a scientific venture. While the return of Martian soil samples to terrestrial labs was considered a priority, little science was actually done, and much of the excursion team’s time was spent taking photos and short videos from the Martian surface to be sent to viewers in Siadria. In particular, an impromptu segment planned by Trikona Mission Control and Commander Paschim where Paschim would answer questions sent in by civilians, particularly concerning the crews’ life and routines on Mars, was hugely successful as both a television and radio program. The renewed positive attention to the ailing space program likely secured not only another manned Mars mission in the future, but the entire future of the program. Jovan had gambled successfully, much to the surprise of nearly everyone, even within the program.

The crew would make their final address, an early Christmas prayer, from the surface of Mars on December 22, 1986. The ascent from the surface went smoothly, and the crew would make the brief spacewalk across a tether from the Ascent Module to the Command Module without issue, before leaving the Ascent Module in orbit. After a day to run final diagnostics and to let the excursion team recuperate, the Command Module would make its burn to Earth on December 23.

The crew would begin final approach to Earth on October 7, 1987. As the Command Module did not have any heat shielding, they would use the remainder of their fuel to enter a highly elliptical orbit around Earth. A previously assembled crew tug then picked them up at their nearest approach to Earth after about a week of maneuvering, ferrying them to the Hythrian Treaty space station Zavaqa on October 14, where they would stay for a day before returning to Earth, finally touching down on October 15.

The mission elevated all five of the crew to celebrity status, and it would result in another five missions being planned by the Hythrian Friendship Treaty to bring humans to Mars, culminating in a semi-permanent base that was to be established on the surface in 1999. All following missions would use significantly different architecture, meaning that Tara Maraski was the only mission of its name. And while it had been a success, Jovan Valaris would later admit in 2001 that the mission had carried with it undue risk to the astronauts and expressed that he had felt pressured to go through with the mission, though this statement would be censored by the government not long after Jovan Valaris’ death to heart failure in 2004. The mission remains cherished by Siadrians as an assertion of their superiority in space, though most details of the mission itself are still classified and highly censored.

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Post subject: Re: One Small StepPosted: May 18th, 2024, 9:59 pm
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Joined: October 30th, 2023, 12:34 pm
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Capfrog - Hypersonic semi-reusable launch platform

Introducing the platform

A collaboration between the European Space Agency and Astere Space, initially to research more affordable methods of passenger and cargo transportation in light of increased commercial and science based activity space,. The emergence of new space stations in orbit aswell as the rapid development of moon colonization projects drives launcher competition within the space industry.

The Hypersonic semi-reusable launch platform (HSLP) offers a flexible and semi-reusable platform. It constitutes a hypersonic transport system that carries a smaller lifting-body spacecraft, the light orbital transport aircraft (LOTA) (a lighter derivative of the Hermes spacecraft project) connected to a booster body fed by a hydrogen-oxygen liquid mixture.

The hypersonic launch system (HLS-15 or “Astere Heron” ) has a titanium and metal matrice composite structure. A carbon and ceramic composite is used for the most exposed sections of the plane: : aircraft leading edge (700°C), nose (1000 - 1100°C), air intake (1,300°C).

In total, the complete launcher weighs 400t for a empty mass of 172t. The Heron has a empty mass of 150t, carrying 130t of fuel. The booster stage is 101t with 90t of propellant, whilst the lifting-body spacecraft LOTA is 19t.

The Heron uses a series of ramjet engines to make up its hypersonic airbreathing first stage (5x co-axial turboramjet engines) taking it to maximum speeds of mach 6.8. The second stage uses a rocket engine derived from ESA’s Vulcan motor found on the Ariane 5. The HLS has a maximum cruise range of 11,000km. The LOTA can hold a maximum crew of 5. It can bring a total payload of 6,000kg to LEO.

The initial mission to orbit

A typical flight profile is of an inclined acceleration immediately after takeoff followed by a flight at 25km with a maximum speed of mach 6. This is followed by another inclined flight of 19° up until 41km at mach 5 until the staging process is initiated. After separation, the first stage (HLS) performs a landing manouveur whilst the second stage (lifting-body space plane and booster) is placed into transfer orbit at a 28,5° incline. It then continues its burn to a circular orbit at 515/km.

Adapting vehicle to a moon mission

After a series of successful commercial and military missions to LEO and GEO funding was secured to expand the program to address the growing needs to provide more competitive moon-earth transport systems. The expansion was adapted to the newly developed ESA moon lander “Helios” wich was compatible with the maximum weight characteristics demanded by the Heron hypersonic launcher. A second-stage compatible cargo module was developed to be able to transport the Helios lander aswell as a needed fuel tank to complete the moon to earth journey.
This would entail three total launches. 1st carrying the LOTA into orbit, 2nd to carry the ESA landing craft to orbit and 3rd, optionally carrying supplemental fuel to orbit to maximize cargo/crew transport onboard the LOTA. What would follow would be a classic moon landing mission with the LOTA serving as command module and return vehicle.

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Post subject: Re: One Small StepPosted: May 20th, 2024, 12:29 am
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Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 10:42 am
This might seem like a lazy rehash from an entry last year but I have done a lot of work correcting shading and tweaking things.


The 1960s Space Race between the Greater Russian Union, Imperial Federation and Zurich Pact was very much like the Space Race in our own timeline although it's pace, size and so called winners were very different. In fact it wouldn't be fully correct to say anyone won as all three sides kept going past the initial moon landings.

The Great Russian Union was unlike the USSR not the first to launch a satellite into orbit that honour went to the Union of Batavian Republics in May of 1956, who's own program would be later wound into the larger Zurich Pact along with the Republic of Lousianne and the French Directorate. It was however the first to launch both a man into space and the first space walk. Occurring in 1960 and 1961 respectively.

However when British and Imperial Prime Minister Enoch MacMillian declared that the Imperial Federation would make it to the moon within six years in 1962 the race entered a frantic pace. The Greater Russian Union not willing to be outdone by what Supreme Leader Sokolov described as "Decadent Imperialists who wanted to go to the Moon to exploit it for their own uses and Godless Internationalists who recklessly seek progress without consequence." set to work on their own moon missions, however they had their own deadline that being Sokolov's seventy fifth birthday on the 27th of May 1968 the date he planned to retire from politics from.

The resulting Perun IV rocket while looking in both appearance and profile for the most part like the Saturn V of our timeline under the skin it's very different. From it's first stage using the hypergolic fuels Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine and Dinitrogen Tetroxide, it's main engines using both full flow staged combustion and multiple engine bells. To the Celene capsule having a crew of four and the mission having a rover from the very beginning.

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Post subject: Re: One Small StepPosted: May 20th, 2024, 8:43 am
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Westlandian Pathfinder 4 lunar lander and Echo 224L carrier rocket (1968)

This is the unmanned lander I mentioned in the post for my entry in the previous Spacebucket challenge (that entry was the only manned lander in my AU history, hence the unmanned spacecraft here). It technically does not comply with the requirements as there is no return stage, so feel free to leave it out of the scoring sheet if you want, I simply did not have enough spare time to design another mission when I realised that was a rule and this rocket does not have enough carrying capacity to add a return stage. Either way I do like the rocket I came up with so I wanted to enter it anyway.

As part of the Westlandian space programme that led to the manned Zogg III moon rockets, the Pathfinder missions were unmanned landers sent to scout ahead of the manned missions. Rather than the enormous Zogg III rocket, they used a version of the familiar Echo carrier rocket, saving money and development time. They not only took detailed photos of the intended landing sites during descent and returned valuable data on the terrain consistency and suitability for landing on it, they also tested the cis-lunar navigation systems and automatic landing guidance. After some initial teething problems with the Pathfinder design, Pathfinder 4 would become the first successful soft landing on another celestial body by a Westlandian spacecraft.

The first two stages and the four liquid fuel boosters of the carrier rocket all burnt kerosene and liquid oxygen. After the boosters had been jettisoned, the second stage was fired up just before the first stage burnt out, in a process called hot-staging. This stage took the spacecraft into a parking orbit around the Earth. The third stage, which used storable hypergolic propellants, performed a trans-lunar injection burn. The fourth stage, a simple solid rocket motor attached to the bottom of the lander, slowed the vehicle down from its approach to the Moon to a suborbital trajectory without first going into orbit. Finally, the lander's own hypergolic engine and control thrusters took it in for a soft landing, taking pictures all the way down. Upon landing, a solar panel and the scientific experiments were deployed, as well as a dish antenna to send back all the recorded data to Mission Control.

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I am colourblind, so please let me know if my colours are off.

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Kiwi Imperialist
Post subject: Polls Now OpenPosted: May 20th, 2024, 12:04 pm
Posts: 307
Joined: December 10th, 2014, 9:38 am
Polls Now Open
The submission period for One Small Step has ended.
Please consider rating each entry here.
Options for the next challenge can be ranked here.
Both polls will remain open until Thursday 23 May, ending at 23:59 (UTC-12). (Countdown Timer)

Options for the Next Challenge
Heavy Cavalry (Soldierbucket)
1. Your submission must depict a cavalryperson with their horse.
2. The cavalryperson should belong to a fictional heavy cavalry force.
3. Entries from the 12th century to the 17th century are permitted.

The Landship Threat (Any Scale)
1. Your submission must depict a fictional weapon or vehicle designed to neutralise an early tank with limited mobility and armoured protection.
2. The weapon or vehicle should enter service between 1915 and 1920.
3. It is required immediately and must enter production as soon as possible.

Interim Interceptor (FD)
1. Your submission must depict a fictional all-weather interceptor aircraft.
2. The interceptor’s first flight should occur between 1952 and 1962.
3. It must enter service as an interim or alternative design second to an advanced interceptor project (e.g. Canada adopting CF-101 Voodoo instead of CF-105 Arrow).
4. Compared to the advanced interceptor project, your design must be inexpensive and fast to produce. Conversions of existing airframes may be considered.

Light Utility Helicopter (Soldierbucket
1. Your submission must depict a fictional utility helicopter. It may be configured for a specific role, such as observation or attack.
2. The empty weight of your helicopter in its basic utility configuration must not exceed 2,500 kilograms (5,512 pounds). Helicopters configured for a specific role may exceed this limit, reflecting the addition of role-specific equipment.

Granddad’s Rifle (Gunbucket, Weaponbucket, Pistolbucket)
1. Your submission must include two drawings of a fictional service rifle.
2. The first drawing should show the service rifle in active service at some point between 1900 and 1950.
3. The second drawing should depict the same firearm later in life as a civilian-owned, sporterised hunting or target rifle.

Please note that Granddad's Rifle is no longer limited to just bolt action rifles.

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Post subject: Re: One Small StepPosted: May 20th, 2024, 6:47 pm
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Joined: March 13th, 2021, 10:00 pm
Okay, wow, we’ve had some amazing entries this round! Not very many in total, but nonetheless they are really cool. I thought I would take a moment to lay out some of my thoughts on them.

Firstly, Charguizard’s entry. The launch vehicle itself is really well done, the only complaints I have about the design really are the fact you’re moving, like, at least 50-100 tonnes of aeroshell on a single, extremely small hinge. Even if it only opens and closes in orbit when it’s not under thrust, that hinge must still be so reinforced to take it that I find it hard to believe that a shuttle-style bay door system wouldn’t be lighter. The shading is only 3-tone but very well done, and the only problem I have with that is that the light shade is shown snaking around the base of the plug nozzle on the second stage when it should be the dark shade, because the light source is in the top, not the bottom of the frame. The level of detailing is also not great, but that’s understandable and the details that are visible all seem thought out and reasonable. The lack of reinforcement ribs on the second stage anywhere is interesting, I’m not going to flat out say it makes no sense but I would be very curious to see an internal diagram of it.

The payload is really what makes and/or breaks this entry, though. I have very severe doubts a humanoid lifeform of that sheer scale could have evolved naturally, and the implications of them being artificially engineered seems to take us beyond the near-future tech requirements of the challenge, as do the fusion engines her suit use to be fair, though those seem less egregious. With that said, the idea of fairly normal size creatures stumbling across a species of giants and having to figure out how to go about uplifting them, and the technological challenges that result, is really interesting. They’re also just really, really well drawn, and once again I’m struck by how good people can look when rendered in SB-style pixelart, which isn’t something you see very often.

My entry is next. I’m not going to try and say what my thoughts are on how I compared to the rest, because that would be biased and the last time I tried I was still too arrogant despite my best efforts.

My entry is a slightly modified version of the 1968 Boeing Integrated Manned Interplanetary Spacecraft study. I cannot recommend reading this enough, it’s super, super interesting, and if you want to you can just go over to NTRS and search for “Integrated Manned Interplanetary Spacecraft Concept Definition”. There are 6 volumes in the final report, well actually 7 because one is split into two parts, and all together they have around 2,000 pages. You can get away with just reading the first volume though if you want to be quick, it’s basically an executive summary of the entire thing.

I changed several small details when adapting it for my Ares V mission. Because I wanted to do a later mission in the Ares program, the uncrewed sample return probes have been replaced with rovers as there would be little use for more of the former given advances in planetary protection protocols since the first missions. I swapped the Biconic EEM the study favored for an Apollo-derived EEM, with opposition missions using a Block IIB and conjunction missions a shortened Block IIIA. Because of how fast some opposition missions come back, for two of them this necessitated a breaking burn done using the last PPM prior to the CSM’s detachment and own breaking burn. I also had the CSM be launched separately during from the rest of the stack aboard a shuttle, believe it or not this isn’t just so that I can draw it being loaded in by the RMS (though that was a cool side-effect), but a Saturn V with F-1As and J-2Ss and recovery equipment on the first stage, but with no third stage, can only throw 133 tonnes into LEO, and the MM+MEM+EEM+probes+interstages for a conjunction class mission massed 141 tonnes.

Speaking of which, I replaced the Saturn IB / Apollo service vehicles the original study used with space shuttles, though given the Apollo program and it’s spin-offs never really ended in this timeline they’re a lot closer to the original NASA plans for the shuttle before the various scale-backs. The orbiter is still the smaller design than the original one NASA wanted, with the propellent tanks fully integrated, but the idea of a single monolithic recoverable booster has persisted. The key difference between this and the Saturn-Shuttle designs that NASA was preferring irl prior to being forced into accepting SRBs is that I went with a paravulcoon recovery system rather than a flyback booster, which frees up a lot of additional payload, and gives us enough mass for a true zero-zero abort system to be fitted.

Next, Corp’s submission. I am pretty surprised we didn’t see more people enter orion drives, but this one is very well executed. Design wise, I don’t really have too many complaints. I suppose the sep motors on the interstage are very small, and probably wouldn’t be sufficient, and the fact the second stage looks so different from an actual S-II (not S-2!) is a weird choice, given there’s no reason to change anything. The placement of the interstages on the S-II implies that the LH2 tank is below the LOX tank, for some reason, and the conformal bulkhead appears to have been deleted, which just makes it worse for no benefit. I’m also skeptical that the tank size ratios are correct, though they might be, and the deletion of the external fuel lines implies they run internally which may compromise the strength of the hydrogen tank. The S-ID is really cool though, if I recall my own research into flyback S-ICs correctly that looks like a copy of NAR's B-18D? Not a bad choice, personally I would have gone with the original Boeing 922-12 cause the separable flying wing is really cool, but you do you. It’s missing the cockpit, but that’s fine given that advances in automation would have probably allowed that to be possible had it been pursued irl.

Oh, and the shipgirl is really cool! I wish I’d drawn one, or really just any patch better than the one I did, for my entry,

ABetterName’s entry is the first of just two uncrewed submissions, and really cool. The design looks completely reasonable, and the drawing style and quality is pretty good. For something that small I would have really tried to show as many different views of it as possible, maybe even a cutaway, but it’s still really cool.

Okay, now the big one, Aiseus’s entry.

Firstly, the drawing style and quality is pretty good. I like the 5-tone shading, and the fact you remembered that conical surfaces have the light fall at different angles than cylindrical ones is something even I forgot when drawing mine. The detailing is really good in places, and overall the drawing quality is excellent. With that being said, there are still some shading issues here and there, and the cutaway views are extremely basic. However, I think by far the biggest thing is that it’s all just one uniform color, and a fairly dark gray at that. Going with a lighter white-ish color as a base and black detailing in a NASApunk aesthetic, or mixing a slightly darker gray with dark green and orange like the Soviets, or, well, literally anything else, would have been a much better call IMVHO.

As for the design, well, I find it almost impossible to believe it has enough delta-v to do what you’re describing. The propellants you're talking about aren't that much denser than conventional ones, and the isp isn’t that much higher, so getting 3+ km/s out of that transfer stage and 4-5 km/s out of the command module is frankly impossible. I’d love to see the calculations you did to figure out the sizing of all the components, because clearly I’m missing something, and, like, this is a really big deal. If it doesn't have enough delta-v, then that’s an instant 0 on the design quality because you just straight-up can’t do the mission (okay, to be fair I won’t be quite that mean, I’ll give you like a 4 or 5). In addition, the use of solid rockets for terminal descent on the habitation module, ascent module’s skycrane, and the lander module, seems very unlikely, especially for the lander.

Oh, and I almost forgot, but the ascent and habitation modules would require a transfer stage just as big as the command module’s to be thrown onto a Mars transfer orbit, given they seem to be similar weights (in fact the ascent and hab modules look heavier), and yet the way it’s written seems to imply they’re sent to TMI right away, just by the launch vehicle?

With that being said, if one ignores the fact it doesn't have enough propellant to actually get to Mars or back, the rest of the design seems perfectly alright, if slightly quirky. I can’t say I don’t like the design and look of everything, even if the paintjob is pretty bland, and overall I’d have to say it’s a good job.

Next, capfrog’s submission. This one is, well, interesting. The hypersonic launch aircraft is pretty cool, and I like the hermes-inspired spaceplane. The lineart is very janky, with the area around the spaceplane's cockpit and the bottom edge of the capsule for example being drawn badly, but given how much of a beginner capfrog is this is to be expected and they are doing way, way better than I did at this stage in my SB drawings. There is no possible way the vehicle as shown and described has enough delta-v to do what it says it does though, and the center of thrust and center of mass are clearly misaligned beyond what engine gimbals could compensate for, but it is a moderately interesting architecture regardless. It would just take quite a bit more than 3 launches to do. Overall, a promising idea but it feels like a first draft.

The paintjob on the carrier aircraft’s wingtips is insanely cool though.

Then we have APDAF. The design is pretty good, it all seems believable enough though I’d be curious if it actually all works when you run the delta-v figures. Drawing-wise it’s very bland, the paint scheme feels monotone and there are very few details on the launch vehicle. Overall though it’s a good submission.

And finally, WesleyWestland. This is the second and last uncrewed submission we have, and it’s also pretty good. I like the rocket’s design, it’s very titan-inspired which is cool, and the way the second stage has a lower diameter looks neat though I’m not sure what design constraint would lead to that (though maybe it’s a carry-over from another vehicle). The shading and detailing is simple but well done, and really the only complaint I have is the lack of many different views, and the fact that the lander has no clear ascent stage - I assume it’s mounted within the structure of the descent stage? In any case, a pretty cool submission to round off the list.

"Oh, absolutely not. Trinitite may be an eldritch being that breaks the laws of physics, but even she can't replicate the insanity that is German Engineering!" - PyrrhicSteel on whether Trinities' machine shops can make a new gasket for a crane
“Yes, strategy,” she replied to Evelyn’s withering look. “Because I am merely an amateur. I cannot talk logistics.” - Seven Shades of Sunlight, in a latter chapter of Katalepsis

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Post subject: Re: One Small StepPosted: May 23rd, 2024, 11:45 pm
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Location: Santiago Basin
Usually I wait until the voting is finished to post comments but there’s only a few hours left and there’s comments posted already so here you are.


I had never before gotten into rockets and space exploration. Its not something that called to me as a kid, there was no shooting or bombs or stuka sirens. When this challenge was announced, I knew the time had come. I had known I needed to get into this subject just to make me a better sci-fi sperg, this is where all hard sci-fi came from. I binged the 1st season of For All Mankind and then set off to work. Thankfully the erstwhile poorly laid out Atomic Rockets site was legible enough for me to follow the lessons semi-methodically. Over the last month I chipped away at equations, sometimes knowing exactly the number I needed to input, sometimes making the most educated guesses imaginable. I am pretty confident in my published numbers despite some of the gross assumptions. Thanks to these numbers I was able to draw what you see now, the result of me wanting to send one of the species in my setting out to space.
For those just being introduced to it, welcome to Starstreak! (Running name, used previously in a short story compilation out of publication, we’ll see if it sticks) Its a setting that takes place in a fictional dwarf barred spiral galaxy in a time and place completely different from us. You’ll see more and more of it as I grind incessantly at it to flesh stories out. This mission takes place in the novel I’m writing and is a gigantic milestone in the path to integrate a primitive culture into an advanced interstellar civilization.
I’ll be real about the drawing, I still don’t know what I was doing. Not how I go about ships and tanks where I know pretty well what’s doing what. Sapphire commented on the details of the launcher. I preferred to hold back a bit instead of just adding random bits I saw on pictures of real rockets. If I come back to it later on I might improve it. Despite most of the sperging going into the launch vehicle, visually I was much more interested in Junis’ suit. You can count on seeing more of that later in regular digital art format.

Sapphire262’s ARES V:

An outstanding entry backed up by the maths of a real proposal, let’s get to the important part first, the drawing, and the important part of the drawing, the mistakes. Nose cones! If we assume, as is customary in SB style, that light comes from the top right corner, then a cone that points upwards will have a lot more highlight and very little shadow on it, as its surface curves inwards. But Sapphire talked about this in discord. It seems like its a common issue when drawing rockets nonetheless. This applies to the excursion module as well, but interestingly enough, the probes are done correctly instead. Another nitpick is the orbiter’s engine nozzles have a couple of dark squares where the ribbing should be distinct. You’ll notice these are a lot of words for very very minor issues and frankly I can’t find anything else. Because the drawing is spectacular! The choice of contrast is very correct. The orbiter is astounding and a monument to pixelart. The Apollo CSM is so well done I want to reach into the drawing and grab it for myself. I sincerely hope Sapphire will template some of these separately so they can be added to the archive as never-weres.
As for the technical aspect, I don’t have any reason to doubt this entry given its based on a real project, and my only concern is I don’t fully understand why one PPM is larger than the others. Also is the crew really going to live inside those tight spaces for so long? Sounds kinda awful.
I would’ve liked to see some crew, either EVAing or on display. But hey, winner entry right here, going to be daunting to beat.

Corp’s Asterion:

Orions are expensive, inefficient, brutish, polluting, obsolete, and I absolutely love them. This entry is science fiction that you can almost touch, feels so close to reality. The drawing is pretty good nearing excellence. The highlighting on the S-I-D nosecone could’ve been smoother, the pusher plate coils could’ve used some shading. The high contrast on the shock absorber rods works really well, the shading is mirrored on the lunar surface configuration though. The command module’s top is hinted at to have some rounding and could’ve used 1px of highlight on the edge. The detailing on the open modules and the lift rockets is great.
Design wise it feels as believable as the politicians will support it. Detonating atomic devices even very high in the atmosphere seems ill advised from a PR standpoint, but this thing would’ve probably worked.

AbetterName’s E3II9E Supernova

Simple, modest, affordable, most lander missions should probably look like this. The nose fairing could have more highlight and less shading as it curves in. The lander is an adorable tiny little thing and I love it. Little else to cram in a small drawing like this.
In terms of feasibility I have no reason to doubt it either. ABN tends to be careful about this and his rockets follow real ones to a degree. There’s nothing exotic about the mission either, no squishies to take care of during any phase. Overall very good.

Aiseus’ Tara Maraski

That mission patch GODDAMN. The space agency’s logo is so cool too. Take a good look at this drawing. Its MUCH better than you think it is because the grey lets it down. Massively. There is a lot going on here and I can only imagine how much more there’d be given more time. Some of the RCSs on the module caps look mediocre and some of the contrast is a bit too high and looks a bit cartoony here and there. The ribs on Jakmakis’ top and on Ukatukos get lost because there’s no more tones to use anymore. This is all minor stuff compared to the awesome heat shields and the insignia on everything and the intricate ascent module. Hell, imagine if drawing the launch tower was allowed.
I’d have to do a lot of math to figure out the feasibility and Sapphire already did some quicc maffs on discord and I’m not going to bother. The story is more interesting, I can absolutely believe that a failing agency would put all of its efforts in one big last hurrah to try to win a milestone with a very sketchy mission.

Capfrog’s NOVA IV

A pretty decent entry from a newcomer. Welcome and congratulations on finishing! On to the drawing. The logos are pretty nice. The faded out gear is clever. The faded blue on the fins is pretty good. The way the leading edge extensions are shown merging into the wings is not correct on the side view, that grey flash doesn’t describe anything very well. Shading is inconsistent, there’s shadows on the topside of the second stage on the side view, and to the right of the fuel tank on the cutout view and on the lander. Also on the transit configuration. The 1st stage’s ailerons should be completely outlined in black. On the front view, the lines that determine the shape of the 1st stage’s fuselage should probably be grey. Overall an okay drawing with many fixable mistakes.
In terms of designs the most glaring issue, which has been declared already in discord, is the aircraft cannot rotate on takeoff safely without striking the engine on the runway. Another issue which is not visually obvious is how much ∆v does the 1st stage actually impart on the mission. Can the vehicle reach the stated speed while loaded? The numbers are probably a little optimistic but I can’t sperg it out to prove anything. Solid maybe from me.

APDAF’s Selene IX

APDAF is very honest and states that his entry for the previous space challenge is the basis for this drawing. Lets tear it apart then. The launch vehicle is still a bit plain. The green is neither shiny and obnoxious nor muted and military. Every cone section pointing upwards has a bit too much shading. The modules are good though! More delicate and attractive than last time. The shading on the nozzle on the command module should not have uniform width and should instead narrow a bit as the nozzle does.
On the technical side I’ve read consistent criticism of the choice of fuel for the 1st stage. I don’t know what the specific impulse of Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine and Dinitrogen Tetroxide (literal tongue twister) are, but Kerosene and LOx seem much simpler no? I won’t say it wouldn’t work because I don’t know, but KISS.

WesleyWestland’s Pathfinder 4

Right off the bat we have an issue with pure white being used as the highlight shade. A single point in K or C would’ve sufficed. The contrast of the basic greys is not enough to give it a metallic look, a little cyan could’ve worked to represent steel or aluminium. This, combined with the high contrast of the details gives such a small drawing a cartoony look. The colors of the flag and lettering are fully saturated, contributing to this look. On the contrary the black sections have too little contrast and are way too dark, obscuring details. The probe itself is quite sufficient. I’d call for more details but I wouldn’t know what those could be, my own entry being a bit bare. Overall a decent drawing that could have more work done to it.
As for feasibility I don’t know if this is based on a real project but it looks similar to ABN’s entry so no reason to question it.

I would like to thank Kiwi imperialist once more for a great challenge. The entries were few this time around but I hadn’t been so invested in a challenge for a while. I’m proud of the entries we did get and would like to encourage more members to participate on challenges outside their comfort zone. I had a good reason to motivate myself but believe me, I was OUT of my depth here! Armed with this new knowledge a whole universe of sperging has been opened to me. ∆v is now my best friend.

w o r k l i s t :
Hatsuyuki-class Escort Ships . . . <3

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Post subject: Re: One Small StepPosted: May 24th, 2024, 5:42 am
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Location: Trikona, West Siadria
Well! This has certainly been one of the challenges of all time, though I'm a little disappointed in the turnout as it's in my opinion one of the cooler challenges we've had so far. Congratulations to everyone who was able to get an entry over the line! I'll provide my unwanted and unasked for critique, though keep in mind I know basically nothing about this subject and learned almost everything I know during the course of my time doing my entry, which I am aware now has serious flaws.

Let's start from the top. Char's entry:
Funni Sea Dragon for big person. I think the mega black line to show where the cockpit opens was definitely a choice, maybe not what I would have done but I think it's a valid way to do it. The logo is excellent, and the detailing on the exterior of the rocket is well handled as well. Of course, the person is the big selling point here, and in that regard it certainly doesn't disappoint. I'm still not entirely sure how you're able to translate complex shapes and figures like these into pixel art, specifically pixel art that is both in scale and with the requirement that it is outlined entirely in black lines, but keep it up. To be honest, I only skimmed the writing (I tend to not always fully read the text blobs that come with entries, fight me, I know I wrote a super long one as well but I didn't really expect anyone to read it), but it seemed pretty neat.

BillKerman/Sapphire262 (I'll start using the latter, I know you changed your name partway through this challenge being active):
I won't speak to the mission feasibility, as I know you're well educated on that topic and that you based your mission architecture on real missions. I can probably assume that this entire mission would actually work in real life, even. Drawing-wise, I also have little to critique. The angled space shuttle is insane, and is deserving of the praise you've already gotten for it. The cross-sections are a nice touch and look good doing it. The colors and shading on the rockets are nice, and I like the mission patch you made as well. This isn't a critique and I certainly don't mean to present it as a flaw, but I do wish you'd have done something even less conventional just to flex on the rest of us with your big brain and knowledge. Clear favorite for me, and I imagine I'm not alone in that opinion.

Can't believe this is the only Orion Drive entry! That said, only 8 people entered, maybe if more people went for it we'd have seen more. Perhaps showing my ignorance, but I wasn't aware the Orion had a configuration that was able to land, though I don't doubt you've done your research. The angled retrorockets pointing out of the landed configuration look great, there's a lot of small details and shading that make the entry pop. Shipgirl is a fun addition and sort of a standard with you, and it's well done at that so go for it. Char made some pertinent comments about the shading that I won't rehash since they weren't my ideas, but they encapsulate some of the intangible feelings about any issues with the shading I might have had. Anyways, H&C Logistics Incorporated, interesting company, wonder where I've heard of them before?

As much as I want to love this entry, because it's realistic and it's cute, the size is actually one of the main issues I have because it basically prevents much detail from being added. The detail that does exist is very encouraging, and I think it handles itself well given the limitations of its size, but I think the size will always be an unavoidable problem (something I'll bring up later with the final entry as well). Maybe the challenge could have had some rules changed to allow for another scale to allow smaller entries like this to really succeed, but it's too late for that now. I do very much like the colors/shading values used, and I have no doubts as to the feasibility, so it still does pretty well, but I do feel it's something of a missed opportunity given the skill I know you have.

My own entry:
There's a lot to say, since I'm the person who knows the most about my own entry, obviously. The issues concerning the actual capabilities of my mission to work as intended have been raised with me and I'll most likely return with a redone version at some point, hopefully soon. I did most of my math impromptu and I didn't document it well, even internally, so I had issues through the challenge keeping everything straight. I'm still unsure of where exactly I went wrong in my math, but it's very obvious now that some mistake was made somewhere. I think that some individual components like the ascent module check out? Apart from some conceptual misunderstandings that I can address, but I can fix those quickly. Also, in response to Sapphire's question about whether the hab and the Ascent Module get their own transfer vehicle-- they do, and it gets its own launches, I just ran out of time and energy to draw them since it wasn't going to have any crew and was sort of on its own mission schedule. The supplies were also included with them. It wasn't well addressed and that's my fault so I wanted to address it now. Ignoring technicals and focusing on aesthetics, I picked my colors from older drawings of mine, which probably wasn't a good idea in hindsight, but I do like being consistent between drawings. I might have to just make a new color palette at some point. I think there were points where things really "clicked" for me in ways I can't explain, particularly the ascent module, but I'll have to see whether I can channel that into the whole entry in future challenges. I tried to be as thorough with my entry as was possible for me, which was to my detriment at times as it showed my lack of knowledge, but to be honest I'd have still done it this way even knowing I was going to make errors. The rockets I think are pretty well drawn, even if they're statistically a Proton-K and an SLS, and I think the red highlighting is something I'll keep moving forward. There are still plenty of things I can learn and I appreciate the feedback both aesthetic and technical, but I do think the mission patch and the logo are like first in class (humbly of course) and knowing now my proficiency in doing them they'll certainly start becoming a fixture in my future drawings.

Very impressive first entry. Entries that are the only one of their type in execution always get praise from me as it shows the artist was thinking out of the box and doing their own work to blaze a trail forward, which I appreciate. There are some issues with shading that immediately catch my eye, like the top of the second stage being shaded dark on the side view, but I still think the drawing does what it needs to do and the issues can be easily corrected. I do like the blue wing flashes, and the mission patch is also nice. The e in the ESA logo is a little lumpy though. Personally, I like this entry a lot, even if it's a little rough around the edges, and I think with a little cleanup it could actually be a challenge winner or at the very least podium worthy.

In total shock that this is the only Apollo equivalent entry we got. Again, only 8 entries, but like come on. A picture of the Saturn V is on the challenge post. That isn't a knock on the entry, just something I found very surprising. Regarding the entry itself, I like the exploded view a lot, it definitely adds to the drawing. I do have some critiques though. I think the lander abstracts from the detail of the Apollo LM it very obviously takes heritage from in a way that is unfavorable. The plating(?) on the Command Module is too contrast-y in my opinion. I think the color choice is fine, but apparently I'm a poor judge of that so who knows. I do think the flags and text could have had more done to make them feel less painted on top of the drawing as an afterthought though. I also think the rocket is severely lacking in detail, keep in mind I'm no expert so I can't tell you what I think should be there, but I do think something should be there. Some of the scaling and shapes feel off, particularly the boosters on the side of the first stage, but again, not an expert, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on that and assume you know better than me as you probably do.

As with ABN's entry, I think the size sort of lets this one down. I want to like it, because its sensible and a mission archetype I enjoy, but its just not big enough for this scale to allow for much prowess to be demonstrated. From what I can see, it's somewhat contrast-y, and some of the shapes throw me off. The rocket itself I like a lot more than the boosters, and once again the exploded view helps a lot. The probe itself I think looks good but once again it's so small it's hard for me to properly judge it.

To everyone who participated, good work. We didn't get many entries this time so each one we did get means a lot. Good luck to everyone on the voting.

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Kiwi Imperialist
Post subject: Re: One Small StepPosted: May 24th, 2024, 12:02 pm
Posts: 307
Joined: December 10th, 2014, 9:38 am
Poll Results
The community poll for One Small Step has closed. To the sixteen people who responded and the eight artists who brought life to the challenge, thank you. Participants were limited to existing and plausible real life technologies, but that does not appear to have hindered the imagination. In first place with 294 points and a commanding lead is Sapphire262 who depicted spacecraft for Ares 5, a mission to Mars. They also achieved the highest score in each category. I love the little Apollo module being manoeuvred by the arm. Following in second place is Corp and the Argonaut-7, which attained 265 points. It was great to see an entry with nuclear pulse propulsion. Charguizard is third, having received 251 points for the 98A1-63H and 63E1-Z. The entry presents a wonderful combination of seemingly realistic technology with fantastic elements.

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With the conclusion of One Small Step, the Interim Interceptor Challenge is now open. 33 people responded to the poll for our next challenge. The other options were, as ranked: The Landship Threat, Granddad's Rifle. Light Utility Helicopter, and Heavy Cavalry.

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