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Warships, Delta-V, and Efficiency.


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A thread for discussing the topic of making your stock warships efficient. I've wondered what some of the other stock warship builders have been getting for delta-v on there larger ships. My craft seem to hover around 2500 to 3000 m/s. What is a good way to give armored craft more delta-v?

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Edit: Lot of great and interesting discussion going on in this thread. (witch I see I have missed out on do to being in the field lol) To be clear though the main topic of this thread is practical in game construction of armored warships.

Edited by ImperialistPigDog
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The rocket equation does not like SCI-FY and SCI-FI takes form over function.  Only way to over come this is to improve engine and power tech.  That said I hate how space warfare is portrayed in SCI-FY.  In reality space warfare would consists of 3 things Stealth, dv and Stand off distance.  Most wars would be recourse denial (easier to destroy a civilizations home world then their battle ship) and as we already have the tech to blow up the moon or mars imagining what we would have in 100 years is scary.  I suspect ability to destroy solar systems and in 200 years galaxies.

 

1. Infinite fuel

2. Interstellar tech

3. Near future tech

Edited by Nich
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1, don't bother with armor, use evasive maneuvers. It's hard enough to hit stuff in space, much harder when that stuff is actively dodging you.

2, nukes and ions

3, SSTOs look much cooler than scifi spaceships. An SSTO with a few space missiles and lasers would be pretty sweet.

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23 hours ago, ImperialistPigDog said:

What is a good way to give armored craft more delta-v?

There are really only four ways to give a vessel more ∆v:

  1. More fuel.
  2. Less non-fuel (which is basically going to translate into "no armor").
  3. More efficient engine (which really just means faster exhaust velocity).
  4. Move to a universe with completely different laws of physics.
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From a practical, in-game standpoint, you've got a few options, with major trade-offs for each:

1. Utilize lighter armor (wing plates) and/or less armor, as steel plating and/or custom hulls in general do indeed add dry mass to your ship. However, the trade-off is less survivability in combat, which as of now in stock KSP is effectively turn-based due to MP not existing at this time.

2. Improve your propulsion system- this could be cramming more fuel tanks inside your hull, swapping your engine(s) out for alternative designs, and/or adding "booster" modules that can be added or removed depending on whether the ship is engaged in active combat or not. The trade-off here is that varying engine setups come with varying sizes and dry masses, and more fuel tanks means more vulnerable, squishy, low-impact-tolerance stuff squeezed into the same size space within your hull.

3. Learn to plan your logistics around your ship's existing range- if this means having a fuel tanker/supply ship accompany it in a flotilla, then do so. If this means strapping drop-tanks to the outside docking ports, than you simply have to do what you have to do in order to take your ship where you want to.

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14 minutes ago, Nich said:

I am going to have to agree and disagree. CURRENTLY there is no stealth in space but I see no reason with 0 point energy thrusters and EM bending shields stealth is extremely important and viable

Oh, we're talking soft sci-fi. In that case, the rules are whatever you want them to be. Sure, stealth is great! Also spaceships that operate like submarines and functionally-useful windows. :P

See also: option 4 on @AbacusWizard's post above.

Edited by Jarin
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@Jarin Seeing as we are still discovering dwarf planets and asteroids every day scanning tools suck pretty badly.  Even with chemical rockets you can shroud and cool your exhaust gasses.  Also Stealth is not invisibility the F-22 can be seen by the naked eye from 50 miles away IF you are looking at it.  It can be detected by radar from 50 miles if you know what you are looking for but it may just look like white noise or a bird.  Yet a majority of the aerospace community would still consider the F-22 a stealth fighter.  Stealth != Invisibility but simply limiting the emissivity (light sound and heat) and reflectability of your craft.  Old school planes could be detected by radar LONG LONG LONG before you could see or hear them so money was spent to shorten that range.  However there is no point in shorting it more then any other as it only takes one to be detected.  As sensor technology goes up stealth tech needs to increase to keep pace.  Currently our scanning tech far far far out paces our space stealth tech because there is no reason to develope space stealth tech and TONS of reason to develop space scanners.  

I would agree that as distances increase to light hours or light days stealth becomes less and less important as you can simply move in a random direction to make incoming enemy lasers miss.  This is why I said future space wars with aliens would be more about destroying their planet, sun or even galaxie then their battle cruisers

Edited by Nich
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11 minutes ago, Nich said:

@Jarin Seeing as we are still discovering dwarf planets and asteroids every day scanning tools suck pretty badly.  Even with chemical rockets you can shroud and cool your exhaust gasses.  Also Stealth is not invisibility the F-22 can be seen by the naked eye from 50 miles away IF you are looking at it.  It can be detected by radar from 50 miles if you know what you are looking for but it may just look like white noise or a bird.  Yet a majority of the aerospace community would still consider the F-22 a stealth fighter.  Stealth != Invisibility but simply limiting the emissivity (light sound and heat) and reflectability of your craft.  Old school planes could be detected by radar LONG LONG LONG before you could see or hear them so money was spent to shorten that range.  However there is no point in shorting it more then any other as it only takes one to be detected.  As sensor technology goes up stealth tech needs to increase to keep pace.  Currently our scanning tech far far far out paces our space stealth tech because there is no reason to develope space stealth tech and TONS of reason to develop space scanners.  

Please, just... read the link in my post. Dwarf planets are both massively further away than any functional space engagement, and orders of magnitude colder. 

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@Jarin Ah this is where we differ.  I see space engagement range to be measured in light years.  I personally cant imagine a space war ever happening.  Earth based war may have some very minor scuffles in space but in the end it will be won or lost based on earth based logistics or economic warfare.

1. near infinite unclaimed resources available in space and billions of earth like planets in our galaxy alone

2. development mismatch (baby vs navy seal)

Us -  Gentlemen behold our power we can now destroy the enemy's galaxy at a push of a button.

Aliens - Awww so cute but seriously we destroy universes like you cut grass and sorry but your universe just keeps expanding and is getting shaggy and our neighbors are starting to complain.

Edited by Nich
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1 minute ago, Nich said:

@Jarin Ah this is where we differ.  I see space engagement range to be measured in light years.  I personally cant imagine a space war ever happening.  

1. near infinite unclaimed resources available in space and billions of earth like planets in our galaxy alone

2. development mismatch (baby vs navy seal)

Us -  Gentlemen behold our power we can now destroy the enemy's galaxy at a push of a button.

Aliens - Awww so cute but seriously we destroy universes like you cut grass and sorry but your universe just keeps expanding and is getting shaggy and our neighbors are starting to complain.

And that is what I meant by soft sci fi. It has no relation to known or even speculative science. Don't get me wrong, I love good soft sci fi. But this conversation is based around a game that at least vaguely follows known laws of physics, so it's less a difference of opinion and more holding two unrelated conversations.

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54 minutes ago, Rath said:

But are those even possible.

Note sure what you are talking about, destroying planets is easy.  A large enough nuke over the planet and you can blow off a majority of the planets atmosphere.  A small nuke at the appropriate point in the core could stop the magnetic field allowing the sun to strip our atmosphere.  Or best yet a small ION thruster could move an existing asteroid into a collision course turning earth into a molten hell that very few lifeforms survive.  My personal bet would be a self replicating nanite that converts the atmosphere to something poisonous. 

I cant imagine a way to destroy a sun or galaxy but figuring out how to trigger an early super nova would wipe out life in a solar system.

As for bending EM waves around a craft to make it invisible I know I have seen research by the air force that says it is feasible. (We may already have it but it is classified but I doubt it)

0 point energy thrusters are already under testing by NASA and it is debatable whether they are real or just measurment errors

Edited by Nich
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Frankly.. armor would be worthless in space. Any weapons would likely be travelling at enormous speeds and wouldn't even require a warhead to utterly devastate a target. Armor wouldn't even do anything most likely.

Stealth in space is mostly, if not entirely, Sci-fi. It's quite easy to pick things out in space if they're emitting any sort of light or thermal energy.. which, well.. everything using any sort of power would do.

Best bet for realistically building efficient warships in space? Extremely minimalistic and expendable. Drone platforms built for autonomous combat.

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16 minutes ago, Enorats said:

Frankly.. armor would be worthless in space. Any weapons would likely be travelling at enormous speeds and wouldn't even require a warhead to utterly devastate a target. Armor wouldn't even do anything most likely.

Stealth in space is mostly, if not entirely, Sci-fi. It's quite easy to pick things out in space if they're emitting any sort of light or thermal energy.. which, well.. everything using any sort of power would do.

Best bet for realistically building efficient warships in space? Extremely minimalistic and expendable. Drone platforms built for autonomous combat.

aka guided missiles

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7 minutes ago, Nich said:

@Jarin Ah this is where we differ.  I see space engagement range to be measured in light years.  I personally cant imagine a space war ever happening.  Earth based war may have some very minor scuffles in space but in the end it will be won or lost based on earth based logistics or economic warfare.

1. near infinite unclaimed resources available in space and billions of earth like planets in our galaxy alone

2. development mismatch (baby vs navy seal)

Us -  Gentlemen behold our power we can now destroy the enemy's galaxy at a push of a button.

Aliens - Awww so cute but seriously we destroy universes like you cut grass and sorry but your universe just keeps expanding and is getting shaggy and our neighbors are starting to complain.

I agree that we'll likely not be fighting aliens any time soon, but for space wars between human combatants, it's entirely doable. Earth had "near unlimited resources available" relative to what pre-industrial societies were able to harness yet we've obviously had wars aplenty since the 18th century. The mere existence of plentfiul metals and volatiles in space does not mean that they will all be readily extractable. You need to design a full infrastructure of equipment that works in hard vacuum (a non-trivial task), it needs to work at high energies in large volumes for a long time in order to enable mass-processing, and in general you have to strike a balance between "long lasting" and "easily replaceable when it does break down", which requires more resource extraction, and so the cycle continues.

This means that there is a limit to resource extraction and processing based on the availability of space industrial machinery, and how survivable it is. If one spacefaring nation-state wants more of something but doesn't want to build new infrastructure, it can attack other spacefaring states to subordinate their economic output to its own. This is true on Earth today as well, even if war hasn't "profitable" for the last few centuries, in the strictest sense of wartime looting. On top of this there are other dimensions: pure prejudice, economic benefits to the contractors who build the warmachines and so on. The hubbub over the F-35 is probably the most obvious example of the latter, but I won't say more since this probably strays into Forbidden Forum Territory. So generally, there will be a lot of political maneuvering for sure, but there is still room for open conflict.

28 minutes ago, Enorats said:

Frankly.. armor would be worthless in space. Any weapons would likely be travelling at enormous speeds and wouldn't even require a warhead to utterly devastate a target. Armor wouldn't even do anything most likely.

Stealth in space is mostly, if not entirely, Sci-fi. It's quite easy to pick things out in space if they're emitting any sort of light or thermal energy.. which, well.. everything using any sort of power would do.

Best bet for realistically building efficient warships in space? Extremely minimalistic and expendable. Drone platforms built for autonomous combat.

Armor isn't the be-all-end-all of space combat for sure, but it can be useful. It depends largely on the economics of your space meta-society - are large armored vessels more cost effective to manufacture or not - and what technologies you have available. The impact of high-velocity kinetics can be mitigated by Whipple armor, which consists of multiple layers of material spaced at intervals - hypervelocity projectiles fragment and scatter when they hit the first layer of armor, and this process repeats for any pieces that penetrate the next layer, and so on. Nukes are very short-range weapons in space. Lasers have the disadvantage that they do not penetrate through armor but must burn through it, and the burning releases vapor which interferes with the beam's effectiveness. Charged particle beams are short-range and can be shielded against using water-ice. And so on.

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9 minutes ago, Accelerando said:

I agree that we'll likely not be fighting aliens any time soon, but for space wars between human combatants, it's entirely doable. Earth had "near unlimited resources available" relative to what pre-industrial societies were able to harness yet we've obviously had wars aplenty since the 18th century. The mere existence of plentfiul metals and volatiles in space does not mean that they will all be readily extractable. You need to design a full infrastructure of equipment that works in hard vacuum (a non-trivial task), it needs to work at high energies in large volumes for a long time in order to enable mass-processing, and in general you have to strike a balance between "long lasting" and "easily replaceable when it does break down", which requires more resource extraction, and so the cycle continues.

This means that there is a limit to resource extraction and processing based on the availability of space industrial machinery, and how survivable it is. If one spacefaring nation-state wants more of something but doesn't want to build new infrastructure, it can attack other spacefaring states to subordinate their economic output to its own. This is true on Earth today as well, even if war hasn't "profitable" for the last few centuries, in the strictest sense of wartime looting. On top of this there are other dimensions: pure prejudice, economic benefits to the contractors who build the warmachines and so on. The hubbub over the F-35 is probably the most obvious example of the latter, but I won't say more since this probably strays into Forbidden Forum Territory. So generally, there will be a lot of political maneuvering for sure, but there is still room for open conflict.

Armor isn't the be-all-end-all of space combat for sure, but it can be useful. It depends largely on the economics of your space meta-society - are large armored vessels more cost effective to manufacture or not - and what technologies you have available. The impact of high-velocity kinetics can be mitigated by Whipple armor, which consists of multiple layers of material spaced at intervals - hypervelocity projectiles fragment and scatter when they hit the first layer of armor, and this process repeats for any pieces that penetrate the next layer, and so on. Nukes are very short-range weapons in space. Lasers have the disadvantage that they do not penetrate through armor but must burn through it, and the burning releases vapor which interferes with the beam's effectiveness. Charged particle beams are short-range and can be shielded against using water-ice. And so on.

I am going to have to disagree.  Earth countries will never fight in space.  Lets look at a hypothetical

US captures an asteroid that is 90% unobtainium and starts to mine it.  Then China decides they want the asteroid for them selves, attacks the US mining equipment and seizes control of the asteroid (armed vs unarmed).   The US would respond by blocking all trade in and out of china.  Then with air strikes take out strategic defences, manufacturing and weapons stores until someone surrenders.  (armed vs armed) This assumes neither side would go nuclear which is a major deterrent but the strongest deterrent is the fact that the US and Chines economies are so intermingled that war between the 2 countries would likely bankrupt the entire world.  We will never see Armed vs armed inspace at most unarmed "civilian" targets will be attacked with political repercussion back on the surface but I doubt this will ever happen.

What is the most valuable thing on earth? Diamonds, Uranium? I suspect it would be cheaper to mine these out of landfills then trying to return materials from space.

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Although I now see you said nation states implying multiple countries colonized something and those colonies revolted declaring their independence.  Then the colonies get so big that they run out of minable asteroids in the asteroid belt. Now you have 10^10^10^10^10 people living in juipter sized spaceships.  Assuming they do not have the tech to outright mine planets (really there just big asteroids when your on that scale) and have not developed the technology to go interstellar then I would think that these space colonies would have the same problem US and China have today that if they go to war it will bankrupt both countries.

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3 hours ago, Nich said:

I am going to have to disagree.  Earth countries will never fight in space.  Lets look at a hypothetical

US captures an asteroid that is 90% unobtainium and starts to mine it.  Then China decides they want the asteroid for them selves, attacks the US mining equipment and seizes control of the asteroid (armed vs unarmed).   The US would respond by blocking all trade in and out of china.  Then with air strikes take out strategic defences, manufacturing and weapons stores until someone surrenders.  (armed vs armed) This assumes neither side would go nuclear which is a major deterrent but the strongest deterrent is the fact that the US and Chines economies are so intermingled that war between the 2 countries would likely bankrupt the entire world.  We will never see Armed vs armed inspace at most unarmed "civilian" targets will be attacked with political repercussion back on the surface but I doubt this will ever happen.

What is the most valuable thing on earth? Diamonds, Uranium? I suspect it would be cheaper to mine these out of landfills then trying to return materials from space.

That is a ridiculously strawmanned hypothetical. Why would the US and China go head to head in an all-out conflict over some mining pits? That has absolutely nothing essential to do with what I'm trying to say, and your assumption of a "90% unobtanium asteroid" goes to show that you either hardly read what I wrote or barely comprehended it.

What I want to say is that there is room for open conflict in space. That does not just mean "gigantic battles between Earth-based empires, but in space". Open warfare is carried out on Earth on a daily basis without the world's superpowers escalating immediately to DEFCON 1. That doesn't necessarily mean that the first asteroid miners in space are going to go beating each other up with mining lasers or whatever. But if you have an in-space economy large enough to support large-scale asteroid mining, you have an in-space economy large enough to support open conflict in space. That doesn't mean that people are going to instantly invade one another on Earth over some mining pits in space.

It may be cheaper to recycle precious materials but that isn't a sure bet, and doesn't guarantee that it will be done. Rare metals such as gallium are useful in developing advanced electronics, and manufactured scarcity can be just as useful as physical scarcity in controlling prices and thus profits from the supply side. I'd wager there's a reasonable chance it'll go either way, but there's also another motive: Rare metals on Earth are limited, as you acknowledge. They're intensely useful, again, in electronics: metals like gallium, indium, tantalum. Once the supply on Earth is exhausted, recovery via recycling will only be able to provide so much material. If technology manufacturers want to produce more gadgets incorporating rare metals, then there is a potential motive for asteroid development. That's not to say that it will happen quickly if it does, but that it can eventually happen.

In either event, there is another route to space development: satellite repair and refurbishment. An orbital servicing platform that can refuel, repair, and manufacture satellites on-orbit could certainly be cost-effective. In the long run this demands access to in-space mined material, thus asteroid mining, and so on from there, starting at a small scale and working up, potentially setting the stage for larger-scale asteroid mining. Even on this scale conflicts can be significant - conflicts between countries' space infrastructures using ASAT weaponry may not exactly be as glamorous as space battleships, but it is an interesting battlefield in its own right nevertheless, and probably the most relevant to KSP since it covers ∆V regimes within the low 1000s of m/s.

2 hours ago, Nich said:

Although I now see you said nation states implying multiple countries colonized something and those colonies revolted declaring their independence.  Then the colonies get so big that they run out of minable asteroids in the asteroid belt. Now you have 10^10^10^10^10 people living in juipter sized spaceships.  Assuming they do not have the tech to outright mine planets (really there just big asteroids when your on that scale) and have not developed the technology to go interstellar then I would think that these space colonies would have the same problem US and China have today that if they go to war it will bankrupt both countries.

Another straw man. My claim was nearly the exact opposite of the words you're putting in my mouth: I'm hardly presuming that the entire solar system will be easily converted into habitat material. I think that asteroids will be difficult to develop - just not difficult enough to entirely preclude asteroid mining and space habitation in general. This does not necessarily mean that space nations will be entirely divorced from the influence of Earth, or that they will grow exponentially until the whole solar system is filled. The latter in particular is a ridiculous prospect.

And again, large imperial powers in the modern day regularly carry out large-scale wars without immediately escalating to absolute world-scale devastation or nuclear warfare. How about the Middle East wars? The Vietnam war and Korean war, proxy conflicts against the Soviet Union? And so on.

Even then there is room for nuance. The global geopolitical situation will evolve in the future, and the same will be true of any nations that arise in space. The United States did not go "bankrupt" in the wake of World War II despite it being the largest conflict between imperial powers in history. That's not to say that space war will be "just like" WWII, obviously, but there can be similarities. Space nations will not be "the US versus China, both go bankrupt" any more than they will be an exact repeat of WWII. Modern warfare is a long-term investment, and the political and economic maneuvering carried out by an imperial power against a subjugated state is both equally important to and enabling of large-scale open warfare.

Edited by Accelerando
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@Accelerando HAHA I had to google strawman.  After reading your post and considering it your 100% right.  I was giving people way to much credit.  Infact after thinking about it I now believe space "conflict" is a 100% chance certainty however I have some points.  

First off all the "wars" you listed were not wars.  I do not want to offend any veterans but these conflicts were more policing then wars.  I am no expert in history but in Vietnam we were not allowed to send troops into North Vietnam out of fear of starting a war with China and Russia.  Thus we were sitting ducks just waiting for the North Vietnamese to go south and attack the South Vietnamese.  Afghanistan was not a war against Afghanistan but a war on Terrorist that claimed no nation state and many experts believe simply fled to other countries after the invasion of Afghanistan.  The Iraq war lasted what 9 days before their military was crushed?  Might as well mention our most expensive war to date.  The war on drugs has been the biggest loss yet for the US lasting 35 some years and only increasing the value and profits of the drug lords while costing the US Trillions of dollars.  As for WWII the reason it did not bankrupt the US was because the world economy was basically non-existent at that time.

Do I see space terrorism in our future Yes.

Do I see space piracy(gangs) in our future Yes.

Do I see space policing in our future Yes.

Do I see a space arms race in our future Yes

Do I see a space based Civil war? Maybe

In all three cases I see combatants living among the civilian population.  I do not see a need for a battle cruiser but I am trying to imagine how combat would play out.  Perhaps hacking for control of life support systems of a station that the enemies have free accesses to.  In a space based economy I don't see closing your doors to be a viable option so Traders will have free access to your station.  For the arms race it will be very similar to the nuclear arms race of today.  A build up of unimaginable destructive power and the only thing that prevents it is mutually assured destruction.

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Don't take this as a criticism, because your vessel looks pretty sweet. And it is a game, after all, with impossibly dense materials, so really anything goes.

I do not think space "warships" would be armored. If they ever existed, they would likely rely on self defense mechanism similar to the Phalanx or some sort of microwave or laser weapon.

Space attack warfare would probably be limited to launching weapons over great distances, years in advance. Humans don't fight that way. Weapons could be launched as asteroids in disguise, but I imagine that this would be noticed by any nation (or civilization) that commences in space warfare.

Most likely it would be similar to modern sea (surface) warfare... but much more dangerous. Major players know where every "warship" is at any given time. They move around and hopefully they're not going to blow you out of the water today. Any weapon worth firing would completely destroy a single vessel (like the Moskit), so heavy armor isn't really effective, better to be light and efficient. Warships would probably be more akin to glorified troop transports with pods for fast assault on space stations or maybe even planets/moons. The thing is, they could only be used for the first strike... after that they will all be blown out of the sky when the defending group launches land-based or orbiting weapons at all known locations of the enemy fleet.

I think the only armor you would see on such a vessel would be for defending against debris and energy weapons, something like a metal foam that can completely stop a fast moving space rock and absorb energy from a laser type weapon as a nice side effect. So something similar to your wing panels.

One of the best Kerbal "warships" I've seen was one made by a player that would launch a debris shield of (back then) ridiculously strong structural pylons. An incoming missile would strike the pylons and explode, leaving the main ship intact. Props to Mad Rocket Scientist haha!

 

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On Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 7:45 PM, ImperialistPigDog said:

A thread for discussing the topic of making your stock warships efficient. I've wondered what some of the other stock warship builders have been getting for delta-v on there larger ships. My craft seem to hover around 2500 to 3000 m/s. What is a good way to give armored craft more delta-v?

Skipping all the Sci-Fi discussion, try trading the heavy armor in for Whipple shields.

Using the lightest parts you can find, form a wall around your ship with some standoff distance; whatever is appropriate to the weapon physics you're facing.  The idea being to let the part be destroyed, but in doing so it will detonate the incoming projectile/missile at a safe distance from your actual hull where it will do no real damage.

 

Having a low thrust high efficiency drive for patrolling, and saving your combat thrust engines for actual combat maneuvers will stretch things out as well.

A fleet tanker, local bases, or an ISRU shuttle could be useful.

Actually, on that note, for a sufficiently large vehicle, you can store most of your fuel in ORE tanks.  After a certain size point the mass savings on the tanks will pay for the converter's mass and become profitable even without a harvesting shuttle.

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