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KSP Weekly: A Private Space Race

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Welcome to KSP Weekly everyone. On Tuesday Blue Origin successfully tested a new version of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle. The privately funded company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is developing technologies to enable private human access to space with the goal to dramatically lower costs and increase reliability. Blue Origin is focusing on rocket-powered Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicles for access to suborbital and orbital space.

This test flight adds up to the increasing trend of private enterprises playing a major role in space exploration, and one could even say that now these companies are helping to push this sector forward more rapidly and eagerly than many government agencies. It is arguable that a new (private) Space Race that’s driven by a competition for customers and prestige has begun. Who are the main players of the private sector, you may wonder. Well, these are some of them:

  • Blue Origin - the Bezos company we detailed above.
  • XPRIZE - a non-profit organization that designs and manages public competitions intended to encourage technological development that could benefit humanity. Their Board of Trustees include James Cameron, Larry Page, Arianna Huffington, Ratan Tata among others.
  • Bigelow Aerospace - an American space technology startup company, based in North Las Vegas, Nevada that manufactures and develops expandable space station modules.
  • Virgin Galactic - a spaceflight company within the Virgin Group. It is developing commercial spacecraft and aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists and suborbital launches for space science missions.
  • United Launch Alliance - a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. They provide launch services using three expendable launch systems – Delta II, Delta IV and Atlas V.
  • Sierra Nevada Space Systems - an American privately held electronic systems provider and systems integrator specializing in microsatellites, telemedicine, and commercial orbital transportation services.
  • SpaceX - Ya’ll know this one, right?

The interest of the private sector in space will certainly change the politics, science and technology of space exploration and it is difficult to imagine where this is going to take us in the upcoming decades, but what it will definitely bring is space access to more nations, businesses and even people. But you want to hear about KSP development, so let’s dive in.

[Development news start here]

Let’s start off with a shout out to our partners at Private Division, who have recently announced their label, intentions, and portfolio of fellow independent studios participating in this endeavour of creating titles of the highest quality. Since this partnership began, they have been showing us nothing but their commitment and support to improve upon KSP and making it the best game it can possibly be, while supporting our creative vision. We’re very excited and happy to be part of this project. Check their Official Label Announcement Video to get more insight about what Private Division is and the amazing studios that are working with them.

The development of the Making History Expansion is moving onwards and upwards. This week the team implemented extended ToolTips for nodes in the toolbox. The idea here is that whenever you hover your cursor over any Node in the Sidebar, you’ll get an expanded ToolTip message for each Node. This ToolTip will be split into a few sections, each one will detail a different aspect of what the Node is and what it does. Each Node, like the parts seen in the VAB and SPH, will have a right click extended details feature. On this will be more in depth information pertaining to the parameters that can be tweaked and the scoring options open to the player. In a similar note, the developers also implemented the final Graphical Elements to the Node UI.

Additionally, the team worked on a feature that will allow Mission Creators to set an auto-populate crew setting to individual vessels in the mission or, in contrast, set a mission-wide auto-populate parameter. Creators will also be able to populate their vessels manually if they so desire.

While the programmers implement features and new stories, the QA team tested another batch of nodes, and, as in previous issues, we will take this opportunity to talk a little more in detail about those specific nodes (their names aren’t final yet, but it will give you an idea of the creation possibilities these will offer):

  • Perform Science Node (Science Type): When using this node, you’ll be able to have players do an experiment in a situation of your choosing. You’ll be able to set the type of experiment, the experiment situation (surface splashed, surface landed, flying high, etc), Biome (Celestial Body, Biome Type) and success criteria (conducted or transmitted).
  • Orbit Node (Location Type): By using this node, you’ll be able to set a target orbit. You’ll also be able to define several parameters like the orbit type, the celestial body whose orbit needs to be reached, the apoapsis, periapsis, eccentricity, inclination, among several others.
  • Add Vessel Node (Action Type): This node will allow you to select a vessel and spawn it wherever you want. It could be in orbit, on a launch site or even landed on any Celestial Body of your choosing.
  • Go-To Node (Location Type): If you want players to Go-To a specific area of a Celestial Body, this is the node you’ll want to use.

The artists have been very busy, too. For instance, they were able to wrap up our new FL-C1000 Fuel Tank. These tanks will include built in separation boosters and a snazzy new design that breaks with the typical cylindrical tanks we are all used to. Furthermore, you’ll be able to switch textures at will for these tanks as well. Check them out.

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And that’s not all, with the introduction of the larger Apollo-inspired service module, we had a need for some new surface-attach fuel tanks to fill in it, and at the same time, decided that the venerable ROUND-8 was a bit lonely. The result is a new series of surface attachable tanks suitable for landers and service bays/modules. These include a 0.625m sphere, and a 0.625m x 1.25m capsule. We’ve also decided to rework the ROUND-8 toroidal tank to match. Here’s a pic of the new tanks:

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And here’s a pic of them on a lander to give you a better idea of in-game appearance and scale. 

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Moving on Kerbal Space Program Enhanced Edition, we are happy to share with you that the console builds have entered the certification process, which is one of the last steps for our release on consoles next month.

We also noticed questions regarding the compatibility of save files between the Enhanced Edition and the previous version of KSP on consoles, so to avoid further confusion, we want to remind you that KSP Enhanced Edition has been built form the ground up - that is - a brand new version, a different developer and, naturally, new code. On the downside, this also means that the save files from the previous version will no longer be compatible with Enhanced Edition, but anyone who had previously bought KSP on consoles will still be able to download and play it, despite it no longer being available to purchase in the stores. Furthermore, no data will be overwritten from the older versions, so you won’t lose your progress. KSP Enhanced Edition will appear on your library as a separate game and, on the brightside, you’ll be able to get twice as many achievements from playing both versions.

Finally, we encourage you to participate in our latest KSP Challenge - A Very Kerbal Kerismus Challenge! It’s that time of year again when all the good little Kerbals come together to celebrate not getting all blow-ded up! Are you up to this jolly 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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I like the look of those round tanks, wish those were stock. 

Also, the FL-C1000 looks like Vostok to me, and I like the gray/white one better out of the two textures.

To sum it up, great job!

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When I first saw those boosters I thought... Oh yea. Glad to hear about The Consoles and also about the new fuel tanks

How long with cert be with this approx.

How long with cert be with this approx.

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At first I was skeptical, but I think separate golden mylar radial tanks is actually the correct way to do apollo style lander descent stage. If it were just the octagonal fuel tank, it wouldn't really do much other than be a lander stage for 1.875m parts. But these mylar tanks can in principle do a lot more than just be landers. I would probably still welcome an octagonal lander tank, but these are nicely versatile.

Also the monopropellant tank from last week was bad. Texture quality is actually worse than the part it is replacing, and the model is meh. I will be very disappointed if it makes it in game in the state it was shown in. Fairings were good though.

 

 

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49 minutes ago, SQUAD said:

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The shape of these feels ... wrong somehow.

49 minutes ago, SQUAD said:
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Cool.

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I love the gold tanks!!!  :D

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9 minutes ago, regex said:

The shape of these feels ... wrong somehow.

They are shorter (in terms of height/width) than the real ones, but the scaling is weird. The "nose cones" are too large compared to the rest of the booster. A purely scaled down copy of the real boosters would probably not contain enough fuel, so they messed up the slope to make the booster wider.

Edited by Gaarst

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6 minutes ago, Gaarst said:

They are shorter than the real ones, but the scaling is weird. The "nose cones" are too large compared to the rest of the booster. A purely scaled down copy of the real boosters would probably not contain enough fuel, so they messed up the slope to make the booster wider.

Nah, it's not about compression or scaling, it's about the shape. In fact, the actual shape shortened or stretched in certain ways would probably fit the KSP parts better. Of course there's no "mandate" to make them look exactly right but they don't look like the actual thing. Seeing them directly side-on would help figure that out. This is my reference. IRL they're a cone stacked on a truncated cone stacked on a cylinder and these don't look like that, they seem to have an odd curve to them.

Edited by regex

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1 minute ago, HebaruSan said:

Thanks for the new Skylon fuselage segments!

if they had built those in sections they'd be great for the Skylon engine housings.

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Do we have numbers yet for the capacity of any of these tanks? They all look good, by the way. We seem to be getting a lot of new parts with this expansion. Sadly, patience is not included; cuz waitin' on it is killin' me.

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1 hour ago, sh1pman said:

How big is FL-C1000?

FL prefix indicates 1.25m cross section to me.

1 hour ago, SQUAD said:

We’ve also decided to rework the ROUND-8 toroidal tank

flashbacks 

:sticktongue:

Edited by 0111narwhalz

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Rest assured the ROUND-8 is still LFO :wink:. When I made the others it just looked out of place, so Leti was kind enough to approve making a replacement.

capacity wise, they will follow the same wet/dry ratio and volume standards as the existing LFO tanks

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I love love love the surface-attach fuel tanks. Great Work guys

Edited by Canopus

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29 minutes ago, regex said:

Nah, it's not about compression or scaling, it's about the shape. In fact, the actual shape shortened or stretched in certain ways would probably fit the KSP parts better. Of course there's no "mandate" to make them look exactly right but they don't look like the actual thing. Seeing them directly side-on would help figure that out. This is my reference. IRL they're a cone stacked on a truncated cone stacked on a cylinder and these don't look like that, they seem to have an odd curve to them.

The real ones have long and uniform truncated cones in the middle. They can be loosely approximated with just cones. KSP ones look more curved and are fatter a little bit. They also don’t seem to have cylindrical sections on the bottom.

Uz4puyD.jpg

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19 minutes ago, 0111narwhalz said:

FL prefix indicates 1.25m cross section to me.

 

Agreed.  In fact, the fact that some parts mods don't stick to that convention bothers me.

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1 hour ago, regex said:

Nah, it's not about compression or scaling, it's about the shape. In fact, the actual shape shortened or stretched in certain ways would probably fit the KSP parts better. Of course there's no "mandate" to make them look exactly right but they don't look like the actual thing. Seeing them directly side-on would help figure that out. This is my reference. IRL they're a cone stacked on a truncated cone stacked on a cylinder and these don't look like that, they seem to have an odd curve to them.

Yeah you're right, it doesn't look like these are based on an inclined truncated cone. They look like they are made from slanted cones to keep the bottom attachment flat when the booster is attached; the "welding circles" along the booster also look flat when they shouldn't be as per the image you linked (very cool image by the way, is it Vostok?).

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2 hours ago, SQUAD said:

some new surface-attach fuel tanks

More of my favorite mod parts replaced by stock. I have been building similar styled landers for some time. Thank you. 

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28 minutes ago, Gaarst said:

(very cool image by the way, is it Vostok?).

Yep, it's the reference I used when I built a replica in RO. But all R-7s are basically the same thing (Vostok, Soyuz, Molniya) so that's a great reference for the lower booster stages.

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Would love to have seen a mention of the very first private space industry, started by my step-mom's first husband, Nick Piantanida, back in the 60s. 

There's been a few books and a documentary of it. 

Quote

In 1965, a truck driver and exotic pet dealer from New Jersey decided that he could join an elite group of men who had been to the final frontier -- space. With no formal training, no college degree, and barely enough money to support his wife and three young children, he set out to take a balloon to the edge of space and jump out. If he succeeded, he'd set a world record in a free fall back to earth for nearly 17 minutes.

 

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