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Subject: First Game: "I've Got a Jar of Dirt" rss

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Casey Davis
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We tried our first full game of Leaving Earth last night (on easy mode, with just Earth and Moon). Very cool game. I focused on getting an unmanned probe to Moon while my wife worked on putting a habitable space station in orbit. After a lot of trial and error I managed to come up with a launch configuration that could get a one ton payload to the lunar surface (2 x Soyuz, 6 x Juno, payload)... so that's a probe on the moon, capable of harvesting as many moon samples as it wants, but with no rockets left to get it *off* the moon.

So I used the same launch configuration to get a different one ton payload to the lunar surface... specifically, a single Juno rocket! I attached the moon sample to the tiny rocket and blasted it into lunar orbit. With the single rocket gone, that left just this lone sample container in orbit on its own... which led to "I've got a jar of dirt" Pirates-of-the-Caribbean jokes, "ballet music while jar tumbles slowly through space" 2001 jokes, and "historical moon rock splats into windshield of Planet Express and is wiped off by windshield wipers" Futurama jokes.

I kept sending up more Juno rockets to attach to that jar of rocks, and eventually brought it back to Earth around the same time my wife finished testing the life support systems and sent Buzz Aldrin up to live in the space station (and return a year later). Good game.
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PaweĊ‚ Bedz
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Nice! As a good way to create your rocket to do specific mission... Use reverse engineering
So, you want to have probe (w/ sample) on earth? So you need X thrust. Add proper rockets to carry this mass 1 payload. It comes from Moon orbit? So add X rockets to carry payload (probe + rockets) etc - to the moon and back to earth

Afterwards you can optimize maybe a little bit via randez vous in earth orbit or something, or maybe send 2 spacecrafts to moon, leave one in orbit (with rockets to bring probe back home)? Anyway - reverse engineering is a way to go for me (ant that is why you have tables to write on paper).
 
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Casey Davis
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I've been using the reverse-engineering mindset from the start, but to begin with I was just trying to get a probe *to* the Moon, figuring I could work out how to get it *back* later. As I get a better intuitive feel for the capabilities of the different rockets I'll work on more complex mission planning.

What I've also started doing (just today in fact) is working out possible launchers for an arbitrary 1 ton payload, an arbitrary 2 ton payload, an arbitrary 3 ton payload, etc. That way when I'm doing all the reverse-engineering, I just have to plan out a vessel that can go from Earth orbit to wherever, and then check the mass and bolt it to the top of an appropriate pre-designed launcher.

So far, I've got this:

1 ton: 1xSoyuz, or [1+1]xAtlas

2 ton: [2+2]xAtlas, or 1xSoyuz + 2xAtlas

4 ton: [4+3]xAtlas, or 3xAtlas & 3xJuno + 3xAtlas, or 1xSoyuz + 3xAtlas

5 ton: 1xSaturn

7 ton: [1+1]xSoyuz

20 ton: [1+1]xSaturn
 
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Roger BW
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High Wycombe
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Yes, I similarly tend to build a mission design back to Earth Orbit, then look at the launchers needed to get it there.

You may want to add a "cost per payload" column to your Earth-orbit list - bigger rockets are always more efficient of course, but sometimes you have the extra money.
 
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Robert Manning
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Sunnyvale
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AbacusWizard wrote:
With the single rocket gone, that left just this lone sample container in orbit on its own... which led to "I've got a jar of dirt" Pirates-of-the-Caribbean jokes, "ballet music while jar tumbles slowly through space" 2001 jokes, and "historical moon rock splats into windshield of Planet Express and is wiped off by windshield wipers" Futurama jokes.

I was picturing Charlie Brown from the Peanuts Halloween Special -- but this is funny! thumbsup bag
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Casey Davis
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Firedrake wrote:
You may want to add a "cost per payload" column to your Earth-orbit list - bigger rockets are always more efficient of course, but sometimes you have the extra money.


I am including the *total* cost of each launcher on the list--I figure if I'm launching, say, a 3 ton payload but I only have a 4 ton launcher available, the total cost of the launcher is more relevant than the hypothetical efficiency if it were fully loaded. (This does, however, lend credence to the idea that it's a good idea to research Junos early--not only is "one more Juno" a good way to use an extra megabuck at the end of the year, it's also a good way to fill up a payload! Could always use an extra Juno in Earth orbit.)

It also occurs to me that, while a single Saturn may be the cheapest launcher for a 2, 3, 4, or 5 ton payload, that *doesn't* take into account the cost of researching and testing the Saturn technology.
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Casey Davis
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rmanning wrote:
I was picturing Charlie Brown from the Peanuts Halloween Special -- but this is funny! thumbsup bag


"I got a rock"--ha, yes; I forgot about that!
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Josh Zscheile
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It seems you had fun, which is good I hope to read more reports from you in the future, maybe with a higher difficulty game.
 
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Casey Davis
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Definitely planning on more--and more challenging--episodes of Leaving Earth in the future; this was mostly to familiarize ourselves with the game mechanics and get a feel for what each rocket is capable of. I am very much looking forward to exploring Mars, Venus, and beyond.
 
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