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Kerbal: Space Program Probe Guide

Kerbal: Space Program Probe Guide by sal_vager

Many players like to keep their Kerbals out of harms way and use a probe as the basis for their craft especially for more distant missions, leaving Jeb in a tiny metal can for years can't be good for him

But getting started with probes is not as easy as picking a probe core and strapping boosters to it, there are a few things that need to be kept in mind.

Here we see the three stock probes available in KSP, the OCTO on the left is a good all round unit while the QBE on the right is better for high temperature worlds.

The Stayputnik is a much lighter probe but at the cost of having only one attachment node on its base.

The biggest issue that new players have with probes is the complete loss of flight control.

Probes require electricity and have only a very small store themselves, when they run out of power they no longer allow control until recharged, so this OCTO will not last long.

Probes will run for as long as they have power, this can be stored battery electrical power or power provided externally, though a combination of the two is usually the best option.

Several engines produce power which is why probe craft do not lose control during the launch, also the launch clamps provide power while the probe waits on the launchpad.

Here we see the range of standard solar panels and the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator as they appear in the editor.

Solar panels require line of sight to the Sun to function, but RTG's are capable of providing a constant power output for decades.

The different panels have different shapes to accommodate different design considerations, also the larger the panel, the more power it can provide.

Here we see four different propulsion systems commonly employed on small probes, of the type that would map a moon for example or scout a landing area for a larger vessel.

ION drives are extremely efficient at the cost of negligible thrust, RCS gives excellent control but does not last long while liquid fuel rockets will vary depending on the engine employed.

Pictured here are the current instruments available in 0.18.2, more will come and others are available as addon's.

Also shown are the two communication antenna's, they are purely decorative for now plus they can only be extended once.

Lots of things, they do not just have to scan moons, they can form the basis for a variety of robotic vehicles.

Shown here is a heavy duty lander or lifeboat that can operate without crew, an ascent stage that can deorbit itself, a long-range scout ship and an orbital fuel depo/space station core.

Yes, probes have very feeble Control Moment Gyroscopes, they are only really able to keep the tiny craft from the earlier images steady and will struggle with anything bigger.

Many players try to counteract this with SAS units but SAS is not as effective as it used to be, so these large probe craft will struggle to hold their course or turn without using RCS or thrust vectoring engines.

The way around this is to include one or more standard Command Modules as you can see on the craft above, this way the probe can access much more potent CMG's and rotating your craft becomes no harder than with a conventional manned vehicle.

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