ruiluth

Standardized lifters

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One thing I have noticed recently is that everyone seems to use standardized lifters and I do not. I use standardized payloads (like lil' science and mapping satellites) and build a booster for wherever I want to send them. So my questions:

  1. Do you use standardized lifters or do you build them custom for every mission?
  2. Why or why not?
  3. Is there any real reason for using standardized boosters? I understand that in Real Life standardization of rockets makes sense for economics and all, but in a game like KSP that does not model assembly or supply it really seems pointless.

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I've done a bit of everything. It really depends how long my career lasts. Early on everything is basically a custom one time use craft. After that launch it's outdated due to new part unlocks.

Later in the career, after everything is unlocked, I tend to build standardized payloads and launchers. For a given mission I just match up the payload I want to send with a launcher that can get it there.

It's actually less economical to do it this way, as often the launcher is overkill and not optimized perfectly for a given mission.. but, it saves huge amounts of time. I can put two subassemblies together and hit the launch button, simple as that.

Additionally, if playing a "no revert" career it can be helpful to have a launcher you know is reliable and have experience flying. 

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I don't use a standard lifter(s). It's the easiest thing to build compared to the payload so I just throw it on at the end. 

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i have some lifters modeled after real life versions. but i also build custom ones for.... "special missions" :)

later in the career, when you have a ton of money, i often construct insane launch contraptions to launch stations or interplanetary vessels in one go instead assembling them in orbit.

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Depends.  In my RO games I generally build a few lifters for standard payload masses to LEO (generally 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tons, sometimes 60 and 75 ton lifters, and sometimes even with different fuels because, for instance, cryogenics like liquid hydrogen allow wider stages for the same LEO payload) because the design process is much more noodly.  For stock I'll play much more to the individual payload and only keep around smaller size lifters (5 and 10 tons to LKO), but those are also pretty much tied to specific payloads so I don't keep them as subassemblies unless they see heavy use.

In stock you can pretty much slap a lifter together at the end tailored to the payload; in RO you have to keep your engines and fuels in mind, provide upper stage roll and attitude control, etc...

Edited by regex

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1) Personally what I like to do is create a standardized set of lifters that are rated at 3,500 DeltaV for X tonnes of payload. (example: 3,500 DeltaV with a 10 tonne payload) To do this I just put together a bunch of fuel tanks and other various parts to get my desired payload weight and then build a lifter that has ~ 3,500 DeltaV, which ensures that it should be capable of reaching LKO given a proper ascent profile. Usually I build my lifters to be rated at 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 70 tonnes.

Usually my highest rated lifter is rated for 70 tonnes to LKO, however if I have a payload which exceeds that weight I'll build a specialty lifter which may later become standardized for similar payloads. At the other end of the scale though, if I have a payload that weighs around ~2 tonnes I may build a specialty lifter for that as well, seeing how a lifter rated for 5 tonnes to LKO would be a bit overkill for a 2 tonne payload. Additionally I do a bit of math to calculate the cost per tonne to LKO and attempt to build my lifters as cost effectively as possible, although this typically doesn't matter in the later career as funds are plentiful.

2) Really the main reason I like to make standardized lifters is simply that it saves a significant amount of time. Later in my career if a mission doesn't require anything special I'll also use some standardized payloads as well so that I can do exactly what @Enorats suggested and simply match up a payload with a lifter and hit the launch button, however a lot of the time I like to customize my payload on a per mission basis.

Something else that I do occasionally is rather than create a standardized payload, I'll create what is basically a standardized "frame", which is just a probe or vehicle that is only equipped with the necessities (probe core, fuel, engine, docking port, antenna) which I will then further customize on a per mission basis.

3) As I mentioned in my answer to [2], the primary reason is the time-saving benefits, as I will usually spend hours in the editor creating a new probe/vehicle/lifter for a mission that doesn't even take as long to fly as it did to build. So by standardizing some elements I can significantly reduce the time it takes to build a mission from what could be hours down to mere minutes. (I'm also a perfectionist when it comes to building probes/vehicles/lifters, everything must be functionally and aesthetically perfect or I won't let it fly, which is part of the reason it can take hours to build)

Aside from the time-saving benefits.. While the economic benefits are negligible, something just sort of "feels good" about knowing that I've designed my lifters to be as cheap as possible per kg to LKO.

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I use them.  If I have extra lift capacity, I will usually put on a comm sat.  One of the parts in it is modes to have a large negative cost, so I make $.  I get my freind to send me sat designs and I force myself to use those.

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I'm running with hard difficulty but 6x the cost of all parts and only 3x normal money (5x hard money).

This means that one cheap rocket can cost 100,000. At this cost two or three failed rockets will doom my career.

Having a rocket that I know can get a payload into Kerbal orbit is worth having a spare 20% fuel wasted. 20% less profit is far better than needing to run six missions to make back the money.

Once I have a space-X like launcher (results vary depending on tech level) then everything light enough gets launched on it. First stage only losses fuel, second stage can lose some money from inaccurate landing sites but only about 2,000 (300 normal money). This system launches ten tones into a LKO. At about 3,000 (500) for a ten ton launch, it's not worth making any adjustments for a bit of fuel efficiency.

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Sometimes, I only have standard lifters going up to 50 tons, and one of them (I think it's the 30 ton lifter) has the main part explode when the boosters separate, I haven't used them since 1.0.5 though.

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I use a set of standard lifters for almost every mission.

I might tweak them a little for specific missions, but most often I design the mission specific payload, then pick the lifter from sub assemblies that fits the bill.

My main reason is that I prefer spending some extra time designing, testing and tweaking a design once, and then just reuse it until I have to design a new one.

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I tend to use a standard lifter based on part sizes in career mode.  Once I have unlocked the next tier of part size and capsules instruments etc I upgrade the lifters

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1 hour ago, Curveball Anders said:

I use a set of standard lifters for almost every mission.

I might tweak them a little for specific missions, but most often I design the mission specific payload, then pick the lifter from sub assemblies that fits the bill.

My main reason is that I prefer spending some extra time designing, testing and tweaking a design once, and then just reuse it until I have to design a new one.

That.

And most of my lifters are SSTO reusable rockets. They take extra designing. parachutes, heat-shields, landing gear.

 

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The problem is that building a spaceplane or rocket is the most satisfying part of the game, so even when i've already got something in the hangar that would do the job, i usually succumb to the temptation to try out a new "minor" design variant because "it will only take 5 minutes"

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I use standard lifters, each in a certain mass category to LKO. Light lifters are 500kg to 3,500kg; medium lifters cover the most flown range (at least for me) of 3,500kg to 20t; heavy lifters are 20t to 45t; and anything above 45t is super heavy (aka ridiculously whackjobian).

It's easier (and safer *gasp*) to have something designed, built, and tested ahead of time, then flown multiple times before without issue. You know it works and have experience flying it. However, building a new rocket every time could have issues that weren't tested for and resolved, leaving you vulnerable to have problems bite you in the (ask your mother for 50 cents) later on.

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I have standardized packages for the put a sat in orbit and the pick up a kerbal and/or his kit contracts. I don't have lifter... though I play so much in early game that standardization isn't worthwhile. But, I do have standard sections and design path, that I carry around in my head that I will build in. But in the story-verse I working with there are standard launchers.

As for why, the 4km/s dv needed is an annoying part of the launching problem. It's one that I don't want to have to solve every time. Pick one that's rated for just over the mass of the load and down fuel the stages appropriately.

 

 

 

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1. Used to, don't really anymore.

2. It made things simpler not having to test the lifter every time. But I like making rockets, so I stopped.

3. It economizes player time.

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1. Standardised.

2. Why? SUBASSEMBLIES. That's why.

3. Subassemblies! You make a payload, then slap on the appropriate lifter, and adjust boosters to taste. Mine go from a simple Skipper core with a Swivel boosters, right up to the 4x1 Kerbodyne engine under a couple of max-sized Kerbodyne tanks, with 2x1 Twin Boar Kerbodyne tank/engines as boosters with the 2.5m-1.5m fuel tanks on top and a nose cone. That's for lifting interplanetary missions all in one go.
Lifters take the most work to get right, so I like being able to re-use them and the flight profiles. Fairings make that even easier, since a payload of a certain weight will behave almost exactly the same with a fairing as any other similar weight one.

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I have two tiers of standardization.  The first is standardized light, medium, and heavy rockets based around 1.25m, 2.5m, and 3.75m diameters respectively.  Each has been tested for a certain orbit altitude and/or payload capacity, so I pick the correct rocket for my payload and target orbit.  The second is a series of subassemblies of the above rockets chopped into pieces; light launchers, light upper stages, medium launchers, medium upper stages, boosters, etc.  So if I do need to mix and match to achieve a "non-standard" launch configuration, I can with the pre-built subassemblies.  Of course, specific mission equipment such as extra batteries, RCS, solar panels can always be added as necessary.

Another example: It's comforting to know that if I need to abort a launch and jettison any solid boosters in the process, my solid booster nose cone assemblies have Sepratrons oriented and tweaked just right so that they will push the boosters away from the main rocket without colliding with it or frying it with exhaust.  All my boosters look like they're just breaking formation with the main rocket gently and speeding ahead.  Not to mention that I know the decouplers and struts are also mounted appropriately so when I drop the boosters after use, they'll separate cleanly behind the rocket as well.

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I'd like to share my response to your questions, but want to explain a bit before I do. I play sandbox mode nearly exclusively now, prefer it because it allows for more flexibility. Secondly, I am playing along a story line that unfolds with each mission I fly, whether it is successful or simply a successful failure (even a failed mission can give you a lot of data!). So with that said, here's my responses:

  1. Yes. I have a set of lifters I use for getting things into Kerbin orbit or for KSI (Kerbin-Sphere-of-Influence) missions, such as small satellite, orbital rendez-vous missions, or even small satellite deployment for Kerbol sphere of influence missions (think Mariner, Pathfinder, and Viking missions),
  2. Yes, because it saves time and effort. This way, if I know what the weight and purpose of the payload is, I can create the satellite or other equipment and then simply pull the appropriate lifter from my assemblies tab. No fuss, no muss.  I will say that I also continue to design more efficient lifters as my game play experience improves. For that reason, I do have, for example, a set of lifters that will have serial numbers, such as KLO125-A, -B, etc (KLO= Kerbin Low Orbit).
  3. Realism *cough, cough* and it economizes my playing time.

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I want to use more standard lifters but most of mine are custom builds.  In career which I mostly play every launch you have new and interesting parts to make more efficient lifters.  If your not using KER or MechJeb for dv readout creating a very efficient cost effective lifter can take a lot of time (in excel).  If you are playing hard no save no revert 2 or 3 failed launches can bankrupt a space program.  Any failed launches will generally may a contract a net loss because the margins are quite small.  Most of my Hard missions barely pay back 150-200%.  Where as on normal I would not do a mission if the return on investment was less then 1000%

Edited by Nich

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I will generally re-use an entire rocket design, usually with a few tweaks.

Once I get ISRU I tend to use it extensively, and my 3-star training/tourism designs just swap out crew capacity for a few extra tanks to be come Duna/Gilly/Moho ships.

 

The biggest changes in my ship designs have been in accommodating the recent USI-LS changes for interplanetary missions(kerbals now get home-sick and get tired of cramped quarters combined with the need for recyclers to keep food usage reasonable), before that I would basically use the same ship for all missions.(interplanetary would just have extra fuel/ore tanks clipped inside)

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I keep meaning to but never get round to it.  The main reason to do so would be to make a reusable single stage launch vehicle than loft a payload to LKO and then land back somewhere near the KSC.  This should work out cheaper than disposable rockets, but obviously the rocket will be bigger, heavier and more expensive in the first place.

The reason I never get round to is in the early game when money's tight I'm constantly  researching new stuff so any design is outdated by the next launch, but by the time the tech tree is unlocked money usually isn't much of an issue and I don't mind more expensive launches.

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I too would like to use standardized lifters in KSP more often. I think I have figured out why I never seem to get around to making them. The biggest reason by far that I don't tend to design standardized lifters is because I usually play in career mode and there are some parts that I would want to put on my standard lifters that are unlocked at the end of the tech tree. I never rush through the tech tree because I enjoy the challenge of building low tech craft. By the time I get around to unlocking the parts that I am looking for, (specifically the 1.25 and the 2.5m probe cores) I usually have a ton of various low tech design from earlier I designed earlier in the game.

Also, sometimes it is difficult for me to say exactly where my rockets end and their payload begins. For example, for payloads meant for the Mun, I usually use combine the second stage of the rocket with the transfer stage, so I basically just build a 2.5 stage to Low Munar Orbit rocket.

Edit: For those players who do use standardized lifter subassemblies. I would love to see them! Please post some pics!

I am starting to think that the true reason I don't use standardized lifters is because I am WAY too fussy about building efficient lifters that don't leave any debris in orbit. I consider having over two or three hundred dV remaining in a stage that I intended to de-orbit very wasteful and grounds for a re-design of the lifter before the next launch.

Edited by Rabada

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In stock I tend to make it all up as I go along, since it is actually very easy to chop and change.

In RO/RSS I find it less frustrating to stick to a half dozen standard lifter designs for the exact opposite reason.

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