SaturnianBlue

Imagining a Kerbal Future: What Would the Future of Kerbals Look Like? (Chapter XXV: Depicting the Future In KSP)

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7 hours ago, Kosmonaut said:

Don't forget the hydrogen bombs being detonated behind the spacecraft

As you'll find in the next episode, that's the reason I've added Nuclear lightbulbs!

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radiator idea:

(this just seems like it belongs in a futuristic spacecraft)

Heat is channelled into a melting pot full of a dense metal, so that it absorbs the majority of the heat from the spacecraft. The heat is then put into space, and somehow collected again, once frozen solid, and put back into the pot

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Posted (edited)

CHAPTER V: Mixing Propulsion Systems

"Mix and match, we've got 'em all!"-Kerbodyne

In the earlier chapters, I’ve mentioned that having multiple propulsion systems is good, but in this chapter I actually test this. There are several reasons for using multiple systems, of which I’ll start with…

The Primary Propulsion Source is Dangerous!

Ek9vHyF.png

FYI, this is an older image, when I used the USI Orion Drive 

    While the Orion drive has the excellent trait of effectively being a low-end torchship, the ship happens to use nuclear bombs for this process, and they have a general tendency to blow up things in the general vicinity. Additionally, the immense thrust can often be overwhelming for small course corrections, where one may end up being even more off-course than when the burn started.    

    There are several problems to finding a supplementary propulsion system, beginning with the fact that the ships that utilize the Orion drive are almost always gigantic super-heavy vessels, which means that the system will be gigantic. It will also weigh down the ship, as another fuel is required (though the Orion drive will hardly notice).

gF9RivI.png

A ring of fire surrounds the Orion Drive...

    This concept has manifested in a super-heavy ship carrying 1,200 tons of Xenon, and almost 1000 tons of Methane, with a literal ring of nuclear lightbulbs. Perhaps it is slightly extreme, as the acceleration reaches 8 m/s2. The nuclear lightbulbs themselves have 6,215 M/s of Delta-V. In general, this is likely overkill, but it shows that such a system can work.   tXC7PFs.png

    Similarly, the VISTA engine is deadly to all within a certain area. The Closed Cycle Gas Core engine also rectifies that issue! Since both of the systems use the same fuel, it doesn’t require another fuel tank. The Nuclear Lightbulb can also be used as a boost to the VISTA rocket, whose thrust isn’t too high.

You can check out other dangerous thrusters in the earlier chapters, but the Orion Drive and the VISTA are rather notable examples.

 

The Main Propulsion System Has Terrible Thrust!

LKLjvJD.png

A major problem with propulsion such as the MPD, VASIMIR, or FFRE is that they have excellent ISP, but their thrust is quite poor, a big issue when encountering a small gravity well at high speed, since it can lead to unwanted orbits as the spacecraft achieves orbit far after periapsis. Such engines are also nearly impossible to use inside planetary systems, such as trying to get from a  somewhat elliptical orbit around Jool into orbit around Laythe, since the burns should really be taking only a few minutes, but instead take hours! This can be fixed by having a high thrust propulsion system.

W9VTNJN.pngJTU4aTT.png

As long as it doesn't smash into Ike...

    One example I tested was by combining the Thermal Launch Nozzle (in this case using the Fission Fragment reactor, though I really should've used a plasma nozzle) and the MPD aboard the small-size ship. I used the MPD to accelerate out of Kerbin, and also on approach, but near periapsis I throttled up the TLN as additional thrust. It worked quite well, getting to Duna in 90 days (it is stuck in an elliptical orbit, though I’m sure a space tug can fix that).

EZheKVA.png

    I also took scaled the concept up at a heavy-size ship, which reached Ike in 112 days with plenty of fuel still left. The Thermal Launch Nozzle was quite vital to a successful orbit insertion, as it provided a good kick, enough to send it on an intercept with Ike.

GfNrthE.png
 
End of Chapter V
 
Thanks for Reading!
 
Next Time: Beamed Power
Edited by SaturnianBlue

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Cool

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Posted (edited)

CHAPTER VI: Beamed Power

"2500 GW of Power!"-Kerbol Electric

Y2rLwpf.png

A Quick Overview

    For the last of the chapters on propulsion (for now), we’ll explore the idea of wirelessly transmitting power to give ships energy without any need for on board reactors. The power source could be many things, but I’ll mainly cover fusion and solar as the main sources.

 

    Why Beamed Power?

    By having power beamed from a remote source, there is no need for bulky reactors, with only the receiver necessary. While the receiver can be quite heavy, it can generate more power for its weight than the onboard reactor. This can also be harnessed by using the power to heat propellant, or ablate it, as seen in the laser thermal and laser ablative rockets, respectively.

PBM4veD.png

A large freighter with a receiver—it could get a lot of electricity, but it crashed because the receiver wasn't pointed at a relay/transmitter...

Disadvantages

    It would be initially quite expensive to set up a network of giant power generators and relays so that power is available from any direction. Additionally, beamed power also increases the dependence of ships on remote power sources, which presents a military objective in the case of war to take over beamed power stations and effectively shutting down enemy ships using beamed power. They could also be repurposed as power laser weapons...

    A Simple Tutorial

    I had a bit of a hard time figuring out the whole thing, which is why I decided to make a very short tutorial on setting up a beamed power transmitter.

First

xpqHw45.png

Get your power source, which in this case is a fusion reactor, and then add the necessary electric generators to produce power.

 Second

Meo4Ko1.png

    Next, attach a beam generator, in this case a gyrotron, which is needed for the operation of most of the transmitters. 

Third

f1xGPB1.png

Add the transmitter, which is what will broadcast the power to all the ships, as well as radiators (especially for the reactors, which produce a lot of heat).

Fourth

hkKOWxc.png

Send it into space (somehow), and enable the transmitter function on the antenna.

Receivers are simple—just attach them and enable the receiver function. While I didn't seriously test relays, they will be necessary to provide full coverage of the sky, allowing a ship to be able to fire its thrusters in any direction.

Testing Fusion

Fusion is an excellent power source, as it can be used anywhere in the Kerbol System, as it is mostly independent. At the most extreme size, the Stellerator reactor can produce 4,112 gigawatts!

X8Dc77h.png

    Unfortunately, such giant reactors require enormous radiators, and are very expensive at such a scale.

Pmoj9wt.png

    I also tested the Antimatter-initiated reactor, which outputs the same (with a smaller size) but uses Antimatter and Helium-3, both of which are rare and expensive, though Joolians may be able to capture large amounts of antimatter (in KSP-I, a stronger magnetic field results in more antimatter, and Jool certainly has a very powerful one).

Testing Solar

7rM3dAY.png\

The amount of radiators featured is not even close to the needed amount.

At very close distances from the sun, the amount of power that can be caught by solar panels is incredibly high. In KSP Interstellar, the largest receiver part available is a solar panel—one that can be tweakscaled to over a kilometer wide. The setup can easily generate over thousands of gigawatts of power, which is the largest I could get the biggest transmitter part to send.

A major issue of using solar power as a beamed power platform is that these projects have to be built in the extreme heat of the sun, where gigantic radiators are required to cool the vessel. Additionally, their range is mostly limited to within Jool’s orbit, since the energy captured steadily decreases as one gets farther away from the power source, which is limited to right near Kerbol.

BOgOX1g.png

Identical to the ship seen at Moho, this ship could get a fair amount of power at Jool

Verdict

    Beamed power could help open up space with the laser thermal power systems, and during the time between their construction and fusion engines, they would make electrical engines quite prevalent for interplanetary use, and the laser thermal as well as the ablative engines can provide the massive thrust needed for intra-system travel. The construction of giant power plants would be a massive, expensive undertaking, but despite the disadvantages, it would be very useful.

End of Chapter VI
 
Thanks for Reading!
 
I've got two ideas for next chapter: Either use this chapter to transition to talking about methods of electricity generation (solar, fusion, fission, etc...) or begin a new set on colonizing the Kerbol System.

 

Edited by SaturnianBlue
Edited the chapter to reflect new conclusions

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Colonization

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I've been working on the "Colonizing Moho" chapter, and perhaps what I wonder about most is what a Moho colony would export to other colonies. There's probably metal to be found, as well as some Helium-3, but this could probably be found on other worlds as well. Solar power is plentiful, but the beamed power ships I discussed earlier would probably make this somewhat redundant. Instead, the resource should probably be difficult to find anywhere else, and in return Moho could get something else in return. From my research so far, manufactured goods made using the beamed power/solar from the sun is the best I can find.

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Currently I have a few sections for the next episode (Colonizing Moho), "Why Settle Moho?", Issues, Advantages, and Colony Design. I'd like some more ideas for these colonies, since I'd definitely want to have a comprehensive look at a future Kerbol System. :) 

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Somewhere like moho you would need moveable colonies to stay in the twilight zone, so as to not overheat or freeze (like mercury)

You could, in future chapters, talk about floating atmospheric mining colonies in Jool

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16 minutes ago, Kosmonaut said:

Somewhere like moho you would need moveable colonies to stay in the twilight zone, so as to not overheat or freeze (like mercury)

You could, in future chapters, talk about floating atmospheric mining colonies in Jool

It's also possible to establish colonies at the poles, where water ice could exist (though obviously not portrayed).

The thing about mining colonies on Jool is that the Delta-V required to reach orbit is pretty high, so that the products getting sent up into space should probably be well worth the cost (Helium-3, perhaps?) to be profitable.

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Agreed

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I (somewhat belatedly) finished writing up the chapter for Moho—since these tend to require a fairly extensive amount of research, they take a long time to write. I'll start working on the graphics/screenshots for the chapter, after which i can post the chapter!

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Yay!

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I'm very, very close to releasing the Moho episode, here's a sneak peek. After the Moho episode i'll do Eve and Gilly.hXn3KTO.png

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ByQXA7d.png

Starting Off

  • This depiction of Moho colonization is heavily inspired by ideas for colonizing Mercury, which is a good but not exact analogue for this episode.
  • It’s perfectly possible that you might disagree with some of my opinions—if you think so, let me know what you think!

In the future of the Kerbals, colonizing the Kerbol System is perhaps inevitable. Therefore, it is important to explore what those colonies would look like, and function, in order to have a generally realistic portrayal. Naturally, we will start with Moho—the closest planet to Kerbol, and work our way out from there.

Why Settle Moho?

K4dNVXB.png

    Considering the attention that the Mun and Duna would most likely receive from the Kerbals, Moho will probably be overlooked in an initial wave of space colonies. Yet there are some important reasons for settling Moho.

DczFU5c.png

A small mining setup capable of mining and processing regolith during the long Moho nights and days.

    The first reason will likely be quite simple—mining. While asteroids would provide plenty of resources, it’s likely Moho probably has minerals that many asteroids may not. If Moho is anything like Mercury, it should be very rich in metals. That said, it takes considerably more fuel to reach Moho than a near-Kerbin asteroid, making it rather unprofitable for Kerbin. Yet Moho has a few big advantages.    

b3WvfWl.png

    With some areas of Moho shrouded in darkness, it would be logical for water ice to be found in these locations, providing an access to a key resource.

BHkR5Kg.png

Our trusted beamed power craft, now at Moho.

    Additionally, Moho’s close proximity to Kerbol means that solar panel arrays can collect massive amounts of power, and these arrays will be useful even when arrays are deployed far closer to Kerbol, as Moho’s relative proximity will allow receivers to capture more energy for smaller dishes.

    Helium-3 mining could also commence, with the Kerbol (solar) wind blasting the resource onto Moho. It’s use in aneutronic fusion and Nuclear Pulse Propulsion (Prokect Daedalus) makes it a valuable source that could be rather profitable if the demand is quite high.

Issues

    The close proximity to Kerbol would most likely blast Moho with radiation, and this will have obvious health issues for kerbals (if they are anything like humans). Perhaps settlers will be required to build their living spaces underground, where the ground itself will provide shielding.

ozx7jch.png

    In addition, Moho is quite difficult to reach—it is both inclined and very close to Kerbol, while having a tiny gravity well. Thankfully, the engine systems shown off earlier should allow the ships to get to Moho, though low-thrust engines would suffer from the problems of Duna orbit insertion on a worse level.

The bright light from Kerbol would likely force colonists to use brightness-dimming windows if they are to use any, or at the very least lenses.

joSklEU.png

Kerbol as seen from Moho and Kerbin's polar regions.

Additional Advantages

EJVR11N.png

Six Transfer Windows in 2 Kerbin Years!

    Hohmann transfer windows to Moho are far more common than other planets, notably Duna. Therefore, colonies could be built up quickly, so perhaps Moho might end up being surprisingly well colonized despite my opinions on the growth of the colony (which will be discussed in the next sections).

Designs for a Moho Colony

kxIRCvE.png

Presumably this colony extends below just these plants.

    Being so close to Kerbol, plants snacks could gather lots of light, potentially allowing for far quicker growth, which could be combined with future technology to make farms very efficient. Water can pumped to the farms, or perhaps the farm could be built along a lake created directly from a deposit of water ice. These structures would likely have to be accompanied with laser defenses to destroy debris, as an impact would easily destroy the structure and lead to the loss of valuable food and water.

    Nearby, the colonists would dig into the ground as protection from radiation. While this would be quite difficult, future technologies would be quicker and more efficient in doing so, compared to the presumed "modern era" of Kerbin. In fact, if one believes that all kerbals live underground (which might explain why few buildings are on Kerbin), this might even be a natural choice.

    A power plant located on/near Moho would use solar power, either directly or via beaming power from near Kerbol. At the poles, reflectors would probably reflect kerbolight upon solar thermal plants, though if places with eternal sunlight exist, normal solar power could be used just fine.

OCHcQfV.png

Capable of achieving 40 M/S, these rather expensive mining robots are meant for all conditions on Moho.

    With plentiful amounts of power, factories that produce highly energy-intensive products would spring up. In general, the materials would come from mobile prospector robots and outposts, which would transport materials via trucks. With excellent supplies of power, high-quality, valuable products would be produced, easily making manufactured products the biggest export of Moho and would turn up a massive profit for the colony.

A Likely Path for the Colony

No perfect path of progression exists, so this is mostly my opinion, though I hope it will help get potential writers ideas, and a general sense of direction.

aku3TKJ.png

The picture in the title, it depicts a northern settlement with mass drivers, solar thermal power plants, greenhouses. For the reasons above though, this shows only a small portion of the whole colony, much of which is underground

    The first colonies land around the poles, likely in a ring around the Mohole, preferably not in it. Kerbals would probably not want to touch a slightly mysterious, very deep hole in the ground, after all. The colonists would utilize the ice for their water supply, which might additionally be a source for air and fuel by splitting it into hydrogen/oxygen.

    The very first forms of profit will likely come from mining for rare minerals for export to Eve, as Kerbin would generally enjoy the presence of near-Kerbin asteroids to harvest the materials from. Helium-3 mines might make a small profit. For those reasons, a Moho colony might start out rather slowly, despite the frequency of transfer windows.

    The next phase would likely have the construction of massive solar arrays to capture solar energy, and eventually receive power from kerbol-grazing power collectors. Consequently, massive amount of power will allow Moho colonists to export power, or utilize it for energy-intensive factories mentioned earlier.

    Eventually, areas beyond the poles would begin to be settled. Such settlements could be moved on treads at a speed that keeps up with Moho’s slow rotational speed, allowing a colony to stay at the terminator, where the temperatures would not be extreme.

SWBFfen.pngAnother solution is a “mushroom habitat”, which would have a large cap to protect it from the sun, and would be raised on stilts to prevent heat transfer.

Conclusion

A Moho colony would be initially unprofitable, delaying the beginning of initial settlement. However, a well developed Moho colony would become a powerful force in an interplanetary solar system, and a place that would provide a unique setting for a story...

End of Chapter VII

Thanks for Reading!

 

Next Time: Colonizing Eve

 

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I've got a question for readers: would you like to see the KSP-Interstellar reactors in their full glory (without the NFE patch that nerds them), or would you be fine with the current setup I have, with the nerved reactors.

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GLORY!

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Do it

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How to colonize Eve:
Step 1: Rename "Eve Lander" to "Eve Base."

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54 minutes ago, 0111narwhalz said:

How to colonize Eve:
Step 1: Rename "Eve Lander" to "Eve Base."

That violates Kerbfleet General Order Zero, so no.

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4 minutes ago, KAL 9000 said:

That violates Kerbfleet General Order Zero, so no.

First: They're not being left behind, they're being sent forward.

Second: Not every space program is as scrupulous as Kerbfleet.

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5 hours ago, 0111narwhalz said:

First: They're not being left behind, they're being sent forward.

Second: Not every space program is as scrupulous as Kerbfleet.

Especially if the colonists are looking for profit—if they can get more money, I'm sure they'll go to great lengths to do it, even if they have to dive in the Explodium Sea!

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I've been working on the Colonizing Eve chapter—I'm about 2/3rds done with writing up the chapter. I don't have any pictures, but I've also tested some freighters  that can take off from the surface of Eve. They fly quite well, achieving over 1000 m/s in flight over Eve (and additionally on Kerbin and Duna), but then seems to have serious issues with stability. The ships have around 100 mT of payload and weigh around 300mT, total. It appears I will have to try smaller loads.

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pTkaXoZ.jpg

A sneak peek for the next episode, for which I've finished the writing for. I'll probably get it out during the weekend.

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Eve SSTOs... wow

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