Welcome to Kerbalism¶
Hundreds of Kerbals were killed in the making of this mod.¶
Go beyond the routine of orbital mechanics and experience the full set of engineering challenges that space has to offer. This mod extends KSP by simulating the crew, components, resources and environment in a more complex way. All mechanics can be configured to some degree, or even disabled if you don’t like some of them. A big part of the mod is fully data-driven, so that you can create your own customized game play with only a text editor and a minimal amount of espresso. Or simply use the set of rules already included, or the ones shared by other users. What follows is a summary description of the capabilities of the mod, and for a more detailed documentation the user is invited to read the docs.
Contrary to popular belief, the observable universe is not a sphere of a 3km radius centered around the active vessel. All mechanics are simulated for loaded and unloaded vessels alike, without exception. Acceptable performance was obtained by a mix of smart approximations and common sense. The computational complexity is by and large independent from the number of vessels.
This isn’t your classic post-facto resource simulation. Consumption and production work for all vessels, all the time, and is coherent irregardless of warp speed or storage capacity. Complex chains of transformations just work. Enjoy designing missions without the luxury of stopping the flow of time. No suspension of disbelief required.
The environment of space is modeled in a simple yet effective way. Temperature is calculated using the direct solar flux, the indirect solar flux bouncing off from celestial bodies, and the radiative infrared cooling of their surfaces. The simulation of the latter is especially interesting, and contrary to popular models it is able to reproduce satisfactory results for both atmospheric and atmospheric-less worlds. Radiation is implemented using an overlapping hierarchy of 3D zones, modeled and rendered using signed distance fields. These are used to simulate inner and outer belts, magnetosphere and even the heliopause. Solar weather is represented by Coronal Mass Ejection events, that happen sporadically, increase radiation and cause communication blackouts.
The habitats of vessels are modeled in terms of internal volume, external surface, and a set of dedicated pseudo resources. These elements are then used to calculate such things as: living space per-capita, the pressure, CO2 and humidity levels of the internal atmosphere, and radiation shielding. Individual habitats can be enabled or disabled, in the editor and in flight, to reconfigure the internal space and everything associated with it during the mission. Inflatable habitats are driven directly by the part pressure.
Your crew need a constant intake of Food, Water and Oxygen. Failure to provide for these needs will result in unceremonious death. Configurable supply containers are provided.
The era of tin can interplanetary travel is over. Your crew need some living space, however minimal. Failure to provide enough living space will result in unforeseen events in the vessel, the kind that happen when operators lose concentration. While not fatal directly, they often lead to fatal consequences later on. Some basic comforts can be provided to delay the inevitable mental breakdown. Nothing fancy, just things like windows to look out, antennas to call back home, or gravity rings to generate artificial gravity. Finally, recent research points out that living in a pressurized environment is vastly superior to living in a suit. So bring some Nitrogen to compensate for leaks and keep the internal atmosphere at an acceptable pressure.
Your crew evolved in particular conditions of temperature, and at a very low level of radiation. You should reproduce these conditions wherever your crew go, no matter the external temperature or radiation at that point. Or else death ensues. The vessel habitat can be climatized at the expense of ElectricCharge. Environment radiation can be shielded by applying material layers to the hull, with obvious longevity vs mass trade off.
A set of ECLSS components is available for installation in any pod. The scrubber for example, that must be used to keep the level of CO2 in the internal atmosphere below a threshold. Or the pressure control system, that can be used to maintain a comfortable atmospheric pressure inside the vessel. In general, if you ever heard of some kind of apparatus used by space agencies to keep the crew alive, you will find it in this mod.
No life-support like mod would be complete without a greenhouse of some kind. The one included in this mod has a relatively complete set of input resources and by-products, in addition to some more unique characteristics like a lamp that adapts consumption to natural lighting, emergency harvesting, pressure requirements and radiation tolerance.
The stock ISRU converters can host a set of reality-inspired chemical processes. The emerging chains provide a flexible and at the same time challenging system to keep your crew alive. The stock ISRU harvesters functionality has been replaced with an equivalent one that is easier to plan against, as it is now vital for long-term manned missions. The means to harvest from atmospheres and oceans is also present, given the importance of atmospheric resources in this regard. A planetary resource distribution that mimics the real solar system completes the package.
Components don’t last forever in the real world. This is modeled by a simple system that can trigger failures on arbitrary modules. Manufacturing quality can be chosen in the editor, per-component, and improve the MTBF but also requires extra cost and mass. The crew can inspect and repair malfunctioned components. Redundancy now becomes a key aspect of the design phase.
Transmission rates are realistic, and scale with distance to the point that it may take a long time to transmit data from the outer solar system. Data transmission happens transparently in loaded and unloaded vessels. The resulting communication system is simple, yet it also results in more realistic vessel and mission designs.
Data is collected and stored in the vessel solid state drives, instead of the stock science containers. Moving data around the vessel doesn’t require extra vehicular activities. Some data can be transmitted back directly, while other data needs to be analyzed in a lab first. Analyzing takes a long time, happens transparently to loaded and unloaded vessels alike, and can’t be cheated to create science out of thin air. An interesting method is used to bridge existing stock and third-party experiments to the new science system, that works for most experiments without requiring ad-hoc support.
Components can be automated using a minimalist scripting system, with a graphical editor. Scripts are triggered manually or by environmental conditions. You can create a script to turn on all the lights as soon as the Sun is not visible anymore, or retract all solar panels as soon as you enter an atmosphere etc.
The UI provided by this mod took more than 5 minutes to write. A planner UI is available in the editor, to help the user design around all the new mechanics introduced. The planner analysis include resource estimates, habitat informations, redundancy analysis, connectivity simulation, multi-environment radiation details and more. To monitor the status of vessels, the monitor UI is also provided. This looks like a simple list of vessels at first, but just click on it to discover an ingenuous little organizer that allow to watch vessel telemetry, control components, create scripts, manage your science data including transmission and analysis, and configure the alerts per-vessel.
Most stock modules and some third-party ones are emulated for what concerns the mechanics introduced by the mod. The level of support depends on the specific module, and may include: simulation of resource consumption and production in unloaded vessels, fixing of timewarp issues in loaded vessels, the ability to disable the module after malfunctions, and also the means to start and stop the module in an automation script.