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Tex_NL

Frequently Asked Questions

Question

I, and most certainly many others, have noticed the last few months the forum gets swamped with a number of questions that gets asked over and over and over again. And answering them over and over again can get pretty tiring. Let's share our vast common experience in order to educate the n00bs.
If you got any examples (and the answer of course) please post them and I'll add them to the list. Keep it clean and please refrain from naming people directly.
The same goes for any errors. If you spot any please let me know.


NB! If your question is not already answered in this thread please do not ask it here. Search for a relevant thread or start a new topic instead.
If this FAQ has been useful to you don't hesitate to give it a like or comment.


Frequent Asked Questions

KSP in general.

Q: Why is my game constantly crashing? Especially on scene changes.
A: Most likely you're simply running out of memory. The 32 bits KSP version can't use more than 4GB. (The windows version dies at about 3.3-3.4GB on average, the OSX version at only about 3GB.) Loose some mods or switch to the 64bits version. On PC it's also possible to use -force-opengl. (Success not guaranteed but many people have had great results with it.)

Q: I have 8GB RAM on Win7 64 bit. Why does my game keep running out of memory.
A: As with the answer above. 32bit KSP can't use that extra memory. And even a 64bits game can run out of memory when too many mods are installed.

Q: My computer has X cores, yet KSP runs at a low framerate. / KSP uses only a fraction of my CPU. What's going on?
A:
KSP runs on the unity game engine. As a result KSP physics are still single threaded. The physics calculations will jump from core to core but you can only only use one out of the X cores at any one time.. More cores will end up meaning you are using a smaller fraction of your processing power.

Q: Can I de-orbit a moon?
A: Short answer: No. Long answer: No. All planetary bodies are 'on rails'. Their orbits are fixed and can not be changed by in-game physics.

Q: But what if they were not 'on rails'? Then you can de-orbit a moon, right?
A: Still no. In theory it would be possible but the volume of fuel tanks required would be roughly the same size as the body you're trying to de-orbit. The game engine will not permit craft of that size. Even if the game engine would allow such craft it would take many decades to burn through that amount of fuel even at 4x physics warp. (YouTuber Scott manley 'tries' to de-orbit Gilly.)

Q: I'd love to use mods, but that's not the way Squad intended it to be played, right?
A: Did you notice the weekly showcase of mods by Squad on Modding Monday? The mods are there to enhance the game as you see fit!

Q: How do I install mods?
A1:
Download your mods from Curse, Spacedock, Kerbaltek or any other source you desire. Most mods come in .zip format. Mods will have to be installed in the GameData folder. Search for the ../KSP_X/GameData/ folder and open it. At the dame time open the .zip you downloaded. Some mods already contain a ../GameData/ folder. If yours does, open it. Drag and drop the contents into the ../KSP_X/GameData/ folder.
A2: You could choose to use CKAN, a mod manager, to install and maintain your mods. Success is not guaranteed, not all mods are supported and/or compatible.

Q: Is MechJeb (or any other mod) cheating?
A: The object of the game is to enjoy it. If you enjoy the game more using MechJeb (or any other mod), do so. If you enjoy the game more by not using it, don't use it. Don't let anyone tell you what the 'true' way of playing KSP is!

Q: Is [modname] compatible with KSP version x.x.x
A1:
Search the forum for the relevant [modname] thread. Don't just browse through but actually READ the title, the first post and the last 2 pages. If you're still not sure check the dates of the last few posts and the date the OP was last edited. When the posts are all older than a few months or when a lot of posts just ask for updates you're probably out of luck. A well maintained and up-to-date mod gets at least a few posts per week.
Also check the mod creators forum activity. Hover your mouse over his/her avatar and check the 'last visited' date. If the mod creator has not visited the forum in a long time the mod too is most likely abandoned.
A2: When in doubt the easiest (and often fastest) method of getting an answer is to just go for it. Just download and install [modname] and see what happens. As usual you should make a back-up of your current game or create a separate install to keep your current game safe.
A3: If all else fails, ask in the relevant [modname] forum thread. That's the place the [modname] users hang out. That's where they know the answer.

Q: What is the official name of the Kerbal currency?
A:
It's called Funds (:funds:) as in "The rocket costs 100,000 funds".

Q: I don't understand why the game doesn't include [feature x]. It would be so much better with it!
A:
There is an entire sub forum dedicated to suggestions. However, make sure your request is not included in the 'Already suggested list', or on the 'What not to suggest' list. Keep in mind that being on the 'what not to suggest' list doesn't mean it won't be implemented; female Kerbals were on that list, for instance. It just means that Squad is aware of these requests but can not guarantee such a request would be implemented or even entertained. Also, while stock might not offer your feature, it's very likely that there's a mod for it!

Q: When will the next update be released?
A:
Soon™ SQUAD never gives release dates to avoid disgruntled users when deadlines aren't met.

Q: "The barn" What is it? Where is it? Why isn't it?
A:
The barn as it was shown in the previews was generally not received in a positive way by the community for various reasons, and thus left out in Career mode. Most complaints where about bad quality rendering (especially the textures), out of style with the other buildings and haphazard use of objects that didn't make sense (roads leading nowhere, etc). One of the most recent discussions about it can be found here.

Launch, lift-off and orbit.

Q: Why does my rocket flip when I turn 45 degrees at 10km? The tutorial says that's what I should do.
Ashort: The tutorial you're looking at is outdated. Since v1.0 aerodynamics have drastically changed, drag has become a serious factor that can no longer be ignored. To avoid flipping start your gravity turn very shortly after lift-off and be gentle. If you get Mach effects in low atmo you're going too fast.
Along: Drag pushes the rocket backward, while inertia keeps it going forward (along with thrust). The different parts of the rocket provide different amounts of drag and inertia: heavy parts provide more inertia while wings, airbrakes, and parachutes provide more drag. Since engines are heavy, their inertia will cause that part of the rocket to continue forward, while the drag on the rest of the rocket will pull it backward. Once the rocket tilts, this causes it to be forced into an orientation where the heavier end points forward - in this case, upside down. This is a real problem rockets have to deal with. The simplest solution is to add parts that provide a lot of drag (wings or airbrakes) at the back end near the engines. If this is not enough, even with careful flying, use the right-click menu to disable fuel in the tanks near the front until the tanks near the back are nearly empty, so as to keep the weight of the fuel near the front of the rocket and due to the above physical effects keep it pointed the right way.

Q: My contract won't complete.
A1: Are you sure you're orbiting in the right direction? Watch how the highlights on the target orbit are moving. You should be going in the same direction. Also check the AN and DN markers, if they are close to 180 you are orbiting in the opposite direction.
A2: The contract system still contains a few bugs. If you are confident you've met all the contract requirements don't despair, Quicksafe [F5] and exit the game. Restart the game and return to the craft that failed to complete. Almost guaranteed now the contract will complete without a problem.

Q: Why is it so hard to make a shuttle?
A: Because shuttles are really, really hard. One of the hardest things to build in KSP. There are all sorts of off-centre thrust issues to cope with, which change quite radically as the SRB's then main tank separate. There are also lots of drag/lift problems with wings on a rocket. Almost any other way to get to orbit can be designed, built and flown more easily and efficiently in KSP.

Q: Can you make a rocket as efficient as an SSTO spaceplane?
A
: Yes; build a rocket that uses a Single Stage to get To Orbit. It is exactly as efficient as an SSTO. It IS an SSTO. Spaceplanes aren't efficient because they are spaceplanes, they are efficient because they use air-breathing engines. The second factor that makes SSTO Spaceplanes economically efficient is that they are relatively easy to land back at KSC. The closer to KSC you recover your craft they higher the refund value. Landing back on the runway or launchpad will result in a 100% recovery value. But of course SSTO rockets can also be de-orbited and landed at or near KSC for full recovery.

Q: SAS won't activate. Even though I have a Kerbal in the cockpit KSP says I do not have a pilot.
A:
Your 'pilot' might not be a pilot. Kerbals come in 4 types; pilots, engineers, scientists and tourists. All types have their own use and abilities (except tourists, they're just high-value seat fillers) and only pilots can use SAS. Higher level Kerbals have higher skills. To use more advanced SAS features either use a better trained pilot Kerbal or higher level probe core.

Q: [.] (period) toggles the visibility of the NavBall. How do I permanently keep the NavBall visible in the map screen?
A
: Go to the main menu and open settings. Under the "General" tab uncheck the option to "Autohide Navball in Map View".

Q: What is Delta-V / dV / ΔV?
A1:
dV literally means 'change in velocity'. Basically what you can do depending on the amount of fuel you have, the total weight of your craft and the efficiency of your engines.
A2: Mathematically, delta-V is calculated with the Rocket Equation - it takes the form:

delta-V = ln(M/Mo)* Isp *go

Where delta-V is the change in velocity (a vector that's a dot-product of the scalar component of speed with the vector component of direction), ln is the natural logarithm function (look for it on a scientific calculator, or use =LN() in MS Excel), M is the full mass of the rocket stage, Mo is the dry mass of the rocket stage (i.e. what it weighs when all its fuel tanks are empty), go is standard gravity (9.81 m/s2regardless of what body you're orbiting/launching from) and Isp is the specific impulse of the engine (a way of measuring the engine's efficiency). It's importance, as has been mentioned, is in determining the total magnitude of the changes the rocket may make to its velocity before it runs out of fuel; in the process it determines where a rocket may go given a certain mission profile.

There are three main ways of increasing a rocket's delta-V:

1) improving propellant mass fraction (i.e. moar fuel)

2) increasing specific impulse (by selecting an engine combination that increases this value - the main reason nuclear engines are recommended for interplanetary flight)

3) staging (shedding mass that's no longer needed, which has the effect of improving the propellant mass fraction)

Atmospheric flight, rovers and surface activity.

Q: My rover rolls over on low gravity planets/moons.
A1: Widen your wheelbase and lower your centre of gravity.
A2: Remap your controls to IJKL or use docking mode in order to steer independently from the reaction wheels.
A3: Right-click all reaction wheels and toggle them off. (Most pods and command modules also contain reaction wheels.)
A4: Toggle soft controls with [Caps Lock]. The orange pitch/roll/yaw markers in the lower left hand corner turn blue.

Q: Why won't my parachutes deploy trying to land on Mun?
A: No atmosphere = no parachutes. Parachutes only work on Kerbin, Eve, Duna and Laythe. (And Jool, but it is unlikely your ship will survive long enough to use them.)

Q: My jet engines won't work on Duna/Eve.
A: Jet engines need oxygen. Only Kerbin and Laythe have and oxygen atmosphere.

Q: Why is my plane uncontrollable in flight?
A: Planes that actually look like an real life aeroplane usually fly best. Although it is slightly outdated this tutorial will show you the basics. A more up-to-date tutorial can be found here.

Q: Even at over 100m/s my plane won't take off before the end of the runway.
A1:
Your rear landing gear serves as a fulcrum. It's placed too far behind the CoM. (Check one of the two tutorials)
A2: With a Centre of Lift (CoL) too far behind the CoM your control surfaces might not be strong enough to push down the tail and lift the nose. Either move the CoL further forward by relocating the wings, adding canards or increasing the effectiveness of the control surfaces by increasing their size, deflection angle or distance from the CoM. (Or any combination.)

Q: My plane violently veers off the runway. Why?
A1: Your landing gear is misaligned. Make sure you don't have any toe-in or toe-out. Even a tiny, invisible misalignment can cause this problem. It can happen due to the curved shape of the part you're attaching the landing gear to. One way to fix this in the SPH is to select the rotator widget ("3" key), turn on absolute snap ("F" key), then wiggle the landing gear one notch out and back to parallel. This guarantees perfect alignment.
A2: You are wheelbarrowing. Too much lift too far behind the centre of mass (CoM). The tail of your plane is lifted off the ground before the nose and it starts to fall over making it steer either left or right.
A3: Your connections are too weak. Connections between parts are always a bit flexible. Use (auto)struts to shore them up.

Q: Do I have to bring those science experiments back? I left them on the Mun and didn't get credit for reading them.
A:
No, all you need to bring back is the experiment data. If you have Astronaut Complex 2, you can get out of your ship. Once outside, get near the experiment, right-click it and remove the experiment data. Then get back in the ship and the experiment will be stored. You can also run the experiment again. Doing this over and over can get you a lot more science on a mission than you were getting before.
With the release of KSP v1.2 a new part was introduced; the Experiment Storage Unit. In addition of storing science like any other crewed pod it can also be used to 'pull' all science data into storage.
NB. The Goo canister and Materials bay are single use experiments. After data removal (through EVA or transmission) the experiment will be inoperable. To use it again you will need a Scientist or Lab to clean/restore it.

Edited by Tex_NL
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48 answers to this question

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Q: Is Mechjeb cheating?
A: The object of the game is to enjoy it. If you enjoy the game more using mechjeb, do so. If you enjoy the game more by not using it, don't use it. Don't let anyone tell you what the "true" way of playing KSP is!

Q: I'd love to use mods, but that's not the way Squad intended it to be played, right?
A: Did you notice the weekly showcase of mods by Squad on Modding Monday? The mods are there to enhance the game as you see fit!

 

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Two excellent examples. I'll add them to the list.

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Fantastic list, I spend a lot of time lurking around here and these are definitely the questions I see asked the most often.

Should be stickied!

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Q: Why is it so hard to make a shuttle?

A: Because shuttles are really, really hard.  One of the hardest things to build in KSP.  There are all sorts of off-centre thrust issues to cope with, which change quite radically as the SRBs then main tank separate.  There are also lots of drag/lift problems with wings on a rocket.  Almost any other way to get to orbit can be designed, built and flown more easily and efficiently in KSP.

 

Q: Can you make a rocket as efficient as a SSTO?

A: Yes; build a rocket that uses a Single Stage to get To Orbit.  It is exactly as efficient as a SSTO.  It IS a SSTO.  Spaceplanes aren't efficient because they are spaceplanes, they are efficient because they use air-breathing engines.

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@Pecan
I removed some double spacing and did some minor grammar corrections and added yours to the list.

Keep those questions and answers coming guys and soon I'll have to start sorting them into categories. :rolleyes:

Edited by Tex_NL

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35 minutes ago, Tex_NL said:

@Pecan
I removed some double spacing and did some minor grammar corrections ...

If only I could stop the software double line-spacing all the time :-(

"SRBs" is a plural, not a possessive, so has no apostrophe.  Not sure about 'spaceplane' for my second Q but it's your list *grin*.

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I would add that the other part that makes a space plane efficient is that you get all of it's parts refunded after landing (assuming it's a brilliant landing — not merely a good one you walk away from, but an exceptional one where you keep the plane in one piece!) as opposed to all those expensive rocket parts you dump in the ocean. Of course, if you land your SSTO rocket (in one piece) that argument is moot.

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Good stuff!
An additional answer to:

Q: My rover rolls over on low gravity planets/moons.
A: Right-click all reaction wheels and toggle them off.

 

On the memory question, 3.8GB is really high. The windows version dies at about 3.3-3.4GB on average, and the OSX version at only about 3GB. And please don't recommend an unsupported hack as a workaround, too. :) Instead, why not suggest using -force-opengl on PC, which reduces RAM usage dramatically?

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I disagree regarding mach effects, or at least define "low atmosphere" differently. I have a TWR starting at about 1.5 usually and gradually gravity turn my way to orbit Not only do I see mach effects, I see FLAMES most of the time :D Though for a beginner having troubles, I suppose keeping it slower can help flipping.

Q: Do I have to bring those science experiments back? I left them on the Mun and didn't get credit for reading them. If you have Astronaut Complex 2, you can get out of your ship. Once outside, get near the experiment and then right-click it, and remove the experiment. Then get back in the ship and the experiment will be stored. You can also run the experiment again. Doing this over and over can get you a lot more science on a mission than you were getting before.

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The question about rockets flipping could use a "long answer" in addition the existing short answer. For example this:

Drag pushes the rocket backward, while inertia keeps it going forward (along with thrust). The different parts of the rocket provide different amounts of drag and inertia: heavy parts provide more inertia while wings, airbrakes, and parachutes provide more drag. Since engines are heavy, their inertia will cause that part of the rocket to continue forward, while the drag on the rest of the rocket will pull it backward. Once the rocket tilts, this causes it to be forced into an orientation where the heavier end points forward - in this case, upside down. This is a real problem rockets have to deal with. The simplest solution is to add parts that provide a lot of drag (wings or airbrakes) at the back end near the engines. If this is not enough, even with careful flying, use the right-click menu to disable fuel in the tanks near the front until the tanks near the back are nearly empty, so as to keep the weight of the fuel near the front of the rocket and due to the above physical effects keep it pointed the right way.

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On 9/12/2015 16:44:41, Tex_NL said:

Q: Even at over 100m/s my plane won't take off before the end of the runway.

Another possible answer : If your center of lift is too far behind your center of mass, the control surfaces' effectiveness will be greatly reduced, to a point where their input won't be enough to keep the aircraft at the desired attitude (not specific to takeoff). Possible solutions are repositioning the lift surfaces to adjust the CoL's location, increase the control surfaces' deflection angle or size, or addition of canards.

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On 12/9/2015, 2:44:41, Tex_NL said:

Q: My plane violently veers off the runway. Why?
A1: Your landing gear is misaligned. Make sure you don't have any toe-in or toe-out.
A2: You are wheelbarrowing. Too much lift too far behind the centre of mass (CoM). The tail of your plane is lifted off the ground before the nose and it starts to fall over making it steer either left or right.

Missing an "f" in off there.

Also, A2 explains the issue I've frequently run into, and never did fully resolve.  I knew about all the others, except for that.  Thanks!

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9 hours ago, Kerbart said:

I would add that the other part that makes a space plane efficient is that you get all of it's parts refunded after landing (assuming it's a brilliant landing — not merely a good one you walk away from, but an exceptional one where you keep the plane in one piece!) as opposed to all those expensive rocket parts you dump in the ocean. Of course, if you land your SSTO rocket (in one piece) that argument is moot.

Indeed, there are a few reasons for using SSTO rockets but the major ones are i) simplest way to orbit, ii) 98% refund for easy parachute-assisted landing 'near' KSC or - possibly - 100% on the runway (or landing-pad, but that's particularly difficult).  I wouldn't bother to launch a SSTO rocket if I didn't expect to get it back.

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@Pecan I added the 'spaceplane' part to your question in order to clearly differentiate between SSTO spaceplanes and SSTO rockets. Often people just says SSTO when they actually mean SSTO spaceplane.
(You can avoid double line-spacing with Shift-Enter)

@Kerbart Good point. I'll add it.

@NathanKell Thanks. You might be correct about not referring to  the hacked 64bits version. Your -force-opengl suggestion would indeed be better.
I'll add your rover answer too.

Edited by Tex_NL

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Started sorting the Q&A's and added yet a few more.

@5thHorseman My apologies. I missed your a contribution in the update. It has now been added.

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Q: what is the official name of the kerbal currency?

A: it's called Funds as in "the rocket costs 100,000 funds"

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3 minutes ago, Kerbart said:

Q: what is the official name of the kerbal currency?

A: it's called Funds as in "the rocket costs 100,000 funds"

Good one. Added it to "KSP in general".

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Q: I don't understand why the game doesn't include [feature x]. It would be so much better with it!
A: There is an entire sub forum dedicated to suggestions. However, make sure your request is not included in the list of features already suggested, or on the do not suggest list. Keep in mind that being on the do not suggest list doesn't mean it won't be implemented; female Kerbals were on that list, for instance. It just means that Squad is aware of these requests but cannot guarantee such a request would be implemented or even entertained. Also, while stock might not offer your feature, it's very likely that there's a mod for it!

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6 hours ago, Kerbart said:

Q: I don't understand why the game doesn't include [feature x]. It would be so much better with it!
A: There is an entire sub forum dedicated to suggestions. However, make sure your request is not included in the list of features already suggested, or on the do not suggest list. Keep in mind that being on the do not suggest list doesn't mean it won't be implemented; female Kerbals were on that list, for instance. It just means that Squad is aware of these requests but cannot guarantee such a request would be implemented or even entertained. Also, while stock might not offer your feature, it's very likely that there's a mod for it!

Browsing through today's topics I found at least half a dozen threads that could have inspired this addition. I might slightly edit it a bit but I am definitely adding this one to the list. Not right now as I have more urgent real life things to take care of but it WILL be added.

Edit: It has been added.

Edited by Tex_NL

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Suggestion:

Q: Why don't my SSTO spaceplanes get into orbit?

A: You might not have enough fuel, or too much weight, only 1 tank of jet fuel per 2 ramjets/RAPIERs is necessary. In terms of speed, you want to fly at a 10-25 degree angle until you reach about 800m/s and are at 10km, then tilt up to 30 degrees until you are at 25 km. You should then accelerate until you reach 1km/s (1,000m/s)-1.2km/s, before pitching to 25-35 degrees again. This should kick you into orbital velocity, from then on it is up to you to circularise at the desired altitude.

Feel free to edit my answer, hope this helps your guide. :)

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Excellent idea Tex!   " How come I can't go to all the planets and moons and come back to kerban with one ship?!?"

Edited by SpacedCowboy

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Q: My computer has X cores, yet KSP runs at a low framerate. What's going on?

A: Until the 1.1 update comes out, KSP physics are still single threaded. This means that you can only use one out of the X cores you have. More cores will end up meaning you are using a smaller fraction of your processing power. 

Hopefully somewhat useful.

Edited by Sanic

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