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KSP Weekly: The Martian Race

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Welcome to KSP Weekly everyone. Last week we talked a bit about NASA’s Deep Space Gateway and Deep Space Transport projects, which sets up a plan for the upcoming decades for NASA and other space agencies with the ultimate objective of sending a crew to Mars’ orbit. If that wasn’t enough, this past Thursday, September 28th, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer Elon Musk provided an update to his 2016 presentation regarding the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars within the next 50 to 100 years.

Back on last year’s IAC in Guadalajara, Mexico, Elon Musk revealed SpaceX’s initial plans to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars, using huge reusable rockets. The new concept does not depart far from the original, which now features a slightly smaller rocket and spacecraft designed for a broader range of applications beyond Mars, including a Moon base and point-to-point Earth transport. The smaller design will facilitate the use of the codenamed BFR (Big Falcon Rocket… yes, originally we also thought it was a small hint at Doom) for other missions, basically combining all of the company’s vehicles into a single product line, which coupled with the cost savings from reusability will make the project more affordable. Despite being a bit smaller than originally proposed, the BFR is still a BIG rocket (bigger than a Saturn V), capable carrying up to 100 people into orbit or a payload of 150 tons.

SpaceX’s previous plan called for landing its first transport ship on Mars in 2022. The timeline Musk gave past Thursday was similar; two cargo landers would land on Mars in 2022, with four vehicles launching in 2024. Two of those 2024 ships would be crewed, meaning, in Musk’s timeline, humans could walk on Mars in just seven years. This seems a bit aspirational, but SpaceX has surprised us many times before, so if there’s someone who can get people on Mars’ surface before 2030, it might as well be Elon. It seems that a crewed mission to Mars is becoming a reality and the question is who’s going to get there first. In the meanwhile, it could be interesting trying to replicate both NASA’s and SpaceX’s plans in KSP(some didn’t waste anytime doing so already); Right? But let’s move on and talk about KSP development.

But first, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Sputnik (no, we did not forget about it), we launched a Sputnik-like probe using some of the new Russian-inspired parts to be included in the expansion. Check it out!

[Development news start here]

As you have probably noticed by now, yesterday we released Update 1.3.1. These releases usually involve many  preparations to ensure its availability throughout various platforms. Fortunately, the pre-release phase was a success and we were able to gather a great deal of feedback from the community, which allowed us to add several localization corrections, many bug fixes and the implementation of a few enhancements. We’ve said this many times, but it doesn’t matter, we want to express our immense gratitude to everyone who participated and shared precious feedback during the pre-release. You can read the detailed changelog here.

In other news this week, we received a new build for the console version of KSP, which incorporated improvements to the controller mapping and solved a few issues thanks to the conjoint effort of the external testers, Blitworks and the QA team. Some of the issues fixed within the latest build include a critical bug that locked up the game when the “Load Save” option in the Pause Menu was selected and forced testers to perform a game reboot to continue. Other minor issues were solved too, like one where the “Toggle Helmet Lights” binding in one of the controllers also activated RCS.

Work on the Making History Expansion continues vigorously. Testing nodes continues to be an important part of the daily tasks. We are currently testing the second batch of nodes, which mainly involve vessel and flight related ones, our testers did have lots of fun playing around with that. Additionally, the team also worked on reviewing some aspects of the design for Vessel parameters within the Mission Builder, which basically is a list of Vessel based parameters, what they are and where are they displayed, i.e. vessel weight, fuel limitations and so on.

Some devs spent some time working on the functionality of repairing part failures during missions. This task involves implementing the repair feature that allows a failed part that is “repairable” to be fixed by an engineer with appropriate skills. This gives an interesting layer to mission design and playability, as it gives a quasi narrative aspect to the way a mission will unfold to the player.   

The team also continued to work on a feature that will give mission creators the ability  to define and set mission wide scoring attributes for a mission. We’ve talked about the concept of this feature in previous issues. We’ve been implementing it in the past few weeks, and currently we are defining the global scoring design and its UI wireframes. Another feature that has been recently implemented is the Biome Selector, which is basically a tool that mission creators will be able to use to set specific biome-oriented objectives to a mission, e.g. plant a flag on Eve’s Lowlands. Although some things might still change, here’s a preview of the tool’s interface.

This week we wrapped up our analogue to the Apollo Service Propulsion System (the AJ10-137), too.  While we’re still finalizing the statistics, it will be a vacuum engine in the same league as the Poodle. It will also have a mesh switching option, with a bare version suitable for clustering, as well as a 2.5 skirt version.  You can see a picture of it here. As always, please consider these works in progress.

The artists started to replace some placeholders with nicer  UI elements within the Mission Builder, and simultaneously they were able to finish the last details of the MK1-3 IVA. Here’s a sneak peak of that, too.

Finally, we encourage you to participate in our latest KSP Challenge - Brick from Orbit Challenge. This time around, the challenge consists of landing a craft without any parachutes. With various difficulty modes and a scoring system, both rookies and veterans can participate and show off their skills. 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!


PD: Do you want to help the victims of the Earthquakes in Mexico? You can do so by donating to any of these non-profit institutions. Your contributions will make a huge difference:

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Posted (edited)

First! And as soon i will get myself a paypal i will donate!

Edited by cratercracker

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24 minutes ago, SQUAD said:

The artists started to replace some placeholders with nicer  UI elements within the Mission Builder, and simultaneously they were able to finish the last details of the MK1-3 IVA. Here’s a sneak peak of that, too.

The Mk1-3 capsule looks like a new model. The hatch looks to be set in a cardinal direction now rather than offset - a great improvement.

Is the new Mk1-3 only going to be for Making History or will it be in Stock when it's released? Are other Stock parts getting redesigned as part of Making History?

Thanks!

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Dang that MK1-3 is a thing of beauty, hopefully this version isn't made of Uranium like the current one :wink:

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13 minutes ago, Tyko said:

Are other Stock parts getting redesigned as part of Making History?

So far none have been announced. I think they're probably budgeting 100% of the artist time toward the expansion.

I do really like the hatch shown under the control panel. I can imagine (free-fall) kneeling there and wrenching that thing open after docking at a station.

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Posted (edited)

Ok... Not gonna lie I'm still not a fan of "mk1-3" with how the proportions are turning out. How do you get in and out without messing up the control panel? Hell how do they reach the control panel with those little arms? Previous iva's like the spaceplanes had a lot of thought put in them about accessibility, mobility, and ergonomics even if it was just for show what happened? Need I remind you we are paying for this content.

It seems broken on a fundamental design level how about you just scrap it and start over with something more loyal to the apollo inspiration? Just repackage the mk1-3 as a free update to replace the mk1-2 it doesn't belong on making history it is the only part that doesn't resemble its historical counterpart.

Edited by passinglurker

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, passinglurker said:

Ok... Not gonna lie I'm still not a fan of "mk1-3" with how the proportions are turning out. How do you get in and out without messing up the control panel? Hell how do they reach the control panel with those little arms? Previous iva's like the spaceplanes had a lot of thought put in them about accessibility, mobility, and ergonomics even if it was just for show what happened? Need I remind you we are paying for this content.

It seems broken on a fundamental design level how about you just scrap it and start over with something more loyal to the apollo inspiration? Just repackage the mk1-3 as a free update to replace the mk1-2 it doesn't belong on making history it is the only part that doesn't resemble its historical counterpart.

I watched a video of an astronaut getting into a mercury capsule and almost bumping his helmet on overhead switches...not that unusual. As to reaching the controls, I saw a video of a crew in a Soyuz capsule in which the commander was using a long stick to reach from where he was sitting to press buttons on the console in front of him, but out of his reach.

I agree that ergonomics should be considered, but with the caveat that in reality bad ergonomics happened too.

Edited by Tyko

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Words, pictures, video, v1.3.1 - great weekly update. Keep up the good work!

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Woah... a lot of stuff this week. I like the Mk1-3, although I feel like there's a lot of unused space, which I'm not a big fan of. I like Micheal bay-style so-much-stuff-that-I-can't-process-all-of-it-so-I-think-woah-that-looks-super-wow style clutter (although it isn't kind to my old 2010 Toshiba clunker)

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I'm slighty confused about the Mk1-3... it sure looks very nice but is it actually any better that the 1-2? I wouldn't miss the 1-2 if this replaced it in the game but with the sequential name it makes sense that its an upgrade.. but what will be the "upgrade" part? It has the same number of Kerbals right? Is it lighter? cheaper? Tell me why (other than aesthetics) would I really want to unlock it if I was playing career mode? Sorry if this has already been covered btw :)

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1 minute ago, MR L A said:

I'm slighty confused about the Mk1-3... it sure looks very nice but is it actually any better that the 1-2? I wouldn't miss the 1-2 if this replaced it in the game but with the sequential name it makes sense that its an upgrade.. but what will be the "upgrade" part? It has the same number of Kerbals right? Is it lighter? cheaper? Tell me why (other than aesthetics) would I really want to unlock it if I was playing career mode? Sorry if this has already been covered btw :)

I think it has inbuilt RCS.

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4 minutes ago, 0111narwhalz said:

I think it has inbuilt RCS.

Well that's nice for reducing part count :) but is that it? lol

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1 hour ago, HebaruSan said:

I do really like the hatch shown under the control panel. I can imagine (free-fall) kneeling there and wrenching that thing open after docking at a station.

I was thinking the same thing... I could have some fun with that hatch... :)

"Come on... <grunt groan>  Cap'n... it's stuck..." 

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@SQUAD, thanks for the continual sneak peaks of the DLC parts, always my favorite section of the Weekly. :)

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HarmlessWelllitIchneumonfly-size_restric

Is there a reason not to just post the images?

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3 minutes ago, tater said:

HarmlessWelllitIchneumonfly-size_restric

Is there a reason not to just post the images?

They're crossposted to multiple platforms:  http://kerbaldevteam.tumblr.com/

... so it may simply be easier to get consistent results with links instead.

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Not embedding the images improves page load time, is mobile friendly, puts reader in control of what to look at. 

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Yes, that Making History Expansion pack is looking sweet. Keep up the great work Squad. You are the best!

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9 hours ago, passinglurker said:

Hell how do they reach the control panel with those little arms?

This

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19 hours ago, Tyko said:

I watched a video of an astronaut getting into a mercury capsule and almost bumping his helmet on overhead switches...not that unusual. As to reaching the controls, I saw a video of a crew in a Soyuz capsule in which the commander was using a long stick to reach from where he was sitting to press buttons on the console in front of him, but out of his reach.

I agree that ergonomics should be considered, but with the caveat that in reality bad ergonomics happened too.

Mercury and Soyuz make sense because they are cramped mass over comfort sort of spacecraft. the Mk1-3 as others have pointed out is not starved for space at all so it doesn't have the same awkward cluttered charm. Adding clutter might fix that if it were just its own original spacecraft but it would seem to me that band-aid fixes would just push the pod further and further from being the "apollo equivalent". With parts that are supposed to kerbalize real world spacecraft some degree of attention to detail is important naturally it can't be a 1:1 photo-realistic clone as that wouldn't fit with kerbal's art style or anatomy but it seems pretty clear between this and the previously mentioned issues with texture and its length after adding the nose cone and docking port that the mk1-3 has flown well off the mark by this point.

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21 hours ago, SQUAD said:

we launched a Sputnik-like probe using some of the new Russian-inspired parts to be included in the expansion. Check it out!

Someone tell SQUAD's video makers there's this nifty new (well, relatively) feature in KSP: right-clicking on the orbit markers will leave them visible... without having to follow them around with your mouse cursor! :D

 

 

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excuse me mr squad but after watching that video it seems like someone didnt take the how to get into orbit tutorial :P

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, invision said:

excuse me mr squad but after watching that video it seems like someone didnt take the how to get into orbit tutorial :P

We don’t know the flight profile of the original Sputnik either. They may not have been able to restart engines, and probably didn’t want a coast phase either. Didnt the original Sputnik launch hot-fire the second stage?

Edited by StrandedonEarth

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Don’t all R7-derived boosters hot-fire the second stage? Thus the lattice work around the junction. Saves on the mass and complexity of an ullage apparatus 

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R-7 ICBM and Sputnik rockets did not have a second stage at all, only core and boosters.

GPN-2002-000184.png

The upper stage on the derivatives does indeed hot-fire. Initially that was because engineers were not sure if they could reignite engine in zero-g, then because of "don't fix what ain't broke" principle.

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