Children of a Dead Earth - The Jovian Lunar Tour

With this mission we have to take our flagship from the Jupiter moon Callisto and mop up minor enemy fleets in orbits around the moons Europa and Io. Our ship is vastly superior to what the enemy can muster, but the Jupiter system involves some difficult maneuvering between the moons, and we have to get through engagements with multiple ships while retaining mission capability to the end. We have 2 months to complete the task, before enemy reinforcements can be brought in from Saturn.

Our flagship. Don’t let the Gunship designation fool you, this 9860 ton monster is among the most heavily armed and armored vessels in the solar system. It has a good delta-V of 5.48 km/s and 0.17g acceleration, both common values for warships. The ship is accompanied by a Methane Tanker. In addition, our side managed to broker access to a neutral Methane Depot at the Europa-Jupiter Lagrange Point 4.

The enemy ships we have to destroy.

The starting situation with the fleets in orbit around their respective moons and the Methane Depot at the Europa-Jupiter L4 (green box top right). Staring at a moon so far out from Jupiter, getting to the lower orbits will require a lot of delta-V. Therefore our first step will be to get down to the Europa orbit and resupply at the Methane Depot.

Our starting orbit around Callisto.

Our first prograde burn to eject us from Callisto’s orbit and into orbit around Jupiter. The position is selected to be retrograde and decelerating in relation to Jupiter, putting us into a transfer orbit towards the inside of the system.

The result is a Hohmann transfer to the Europa orbit.

At perigee (lowest point) of the transfer orbit we plan another burn to stabilize us in this orbit. We do not do the full burn for the circular orbit yet, as we first need to get in phase with the Methane Depot. A slightly elliptical orbit results, slow at the higher portion of the trajectory and timed to meet the Methane Depot after one circumnavigation.

With the first part of the trajectory planned solid, lets pass some time. After 5 days our fleet approaches the first of the lower decelerating burns. I add a small 120 m/s out of plane burn to more precisely align our orbital plane with that of Europa and the Methane Depot. The moon Europa itself and the first target fleet is actually pretty close at this point, but in orbital mechanics physical distance and practical distance are two completely different things, so no need to worry.

After passing another day, the correction burn is complete and we plan the second large retrograde burn to align to the circular trajectory of the Methane Depot.

After another 6 days the second burn is complete, placing us next to the Methane Depot. At this point we can select an automatic join up where the game will plot a series of burns to maneuver us together. Note that this uses up 730 m/s delta-V of our remaining 780 m/s budget of the Gunship. Not much left, tough we would still have had more fuel in the accompanying Methane Tanker.

After the join up is complete, we end up in this funny orbit around the Europa-Jupiter Lagrange Point 4.

The Gunship and the Methane Tanker top of their propellant tanks from the depot.

With full delta-V available again, lets get the first fleet around Europa. Our targets are behind, so we burn forward into a higher and slower orbit, letting them come up below us. After one orbit we will meet them and perform an intercept maneuver.

After 4 days, the moon Europa and the enemy fleet come on the inside and the intercept is about to take place.

At about 40 km our Gunship opens up with 8mm railguns.

One enemy Marauder takes hits, loosing its primary weapon. But the hostiles are burning away, slowly opening distance. Having more thrust than we do, they start to pull away and escape.

Back at the orbital map, a game of interception and evasion maneuvers begins. This goes ahead multiple time, but each time we get a little closer.

Eventually another intercept succeeds, with our Gunship burning on target with a good rate of closure.

As the targets come in range, our Gunship rotates for a broadside. The 11mm railgun and the 100 MW laser open up.

One Marauder is disabled.

All our remaining weapons open up, including the 286mm coilgun.

The enemy is hit at an oblique angle, so his armor withstands several hits, but exposed components are disabled.

Under a stream of awesome firepower form our Gunship, the second Marauder is eventually destroyed.

The maneuvering for the interception and the engagement have put us into a very unhealthy orbit around Europa. Time to do something against crashing on the moon!

To be continued…


A healthy burn to get us away from Europa and a second to align us again with the orbital plane around Jupiter.

A series of burns to get us down to the moon Io.

Time to top of tanks again, the tanker passes Methane to the Gunship.

With the Gunship resupplied to full delta-V and approaching Io for the final engagement, I detach the Methane Tanker to keep it safe.

The plan for orbital insertion around Io and phasing to catch the enemy fleet.

The Gunship approaching Io, with the following burns planned: Initial orbital insertion, aliment of plane, tightening the orbit and intercepting the enemy.

The enemy does some maneuvers on his own to throw off my intercept, then deploys 20 Flak Missiles but keeps them with his fleet for the moment. The enemy commander seems to play it defensively. I decide to align in an orbit on the outside, letting him come up below and answer with missile on my own.

20 Flak Missiles deploying from our Gunship. Missiles are not launched but rather deployed, then maneuvered like any other spacecraft. The Flak Missile has a small conventional warhead, good acceleration and a delta-V of 1.95 km/s.

Trajectory plotted for our missiles. About half of their delta-V is spend to get them underway, leaving the other half for terminal maneuvering.

Our Flak Missiles begin the engagement, closing in at 1.46 km/s and have plenty of delta-V left for terminal homing.

The enemy Corsair is engaging the missiles with its green lasers. Lasers are excellent for missile defense, but 40 missiles striking within 8 seconds should be overwhelming.

Unfortunately all missiles are spoofed by the 3 300 MW decoys.

We follow up with another 40 Flak Missiles, and then again with the remaining 20 weapons. But each time they are decoyed. It doesn’t help, we have to engage these guys up close.

Burns to slow down for the engagement are planned. The enemy changes orbit multiple times to evade, but is eventually intercepted.

We are approaching straight on with a high rate of closure for a ship-ship engagement of 496 m/s. Therefore the gunships rotates immediately into a broadside position.

Railguns are the longest reaching weapons and open up first. The rockets keep thrusting laterally to dodge.

Our lasers and coilguns join in, while enemy railgun fire passes behind our ship.

The enemy Missile Schooner is taken out.

Next the Cutter is taking the full brunt and is put out of action.

Finally the Corsair gets some…

… and is cut in half.

Our victorious Gunship took some hits to the rear hull, with perforated and hot-glowing armor. Several radiators where shot out and 3 of 4 rockets are disabled. Fortunately we are still maneuverable.

Though all enemy ships are destroyed, the mission is technically not over yet as the enemy Flak Missile fleet is still alive. Though it is shortly going to meet destiny on the surface of Io. But our combat maneuvering put ourselves again into free fall on towards the moon.

Fortunately we still have a remaining rocket, so we can boost our ship into a stable orbit around Io.

As the enemy missile fleet crashes on the moon, all objectives are satisfied and the mission ends successfully.



How much real time does such a mission take. Sounds like a lot of planning and trying out trajectories…

This mission took me about 2 hours on a first attempt, including taking the screenshots to document everything. It’s one of the larger missions, most others take about one hour.

I haven’t yet dived into designing my own spacecraft or components yet. I guess that is the part of the game where you can really sink in a lot of time.