Welcome to KSP Weekly everyone. The Moon has always astounded humankind, ever since our ancestors first gazed out at the heavens. The movement of the stars, the Moon and the Sun ruled each of the various stages of life, and their very survival. Ancient cultures observed that the various phases the Moon passed through in a month coincided with events transpiring in their environment. To this end, they learned to plant, fish, harvest, hunt, and make predictions, all by the light of the our satellite.
The first human-made object to reach the surface of the Moon was the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 mission, on September 13, 1959, and the first manned mission to land on the Moon was the United States’ Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. Since then, there have been six manned U.S. landings (between 1969 and 1972) and numerous unmanned landings. To date, the United States is the only country to have successfully conducted manned missions to the Moon, with the last departing the lunar surface in December 1972.
Since then, the focus of most space agencies shifted and it seemed that we had forgotten about our natural satellite. China, however, seems to be taking the lead to reignite our interest to explore the Moon and even establish a permanent space station on its surface. On October 24, 2007, China launched Chang’e 1, an unmanned Chinese lunar-orbiting spacecraft, part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. The spacecraft, named after the Chinese Moon goddess, Chang’e, was able to create the most accurate and highest resolution 3D map ever created of the lunar surface. In 2010, Chang’e 2 also went into lunar orbit before setting off for a trek across the solar system that culminated in a flyby of asteroid Toutatis in 2012. In 2013, Chang’e 3, deploying the Jade Rabbit rover, made headlines for the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976.
This year, China is planning to launch a pair of missions known collectively as Chang’e 4, whose first component is scheduled to lift off in June. It will be a relay satellite stationed some 60,000km behind the Moon and will provide a communications link between Earth and the lunar far side. Once this link is established, it will allow China to send the second part of the mission: a lander to the far side’s surface. Nobody has landed on the far side of the Moon, mainly because of the communications difficulty. Yet the scientific payoff is huge. Being in the shadow of the Moon allows stray radio signals from Earth to be blocked so the view of the radio universe is unparalleled. In addition to that, Chang’e 4 will conduct the very first attempt to grow flowers on the Moon’s surface, all part of China’s “mini-biosphere project”, led by Chongqing University. The team hopes the mission will provide useful intel that could one day help us set up a colony on the Moon.
In December, potato and Arabidopsis (a member of the mustard family) seeds will be placed in an aluminum alloy tin measuring just 18 centimeters by 16 centimeters before hitching a lift on the lunar lander and rover. The tin will also carry silkworm cocoons, water, air, soil, and electrical equipment to record the experiment. Once it reaches its destination, a tube inside the tin will divert natural light from the surface of the Moon and onto the seedlings, triggering photosynthesis. The plants will emit oxygen, feeding the silkworms who in turn exhale carbon dioxide and leave waste, feeding the plants. The experiment will have to face challenges such as the Moon’s gravity, which is just 16 percent of what we experience on Earth, as well as the climate, particularly the extreme temperatures. On the Moon, temperatures can climb to more than 100°C and plummet below -100°C, so the team will be controlling the mini biosphere to keep temperatures between 1 and 30°C. The experiment will be captured on film and transmitted back to Earth where we’ll be able to see it on a live stream.
While we Humans are still experimenting to learn how to deal with crops in sa¿pace and other celestial bodies, some Kerbals have already been building permanent space stations equipped with Modular Kolonization Systems that allow them to grow their own snacks on the Mun or elsewhere.
[Development news start here]
This week we’ve been working hard on the 1.4.3 patch. During the last phases of the testing process an unexpected issue cropped up with the desert and mobile launchpads. This issue turned out to be more difficult to solve than we expected, so we made the decision of holding back the patch’s release until next week. The good news is that we are already working on a fix and we are confident that the patch will provide a higher quality experience for all players. Click here to learn a bit about the content of patch 1.4.3.
In the meantime, we can show you some pictures of how the new Dessert Airfield/Launchpad site looks:
We did new models and textures for some pieces, as well as reusing some old models from our repository, which you probably recognize. We thought that a desert site would have an austere look, but still be well equipped to sustain itself.
Here are also the Floating Launchpads in action.
These models were also modified to fit the watery conditions they have to face. For instance, the platform needed something to float on and a ladder to climb on the pad was needed for any nearby Kerbal swimmers. Do you like how it looks?
As mentioned before both of these features are going to be expansion exclusive, and the Dessert Airfield will be usable in all game modes.
Base game players will also enjoy a sizable amount of fixes in the patch, including the fix of some UI offset issues that Linux users were experiencing. The team also fixed the persistence of data when switching to unloaded vessels via the map view and an issue that involved the IVA overlay camera showing artifacts on high specular parts. There are of course more fixes and improvements included for the release which you will learn about once we publish the Changelog next week.
- McCall, R. (2018, April 19). China Is Going To Grow Flowers On The Moon. Retrieved from http://www.iflscience.com/space/chinas-plan-to-grow-flowers-on-the-moon-could-one-day-help-us-colonize-it/
- Clark, S. (2017, December 31). China’s moon mission to boldly go a step further. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/dec/31/china-mission-to-far-side-of-the-moon-space-discovery
- O`Callaghan, J. (2018, April 06). China Is Planning To Land, And Grow Plants On, The ‘Dark’ Side Of The Moon This Year. Retrieved from http://www.iflscience.com/space/china-is-planning-to-land-on-the-far-side-of-the-moon-in-2018/