Real Sized Solar System
I have nearly accumulated 2000hrs of spaceflight in Kerbal Space Program. I have landed kerbals on every object in the KSP system and returned them home safely. Yet even after about four days I’ve only managed to reach stable Low Earth Orbit twice so far.
Yep, that’s right I’ve installed the Real Solar System mod.
For anybody unfamiliar with it, the normal KSP solar system is something like 1/10th the scale of our real life system. For the vanilla game this makes sense because getting to orbit is a bit easier and traveling between planets is shorter. Also, the in the vanilla Solar System almost all planets orbit the same plane and also rotate along the orbital plane too. This simplifies things a ton when you are starting out.
The Real Solar System mod converts the planets and distances to match the real thing. In addition to making things larger it also tilts the various orbits and rotations and even the launch point on the planet is moved so that you have to work quite a bit harder to reach your desired destination.
So far, I’ve really just been learning what it means to launch through 130km of atmosphere - instead of only 80km - and to reach an orbital velocity of ~7500m/s rather than ~3200m/s.
It’s not just the larger numbers that make this more complicated though. The long distances mean that there is more time between certain phases of a mission, which needs to be accounted for in your electricity consumption.
I should point out that while this is definitely a fun step in difficulty and realism but you can go a lot further on both fronts with some other mod that are kicking around.
For example, I’m also using the Real Fuels mod which gives you actual real world fuel configs for the rocket engines. However, I’ve chosen the stock-alike config option. This means I have to match the fuels and their mixture to each engine (making complex asparagus staging tricky if using different engines) but the engines behave pretty much the same as their vanilla, unmodded counterparts.
If you choose to go with the full real engine configs then there is a ton of additional crap you have to deal with in your rocket designs. To start engines have a limited number of ignitions before they are kaput. Some orbital focused engines can be restarted 3 or more times but for most of the larger lifting engines they are a single use. Then there’s the fuel supply or ulage problem. Unless the fuel is highly pressurised you need gravity to force the fuel to the feed lines. In orbit you need to somehow generate a small G-force to force the fuel into a stable position in the tanks before you can ignite the engines.
That’s only the top of the iceberg though. You can go super crazy and install the whole Realism Overhaul mod set. On top of the stuff mentioned above this will: cause some parts to generate heat making use of radiators necessary, makes the reentry heating much more deadly, fix some of the water buoyancy issues, add life support resources like water, food, air, CO2 and waste resources that you need to manage, etc. There’s definitely more there but you get the picture.
KSP can be made to very closely simulate real world rocket science and space exploration challenges.