SaturnianBlue

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

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4 hours ago, SaturnianBlue said:

I could definitely see Laythe as being pretty rich, and the population would probably be several times more than the rest of the Joolian moons combined.

Alternative launch systems are difficult to do, certainly, though a mod for mass drivers does exist. I'd probably have to be depicted in other ways. Perhaps the Kerbal Konstructs mod could be used.

I've tried a bit of space warfare in KSP and it hasn't really gone great. I think damage is modeled in some level in BDArmory, but not much. As for the other issue, some mods exist for multiple ships to fly together, but it is nonetheless difficult. Missile fleets would probably be the most difficult, since any useful amount of missiles would up the part count well into the hundreds, and combined with the ships themselves, the game would perform quite poorly. The other problem is with the weapons systems, since BDarmory mostly limits weapon ranges to 10-20 kilometers, and I haven't found any mods with very powerful lasers.

I suppose that does make it a decent topic for covering though, since I'll have to come up with creative solutions to it all.

I have a suggestion!

Use the KSP game as a map for a board game.

The spaceships aren't ships, they're game pieces representing fleets.

The engine burns and rotations aren't actual movements, they are depictions of player decisions and automated actions.

When two spaceships pass within 1000km of each other in KSP at 1300m/s relative velocity, what is actually happening is two fleets passing within weapons range with a 75% chance to hit.

Damage and weapons fire is handled by a hitpoint and damage model system. Each spaceship has a set of modules (engine, radar, propellant tanks, forward armor plating, side plating ect) with a number of hitpoints and incoming damage removes from this pool of hitpoints until they are destroyed. Depending on the flavour of the game, you can have the hitpoints be equal to a certain vaporization energy or equal to 1d6. 

Together, we can have an RPG-like game where the limitations of KSP are dealt with using behind-the-scenes mechanics.

What do you think?

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, MatterBeam said:

I have a suggestion!

Use the KSP game as a map for a board game.

The spaceships aren't ships, they're game pieces representing fleets.

The engine burns and rotations aren't actual movements, they are depictions of player decisions and automated actions.

When two spaceships pass within 1000km of each other in KSP at 1300m/s relative velocity, what is actually happening is two fleets passing within weapons range with a 75% chance to hit.

Damage and weapons fire is handled by a hitpoint and damage model system. Each spaceship has a set of modules (engine, radar, propellant tanks, forward armor plating, side plating ect) with a number of hitpoints and incoming damage removes from this pool of hitpoints until they are destroyed. Depending on the flavour of the game, you can have the hitpoints be equal to a certain vaporization energy or equal to 1d6. 

Together, we can have an RPG-like game where the limitations of KSP are dealt with using behind-the-scenes mechanics.

What do you think?

Interesting! That quite the clever idea! I'll have to think about it, but it does have a lot of potential when it comes to fixing some of the issues. It would be nice if actual fleets of ships appeared, but I suppose they could just be used for screenshots, and not the actual combat.

57 minutes ago, Kosmonaut said:

You should also get around to megastructures at some point. It would be quite cool. 

Good idea, though a Dyson sphere might be bit out of this thread's scope, but I'll consider it nonetheless.

Edited by SaturnianBlue

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If you do interstellar colonization, build this thing

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20 minutes ago, SaturnianBlue said:

Interesting! That quite the clever idea! I'll have to think about it, but it does have a lot of potential when it comes to fixing some of the issues. It would be nice if actual fleets of ships appeared, but I suppose they could just be used for screenshots, and not the actual combat.

Good idea, though a Dyson sphere might be bit out of this thread's scope, but I'll consider it nonetheless.

Well, the spaceships could be replicas of the fleet units they are representing. It would make it easy to track deltaV that way.

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Posted (edited)

eUsGs3O.png

The smallest of the major Joolian moons, Vall rests right in between the giants of Tylo and Laythe.

Why Settle?

    As mentioned in earlier chapters, low gravity is quite harmful—and Vall certainly is host to that, with only 0.235 G. However, this also means that landing and taking off are significantly easier, making the other moons quite accessible, and resources become quite distributable. This is helped by the fact that unlike Bop and Pol, it is located near Jool, where travel times are low, and is in an equatorial orbit. Therefore, mass drivers are quite effective on Vall, since mined resources can quickly be sent to Laythe and Tylo, with no atmosphere to stop the payload, but aerobraking is usable in Laythe's case.

   fcdsoQX.pnggWJYTEK.png5gLUo4S.png

rUEiMlj.png

    In terms of prospection, Vall can be seen as quite good… and… Not as good. Like many places in the Kerbol system, the amount of resources available seems to be quite diverse in many regards, though Alumina is in short supply. Combined with the relative accessibility of orbit, this makes Vall quite a good place for the shipping of raw material. However, the gamma-ray spectrometer tool seems to show that Vall is completely depleted of radioactive elements… Except for the fact that Uranium ore makes up a few percent of the total resources available. Clearly, they conflict. One possibility leaves Vall quite dependent, while the other makes it quite capable. This isn’t even the only conflict.

HwDc2mA.png

I don't know about you, but this looks like a mini-comet with ice to me.

  Though Vall clearly has a rather icy surface, and it being an analogue to the icy Europa, the resource scans show only hydrates, not pure water. The rocks there are dirty ice-balls and the mountain ridges appear to be eroded craters. Each vision would significantly change interest in Vall. Without much water on Vall, it becomes significantly harder to dig into the surface for habitation, and it also makes it getting the bare necessities for life harder. This would also boost Laythe’s position even more, since they become the main source of water in the Joolian system (Tylo is apparently rocky). With water though, the picture is completely flipped, and Vall would be far better off.

Edit: In practically all the biomes, the DMagic Orbital Science mod descriptions think that the composition of the surface is ice, with copper-containing compounds being the reason behind Vall's bluish tint.

Issues

    Like Laythe, Vall has the possibility of harboring extraterrestrial life. Assuming an icy composition, the tidal heating from the other moons and Jool would heat the subsurface ice, creating a global underground ocean, where life could survive, perhaps near hydrothermal vents, the only source of energy in the deep, dark expanse. Though drilling into the ice would be perfectly fine, the ocean itself may be quarantined to protect life, though that doesn’t necessarily stop people from trying. If there is no life, the oceans could be opened up for settlement, and the conditions would be fairly mild and maintainable.

    Radiation from Jool would be a serious problem, especially without a strong magnetic field or atmosphere to protect equipment and personnel. Granted, Vall is a fair ways farther from Jool, but the colonists should drill underground for safety. With ice, this could be done as easily as having a powerful heat source, such as a nuclear reactor, perhaps ironically enough.

hajIKZz.png

This ship gets around the issue by using it's water cargo as a radiation shield and for propellant.

Colony Designs

    A major design consideration for a colony on Vall would be the radiation, mainly by digging underground, or using nearby materials (like regolith) to protect the colonists. In the case of tunneling underground, it would save mass to just use a nuclear reactor (probably from Kerbin) to melt the ice. The water melted could also be used as a coolant and shielding once the reactor is used mainly for electricity.

    Once an ideal depth is reached, more tunnels can be dug to provide space for living. A likely possibility for the walls of these habitats is concrete, with both rocks for cement and water available for its production.

2uiLjOf.png

A cut-away view of the Vall colony. This would probably support a few thousand residents.

    From orbit, there would be very little visible—in order to reduce radiation exposure, most operations are done underground, or automated/teleoperated. Landing pads would probably be underground, with shielded doors opening and closing to allow a landing, to reduce radiation dosage.

    The various chapters in the Joolian system and feedback have exposed a big problem for a Vallian colony in the beginning—energy. It would be difficult to refuel fission reactors, given the lack of fissiles. Some deuterium might be in water ice, but it would be a long time before there is any economic incentive to manufacture fusion reactors around Jool. That said, options like capturing charged particles in the radiation belts and generating electricity, electrodynamic tethers, and beaming power from the inner Kerbol system are other options, though each have their own issues—beaming power, for example, would suffer from diffraction very badly, so orbital mirrors might be needed to refocus the energy.

    When it comes to feeding the colonists, orbital mirrors can also be used, though their effectivity is questionable, and it takes a lot of infrastructure to support such a thing. A better option would be to use artificial lighting, which can make better use of the specific range of wavelengths used by plants. However, this exacerbates the issue with energy, though genetic and technological enhancements could make photosynthesis more effective.

    A more extreme colony idea would be to dig all the way down to the ocean, where temperatures are more suitable for living, and provides easy access to water. This idea, of course, could easily be stopped in the interest of protecting alien life, if discovered. The colony would probably be built on the ice layer floating on the ocean, since it wouldn’t experience the intense pressure at the bottom. 

The Progression of Vall (assuming an icy composition)

pgoIoPh.png

    The first incentive for a colony on Vall may be to supply water to the rest of the Joolian colonies, since Laythe would be a more difficult source requiring more delta-V and more filtering to use. The colony is set up mostly autonomously, so the colonists do not encounter much radiation building the colony from the surface.

kZSeyUX.png

    Materials collected during the mining of the colonies would partially contribute to building a mass driver that would first reduce cargo costs, and then would eventually be used for people as the track is lengthened. There would be few orbital stations here, due to the need for massive quantities of material to shield kerbals and electronics. Instead, more and more underground structures are built. In general, Vall would probably be a bit left behind compared to Tylo and Laythe, and would feature a smaller population, having both radiation and being less habitable—unless the oceans are exploited. This would be harder to do than on Laythe though, but perhaps this could work as a low gravity alternative, especially if technological advancements have not adapted the kerbal body for prolonged life in zero-g.

Summary

    This presumably icy moon may not be as habitable as Laythe, but easy access to ice makes this a very useful world nonetheless.

 
End of Chapter XVII
 
Thanks for reading!
 
Next: Colonizing Tylo
Edited by SaturnianBlue

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17 hours ago, SaturnianBlue said:

 

I've tried a bit of space warfare in KSP and it hasn't really gone great. I think damage is modeled in some level in BDArmory, but not much. As for the other issue, some mods exist for multiple ships to fly together, but it is nonetheless difficult. Missile fleets would probably be the most difficult, since any useful amount of missiles would up the part count well into the hundreds, and combined with the ships themselves, the game would perform quite poorly. The other problem is with the weapons systems, since BDarmory mostly limits weapon ranges to 10-20 kilometers, and I haven't found any mods with very powerful lasers.

Here's an idea- edit the config files. Even someone like me, who knows nothing about programming, could easily do that. I have done it. Just use the air force laser, up the range and the power. You could also solve the missile problem by converting them from HEKVs (High Explosive Kill Vehicles) to KKVs (Kinetic Kill Vehicles). Make them smaller, but faster and with a better range, and make the model much simpler. Perhaps just a rectangular prism with a rocket on the back. Should be simple enough (maybe)

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45 minutes ago, Kosmonaut said:

Here's an idea- edit the config files. Even someone like me, who knows nothing about programming, could easily do that. I have done it. Just use the air force laser, up the range and the power. You could also solve the missile problem by converting them from HEKVs (High Explosive Kill Vehicles) to KKVs (Kinetic Kill Vehicles). Make them smaller, but faster and with a better range, and make the model much simpler. Perhaps just a rectangular prism with a rocket on the back. Should be simple enough (maybe)

Good idea! There's still a relative lack of space missiles, I must say.

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6 hours ago, SaturnianBlue said:

There's still a relative lack of space missiles, I must say.

Yes- you could use, however, the space missiles ('re-done as I mentioned) as long range missiles, and maybe the hellfires as shorter range ones for space fighters. Then you could have varying sizes on the Air Force Laser for different sized ship. 

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I've finished writing up the Tylo chapter and started taking the pictures for it. I should point out that I probably won't be that active in the next week, and the chapters after Tylo may have to wait. 

In the meantime, I've added a further info section to the first post for more general Sci-Fi info, since Imagining a Kerbal Future is more focused on details unique to KSP.

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Posted (edited)

2zhkOHo.png

    Tylo—The biggest moon in the Kerbol system, at a size equivalent to that of Kerbin. Though difficult to land on, it does have its advantages.

Why Settle?

    First, Tylo is the farthest of the major moons from Jool. This also means that the radiation received from the radiation belt is the lowest. Additionally, Tylo has its own magnetosphere to provide additional protection. Those factors mean that vessels require little shielding. For interplanetary vessels, this is especially helpful, since such vessels need all the delta-V they can get, and shielding will decrease it. This is also important for orbital space habitats, which will require far less shielding.

HzC53oz.png9VL39If.pnggGxwMQA.png

    Peculiar for a moon far from Kerbol, Tylo is apparently rocky, and it would be unsurprising to see significant amounts of metals, which the resource scans show. That said, the resource scans are pretty much always like this, so I desired something that would give more unique details, while still making sense.

7uSxOxu.png

    I stumbled on to the DMagic science mod, which adds a lot of science instruments with detailed descriptions—just what I needed. The descriptions are quite detailed, and suggest that Tylo is in fact quite rocky, made mostly of silicates and some metal. Apparently, the craters tend to have high concentrations of titanium and iron, while more elevated locations have more aluminum. If the industrial capacity exists to create titanium, Tylo could produce high-quality spacecraft on-site.

    Lastly, the gravity on Tylo is a full 0.8 G, easily enough to prevent the effects of low gravity and erasing the need for any spinning habitats. Unfortunately, this would probably prevent anyone who has lived in low gravity for much of their lives from coming here, and the spacesuits would be uncomfortable to use.

Issues

    It takes a tremendous amount of energy to get to and from Tylo’s surface. While various launch methods could be used to reduce these effects, such as mass drivers. Though mass drivers can get ships most of the way to orbit, its use in landing is limited mostly to killing horizontal velocity, requiring the vessel to burn its rockets on the way down. A better option would be an orbital ring, since cargo can be moved up and down. Space elevators can work, but a synchronous orbit is outside Tylo’s SOI, so they would only work partially. One of the first priorities for an early colony will be to build a non-rocket launch system, since they would save cost with any of these options.

    For the most part, Tylo is devoid of water, with both the DMagic instrument readings and the resource scans agreeing. However, there could be some ice trapped inside the poles of the moon, where it is never exposed to light. The other option is to import it from Vall and Laythe, which are virtually covered in forms of water.

Colony Designs

    Constructing a space-rated settlement in the 0.8 G of Tylo is quite difficult, but this also erases the need for spinning habitats. Much like the Mun, the relative placement of cities may be similar, with polar cities utilizing the in-situ water ice, and equatorial cities launching ships into equatorial orbits. A combination of quarries and automated mining vehicles collect resources, with the latter becoming increasingly more useful as the surrounding area is quarried.

nWAZ5bb.png

Fast, carries a lot of material, but terrible at turning

Since it would be difficult to dig into the Tylo’s rock, habitats would just use regolith for any radiation shielding. Most of these habitats would likely be rounded and inflatable, with most connections done via tunnel to avoid the loss of oxygen with airlocks and radiation exposure.

zkNklDx.png

When I covered similar habitats on the Mun, I mentioned how lava tubes could exist for habitats to be built inside, and also how they didn’t exist in-game. Even though Tylo’s gravity is much higher, which would impart more stress on such formations, the easter egg cave exists as an in-game example, and it is huge! Over a kilometer in size, a full sized city containing thousands could be built, with no shielding required except for the entrance point. Unfortunately, the cave will have to be coated to prevent the loss of air if it is to be fully inhabited.

Colony Progression

VexZqlq.png

    One of the major reasons Tylo may be settled is to help develop Vall and mainly Laythe—with so much less radiation near orbit, interplanetary ships can enter into Tylo’s huge SOI with no issue, and transfer their cargo at orbital stations to ships better suited for the voyage, while the interplanetary vessels are loaded up with metals and manufactured products from Tylo, and shipments from Vall and Laythe delivered by other shielded vessels. As such, there may be many space stations orbiting Tylo to support the transfer and storage of huge volumes of cargo, and plenty of space for shops for recently paid ship-crew to spend their cash away. Simply put, Tylo would become the transportation hub of Jool, provided very light radiation shielding doesn’t become viable.

bYsnfM2.png

A flow chart of sorts—as you can see, most resources coming or going towards interplanetary destinations pass through Tylo.

    Most colonization efforts on the surface will be based around mining, with each major colony having a mass driver to fire their cargo up to the various space stations, or right to the nearby moons. Since mining operations will be mostly automated, the population of each colony will likely never exceed a few thousand, and would be quite scattered and somewhat isolated

    Since mass drivers can only do most of the work for getting to orbit and back, there’s a good chance that a space tug industry will spring up around Tylo to compensate for this, although it may become obsolete if a giant construction project like an orbital ring is built.

    As the population of Tylo increases, support for cave/lava tube colonies may increase. However, many younger kerbals may choose to leave Tylo for Laythe or for the orbital space stations, seeing that they are far more active places in general.     

Summary

    Tylo is rich in metal, with a fairly comparable gravity to Kerbin. Thank to the lower amounts of radiation out here, it becomes an ideal terminus for interplanetary voyages, with transportation to the other moons provided by well-shielded vessels. This effectively makes it a transportation hub, resulting in high demand for space stations. On the surface, mining colonies spring up, with the possibility of cities in giant caves.

End of Chapter XVIII
 
Thanks for reading!
 
Next: Colonizing Bop and Pol
Edited by SaturnianBlue

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Posted (edited)

We finally finish the Joolian system in this chapter.

jLjk8zk.png

    Bop and Pol are the two distant moons of the Joolian system—likely captured asteroids, the accessibility of their resources and low delta-V make them important targets.

Why Settle?

5fHEDVj.png

    Pol appears to be covered in phosphoric compounds and by extent phosphorous, which is an essential nutrient for plants, and would be beneficial for the growth of the colonies closer to Jool.

5OwlqAI.pngC5K1ZDi.pngioxcKGX.pngCu9QRNa.pngEr5VxC3.png

    While I cannot be certain, Bop and Pol were likely carbonaceous C-type asteroids. First, both have a fair amount of hydrated minerals, like many carbonaceous asteroids. Second, Pol’s abundance in phosphorous is not unlike that of many C-types. According to the DMagic science mod, both moons are abundant in silicates, which do occur on C-type asteroids.

yG0YJOL.png

    The delta-V requirements out at these moons is very low—reaching orbit should only take around 130 and 220 meters per second, for Pol and Bop respectively. Combined with the low gravity, this should allow cheap aluminum and oxygen powered rockets to quickly deliver a huge payload up to a larger ship headed for the other moons or planets. It also takes less delta-V to reach other planets from higher up the gravity well, and for incoming ships to enter orbit.

Though the resource scans show fairly little alumina for use in fuel, there should still be more than enough. It takes less fuel to send resources from these moons, which can be combined with aerobraking and mass drivers for very low fuel consumption.

    At this distance from Jool, there is no need to apply more radiation shielding as a result of the radiation belts.

Issues

    Both Bop and Pol will require spinning habitats to support a permanent presence due to the lack of natural gravity, and the lack of an atmosphere makes decompression a lingering risk. Additionally, Pol’s rocks are long and pointy, so they will have to be cleared out in some areas to ensure a safe landing for certain vessels.

NKB7IJR.png

Can you find the spaceship hiding among them?

Colony Designs

PBcB24u.png

Notice that the torus is slightly tilted to account for the local gravity.

    Learning from the lessons of constructing habitats on Gilly and Minmus, the colonies on these moons would be toruses, which are slightly tilted downwards to account for the miniscule gravity of these moons. These would be protected from radiation using the local regolith, with a layer of metal to contain it.

    Transportation would either be provided by trucks or some sort of rocket-powered vehicle. The issue faced by trucks is that they can easily catch air vacuum if they drive too quickly, so digging tunnels at certain locations would probably be required for fast travel. Some sort of rocket powered vehicle may be effective, since they do not require electrical power, which is quite difficult to obtain on small vehicles.

Es4f7Dz.png

    The main export of the colonies would initially be raw resources to the inner Joolian moons, and eventually manufactured goods, as industrial activity increases. The lower delta-V requirements would favor these colonies, since more can be sent for cheaper, especially compared to Tylo, at the expense of travel time.

Colony Progression

    The ability to send resources down to Laythe with little delta-V will be a major motivator for colonizing and exploiting the resources of the Bop and Pol. It should be noted that Pol’s access to phosphorus, lower inclination, and lower delta-V requirements will give it a higher priority than Bop.

    The growth of Tylo as a trade hub will be aided by the outer moons sending down equipment for the construction of space stations that will serve ships. Though launching resources from Tylo removes the need for an insertion burn, it also requires a much longer mass driver, which will require major infrastructure or expensively importing the parts.

    It is probable that the population of the two moons would never exceed a million, unless they were converted into O'Neill cylinders, though there would be little reason to do so, since Laythe might be undergoing a terraforming process by then. Unless the colonies come up with a major attraction, there would be little activity out there. The moons may even be destroyed to supply material, especially in the construction of megastructures.

Conclusion

    Bop and Pol will be very useful in the development of the other moons, as their low delta-V requirements make transportation of bulk amounts of material viable. However, they would be unlikely to attract many people, with the inner moons (especially Laythe) being more favorable for colonization.

Summary for the Joolian System

    Despite being a rather distant system to reach, there would be great interest in Jool, mostly as a result of it’s moons. Laythe is very similar to Kerbin in many regards, and the need for relatively little shielding will send kerbals rushing for it. However, the radiation belts of Jool are especially dangerous near Laythe, so some colonies may be set up at Tylo, where there is less radiation, and lightly shielded ships will have no problem. Eventually, it becomes a huge transportation and trade hub.

Bop and Pol will provide cheap access to resources, with their low delta-V requirements, and easy access to water ice on Vall will result in some settlement. Though difficult to settle in general, Jool itself has valuable fusion fuel to exploit. In the end, Laythe will be unmatched in the Joolian system when it comes to population and wealth, and may even be terraformed.

End of Chapter XIX
 
Thanks for reading!
 
Next: Colonizing Eeloo
Edited by SaturnianBlue

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Excellent work as always. One of the greatest benefits of exploiting such small moons is that their low surface gravity allows for the use of nuclear electric engines to lift off and land directly on the surface. This makes operations vastly more efficient than relying on chemical engines such as the Al/Ox rocket. 

For fast movement across the surface, a cheaper solution than tunnels is double-sided rails. At low velocity, you run over the lower rails and at high velocity you pull against the upper rails. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, MatterBeam said:

Excellent work as always. One of the greatest benefits of exploiting such small moons is that their low surface gravity allows for the use of nuclear electric engines to lift off and land directly on the surface. This makes operations vastly more efficient than relying on chemical engines such as the Al/Ox rocket. 

For fast movement across the surface, a cheaper solution than tunnels is double-sided rails. At low velocity, you run over the lower rails and at high velocity you pull against the upper rails. 

Bop and Pol's gravity is still something like 6% and 4% of Kerbin's, so I don't think nuclear electric would work there. On anything smaller than Gilly though, it might work.

Interesting idea for the rails—haven't heard that one before.

Edit: I've read "The Laser Problem" series of posts on your blog, and I might've come up with an idea. What about a Washington Naval Treaty of sorts, where the various factions all agree not to use giant lasers on their vessels? Of course, this could easily be broken down, but what do you think?

Edited by SaturnianBlue

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15 hours ago, SaturnianBlue said:

Bop and Pol's gravity is still something like 6% and 4% of Kerbin's, so I don't think nuclear electric would work there. On anything smaller than Gilly though, it might work.

Interesting idea for the rails—haven't heard that one before.

Edit: I've read "The Laser Problem" series of posts on your blog, and I might've come up with an idea. What about a Washington Naval Treaty of sorts, where the various factions all agree not to use giant lasers on their vessels? Of course, this could easily be broken down, but what do you think?

Pushing a 10 ton craft at 0.06g would require 59MW of power using a 20km/s exhaust rocket. Currently, the SAFE 400 reactor produces 0.2kW/kg and NASA is aiming for 0.25kW/kg for a 39-day-to-Mars mission. At these rates, the craft would need a 236 ton reactor to lift a 10 ton payload off the ground... You are quite right. Unless high power density reactors are available, near future nuclear electric craft can't land directly on the moons.

On the flip side, you mention mining fusion fuel, so these restrictions won't apply :cool:

Lasers are too useful to be banned in such a way. Either the restrictions are extremely strict, so that laser communications, power beaming and laser launches become forbidden for fear of them being turned into weapons, or they're too loose to be effective. I can easily picture permission being granted for a laser launch system to be built, but have that beam re-focused over long distances by a spaceship equipped with an innocuous inflatable lens. Lasers as weapons are also useful in a realpolitik sort of way. An author might be saddened by the fact that long range lasers make battles boring, but if I were living in that setting as a military planner, I would be glad that most engagements are called off when one side demonstrates its superior range and firepower. Smaller navies can save their forces for critical fights and larger navies can avoid costly losses by just waving a beam over their target at extreme range. 

This situation has existed before, during the Age of Sail. Massive ships of the line sailing for the Spanish Armada or the Royal Navy often sailed past each other without diving in for a costly fight. Shows of force and artillery range scared off opponents unless they were certain to defeat the enemy Lasers would serve in this deterrent role... 

The Washington Naval Treaty was a sort of economic respite for the parties involved. Building ever bigger ships every year was a drain on everyone's treasury, but could not be avoided lest the current generation be superseded by the next bigger and better designs. It had economic, political and military motivations, not technological ones. A better analogy would be the SALT accords. 

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1 minute ago, MatterBeam said:

Pushing a 10 ton craft at 0.06g would require 59MW of power using a 20km/s exhaust rocket. Currently, the SAFE 400 reactor produces 0.2kW/kg and NASA is aiming for 0.25kW/kg for a 39-day-to-Mars mission. At these rates, the craft would need a 236 ton reactor to lift a 10 ton payload off the ground... You are quite right. Unless high power density reactors are available, near future nuclear electric craft can't land directly on the moons.

On the flip side, you mention mining fusion fuel, so these restrictions won't apply :cool:

Lasers are too useful to be banned in such a way. Either the restrictions are extremely strict, so that laser communications, power beaming and laser launches become forbidden for fear of them being turned into weapons, or they're too loose to be effective. I can easily picture permission being granted for a laser launch system to be built, but have that beam re-focused over long distances by a spaceship equipped with an innocuous inflatable lens. Lasers as weapons are also useful in a realpolitik sort of way. An author might be saddened by the fact that long range lasers make battles boring, but if I were living in that setting as a military planner, I would be glad that most engagements are called off when one side demonstrates its superior range and firepower. Smaller navies can save their forces for critical fights and larger navies can avoid costly losses by just waving a beam over their target at extreme range. 

This situation has existed before, during the Age of Sail. Massive ships of the line sailing for the Spanish Armada or the Royal Navy often sailed past each other without diving in for a costly fight. Shows of force and artillery range scared off opponents unless they were certain to defeat the enemy Lasers would serve in this deterrent role... 

The Washington Naval Treaty was a sort of economic respite for the parties involved. Building ever bigger ships every year was a drain on everyone's treasury, but could not be avoided lest the current generation be superseded by the next bigger and better designs. It had economic, political and military motivations, not technological ones. A better analogy would be the SALT accords. 

I must agree, lasers are quite difficult to enforce or control. Maybe the various sides agree to only use high-yield lasers peacefully, and continue to comply in the case of war, since it would mean both sides would use them. That said, using them as a deterrent is probably more effective, and would actually prevent war. If there are multiple factions involved in a treaty, maybe the various other factions agree to sanction or attack the violating faction. Whether the factions will actually stick to this, or if they agree to this in the first place is probably the biggest hurdle for that, and the use of super weapons would give the violating group a huge edge.

The problem would also exist with nukes, in an Orion drive-filled environment. I guess in that case, the yield of nuclear weapons could be capped, and the only nukes allowed use shaped charges. However, that does open the door for Casaba Howitzers. A Mini-Mag Orion might fix that issue, but that opens the doors for the laser problem, since they convert some of the blast energy into electricity.

 

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Posted (edited)

  8N18b86.png

 We have finally come to the end of the stock Kerbol system. Waiting for us is Eeloo—a small world covered in ice. In terms of size and gravity, it is roughly analogous to the Mun, but with a day not dissimilar to Kerbin’s.

Why Settle?

    Eeloo appears to be covered in a layer of water ice (though some suggest it could be made of something else), which should be fairly easy to extract for use in the inner system. The dwarf planet is rather well suited for the role, since the concerns of radiation faced by the colonists on Vall that would make resource extraction operations more difficult is not present.

WnBS4ig.png

    The resource scanners have revealed that Eeloo has an exceptionally high amount of a resource known as "Karborundum", and is one of the few places in the Kerbol system with it. It obviously isn't a real thing, but if one is willing to stretch reality a bit, Karborundum is the perfect MacGuffinite, since it can be used in a fantastically powerful fusion drive.

   Some graphics mods have depicted geysers which implies a major incentive—a massive amount of fissile material, as @MatterBeam has identified. In a universe where fusion is still not achievable in fairly small reactors, Eeloo provides a massive energy source for the outer planets.

Though deeper canyons unveil a rocky layer below, Eeloo could very well harbor an ocean, especially since it seems to have surprisingly high amounts of geothermal energy available. As with Vall, this presents the opportunity for submarine habitats, but without competition from Laythe, it is more likely that such a habitat may be built.

 

Issues

rw3I2oW.png

 

    The main issue with colonizing Eeloo is that it is simply hard to get to. While Moho is difficult to reach in terms of delta-V, it can be reached quickly. Jool is far away, but it also has a huge collection of moons. On the other hand, Eeloo is also far away, but it completely alone, with no other targets near it that would otherwise encourage traveling there. However, this problem goes away with the installation of planet mods such as the Outer Planets Mod, but we will stick with the stock version of Eeloo for now.

76lvN5R.png

    If kerbals choose to colonize Eeloo, they would be faced with some difficulty in generating energy. On average, Eeloo receives less solar energy than even Jool, eliminating that as an option. Instead, colonists will have to bring nuclear or fusion reactors with them, perhaps by cannibalizing their ship if necessary. A likely backup source of energy would be the geothermal energy that Eeloo hosts. 

Colony Designs

    By the time that various organizations are rushing off to claim land on Eeloo, portable fusion reactors are likely in existence, which should be enough to solve the issue of energy, though it may be considered necessary to import fusion fuel. The reactors would be placed far away from the main habitation area to reduce potential exposure to radiation.

9700OBO.png

    For protection from the elements, inflatable habitats and local water ice should suffice. Another use for the water ice would be to feed an ISRU processor, which would create hydrogen or simple water to refuel shuttles, which will carry payloads to and from orbit. The water ice is collected by bulldozer robots.

Colony Progression

    The very first kerbal presence on Eeloo is mostly scientific—for the various reasons stated above, most profit-making ventures stay away from Eeloo. However, multiple groups may try to colonize Eeloo for the sheer purpose of expansion—much of the other territory has been awarded/claimed/conquered/absorbed/driven out by the larger factions, and many set their eyes on Eeloo, to legitimize a claim to (even more) territory.

    This could result in a significant colonization rush, and the population of Eeloo explodes. This would likely result in conflict and competition among the factions, and once again, some are driven out or absorbed, but others may unite to stand against a larger threat. However, without a method of generating much profit, most corporation-owned colonies are treading a thin line, and it would be unsurprising if they failed spectacularly, certainly against the wishes investors.

    On the other hand, some colonies may be set up purely for expansion’s sake, and aren’t there to sell anything. There is some money to be made back home, by selling these colonists supplies, so there is some motivation. Unless this is being done by a large existing faction that can afford to lose money, we must assume that interplanetary immigration has become cheap enough for the average kerbal.

Conclusion

Eeloo will be one of the last places in the Kerbol system to be colonized—it’s not a bad place, per se, but it isn’t particularly attractive, due to its distance. In the end, the biggest motivator may not be the vast supply of water ice, but the fact that it is there, and that it can be settled.

End of Chapter XX
 
Thanks for reading!
 
Next: Non-Rocket Spacelaunch (and doing it in KSP)
Edited by SaturnianBlue

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Maybe do a modded planet pack like Galileo's planet pack or new horizons after you finish this

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2 hours ago, insert_name said:

Maybe do a modded planet pack like Galileo's planet pack or new horizons after you finish this

I thought about doing planet packs, but I've mentioned that it would take much too long and not everyone uses the same planet pack, so for now I've stuck to stock. I might revisit the planet packs, but certainly not now.

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For the most part, I've finished writing the non-rocket space launch chapter—it's something like 6 pages of text, or about 2-3 times longer than the recent chapters. I'll probably break it into two parts.

In the episode I will cover mass drivers, space elevators, skyhooks, launch loops, and orbital rings.

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@SaturnianBlue:

Eeloo: A strange Pluto equivalent that should be a cold hard rock but instead has geysers. With no nearby body to cause tidal heating and with a surface area to volume ratio too high to retain heat for billions of years, the only explanation is that the planet is full of fissiles. Not aluminium-26, but the heavier thorium and uranium that keep giving for a very long time. 

And, without a liquid mantle to convect heat up from the core, we must suppose that the fissile materials are distributed throughout the body to bring heat near the surface. 

Could Eeloo be the famed big ball of uranium that will save the outer planets until fusion arrives?

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12 hours ago, MatterBeam said:

@SaturnianBlue:

Eeloo: A strange Pluto equivalent that should be a cold hard rock but instead has geysers. With no nearby body to cause tidal heating and with a surface area to volume ratio too high to retain heat for billions of years, the only explanation is that the planet is full of fissiles. Not aluminium-26, but the heavier thorium and uranium that keep giving for a very long time. 

And, without a liquid mantle to convect heat up from the core, we must suppose that the fissile materials are distributed throughout the body to bring heat near the surface. 

Could Eeloo be the famed big ball of uranium that will save the outer planets until fusion arrives?

That might be the silver bullet for stock Eeloo—it helps that Eeloo's gravity is quite low, making such mining operations much easier.

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On 8/26/2017 at 11:54 AM, SaturnianBlue said:

A likely backup source of energy would be the geothermal energy that Eeloo hosts.

Wait.... how did you do that? Don't tell me there's been vents all this time and I never found one.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Just Jim said:

Wait.... how did you do that? Don't tell me there's been vents all this time and I never found one.

I drew that one, but I know for sure that various mods (SVE, I think) add geysers for Eeloo.

Edited by SaturnianBlue

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Non-Rocket Spacelaunch—Part One

    In this chapter, I discuss the various methods and benefits of non-rocket space launch systems, and how they could be achieved in KSP. I’ve mentioned them quite a lot in the colonization series, but here’s a more in-depth look. The reason for building a non-rocket launcher is that rockets tend to be very expensive to launch, even with reuse, while these methods are almost always reusable and consume few resources.

Mass Drivers

    A fairly simple idea—a payload is loaded into what is effectively a huge coilgun and accelerated to high speed. This approach works best on airless worlds, where there is no need to pump air from the barrel, or elevate the track to avoid most of the atmosphere. Mass drivers can even be used as an onboard propulsion system by firing pretty much anything out the back of the spacecraft, though this could create a lot of dangerous debris. 

D5NHaIT.png

A mass driver ship like this could be quite effective if it's pushing an asteroid, which can provide the reaction mass.

Disadvantages

    The track would have to be kilometers long to accelerate payloads with kerbals onboard, to ensure their comfort or at least safety. As with many of the upcoming methods, these are unlikely to be built anywhere until significant activity and colonization begin, as it uses a tremendous amount of energy.

Additionally, they can be repurposed as a massive bombardment weapon, accelerating massive multi-ton projectiles to orbital velocity. They probably couldn’t be turned, but they would still have massive destructive potential, and are very difficult to intercept.

Uses

    These would be very useful on the Mun (and other moons), where they could ship massive amounts of material down to Kerbin, or to Kerbostationary for the construction of massive space stations, without the need to attach any onboard equipment. The amount of mass the regolith that would be used in some designs for radiation protection would be a significant portion of the station’s, and it would be extremely expensive to launch that from Kerbin using rockets.

How Can It Be Achieved In KSP?

CPcPdsW.png

    In the case of a story, one can simply describe it, or potentially draw it (like I do, often times). However, portraying it with KSP would be more visually entertaining than writing and allows for multiple shots to be taken of the same thing, compared to drawing it.

4zphfGH.png

Over 100 metric tons of cargo right into orbit.

    Thankfully, my work is mostly cut out, thanks to the Netherdyne mass driver mod. For a lot of electric charge, the parts in the mod accelerate parts at high G. This is very good for unkerballed vessels, but for tracks best suited for kerbals, one would have to stack a rather ridiculous amount of parts, and I don’t think anyone wants 1 frame a second. For long tracks, it may just be easier to draw them, or if you’ve got significant modding experience, to maybe make installations for Kerbinside. Another solution would be to mod a very, very big mass driver part.

  @MatterBeam suggests using the hyperedit mod to boost the speed of the ship to simulate the acceleration during the launch, and to use a small amount of welded parts to create the structure.

Conclusion

    Mass drivers are a great method for shooting massive amounts of resources into space, especially in vacuum, though they do have their military uses. As soon as such a thing is built on a moon or planet, the colonies there can become far more profitable.

 

Space Elevator

6fJ18tV.png

A rather simplified diagram.

    Perhaps the best known launch system that doesn’t involve rockets, the space elevator uses a huge tether that extends into space, usually where a stationary orbit is. Actually, that’s a bit of an oversimplification—a counterweight is necessary to account for the tension of the tether, requiring more centrifugal force. This is also where the gravitational and centrifugal forces cancel out—if you step off the station, you’ll be in a circular orbit. Interestingly enough, this means that if the cable goes out enough, you could put yourself on a trajectory to other planets. The climber section is the one involved in the transportation of cargo and people.

As long as there is a tether for each hemisphere, it is unnecessary to build the base at the equator.

Challenges and Disadvantages

    The tether must be constructed of materials with extremely high tensile strength. Luckily, Kerbostationary orbit is only 2868 kilometers from sea level—well within the breaking length of carbon nanotubes or graphene, and that’s assuming one G of gravity the whole way (which is incorrect). However, those materials are currently very expensive to create, and even a thin thread amasses many tons. Even though such materials may be much easier to synthesize, the space elevator might only need zylon or even kevlar for it's tether.

sOApRNT.png

    A serious issue facing the climber portion is how it will get the power to climb the elevator—solar power would not provide enough, but using beamed power may be a viable solution, especially with nuclear fusion.

    While there are many fears relating to the destruction of space elevators, the actual threat is fairly mild. If a tether is cut, it will most likely burn up—though this is not true for airless worlds. However, the mass and the thinness of the tether ensure that damage on the ground would be limited. If the break occurs near the counterpoint, the assembly below will begin to fall. To limit the destruction, the cables can be cut from the space station to prevent its reentry. A major issue is what would happen to the climbers in the case of a cable break. Below a certain point, they will be headed into the atmosphere—requiring parachutes and heat shields. Above that, they will remain in orbit, where they can await rescue.

    Lastly, space elevators will not be particularly useful for locations where a stationary orbit is impossible, which is true of many moons.

Uses

    They would be a very popular way of reaching space, especially for Kerbin, since they allow for traffic to travel both ways. Compared to the mass driver, it would be more comfortable, though reaching orbit would take significantly more time. However, it would result in the creation of Kerbostationary space stations built around the elevators, acting as hubs for kerbals and cargo headed both to and from Kerbin. Out here, the delta-V requirements for reaching other planets is low, and the day-long orbit will not require multiple burns for lower acceleration ships.

    These would be useful for other planets, since they will be able to launch payloads back to Kerbin simply by releasing them at the right time.

How Can It Be Achieved In KSP?

    To my knowledge, there are no mods that add a space elevator to KSP. I imagine that a space elevator could be made using the Kerbinside mod, which adds static structures, though you might have to make your own space elevator model.

    Very tall heights can be achieved in game by editing craft files with launch clamps, but plenty can go wrong with that. Another method is to use the welding mod, but I believe you cannot weld other welded parts, and even with hanger extender, one cannot scroll too far, so it is very difficult to stack the somewhat short welded sections (limited by how many parts you can weld before crashing the game to part count). You could probably do away with the tether section and pretend it’s there, but you’ll need some depiction of the tether for scenes featuring climbers, though drawing a few lines may be enough to fix that.

 

IZp40ib.png

The default version of the welded part was 6 kilometers long.

    At the surface, you could probably have the base building (made with parts or Kerbinside), and a long beam going up for a fairly convincing portrayal.    

KZ0qnD2.png

Admittedly I drew that line in...

Without an actual tether, ships that are not at the Kerbostationary level will have to make sure they maintain a horizontal surface speed of zero if they want to act like they are on one, as opposed to just hooking up with the tether part, where there is no need to correct speed, just stay on the tether. Depicting the elevator at Kerbostationary would be rather simple, since anything there already has no surface speed, so there is no need to correct.

Skyhooks and Space Tethers

KnrmjZM.png

The basic skyhook involves a tether in orbit, which stretches down to the upper atmosphere. Since the orbital period of the skyhook is where its center of gravity is, anything below it would orbit slower than normal, meaning that ship can reach orbit while burning far less fuel. Above the center, the opposite is true, allowing ships or cargo to be flung away to higher orbits. Captured ships can be lowered or raised to reach the speed and orbit of choice. The skyhook can be combined with a mass driver to further reduce launch costs.

A variant of the skyhook is the rotovator, which is a spinning version of the skyhook. If the tip is spun in the direction opposite to the direction of the orbit, the speed of the tip relative to the ground can be reduced to zero. The tip will have to stay above much of the atmosphere on Kerbin, but it may be possible on Duna for payloads to be scooped right off the ground, and into space to the other side, where the rotation of the rotovator is an additional speed boost that can be used to reach a destination.

A major advantage of the skyhook is that it is cheap—the tether can be much shorter than that of a space elevator, resulting in a much lower mass, meaning that it can be lifted very easily into space, perhaps in a single launch. This makes it an ideal near future alternative for reaching space. It will pay for itself very quickly, since even supersonic aircraft can reach it, which should be much cheaper to operate than rockets.

bByLRjz.png

You'll probably need more money to build this plane than to manufacture the tether.

 

Disadvantages

    One of the issues involved with the skyhook is that though it is cheap initially, it is likely to be surpassed by other methods, which could launch more payload for less cost per kilogram. Additionally, though skyhooks can be used to transport cargo down, the payload must approach at a specific speed.

    When a tether captures and releases a payload, some of the energy and momentum is transferred to it. This means that the tether’s orbit will drop, until it reenters the atmosphere and burns up. One way to solve this is by using engines, but another can be used if a magnetic field is present. If the tether is made of a conductive substance, a current can be run through it, and the Lorentz force can be utilized.

Uses

WcOfOWd.png

    They would likely be one of, if not the first launch systems employed on most worlds, when it isn’t yet viable to build other, more expensive options. They would be heavily employed on Eve and Jool—the former is home to very high gravity, making construction of space elevators difficult, while the latter just doesn’t have the demand for larger systems, and both have powerful magnetic fields for stationkeeping.

How Can It Be Achieved In KSP?

    In theory, a highly modified Kerbal Attachment System may work for a tether, and it works for the bit responsible for grabbing the ship. Even if this can be achieved, intercepting the skyhook tip will be incredibly difficult, and a rotovator may have to be spun up every time it loads.

    Using the welding mod to create huge structures is an alternative, and the structure wouldn’t face the issue of having to support itself on the ground like a space elevator, but it would face similar problems like KAS. I attempted to do create a skyhook, and while it worked in the VAB, the game would crash for a whatever reason during the loading scene. This is unfortunate, since the skyhook would fit in with even near future settings. We may have to stick to just our imagination with skyhooks.

j9utVby.png?1

End of Chapter XXI

Thanks for Reading!

Next: Non-Rocket Spacelaunch—Part Two

 
Edited by SaturnianBlue

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