Followup on Newtonian mechanics in KSP

After I posted my article on implementing Newtonian trajectories in KSP last September, I started a thread in the game's official forums to discuss it and had some interesting conversations over the next few weeks.  Ever since then I've been meaning to post a followup article to bring together some of the points from those conversations, but until now haven't managed to actually write anything.  But finally, about five months later, I've gotten around to it!  Here goes:

 

On Newtonian trajectories in Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program (KSP) is a computer game in which the player can build rockets (and spaceplanes, rovers, etc.) from a large set of predefined parts and then pilot them in a simulated solar system. In the simulation, every vessel in space travels according to Kepler's laws (i.e., the vessel's path follows a conic section, as though it feels gravity from only one planetary body). This simplification has been the topic of many conversations in the game's forums and I thought it would be interesting to explore whether and how more accurate trajectories for vessels could be computed using Newton's laws. I believe that using Newtonian trajectories in KSP is possible, although whether there is a compelling gameplay reason to make the change is a different question.

 

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