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More detailed discussion on ship design features

02 Nov 2018 10:25

Since we already have separate thread for interstellar motherships, in this thread, the discussion will be focused on smaller shuttle ships carried by the motherships.

First, we can have few concept images on any form from community members and we can select good ones by voting.
The final design of the ships can be done by community members who are talented in making 2d concept arts or/and 3dmodelling. Or with enough funding, Vladimir can hire professional artist(s) to do the job.
Still, It's our job to tell artists how the ship should look and function and this thread is for that.

All shuttles(except disposable probes) should be able to dock to the mothership and be carried by it.
Shuttles must be equipped with high thrust engines for planetary surface flight, which is near impossible with low thrust engines.
Customization on shuttle ships will not be as free as that of the mothership. But should still let players have some cosmetic customizations(skins, decals, repaints etc.)

Here are some of my thoughts on how the ships should look
1. Small winged shuttle
These ships will provide small crew/cargo transport capability between mothership in high orbit and planetary surface.
Its aerodynamic design allows all kinds of atmospheric maneuvers including aerobraking, reentry, hypersonic flight. 
Ships will have full VTOL capability through its hover engines that are powerful enough to lift the ship from a planet with gravity of 2G(or even higher).
It will require small retro thrusters that can slow it down on landing approach since it can be hard to slow down without it on lower air pressure environments like Mars.
It will be able to fly like conventional aircraft with flight control surfaces in high enough atmospheric pressure, but will need support of RCS thrusters in lower pressure condition.

Design inspirations:
007246_shuttle_6_1.jpg
007246_shuttle_6_1.jpg (31.74 KiB) Viewed 449 times
72291-004-BAE955B3.jpg
72291-004-BAE955B3.jpg (6.6 KiB) Viewed 449 times
Ranger_1_.jpg


2.Large winged shuttle
Mostly same as above, but will come with much higher cargo capabilities.
Will require more gentle approach on reentry and landing due to its heaviness. Its weight will limit places it can land, which means that on planets with higher gravity, players will have to rely on smaller shuttles.
Will be able to carry large cargos as the 3D printing facility, making it the key to base building and colonization.

Design inspirations:
Valkyrie_with_Scorpion_Escort.jpg
XR5_Atmospheric_ascent.jpg


3.BFS style atmospheric shuttle
BFS-like rocket style SSTO could also work well. 
It will not require separate retro, hover engines since main engines can do that all. The ship will simply Roll-over after reentry faze to face it's main engines against the ground for safe vertical landing.
The weak point will be its limited freedom of atmospheric flight.

Design inspirations:
CxLJ4tVXEAAwkRZ.jpg
Spx18.jpg


4. Non-atmospheric shuttles
Players should still be able to fly atmospheric shuttles to where they don't really need an aerodynamic ship. There's no big problem with it and it should be the option. But by using specific ships, players can achieve their job more efficiently.
Non-atmospheric ships will have lighter weight, which means more efficient fuel usage, better flight capability, more cargo capacity.
Furthermore, it can have rotating engines, which is impossible for atmospheric ships due to their requirements.
Swiveling_Thruster.png

It allows the ship to replace main, hover, retro engines by just having a set of rotating engine.

Design inspiration:
17.09.04 00-25-30 SH-01.jpg
231449097_b1aeedcfd8.jpg
231449097_b1aeedcfd8.jpg (62.03 KiB) Viewed 449 times


5. Gas fuel collector
These ships will fly through the gas giants upper atmosphere to collect hydrogen gases by its noticeable air intakes. The gases gained through these ships can be used as fuel for the mothership, which means gas collecting shuttles will be crucial for longlasting self-sustaining interstellar voyage without frequent resupply.
Will mostly be unmanned. Also lacking landing capabilities.
Would require aerodynamic design, but not as much as other atmospheric shuttles since it won't get very deep into the thicker part of the atmosphere.
It will fly through high and thin part of the atmosphere at sub-orbital hypersonic velocity. Once it's collection tank is full, it will accelerate to the higher orbit to reach back to the mothership.

Design inspiration:
https://sboterod.artstation.com/projects/WWrJX

6. Probes
Special kinds of ships. Small in size and can be mass produced from the mothership's onboard 3d printing facility. Most of them can only be used once.
Orbital probes can be deployed for communication, planet surface mapping, etc.
Surface probes will land on planets and asteroids for gaining scientific data. Some will have a deployable heat shield for landing on the planets with atmosphere.

 Design inspirations: just google 'space probes'
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

02 Nov 2018 16:43

Personally I think referencing movies and shows for this kind of stuff is a mistake, since even the better ones like Interstellar take some artistic liberties. There are those rare movies where the space craft are depicted pretty realistically, like 2001: Space Odyssey, but that seems to be an exception rather then a rule.  For inspiratory purposes though, they seem to do alright.

SE is a hard-science sort of game, and so it would be congruent for the ships to be as well. With that in mind, I ask the question: what technology level do we assume the Space Engine single-player game has? In the forum concepts, it appears to be a Kardashev 2, but the presence of Alcubierre drives seems to usurp this, since the energy requirements for that sort of technology might be beyond K2 civilization abilities (barring radical mathematical advancements, of course). I guess we might not know until it's discussed in detail elsewhere on the forum. Regardless, the Alcubierre drive technology in the game seems to me to be a convenience rather then a natural evolution of advancement for the game. I doubt a lot of players would fancy colonizing the universe at sub-light speed with volume SE contains, although I thought I saw somewhere on the forum that it WAS how the single-player / multiplayer game would be.

Tech level is important, since it will dictate the availability of materials and novel fuel sources like anti-matter drives (which you wouldn't want to fly into an atmosphere with anyway :D), which in turn directly impact the outward and inward appearance of all craft, from probes to shuttles (with shuttles you have to worry about aeronautics, AS WELL AS how the different atmospheric conditions on exoplanets might affect the craft). As an example, look at the concept for an 'inflatable module' on the ISS.  This is a novel and innovative design that would not have even been thought of during the space race, when the ISS was just a dream. Predicting what new and original technology the future holds is a tricky business!

Maybe I'm taking this 'hard sci-fi' aspect of SE too seriously.
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

03 Nov 2018 01:19

Stellarator wrote:
Personally I think referencing movies and shows for this kind of stuff is a mistake, since even the better ones like Interstellar take some artistic liberties. There are those rare movies where the space craft are depicted pretty realistically, like 2001: Space Odyssey, but that seems to be an exception rather then a rule.  For inspiratory purposes though, they seem to do alright.

SE is a hard-science sort of game, and so it would be congruent for the ships to be as well. With that in mind, I ask the question: what technology level do we assume the Space Engine single-player game has? In the forum concepts, it appears to be a Kardashev 2, but the presence of Alcubierre drives seems to usurp this, since the energy requirements for that sort of technology might be beyond K2 civilization abilities (barring radical mathematical advancements, of course). I guess we might not know until it's discussed in detail elsewhere on the forum. Regardless, the Alcubierre drive technology in the game seems to me to be a convenience rather then a natural evolution of advancement for the game. I doubt a lot of players would fancy colonizing the universe at sub-light speed with volume SE contains, although I thought I saw somewhere on the forum that it WAS how the single-player / multiplayer game would be.

Tech level is important. since it will dictate the availability of materials and novel fuel sources like anti-matter drives (which you wouldn't want to fly into an atmosphere with anyway :D), which in turn directly impact the outward and inward appearance of all craft, from probes to shuttles (with shuttles you have to worry about aeronautics, AS WELL AS how the different atmospheric conditions on exoplanets might affect the craft). As an example, look at the concept for an 'inflatable module' on the ISS.  This is a novel and innovative design that would not have even been thought of during the space race, when the ISS was just a dream. Predicting what new and original technology the future holds is a tricky business!

Maybe I'm taking this 'hard sci-fi' aspect of SE too seriously.


Sure! Deciding technology level will have huge impact on how ships would look like. One example being whether ships will use separate engines for hypersonic flight(ramjets) and orbital flight(conventional rocket) or hybrid engine that can do both.
That's exactly what this thread is for!
For aeronautics, it's impossible for us to have ships that can actually fly(thats' aerospace engineers job). But our goal is to make design 'believable', and that's what most sci-fi designs do.
Same goes for other features. We can decide whether what kind of ships will be manned or unmanned, have retro engines or not, or what kinds of fuel they'll use, but we don't really have to think too seriously about the specific design. We can't run ship model in wind tunnel to see it's performamce in atmosphere or arrange location of every single internal fuel tanks to see whether it has enought capacity for futuristic fuels that ships will use.
The inspiration pics I posted doesn't really mean that ships should look similar to pics, but I just meant to give some ideas on what kind of ships will perform differently.
We can have really creative designs and that is really welcome! For example, extreme lifting body design rather than having wings, or having futuristic gas intakes that are very different from those we can think of now.
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

04 Nov 2018 13:37

Speedademon wrote:
Source of the post It will require small retro thrusters that can slow it down on landing approach since it can be hard to slow down without it on lower air pressure environments like Mars.

It don't. Just lean back a bit, and you'll slow down, like helicopter. Hover engine controls in 0.980 allows that.
Speedademon wrote:
Source of the post We can't run ship model in wind tunnel to see it's performamce in atmosphere

But we can simulate (compute) that, using, for example, X-plane.
Speedademon wrote:
Source of the post or arrange location of every single internal fuel tanks to see whether it has enought capacity for futuristic fuels that ships will use.

This will be a feature of the in-game editor of star ships. Capacity/volume/mass of the tank is easy to calculate if you know density of fuel. When player construct a ship in the editor using set of pre-defined modules, he have to test it in "simulation environment": check its stability, physical strength, thrust capabilities, performance etc. When concept is polished, player can order automatic shipyard or drones to build the ship.
This does not apply to atmospheric/lander ships. They are "single-module".
 
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

05 Nov 2018 10:39

SpaceEngineer wrote:
Speedademon wrote:
Source of the post It will require small retro thrusters that can slow it down on landing approach since it can be hard to slow down without it on lower air pressure environments like Mars.

It don't. Just lean back a bit, and you'll slow down, like helicopter. Hover engine controls in 0.980 allows that.
Speedademon wrote:
Source of the post We can't run ship model in wind tunnel to see it's performamce in atmosphere

But we can simulate (compute) that, using, for example, X-plane.
Speedademon wrote:
Source of the post or arrange location of every single internal fuel tanks to see whether it has enought capacity for futuristic fuels that ships will use.

This will be a feature of the in-game editor of star ships. Capacity/volume/mass of the tank is easy to calculate if you know density of fuel. When player construct a ship in the editor using set of pre-defined modules, he have to test it in "simulation environment": check its stability, physical strength, thrust capabilities, performance etc. When concept is polished, player can order automatic shipyard or drones to build the ship.
This does not apply to atmospheric/lander ships. They are "single-module".

Well yes, hover engines can do their job but having retro engines will make landing more efficient and easier. In dense enough atmospheric condition like Earth, ship's speed will be slow enough to be maneuverable, which means that you can just circle around landing point until you reach stall speed(where you can freely rotate using RCS thrusters), and then lean back to slow down as you said. However, in relatively thinner atmosphere, the ship won't slow down from atmospheric drag as much as when there is a thicker atmosphere, which means it's hard to maneuver the ship since the nose will try to face ship's vector. In those cases, you can still land only with hover engines but leaning back(which would require strong RCS thrusters) will result in high AOA which will make the ship to climb.
What I really meant to say is that we should care factors like center of mass/lift/thrust for design, but not to the smallest parts of ship design. For example, we don't make design where the engines are totally offset from where center of mass is. We don't make design where the wings are too small or big to be believable.
I'm not 100% sure how physics simulation works in X-plane, but I think that's possible because it features real world aircrafts with enough aerodynamic data.The whole point of this is making 'believable design'. We aren't making real spacecrafts, but fictional ones. If we're really going to do accurate aerodynamic simulations on our fictional designs, no designs would be able to fly well.
Speaking of starships, I think at some point we should also do reworks on starships modules.
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

06 Nov 2018 02:17

Speedademon wrote:
Source of the post I'm not 100% sure how physics simulation works in X-plane, but I think that's possible because it features real world aircrafts with enough aerodynamic data.

No! It uses physical modelling: computes aerodynamic forces for every triangle of the model. So aircraft flies according to how it looks. The simulation is so good what it sometimes used by aircraft engineers for quick test/mock-up new ideas. Real aircraft tests does not provide data of behaviour in abnormal flight modes, like falling or flying in a backward direction. For example, SE uses real MIG-21 data for aircraft ships, and they behave crazy in that modes (try to lift-off and shoot with retro engines). But X-plane simulates such behaviour pretty well.
 
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

06 Nov 2018 15:14

SpaceEngineer wrote:
Source of the post SE uses real MIG-21 data for aircraft ships

LOL that explains a lot
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

06 Nov 2018 23:21

SpaceEngineer wrote:
Source of the post So aircraft flies according to how it looks. The simulation is so good what it sometimes used by aircraft engineers for quick test/mock-up new ideas.

That would explain why I crashed so many spacecraft :twisted:.
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

07 Nov 2018 01:48

Stellarator wrote:
Source of the post That would explain why I crashed so many spacecraft

In X-Plane?
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

07 Nov 2018 02:17

HarbingerDawn wrote:
Source of the post In X-Plane?

Ha! That would be the day - no I meant in SE. My shuttle atmospheric-reentries were cringe-worthy back when I first stated playing. I'm much more apt now. But I'm still not one of those people who say they can fly a plane just by playing a simulator... 
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

07 Nov 2018 09:59

That explains to us why our ships are having weird flight behaviors are weird on hovering and hypersonic flight(which aren't normal for MiG). I remember Vlad saying same thing somewhere in the forum.
Flying just 1m/s sideways or backward while hovering makes ships to get into an insane rotation, which should not happen in real life.
We surely need better atmospheric flight model, but my concern is whether it's possible to implement X-plane style physics model into SE, since it wouldn't be easy to design a ship that is actually aerodynamic.
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

07 Nov 2018 12:48

Speedademon wrote:
Source of the post We surely need better atmospheric flight model, but my concern is whether it's possible to implement X-plane style physics model into SE, since it wouldn't be easy to design a ship that is actually aerodynamic.

Yes. Probably we can take some real spacecraft design (Space shuttle?), import it to X-plane (I think someone already did this), and export back aerodynamics tables, if this is possible. SE uses tables (splines) of these values depending on alpha (attack angle): CL, CD, Cm, CMdE, CYBeta, ClBeta, CnBeta, CldA, CndA, CldR, CndR. The MiG-21 model hasn't data for |alpha| > 90° (backward flight), so I faked the out. I also made a completely fake tables for starships.
 
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More detailed discussion on ship design features

08 Nov 2018 12:10

I thought we have to consider how the ship will unload the cargo. We have to consider not only how the cargo container would be carried by the mothership, but also how they are loaded/unloaded to our shuttles.
For the container, it would be a better idea to have a universal cargo container, which has a hexagonal pillar appearance(for the efficiency of space). The ones we have now in ship editor is too short. We can have containers of various lengths, the ones as short as ones in ship editor, the ones as long as the ratio of modern ship container. 
Containers may come in various skins; different cargo types, company logos, etc.
When the containers are loaded to shuttles from the mothership, the work would be done either by robotic arm or crane(probably moving though rails on the mothership).

There could be multiple cargo mechanisms to choose for shuttles. Here's some.

1. Elevator style
Bellyelevator.png
8248409639_78b35f4ea0_b.jpg

Cargo elevator would allow easy cargo loading/unloading on the ground.
A floor where it hosts cargo is dropped down to ground level.

2.Military Cargoplane style
Ramp.png
capture-759.jpg

Would work just like modern military cargo craft. The ramp is opened for cargo operations on the ground. This design would work fine on the ground, but might make cargo operations in orbit harder.

3. STS style
Trad.png
1200px-STS-126_RPM.jpg

Would work just like how U.S space shuttle's payload bay worked. This design would make loading and unloading cargo at orbit very easy, but would require a special crane to unload cargo on the ground.
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