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KSP Weekly: Closer to Bennu


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Welcome to KSP Weekly! Almost two years after the launch of NASA’s asteroid sampling spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, it has caught it first glimpse of its target, the carbonaceous asteroid, 101955 Bennu, from a distance of almost six times the distance between the Earth and Moon (2.2 million km). The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer mission, nicknamed Osiris-Rex, was designed to study the asteroid and return a sample back to Earth on September 24th, 2023 for detailed analysis.


The target, Bennu, a 500-meter-wide asteroid, was discovered back in 1999. It was chosen for interception by OSIRIS-REx, the first asteroid sample return mission in NASA’s portfolio, for several reasons. These include its primitive, unaltered composition, which may feature compounds that could be precursors to biological life; it is also large enough to have a decent-ish gravitational field, which means it won’t regularly eject spacecraft-destroying material from its surface. The asteroid’s dimensions also makes it the smallest object that any spacecraft has orbited, let alone landed on.

As OSIRIS-REx approaches its target, the spacecraft will use its science instruments to gather information about Bennu and prepare for arrival. The spacecraft’s science payload is comprised of the OCAMS camera suite (PolyCam, MapCam, and SamCam), the OTES thermal spectrometer, the OVIRS visible and infrared spectrometer, the OLA laser altimeter, and the REXIS X-ray spectrometer.


After arrival at Bennu, the spacecraft will spend the next 18 months or so mapping the asteroid from above and picking a sample site. If everything goes as planned, the spacecraft will pick up around 2kg of gravel and soil from its surface in July 2020. Then, it’ll leap up into space and fly back to Earth, landing in the Utah desert in September 2023.

Although this is the first time a NASA mission will land on an asteroid and come back home, it’s not the first space agency in the world to achieve this feat. Back in 2010, JAXA’s Hayabusa spacecraft brought back samples from asteroid 25143 Itokawa, and its sequel – Hayabusa2– caught up with the dumpling-shaped asteroid Ryugu back in June this year. We are very eager to see what researchers will learn from these missions. Maybe this is only the start of future asteroid mining missions, we’ll have to wait and see.

[Development news start here]

Work on the upcoming 1.5 Update continues, and with each passing week, new components are added to the project. As we have mentioned previously, this update will have something for everyone, as both the base game and the expansion are getting their good deal of features. This week for instance, we worked on a new node for the Mission Builder: The Part Count Node. Today, the vessel category in the Mission Builder has nodes that test for vessel mass and velocity among other things, but it lacked a part count test. While it may seem like mass can be used to determine if you lost any parts along the way, changes in fuel also decrease the mass, thus making it an unreliable way to do so. With this new node you’ll be able to test whether a vessel has or hasn’t lost any parts (destroyed or decoupled) during any point on a mission. It basically works by making a comparison between the state of a vessel in two separate moments and by defining the number of parts itself. This will be particularly useful in missions where players must design their own craft and would be unable to exactly know how many parts they will use to begin with. This feature, like many others, began as a suggestion made by the KSP community, so we want to thank you for sharing your feedback with us, we take it very seriously. :)

As part of our part revamp effort, the art team finished with the new makeover of the Probodobodyne HECS II. The team slightly changed the geometry, updated the textures, added a new shader, and worked on the specular map to give it a realistic metallic look that will interact with light as tin foil would actually do. Check this Gif to better appreciate this light interaction.


Click here to see the high res image 

Another highly requested feature that the team has been working on is the ability to assign Kerbals directly from the VAB/SPH into an EAS-1 External Command Seat. As you know, vessels that were solely controlled by a command seat had to get a pilot by launching a manned command pod, putting the pilot on an EVA, walking him or her out of the launchpad area, and then launching the vessel with the seat, or by adding a crewed, detachable command pod to the vessel, which was too much of a hassle if you ask us. Now, when the vessel is spawned, the Kerbals will appear in the command seat. As you can see, the QA team has been having quite some fun with this feature…


[KSP Vault] 

This week in the KSP Vault, we want to highlight the Resonant Orbit Calculator! This mod, as the name suggests, allows you to calculate the resonant orbit needed to inject payload crafts, like satellites, into equidistant positions of a shared circular orbit, which is especially useful for setting up satellite constellations. Click here to check it out!


Have you ever wondered how difficult the ISS’s crew rotation missions are? This might be the right mission for you to try out then. In this Mission of the Week Space shuttle: ISS crew rotation + CommSat deployment – you will have to launch a space shuttle to an ISS-like space station, perform a crew rotation, fulfill a secondary mission objective and land the shuttle back at the KSC. Get it here


Last but not least, we watched this beautiful short by Dan Rimachi, rightfully named Type 2, which displays a Kerbal type 2 civilization accomplishing an operation to create a wormhole by harnessing Kerbol’s energy.

Have you seen cool KSP-related content that you consider worth highlighting? Share it with us and help us give content creators more exposure. :)

Remember that you can also share and download missions on Curse, KerbalX, the KSP Forum and the KSP Steam Workshop.

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!  

*Information Source:

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Wow, I love the HECS 2 model. That is a great improvement over the old one! 

Assigning victims kerbals directly to the seat is also a very welcome feature that I've been hoping for for a long time. Would it be possible to click the "IVA" view button to get a first-person view from the seat (or when they are walking or parachuting, for that matter)? 

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There was a challenge a while back to replicate the OSIRIS-REx mission a while back by @IonStorm (who happens to work on the project). Lemme see if I can find it!


EDIT: Here it is!


Edited by Dman979
Added old challenge thread.
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1 hour ago, NoMrBond said:

Could we get some more info on the new shader? (options/niche etc?)

I'm assuming it's the one being used to showcase the new look for the HECS-II core

The shader is based on the Bumped Specular shader. This one supports a color map for the specular channel instead of the alpha channel from the diffuse map.

And that's correct, the HECS2 is the first part to make use of that new shader. 


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3 hours ago, SQUAD said:

the ability to assign Kerbals directly from the VAB/SPH into an EAS-1 External Command Seat.

By the Kraken, they actually did it.

2 hours ago, Delay said:

Oh I'd love to have a first person perspective in EVAs!

I'll take one of these as well.

3 hours ago, SQUAD said:

the art team finished with the new makeover of the Probodobodyne HECS II

Something about the gold foil isn't sitting right with me.  Maybe it's the border?  As though it's a decal pasted on a surface.  Also, not feeling the lack of geometry on the end caps.  Is that black dot actually just a black dot?  Otherwise, not horrible.

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5 hours ago, SQUAD said:

As part of our part revamp effort, the art team finished with the new makeover of the Probodobodyne HECS II.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree this week... don't get me wrong creating decent foil is a laudable feat but the rest... lets just say If you are truly committed to revamping and optimising the art you'll send this straight back to the art team and tell them to try again for the following reasons.

5 hours ago, SQUAD said:

The team slightly changed the geometry

First from what I can tell all you did was just bevel the edges and left the rest of the mesh (and the rest of the bad non-pork-standard UV map seen below) largely intact. Because of this I'm going to have to again insist that you show texture sheets to prove you're actually optimizing the art, and not just cutting corners and lying to us about it again.

Additionally along the vein of geometry you should quit it with the attempts at mesh "salvaging" this went terribly the last time you did it (remember the mk1-3 pod? Other than the door positioning the mk1-3 pod has pretty much the same flaws as the mk1-2 pod it replaced because they are essentially the same mesh. For those who have not yet discovered from normal play the top node for both the mk1-2 and mk1-3 are not not true 1.25m which is why the MH conical service bay sits on it with an overhanging lip where it should be flush...), and honestly most parts in kerbal and particularly the parts you seem to want to salvage are simple geometric shapes it's an extremely lazy looking thing to do and its prone to carrying over flaws from the parts you are supposed to be revamping. Seriously just trash every part porkjet didn't make and start fresh you are supposed to be making parts to a common standard after all it's not worth it to try to salvaging handful's of vertices here and there and why the heck would you want to anyway? Its arguably more work to figure out how to salvage geometry this simple than it is to make something equivalent from scratch if you need it...

5 hours ago, SQUAD said:

updated the textures,

Second this is just depressing you call this an "update"?
To put it blunt this isn't kerbal's hand painted style this is RUD'ing middle school photoshop. I can pretty much name what you used too lets see... circle selector, fill tool, some copy/pasted rivets, and some white mouse scribbles... Even if its "just an end cap" this doesn't pass scrutiny not even close. First because its just plane bad and lazy no matter the style you're going for(as expected from a mesh salvaging job), Second because style wise it looks too sterile to fit in regardless of quality, and third because probe cores of all parts are prone to finding themselves with thier end caps exposed because of players "vacuum optimized" cobbled construction so you need to give them more to appreciate than a pitch black void(so no copy/pasting the space plane endcap to get out of this either).

needless to say much that is wrong with this texturing technique is also wrong with the HEC1...

5 hours ago, SQUAD said:

worked on the specular map to give it a realistic metallic look that will interact with light as tin foil would actually do.

Third looks like the specular map (like the diffuse map) is plain and flat and all the detail is in the normal map (you picked a decent normal map but that's all the good that can be said of this part) this is another bad habit you guy's just won't let go of that clashes with pork-alike standards. Spamming the normal map jus isn't a substitute for diffuse and specular details. I was letting it slide with the mk1 pod last week because you did a decent job in other places and it looked like a step in the right direction, but clearly I see now that cutting you slack was a mistake...

Edited by passinglurker
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The HECS II looks better for sure ... but let's get real for a minute ... KSP's stock skybox is almost 6 years old and seriously needs to be updated.  Not only that, but how about some stock clouds?  I do appreciate the part changes to bring them more in-line with other/newer parts, but why not change some larger aspects of the game that have a much higher "visibility" than a single part?

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11 hours ago, StrandedonEarth said:
11 hours ago, shdwlrd said:

The foil on the HECS2 kind of reminds me wrapping paper. I keep expecting to see a seam somewhere. It does look better than the original part. I do like the shine from the foil. I wonder if it is reflective.

Pretty sure it's coloured specular. The main difference between metallic shine and just glossy is that the colour of metal is in the specular not the diffuse. Which matches what they discussed regarding using a colour image instead of just a single value (alpha layer). So not reflective as such but better at simulating metalness. And still pretty light on eating gpu cycles.

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9 hours ago, passinglurker said:

Second this is just depressing you call this an "update"?

Apparently yes.
And I will agree with you; this "update" is disappointing in comparison to the last one.

I know that this contradicts what I said before, but since then I had one entire night to think about it again and realize that it actually doesn't look as good as it seemed to at first.


Edited by Delay
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Seriously, Squad? After that nice serve with the EVA suit last week, I feel this is a let-down again. Why do all these "revamped" parts now feature such low-poly models, combined with flat looking textures?!? I know, my statement mirrors other statements already made above. But that is just what my first impression was, after seeing the screenshots.

All in all, I get the feeling that this revamp may be a standardization of art work (maybe). Apart from that, I do not really see a major improvement. Still does not look like much effort is being put into this, which is a shame.

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Quoting this from the "KSP Weekly: The Solar Visit" thread back on August 10th:


Besides improving the look of these parts, our intention is to standardize the game’s parts in terms of geometry, pixel density (resolution), and resource optimization. Currently the pixel density varies widely from part to part and by standardizing these assets we are not only improving the visuals but also optimizing the game’s performance.

I would also comment that its important to remember to push for a unified aesthetic between parts... something which has been said that SQUAD value highly in the past.


I would argue that the difference in aesthetical styles between the new HECS and the new HECS-II vary quite significantly with the HECS going for a more cell-shaded, cartoony look whereas the HECS-II looks as though it is aiming for a more photo-realistic approach which kind of puts the two styles at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Whichever style you are aiming for, I would say that your Art Director should be curving the parts all towards one end with strong direction otherwise the stock part catalog could run into looking as though it has been populated by a bunch of different mod packs all with different art styles.

Its a shame to be posting on a negative slant after the slew of positive feedback that the Mk1 capsule received recently but I feel its important that this kind of thing gets said for the communities benefit.

EDIT: Please note I am not saying that either look good or bad (I reserve judgement on this to myself in this case), I am just trying to infer that they look very different stylistically. 

Edited by Poodmund
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15 hours ago, SQUAD said:

this update will have something for everyone

How about joystick support on GNU/Linux? How about a game engine that isn't broken in some new and ludicrous way every update?
I'm still waiting for a stable KSP release, without new bugs or regressions in existing functionality. Will 1.5 be the one, after 5 years of development, or are we going to play the same old something-broken-in-every-release game again?

6 months after breaking GNU/Linux input support, apparently the best we get is "We are unable to provide a date as to when that task may be prioritized". Seriously? Fix your mess.
Then, and only then, might I consider buying your DLC or any future products. Then and only then will I consider not raising this very devnote, and not trashtalking your game whenever I get a chance. It's been 5 years, and my patience with the continuous introduction of idiotic bugs is at an end.

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