MKS Guide

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Roverdude's Modular Kolonization Systems (MKS) suite of mods ( ) allow colonisation of other planets and moons.  They can be supplemented with Planetary Base Systems ( ) and Extra Planetary Launchpads (EPL) ( ) which I assume you have installed for the purposes of this tutorial (or at the least the purposes of screenshots here).  MKS means that you're no longer just doing exploration missions - you're going to stay at least for a while, and you have to worry about life support.  If you then make the mission larger, you can start building a self-sufficient colony that can produce its own rockets.  Other mods that can be of significant help whilst playing with MKS are Kerbal Inventory System, Kerbal Attachment System, MechJeb and Kerbal Alarm Clock (some of the Near-Future stuff can also help, mainly providing variety in terms of engines and suchlike).
MKS adds a significant level of challenge and complexity to KSP, and isn't recommended for the starting player - if you're comfortable being able to send 40 ton payloads to other planets though, this may be ideal for you, as this opens up a whole new game.  In this tutorial I will not cover which precise parts to use - just the general different part types and strategies that you might need, and some sample craft and screenshots.  If you need precise details on efficiency you can always use the wiki here -
I'm using screenshots from my own saves here - but would love to get some other screenshots (or craft files) of your bases to include in the guide - because of my particular play style I'm particularly lacking in level 1 landed bases (just agroponics), level 3 landed bases (up to material kits but no further), bases permanently connected with flexotubes, and disconnected bases with lots and lots of different landed pieces (I tend to max out at 4).  I'm also missing screenshots for particularly challenging destinations for bases such as Eve or Tylo.

Life Support

MKS life support adds two things you need to worry about:

  • Crews need plenty of room.  This means additional crew cabins and special habitat modules to stop your Kerbals going stir-crazy.  Essentially, if you give your kerbals too little room to move around in and no creature comforts, they will go on strike after a period of time and refuse to work (become Tourists).
  • Crews need supplies to keep them alive.  Again, by default, they will convert into Tourists when they run out of supplies.

If a crew member becomes a Tourist due to lack of supplies or being stir-crazy, returning them to Kerbin, or placing them in a medical bay with some colony supplies on board will make them revert to their actual profession.  It is possible to change the default behaviour of what happens when they run out of supplies/habitation, but I would advise against it because of the potential for bugs that might just kill them.

At any point whilst in flight you can see the state of all vessels by clicking on the green life support button.  The numbers it gives are from when the craft was last visited - just because it is showing that electricity has run out, that doesn't necessarily mean that it has - if you have solar panels / reactors / etc on those vessels then they are almost certainly fine - similarly with fertiliser / agroponics setup, the supplies remaining is not necessarily accurate.




MKS is designed so that you can do almost everything Mun-related without having to worry about the above - crews can starve for a week, and cope with cramped conditions for a week.  This also applies to transferring of crews - so if a Kerbal has spent the journey in a nice roomy spacecraft, they can climb into a cramped capsule for a week or so before going on strike.

Improving the length of time that a Kerbal can spend in a craft is relatively straightforward.

  • Increase the number of crew cabins
  • Add special habitat parts - of the standard parts, the Hitch-hiker pod and the Cupola both provide habitat bonuses.  Each habitat module requires you to "Start Habitat" on those parts to give the benefit, and this uses a small amount of electricity.  There are also numerous special habitat parts supplied with the mod, and if you need more Planetary Base Systems has more options.  In addition, there are also "inflatable" parts, which also have the same effect - but these can be transported uninflated (i.e. not heavy) and inflated using Material Kits when they reach their destination (when they become significantly heavier).  Some of the habitat parts add additional days to the habitability of the craft, others add a multiplier, so a combination of these two is best.
  • Within the VAB (or SPH), clicking on the green toolbar icon will tell you how long the crew can survive in a particular vessel based on the parts that you've added and the crew that you've assigned.  Be slightly cautious of the numbers it gives you if you are planning on having different numbers of crew aboard - if you have recycling capabilities and calculations based on four crew members, and then add a fifth one for some reason, the habitation ratings can take a nosedive.




Supplies can be added in the VAB or SPH - the containers in the Life Support tab contain plenty of parts that allow you to add supplies to your vessel.
Improving the length of time your supplies last is more complex than habitation.

  • Within the VAB (or SPH), clicking on the green toolbar icon will tell you how long the crew can survive in a particular vessel based on the parts that you've added and the crew that you've assigned.  Be slightly cautious of the numbers it gives you if you are planning on having different numbers of crew aboard - if you have recycling capabilities and calculations based on four crew members, and then add a fifth one for some reason, the reality may be markedly different.
  • The easiest way to extend the duration of your supplies is to add Life Support systems.  These either come as parts themselves, or are built into the crewed parts (e.g. Science Lab, Salamander Pod).  These recycle a percentage of your used supplies, meaning that supplies last longer.  All life support parts can support only a limited number of crew - adding a life support system for a single Kerbal, and then cramming a crew of seven in is going to mean your life support will basically be redundant.  Water purification also counts as life support.  All life support uses electricity.
  • The next way to extend the duration of your supplies is to use Agroponics (farming).  This means taking Mulch and Fertiliser to create more supplies.  Mulch is produced by your Kerbals when they consume supplies in a 1:1 ratio, and Agroponics will take Mulch and Fertiliser in a 10:1 ratio and convert it back into Supplies.  This chain can use a small amount of machinery depending on the parts used - more on machinery later.   If you're sending crew to another planet, it's very worthwhile to use the Agroponics route for both the transit vessel and the final base, as the weight of fertiliser that you take is equivalent to 10 times the amount of supplies.  For multi-year long trips, add an empty mulch container and pack some spare machinery if using a greenhouse that requires it.
  • The final way is to generate supplies directly, normally in combination with the methods above, as raw supplies generation is very slow.  Essentially, Substrate or Dirt, plus Water will give you supplies, when using an Agriculture module and the Cultivate method on it.  This chain also involves using a small amount of machinery.
  • It is possible to produce more fertiliser - this normally takes place when landed using an Agricultural Support Module or material processing unit, converting either Gypsum or Minerals into Fertiliser.  Again, this requires a small amount of machinery.


First steps with MKS

Initially, play the early game as you would normally, except that trips to Minmus will need more crew cabins and a small amount of supplies - around 200 supplies per Kerbal to leave a good margin for errors.
Beyond this, the first major goal should be to establish a colony on either the Mun or Minmus and play with the setup there.  If you're playing in Career mode, I would recommended that you set rewards from contracts to be higher than normal - as testing and establishing colonies is generally expensive.

Take plenty of supplies (2000+) for your first colony.  You need to learn the following:

  • Base building.  
  1.  Often this is being able to land vessels on wheels next to each other, and then move them together on the surface (items from the Konstruction tab can be useful, particularly the weldable docking ports).  Accurate landings are essential - MechJeb recommended.
  2.  Also practice using KIS/KAS to move parts around.  An engineer can use a screwdriver to detach and potentially pick up a part that weighs up to 1 ton.  However, having multiple kerbals around allows team lifts to take place.  Having a rover around that you can attach parts to is helpful at this point because you can engage in a team lift to attach the part to the rover, drive the rover to where it needs to be, and then engage in another team lift to attach the part to the base.  Inflatables are easier to move around generally, they can be carried on the back of a kerbal allowing for relocation where necessary.
  •  Practice disassembling parts into Material Kits so that inflatables can be inflated.
  • Logistics.  Often the best solution is to not dock vessels together on the surface, instead having several separate ones.  You will need a pioneer or logistics module in a disconnected base, and plenty of storage containers.  One additional advantage in having separate vessels is that the way that KSP is coded means that each vessel gets simulated on a CPU core - so if you have four cores in your CPU, and four landed vessels, your computer will be far less stressed than if you joined them all together into a single craft where it would run on a single core.
  • Agroponics - using a Scientist to convert Mulch + Fertiliser into supplies, using any of the agroponics modules.
  • Supplies generation - using a scientist to convert Substrate + Water into supplies.
  • Machinery - most refinement processes use machinery at a very slow rate - and some is essential in order for those parts to function at all.

Once you are comfortable building bases on the Mun and Minmus, and not have anyone starve or go stir-crazy, it's then time to look further afield - either expanding your Mun/Minmus bases to be able to produce Machinery (see below), or go to Duna or other planets.

Part Types

Kontainers - allows storage of various resources, and can be configured by a Kerbal on EVA to change what resource it holds.  There are 3 base types - Solid, Liquid, and Nuclear Fuels.  Careful if changing your supplies or fertiliser kontainers as you can quite easily destroy your food supply by mistake.
Kerbitat - increases habitation duration, or adds life support / recycling capabilities to make your supplies last longer.
Agroponics - Either turns Mulch into Supplies using Fertiliser, or converts Water and either Substrate or Dirt directly into Supplies.  Speed is improved with a scientist on board (not necessarily on that particular part, just in the vessel somewhere).
Pioneer - Has good habitation ratings and is generally a good starting part for a base as it extends local logistics out to 2km rather than 150 metres.
Logistics - allows interaction with planetary resources - to push resources it does not need to be manned, but to pull resources out it requires a Pilot.
Refinery - converts a resource into another resource (e.g. Metallic Ore -> Metals) - typically either a 'Material Processing Unit' or a 'Tundra Refinery', though others fall into this category (Sifter, Tundra Nuclear Plant, etc.).  Speed is improved with an engineer on board.
Workshop - converts refined resources into another resource (e.g. Metals, Polymers and Chemicals -> Material Kits) - either the 'Inflatable Workshop' or the 'Tundra Assembly Plant'  Speed is improved with an engineer on board.
Drill - specialised drill to get raw resources.  The medium ones can drill for 3 different resources at once.  Don't forget to cool them.
Reactor - Nuclear reactors are usually the best option to power bases, as they are potentially very power hungry.  In addition to the reactors found in the electricity tab, there are a few crewed reactor parts.  Don't forget to cool them or they will overheat and melt-down.
Medical Bay - given Colony Supplies, lets you to revive kerbals that have become tourists due to lack of habitation / supplies.

Don't forget

Given the complexity of the mod, with all of the resources, the refinement processes and the difficulty of getting large payloads to other moons and planets, you are almost guaranteed to forget things - this is natural, and why you should practice with the Mun and Minmus where problems can be corrected within a week.

In addition to all of the standard stuff you need for every spacecraft - aerials, batteries, electricity generation, etc. Planning a big base you should always include on one or more vessels:

  • Supplies.  Because they'll starve without these.
  • Storage.  There's no point in having a Substrate drill if you have nowhere to store the Substrate.
  • Machinery.  Most refinement processes use machinery at a very low rate and will not function without some.  There's no point in having a Tundra Assembly Plant there if there's no machinery in it, as it won't be able to produce anything.  And yes, machinery is really heavy.
  • KIS/KAS tools.  Screwdrivers or wrenches in particular (and mallets and stakes if you're using EPL).  Bring loads, they're easy to lose when transferring crew around a vessel or when Kerbals shuttle in and out.
  • Specialised parts.  You won't need to bring a lot - perhaps 100 units or so, but often when upgrading MKS your Tundra modules and drills get reconfigured, meaning you'll need some specialised parts to set them correctly again.  And it's also very easy to forget to set the tundra modules and drills correctly in the VAB, meaning that you'll need to do it when you get there.  Having some specialised parts around will mean that this problem is easily solvable.  Not having this small amount of parts means waiting for the next transfer window.
  • Enough power.  MKS parts - particularly drills, refineries and other Tundra processing plants are very power hungry.  For surface bases, this almost always means taking nuclear reactors.  For a fully functioning surface base able to produce everything, you'll need at least one of the 5 ton reactors.  For a transit vessel that is just doing agroponics and life support, the smallest reactor should be sufficient, or some large solar panels plus a big battery to cope with planetary occlusion.  All nuclear reactors and drills require cooling, so strap some radiators on or near them to counteract this.
  • Plenty of space for material kits after initially landing your base.  You will hopefully be disassembling engines and suchlike on landing, and you'll need a place to store the resulting material kits.

Choosing a base site and exploration rovers

Carefully choosing your base location is extremely important, especially if you want the base to be full featured at some point.  It can be very helpful to land an exploration rover in advance and carefully choose your base site before landing the main base.  Here are some general requirements, in rough order of importance.

  • Flattish terrain.  All bases will move a little tiny bit every second that you're out of time-warp - a very slow slide down the hill.  The flatter the terrain, the better.  Also to be noted is trying to park it on a slope that is even.  That is, don't park it across a bit of slope that's at 5 degrees and another bit that's at 8 degrees - this is an invitation for the Kraken to attack because certain bits of the ship may load below ground.
  • All resources.  Whilst it's unusual to find a biome that has everything that you need, it's often possible to find two areas (e.g. Highlands and Midlands) that are next to each other and between them have all the required resources.  An initial exploratory rover to pinpoint a landing site here is almost required, and it helps hugely if base vehicles are on wheels for fine tuning.  A "remote miner" is extremely helpful in this instance as well - which features kontainers, a drill, electricity generation and not much else to sit in that foreign biome less than 150 metres away whilst the main base pulls resources to itself.  Very generally, the most important resources are Substrate, Minerals, MetallicOre and Water.  If your base is advanced enough to have machinery generation, then you'll effectively want all raw materials available.  If you have a vessel that can mine remotely and then fly back - that's fine, but these should be for the less common or less used resources (exotic minerals, rare metals, uraninite).  If you do not have all resources anywhere, in a pinch you can mine dirt and use a sifter to produce all other materials, though the output is very slow.
  • Equatorial.  Assuming that you have return ships waiting in orbit to be refuelled or simply to be rendezvoused with, having your base near the equator can simplify this hugely as take offs can be done at any time.
  • A nice view.  As examples -- my Ike base is at the south pole with Duna on the horizon ; My Vall base is equatorial with Jool on the horizon ; My Dres base is right by the big canyon;

The first step in finding a base site is to perform an orbital survey using the M700 scanner.  This allows you to find likely landing spots for your exploration rovers and show where resources might be found.  The most important resources are substrate, minerals, metallic ore and water, with water being the rarest (and hydrates will substitute for water if you can refine hydrates to water).



The next step is to use an exploration rover to choose a base site using the criteria above - use the surface scanning science experiment to discover the composition of the surface to get precise amounts of each type of resource at that location.  There are of course many designs for exploration rovers, and I include three types of various sizes here as examples - and as it's a very light experiment, you can use these rovers for other purposes as well such as science gathering.  Landing a rover near the boundary between two or even three biomes allows you to collect data for those biomes with a single rover.





So what parts do I need for a base?

It depends on how long you want to stay and how self-sufficient you want the base to be.  Note that it is perfectly possible to have separate parts as separate vessels landed within 150 metres of each other - so you could have habitation as one vessel, refining as a second one, and rocket production as a third for example.

Level 1:  Able to sustain Kerbals for many months or years but long-term requires outside input of fertiliser, nuclear fuel and possibly machinery.  You will need --

  •     Habitation modules - the hitch-hiker, the cupola, inflatables, Kerbitat, special habitat modules - any part that has a 'start habitat' on it, essentially.
  •     Agroponics - any of: non-o-matic (it's not great but will do in a pinch), Duna agriculture module, Inflatable greenhouse, Tundra agriculture module.
  •     Supplies, Fertiliser.
  •     Storage Kontainers - for mulch, and material kits if you are using the inflatables, and some additional machinery storage can be helpful if using the inflatables.
  •     Electricity generation using nuclear reactors

    The inflatables are excellent and come highly recommended.


Note that in all of these base examples the landing engines have been disassembled, converted to material kits and used to inflate the habitation and greenhouse modules.  Sometimes I use the liquid storage Kontainers to initially contain fuel for landing, and later convert these to storing other liquids, such as water or chemicals, and sometimes they are just standard fuel tanks that get disassembled upon landing.

Level 2: As level 1, but the base can produce its own fertiliser.  The base now requires outside inputs of machinery and nuclear fuels.

  •     Add a drill for either minerals or gypsum (or both).
  •     Add storage for minerals or gypsum (or both), and some additional storage space for fertiliser.
  •     Add a way to process minerals/gypsum into fertiliser - there are smallish processors that can be added that do this conversion, or the large Tundra Agricultural Support module that will do this job more efficiently.

 A couple of examples here, both of which use planetary base systems parts as well - these largely replicate the functionality of RoverDude's parts, but come in a different form-factor.



Level 2b: As level 1 or 2 but can also create supplies from raw materials

  •     Add or configure a drill for either dirt or substrate, and a drill for water
  •     Add storage kontainers for dirt or substrate, and storage for water
  •     Add a Duna or Tundra agricultural support module and tweak it to produce supplies.

    Water is generally fairly uncommon - so an alternative is to mine hydrates (drill+storage) and convert using either a processor or an Agricultural Support Module into water.

Level 3: The same as either level 1 or 2, but can produce its own material kits for inflation of inflatables, and with a view to expanding this later.

  •     Add drills for Substrate, Minerals and MetallicOre
  •     Add storage Kontainers for Substrate, Minerals, MetallicOre, Polymers, Chemicals, Metals and MaterialKits
  •     Add 3 processors to convert the Substrate/Minerals/MetallicOre into Polymers,Chemicals and Metals respectively.  Alternatively, this can be done using a Tundra Refinery more efficiently instead, though the payload will be significantly greater when including all the required machinery.
  •     Add either an inflatable workshop, or a Tundra Assembly Plant to convert Polymers, Chemicals and Metals into MaterialKits.
  •     As all of the above is likely to be power hungry, adding further electricity generation in the form of nuclear reactors is likely required.

    It's also now very dependent on your landing spot so choosing wisely early on is a good idea - ensuring you have access to Substrate, Minerals and MetallicOre at your base site will mean that it can get to this level at some point.


Level 4: As level 3, but can produce specialised parts and machinery.  Requires outside input of nuclear fuels.

  •     Add drills for Silicates, Exotic Minerals, Rare Metals
  •     Add storage Kontainers for Silicates, Exotic Minerals, Rare Metals, Silicon, Refined Exotics, Specialised Parts and Machinery
  •     Add a Tundra Assembly Plant (if you didn't during Level 3) that can produce both machinery and specialised parts

    You are very unlikely to have found all of the required resources in a single biome.  See sections on logistics and choosing a base site.



Level 5: As level 4, but contains additional chains that you might want - if you reach stage 4 the base is pretty much self-sufficient and you should not really need too much more - but here's some further options.

  •     ISRU capabilities so fuel can be produced locally (particularly helpful in tandem with rocket building facilities).
  •     Uraninite Drill / Uraninite Storage / Nuclear fuel storage / Tundra Nuclear Plant -- allows production of nuclear fuels.
  •     Rocket building facilities - if you have Extra Planetary Launchpads installed, you can use this to create rockets off world from material kits and specialised parts.  An EL-survey station, Launchpad or Runway are needed, along with an inflatable workshop and usually hammer and stakes.  Naturally, this can be very helpful so that you can build additional base parts without requiring them to be shipped out from Kerbin.
  •     Organics / Agricultural Support (similar to 2b but without needing extra drills and requiring a 'seed stock' of initial organics)
  •     Organics Storage / Tundra Assembly Plant / Colony Supplies
  •     Training Academy
  •     Colonization Module (allows new Kerbals to be born in-situ in theory but don't think this works just yet).
  •     Medical Bay (lets you to revive Kerbals using Colony Supplies that got converted into Tourists because you ran out of supplies / habitation)



Note:  Full featured bases can often are fairly ugly - basically being large refinery and drilling operations.


Surface Base Types and Construction Techniques

Big bases, docked and welded on the ground can often be very wobbly, or suffer Kraken attacks especially when the drills are running, or later, as the centre of mass shifts and the base becomes heavier.  Whilst there are some things you can do to mitigate this, there's no guarantees that the Kraken won't strike!  Some advice on mitigating it:

  • When you pick a landing spot, make sure it's all the same gradient - gentle slopes are ok, but it must be the same gradient everywhere.  The Kraken will attack you if your base is not on level ground.  Dock as gently as you possibly can.  Docking at a slight angle can cause some parts to stick into the surface, meaning that when focusing on the vessel, some parts will be below the surface.  This is generally bad news.
  • Don't try and establish your base on a steep slope.  What will happen after a little mining of resources is that the base will be heavier and start to slide.  I had an Ike base once that suffered a catastrophic 2km downhill plunge due to starting on a steep slope.
  • Try to keep the main bits off the ground - wheels, landing legs should rest on the surface, nothing else should.  That way if some of the base does load below the surface when you shift focus to it, hopefully the only things that will blow up are the landing legs and wheels and nothing important.
  • Kontainers can be small - there is no need to store large amounts of any raw material, so have small kontainers rather than large ones so the final weight of the base can be kept down, and reduce the risk of sliding as it gets heavier.

Bases can be put broadly in three types based on how they're constructed and expanded -- Disconnected bases, KIS-constructed bases and docked bases.  
 -- A disconnected base has multiple vessels within 150 metres of each other - so for example, having a habitation section, a mining section and a manufacturing section all as separate components landed near each other.  This setup in theory is kinder to your computer than having a single base because different vessels run in different cpu cores.  In practice, you end up needing extra parts on each vessel to make them work - aerials, batteries, extra storage, etc. so it ends up being just as laggy.  Easy to expand - just land another component within 150 metres.  


 -- A KIS-constructed base is one where you start with a basic base or structure to which other parts can be manually attached by Kerbals using screwdrivers.  This type is relatively easy to expand but base setup generally takes a lot of time and normally requires a flexible construction rover to help.  KIS-construction techniques are often helpful in the other two base types, particularly when you forget something or simply need a minor expansion.




 -- A docked base is one where multiple components are landed and then docked together on the surface typically using the Konstruction docking ports - these have an option to "weld docking ports" when docked, which effectively destroys the docking ports and makes it a single vessel.  In general, quick to set up, but a little hard to expand later if some parts are forgotten, at which point you may have to use KIS construction techniques.  Building your vessels so that the docking ports line up correctly can also be somewhat tricky, particularly if the ground you land on is not a constant slope.  




All three variants are viable strategies and all can generally be expanded in future.

  • You can also try the World Stabiliser mod - which attempts to try and put everything above ground when you load the vessel and not bounce.
  • There is an option in MKS where you can "Toggle ground tether", but unfortunately I've rarely got it to work on any of my larger bases - it's synonymous with 'Make this base and anything parked nearby explode immediately" - which is good for screenshots but not much else.

Transfer Vessels

Because of the added constraints of habitation and supplies, vessels that can transfer Kerbals between planets typically need to be a lot more massive than in stock KSP, both in terms of weight and size.  With trips to Minmus you can get away with adding some supplies and an extra crew-cabin or two and that is probably sufficient.  When transferring to Duna or other planets, a new approach is needed.  That new approach means taking fertiliser and using agroponics to regenerate supplies, rather than taking a huge amount of supplies in the first place.  So for transfer vessels you will need (1) Fertiliser, (2) a place to store Mulch (doesn't need to be large), (3) Supplies (you must take some, that will be turned into Mulch), (4) An agroponics module or Nom-o-matic that can convert mulch into supplies using the fertiliser, (5) Special habitation compartments like the Hitch-hiker, Cupola or inflatables, (6) Possibly some life-support system (a science lab is great, not essential though, it will just make your fertiliser last longer), (7) Alternative electricity generation if going beyond Dres (as agroponics can be relatively power hungry).  It is effectively a 'level 1' base described above, but not landed.  You can of course land it if you want, and then you have a landed base that can then be expanded - just be sure they have a way to get home!





Logistics has changed significantly during the lifetime of MKS and may change again - bear this in mind if trying to play on earlier or later versions.  It's also the thing that I've experienced most bugs with!

When ships are landed within 150 metres of each other, they can exchange resources without having to be connected both automatically and using the local logistics window.  For example, you can have a ship with a Substrate drill and Substrate Kontainer on it, and a second ship with a Refinery to process that Substrate into Polymers (Kontainers for both also needed).  The resources will be pulled automatically from one to the other as they are required.  In this way, you can add to your base by landing another vessel nearby.  In the colonisation tab you can move resources between vessels manually - with the exceptions of machinery and nuclear fuels (see below).  Each Kontainer can be set to be either a local warehouse, a planetary warehouse or simply tied to that vessel alone.  Power can be transferred from one vessel to another automatically by having a microwave transmitter - in this way, you don't necessarily need power generation on all of the landed portions of the base, though you will need some batteries on all of them.



If you want to extend the limit of local logistics up to two kilometres away (for example, if you landed in 'Highlands' but want resources from 'Midlands' a little way away) - either have a pioneer module as part of your main base or having any of RoverDude's rovers in between allows automatic transport of goods between the two (requires a rover cab and for it to be on wheels if it's the rover solution).

[TODO: screenshot of simple transfer rover]

You can also go beyond physics range by using planetary logistics.  If you need, say, Rare Metals and there are none near where your base is, what you can do is create a specialised remote miner that can sit on the other side of the planet.  In order to get this to work you need a logistics centre (Duna Logistics, etc) and a Kontainer that is set as 'planetary resources'.  This remote miner can work unmanned - essentially the rule is that the logistics centre can 'push' resources to planetary resources without being manned, but requires it to be crewed by a pilot to 'pull' resources from planetary resources - thus, in order to make this work you will need a logistics centre part on your main base (or at least the refinery section) and for it to be manned by a pilot in order to pull resources out of planetary resources to be used.



The exceptions - both machinery and nuclear fuels cannot be moved around using local logistics, which is problematic.  To move machinery from a Kontainer into a base part, you will need to use an engineer on EVA to 'perform maintenance' on the relevant base part.  What this will do is to take machinery from a nearby Kontainer within 150 metres and top up the relevant base part.  Having an engineer inside an inflatable workshop will also perform this task automatically after the machinery drops below a certain level.  (I've found this to be buggy, where perform maintenance doesn't appear as an option, so it's good to have an alternative docking method as well).



The alternative to 'perform maintenance' or to transfer nuclear materials is to physically dock a rover to the main base and then transfer machinery that way (advanced tweakables option needs to be on for this).  The rover option also applies to moving nuclear fuels around - there is simply no other way to do this apart from docking two vessels physically together.  Naturally, if you've gone to the trouble of designing a rover that already has Kontainers, it's relatively straightforward to convert this into a remote miner as well.  



Docking vessels on the surface can be tricky, and can invite the Kraken to attack, so before attempting this the recommendation is to quicksave before trying it.  There's several ways to dock the vessels temporarily together - the first, most Kraken-y is to use the Klaw, but there are other better ways using KIS/KAS.  I've found the method least likely to summon the Kraken is to use MKS Kerbitrail Flexotubes.  To use these you need to attach one of each to each vessel using an engineer on EVA to Attach Tube together.  These should then become joined vessels and resources can then be transferred.  The flexotube can also be used to join disconnected bases together as well.



An alternative is to use KAS pipes - to use these, you need to use an engineer on EVA to firstly attach a JS-1 joint socket to one of the vessels.  Then, on the other vessel, attach an RTS-1 Resource Transfer Station.  Then, 'Grab Connector' on the RTS-1, fly over to where the JS-1 joint socket is on the other vessel and 'Attach Connector' to join them together.  Once done, you can then transfer resources between the two - see this video for an active demonstration -





[[ Need section on Orbital T-Credits ]]

[[ Need notes on refuelling reactors ]]

But it's really heavy now

Oh yes.  Once you add habitation, life support, supplies, fertiliser, kontainers, reactors, mining and refining capabilities, it's going to weigh a lot - and that's without even taking into consideration the fuel and engines you'll need to get the payload to its intended destination.  Some suggestions:

  • Split it into several vessels.  You absolutely don't need to have your base as a single vessel - you can quite easily ship out a habitation portion, a drilling portion, and a refinement portion - and not even need to dock them on the ground (see the logistics section above), though you can if that makes it easier for you.  You can also use KIS/KAS to add parts to the base once landed.
  • Move all of the consumables out of the main structure and put them in a separate vessel - so once you've designed your base, you can take out all the supplies, fertiliser, machinery and landing fuel and put what you need in a separate vessel.  Get both into orbit around the intended destination and dock them together before landing.  Alternatively, fly the supplies, the machinery and the fertiliser down to the already landed base to get it prepared that way.
  • Use inflatables instead of standard rigid base habitation parts - these inflatables can be transported out uninflated (i.e. not heavy) and inflated once landed using material kits - the majority of which you can get by ripping off the landing engines, fuel tanks and reaction wheels that were required to get the base to its destination but serve no purpose once the base is landed.
  • It can be helpful to design a standard shunt which has the sole purpose of pushing payload from one planetary orbit to another.  From a transfer window planner, you will be able to figure out how much payload that shunt can then push to its intended destination - which then gives you a weight limit for each craft that you intend to send - if one vessel weighs too much for the transfer, split it into two or more vessels.
  • In general, Kontainers can be small - there is really no need to store any large quantity of either raw or processed materials, with the exceptions being supplies and material kits (and possibly specialised parts if you are using EPL to build rockets).


Resources and their uses

Your main goal in terms of self-sufficiency is to be able to produce Supplies and Machinery.  Almost all chains ultimately lead to these.  There are a total of 27 resources that MKS adds to the game, and a few that you shouldn't have to worry about unless you have the additional relevant mods installed - the resources you don't care about are Alumina, Karbonite, Karborundum, Spodumene, Regolith and Rock.  The wiki has an excellent flowchart on resource conversion here -

[[ Need my own flowchart here - but the wiki one is very good ]]

Storage Kontainers can generally be kept small as you can store excess in planetary storage, though larger kontainers should be used for Supplies and Material Kits (and Specialised Parts if you are using extra-planetary launchpads).
Raw materials can be converted into more advanced materials using a Material Processing Unit or Tundra Refinery (or similar - sifter, agricultural module, etc).  More advanced materials can be converted into finished goods using an inflatable workshop or Tundra Assembly Plant.  All conversions are massively sped up by having an engineer on board for things like Metals or a scientist on board for things like Agroponics/Supplies generation.

Working backwards from top tier consumables, we have:

Machinery: Specialised Parts + Material Kits = Machinery.  Machinery is used for all refinement processes in the base.
Supplies:  Fertiliser + Mulch = Supplies.  Supplies are used to feed your Kerbals and keep them alive.  As they use up the supplies, they produce Mulch in a 1:1 ratio.
       Water + Dirt = Supplies.  (slow)
       Water + Substrate = Supplies.  (slow)
Enriched Uranium: Used to power nuclear reactors.  Requires special kontainers.
Colony Supplies: Material Kits + Specialised Parts + Organics = Colony Supplies.  Used to lengthen or reset the habitation timers of Kerbals.

Specialised Parts:  Refined Exotics + Silicon = Specialised Parts
Material Kits: Metals + Polymers + Chemicals = Material Kits
Fertiliser: from Gypsum or Minerals.
Mulch - Produced by Kerbals living in the base from Supplies.  Fertiliser + Mulch = Supplies.
Organics:  Water + Dirt = Organics.  You must start with some Organics to produce more.
       Water + Substrate = Organics.  You must start with some Organics to produce more.

Metals: from Metallic Ore, converts to Material Kits with Polymers and Chemicals.  
Polymers:  from Substrate, converts to Material Kits with Metals and Chemicals.  
Chemicals: from Minerals, converts to Material Kits with Metals and Polymers.
Refined Exotics:  from Rare Metals, Exotic Minerals and Chemicals.  Used for Specialised Parts production.
Silicon: from silicates, used for production of Specialised Parts.
Recyclables: As machinery is used up, recyclables are produced - these can be converted back into Polymers, Metals and Chemicals.
Depleted Uranium: Spent fuel, can be reprocessed back into Enriched Uranium.  Requires specialised Kontainers.

MetallicOre - converts to Metals.  Along with other resources, converts to Material Kits and Machinery.
Minerals - converts to Chemicals.  Along with other resources, converts to Material Kits, Specialised Parts and Machinery.  Also used to produce fertiliser.
Substrate - converts to Polymers.  Along with other resources, converts to Material Kits and Machinery.  Also used to produce supplies and organics along with water.
Water - converts to Supplies and Organics with dirt or substrate.
Dirt - converts to Supplies and Organics with water.  Can also be sifted to produce all other materials at low rates.
Hydrates - converts to Water (see Water, above).
Gypsum - converts to Fertiliser.
Exotic Minerals - converts to Refined Exotics given other inputs of Chemicals and Rare Metals - which leads to Specalised Parts production.
Rare Metals - converts to Refined Exotics given other inputs of Chemicals and Exotic Minerals - which leads to Specialised Parts production.
Uraninite - converts to Enriched Uranium
Silicates - converts to Silicon - leads to specialised parts production.
Ore - standard resource, you can also use Kontainers to store ore.

[[ Need section here on Resource Lodes, even though they're a bit of a WOMBAT ]]

Material Kits 

Some of the inflatable modules mentioned above are great in that they are light to transport out, but once inflated using Material Kits they provide habitation and other benefits.  There's several ways material kits can be obtained
* Ship some out
* Use a crew member to "Disassemble" parts whilst on EVA - once done, as long as there is a nearby container with sufficient space, the part will be converted into Material Kits.  These Material Kits can then be used to deploy the inflatables.  Most of the time, on landing a base, there's no intention that it will ever lift off again.  In this case, the engines and the fuel tanks can be scrapped (as well as other pieces - useful for flight - reaction wheels and reaction control systems for example), converting them into material kits for use.  This has the added bonus of reducing part count.



* Manufacture some.   The manufacturing process is complex, but is required for machinery generation, colony supplies and if you have Extraplanetary Launchpads installed as well, building rockets locally.  The process requires 3 raw materials mined and processed either by a smelter or a Tundra refinery, preferably with an Engineer on board:

Metallic Ore -> Metals
Substrate    -> Polymers
Minerals     -> Chemicals

Then using an inflatable workshop or Tundra Assembly plant, produce material kits which will take metals, polymers and chemicals and convert them into material kits.

Metals + Polymers + Chemicals -> Material Kits

Specialised Parts

Specialised parts are used for machinery generation, and to reconfigure base parts - for example, converting a drill from drilling substrate to minerals.  If you have Extraplanetary Launchpads installed, you will need specialised parts along with material kits to build rockets.  The process, again, is complex.  You will need to start with four raw materials and convert them using a Tundra refinery:

Minerals -> Chemicals
Rare Metals + Exotic Minerals + Chemicals -> Refined Exotics
Silicates -> Silicon

Then using a Tundra Assembly plant with the finished products:

Refined Exotics + Silicon -> Specialised Parts

Having an engineer on board will speed this process massively.


Finally, we reach machinery generation.  Once your base can generate machinery, you're very nearly self-sufficient - if you powered your base with solar arrays or non-nuclear fuels, then your base will sustain itself forever without outside support.

Machinery can be generated from Specialised Parts and Material Kits, using a Tundra Assembly module or Inflatable workshop.

Material Kits + Specialised Parts -> Machinery

Having an engineer on board around will speed this process massively.

Other chains 

If you power your bases with Nuclear reactors, eventually (and it will likely take years) they will run out of fuel.

Uraninite -> Enriched Uranium  (Tundra Nuclear Processing Plant, Engineer)

When machinery is used up, it generates recyclables.  These can be turned back into Metals, Chemicals and Polymers using a Tundra Recycling Module.

Recyclables -> Metals + Chemicals + Polymers (Tundra Recycling Plant, Engineer)

You can also generate Organics.  These are plants and suchlike rather than just edible Algae.  A small amount of organics is required to start Organics farming, but can be done in either a Duna or Tundra agricultural module, by converting Water, and either Substrate or Dirt.  Generally very slow to produce.

Water plus either Substrate or Dirt -> Organics  (Agricultural Module, Scientist)

Once you have Organics, you can produce Colony Supplies via a Tundra Assembly Plant.  Colony Supplies can be used to revive Kerbals that become Tourists in a Medical Bay.

Organics + Specialised Parts + Material Kits -> Colony Supplies  (Tundra Assembly Plant, Engineer)

KIS, KAS and Konstruction


Using Kerbal Inventory System you can attach parts to another base.  With an engineer, equip either a screwdriver or wrench, and move to the part that you want to move.  Hold down 'g' to grab the part, and you can then click on that part to start moving it.  At this point you can either drag the part to the Kerbal's inventory (if it's small enough), or click to place it on the ground or hold 'h' and click to attach it to another piece less than 3 metres away.
Kerbals are limited to moving one ton at a time, though it is possible to move heavier things by engaging in team lifts.  To do this, move several kerbals (one per ton) near to the object and you can then perform the same action - grabbing the part using 'g', moving it and then pressing 'h' to reattach it elsewhere.





Moving parts around like this is aided by having a rover that you can attach parts to and move them to where they need to be attached on the base.  The Konstruction elements of MKS can help with building construction rovers that can be used to accomplish complex base building tasks.  See the sample Konstruction vehicles on the wiki here - .


When attaching a part you can also use Q/E/W/S/A/D to rotate the part as required before attaching, R to switch the node that is going to attach on to, and B/N to move up and down.  In this way you can place a part with relatively good accuracy, though naturally without the fine controls that you would find in the Vehicle Assembly Building.  Some of the inflatable parts can be carried on the back of a Kerbal making them easy to move without a rover - that said, with a kerbal carrying that much weight it is almost certain that the EVA suit will not be powerful enough to get the Kerbal off the ground in even low gravity environments such as Minmus -- ladders can be particularly helpful in this case for attaching heavier parts up higher.

[[ TODO: screenshot of kerbal carrying an inflatable ]]

Constructing bases like this is very prone to summoning the Kraken so it's important to quicksave before starting to move parts around.  Have all of your Kerbals either on the ground or in crew cabins whilst quicksaving, not standing on base parts as it can cause Kerbals to clip into parts on reloading, with fatal consequences.  When attaching a base part, it should not clip into anything else nearby or again, there will be explosive consequences.

The weldable docking ports mentioned in other sections in this guide can also be extremely helpful in constructing bases without the need for a lot of manual moving of parts by Kerbals.  These docking ports are like the standard docking ports and come in the various sizes - except, once docked, there is an option to 'weld' docking ports on the docked vessel.  What welding does is destroy the docking ports and create a single rigid docked vessel.  In this way, a large base can be constructed by shipping it out in several sections and simply driving the two pieces together on the surface.  It is important to get all the docking ports the same way up - so that there's no rotation on welding, though a Kerbal can use the KIS techniques above to detach and reattach the docking port if this is forgotten in the original design.

[[ TODO: picture of weld-docking ports ]]

Extra planetary launchpads

With Extra planetary launchpads installed, this allows you to create new vessels at your base - thus, if you were to be offered a contract to place a new satellite in orbit of Bop, and you already have a base on Bop, it's a quick job to create that new vessel there and complete the contract in a day, rather than four years that it would typically take to build and transfer it.  Similarly, by having vessel building facilities at your base, you can use this to expand the base itself - so for example, if your base needs a training academy, it's a simple enough process to construct one locally rather than shipping one out.
In order to build any rockets, you will need:
* An EL-Survey station, a launchpad, or a runway.
* A workshop and an engineer to sit in it.
* Normally hammer and stakes so that you can locate the newly built vessel a little way away from your main base and not have it spawn inside your base and cause explosions.  To do this, send a kerbal out on EVA with a hammer and a stake, and put the stake in the ground where you want to build your new vessel.  The stake is consumed during this process, so bring several along with you if you are intending to make multiple vessels.
* Manufacturing capabilities of material kits, specialised parts and fuel, along with relatively large storage kontainers for all of these.

Once the set up is complete (and yes, you will likely need a pretty full featured base to get to this stage), design the new vessel in the VAB and save it.  Then, transfer the engineer into a workshop, and bring up the rocket building interface on the EL-Survey station/Launchpad/Runway.  Choose the stake you hammered into the ground, and the vessel that you want to build.  It will take some time (typically 0.5-3 days).


And thus, you have a brand new vessel that you can use. 

A sample mission to Ike

To clarify some of the above sections, I'm going to show what I planned for a base setup at Ike.  The base can produce machinery but nothing more advanced (no nuclear fuels, colony supplies, etc.) - that can all happen in a later transfer window.  Some screenshots are actually from different missions but the general principle remains the same in terms of the types of vessel I send.

* I need some satellites - these are generally not particularly heavy so I can send multiple ones on the same transfer vessel, and then just split them up when they reach their destination to provide good relay coverage and scanning capabilites across the whole body.  The individual satellites generally have enough fuel to perform a 90 degree inclination change but not much more than that.  This allows me to conduct an orbital survey using the M700 scanner before attempting to land anything to locate good landing spots.


* I need some exploration rovers.  Again, these aren't hugely heavy, so I'm taking three strapped to a transfer vessel.  This allows three potential scouting missions to find good base sites.  They have enough fuel to land pretty much anywhere on Ike, starting from an equatorial orbit.



* I need a transfer vessel.  These will be used for the journey out to Ike and also for the return journey back to Kerbin.



* I need some crew landers - a way to get crew from orbit to the surface and back again, along with a way to refuel some vessels in orbit - landing fuel for the bases, and refuelling a shunt for the return home.  They also have the ability to mine resources remotely and fly back to the main base, or take resources such as fertiliser from the main base up to orbit to resupply the transfer vessel.  These landers are critical to success, so I take two of them in case something bad happens to one of them!  They can also visit Duna and then return to Ike allowing for full exploration of both bodies.  The landers have reasonable life support and habitation, and can support remote trips for a few hundred days before returning to the main base as well.  The heart and soul of the mission.



* I need a base.  After extensive testing on the mun, I'm sending it in two parts - the habitat portion and the manufacturing portion, which allows me to create machinery.  The manufacturing portion is particularly heavy, so it's sent with minimal machinery and no landing fuel - the crew landers will help refuel this for landing.



* I need some larger specialised rovers for remote mining and machinery transfer.  I'm sending these two together without landing fuel as the weight is only around 40 tons with both together.  The crew landers will be responsible for getting these fuelled up for landing.  It should be noted that whilst these are being refuelled, I'm using these vessels to land in lots of different biomes and making notes on where a base might be good to place.



And the final result -



Improvements to guide

[[ Some sections I could probably do with changing the order - base types needs to be nearer base levels ]]
[[ Did not cover the various Kolonist types - IMO better to stick to the standard Pilot/Scientist/Engineer ]]
[[ Resource Lodes, Orbital T-Credits ]]









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TY! This is good stuff. Have you talked to Roverdude about updating the wiki? It desperately needs this kind of content.

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