The Most Challenging Lander Project

July 20th, 2013 | Posted in KSP | Comments Off

I’ve built a fair number of ship in Kerbal Space Program to accomplish a variety of things. I’ve built landers meant to touch down on the moon with the unfortunate name of “Mün”, Minmus, the planet Duna and it’s moon Ike. Most of these ships were fairly simple to design and build and little to no problem to fly.

However there’s one lander that I’ve been trying to design lately that is a major problem. I’m trying to design one that can land on the planet Eve (the Kerbal analogue to Venus) and then lift off and return to a 100km orbit from anywhere on the surface including sea level.

This is such problem because Eve’s gravity is 1.5 times that of Kerbin and it’s atmosphere is 5 times as dense. To reach orbit from it’s surface requires about 11.5 km/sec of delta-v.

That’s a LOT. By way of comparison only 4.5km/sec is needed to reach orbit from Kerbin (which has the same gravity as Earth).

Any ship with that much delta-v is going to weigh in at something around 1200 tons… and that’s just a lander! Never mind the stage required to get it into Kerbin orbit or the transfer stage for getting it TO Eve.

No matter what I’ve tried so far I’ve not been able to build even just the lander without having something that will fall apart under it’s own weight on the launch pad.

I’ve already had a number of suggestions about how to fix this. Everything from “use more space-tape (structural support struts)” to obscure and not very helpful tips like “less is more” (which is BS, less is LESS, not more!). One person even suggested that I should bolt the parts together by drilling holes in both parts and using thread inserts to fasten them together. They didn’t understand that in KSP there are no ways to make or use that kind of fasteners. Stack separators, struts and stage decouplers are pretty much the limit of ways to attach things.

And of course there is also the issue of keeping the mass and part count as low as possible. Struts may have really low mass but when you have hundreds of them the part count makes the game unplayable as it strains to run physics calculations for all parts of a ship.

Still, in spite of the extreme difficulty of this challenge I’m going to keep working on it until I come up with a solution that works.

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