Take the 2-minute tour ×
Arqade is a question and answer site for passionate videogamers on all platforms. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In Kerbal Space Program, I put up 3 geostationary "GPS" satellites. I spaced them evenly around Kerbin, around 120 degrees apart. They're all at the same (KSO) altitude and within 0.1 m/s speed, but after a few years of gameplay they're bunching up.

How can I get multiple satellites in KSO without them moving around too much?

share|improve this question
    
It's probably a physics bug, is my guess. Time warp tends to excaberate tiny fluctuations. –  Frank Aug 2 '13 at 3:06
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Even a 0,1 m/s difference in speed makes a difference over the years. The only way to ensure that they stay in their position is to fiddle with their orbits in the save game file.

Note that this only works as long the satellites remain in their on rails-simulation, so you can't directly control them by using the control center. Otherwise they will always drift.

You might find these links helpful, there are lots of tutorials how to do this:

Scott Manley's video tutorial

Orbits in KSP wiki

share|improve this answer
add comment

The most important thing to consider is the semi-major axis of the orbit. That is what determines the period of your orbit. Even if the orbital velocity of your satellites are within a small margin of each other, if their semi-major axis are different by even a few meters (0.01% off), they will start to drift noticeably in just a few months.

Unfortunately, the stock game doesn't give you enough information to set up your orbits with the required precision. You need a mod like MechJeb, that will give you a full read out of your orbital parameters.

share|improve this answer
    
Excuse the lack of links or further explanation, this answer is coming to you from my iPad while on vacation. –  MBraedley Aug 2 '13 at 14:28
    
and because of rounding errors etc. even MechJeb et. al. can't provide the accuracy required. –  jwenting Aug 5 '13 at 6:35
add comment

This is a problem even NASA has to work with (although technically for different reasons). IRL, spacecraft orbits are perturbed by Earth's tidal forces, gravitational interaction with the Moon and the Sun, and at lower altitudes, a very small amount of atmosphere.

According to the always reliable Wikipedia, geostationary satellites require about 45m/s of delta-v per year in maintenance. Some of the periodic burns that are done are on the order of mm/s, which is an amount of control we do not yet have.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_station-keeping

In KSP you do not have any of those exact problems, but it could be taken as an unintended realism boost.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Unfortunately there is no way to get it 100% without editing the file. I had my orbital period dead on 6 hours and even then it drifted. You just don't have the superfine control to be able to get it that accurate.

In the cfg you will see that the orbital parameters go down to something like 15 decimal places. Even accuracies that fine will eventually throw your orbit oat unless it's dead zero.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.