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Heat Shields in KSP2


Swift2010
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Hi All,

Has there been any word on how heat shields will work in KSP2?

I found the options fairly limited in KSP1 - i'm hoping there will be some sort of procedural option that would enable 'spacex - starship' style tiles. Or maybe an option to 'paint' heatshielding on specific areas of a craft.

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Should be 2 primary types of heat shield in KSP 2, with the potential for a 3rd that is a hybrid of the first two.

Type 1. KSP 1's Ablative heat shields. They were pretty good for what they were, I never had need to put more than one on a craft, but that might be because I wasn't in the habit of simultaneously going fast thru the atmosphere and being at a low altitude at the same time.
This type of heat shielding is most similar to that used on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsule heat shields, a derivative of which is used on modern capsule-type spacecraft.

Type 2. "reusable" heat shield tiles (aka refractory material heat shield tiles).
All that is needed to create one of these kinds of heat shields is to adjust the part's heat tolerance to be especially high while also preventing heat from transferring to other parts.
Obviously, the IRL type of heat shield that is closest to this is that used on the Buran orbiter of the USSR Space Shuttle orbiter from NASA (actually on both, but the Space Shuttle had more flights). Of course, the only difference is that in KSP 2 this kind of heat shielding wouldn't have the nasty habit of being especially sensitive to damage, or you know plain falling off if the weather is too humid. :D

Type 3. Hybrid approach. These would have two operating modes, and would be slightly more massive than the type 2 tiles, because they're more capable.
Like the refractory tiles, they would have the ability to operate as a refractory tile at low (aka Duna reentry/aerobraking or LKO reentry), but at higher temperatures (such as a direct reentry from the Mun or Minmus or an interplanetary trajectory), they would be able to add in additional performance (aka resist even higher temperatures) from an Ablative operating mode (at least temporarily, until the tile's ablator is depleted).
It is for this reason that I refer to them as "Hybrid" tiles.
IRL the thing that comes closest to this type of heat shielding is the heat shield on the X-37, which is NOT at all the same as the heat shield used on the Space Shuttle.

As for what form factor these heat shields can take, well there's a list.

  • Stand-alone circular heat shields would be available in all 3 types, in many sizes.
  • There would be an inflatable version of type 2 heat shields, available in many sizes (and notably lacking the aerodynamics of a bouncy castle in a strong breeze, I shouldn't have to use one on each end of my vessel in order to make it not flip on reentry, that's not how supersonic or hypersonic or even subsonic aerodynamics work dagnabbit!).
  • But most interestingly, there would be a third form that all three types of heat shielding would be available in, and it's most similar to the idea of "painting" heat shield tiles on to a vessel. The good news is that I think my method can actually be coded into the game without much effort (if not by vanilla KSP 2, then by a mod).

To flesh out that third method of applying heat shields to a vessel, my thinking is that these heat shield tiles would be able to be applied as some sort of procedural part (derived from a flag maybe?) that not only automatically conforms to whatever surface it is applied to (which makes it much less complex to use than the IRL task of laying heat shielding tiles) but also adjusts its own mass depending on how much (as a percentage) of the part actually covers other parts of the craft.
The part that is covered by such tiling would gain an increased heat tolerance (up to the maximum limit of the heat shield tile part being used) based on how much surface area of the part (in a given direction) is covered by tiles (with an info readout showing the per-direction heat tolerance of a part so tiled), in order to allow people to use less tiles on parts or sides of parts that don't need as high of a heat tolerance (such as the top of a Space Shuttle replica).

Obviously these "procedurally painted-on" tile parts would be unable to be the root part of a vessel because of the way it works, but that's not a big problem. In fact, that can be a good thing.
This part doesn't technically need its own drag cube or have independently calculated rigid-body physics, instead it could be directly parented to the part it attaches to (similarly to how many science parts and surface-attach batteries and notably the Puff engine work with respect to physics), which would simplify the physics of the simulation somewhat by reducing the true number of parts that need to have calculations done on them.

Edited by SciMan
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