Crispynaut

Mission Planning IRL; Tools and Techniques

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Hi All,

I have been a longtime lurker of the forum and learned a whole lot from the discussions that have been had. I found myself spending most of my time playing KSP and wanted to invest more into the community so here I am.

My goal is to develop a mission planning protocoI that would incorporate mission planning, construction checklists and mission validation into a single document pack. The idea is that anyone from beginner to advanced player could develop a mission plan and then execute it (or have it executed by others).

I was thinking developing a tool that would generate a summary of the mission similar to this:0b0637ae3a2ac5cfac623cb52cc26ba9.jpg

It would then have a storyboard of each stage that explains delta v, electrical, control, RCS, docking and any other requirements.

My current mission planning method  is to construct a delta v budget in a table that describes each stage of the mission. I then construct the spacecraft from the payload down according to that budget. This is reasonably simple for straightforward mission but starts becoming less useful when there are more complex mission profiles. It is relatively ad hoc and while it does work, I find myself regularly fixing silly design errors (forgetting power generation in some stages etc)  as I am not following a methodical process.

How do you guys do it? Do you have any tips or tricks you would be willing to share?

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2 hours ago, Crispynaut said:

I was thinking developing a tool that would generate a summary of the mission similar to this:  <illustration>

It would then have a storyboard of each stage that explains delta v, electrical, control, RCS, docking and any other requirements.

That's a great idea, and a tool like that would be super cool!   Love your illustration.  :)

However, getting a computer to generate that for you is a... challenging design and programming task.  Would be great if you can pull it off, but it's a pretty tall order.  If you don't mind my asking, do you have much programming experience up to now?

Definitely don't want to discourage you!  Just want to get an idea of your skill set, in case I (or others) may be able to offer practical advice.  (For context, I've been a professional software engineer for a pretty long time.)

2 hours ago, Crispynaut said:

My current mission planning method  is to construct a delta v budget in a table that describes each stage of the mission. I then construct the spacecraft from the payload down according to that budget.

Yep, great idea.  Time-honored KSP tradition.  :)  That's basically what I do all the time in KSP.  It's also what a lot (perhaps most) KSP players do, at least the ones who prefer advance planning to a more trial-and-error technique.

2 hours ago, Crispynaut said:

This is reasonably simple for straightforward mission but starts becoming less useful when there are more complex mission profiles.

Yah, that it does.

That's also the reason why I suspect that a tool will be a challenge to build, since computers are less flexible than people.  Humans are good at "ad hoc" adjustments to planning for special circumstances.  Making a tool that's flexible enough to handle any situation you throw at it is a really hard design problem-- my guess is that that'll be your biggest hurdle.

2 hours ago, Crispynaut said:

I find myself regularly fixing silly design errors (forgetting power generation in some stages etc)  as I am not following a methodical process.

How do you guys do it?

Yep, we've all been there.  Probably lots of times, for most folks.  :wink:

In my case, the "how do you do it" has several little answers rather than one big one:

  • Lots of planning with a pocket calculator.  What can I say, I'm a physics nerd.
  • Habit.  I play KSP a lot, and when I do something enough times, it becomes routine.  I'm a very OCD, routine-oriented person, and I always do the same steps in the same order when I'm putting a mission together.  So after doing that enough times, it becomes second nature and I'm less likely to forget something important.
  • Mods, to solve the recurring problems that I appear to be genetically incapable of teaching myself to avoid.  For example, I got so irritated at forever forgetting to put things in the same standard action groups I always use (e.g. deployable solar panels in group 1, engine mode toggle in group 0, etc.) that I finally got annoyed enough to write a mod so that it would never, ever happen again.  Or, I kept forgetting to specify the crew in the VAB, so that (for example) Jeb kept stowing away on my LKO rescue ship, which I didn't realize until the hapless would-be rescuee was clinging to the ladder and hammering on the hatch trying to get in.  Eventually it annoyed me sufficiently that I wrote a mod so that it would never, ever happen again.  And so forth.

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The upcoming DLC also has something similar to this. It'll be great to see what you can come up with when that comes out.

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5 hours ago, Snark said:

That's a great idea, and a tool like that would be super cool!   Love your illustration.  :)

I must sincerely apologise I didn't intend to pass this off as my own work, credit belongs to Burkitt, however I got that image from a Pinterest page so not sure what his forum information is.

 

5 hours ago, Snark said:

do you have much programming experience up to now?

Very fair question considering my seemingly bold aspiration, little to no practical experience in this case (C++, CUDA C, Matlab Scripting). My intention is to probably develop some printable templates that people can doodle in as part of their initial plan and construction. Once constructed and if they want to share with friends they can import Kronal Vessel Viewer Images into a template to build. If they are popular templates I might look at seeking help from someone with mad programming skills to help develop the idea further.

 

5 hours ago, Snark said:

same steps in the same order

Me too for the most part, sometimes I make silly errors. The overview image is one part of this project, the protocol is the main part. A list of steps anyone can follow to have a robust, detailed design for that particular mission.

I am sure this has already been done but it's something I would like to do for my own game and I will post so hopefully it helps others too.

Fingers crossed haha

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