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Most Efficient Engine?


JonathanDahlq
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Hi.

What's the most efficient engine in Kerbal Space Program? With 'efficient', I mean the engine you can get the longest distance with. For example, if we compare the Terrier to the Mainsail. The Terrier can burn for a pretty long time, but not with a lot of thrust. Though, the Mainsail can burn with higher thrust, but not for that long. Are these two just as good (in space, without any landings or takeoffs)?

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Welcome aboard!

For orbital work the raw amount of thrust is close to irrelevant, more allows you to do maneuvers quicker and slightly more efficiently but doesn't really get you to any further destinations.

The relevant stats for orbital engine efficiency are engine mass and vacuum Isp. A higher Isp will allow more impulse to be generated from the same amount of fuel. A lower mass means that impulse can create a larger change in velocity. This is all governed by the Rocket Equation, generally speaking a craft with more delta-V can reach more destinations.

Practically speaking, this makes the following engines among the most efficient for orbital use: Nerv, Poodle, Terrier, Spark, Ant, Dawn. Which one is best for a given craft depends on craft size, delta-V budget, and player tolerance for low TWR.

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Look at the isp for each engine.  That represents the efficiency.  The best engine depends on mission plan and design.  A light weight payload with the nerv is not a good idea due to their mass.  And on the other hand if use ion on a large ship your burns will be so long you spend extra dv on the burn losing some efficiency.  If you don't plan on landing the craft go with the lightest engine possible that still gives you enough thrust for reasonable burn times.

Generally I use the poodle for heavy loads within the kerbin system, terrier for light loads.  Nerve for interplanetary transfers.  

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Also remember that the Nerv only uses liquid fuel, so don't use tanks that hold both fuel and oxydizer with it. Either use the aviation tanks, or a mod light interstellar fuel switch to switch the fuel tanks' content in the VAB/SPH while building the ship

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I would recommend a mod that shows delta v available for each stage, like Kerbal Engineer Redux.  You can try different engines and see what gives the biggest delta v. Then you can decide how to balance that with your thrust needs. 

Note that low engine mass can give you more delta v on small stages, even if ISP is not great.  For example, on small satellites , an Ant and a couple Oscar B tanks can do wonders.  And that package is so light that the next stage can be small as well.  And so on...

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3 hours ago, GodlygamerYT said:

To put it simply, The answer is the "Dawn" engine which burns on "Xenon" fuel.

Or to go complicated, yes this is the most efficient, but what about thrust? 

If you want good thrust and good efficiency go for wolfhound

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