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In KSP vessels don't seem to consume or gain any power when they aren't loaded. So, for instance, a ship with no power generation can fly indefinitely without losing electric charge, as long as you're observing it from the tracking station or another distant ship.

Does this also apply to mining operations? More specifically, will my mining base mine at full efficiency (even if the base consumes more power than it gains), if the base isn't within loading distance?

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Your mining base is also considered a vessel and will not consume power when not loaded. The mining base will then continue to mine ore for you while you do other missions or while you are on another screen.

The drill continues to operate just like how the survey scanner continues to operate when not loaded.

The mining base, however, does not convert the ore into fuel and oxidizer until the ore tank is full.

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    That sounds right. I tested it with one of my mining vessels and, while I was in the Tracking Station, it continued to fill the ore tank without spending any electric charge. Later I'll test the fuel and oxidizer production ('cause my tanks were full). But what is intriguing to me is why electric charge isn't spent while mining continues. In my mind, if the game was coherent, mining should stop as it happens to electric charge consumption. – Ricardo Nov 9 '16 at 20:18
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    While I disagree with how the mechanic works, I believe it works the way it does because unloaded objects are "on rails." Vessels follow their expected trajectory, scanners continue to scan by a % per time tick. That would then extend to the ore tank to be filled "on rails" by a constant number as time goes on. – Banh Mi Dac Biet Nov 9 '16 at 20:31
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    Now for a philosophical question: to exploit, or not to exploit? Thanks all. – JSideris Nov 10 '16 at 18:16
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    @BanhMiDacBiet - Right! I think I get it know. You cannot put energy charging on rails because it depends on solar incidence on the solar panels, which in turn depends on the position of your ship and the celestial bodies involved. On the other hand, mining rates can be easily calculated. – Ricardo Nov 10 '16 at 21:51
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    @Ricardo Yup, that is why solar panel calculations are only performed when the vehicle has loaded. Having played since the game was first released as an alpha/beta, MechJeb is great for automating all the more tedious parts of KSP. – Banh Mi Dac Biet Nov 10 '16 at 21:57
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I haven't played KSP in a while so this information may apply to an older version but as I recall:

Unloaded vessels do both consume and generate resources.

You may think that unloaded vessels don't consume electricity - but they do. It won't be noticeable if it's also generating electricity.

The same is true for mining: if you have electricity and can generate electricity when it's unloaded it will continue to mine/convert while unloaded.

  • That doesn't sound right, at least not in 1.1.3 which is what I'm playing. I retracted the solar panels and went to the Tracking Station, waited some days and came back. Electrical charge was the same, but the ore tank had been filled. – Ricardo Nov 9 '16 at 20:20
  • @Ricardo I think there's a bug where it assumes you have power even if the panels are retracted. – Coomie Nov 10 '16 at 1:22

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