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Optimal height for space stations


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Hey quick question about space stations. I'm too lazy to build my own station so I took some parts from various stations on the forums and space port and built a station in orbit. However I could only get the core part to a 72000 pereapsis and a 75000 apoasis. Is that too low of an orbit for a space station? Should I worry about my station getting sucked down to earth? If it is low what would be the optimal height for my station?

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As long as it's outside the atmosphere it'll be fine. Atmosphere ends between 69 and 70km, can't remember the exact number. People's preferences differ on what the minimum 'safe' altitude is; 72, 75, 85km take your pick. I personally operate with minimum 75km for casual orbiting, 85km and up for stations. But as said, opinions differ, the lowest absolute is outside of the atmosphere.

As for optimal, that depends on the use / preference. If you fly SSTOs or other crafts that make it to orbit with very little fuel to spare and you want a refuelling station, then around 75-85km. Beyond that the next mainly discussed range is 160km, where the graphics for Kerbin change intensity so that there's a slight performance increase. Further beyond that, 240km if a good timewarp boundary.

But really it's down to preference.

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That's if you care about fuel. If not, the sky (or Kerbin's SOI at least) is the limit.

depends which direction you care about fuel in. if you are returning from an interplanetary trip, or from minimus, a high orbit will require less fuel to get to.

orbit depends on what you are using the station for; i have one in a 200km orbit, that i use mainly as a fuel depot and changeover point for my space planes and Kerbin SOI shuttle. my other station is in a high minimus orbit (1000km) and is used for storage of my fuel tanker, and as a port for the Kerbin SOI shuttle.

a really low orbit (~70km) for the first station would be inconvenient, as i use those orbits for parking junk, and a really high orbit (84,000km) would be hard to reach with a space plane. i could probably improve the stations locations, but the current ones work pretty well.

so, what is the station for?

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Well thats the thing, the station i built is just for show. I dont plan on using it to refuel my interplanetary ships. I just dock small ships at it and pretend it too be like a research station.

So from what Ive seen an above 70km orbit is the minimal to make a station operate, but the OPTIMAL station is usually above 100km.

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I usually have 3 stations - a "showcase" station at about 250 (perfect for screenshots), one at about 500-1000 for fuelling, and one at about 7000-8000 that serves as a "junkyard" where I send debris to be drained of fuel using KAS. Any higher and it would get caught in the Mun's SoI.

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You -CAN- put it at a 65km orbit. It'll last long enough for you to refuel it and take it higher.

I have a space station at 300km, 3,000km, and at 30,000km. I find that 300km is low enough for even the weakest of craft--if it can't reach it, it wasn't meant to fly outside orbit. The nice thing about having it so high above the atmosphere is that it moves substantially slower in its orbit than something barely outside the atmosphere, so I don't have to bother trying to line up my launches for rendezvous. But so far my middle station has gotten used the most. I usually end up getting barely short of orbit before dropping the final stage (to reduce debris), then have full fuel to go intercept one of the stations. If it can't get from 80km to 3,000km on full fuel, then refueling it isn't going to get it anywhere.

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Alt: Benefit

70k: Space

80k: Parking Orbit

120k: Next Level Timewarp

160k: Graphics Downgrade for Kerbin (large stations benefit)

240k: Next Level Timewarp (best for refueling depots)

With these values above, it make sense to place your most used station above 120k. Shuttlecraft Systems Inc. develops VTOL SSTOs auxillary spacecraft (aka shuttlecraft) capable of undocking at 120k, landing at KSC, and flying back up to a station at 120k, all without refueling. Beyond 160k, spaceplane size requirements increase so as not to fit the SSI shuttlecraft footprint or else they force one-way shuttlecraft trips.

Edited by inigma
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A really low station in the 70's can be hard to dock with. I keep mine at 80k and even that can be tough. Simply because my apoapsis always blows by 80k. After 40k you start climbing FAST. A low station will save you fuel, but you better be savy with your shutdowns.

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120km. and 240km. are the time warp break points, so 120-240km. will give you 50x time warp, 240km. is 100x time warp.

160km. lowers the graphics detail on Kerbin.

So if you want decent time warp (setting up interplanetary missions) the 240km. or greater.

If you want decent performance, then above 160km.

If you want to make screenshots with Kerbin as a backdrop, under 160km.

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