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FollowingGhosts

The ethics of Space

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So,

I've had KSP for a few months now, but I've suddenly found myself really hooked on it.

As a bit of a newbie, my craft tend to have a nasty habit of exploding, or ending up without fuel slowly in a wonky orbit around space, with poor Philberry not looking too happy with the whole affair.

I've also killed a few too many Kerbals. One of which I had landed successfully on the Mun, however, I got a bit overexcited when exploring and hit the ground too fast...so another Kerbal passed.

Then of course, there're a multitude of launches that have been less than stellar, however amusing they were to watch.

So, I was wondering, what are people's views on killing the poor little chaps? I'm currently trying to bring Philberry down but it's a slow process waiting for orbit to decay, he enjoyed flopping around on the moon though.

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I'm big on crew safety, every design includes an Abort/Ejection system and untried silliness is tested with probe command first. Anyone who gets stranded gets rescued. No Kerbal left behind!

Of course all these safety systems add weight but that's a price I'm willing to pay.

Not that there haven't been fatalities though, sometimes despite best efforts things go boom. Maybe the ejection was at too low an altitude for the 'chute to help, maybe flight control (i.e. me) did something really dumb (remember an abort stage has to be set up to the button to work). Rovers seem to kill more Kerbals than rockets or planes though so that's something?

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I want to be big on crew safety, but I know fatalities are unavoidable, though the Kerbals seem fine with that notion.

For example, I've just realised, my lander is too heavy for the parachute it has, and I forgot a separator, I think I just end that flight for the sake of Philberry

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For me, it really depends on the context of what I am doing.

When I'm in actual mission mode, I never leave a Kerbal behind. I've even got a rescue satellite in orbit with 4 attached command pods with parachutes just in case somebody gets stranded. If a mission goes wrong and someone winds up stuck on another body with no return transportation, that becomes my priority.

If I'm just playing around the VAB or doing testing, it's a different story. The carnage is unspeakable.

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If I'm just playing around the VAB or doing testing, it's a different story. The carnage is unspeakable.

Same. In mission mode, I'll do everything I can to keep the kerbonauts alive. When testing, there WILL be dozens of failures, many of which will be fatal. KSP is all about explosions, many of which won't be survivable, so you can't get TOO attached to the individuals... except for Jeb.

This is why I make sure Jeb's always on a mission. Back when I was perfecting my first spaceplane, I made sure Jeb was safely up in orbit on my space station. He now spends a lot of time in orbit doing various things, and only coming back to Kerbin to command whatever big mission I'm planning next.

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To me, kerbals are expendable. If they are trapped on another world then they die, simple as that.

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I do my best to keep them safe, but at the end of the day they knew the risks and at least went out doing what they loved to do!

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I try and keep them alive the same way a real space agency would and I do the same with probes pretending there self-aware AI's but are still more expendable than Kerbals.

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Kerbal safety is very high priority for me :) The little guys are just too cute to lose.

I Test each stage of the craft individualy and test the complete vehicle with a probe core. I've also started building abort systems. I've never actually ended up with a kerbal stuck on another body. Its either been success or fatal. :P

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If they're trapped on another world, it's called "exploration!". Drop them somewhere to live & leave them to it.

I'll recover mine if it's fun. I fired the game up a while ago to find one guy in a hugely eccentric Kerbin orbit with the apoapsis somewhere beyond Minmus ( I do like KSP's habit of randomly generating mission objectives ), so I burned all his EVA fuel to lower his orbit and built ( well modified ) a plane with a cable & winch to go fetch him down.

I try not to lose them doing vehicle development, but well... explosions!

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Same goes for me really. I try to keep the kerbals alive, install abort systems when possible, and never send guys off on one way trips.

After I got into the crew manifest mod thingy, I turned on the permadeath as well as starting a sort of crew rotation.

Only problem now is that Jeb and Bill disappeared from the crew lists, and I'm not exactly sure how to be honest.

Got to say I'm really looking forwards to propper career mode, where this kind of strategy might start to pay off.

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I like to use the Orion architecture of a small, very well-tested and safe crew capsule designed to deliver the crew to the mission and provide return capability. I usually try to send up my crazy landers and interplanetary behemoths with a little probe core attached to them so that they can be launched empty. This usually comes in handy, anyway, since it lets me more easily take the whole crew down to the surface without having to leave a sad Mike Collins-Kerman minding the orbital stage while Jeb and crew bomb around on the surface on awesome rovers.

That takes care of most launches, which is where I see probably 90% of my fatalities otherwise. Sometimes I will have to send a vessel up with a crew, like the Eve return lander which was so critically weight-sensitive. Those times I will just do a few tests and call them "simulations" since I don't have access to wind tunnels, CFD software, or accurate FEM analysis for the structural performance. I always fly the final mission "live" though, and if possible I have some abort mechanisms I've developed which have saved a handful of crews from stack collapses and such.

Now the other places where I can lose crew are botched landings/ascents on other bodies and running out of fuel. There really is no perfect abort scenario for these situations. If the landing is going awry, the best thing to do is to just abort to orbit, but if you've lost control that might not be possible. The trick is to use very conservative designs that you are dead certain will be stable, and then be ready to abort the landing when the time comes. Obviously, there is no abort scenario for a failed ascent, so I tend to give my ascent stages a very hefty margin of extra dV to make sure I don't screw up. If I run out of fuel, I will always go get the crew if they have enough living quarters that I deem them capable of surviving the wait. Even this can be very terrifying if the fuel were to run out, say, halfway through a burn from Jool back to Kerbin. How do you do that rendezvous?

So basically there are lots of ways to die in space, but I try to do the best I can.

Now my spaceplane program... that's a whole 'nother story. Oh, the horror!

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Like others, it contextual to me too.

Design and development, I pretend the "Kerbals" aren't there.

Mission, save the kerbals, all of them we can.

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I only send a Kerbal

Edited by dr_jt

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I've recently started showing some significant concern for the little guys, so now I'm making sure that I can get them home and that I kill as few of them as possible.

Example: I was testing my Mun lander using probe cores equal in mass to the actual manned crew pods. When I got it in action on Mun with extra fuel (just in case) I still was low on fuel, so I simulated (a.k.a. quicksaved) multiple launch patterns to get them home. I succeeded, and now they're all happy with their families. :)

I've never been good with spaceplanes (maybe I should get Ferram...) so I get some deaths there, and Jeb is Jeb so I'm a little more reckless with him. Once I took him to Mun solo, and I figured I would have enough dV to get to Minmus as well, so I quicksaved and did it; got him there and home safely, first try. :cool: The publicity guys tried to convince the public that it was the incredible overall effectiveness of the LV-909 on his lander, but everyone knows that it was actually the fact that Jeb is a BA. :cool:

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the obvious answer is to convert any mission where someone is stranded into an "extended stay" mission. drop em a hitchhiker on legs immediately, and then work on the rescue rocket. they will be rescued - but it's usually a matter of time. where possible, i'll send a manned mission and leave a seat empty with crew manifest

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I think I lost 56 or more kerbals in the early space program

Now almost everything I launch is run by probe cores.

Crew go into space only if I want to plant a flag.

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I love this thread. The subject has interested me for a long time: Why should people attach importance to creatures that only exist as bits of data?

Not that I'm immune. I like the extra challenge of trying to keep "Kerballed" missions safe, so I admit to putting in more effort for those missions. I still think it's hilarious when I forget something and things fail catastrophically, of course. And there's no denying that what I feel for Jebediah approaches affection.

And it's not a new phenomenon, either. I remember an old series of programs called Creatures that allowed the player to "raise" fictional and cloyingly cute creatures called Norns in an environment within the computer. You could even train them through reward and punishment. A user called "AntiNorn" tried to push the model to its limit, and ended up creating really bizarre creatures -- Norns whose food of choice were other Norns, for example, or Norns that grew to be afraid of heights because every time their curiosity led them to peek over a ledge, he'd push them off. He ended up getting really nasty letters in response to his action, people who wished him actual physical harm for toying with these innocent "creatures". Even before graphics were really developed, there were people who developed oddly deep attachments to chatbots like ELIZA.

I suppose it's something related to the fact that we can only indirectly sense the pain, intelligence, pleasure, and so on of other creatures and people indirectly, so our emotions and affections are trained to follow very particular cues. Games like this provide an interesting, ethical, and painless way to explore how people model other living things subconsciously.

TL;DR: Thanks, OP. And I like to try to save my Kerbals. :)

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When I send Kerbals on actual missions, I am careful. When I am testing things on Kerbin, Kerbals are completely expendable. As far as I can tell, between one and two thousand Kerbals have died over the time I've played KSP.

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The ethics of space:

1. Don't ask about the ethics of space

2. The ethics of space don't exist

3. The ethics of space are a figment of everybody's imagination

4. The below statement is true

5. The above statement is false

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I think of Kerbals as my minions. If they expire, either because of a mishap or expiration date, I just fire up the cloner. Being an Evil Rocket Scientist! has its advantages.

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Gosh darn it, we have yet to lose a Kerbal in space, and we're not about to lose one on my watch!

Seriously though, I haven't lost a Kerb in my current program yet, or be forced into doing a rescue mission. But given the choice between leaving a Kerbal stranded, or losing 5-7 hours of my life getting him back... I would rescue him, no questions asked.

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I never like leaving kerbals stranded in space; and in fact I always try to make sure that I have enough fuel so that will never happen. I actually purposely strand kerbals sometimes just so that I can launch an interesting rescue mission! :)

I feel no remorse for leaving kerbals in space stations while I timewarp ahead for an interplanetary transfer mission, however. Also when testing on Kerbin, it is every kerbal for himself; I have killed many many kerbals when testing spaceplane ideas. The deaths in failed rockets are lower, but no kerbal is safe until he reaches space...

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