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KSP Weekly: The 9th Planet


SQUAD
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Welcome to KSP Weekly everyone. A lot of people were sad to hear that the Solar System was officially composed of eight planets instead of nine after Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet due to the discoveries of several objects with similar volume throughout the Kuiper belt, such as Eris. But research in 2016 suggested that a Neptune-sized, yet to be discovered planet was orbiting beyond Pluto. Astronomers inferred its existence by putting a mathematical model together, which was able to detect the gravitational signature of a giant planet by tracking the motion of observed objects in the Kuiper belt. And now, researchers have used a new technique to study some of the most distant objects in the Solar System. These bodies, named Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects (ETNOs), are at least 150 times further from the Sun than the Earth and they don’t cross Neptune’s orbit. The team performed the best measurement to date of the nodes of the ETNOs. The nodes are the two points where the orbit of a celestial body crosses the plane of the Solar System. Their position mainly depends on the size and shape of the orbit, which makes them quite free from observation bias. The team studied the nodes for 28 ETNOs and 24 smaller objects. It is a well-known fact that the presence of a massive perturber interacting with a population of minor bodies following very eccentric orbits can strongly affect the distribution of their nodal distances.They showed evidence for a possible bimodal distribution of the nodal distances of the ETNOs in the form of a previously unnoticed correlation between nodal distance and orbital inclination. By assuming that the ETNOs are dynamically similar to the comets that interact with Jupiter, the researchers interpreted these results as signs of the presence of a planet that is actively interacting with them in a range of distances from 300 to 400 AU (Astronomical Units = distance from Earth to Sun). The mysterious “Planet Nine” is yet to be directly observed, but with all the presented evidence we are close to proving its existence and return to have a nine planet model of the Solar System. While astronomers keep on gathering data and evidence, we at the KSP HQ continue to write code and modeling parts, so let’s get into the details…

This week, the QA team continued certifying bugfixes for 1.3.1. Meanwhile, the devs squashed some bugs for the patch release, including some more localization issues with tutorials and scenarios that QA found, along with other localization texts. Like with all patches, the team is trying to fix all aspects that needed some extra polishing after a big update, sometimes these get unnoticed a while after a release, but we’re always on the lookout.

On console news, our QA team is attempting to overload the console build’s save files. They have been failing at achieving this so far, which is a good thing. It just seems to keep on trucking. Both console versions are now fully playable, but as we’ve reiterated, we are currently on a very scrupulous testing phase to ensure a true KSP game experience for console players.  

The Making History Expansion has also received a great deal of attention this week. While new elements of the design continue to be tweaked and worked on, the devs have been mostly focused on getting the UI elements functioning for a Mission Start Node specifying the vessels list that the mission contains and hooking the UI up to the underlying data elements contained in the mission. Allowing the Mission Creator to specify vessels that are player created or creating and specifying their own vessels. The UI also contains a lot of parameter information for each vessel, such as its starting location, position, crew, and so on, with a lot of flexibility provided to the Mission Creator. In addition, the team has also been improving the vessel placement tool, so that it is able to rotate the target vessel properly. Some of the devs spent time iterating over the Mission Builder Canvas display and the mission nodes, adding improvements to their UI display and interactions. For example, better, smoother connector lines with correct layering for visual representation. Similarly, the team is working on general usability improvements in various parts of the editor.

The art team was very busy, too. They started working on modeling the Voskhod 1-inspired IVA and simultaneously on the first of a series of new Service Module parts. These are more than just models - they also will be incorporating some new functionality that we are still defining. Currently, if you need a bunch of small parts stowed inside of a housing, you can either use interstage fairings or service bays. Both of these have their limitations, and we found that we were going to need something a bit different to achieve our goals for these parts.

Our first Service Module is a conical 1.25m to 0.625m adapter for our Apollo analogue. This was originally going to be a dedicated stack-chute model, but we felt implementing more flexible service modules made more sense and would provide players better options. The shell can be jettisoned to allow chute deployment (jettisoning anything you happened to attach to the shell as well).  Here’s a pic, along with our new Apollo-inspired capsule and a Clamp-o-tron Jr. for comparison. This service module includes a lot of horizontal and vertical surfaces for attaching parts and we expect players will find a lot of creative uses for this and the other service modules we will be including in the expansion.

Finally, we encourage you to participate in our latest KSP Challenge - The Mun Arch Speed Challenge! This time around, the challenge consists of flying as fast as you can through one of the Mun Arches. There are four categories: Racing with EVA packs, uncrewed spacecrafts, crewed spacecrafts and asteroids! We’ll be giving special badges to participants and you’ll have two weeks to submit your entries.  Are you up to the challenge? Check it out and share your creations!

That’s it for this week. Be sure to join us on our official forums, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Stay tuned for more exciting and upcoming news and development updates!

Happy launchings!

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21 minutes ago, SQUAD said:

This was originally going to be a dedicated stack-chute model, but we felt implementing more flexible service modules made more sense and would provide players better options. The shell can be jettisoned to allow chute deployment (jettisoning anything you happened to attach to the shell as well).  Here’s a pic, along with our new Apollo capsule and a Clamp-o-tron Jr. for comparison. This service module includes a lot of horizontal and vertical surfaces for attaching parts and we expect players will find a lot of creative uses for this and the other service modules we will be including in the expansion.

Hopefully we'll get some new chutes that fit under there? Can we see a picture with some other stuff actually attached to it? Will we get a bigger one, like a 1.875m to 1.25m so we can do more inline-attachment trickery?

Looks pretty cool.

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I have been desperately wanting a tiny 1.25 to .625 conical service bay since I started using a mod that had a 2.5 to 3.75 conical bay. All the bays are just too massive for any reasonable use on a craft, but something small like this is just perfect.

Half the reason I use Kerbal Reusibility Expansion and dragon-like capsules is so I have that tiny hollow space in the fuel tank under the capsule to fill with odds and ends. Life support, science, batteries.. you name it.

A half height 2.5m service bay would also be amazing, as would a very slender (quarter height?) 3.75m one.

Edited by Enorats
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Indeed,

29 minutes ago, regex said:

Looks pretty cool.

I Agree, but I'm still wishing it had a retractable version instead of the throw-away doors. I understand KSP wouldnt allow surface attachment to the door if so, but I think it would be worth it... IF it has good heat tolerance.

But either way MH is looking like a good bit of fun

 

Edited by Dundral mk2
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I kind of get the service bay, but I usually just use a fairing ever since we got the fancy internal nodes. If only those nodes were made 0.625m wide (even better, in a tweakable way), this part would become kind of irrelevant. Have the art repurposed as texture options for the fairing/internal structure instead!

 

Rune. Is it too much to ask for a way to stop the fairings expanding in the VAB, while we are at it?

Edited by Rune
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The most important problem is that the mount for the docking port sits on an X of metal instead of the radial parts coming off a cylindrical tunnel.

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Look at the SSTU Apollo capsule as a reference:

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In the shown KSP version, there would be vanes to attach stuff instead of the metal rods/tubes in the SSTU version, obviously. Still, the center needs to be a 0.625m cylinder, not just an X (with the vanes as surface attachment in addition).

 

 

Edited by tater
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It's a compromise between making something lego (that you can toss all manner of things in), and one that specifically anticipates the presence of a docking port (and would have a structural tube).  One of the goals is to have parts that have as much use as possible beyond the expansion, and as few 'one off's' as possible.

I expect for every person wanting a tube to make it a closer Apollo analogue, someone else is going to complain that it's too cramped because the tube takes up too much volume :wink: 

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Seems like a tube would still leave room for chutes or batteries. That or chutes and batteries should be made that fill the space enough to make it look like a tube is in there---ie: they are like wedges of a sort.

Part of the issue is that KSP now shows cut-away views, making such things less abstract than they were in the past.

Will the chute be one part, or will the player put 2 in symmetry?

Edited by tater
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Just now, tater said:

Seems like a tube would still leave room for chutes or batteries. That or chutes and batteries should be made that fill the space enough to make it look like a tube is in there.

Part of the issue is that KSP now shows cut-away views, making such things less abstract than they were in the past.

It would be a very cramped fit given how small that module is.  You already get a surprising amount of said tube with the tail end of the clamp o tron junior as it is :wink:

As noted, this part is for more than just the expansion - it should have utility well beyond just the single use case to be useful (same reason I just didn't pre-populate it with resources to fill in the space).  Naturally all things are subject to change (and consider anything shown a WIP), but thought I'd share the design consideration in this case.

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3 minutes ago, KevDreck said:

I'm still wondering, how you guys will make the console versions work with mods? Is there any chance?

Can you name any console game that can be modded?

3 minutes ago, KevDreck said:

If not, i don't think you can charge the full prize. because it's just half the game without mods

Nope! Squad can do what they want.

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22 minutes ago, RoverDude said:

I expect for every person wanting a tube to make it a closer Apollo analogue, someone else is going to complain that it's too cramped because the tube takes up too much volume

Why not a happy medium and just do both? A personnel version with the tube, and a utility version without the tube?

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17 minutes ago, RoverDude said:

it should have utility well beyond just the single use case to be useful

Off-hand, I imagine you strap a 1.25m heatshield on the bottom and it could be useful as an aerodynamic shroud for sending probes into an atmosphere like Eve or Jool.

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11 minutes ago, Just Jim said:

Why not a happy medium and just do both? A personnel version with the tube, and a utility version without the tube?

Right? I'ts not like we don't have anything like mesh-switching as an upcoming feature...

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Worst case scenario, we could always clip a 0.625m fuselage inside it to represent the tube. Although I forget if there's a size-0 structural fuselage part or if we'd have to use an empty fuel tank. Switchable option would definitely be preferable, though. 

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1 hour ago, KevDreck said:

it's just half the game without mods

I disagree. Stock is just as fun as modded.

Service bay looks ok, but not retractable, not really interested. But it may have uses for cluster bombs...

48 minutes ago, RoverDude said:

And I give people about 30 seconds post launch before it's used as a gear...

That's a brilliant idea! Would it be possible to have to some option in the editor if it starts with or without the shroud?

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I fully understand the adapter tube/no tube concerns. Just throwing this out there - I have been using the FL-A10 adapter on my Apollo ships. One of the small round RCS tanks barely fits inside. I suggest someone try Hotaru's suggestion with the fuselage, then try to figure out how you could pack chutes and/or RCS in what is left. Gonna be tough.

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Well, presumably the new chute parts will fit in the wedges anyway, right? Just make a new battery that does so (maybe 2 of them is enough juice to fly a Mun return mission).  Fill the void with wedges designed to fit in there, and you can't tell there is no tunnel.

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This may be historical.. but it's still Kerbal. Isn't the obvious solution to simply put the docking port over the capsule's exit hatch?

I mean, sure.. it may throw off your CoM.. but you can rotate your engines a bit to account for that. It's not like they need that hatch anyway.. They're only getting out of the lunar module.

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