murphys_lawyer (murphys_lawyer) wrote,

Kerbal Space Program: a view from orbit

I've been playing, on and off, with Kerbal Space Program for a few months now. It started as a bit of tinkering with the demo, moving to the full program as a prelude to getting to grips with Elite: Dangerous (now moved back thanks to the funds for the PC upgrade going elsewhere), and blossoming into a wave of exploration with KSP's latest release, wittily titled "Beta than ever". Tee, as they say, hee.

Executive briefing: KSP is a gentle introduction to making things that can fly very fast, shoving Little Green Men [1] into them, and then trying not to make the things explode or strand the LGM off their Little Green World. The world's called Kerbin, its major satellite is the Mun. Other quasi-heavenly bodies are available.

So far, I've mostly confined myself to the two moons orbiting Kerbin, with a single probe out to the Mars-analogue which was more to test an engine configuration rather than learn anything. Oh yes, the learning: go somewhere, check the local conditions, pick up a bit of rock, get back alive, and you get science (excuse me, SCIENCE!!!1!eleventy) points which you can then convert into improvements for your craft, like fitting batteries into capsules so the LGM don't get stranded because the ignition won't work.

Right now, I'm working on how to be smarter when researching. Remote probes that transmit their findings don't provide as much knowledge as bringing the findings back, and as some of the experiments are non-repeatable, that can be a bit of a pain. However, now I've got the bits for a space station, and it's much easier to send probes down to the Munar surface and back up rather than fire them at the Mun, see if they bounce, and get them back to Kerbin, well...

Gentlebeings, the Munar Orbital Laboratory.

The Munar Orbital Laboratory: a shining beacon in space, all alone in the night.

Nearest us is a Munar Taxi, or the last two stages of one. Its job is to get three Kerbals to the Laboratory, and bring them and their research back.

Further along are the laboratory proper, and the living quarters, which fits up to four Kerbals in moderate discomfort. Next to that is a small fuel tank with two docking ports, each taken up by a robot landing craft. (The red and green lighting is a reflection off the navigation lights.) The lander on the left still has an unused science module, the one on the right has already flown one mission and is waiting its next payload. (The used module was jettisoned as its experiments could only be used once.)

Finally, we have a big orange fuel tank, containing the remainder of the fuel used to bring the docking strut and living quarters. The ability to move fuel between tanks if they're docked to the same object means that the landers can be reused many times, at least until the landing computer glitches...

Future experiments include replacing the big fuel tank by a Mark II which will have its own solar panels because MOAR POWAH and also some additional docking ports; and replacing the science module with a one-Kerbal lifepod so some brave volunteer can bring back some rocks. In the long term, I'll see if it's feasible to move the station to the outer moon, and then to some of the other planets. Might as well, since it's part-way there already.

[1] Yes, really. The full release promises Little Green Women as well.

Cross-posted from DreamWidth at (provided Frank the Goat hasn't been at the vodka again). There are comment count unavailable comments there so far.

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