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I've dived into unmanned exploration with RemoteTech mod for added challenge. I am at an early stage in the Career mode and my core communications constellation is 3 satellites at 700km orbit with a Communotron 16 for inter-constellation relays and LKO service and a pair of Comms DTS-M1 on each craft aimed at Mun an Minmus respectively.

The first step for unmanned probes beyond Kerbin SOI was a Munar free-return fly-by which was an easy step given there's no need to stay in communication throughout the flight and, particularly, on the dark side of the Mun. For science sake I just scheduled experimentation to be performed by Flight Computer at point in time after SOI change (Space high above Mun) and at Mun PE (Space near the Mun).

Trouble came when I was returning to Kerbin to aerobrake and land. My probe has Communotron 16 & Reflectron DP-10 on board. The first one snaps under dynamic pressure and the latter is out of range of KSC and comm-sats.

So, how do I not loose the probe to lithobraking given antennas & relays that I have?

Some options are:

  • figure out timing for FC to extend/retract antena during re-entry
  • figure out timing for FC for parachute deployment and just pickup uncontrolled probe after it lands
  • learning & using kOS to script above actions based on altitude/speed

What I ended up doing was binding Communotron to an action group and schedule two action group toggles in the Flight Computer (one to extend and one to retract) the antenna. Figuring out the proper timing for these actions involved lots of trial and save/load.

Is there a better way?

  • Without expanding your communication network, no, there isn't a better way to solve this problem. – Orbital Vagabond Oct 21 '15 at 17:50
  • Using Reflectron 500km-range antenna will require >150 satellites at LKO ~70km to ensure complete coverage in equatorial plane – Sergii Zaskaleta Oct 21 '15 at 18:38
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One option is to have a lower-orbit set of satellites at 300km's so you can use the DP-10.

The other cheaper option is to right-click your parachutes and set the altitudes to deploy. Doesn't have to be high, but at least over 500m. Right before you enter the atmosphere, activate the chutes through staging and retract your antenna. You won't have any more control over the probe, however, with the parachutes activated, they will still deploy at the altitude you set them at. After it lands, recover it like normal.

  • Thanks, @Xtoro, though indeed option 1 won't be easy - I've done the math and there will be necessary >150 satellites. Your other option is good, though limited to Kerbin only, - I won't be able to repeat the feat on Duna. – Sergii Zaskaleta Nov 2 '15 at 7:40

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