SaturnianBlue

Imagining a Kerbal Future: What Would the Future of Kerbals Look Like? (Chapter XLIII: Epilogue)

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If there were alliances, which planets would be allies?

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On August 10, 2018 at 6:31 AM, The Minmus Derp said:

If there were alliances, which planets would be allies?

It would depend on the situation. The "Trade and Relations" section gives some idea of what worlds, like Duna and Dres, would be more predisposed to becoming allies, but under some circumstances, they might not be so friendly.

Progress report for the next chapter:

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As it happens, I have not stopped working on IAKF. It is more that the work I have spent on it has been extremely time consuming. Each ship for the "In-Game" scenario can take a couple hours to really put together, and a good 5+ hours go into making the ship not explode or shake itself apart, even with the use of cheats. Even then, there are certain problems that reveal themselves. Thankfully, I am fairly assured that this will probably be the scenario that takes the longest (and thus likely to be a standalone), since the other approaches are less likely to encounter unexpected obstacles.

 

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On 8/7/2018 at 4:29 PM, SaturnianBlue said:

Proposed by @MatterBeam, this option seeks to solve many of the problems experienced in-game. Instead of playing the battle out in KSP, this option uses the game mainly to represent the action, while many of the combat mechanics are played out behind the scenes, which is how this path compensates for the problems a pure-KSP battle often suffers from. First, this solution solves the issue of controlling large amounts of ships at once, because the maneuvering is made off-screen, while the ships in-game do not need to move, creating plenty of time to set each screenshot up. If the damage systems of KSP itself and BDArmory prove unsatisfying, this option allows a person to create a system that can better represent what they want. While I have not yet tried this approach, it seems as though the main disadvantage to this approach is the initial amount of effort that must go into creating a balanced system of rules and points for a more realistic battle.

 

Attack Vector: Tactical?  Its a very complex and realistic 3-d space combat board game.

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On August 16, 2018 at 8:50 AM, DAL59 said:

Attack Vector: Tactical?  Its a very complex and realistic 3-d space combat board game.

That approach would probably be like AV:T, with KSP.

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In the next chapter of IAKF...

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Posted (edited)

Space Warfare, In-Game

Chapter XLII of Imagining a Kerbal Future

    In the first of a couple chapters covering the various approaches to space warfare, the first will be in-game. Though it is not an ideal scenario for recreating in KSP due to the limitations of the game, we will use a scenario involving ships inspired by @MatterBeam's Space Warfare Design chapters for this chapter. Once again, a special thank you to the ToughSciFi discord for their help in the chapter.

Before I could begin building the ships, I had to create a two new copies of the USAF laser, considerably increasing factors like damage, and ending up with two versions—one for point defense, and another as an anti-ship laser. All in all, the ships would take much longer to develop than initially thought. This is because of the numerous structural issues encountered for many of these ships, like the tendency to shake themselves to destruction (even with cheats), significant bending of the front half of the warships under acceleration, and a ship that wouldn’t get under control even with SAS (though this issue was easily solved, when I realized the command pod pointed at a different direction than expected). These issues were likely a result of building very long ships, to take advantage of armor sloping.

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The Duna Interceptor

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The Kerbin Battleship

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The Railgun Ship

    After countless hours of testing, I got a trio of ships that did not always explode when reloaded. One of them is inspired by the Martian Interceptor and carries a large laser and laser point defenses. The second is inspired by the Martian Arsenal Ship, though hardly a perfect replica, because it was impossible to carry so many missiles on the ship, much less launch them with a coilgun. As a result, it uses a railgun with large projectiles instead. Lastly, a design based on the Terran battleship, which became a design that was a more powerful, less maneuverable version of the interceptor.

The Scenarios

The cheat menu was ultimately necessary for the ships to not explode when loaded into the game.

Cheats required/Used:

Ignore Max Temp—Gas core engine on the Battleship would overheat for some reason

Pause on Vessel Unpack—To make the ships not explode

Unbreakable Joints—To make the ships not explode

No Crash Damage—To make the ships not explode

Scenario One

Having figured out the way to get the weapons firing at a much further distance than before (using the settings file of the weapon manager to increase firing range to 2000 km), I finally had a setup I was satisfied with, using Hyperedit to create it. An interceptor would first fly approximately 200 kilometers at around 5 km/s. After that, a railgun ship would meet the battleship at a slower velocity to finish it off. While having more ships would have made for a more plausible scenario, it would have resulted in a very slow game.

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The Kerbin Battleship, equipped with very powerful lasers, approaches Duna at a relatively slow velocity. While it must prepare for orbital insertion, it cannot flip around, because enemy ships, including one interceptor, are waiting—it must keep its armored nose pointed at the enemy. The 12,000 ton ship encounters some issues regarding orientation, often failing to stay pointed at the enemy, exposing the weaker side armor protecting the fuel tanks, in the rear. This will put the battleship in a dangerous position.

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In reality, the laser would be invisible, but making it visible here makes it more easy to observe the battle.

Approaching the orbit of Ike, it enters combat with the Duna Interceptor. After passing the two-thousand kilometer mark, the two ships share laser fire between them, but even the powerful lasers of both ships can only chip away at the armor of each ship in the brief moments before the lasers must cool down.

Gradually, however, the laser fire becomes more effective, and this leads to panic on the Combat Information Center of the battleship, as the battleship slides away from being directly oriented on the target. After a few… Corrections (turning on on-rails time warp momentarily), the ship is slowly brought under control. In that time, however, one of the side armor plates of the battleship takes considerable laser fire.

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While I have balanced the lasers in such a way that they can only shoot for a second or so before overheating, this short time window is enough to wreck havoc at closer ranges.

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As the ships close to within a couple hundred kilometers, it becomes very difficult for the ships to stay oriented at the other ship, as the ships start to shift quite quickly across the sky. This leads to a devastating series of strikes to the 4,000 ton interceptor, that exploits the moment of weakness to annihilate a side panel of the nose cone, and the lasers are stripped off as another layer of armor is destroyed.

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As the battleship passes to the side of the interceptor, it can hit the sides, destroying the propellant tanks and fully disabling the ship. The interceptor’s crew is fortunate—a section of their protective shell was destroyed, exposing the crew capsule, but they manage to avoid destruction.

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The yellow are the tracers on the railgun projectiles.

The battleship proceeds towards Duna. The railgun ship, intended to be more “stealthy” (though only to some extent—”true stealth” is quite impractical for a large space warship), lies in wait. While I used the “stealth coating” parts from DCK, they ultimately didn’t do that much, since the ship was still visible (I forgot/was unaware of the “active camouflage” parts). Instead, I turned down the weapons range for the battleship. Though the KTech railgun has no deviation, it proved to be mostly ineffective—the shells were concentrated within a kilometer of the ship, but only a few actually hit. In any case, they were still able to expose the interior from the side, which could have incapacitated the ship with a few more hits. Alas, the lasers of the battleship quickly dispatched the railgun ship, and the battleship secured Duna.

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With not much armor, the railgun ship is prone to even small amounts of laser fire

Scenario Two

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The Interceptor's main laser has an amusing tendency to wobble, as seen here.

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The exhaust should be larger, but it does not appear to scale with the rest of the NTR, which has been made large enough to produce 36 Meganewtons of thrust.

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After additional testing, the railgun ship was proven to be unworkable. Therefore, I decided to substitute it with another interceptor, which would slowly diverge from the other interceptor, bracketing the battleship. Additionally, I installed Mechjeb on the warships, to prevent the orientation problems. This solution would prove to be mostly successful, and the ships stay at the target. While the battleship no longer faced one issue, it would soon face another one.

Two interceptors mean that there are two different points from where the lasers can strike. As the distance between the interceptors and the battleship decreased, the separation of these points increased. This means that while the battleship can be fully protected from one ship, its side would be exposed by another ship. For a while, the battleship can point itself in the space between the interceptors to be safe, but eventually, this merely exposes two of the battleship’s sides. Theoretically, the ship can distribute the damage between armor plates by spinning, but the ship only has fairly weak thrusters, leaving it unable to do so.

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At this point, the battleship is able to expose a third of the front nose cone from one of the interceptors, but the battleship itself is in a worse situation. The side paneling is destroyed, exposing the shell of the CIC and the propellant tanks. While the CIC survives, the propellant tanks are destroyed, and much of the ship is destroyed, leaving only the crew modules and the front nose cone, which failed its purpose. Duna wins the day.

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Total destruction...

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A better picture of the damage on one of the interceptors—the other interceptor was mostly unharmed.

While I certainly would like to release the ships for your own use, downloading the ship would be complicated by its nature, because I would have to remove the lasers and instruct the user to make the major configuration file changes necessary, an inconvenient process for certain. In any case, I have no wish to cause undue rage that may be induced by ships exploding, so I will someday try to create “hard-SciFi” vessels that are more suitable.

In conclusion, building relatively realistic warships and setting up battles in KSP is a time consuming processes, but they have the reward of the spectacle that space battles can be. I wish anyone trying to create their own hard-SciFi space battles good luck, because it can be time-consuming.

In the next chapter, we will continue our exploration of the various approaches to space warfare in a KSP setting.

Thanks for Reading!

Next: Space Warfare In KSP, Part Four

Edited by SaturnianBlue
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Great work, @SaturnianBlue!

From the looks of it, going through battles in KSP will be very time consuming and you'll struggle more with the bugs than the enemy...

Also, it seems to me that more maneuverable spacecraft that can keep their noses pointed at a moving target is quite important. Perhaps large side thrusters near the nose?

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12 minutes ago, MatterBeam said:

Great work, @SaturnianBlue!

From the looks of it, going through battles in KSP will be very time consuming and you'll struggle more with the bugs than the enemy...

Also, it seems to me that more maneuverable spacecraft that can keep their noses pointed at a moving target is quite important. Perhaps large side thrusters near the nose?

Or perhaps smaller ships—I would suspect that there would be far less bugs and it would be easier to move the spacecraft that way.

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A sneak peek of the final (currently planned) chapter...

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Combined Approach Space Warfare & Epilogue

Chapter XLIII of Imagining a Kerbal Future

In this final chapter, we will use the combination approach presented two chapters before, to present a little of a variety of approaches. It will be a little different, however, since I won’t do a mini-game battle of sorts because of the setup required, so I will replace the minigame with writing the battle scenario with consideration of the physics. 

Scenario

In a surprise move, the Dunan Congressional Authority declared independence from Kerbin, which recently attempted to force increased dependence on the homeworld. As Duna was able to either capture or disable the warships already located in Duna’s orbit, Kerbin has had to send an invasion fleet on its dedicated booster-carriers to restore control of Duna. For a variety of reasons, the size of the fleet was limited.

Forces

Duna

10 Interceptors

6 Missile Ships

Numerous Defenses

Kerbin

8 Battleships

8 Anti-Missile Escorts

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I used Sketchbook Express for the initial sketch and coloring, while further detail was with Photoshop.

As the Kerbin fleet approaches Duna, they launch guided projectiles towards Duna, to strike various facilities in orbit. After this, the fleet begin to decelerate, in order to make the inevitable Duna orbit insertion burn shorter, and making it more difficult for missiles to fly past defenses.

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The paths are from KSP, though I did draw over some of them for clarity.

The trip to Duna is where the use of KSP to track spacecraft positions is the most useful, though it will also be useful to keep track of the placement of the individual vessels, though this doesn’t have to tracked—making the positions whatever is more convenient is the bigger priority.

It is at this point, that the invasion fleet encounters their first great challenge. Duna has placed powerful bomb-pumped lasers in the path of the invasion fleet, whose detectability is reduced through various measures. With very little in the way of preparing for the strike, a battleship is disabled, and several other ships take considerable damage, especially to the unarmored sides, as the ships were not prepared for the strike. However, the challenge does not last, as Duna only has a limited supply.

In order to prevent the risk of damage in a kinetic strike, the interception task force is launched early to meet the Kerbin battlefleet. Using their drop tanks, they are able to accelerate to velocities higher than usual for their nuclear engines. This task force places a single interceptor at the front, and the rest of the interceptors are placed in such a way as to create a pyramid, hoping to get a side angle shot on the battleships. Behind them are the missile launcher ships, which will launch their missiles hoping that the defenses have been weakened to allow more missiles to strike their targets.

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The Kerbin fleet, now traveling at 7 km/s, anticipates the use of missile ships, and positions their escorts ahead of the battleships to intercept them.

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The length of the cone, rectangles, and other parts drawn on each ship are intended to provide an idea of armor, fuel, etc.

At a distance of 500,000 km from Duna, the two fleets begin firing their lasers, having closed to a distance where they can cause some damage. The Duna fleet’s pyramid has spread out considerably, in an attempt to fire lasers from multiple angles. The two fleet converge at 15 km/s. In the beginning, the armor cones protect the ships, but pyramid formation allows the Dunan ships to get better shots, and they focus primarily on the escorts, disabling them one-by-one.

The Kerbin battleships focus their efforts on disabling the missile ships, but such ships are well-armored, and their distance reduces the performance of the lasers. While the lasers and guided projectiles are able to gradually disable important components such as the coilgun missile launcher, the missile ships have already launched many of their missiles at the enemy. The relatively quick closing velocity, combine with both damage to the point defense lasers, and the reduced effectiveness of the lasers from rising temperatures mean that the Kerbin fleet’s escorts are less capable of intercepting the missiles. For this reason, the battleships prepare their nuclear charge missiles—there will be adverse effects to the battleship, but if the other possibility is massive internal damage, it is worth the risk.

With many of the escorts unable to defend, the interceptors shift their laser fire towards the battleships—though more heavily armored, the shrinking range between the two vessels mean that laser fire is becoming ever more effective, and the sides of the ship are becoming more exposed.

In the next minutes, the missiles zoom towards the battleships, which fire their nuclear charge equipped missiles, with some success. Despite that and the use of powerful lasers, however, some missiles manage to breach the defenses. While most strike the armor cone, limiting their damage to an extent, a couple strike a battleship from the side, puncturing the propellant tanks and the reactor, and it loses its maneuvering capability. Even the hits on the armor cone help the interceptors, which have an easier way to penetrate into the warships with lasers. Indeed, as the two fleets pass by each other, both fleets are able to strike from the side, primarily targeting the propellant tanks. Before being destroyed at closest approach, the remaining missile ships are able to launch a few more missiles from the side.

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As the two fleets pull away, the interceptors with a mostly intact propulsion system are able to flip around quickly enough to disable the engines of the less maneuverable battleships from the rear. However, this is the last damage they can incur, because they do not have the delta-V to chase the battleships. They will have to be rescued.

A few of the battleships still have the capability to use their weapons, and use them to great extent to strike targets around Duna, and even some of the ground anti-spacecraft emplacements. The bombardment causes significant damage to Duna’s orbital infrastructure, making sure that building up a new fleet will be difficult. While Kerbin has dramatically reduced the capability of Duna to fight in space, Duna has not given up. As a result of the damage taken, the Kerbin fleet must forgo the orbital insertion burn, and link up with supply ships to make emergency repairs. However, the few ships that were held back in Duna’s orbit rush towards the supply ships in an effort to keep them from assisting. As a result, the heavily damaged ships are abandoned.

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Kerbin will now begin the second push for Duna. With the remaining battleships ordered to rendezvous for an attack into Duna, the chances for Duna successfully holding out are dwindling, even with the time to prepare.

Chapter Conclusion

    This approach to depicting space battles (in a KSP setting) is still time consuming, and there will likely be significantly fewer pictures. However, there are a few key differences. First, progress tends to be fairly consistent. Unlike depicting space warfare in-game, you do not run into unexpected obstacles or bugs that might stall progress for a day or two. Second, you have greater control over what happens in the battle. This means that one has to plan the entire space battle themselves, placing a greater responsibility to get the science right. To look at it another way, it means that your battle is not limited by the game.

Epilogue

It has been a year and a half since I began this series. In that time, the chapters has evolved from a patchwork of short mission reports based around the future of Kerbalkind, to long writings envisioning this future on each world of the Kerbol System, writings ironically not based on any missions!

While the extravagant story I envisioned I would create after IAKF might never come to fruition, I hope this series has inspired others in their effort to create a hard-SciFi future in the Kerbol System.

Through this series, I’ve discovered and answered many of my questions about depicting a Kerbal future, especially where it diverges from the Human future. One question remains, and it was the first asked:

“What would the future of Kerbals look like?”

The fact is, there is not a direct answer—I realized this as I wrote this series. Often, I found myself unable to make a confident statement, choosing to give multiple possibilities. To compensate, I created the short stories to present a single, detailed one. In the end, I can make this confident statement: the future of Kerbals—and consequently, our future—is not definite. But we can imagine it.

A thank you to everyone reading this—I appreciate it. I enjoy the discussions, input, and ideas we have had on this series. I thank the many resources I used for inspiration in many of the ideas in this series—I have included a few on the first page. A special thank you to @MatterBeam, for spending part of many busy days on reviewing drafts of multiple chapters, and providing more ideas.

Spoiler

Imagining a Kerbal Future is not over.

I will try to update older chapters to reflect changes in the game, and I will at least consider any suggestions for new chapters. However, the fast approach of a school year that will be busier than ever, and my new project, the Kerbin Escape, will mean gradual progress.

Thank You.

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Posted (edited)

Great last(?) chapter. I'll miss this series, as the first series for me to watch beginning to end, without it dying halfway through. Thank you for making my day a little brighter.

Edited by obney kerman
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can i make a sequel, involving planet mods?

 

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3 hours ago, obney kerman said:

Great last(?) chapter. I'll miss this series, as the first series for me to watch the beginning, and the end, without it dying halfway through. Thank you for making my day a little brighter.

Thank you! The series was initially meant to only maybe take half as long as it did, but I'm glad you stuck around for the whole ride!

 

1 hour ago, The Minmus Derp said:

can i make a sequel, involving planet mods?

 

Feel free to! However, I would prefer that it has a different name, since I might write a few more chapters sometime in the future—it would be rather awkward having to IAKFs around!

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OH. MY. GOD.

The art is incredible - you've really raised the bar. There is nothing to fault with the tactical plan and I really liked how you approached this. 

All I can ask is that it go on for longer, but maybe the next project will have some of that!

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Is simulating space battles practical in KSP with stock physics (that is, no weapons mods) or even stock parts only?

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4 minutes ago, GregroxMun said:

Is simulating space battles practical in KSP with stock physics (that is, no weapons mods) or even stock parts only?

Space battles without mods like BDArmory are doable, they just wouldn't be particularly realistic without some unique in-game justification. Simulating the weapons are going to be the biggest problem—there isn't really a way for laser combat to happen, and combat with railguns or anything of that sort would probably be impractical—even if a projectile can get launched from a barrel, reloading would be a complicated process, and I'm not sure the accuracy would be good enough. Missile combat can certainly happen, the trouble would be with controlling multiple missiles at once, which would happen realistically, to increase the chance of a hit. However, there isn't exactly a way for countermeasures to be deployed in KSP, so even sending one missile at a time might result in a hit. 

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Cool thread.

First up, I apologize for the Orion mod kinda dying.  I need to rewrite the code, and coding isn't a strong suit of mine.  The system it uses to build on has been deprecated out since like 0.8 or something and it's been getting more and more bandaidy (and laggy) since, but it's finally, as of 1.3, gone for good.  It is on my list of things to do, somewhat after learning to write modules and C#.  :D

I have questions about nozzles on open cycle GCRs.  My understanding was that magnetic confinement, especially in the exhaust, was not particularly effective with GCRs.  There's no consistent ionization, and some of the molecules coming out would be very heavy compared to any possible charge they have.  But I haven't actually seen anyone crunch numbers on whether you can use a magneto-confinement nozzle.  I'm redesigning my Open Cycle GCR from my nexus post and trying to get it as realistic as possible (without having containment fail at more than 0.00001G and explode, which is where GCReactors are at the moment).  

And, which mod did you get this part from?

jAUktmj.png

I see it in a few craft, but it doesn't seem to be in use as intended, as there's no matching tanks.  So presumably someone's repurposed it.

 

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4 hours ago, TiktaalikDreaming said:

Cool thread.

First up, I apologize for the Orion mod kinda dying.  I need to rewrite the code, and coding isn't a strong suit of mine.  The system it uses to build on has been deprecated out since like 0.8 or something and it's been getting more and more bandaidy (and laggy) since, but it's finally, as of 1.3, gone for good.  It is on my list of things to do, somewhat after learning to write modules and C#.  :D

I have questions about nozzles on open cycle GCRs.  My understanding was that magnetic confinement, especially in the exhaust, was not particularly effective with GCRs.  There's no consistent ionization, and some of the molecules coming out would be very heavy compared to any possible charge they have.  But I haven't actually seen anyone crunch numbers on whether you can use a magneto-confinement nozzle.  I'm redesigning my Open Cycle GCR from my nexus post and trying to get it as realistic as possible (without having containment fail at more than 0.00001G and explode, which is where GCReactors are at the moment).  

And, which mod did you get this part from?

jAUktmj.png

I see it in a few craft, but it doesn't seem to be in use as intended, as there's no matching tanks.  So presumably someone's repurposed it.

 

Thank you! My limited understanding is that magnetic confinement wouldn't get used on a gas core engine—in the designs for such engines (Engine List from Atomic Rockets) , they are depicted with regular nozzles.

The part is from KSP-Interstellar Extended. If I recall correctly, it is some sort of ISRU processing plant—presumably something that Duna would want to import in the early era of colonization, which is why this ship is depicted as carrying it.

Edited by SaturnianBlue
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6 hours ago, SaturnianBlue said:

Thank you! My limited understanding is that magnetic confinement wouldn't get used on a gas core engine—in the designs for such engines (Engine List from Atomic Rockets) , they are depicted with regular nozzles.

The part is from KSP-Interstellar Extended. If I recall correctly, it is some sort of ISRU processing plant—presumably something that Duna would want to import in the early era of colonization, which is why this ship is depicted as carrying it.

Cool, I've had a few moments of "OMG, derp" redoing my Open GCR and can get a bit twitchy if I read stuff that disagrees with how I'm modelling it.  :D  

I asked about the part because it's actually originally from 

But FT has already credited me for parts re-purposed, so that's fine, I just didn't know he was using that part as well.  It just jarred with the Hard Science theme, considering it was originally made as a generator for handwavium.  The text on the side suggesting you not observe the magic krystals doesn't seem in line with hard science fiction.  

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