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Xenon and On


Nate Simpson
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On 5/13/2021 at 2:19 PM, SpaceFace545 said:

It’s mostly just the physics rather than the graphics. KSP is also rather unoptimized. A lot of players just tone down the graphics to compensate.

*200+ part craft intensifies*

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1 hour ago, Beerasaurus said:

The number of tutorials we're going to need to learn how to use all this stuff is staggering.

I think the plan is to make things function similarly. Kind of like how the VAB and the SPH have similar UI and functionality. 

For the colony building, I'm expecting something very similar, but outdoors and probably constrained by available building materials.

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On 6/23/2021 at 11:16 AM, FlywheelsGroove said:

I think the plan is to make things function similarly. Kind of like how the VAB and the SPH have similar UI and functionality. 

It would be incredible bad game design if the UI changed dramatically between the VAB/SPH/Colony Builder/"EVA Kerbal Construction mode"/"Orbital Construction Mode"/whatever-new-build-modes-they have.

It would also make little development sense to design multiple different variants around the idea of "space LEGOs".

While writing this out it would actually make sense to just have 1 "build" editor for all of these situations, except for the "EVA Kerbal Construction Mode", which is more of a gameplay mechanic than a full building editor. 

 

Does that mean I can finally build a giant battlecruiser using colony parts without needing 1k+ parts? :O

 

 

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27 minutes ago, MKI said:

Does that mean I can finally build a giant battlecruiser using colony parts without needing 1k+ parts? :O

Yes you can, but you won't be using colony parts. Intercept already has confirmed that there will be parts larger than 5m. If you ever used FFT, Coyote, Near Future suite, or DSEV. That is closer to the middle of the size range that Intercept is alluding to. Remember "sky scraper sized ships" is a quote from Nate himself. 

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4 hours ago, shdwlrd said:

Yes you can, but you won't be using colony parts. Intercept already has confirmed that there will be parts larger than 5m. If you ever used FFT, Coyote, Near Future suite, or DSEV. That is closer to the middle of the size range that Intercept is alluding to. Remember "sky scraper sized ships" is a quote from Nate himself. 

Bortherkind will be possible. 

Spoiler

BROTHER KIND
A brother of our kind. An upcoming KSP2 movie coming in 2023.

 

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On 10/16/2020 at 8:06 AM, Mikenike said:

The Kerbal that is second on the left in the first pic is a robot. He has a red pupil. @The Doodling Astronaut, what can we make out of this discovery?? Yes, @Nate Simpson, I can hardly explain how excited I will be to be able to preorder KSP2. One serious question though, will you have a beta branch for the console version.

Also, the left eye of each Kerbal is tilted up slightly.

This is not a red pupil. This seems to be the reflection of a point of light on the helmet's glass. Every helmet in this picture have a red spot on the glass.

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On 10/16/2020 at 4:23 PM, Master39 said:

huge xenon engines not being a thing

KSP2 will have acceleration in time warp. With it, you don't need huge xenon engines: the "huge cruiser, one piddly xenon engine" design becomes entirely viable.

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2 hours ago, ave369 said:

KSP2 will have acceleration in time warp. With it, you don't need huge xenon engines: the "huge cruiser, one piddly xenon engine" design becomes entirely viable.

We'ce known that since the first week, I was merely talking about having to balance waste heat and electricity production onboard being a main design constraint of interplanetary ships, as the Devs discussed during an interview.

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On 9/8/2021 at 7:23 AM, ave369 said:

KSP2 will have acceleration in time warp. With it, you don't need huge xenon engines: the "huge cruiser, one piddly xenon engine" design becomes entirely viable.

A generation ship designed to go from Earth to Mars. True innovation. 

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17 minutes ago, MechBFP said:

A generation ship designed to go from Earth to Mars. True innovation. 

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Quote

I guess I should explain how Mars missions work, for any layman who may be reading this. We got to Earth orbit the normal way, through an ordinary ship to Hermes. All the Ares missions use Hermes to get to and from Mars. It's really big and cost a lot so NASA built only one.

Once we got to Hermes, four additional unmanned missions brought us fuel and supplies while we prepared for our trip. Once everything was a go, we set out for Mars. But not very fast. Gone are the days of heavy chemical fuel burns and trans-Mars injection orbits.

Hermes is powered by ion engines. They throw argon out the back of the ship really fast to get a tiny amount of acceleration. The thing is, it doesn't take much reactant mass, so a little argon (and a nuclear reactor to power things) let us accelerate constantly the whole way there. You'd be amazed at how fast you can get going with a tiny acceleration over a long time.

I could regale you with tales of how we had great fun on the trip, but I won't. I don't feel like reliving it right now. Suffice it to say we got to Mars 124 days later without strangling each other.

 

Not exactly a generation ship.

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Maintaining 1g for a year gets you to a significant fraction of the speed of light, so if the higher tier engines have the thrust to allow for that, that's the interstellar travel solved.

I'd rather not have to have a mission take 10 years to get to where it's going, even if that destination is around another star.

Additionally, since it's probably going to be the first taste of the advanced engines we get, the LV-N Nerv is gonna need a significant rebalance if it's going to be useful. Less weight, more thrust, and please for the love of god make it so we don't have issues if we decide to cluster them (right now if you put 7 of them on a 3.75m engine plate, you run into overheating problems that you need to add radiators to prevent, problem with that is you need so many radiators to keep the engines cool that the dry mass creeps up to the point that if you re-do the calculations with a Poodle or Rhino engine, you end up with a thing that weighs less for the same delta-V if you specify a minimum TWR of .25 (which is the minimum I'll tolerate in KSP 1 because I don't have all day to sit around waiting for a burn to complete, and even x4 physical time warp doesn't actually speed up the game by 4 times when your ship has so many parts that it's already bumping up against the max physics time step setting).

EDIT: The issue in KSP 1 is that the LV-N is just not worth it because of mechanics of the game engine itself, the stats themselves aren't all that bad I guess. But the whole idea that you should need radiators to keep an engine cool (which has large amounts of propellant flowing thru it that could easily be harnessed to provide cooling) doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It seems like something they just forgot about. Additionally, Harvester said that they didn't want the LV-N to "make all the other engines obsolete" but I think they did TOO good of a job ensuring that. Now it's not only "not making the other engines obsolete", the other engines make IT obsolete, which is exactly contrary to what you would expect from something that is harnessing the power of the atom. And before you say it, Kerbals aren't so stupid that they'd intentionally or unintentionally overlook such a critical design element of an engine.

Edited by SciMan
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On 10/22/2021 at 5:06 PM, SciMan said:

Less weight, more thrust

LV-N is supposed to be 60s tech. What you're describing would make them overpowered for where they're supposed to be on the tech tree. If you can't get it to work in KSP 1 then it's your own problem you can't get your rockets to work with them - don't design a tiny lander around a heavy engine, these things are built for larger vessels.

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Everyone always pulls out the "60s tech" excuse. That's no excuse!

The NERVA rocket engine that was being worked on in the 60s, now where do you think it was intended to be used? That's right, the third stage of the Saturn V rocket (the stage would have been designated S-N).

Go ahead and try to make a Saturn-V replica with a nuclear third stage, while only using ONE LV-N. You'll need a lot of fuel, maybe 50 tons worth. It's not workable, because the TWR is too low.
IRL, the design was workable enough that they were ONE STEP AWAY FROM FLIGHT-READY HARDWARE, and then a few treaties happened and the Apollo program was canceled and we dropped the idea entirely.
Like the SLS core stage, the Saturn V's 2nd stage (the S-II) was intended to bring the third stage and the payload into "almost an orbit" which allowed the safe disposal of the large S-II stage via destructive atmospheric reentry, which meant that there was still a need for a small burn from the S-IVB to circularize into an extremely low orbit of IIRC around 120km altitude (that's it! Yes, that low!), which is low enough that if the S-IVB stage didn't quickly (within a few orbits) fire up again to put the Apollo CSM and LEM on a trans-lunar trajectory, it would have encountered so much atmospheric drag at that low orbital altitude that everything that that Saturn-V rocket had launched would reenter within a matter of single-digit days.

Put that in KSP terms, the first 2 stages of the Saturn-V weren't even capable of launching the S-IVB, CSM, and LEM into an orbit that's above the atmosphere. That's a LOT of mass to put into orbit.

The S-N stage was designed to allow the use of what's essentially the Apollo CSM (with a smaller service module to save mass), along with a new lander and orbital habitat, to explore Mars.

Three fully fueled S-N stages would be used to launch a Mars landing mission, with two mounted to the side of the center one. The side ones would be depleted first, to put the craft on a highly eccentric orbit. Then, the center one would fire for a little while, using a fraction of its fuel, which would put the craft fully on the Trans-Martian Hohman transfer orbit.
At Mars, they would have used another (larger) fraction of the fuel in the center S-N stage to put the craft into orbit of Mars. From there, the lander would be used to land on and live on Mars for roughly 200ish days, at which point they would use the lander's Ascent Vehicle (which was usually 2 stages of hypergolics, or it used one stage of hypergolics with drop tanks) to return to the orbiting habitat, CSM, and S-N stage.
Once docked, they would have transferred over to the main vessel again, discarded the remaining stage of the Ascent Vehicle to reduce mass (after transferring over any remaining consumables), and fired up the S-N stage again, using all the remaining fuel to put the craft on a Trans-Earth Hohman transfer orbit from Mars.
When nearing Earth, the crew would transfer over to the CSM, and use the SM's engine to put them on a trajectory that intersects the Earth's atmosphere (the crew habitat and the S-N stage would be left to escape into a heliocentric orbit, which is how they expected to dispose of the S-N stage's Nerva engine with its now highly radioactive reactor core). Once nearing the Earth's atmosphere, they would burn the remainder of the SM engine's fuel to slow down the capsule to a velocity that the heat-shield would be able to tolerate, and then jettison the SM. After that, Earth EDL in the CM proceeds as it does for any Apollo CM landing on Earth.

I'm trying to replicate that, but it's impossible with the pitiful thrust and overheating tendancies of the LV-N. The only thing that's right about the LV-N is its specific impulse (well, the NERVA was actually rated for a specific impulse of 900 seconds, not 800, but I suppose it's close enough).

Now, before you say it, just because it's "60's tech" doesn't mean it should have ANY tendency WHATSOEVER to overheat no matter what you do with it. Maybe the V-2 rocket engine wasn't properly cooled. That's not 60's tech tho, that's 40's tech.
The NERVA engine was cooled regeneratively just like most liquid fueled engines are, in fact the NERVA was basically a "nuclear expander cycle" engine, meaning that the regenerative cooling is ESSENTIAL TO THE PROPER FUNCTION OF THE ENGINE IN THE FIRST PLACE! In other words, if it DID overheat, it wouldn't even produce ANY thrust, because there would be no source of hot hydrogen to drive the turbopumps!

Finally, I'm not designing a tiny lander around a massive heavy engine.
What I AM doing, is attempting to make 500+ ton interplanetary motherships that can carry landers to not only land on and return from all 5 moons of Jool, but to visit every single biome on all of those moons while doing it (so those landers are heavier than normal, and I'm also carrying a mining rig to source fuel for those landers).
The issue isn't with TWR while LANDING anything.
The issue is TWR on the dang burn to get on an interplanetary trajectory!
60 kn of thrust and a high mass of the engine means that if you want the burn to take a reasonable amount of time then you need a lot of LV-N engines. That causes lag due to high part count.
And then because you're using all those engines, you run into overheating issues, which can only be solved by MORE parts in the form of radiators (not helpful for anything but keeping the engines cooled to the point of not exploding, and actively harmful in that they make the game lag EVEN MORE!).

Then I go back to the drawing board, because obviously this won't work at all.
When I do the math using a high thrust (and still pretty high mass) KR-2L Rhino engine on a long 5m fuel tank (or even multiple of that), I figure out that I don't need as many parts to do it that way, and the resulting craft has a MASSIVELY better TWR which makes the burns (in orbit, not landing burns!) be both more efficient (thanks to the Oberth effect) and makes your computer not lag as much since you can use bigger parts that have more thrust per part (and per ton).

You see, I'm TRYING to use the LV-N EXACTLY IN ITS NICHE, but it just DOES NOT WORK THERE EITHER (It might if we had infinitely powerful magic computers, but we don't, so here we are).

 

So, instead of arguing for the status quo, I'm arguing that there's an actual problem here.
Go look at the engine selection chart that was made a while back when Making History came out.
Remember when the Wolfhound was far and away the best engine to use in space no matter what the application was?
Guess how they "fixed" that? Nope, they didn't reduce the ISP like they should have (since that's a HYPERGOLIC engine, not a KEROLOX engine, and certainly not a HYDROGEN engine, it should have a rather low specific impulse)
They gave it a WHOLE EXTRA TON of dry mass to "fix" it.
Let me tell you, that sure did fix it. In fact it fixed it so well that I don't ever use the Wolfhound anymore.

Another very similar thing happened with the Aerospike engine. You'd think that an engine that is so far along in the tech tree would be useful for something right? Nope. Poodle wins every time. By the time you're high enough in a spaceplane to need to use the LFO engines, you're high enough in the atmosphere that the whole point of using an aerospike in the first place really doesn't matter all that much. And that's even with the RAPIER's LFO mode having a generally crappy vacuum specific impulse when it should have a pretty good vacuum specific impulse because you know it's supposed to be turned on AT HIGH ALTITUDES.

A quite similar "smash it with a hammer" type of "balancing" happened to the LV-N "Nerv" when it was changed from using "LF and Oxidizer" to just using "LF".
I've played KSP for long enough to have been actively playing when that happened.
Now, don't get me wrong. Switching to using ONLY LF is fine.
What's not fine is that they gave it a LARGE dry mass increase at the same time.
And then as an additional "never use this" flag that is never actually shown to the player, they made the dang thing generate heat (for literally no good reason) when they introduced the heat radiator parts and ISRU gear.

 

Basically, the issue is that SEVERAL engines in this game are not balanced where they SHOULD be, and it seems to be that they always fall on the side of "not powerful enough".

 

Also, don't say something's "going to be overpowered" before you even give it a chance. That's how you get the opposite of "power creep". And since you're unlocking engines by doing things, shouldn't there be SOME "power creep" anyways? Higher tech engines aren't just bigger or smaller you know. They're also BETTER. And the LV-N and Aerospike at least are both at the end of their respective tech trees, meaning that they're supposed to represent the absolute cutting edge of anything that the engineers can come up with.

Which brings me to my question that I've been asking myself all this time.
Why should I bother unlocking these high tech engines when the stats just aren't there to back up the science points I'm putting into them?

Edited by SciMan
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On 11/15/2021 at 11:15 PM, SciMan said:

Everyone always pulls out the "60s tech" excuse. That's no excuse!

The NERVA rocket engine that was being worked on in the 60s, now where do you think it was intended to be used? That's right, the third stage of the Saturn V rocket (the stage would have been designated S-N).

Go ahead and try to make a Saturn-V replica with a nuclear third stage, while only using ONE LV-N. You'll need a lot of fuel, maybe 50 tons worth. It's not workable, because the TWR is too low.
IRL, the design was workable enough that they were ONE STEP AWAY FROM FLIGHT-READY HARDWARE, and then a few treaties happened and the Apollo program was canceled and we dropped the idea entirely.
Like the SLS core stage, the Saturn V's 2nd stage (the S-II) was intended to bring the third stage and the payload into "almost an orbit" which allowed the safe disposal of the large S-II stage via destructive atmospheric reentry, which meant that there was still a need for a small burn from the S-IVB to circularize into an extremely low orbit of IIRC around 120km altitude (that's it! Yes, that low!), which is low enough that if the S-IVB stage didn't quickly (within a few orbits) fire up again to put the Apollo CSM and LEM on a trans-lunar trajectory, it would have encountered so much atmospheric drag at that low orbital altitude that everything that that Saturn-V rocket had launched would reenter within a matter of single-digit days.

Put that in KSP terms, the first 2 stages of the Saturn-V weren't even capable of launching the S-IVB, CSM, and LEM into an orbit that's above the atmosphere. That's a LOT of mass to put into orbit.

The S-N stage was designed to allow the use of what's essentially the Apollo CSM (with a smaller service module to save mass), along with a new lander and orbital habitat, to explore Mars.

Three fully fueled S-N stages would be used to launch a Mars landing mission, with two mounted to the side of the center one. The side ones would be depleted first, to put the craft on a highly eccentric orbit. Then, the center one would fire for a little while, using a fraction of its fuel, which would put the craft fully on the Trans-Martian Hohman transfer orbit.
At Mars, they would have used another (larger) fraction of the fuel in the center S-N stage to put the craft into orbit of Mars. From there, the lander would be used to land on and live on Mars for roughly 200ish days, at which point they would use the lander's Ascent Vehicle (which was usually 2 stages of hypergolics, or it used one stage of hypergolics with drop tanks) to return to the orbiting habitat, CSM, and S-N stage.
Once docked, they would have transferred over to the main vessel again, discarded the remaining stage of the Ascent Vehicle to reduce mass (after transferring over any remaining consumables), and fired up the S-N stage again, using all the remaining fuel to put the craft on a Trans-Earth Hohman transfer orbit from Mars.
When nearing Earth, the crew would transfer over to the CSM, and use the SM's engine to put them on a trajectory that intersects the Earth's atmosphere (the crew habitat and the S-N stage would be left to escape into a heliocentric orbit, which is how they expected to dispose of the S-N stage's Nerva engine with its now highly radioactive reactor core). Once nearing the Earth's atmosphere, they would burn the remainder of the SM engine's fuel to slow down the capsule to a velocity that the heat-shield would be able to tolerate, and then jettison the SM. After that, Earth EDL in the CM proceeds as it does for any Apollo CM landing on Earth.

I'm trying to replicate that, but it's impossible with the pitiful thrust and overheating tendancies of the LV-N. The only thing that's right about the LV-N is its specific impulse (well, the NERVA was actually rated for a specific impulse of 900 seconds, not 800, but I suppose it's close enough).

Now, before you say it, just because it's "60's tech" doesn't mean it should have ANY tendency WHATSOEVER to overheat no matter what you do with it. Maybe the V-2 rocket engine wasn't properly cooled. That's not 60's tech tho, that's 40's tech.
The NERVA engine was cooled regeneratively just like most liquid fueled engines are, in fact the NERVA was basically a "nuclear expander cycle" engine, meaning that the regenerative cooling is ESSENTIAL TO THE PROPER FUNCTION OF THE ENGINE IN THE FIRST PLACE! In other words, if it DID overheat, it wouldn't even produce ANY thrust, because there would be no source of hot hydrogen to drive the turbopumps!

Finally, I'm not designing a tiny lander around a massive heavy engine.
What I AM doing, is attempting to make 500+ ton interplanetary motherships that can carry landers to not only land on and return from all 5 moons of Jool, but to visit every single biome on all of those moons while doing it (so those landers are heavier than normal, and I'm also carrying a mining rig to source fuel for those landers).
The issue isn't with TWR while LANDING anything.
The issue is TWR on the dang burn to get on an interplanetary trajectory!
60 kn of thrust and a high mass of the engine means that if you want the burn to take a reasonable amount of time then you need a lot of LV-N engines. That causes lag due to high part count.
And then because you're using all those engines, you run into overheating issues, which can only be solved by MORE parts in the form of radiators (not helpful for anything but keeping the engines cooled to the point of not exploding, and actively harmful in that they make the game lag EVEN MORE!).

Then I go back to the drawing board, because obviously this won't work at all.
When I do the math using a high thrust (and still pretty high mass) KR-2L Rhino engine on a long 5m fuel tank (or even multiple of that), I figure out that I don't need as many parts to do it that way, and the resulting craft has a MASSIVELY better TWR which makes the burns (in orbit, not landing burns!) be both more efficient (thanks to the Oberth effect) and makes your computer not lag as much since you can use bigger parts that have more thrust per part (and per ton).

You see, I'm TRYING to use the LV-N EXACTLY IN ITS NICHE, but it just DOES NOT WORK THERE EITHER (It might if we had infinitely powerful magic computers, but we don't, so here we are).

 

So, instead of arguing for the status quo, I'm arguing that there's an actual problem here.
Go look at the engine selection chart that was made a while back when Making History came out.
Remember when the Wolfhound was far and away the best engine to use in space no matter what the application was?
Guess how they "fixed" that? Nope, they didn't reduce the ISP like they should have (since that's a HYPERGOLIC engine, not a KEROLOX engine, and certainly not a HYDROGEN engine, it should have a rather low specific impulse)
They gave it a WHOLE EXTRA TON of dry mass to "fix" it.
Let me tell you, that sure did fix it. In fact it fixed it so well that I don't ever use the Wolfhound anymore.

Another very similar thing happened with the Aerospike engine. You'd think that an engine that is so far along in the tech tree would be useful for something right? Nope. Poodle wins every time. By the time you're high enough in a spaceplane to need to use the LFO engines, you're high enough in the atmosphere that the whole point of using an aerospike in the first place really doesn't matter all that much. And that's even with the RAPIER's LFO mode having a generally crappy vacuum specific impulse when it should have a pretty good vacuum specific impulse because you know it's supposed to be turned on AT HIGH ALTITUDES.

A quite similar "smash it with a hammer" type of "balancing" happened to the LV-N "Nerv" when it was changed from using "LF and Oxidizer" to just using "LF".
I've played KSP for long enough to have been actively playing when that happened.
Now, don't get me wrong. Switching to using ONLY LF is fine.
What's not fine is that they gave it a LARGE dry mass increase at the same time.
And then as an additional "never use this" flag that is never actually shown to the player, they made the dang thing generate heat (for literally no good reason) when they introduced the heat radiator parts and ISRU gear.

 

Basically, the issue is that SEVERAL engines in this game are not balanced where they SHOULD be, and it seems to be that they always fall on the side of "not powerful enough".

 

Also, don't say something's "going to be overpowered" before you even give it a chance. That's how you get the opposite of "power creep". And since you're unlocking engines by doing things, shouldn't there be SOME "power creep" anyways? Higher tech engines aren't just bigger or smaller you know. They're also BETTER. And the LV-N and Aerospike at least are both at the end of their respective tech trees, meaning that they're supposed to represent the absolute cutting edge of anything that the engineers can come up with.

Which brings me to my question that I've been asking myself all this time.
Why should I bother unlocking these high tech engines when the stats just aren't there to back up the science points I'm putting into them?

Sure enough we don't need to increase TWR of any engine.

Just like the Dawn the Nerv having a low TWR will work just fine with background and under warp maneuver execution (that they already confirmed 2 years ago) and it will be useful to introduce the player to those concepts in preparation of the interplanetary and interstellar engines having even lower TWRs and weeks or even months long burns.

The same goes for heat management, some of the early game engines needing radiators it's a useful introduction to heat management being one of the main design concerns for "big ships" (as stated during the podcast interview).

 

Yep, KSP1 engine roster is in dire need of a balancing pass, but the LV-N isn't one of the engines that needs fixing and certainly not in the direction you're hoping.

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