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Suggestion for achievable Space Elevators and Skyhooks

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[First time I've made a thread so please let me know if I need to do anything differently or post somewhere else :) ]
So here's a suggestion - functional simulated Space Elevators and Skyhooks not as vessels but as KSC pseudo-Structures that can be upgraded like any other. I don't know if I'll ever get around to making this myself so I want to put the concept out there for feedback and for anyone with more modding experience than me.

I'll start with Space Elevators since they're simpler to use and implement. Using one would go something like clicking on the structure in the KSC, seeing the same menu you get when you click on the Launchpad and Runway, selecting a vessel to "launch", and then loading to a floating "structure" in geostationary orbit above the KSC. We basically render the station at the top of the space elevator, not the elevator itself, so it just floats there acting as a launchpad. There could be multiple such structures at different altitudes up the length of the elevator, from LKO up to GEO, although you'd only find yourself in a circular orbit if you set off from the GEO point since you wouldn't be starting with enough orbital velocity. From your chosen launch point you detach and off you go. You can use this method to put entire spaceships (subject to mass limits determined by structure upgrade level) into orbit, or put individual modules of a ship or station into orbit one at a time and then dock them. You could even bring canisters of material kits or rocket parts up if you're using Extraplanetary Launchpads, up to a waiting shipyard, enabling you to construct HUGE ships very easily for some seriously cool late-game stuff. This is my reason for wanting this mod, I'm tired of launching from the KSC or from EL bases on the moon and I want ways to streamline the process while remaining grounded in realistic futurism. 

For balance we can use the stock building upgrade system to incrementally increase how much mass the elevator can accommodate in one "launch" - you'd start with a few tons, and work your way up to tens or maybe hundreds. I don't think it should ever be unlimited as with the fully upgraded Launchpad and Runway. That would be too easy, you may as well just use Hyperedit at that point. 

For optimal functionality with EL, we'd need some way to have at least one vessel "docked" to the orbital launch point, otherwise we'd have to manually ferry cargo to a nearby station every time we brought it up, largely negating the whole point of the mod. I'm not sure how achievable this is in KSP. If it can be done, I'd like any vessel docked to the elevator to be able to receive unlimited resources from the surface, for a price of Resource Amount * Resource Cost * Operating Cost per Unit of Mass. If we can't dock with the structure in any traditional way, perhaps we can treat the shipyard as being in an unlaunched state on one of several staging points. Ideally that would mean there's a main "Launchpad" from which vessels brought up by the elevator are deployed, surrounded by one or more dummy launchpads where vessels can be placed, used and recovered but are unable to launch. This could get buggy though. Still trying to think of an ideal solution. 

Finally, if we wanted to make this REALLY awesome, it would be pretty great to place such pseudo-structures on any body in the Kerbin System and beyond. This could be used with out EL but it would be much more useful if you were using it as part of some serious extraplanetary shipbuilding or resource-moving infrastructure. This would entail a special part which, in the case of the Space Elevator, acts as a sort of "setup kit" which can be deployed on, say, the Mun to create a Space Elevator endpoint. It would need to be placed at the equator of a body to work and would take time and resources to complete setup. Upgrades to the new elevator would be managed through the right click part menu, but I think the best solution would be a dedicated menu at the KSC and Tracking Station where we can manage all our launch structures throughout the system in one list, without having to load in and visit them.  

We could also create skyhooks in the same way. The idea with skyhooks is they're cheaper to operate and in many ways simpler to build than space elevators. These would require you to fly a spaceplane to a specific speed and altitude eastwards over the equator. A toolbar menu would then enable you to "attach" to the skyhook, which would teleport the craft to a specific orbit depending on the skyhook.It would be fun to make even more narrow criteria and try and intercept the skyhook at exactly the right time and place, but it wouldn't be much use if you wanted to use the thing regularly.  It would be nice to attach only the cargo somehow, but I don't know how realistic that is or how we'd achieve that in the mod since KSP only sees one craft irrespective of what's considered "cargo". Conceivably this would work offworld as well. 

 

Alright, that's it. I think what I've outlined here would be quite achievable, if I or anyone else gets around to making such a thing, and it would be tremendously useful and immersive for builds like mine where I'm spending most of my time in the late game playing with mods like Interstellar Extended and USI Colonization. I'd love to hear what the rest of you guys think :) 

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I think that would really elevate the gameplay on a whole new level (pun intended) but I'm afraid to say that there's several problem regarding ultra-large megastructure in KSP. Since it's essentially, a space elevator is a glorified hyperedit. It might be possible to make a mod about it, but considering the limitation regarding physic simulation distance, orbital mechanic and gameplay value, there must be a way to prevent the space elevator being too OP or impractical as well as a way to overcome the limitation of game engine regarding orbital mechanics and gameplay value.

First, the main problem with space elevators (Gameplay value) is that, once it's created, it renders launch pad useless since rockets becomes obsolete. A launching facility on KSC has their own advantage and disadvantage so that one of them does not overshadow each other. For example, launch pad allows you to launch rockets, but unfeasible for launching spaceplanes or atmospheric aircraft. While you might argue that we can launch rockets on runway too, without runway, there's no viable starting point for SSTOs and jet aircraft. If there's a space elevator, then no more use for launch pad, and the only usage of runway is for landing SSTO or operating atmospheric aircraft. There must be a limit of space elevator capability such as maximum tonnage, additional cost for launch or cool down period after each launch.

Second (Practicality), I understand the concept of space elevator is awesome and really, I do want to see it becomes a reality. But in real life, space elevator is also vulnerable to space debris, just like space stations, and in KSP it's still in full effect. Judging from KSC location on equatorial region of kerbin, and most players usually makes equatorial orbit, it's not surprising most refueling stations, space probes, relays and debris are scattered mostly on equatorial orbit. If launching ship from KSC is like what you suggest, then there's a very high probability that the ship being hit by space object as soon as it's "materialized" (loaded) in orbit, especially if the elevator being frequently used.

Third (Orbital mechanic), how the ship makes orbit? Sure, the ship is transported into outer atmosphere where the orbit takes place, but space elevator is static object, aka a structure, it does not move at all. If you load a ship on the outer atmosphere locked by launch clamps on the summit of space elevator and release it, it will fall straight down since the ship has zero velocity, it does not move at all in the first place, and thus has no orbital velocity.

Personally though, for me, I'd like to use mass driver instead of space elevators since judging from engineering standpoint, it's much easier to build and maintain (and someone already make a mod about it)

I don't know much about skyhook though, only a vague information about it, and I don't know exactly how it works

Edited by ARS

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7 hours ago, ARS said:

Third (Orbital mechanic), how the ship makes orbit? Sure, the ship is transported into outer atmosphere where the orbit takes place, but space elevator is static object, aka a structure, it does not move at all. If you load a ship on the outer atmosphere locked by launch clamps on the summit of space elevator and release it, it will fall straight down since the ship has zero velocity, it does not move at all in the first place, and thus has no orbital velocity.

This one actually isn't a problem - the 'top' (I assume you mean geostationary hub - the actual 'top' of a space elevator would need to be even *further* out, as the center of mass needs to be at the hub) is after all in a geostationary *orbit*.  So if you push a ship out of the hanger at that point, it'll be in a geostationary orbit as well, or at least close to one.  If you actually went to the 'top' of the elevator, it'd be on an escape trajectory.

But the practical aspect in the game is that the game physics doesn't allow for such a large structure easily.  It'd need to essentially be part of the planet, I think.  (And I'm not sure if that would work either.)  You could imitate one by placing an EL dock in KSO and hyperediting building materials to it.

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But the practical aspect in the game is that the game physics doesn't allow for such a large structure easily.  It'd need to essentially be part of the planet, I think.  (And I'm not sure if that would work either.) 

I'll try to be more clear, what I'm proposing is not an actual physical space elevator in game. All that would exist would be the "stations" along the length of the elevator. These would be the same as structures attached to the surface of a planet, they'd just be offset from the surface by hundreds or thousands of kilometers. They'd basically just float there, and would be no bigger than, say, the VAB. It would look a little janky to look at since we can't render the cable, but in my opinion the functionality is worth it. Heck, maybe we could fake the cable with a ribbon particle, since particles can extend beyond physics range. 

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First, the main problem with space elevators (Gameplay value) is that, once it's created, it renders launch pad useless since rockets becomes obsolete.

You bet it does, that's the whole point! Space Elevators are a futuristic technology and should only be available way down at the end of the vanilla tech tree, and would only be fun to use if you're using a modded build where you're doing some serious high-tech interplanetary expansion. Let's say you're using Interstellar Extended and you're trying to build a glorious space empire with fusion rockets and antimatter. A civilization like that will have found way better ways to get stuff into space. 

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But in real life, space elevator is also vulnerable to space debris, just like space stations, and in KSP it's still in full effect. Judging from KSC location on equatorial region of kerbin, and most players usually makes equatorial orbit, it's not surprising most refueling stations, space probes, relays and debris are scattered mostly on equatorial orbit.

That's a really good point, I hadn't considered that. Perhaps there could be a debris-zapper volume around the station, where any vessel tagged as debris is purged before physics kicks in. Might be risky, but we might pass it off as the automated debris-defense laser showing no mercy and put a big warning label on the side of the station. 

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Regarding about the structure being created like KSC facility and put to offset on the orbit altitude, it might work like a space elevator. Since yes, we cannot render the cable or large scale structure from ground level to orbit altitude, a particle effect might be worth using. This also makes me wonder, if the space elevator is indeed being built, most of the upper section would be like an orbital shipyard where ships being built in orbit and launched directly, with materials being transported by the elevator itself. It kinda like a spaceport, after all, you can only send limited amount of stuff with the elevator, but there's nothing stopping you to assemble it in orbit.

Now wait a minute, I think I can make a pseudo-space elevator (aka improvising). I haven't heard about extraplanetary launch pad mod that you said before, but what I know, it allows you to build and launch rockets on another planet, mind telling me how it works? I think I'm able to find a way to make this "space elevator" possible

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I also was thinking  of a similar thing but with parts. There would be a hub at geostationary orbit with a space elevator part and a ground vessel with the part that has to be on the equator beneath the orbital station to deploy. Then another vessel near the station or the base could go to the ground or to the station  respectivly. This would allow such structures to be deployed on oher planets

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11 hours ago, ARS said:

Now wait a minute, I think I can make a pseudo-space elevator (aka improvising). I haven't heard about extraplanetary launch pad mod that you said before, but what I know, it allows you to build and launch rockets on another planet, mind telling me how it works? I think I'm able to find a way to make this "space elevator" possible

It allows you to design a rocket normally, and then build it at a specialized facility anywhere in your KSP universe.  To build it, you need a launchpad, a workshop, Engineers, and resources (RocketParts with just base EL).  How much resources are required is dependent on the mass of the ship you're building.  A launchpad is either a special part, or a surveyed site on the surface of a planet/moon along with a part that controls the survey.  A workshop is a different special part (or parts - you can have more than one) that allows engineers to work.  How fast you build is determined by the quality of your workshop(s), and the experience and stats of your Kerbals.  If a ship is built with a launchpad, you can fill it with fuel/other resources upon launch.  (You can't with a surveyed site - the vessel isn't connected to the build station.  So you'd better think about how you're handling it then.)

In terms of a pseudo-elevator, if you were to put a build station into KSO, and keep it filled with RocketParts via Hyperedit you could launch vessels from it every few days, depending on the size of the vessels.  (I'm saying fill with hyperedit to make it different from just putting the station into KSO and supplying it normally as an orbital shipyard.)

9 hours ago, 0something0 said:

I also was thinking  of a similar thing but with parts. There would be a hub at geostationary orbit with a space elevator part and a ground vessel with the part that has to be on the equator beneath the orbital station to deploy. Then another vessel near the station or the base could go to the ground or to the station  respectivly. This would allow such structures to be deployed on oher planets

This is an interesting idea.  The question would be how to balance it, and how (and what) to require for the hub.  Note that you can't get into a geostationary orbit around Mun, for instance, because of the way the physics engine works in KSP.  (It would require you orbit the Mun outside of the Mun's SOI.)

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1 hour ago, DStaal said:

It allows you to design a rocket normally, and then build it at a specialized facility anywhere in your KSP universe.  To build it, you need a launchpad, a workshop, Engineers, and resources (RocketParts with just base EL).  How much resources are required is dependent on the mass of the ship you're building.  A launchpad is either a special part, or a surveyed site on the surface of a planet/moon along with a part that controls the survey.  A workshop is a different special part (or parts - you can have more than one) that allows engineers to work.  How fast you build is determined by the quality of your workshop(s), and the experience and stats of your Kerbals.  If a ship is built with a launchpad, you can fill it with fuel/other resources upon launch.  (You can't with a surveyed site - the vessel isn't connected to the build station.  So you'd better think about how you're handling it then.)

In terms of a pseudo-elevator, if you were to put a build station into KSO, and keep it filled with RocketParts via Hyperedit you could launch vessels from it every few days, depending on the size of the vessels.  (I'm saying fill with hyperedit to make it different from just putting the station into KSO and supplying it normally as an orbital shipyard.)

This is an interesting idea.  The question would be how to balance it, and how (and what) to require for the hub.  Note that you can't get into a geostationary orbit around Mun, for instance, because of the way the physics engine works in KSP.  (It would require you orbit the Mun outside of the Mun's SOI.)

Or use Konstructs to place an object with a KK launchpad on it.  For gameplay sake place in Kerbal Stationary Orbit.  

Launch your station to be attached to it with clamps (or a modded part with clamp module).  Also mod a part for the station like a special tank that generates fuel/oxidiser/anything using the same module as an RTG (not suitable for career saves :) or is it? Extraplanetary Launchpads effectively is free building costing time, not funds.  Make sure the tanks you mod fill with EPL's rocket parts too :) make sure your craft/station includes EPL launchpads.

Close the KK launch site.  Also in the save file remove the staging for the craft/station launch clamps so you don't have any 'accidents'.

Also have lots of docking ports :)

I think that would be a solution :)

Peace.

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