Simplest possible simulation on stock KSP

Simplest possible simulation on stock KSP



Traditional way to play KSP is based on trial-error cycle. It can be intuitive (Harvester’s way) or based on info and calculations (with KER, Mechjeb, Prescise more, etc). But in any case player is both Pilot and Misson control. He can switch to map view at any time, play with maneuver nodes and hit F9 if something goes wrong.

But real life space flight is very diffirent. Kosmonauts in space ship near Earth can have good situration awarness due to GLONASS/GLS and geostationary statellites uplink, but the farer we go from LEO, the more important Mission Control role will be.

In US there are venues that provide experience close to real Mssion Control: Space Camp in Alamabama and Challenger Learning Center network:

Ever imagine playing KSP as just spaceship crew member? Or as flight directorm who can only indirectly influence crew actions? This is not new idea. There are mods (Houston, Telemahus, known attempts to try such gamestype [1], [2] (and I saw such threads few years ago on official ksp forum).

Our project is about using KSP as a core of Space flight and Mission control simulation. We use KSP, KSPTOT, kOS, putty and plenty of other mods and tools to build simulation complex that can be used to run flight plans based on real life space programs. Modern, historical, future:

The full Simulation mod pack is relatively resource demanding (RSS with medium textures requires 12+ GB RAM). But you can try Simulation experience using Stock KSP with minimal number of mods.

Things you’ll need


kOS scripts

Initial save for KSP

Mission Architect scenarios

ma/duna-depature.mat from archive ma/duna-correction-burn.mat from archive


Install KSP

Buy KSP on Steam, GOG or developer site and install on your PC. Remember KSP installation folder path (will be referenced next as $KSP_PATH).

Install KSP inital save

  1. Launch KSP
    1. In main menu select “Start new”
    2. Click “New game”
    3. Select game type “Sandbox” and enter name “Simulation”
    4. Click “Start!”
  2. Copy file initial_save.sfs from saves folder from archive to $KSP_PATH/saves/Simulation folder

Install KSPTOT

  • Download latest release archive compatible with your KSP version. Unzip to any folder.
  • This archive also contains KSPTOTConnect plugin (you’ll need it on the next step).
  • Copy scenarios duna-depature.mat and ma/duna-correction-burn.mat from ma folder from archive to KSPTOT folder.

Install mods

Install kOS scripts

Copy files warpup and res from kos folder from archive to $KSP_PATH/Ships/Script folder.

Setup voice commlink

Install Zello app to your smartphone or use real PTT radio.

Run Simulation

  1. Load initial save in KSP:
    1. Run KSP.
    2. Click “Start game”.
    3. Click “Resume saved.
    4. Select “Simulation” and click “Load”.
    5. Press Alt+F9 and select initial_save from the list.
  2. Launch kOS server

    How it works

    Data exchange channels are shown on the schema:

    • Mission control uses putty terminal to run kOS commands on the simulation computer:
      • _warput_ command is used to start time warp to the given date mark. Command accepts single argument: the target date mark in the timestamp foramt (number of seconds passed from the epoch). Date timestamps are calculated in KSPTOT.
      • _res_ command prints out ship resouses into terminal.
    • Mission control uses KSPTOT to:
      • Calculate maneuvers data and control their excution by Crew with the help of Mission Architec
      • Get engine startup time with the help of Maneuver Execution Assistant.
      • Convert date from calendar format to timestamp for the warput command (any date field in KSPTOT).
      • Upload maneuver data to KSP.
      • Get telemetry from KSP with MCC Real Time System.
    • Communication between Mission Control and Crew is run through single voice channel over Zello or PTT radio.

    Lets start

    • Space flight simulation (in KSP) up and running on the simulation computer.
    • kOS server is up and runing in KSP.
    • We have putty terminal connected to kOS server and we can use it to control simulation.
    • KSPTOT connected to KSP through KSPTOTConnect and Mission Architect opened and ready to use.
    • Voice commchannel ready to use..

    We need to assign roles next. We need minimum two participants:

    • One (Mission Control) will play as Flight Director, CAPCOM, EECOM and FDO.
    • Another (Crew) will combine roles of Spacecraft Commander and Pilot.
    • We start from low Kerbin orbit at the beginning of Duna transfer window period.
    • Our tasks:
      • Plan Duna depature burn.
      • Execute it.
      • Verify orbit params after burn execution.
      • Compute correction burn if needed.

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