SQUAD

KSP Weekly: Thrusting into the future

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Welcome to KSP Weekly! If we are ever to further our reach in terms of space exploration, we will need develop new types of propulsion systems. Long range vessels, like the Voyager spacecraft have relied on monopropellant propulsion systems, e.g. hydrazine, but if we want to go deeper into space, we can’t just rely on chemical propulsion systems, we need more fuel-efficient systems.

To tackle this problem, back in 2001, Roger Shawyer proposed radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity thrusters, also known as EmDrive, as a propellant-free propulsion system. Several prototypes of this concept have been constructed and tested, including at the Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory at NASA. Initially, a few tests of prototype drives were reported to produce a small apparent thrust, but repeated tests failed to reliably reproduce these results. Due to the inconsistencies with the laws of physics, including conservation of momentum and conservation of energy, and the absence of reproducible evidence, many theoretical physicists and commentators consider the device impossible.

However, NASA has taken this challenge seriously and started looking into new approaches. One of them, the Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) has recently passed a critical test. AEPS is a next-generation ion-thruster. It creates propulsion by accelerating ionized atoms with an electric field. It creates a modest amount of thrust compared to traditional chemical rockets, but it is capable of doing so for a longer period of time and with a lot less fuel.

The test evaluated the propulsion systems discharge supply unit and power processing unit. The engineering team showed that the AEPS can convert power at a high-efficiency level, producing minimal waste heat. The test was performed in the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio. It is estimated that the AEPS thrusters are going to be over 10 times more powerful than any Hall thruster currently in operation.

These ion thrusters are being designed for a wide variety of missions—from keeping communications satellites in the proper position (station-keeping) to propelling spacecraft throughout our solar system. Ion propulsion is even considered to be mission enabling for some cases where sufficient chemical propellant cannot be carried on the spacecraft to accomplish the desired mission.

The next step will be testing the early systems integration. The team will then move into design finalization, and finally the critical design review. Once it passes that, the final design will move into actual production. The Lunar Gateway, for instance, is expected to make use of the AEPS technology, as well as chemical booster rockets.

It sounds like these engineers are collecting plenty of science points as they make great strides in propulsion technology!

[Development news start here]

Update 1.5 continues to be at the forefront of the agenda. Each passing week, new elements are being added to this upcoming and substantial free addition to KSP. For instance, this week the team worked on fixing a quite annoying aspect of the Camera in the VAB/SPH. Some of you may have noticed that if you removed the root part  after having moved the camera, the camera would not be reinstated into its initial position, which in turn could cause a bit of confusion sometimes, especially if the new root part was out of view. With this fix, the camera will be reset to its original position every time a root part is removed from the editor.   

The part-revamping effort continues. In this release we are focusing on some parts that are used heavily at the start of every career mode, this includes the MK1 pod and the FL-TXXX fuel tanks. This week the art team completed the makeover of the RT-5 “Flea” and RT-10 “Hammer” Solid Fuel Boosters. While working on these parts, we took various real-life references and worked on giving the boosters a panelized texture and new top that brings them closer to their real-life analogues. As you can see below, the belts and other heavy rings were also removed to make the boosters look lighter and more aerodynamic. Additionally, both of these boosters will have a secondary stripe-less texture variant that you’ll be able to choose at will. Click here to see a rotating gif animation of  the new RT-5 “Flea”, and here to see the RT-10 “Hammer”.

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Click here for full res images.

If you have been following along each week, you’ll know that the Making History Expansion will also get a few enhancements with the upcoming update as well. One such enhancement will make our fellow subaquatic Kerbals pretty happy: We are including the ability to place Fly Through Nodes underwater! After all, submarines are “flying” vehicles with negative altitudes, right? So, rejoice Mission Creator, with Update 1.5 you’ll be able to organize the subaquatic race of your dreams!

[KSP Vault]

This week in the KSP Vault…

Munar 1 - A fun and very relatable short film by PuffballsUnited - Who hasn’t been through such hardships, right?

Mission Of The Week: Top Secret Mission to Gilly. Another challenging mission that will have you take Val to Gilly, land, drop your drills, and test a new and top secret ISRU technology on the tiny satellite. What could possibly go wrong? - By  Cpt Kerbalkrunch Get it here.

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Starchaser - A Sci-Fi Kerbal Space Program cinematic set in the future. Nucleartaxi is making this episodic web-series that follow the adventures of members of the Duna Independence Movement. Watch episode episode 1 here! 

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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@SQUAD

Since you haven't mentioned console development since the second patch was released, I can only assume there is none occurring. As much as I like the game, seeing all these improvements for PC and knowing my Xbox will be stuck on v1. 2x forever makes me not want to play anymore.

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Personally, i think repeating the yellow stripe twice on the Hammer is weird. I get it's probably to use as few textures as possible, but can we perhaps see what it looks like with one less stripe, maybe the top one?

 

Maybe we could just make the stripes narrower, and like MOARdV says below, toy with the color. 

Edited by Lupi
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Some feedback on the new SRB styles: I like the shape of the updated model - particularly getting rid of the ridiculous barrel-top rims.  However, the smoother appearance and the prominent yellow stripe makes them look like monopropellant tanks.  I realized that the existing small SRB models have yellow stripes, but (at least to me), the yellow stripe is a marker of "monopropellant tank".  Maybe look at a different color for the stripe to provide that visual differentiator between "monopropellant yellow" and "SRB red" (or whatever color)?

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Ok, the endcap isn't garbage anymore, and your artists are starting to understand how to make nice panel lines - I see the potential. Perhaps in 4-5 parts they'll have it solved and - wait, that's not good, then we'll have about 5 more sub-styles in the game. 

The noise texture is still difference clouds though. You can do better

So like... better? But still not really there yet. Put it next to a plane part and see how it matches

Just please go through and match all the whites

 

Edit: actual critiques

  • White appears to be yet again different from other parts
  • Adding edge darkening without edge highlighting looks weird. 
  • Two segment design for the Hammer is nice, cloning the texture to make two segments is not. 
  • Noise texture is very.. large, in the sense that some areas of the parts are wildly different than the others
  • Parts don't appear to have character anymore? That is the design style of this revamp, but it's sad. 
  • Doesn't appear to be any specular or normal maps based on the ingame spinner. 
Edited by Nertea
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In addition to the above post that highlights the main, obvious areas for general improvement that could be made, these new SRBs do look technically "better" than the old ones although I feel like they lose a bit of visual character in comparison to the current ones. Here are a few areas of feedback that could either be improved or I would like to highlight for comment:

  • The yellow bands feel a little strange without any edge boundaries to them. A small limiter stripe along the edges of the yellow stripes would really set the stripe off visually as it would introduce contrast between the similarly coloured yellow and white areas.
  • The RT-10 looks a little slab sided compared to the current version. The current RT-10 has the thicker belts (which were removed intentionally) but they gave the side of the SRB a nice focal area that broke up the plain shape of the part otherwise. The current revamped model loses this focal point with the belts removed. The remaining belt could be thickened vertically, maybe, to give the part a more visually interesting middle area to the tank. EDIT: Or rather than having two small belts, they could be merged into one thick belt to designate the joining of the two smaller Fleas to make the bigger Hammer.
  • I'm not quite sure what the small, square greebles are on the top of the end cap but the fact that there is some geometrically and textured interest going on up here is a big improvement over the previous parts shown... even if usually the part will have a nose cone on top, thats no reason to shortcut the part. Nice stuff.
  • The engine bell texture has some nice stress texture going on towards the lip of the cone.
  • The recessed, orange-y tank butts are a nice feature. It is a shame (in my opinion) that the Flea lost its toroidal tank on the bottom, as I thought that was a really nice characterizational quirk; however, these tank butts look better than the weirdly shaped recess in the current RT-10 model. I'm not sure how round tank butts on REAL SRBs are... I leave that to your research team.

TL;DR: Technical improvements, loses a little character compared to original.

Supplement Edit: Here are the animations that are linked in the OP but at their native resolution so you don't have to see that hideous artifacting going on in the .webm videos:

EagerPoisedGaur.gif

MelodicGorgeousFalcon.gif

 

Edited by Poodmund
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Just to emphasize what might not be obvious:

44 minutes ago, SQUAD said:
the art team completed the makeover

I think that's not an accident, since last week's preview was phrased the same way. They're not asking for feedback, and what we see is what we will get. (Note that no previously critiqued part has been returned to with revisions; the artists have probably already moved on to the next makeover.)

These images are probably being shared solely in the hopes of building hype. Do with that what you will.

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10 minutes ago, HebaruSan said:

Just to emphasize what might not be obvious:

I think that's not an accident, since last week's preview was phrased the same way. They're not asking for feedback, and what we see is what we will get. (Note that no previously critiqued part has been returned to with revisions; the artists have probably already moved on to the next makeover.)

These images are probably being shared solely in the hopes of building hype. Do with that what you will.

I'm of the mind that nothing's complete until it's shipped, and in kerbal's case, until several hotfixes and updates have fixed the bugs it shipped with. 

Completed in theory, but no plan survives first contact with the objective.

 

Female kerbals were "complete" in 1.0... except for that "funny" ragdoll glitch.

Fairings were "complete" in 1.0 as well, except they just got redone a little in 1.4.

Edited by Lupi
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I hope the SRBs can have skirts...

Also, could we maybe get an upper stage SRM, like a STAR motor, with a higher ISP than the SRBs? Probably not, but it would make the SRMs more well rounded.

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5 minutes ago, HebaruSan said:

Just to emphasize what might not be obvious:

56 minutes ago, SQUAD said:

the art team completed the makeover 

I think that's not an accident, since last week's preview was phrased the same way.

Except that part isn't completed...  Its missing specular and normal mapping. I get what you're saying, that this isn't an opportunity for feedback to the devs. I'm not sure you're right that no revisions have been made to previous parts, didn't the textures get aligned on the MH parts? I do hear what you're saying though.

 

It's just a great shame that clearly unfinished parts are being trotted out as polished.

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As someone who knows nothing about texturing, I think the new part textures look alright. I appreciate SQUAD’s work on bringing the parts up to date.

And for those people who don’t like the monoprop-tank-ness of the retextured SRBs, it was mentioned that texture switching would be available for them. If you don’t like the yellow and white colouring of the default texture, just switch to the plain white one.

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As someone who knows next to nothing about texturing:

Yes, the new models / textures are an improvement over the originals. But what is it with the flat looking textures, looking like the SRB was dipped in bleaching agent????

When compared toomodels by @Nertea

  these look quite bland...

Especially the business end could profit from a bit more love, detail-wise...

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I'm honestly not sure whether to like their new look or not, but I can't put my finger on what's causing me to doubt.

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1 hour ago, Nertea said:

 

The noise texture is still difference clouds though. You can do better

 

Are those parts available somewhere? 

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Well...at least we might get bug fixes in 1.5.  That's something to look forward to.  Maybe.  Hopefully.

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I'm not a texturing artist, but I like the rings in the original Hammer. Yeah, they are unaerodynamic, but they also give the part "character".

And since you guys are into a graphic overhaul, is it possible to do something to the planet surfaces? Right now, most of the planets/moons are a single color over a height map. I wonder if they can have more variety (so for instance you can see how biomes are different, well, biomes, by looking at the texture) and less bland shaders.

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Okay, the texture on its own looks better, but as others have pointed out, it looks too much like monopropellant tanks. And the repeated texture on hammer just doesn't look good, make at least small changes to it. Right now it looks like two fleas stacked on each other, with one nozzle removed.. Give them something unique of their own. 

The end caps look nice, perhaps the nozzles could be detailed a bit too? 

4 hours ago, SQUAD said:

This week the art team completed the makeover

Don't know what to feel about this though.. @SQUAD are you saying in advance that you don't care what the players think about the work done? That nothing is going to change no matter how much the player base hates or likes things? 

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4 hours ago, Lupi said:

Personally, i think repeating the yellow stripe twice on the Hammer is weird. I get it's probably to use as few textures as possible, but can we perhaps see what it looks like with one less stripe, maybe the top one?

 

Maybe we could just make the stripes narrower, and like MOARdV says below, toy with the color. 

There’s a second variant without the yellow lines if you don’t like them. 

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43 minutes ago, nestor said:

There’s a second variant without the yellow lines if you don’t like them. 

That's not a solution to the problem I presented.

I like the yellow line, I just feel that two of them on the RT-10 is a bit ugly!

They're good, but they're too much of a good... and they're monoprop color, which could be confusing to players.

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4 minutes ago, Lupi said:

is a bit ugly!

Sounds like you don’t like it ;)

But open to hear what others think about the possible player confusion. 

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4 minutes ago, nestor said:

But open to hear what others think about the possible player confusion. 

Story time! As I'm sure you would recall waaaaaay back when these parts were made "yellow" was the color the jeb's junkyard manufacturer who made alongside the SRB's and LFO engines the monopropellant tanks with this color scheme. Then much later modders like @hoojiwana's popular RLA or @bac9's B9 aerospace mod started using that yellow color scheme to denote all monopropellant parts to tell them apart from LFO tanks. This in turn influenced @Porkjet's spaceplane plus mod which was made stock. As far as the community is concerned yellow is now shorthand for monoprop so people could find it odd and inconsistent to find other parts sporting the yellow stripes or could grab the wrong one if they aren't paying attention in the editor. As a result of all this its a popular mod solution to paint SRB's with a red stripe instead.

Btw while I have your ear could you answer if this part has an emissive heat animation, and an engine shroud? At the very least these seems like things to show in engine preview's going forward.

19 minutes ago, nestor said:

Sounds like you don’t like it ;)

btw you'll find a lot of people aren't fan's of in your face texture repetition(same problem with button rows of rivets) Since you obviously already have a stripeless version of the SRB segment this can easily be avoided by using both portions of the UV map for the striped variant of hammer so that there is still only one stripe like on the old hammer. Seems reasonable no?

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10 minutes ago, passinglurker said:

btw you'll find a lot of people aren't fan's of in your face texture repetition(same problem with button rows of rivets) Since you obviously already have a stripeless version of the SRB segment this can easily be avoided by using both portions of the UV map for the striped variant of hammer so that there is still only one stripe like on the old hammer. Seems reasonable no?

Well unless it's 2 completely different textures for switching. You know, for waste.

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