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Orbital Assembly welding idea


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Okay, the idea of being able to assemble and weld parts in orbit rather than just using docking ports has been suggested and requested many times.

One way of making it practical to actually do in game could be to have 'weld joint' parts.

They could in essence function in exactly the same way as docking ports, with a few different sizes etc. And perhaps some type of 'angle snap' integrated into the magnetic attraction to enable parts to be lined up accurately if positioned close enough in orbit. When 'docked' they would only form a fairly weak connection, sufficient to stop them just drifting apart, an engineer could then EVA to 'weld' them into a permanent joint.

The parts need only be like very thin decouplers with a fairly bold colour. This colour could then change to a dull grey or something when welded.

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They could in essence function in exactly the same way as docking ports, with a few different sizes etc. And perhaps some type of 'angle snap' integrated into the magnetic attraction to enable parts to be lined up accurately if positioned close enough in orbit. When 'docked' they would only form a fairly weak connection, sufficient to stop them just drifting apart, an engineer could then EVA to 'weld' them into a permanent joint.

Okay, so how does this differ from docking ports, except for the part about making it a permanent joint? If it was a case of moving two vessels close together and then welding them together without the use of any additional parts (except maybe tools or something for the kerbals to use) then I think that might be worth the hassle. If you're just going to use something like a docking port but not quite, then it would simply be easier to enable you to make docking ports a permanent connection.

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I actually just posted this long post (with crappy pics!) in the Add-On Affairs thread the other day. Copy-pasted here in case any one is interested:

So the idea I have is to solve what I see as a problem with building in orbit. The main problem for me is that the only way to do this is to use docking ports. This isn't the worst problem in the world, I know, but it does cause problems and it isn't the way things are done in real life (this game is not designed to be a sim, that is why I suggest this idea in Add-on Affairs and not Suggestions). One problem is it causes long space stations or crafts that are build out of separate modules to be terribly wobbly. I know you could just make stronger docking ports, but I do like the idea that docking ports aren't as strong as normal joints, it does add something to the game, but you shouldn't always have to deal with it. Another problem is part count, as it adds 2 unnecessary parts for every module in a game where high part count can make it practically impossible to play. In real life, the space station is not simply docked together but built, bolted together by astronauts on EVA in a way that is not meant to come apart without problems and work.

So here is my idea: Orbital Welding Rings

How it might work:

When you launch a module intended for permanent attachment to a station or craft, rather than putting a docking port on the end, you would add a welding ring. The ring would be a massless part that has little or no thickness to it, node attachment only, and possibly no collider. Whatever node you intend to attach that module to would also have to have a ring on the end of it, of the same diameter, just like a docking port. It would function partly like a docking port as well, in that when it gets close to the other ring, a "magnetic" force attracts them together, but it should be a lot weaker so you have to be very precise and go very slowly. Once the two parts me, well nothing happens. They are still 2 separate parts held together by a very weak magnetic force. To finish the job, you must get a kerbal out on EVA to right click the part and select "weld parts" from the menu. In order to right click the part, they may need to extend past the edge of the parts, so a 2.5m ring would actually be a little bit wider than 2.5m. Once "weld" is clicked, the parts snap together (at whatever rotation they were at, just like docking) and maybe some sparks fly, and the 2 parts are joined permanently as if they had been built in the VAB, without all the wobbling and whatnot. It seems like something that a lot of people would use, and adds an interesting gameplay dynamic and a reason to go on IVA as well.

The following is a terrible mockup of the idea I made in SketchUp very quickly. I apologize for its crappy-ness but I think it gets the idea across, in case I confused people.

Let me know what you think!

The first image shows two modules approaching each other with the Orbital Welding Rings on the ends, the dark disks.

USGTrNA.jpg

Here, the weak magnetic force has brought the still separate modules loosely together, to await a kerbal on EVA to finish the job.

Rm6jXTt.jpg

Here, the "kerbal" has welded the two parts together. I should have taken out the welding rings here but I forgot. They would vanished once the modules were welded together. Also, sparks! :D

v3hTfqp.jpg

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@The Yellow Dart - I haven't re-quoted to save space.

That pretty much explains what I was thinking and why - only better. Thanks.

Docking ports welded together works fine functionally, but would look wrong unless a 'fairing' of some sort was used to cover the original ports, in the same way engines get covered in the VAB.

Some sort of 'angle snap' would be needed to ensure things line up. It wouldn't be too critical for circular sections, but would look odd if the graphics or windows didn't line up.

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Both orbital construction techniques and rotating docking rings are subjects which have been so over-discussed that they have been placed on the list of things not to suggest again for the sake of keeping discussion moving along productive lines. Please look over this list before submitting suggestions.

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