The /r/kerbalspaceprogram subreddit holds a weekly Kerbal Space Program challenge. This week challenge, “Fall with style,” is to rescue a Kerbal that’s gone EVA on a suborbital trajectory — without reentering a vehicle.
Here are my results:
Notes: I used Engineer Redux to check the delta-V on my craft rather than computing it by hand, but removed the part before leaving VAB. For this challenge I used only stock parts, but I should note that KSPX, Truss pack, and KW Rocketry are also installed.
The “Falling Mk1” NERVA vehicle is perfectly balanced, and was trival to get into orbit. With a gravity turn, you’re at a 80km orbit with a -40km periapsis, leaving little work for the NERVA to do.
The “Falling Mk4a” space glider is not so much. I prefer to make a 90 degree roll at 1km, at it was doable but required about 1/2 stick to maintain attitude. ASAS handled it with no sweat.
If you’re wondering, the Mk2 was a well balanced glider, but I couldn’t build a stable launch vehicle for it. Likewise, the Mk3 was stable to launch, but the glider just tumbled, even under ASAS. Mk4 is a compromise between the two, and Mk4a adds the Kerbal cage. The original design spec used ladder, but then I discovered that Kerbals don’t like to hold on tight to ladders under 2Gs. Oops.