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fommil

are the fancy nose cones really just aesthetic?

Question

The wiki suggests that the fancier nose cones are a waste of cash and mass:
 

"The Advanced Nose Cone - Type A is a part introduced in version 1.0. It is an aerodynamic nose cone. It has a drag coefficient of .1 and a mass of .075, .045 more than then Aerodynamic Nose Cone part which is considerably less expensive and has the same drag coefficient making it a purely aesthetic part."

"The Advanced Nose Cone - Type B is a part introduced in version 1.0. It has a drag coefficient of .1 and a mass of .075, .045 more than then "Aerodynamic Nose Cone" part which is considerably less expensive and has the same drag coefficient, additionally its slanted shape provides no lift."

Is this really the case? I'd have hoped that the parts would have some small reduction in drag coefficient to make them worthwhile?

It's far from scientific, but I've noticed that swapping basic nose cones with the Type A have increased the solid booster stage of my launch from 65k to 66k. It could just be that the craft is slightly more stable on the way up.

 

Edited by fommil

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This is one of those things that can easily be tested yourself. Why not put the science in Rocket Science to work?

Start with a simple test rocket. I added some extra mass to the top for additional stability (and a more realistic test scenario) like this:

BvBtLOhl.png

I just sent it straight up, not touching the controls (after setting SAS at launch). Keep in mind that this is pretty much the worst case scenario for proving aerodynamic advantages, as you gain altitude (thinner air, less resistance) more rapid than in a real time launch. At the same time, if differences show up in this scenario, they will definitely show up in a real-world launch. Then I played around with:

  • No nose cone
  • Aerodynamic nose cone (the round one)
  • Advanced nose cone (the pointy one)

I also played with the amount of fuel used, to show that higher speed (achieved with more fuel) means the better streamline offsets the higher weight:

  • FL-T200
  • FL-T400
  • FL-T800

Finally, I launched each configuration 3× and averaged the maximum altitude reached. I'm sure the OP will consider 3× for each test insufficient to draw conclusions about standard deviation and if the results are statistically significantly different, but that's where he/she can repeat the experiment as many times as is required. I thought that spending half on hour on this was already fairly generous of me. :D

Anyway, here are the results (altitude in meters, higher number indicates better performance):

Configuration No
nose cone
Aerodynamic
nose cone
Advanced
nose cone
FL-T200 tank 4,152 4,359 4,344
FL-T400 tank 10,363 13,526 13,847
FL-T800 tank 28,838 47,066 47,858

It can be argued that the gains of the Advanced model are rather small, but they are definitely there, and without a doubt it has less drag than the "aerodynamic" cone.

 

 

Edited by Kerbart

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fommil,

 The nose cones dramatically reduce drag. They're not just for show. See here for more info...

Best,
-Slashy

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We should acknowledge that the original post did report an experimental result

15 hours ago, fommil said:

It's far from scientific, but I've noticed that swapping basic nose cones with the Type A have increased the solid booster stage of my launch from 65k to 66k. 

that agrees with others' results, but not the outdated KSP wiki.

I created myself a wiki login and updated the two linked entries, based on the information in 'PartDatabase.cfg'.  It seems that the individual part .cfg files still contain the old drag coefficients formerly reported in the wiki, presumably for backward compatibility using the option 'replace drag cubes with spherical model' in the alt-F12 menus.

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As I understand it, the basic nosecone is better at subsonic speeds and the advanced nosecone is better when going supersonic.

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It helps with mods such as FAR I believe. 

 

EDIT: 

I found a really detailed thread on this. Here it is: 

 

Edited by InterstellarOrbit

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