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Try next-generation space technology in the “Kerbal Space Program.”

Try next-generation space technology in the “Kerbal Space Program.”

Most games are lost importance after a few years, but the game of building an indie rocket Kerbal Space Program is different. He is a highly successful 10-year-old in a game that tracks programmers, engineers, candidate astronauts, and fans of your explosive explosives, and has a unique and active community of modders who have worked to fix bugs. new features, and generally keeping the game fresh for almost a decade.

In the game, you are the unknown director of a space program made up of literally little green men (and beloved little green woman Valentina Kerman – we see you on the trailblazer) that you send to heaven in your spaceships for your design. It often feels like watching these blurry old rocket videos shoot back in an explosive burst of fire: you feel a little scared, it’s a bit sadistic, and you want to try again.

Art imitates life

One of the most productive Kerbal modders is Chris Adderley, the game’s engineer for Nertea, a Canadian space company MDA during the day, designing ground systems that retrieve data from spacecraft. At the break, however, Adderley enters the driver’s seat. He started playing Kerbal Space Program Shortly after its release, it began building its first mod mode in 2013 — including a set of spare parts, a xenon fuel tank, and a dynamic magnetoplasm (among other things, try to say three times fast).

He has since designed dozens of mod accessories, including Mark IV Spaceplane and space station add-ons such as centrifuges and inflatable habitats.

“I’m building things that I wanted to build as a species in the future,” says Adderley.

Recently, Addlerley has decided to take the most compelling concepts of the theoretical rocket engines of the future and build them into a game — a way for players to test these science fiction. concepts in a simulated environment, they will be able to teach us how they work in the future, on a more practical level.

Adderley combed dozens of scientific articles that explained the theoretical blueprints of these ultra-advanced propulsion systems, looking for the most realistic ones.

“Everyone is trying to sell their project as a propulsion system for the future,” says Adderley. “You have to think a little bit critically about what people have shaken their hands about.”

He crushed the numbers, thought about how much power a specific engine would need, how to deal with the heat generated, and how to harness the energy to further propel the virtual rocket. “It was a lot of fun. It can be a very nerdy statement, but you know.”

Eventually, he built 13 different engine concepts, including fusion engines ExtentEpstein’s unit is theorized: fission engines and antimatter rockets.

Although we do not yet have the technology to implement these specific thrust demons, it is of real value to be able to simulate advanced engines in a low-stakes environment. In fact, it’s a great beach that engineers from SpaceX and Jet Propulsion Laboratory have used Kerbal graphics in their presentations. 2018, NASA released the Open MCT, a software for displaying telemetry data designed to exploit spacecraft for the public on Github. Testing these systems on real spacecraft requires a lot of cost and time, so some participants ran their programs through Kerbal.

For Sumontro Sinha, an aerospace engineer and fusion researcher at the Propulsion Research Lab at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Kerbal is a trend to test new ideas and train new engineers.

“Instead of powerpoint slides and equation sheets, make the boat and see how it works,” he says. “If he works at Kerbal, he has a lot of opportunities to work in real life.”

Donut Power

The tokamak spherical fusion engine is based on the fictional spaceship 2001: Space Odyssey, sans Dave AI killer. Adderley found the real science behind it NASA researchAccording to Craig Williams, author of the newspaper, NASA has funded several projects aimed at developing advanced propulsion systems. Williams ’team designed an engine to create an energy boost generated by a fusion reaction. Fusion occurs naturally inside stars like our sun, where light atoms where their electrons and neutrons are disconnected until light atoms are heated and neutrons, usually repellent to each other, unite and generate massive amounts of energy. One of the biggest challenges in producing this energy on earth is that you need a way to limit the plasma obtained and harness its strength.

One way to do this is with tokamak, a device that creates a donut-shaped magnetic field that holds the heated plasma in place. In Williams ’engine prototype, this tokamak would be almost spherical, resembling a donut hole. The resulting leak would push the vehicle to more than 166,000 mph to take passengers to Jupiter in less than 4 months. To put this in perspective, the Voyager deep space probe is launching at 35,000 mph from our solar system.

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