Finding of the week #23

You’re stuck in space now

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, it’s a little add-on to my last weeks article about Kerbal Space Program (KSP)[1]. Today I like to focus a little bit more on the realistic approach of the game and how the game brings its players closer to real world rocket science.

The first interesting fact I found out this week is that members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab are playing KSP[2]. Workers in the field of science or engineering do have a lot of crazy ideas, they never would try in real life. However, KSP gives them an almost realistic framework to give these ideas a try. Thus it can be quite addicting trying out a new thought experiment or replay real world space missions.

Furthermore, I like to highlight the usability of real world calculations of orbital maneuvers in KSP. One of the ways of reaching other planets is using a Hohmann transfer orbit[3]. The calculations for this maneuver are working the same way in KSP as in real life[4]. Based on these formulas, a calculator[5] was created by Olexandr Savchuk of KSP to easily determine the values needed for an interplanetary flight.

Additionally, KSP can be used to explain how rocket design and staging does affect the performance of the space craft. As an example, I like to highlight the „advanced rocket design tutorial“ from Scott Manley[6]. During the video, Scott Manley is demonstrates different examples of rocket design and also links it to actual real world rockets.

Finally, KSP can be used to approach complex ideas like what would it take to reach the speed of light with a space craft (in KSP). This video is again made by Scott Manley[6], who explains what will be needed to accelerate to the speed of light.