Kerbal Space Program 2020

Hey y’all!
Inspired by SpaceX and my kids’ interest in space I am back to playing KSP.
I’ll use this thread to talk about a few fun things I am doing in the game and maybe post a screenshot now and then.

As mentioned in previous threads about KSP I am playing with a metric ton of mods. I like the game more challenging but dislike not having the right tools for the job, so that’s what mods do for me.

Anyway, let’s start with the bragging: I finally figured out some of the factors that contributed to my inability to build proper planes in KSP! Flying never was a big problem, but it turned out that the part called “landing” can be a problem. Who would have thought? :smiley:
I am still not a great plane designer, but since I play with the FAR aerodynamics mod, which makes things actually pretty realistic, I was able to look up real airplane design techniques and use them for solving some of my design problems. Another fun thing about that topic is that even if you don’t exactly know why, if you build something similar to real life it tends to work, and for the same reasons.
I started with smaller planes but ended up with a huge (300 tons or so) SSTO that can transport ~36 tons to LKO (lower Kerbal orbit). Probably not the greatest design, but previously all my attempts at usable SSTOs with noteworthy cargo capacity failed.
Right now I am building a Skylon-inspired SSTO as a shuttle for at least 12 Kerbals, but yaw instability at hypersonic speeds kills it right now so I will have to improve the design.

The other thing I did was designing a space station and launching it part by part using a standardized rocket. Which naturally involves a lot of rendezvous and docking maneuvers, but I am pretty good at those so it was fun building it.

And lastly I built a manned mission to the Mun not completely unlike Apollo, including a vehicle for the Kerbals to drive around on, and my kids watched the whole mission while I explained interesting space facts.

I’ll post some pics soon.

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KSP is an amazing game. I still haven’t explored the whole system, or had a campaign where I managed to unlock the entire tech tree.

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Hey @Aginor! Like you, I picked up KSP again shortly after the crew dragon delivered the astronauts to the ISS. I downloaded and installed the latest version of FAR and dived into creative mode to practice designing SSTO’s again. This was the first functional design I came up with again.

The trapezoidal wings look a little overdone (Like I said before I really wished we had procedural wings just like we have procedural fairings now) but she flies pretty well! CoL stays nice and close to CoM as it shifts throughout the flight regime. I also started a new career, but FAR has been causing a ton of crashes there :frowning: I hope it runs more stable for you!

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Nice one!

And in fact… there is a procedural wings mod! I use it.

I recommend using the program CKAN for managing mods, it works like Linux’ apt.

Here is my mod list right now. 55 mods and I am still missing some stuff that hasn’t been updated for this version yet.

[x] Science! Continued (xScienceContinued 5.26)
Astrogator (Astrogator v0.10.1)
B9 Aerospace Procedural Wings - Fork (B9-PWings-Fork 1:v0.93)
B9 Part Switch (B9PartSwitch v2.16.0)
Chatterer (Chatterer 0.9.99)
ClickThrough Blocker (ClickThroughBlocker 0.1.9.5)
Community Category Kit (CommunityCategoryKit 5.1.0.0)
Community Tech Tree (CommunityTechTree 1:3.4.1)
Connected Living Space (ConnectedLivingSpace 2.0.0.5)
Deployable Engines Plugin (DeployableEngines 1.2.1)
Docking Port Alignment Indicator (DockingPortAlignmentIndicator 6.8.6)
Easy Vessel Switch (EVS) (EasyVesselSwitch 2.1)
Ferram Aerospace Research Continued (FerramAerospaceResearchContinued 3:0.15.11.4)
Firespitter Core (FirespitterCore v7.15)
Firespitter Resources config (FirespitterResourcesConfig v7.15)
Impact! (Impact v1.8.0)
Infernal RO-Robotics (InfernalRoboticsRealismOverhaul 2.3.1)
Kerbal Alarm Clock (KerbalAlarmClock v3.13.0.0)
Kerbal Attachment System (KAS 1.6)
Kerbal Engineer Redux (KerbalEngineerRedux 1.1.7.1)
Kerbal Inventory System (KIS 1.25)
Kerbal Joint Reinforcement Continued (KerbalJointReinforcementContinued v3.5.1)
Mark IV Spaceplane System (MarkIVSpaceplaneSystem 3.1.1)
Mini Airbrakes (MiniAirbrakes 1.1)
ModularFlightIntegrator (ModularFlightIntegrator 1.2.7.0)
Module Manager (ModuleManager 4.1.3)
Near Future IVA Props (NearFutureProps 1:0.6.2)
PlanetShine (PlanetShine 0.2.6.3)
PlanetShine - Default configuration (PlanetShine-Config-Default 0.2.6.3)
Precise Editor (PreciseEditor 1.4.0)
Precise Node (PreciseNode 1.2.11)
Procedural Fairings (ProceduralFairings 1:v1.8.2)
Procedural Parts (ProceduralParts v2.0.3)
RasterPropMonitor (RasterPropMonitor 1:v0.31.3)
RasterPropMonitor Core (RasterPropMonitor-Core 1:v0.31.3)
RealChute Parachute Systems (RealChute v1.4.7.6)
RealHeat (RealHeat v5.1)
Reentry Particle Effect Renewed (ReentryParticleEffect 1.9.1.1)
Retractable Lifting Surface Module (RetractableLiftingSurface 0.2.1.1)
scatterer (Scatterer 3:v0.0610)
Scatterer Default Config (Scatterer-config 3:v0.0610)
Scatterer Sunflare (Scatterer-sunflare 3:v0.0610)
Ship Manifest (ShipManifest 6.0.1.0)
Smart Parts (SmartParts 1.9.16)
Snacks (Snacks v1.24.5)
Solar Science (SolarScience 1:v1.2.0.0)
Stockalike Station Parts Expansion Redux (StationPartsExpansionRedux 1.3.5)
Surface Mounted Lights (surfacelights 1.16)
SXTContinued (SXTContinued 2:0.3.29.4)
Time Control (TimeControl 1:2.9.8)
Trajectories (Trajectories v2.3.2)
TriggerAu Flags (TriggerAu-Flags v2.10.0.0)
Trim Indicator (TrimIndicator 1.9.0.0)
Waypoint Manager (WaypointManager 2.8.1)
Zero MiniAVC (ZeroMiniAVC 1:1.1.0.1)

Here are a few things I built in this version of the game (Sandbox mode. I liked the career the first few times but now I just want to set my own goals and build, and not grind science/money)

Comm satellite (I have three of them orbiting Kerbin and one orbiting the Mun so far):

KSS1, my space station. It was launched in ten parts.
It has a crew of 12 Kerbals and features a centrifuge section (inflatable so it can be launched) that creates 0.5Gs

The docked space ship is a KTV1 (Kerbal Transport Vehicle 1), I use it for a lot of things, including as a tug to move station parts after I have placed them in space near the station. Especially if I send them up in my huge, unwieldy SSTO that cannot maneuver them into position.

The KTV1 and most of the station parts are launched using the ELSA rocket (~20 tons to LKO). My daughter suggested the name, but I figured out it could mean something like “Extra Large Space Ascendant” or so… :smiley:

An ELSA rocket (with extra boosters) also launched my mun probe and a lot of other things:

Here is also my Mun rover and the lander that brought it to the Mun (long legs so the small rover can just detach from the bottom and drive away).

And here are the spot where Kerbals set foot onto the Mun. The vehicle and the lower part of the lander are still there.
The mission was a bit like Apollo, except that I launched with two rockets instead of one huge rocket and docked the parts in lower Kerbin orbit. And my moon vehicle was HUGE compared to the real one.

The CSM was basically my KTV1 just with a bigger fuel tank, and the lander looked like this:

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Then I moved on to planes.

First a few easy ones. Light with straight wings. Slow but easy to fly and a lot of lift.

Then I moved on to faster ones. Sadly not easy to land.

So what to do… I need something that has straight wings for landing, but swept wings for flying fast…
Sure! Use robotic parts and make a swing wing!

So. much. fun. :slight_smile:

I made an SSTO out of it. But it barely reaches orbit.

My next design was based on the Mk2 series of parts. Reached orbit, but…meh.

And here is my humongous one. ~36 tons to LKO. Made with the Mk4 mod parts.
It has wings not unlike the F-4 Phantom has, to make it fly more stable. It needs the whole runway to take off (I use RATO boosters sometimes when I have heavy payloads. Also they are fun) but it flies great.

Right now I am working on the Skylon, using Mk3 parts:

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My grandkids, when they were very little, loved to play this with me; cranked up the volume; they’d yell out the count down and whoohooo! - the liftoff roar had them squealing.

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KSP! Such a great game. I only had these old screenshots in my steam app available…my Mars (Duna) rover and it’s parachute / rocket lander setup. Horrendously inefficient use of mass but it worked so I was happy!

From memory, the landing was dead easy if you managed to time the aerobrake right and ended up over lowlands and the parachutes got to grip the thicker atmosphere…but if you ended up over high ground life was unpleasant.

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Oh yeah, kids love to see rockets launch.
My kids count down from five and shout “Ignition!”

Also funny and cute and also making me proud:
Two days ago my kids were playing in the living room. They had built themselves a rocket out of a cardboard roll from a paper towel and one from toilet paper.

First they “flew” it up vertically a bit, but then initiated a gravity turn.
Then my daughter told my wife that now the engines are off.
My wife asked why and my daughter answered her that they would do the next burn at the Apoapsis.
She explained to my wife that “the Apoapsis is the highest point of the arc”.
She also told my wife that the more important thing about an orbit is speed, not altitude, and thus launching the rocket straight up would be wrong.

:slight_smile:

Edit: don’t get me wrong, I am pretty sure that my daughter doesn’t fully grasp the concepts of space flight (hell, I am quite sure I don’t fully grasp it myself!) she is mostly repeating parts of the explanations I give while I am playing. She is five years old after all.
But that’s how learning works, and even if only parts of it stay in her brain and inspire her so she wants to learn and understand more about how our universe works, it was already worth it.

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Thank you so much for pointing this out to me!! I really love it!!

She flew very nicely in FAR, only started getting a little wobbly over M1.5 which was my pull-up cue. She de-orbited nicely, but broke apart when I pulled ~7g’s at mach 5.0 as I was getting ready to land, I’ll have to manage the elevon scheduling in FAR to fix that :slight_smile: The next step will be to transport a useful load to space.

Understandable. I usually give the income levels a slight boost and play with the leadership initiative trait (increased payout per milestone) in the administration office so I don’t have to do any contract grinding. I find it very rewarding to be cost efficient about things and see that reflected in the career.

I think that’s a very good understanding for a 5 year old! I’m very happy you’re getting your daughter excited for STEM at such a young age.

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Good point about cost-effectiveness getting rewarded in career gameplay, I had forgotten about that. It is really fun.

Hmm… now it makes me wonder if that nice tech tree mod is still around. I disliked the stock tech tree back them because of its extreme focus on manned missions. I preferred to do a lot of stuff unmanned first.

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Let me know of you find that, please! I also wished the tree was a bit more flight oriented as well before heading into space. By the time you’re already doing mun landings you finally unlock the first jets that are only good up to around 5km. I never got the props from breaking ground to work properly, despite reading the encyclopedia and searching for info online.

I looked up my old installs and there were a few mods like that.
One was called “Better Than Starting Manned” but it hasn’t been maintained since several years. I think it worked up until version 1.1 of the game.

The other was the SETI Community Tech Tree, which also let you start with planes and unmanned small rockets, but unfortunately also stopped working with KSP 1.1 or so, at least according to CKAN.

So no luck it seems. It always bothered me that Kerbals apparently developed working multistage liquid engines and SRBs, before they invented jet engines, wheels, or ladders.
(Still love the game).

As for the expansions: I own neither of them. For robotic parts I use the excellent mod “Infernal Robotics”.

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I got them for free because I adopted KSP at such an early stage :slight_smile: I think it was version 0.14 when I first got it. Too bad about the tech tree, I saw something else that looked nice but was also out of date. I did some more tinkering with the props and rotors that were introduced with breaking ground…

Finally got something that works! It turned out the culprit was the blade angle authority. The encyclopedia recommended to keep this low but increasing it was what finally enabled me to fly. However, she’s so twitchy it makes the DCS Gazelle seem like a very docile and friendly heli. Just touching her collective-throttle (yeah… that is what it is. I don’t have the sim gear hooked up to KSP so both the collective and throttle are connected to that one and only throttle axis we have) will make her twitch 90 degrees left or right in an instant. Some more tuning will be required. This is in my freshly started career, so I’ll use her to collect the science from the biomes that are very close to the base.

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Great!
I finally got my Skylon to fly decently.
The reason for my instability were CoG issues and wrongly configured control surfaces.
Only the RCS placement is still suboptimal now which makes docking hard, but I guess I will solve that at the weekend.
After that I am planning to do some long range stuff to Duna and so on.

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Yeah, your daughter and I now have something in common: KSP schooled me about orbital dynamics, and I’m pretty sure she grok’d it much quicker :slight_smile:

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I don’t feel like flying these days. All I do is a bit of racing in Assetto Corsa and playing a bit of KSP.
Here are a few pics. I added a metrical ton of mods (again), so a lot that you will see is NOT stock.

Here is my crew on Minmus. The lander is a total overkill, but I was testing its behaviour because I wanted to use it for my Duna mission.

And here is the Skylon landing, using the “Astronomer’s visual pack” mod that adds a new skybox, clouds, auroras, and a lot of other stuff.

Here you can see the Odyssey, my interplanetary craft, docked to the Skylon that ferried its 6 Kerbal crew up to LKO.

Leaving Kerbin for Duna. The Odyssey features a centrifuge section to keep the crew at 0.8g during transit.

I sent a ion-drive probe to Duna first. A bit more delta-V used but that way I could get it there a few weeks earlier.

Also on their way to Duna at roughly the same time:
Two landers. Their transit stage also contains additional fuel and supplies. I sent two of them in case the landing team gets stranded on Duna.

Finally arrived at Duna. I decided against aerobraking. You can see the radiators glowing red. Those engines produce a lot of heat.

I then rendezvoused with one of the landers, transferred three Kerbals and started the descent. Meanwhile the Odyssey docked with the lander’s transit stage to resupply.

While I was descending this happened. Duna’s moon Ike is pretty big and pretty close so eclipses are common.
I still landed but it was an eerie twilight. Oh, and there was also a sand storm. Talk about bad timing…


As soon as that was over I landed the rover (which had also flown there in a separate rocket and arrived a day after the Odyssey). I missed the intended landing spot by 1.7km. Not too bad. The rover can be remote controlled so it could just drive there.


First Kerbals on Duna! (in this playthrough)


More from Duna soon, but meanwhile here are a few pictures of my solar probe:
It features a heat shield so it can get very close to the Sun. So far I made it to 900,000km (four times closer than Moho) but I will try to get even closer. I did make a mistake though and used ion engines. That won’t work well since I cannot use solar panels that close to the Sun.
I put it on a fairly elliptical orbit so I can fill the batteries and change the orbit while not risking to melt the probe. I use radiator panels to dissipate all the heat from the heat shield.

btw: Thanks to the mod mentioned above you can see Duna and Kerbin+Mun in those last two shots. They are only small dots but that feature alone makes the mod worth it.

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Awesome! I really need to get back into KSP. Are you using the career mode or sandbox?

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For this playthrough I use the Sandbox mode.
Reasons:

  1. my favorite tech tree mods don’t work.
    I can’t stand the stock tech tree. Kernels develop solid rocket boosters before they have wheels, ladders, wings, or flat concrete runways. Also: the nodes are wired and many molded parts don’t have a good place in the stock tree.
  2. Career mode (also science mode, kind of) does a few things I used to enjoy but don’t enjoy these days
  • money grinding. I do enjoy coming up with cheap concepts tailored to contracts so I can farm money. But it gets repetitive. Many times it is just waiting for an easily formally contract and that’s it.
  • contracts sometimes break immersion. I have made my first orbital flight and get a contract to rescue some dude stranded on Minmus.
  • science grinding. I figured out that you can grind the Kerbin SOI to get all the science to unlock the whole tech tree. I do it. I just need to, my OCD tells me I am missing out otherwise. Test all the instrument in all biomes of Kerbin at all altitudes plus do all the EVAs flying, landed, and so on. Easily grindable but not fun. The KSC alone has four biomes or so.
  • station building and maintaining isn’t encouraged. But I like that. In career mode it is a waste of money.
  • I like planes and SSTOs and reusable rockets. In career mode those are almost never worth it. That might be realistic but it isn’t fun.
  • …I had another point but forgot it. I’ll edit it in later.
    EDIT: remembered it. It is a weird effect. Once I am advanced so far into the career that I can do the stuff I really want to try out, I have unlocked all the tech tree nodes so I don’t get meaningful rewards/incentives anymore. And/or I have a ridiculous amount of money making the game quite similar to a sandbox game actually. And/or I run out of motivation or the next version of the game is ready, which causes me to switch and abandon my (usually heavily modded) campaign because I would need to wait for all my mods to get updated.

And of course I know that I tend to install mods that make the game a lot harder, which makes progress even slower. That’s not great for campaigns somehow.

Valentina and Bill on the rover. I drove around 100km total to get scientific data from another biome.



A bit fast sometimes…

Back to space after a few days. The lander was designed to be reusable a few times. An engineer has to repack the chutes but the whole thing can take off again. Thankfully that’s pretty easy on Duna because of the thin atmosphere.


Rendezvous with the Odyssey during another eclipse. The big part on the right is the transit/service stage of the lander. Still enough fuel in it for at least one additional landing and takeoff. It will remain in orbit with the lander docked.

After that part of the mission had worked very well the Odyssey continued to Ike. I also sent the spare lander to Ike (its transit stage had enough fuel for that). I had planned for either an Ike landing or a second Duna landing and since it was the first time I went to Duna and I had already gathered data from two Duna biomes I decided to go for Ike.
That has the additional perk that the landers’ transit stages double as communication relays. Ike tends to occlude Duna, but with an additional relay around Ike the probability for good communication to Duna’s SOI is a lot higher.


Another eclipse on arrival at Ike, but this time it was Duna who did the eclipsing.

Lander ready, and the Odyssey joined up with the transit stage.

Descent and landing on Ike. There is some sort of dust cloud around that moon when sunlight hits it.

Woohoo!


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Looks like a great mission with well designed equipment!

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