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Rockets or Space Planes?

Andrew Ridgely

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Well I'm glad we got that all straightened out. That Skylon thing looks positively Buck Rogers. I hope they pull it off. What a stunt that would be!I'm looking forward to eventually doing some true "spaceplanes" as I progress farther with the game, but want to do it in career and not just sandbox so it might still be a while . . . shelving my 2nd career in order to tweak out a few more mods and try for a bit better performance.

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I attempted to make a spaceplane at one point(probably back in 0.90), it did not want to work, so I went back to rockets and have not bothered with them since. 

(in general I am not great with planes, so I just strap my payload onto a rocket and let it fly...)


My current career has a manned ship on route from Duna to Gilly, and another that just entered the Jool SOI with > 30M funds and > 12K unspent science with a fully populated community tech tree.  So neither funds nor science are much of a concern for me at this point(Unfortunately CKAN says Kerbal R&D has a conflict with Interstellar fuel switch, so I don't get to try that out with this game)

Edited by Terwin
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+shorter Desing-thime,
+less complicaded aerodynamics (fins at the end, finish)

-Gravity turn by hand is ... heavy.
- Expensive engines are wasted.

+Reuseable engines.
+dont need a gravity turn
-Longer Desing-time.
-More complicaded aerodynamics 

both are good.

For "manual only" i prefer spaceplanes, they are realy easy to flight.
For Computer assisted thakeof (mechjeb) i prefer rockets.


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While my previous career I had transitioned to spaceplanes early and often (I started the save in 1.0, before they changed the tech tree and move turboramjets down the line and added panthers).

I started over to play with Kerbal R&D (Seriously overpowered, but fun), and as I initially started spending science on some cheap upgrades to early engines (Swivel and terrier) rather than saving for higher nodes, I ended up making it an almost rocket only career... I've only ran two spaceplane missions so far... *a mk2 into polar orbit for an ore scan + grav readings of tundra and poles, and a mk bayprobe launch to do similar things for the Mun) - Everything else has been done with SSTO rockets (note single stage to orbit... I decouple an upper stage and send that to Mun/Minmus)... mostly with the swivel, but now also using upgraded aerospikes and the Lantern from the AtomicAge pack.

I found I have more success launchign space planes than rockets... I've had to restart so many rocket launches because I got the gravity turn wrong... too steep or shallow -> revert.

I've flown spaceplanes so much I forgot how to rocket... rockets seem harder now :P

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About how to use the aircraft: it depends. In career the spaceplanes are pretty much useless, unless you want to grind science on Laythe. I mainly build them for the looks and functionality. It's really satisfying to see an SSTO that is both LKO-capable and pretty.

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again... I take issue with the idea that spaceplanes are useless in career. One could argue that they are useless in sandbox where funds don't matter.

People mention the time aspect, and say you could just do more missions with a rocket for the same actual playtime, getting more funds/hour - but I often launch missions with no contract at all for the mission - just science to funds conversion and worlds first records to pay for it - a rocket wouldn't pay off in that case.

But again... my massive SSTOs seem to be fairly unique in their payload capacity

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