A more Immersive Space mod
Currently, we have two good Space mods in Minecraft: Galacticraft, and Advanced Rocketry. I’ve played extensively with Galacticraft (minus Extra Planets), and have done a fair bit of research on Adv. Rocketry, enough to know what it involves. I like the look of both mods, don’t get me wrong, but I find that there are certain things lacking. So, here are my thoughts on both mods, and what I would like to see from a future space mod.
A bit of background on myself: I’m an Aerospace Engineer by trade. I’ve studied the subject extensively. At the end of this post, I will post my proposal for a Space mod, which I’ve been conceptualizing the last couple of weeks.
Galacticraft is the simplest of the two, and probably the least involved to get into. It can be a bit frustrating initially, with building up your first rocket, but it’s not too long to actually get to the moon. It simplifies the rocket building process to a single crafting bench (NASA workbench), which is capable of producing all of the necessary vehicles.
Planetary progression is also pretty simple: you go to the moon to get a schematic that lets you build a rocket to get to Mars, which then lets you get to the Asteroids, and perhaps beyond.
Extra Planets adds many more planets to explore, but falls into the same issue as Galacticraft – there’s not that much to actually explore. Afaik, Extra Planets also lets you land on the gaseous planets which is … immersion-breaking for me. It also adds more tiers of rockets, which is one way to deal with going to more distant planets, but not realistic either.
Advanced Rocketry, on the other hand, takes realism to a much greater degree. The progression to get to building the first rocket is much better designed, the infrastructure necessary to launch a rocket is also more realistic and inspired. I like the multiblock processing machines, even if some of the models aren’t particularly consistent. The animations are fantastic. The overall aesthetic design of the mod is well done.
The fueling system is also more in line with the Space industry, where rocket fuel is either liquid hydrogen or methane (which is similar to what the Chemical reactor does for producing fuel in Adv. Rocketry).
My issues with Adv. Rocketry though, is it’s starting to delve into the realms of Science fiction. Example of this would be the Warp controller, which is supposed to allow travel between planets within the solar system, and on top of that, between solar systems. The other issue I have with Adv. Rocketry is the lack of … structure for actually building rockets. Rockets can be literally any shape or size, and can be made using any type of blocks (as long as they contain the minimums required for launch, filler blocks from other mods can be used). This is perhaps my biggest gripe that takes away from the immersion of Adv. Rocketry.
So, my proposal …
I want to see a Minecraft mod that combines some of the best aspects of Adv. Rocketry and Galacticraft. I want to see a mod that stays true to current and near-future science, without delving into the realms of science fiction. I want to see large multiblock rockets and structures, and meaningful planetary exploration. I want to see gameplay where it’s not easy to leave a planet once you’ve reached it, and that leaving a planet requires specific preparation (with the exception of leaving the Moon, or returning to Earth from orbit). I want to see planet’s escape velocity play a part on return trips.
I want to see multi-stage rockets used for deep space missions (closer planets require a 2-stage rocket consisting of a one-use or re-usable stage to get to orbit, and a payload stage to reach the planet and be used for the return journey, while further planets will require a 3-stage rocket to get to orbit, and the return journey would require additional considerations). I want to see a more flexible payload system, as opposed to just building many tiers of rockets. I want to see rockets have a well-defined cylindrical structure (with height being the key variable to increase fuel and cargo capacity, and also determining thrust requirements, which in tern determines engine design). The well-defined structure can then be activated to form a properly connected rocket multiblock (with the appropriate number of stages).
I want to see realistic planetary exploration. No landing on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune, with the exception of being able to land on their moons. I want realistic planetary atmospheres, requiring specific preparation before visiting (Galacticraft has this in the form of requiring thermal clothing for Mars). Different planetary atmospheres will mean different infrastructure for leaving said planet (eg. fuel production on Mars, Venus, or Mercury). I want planetary orbits to play a part in space travel where fuel consumption on rockets depend on how far away the planet is (launch windows determine the optimal time to launch a rocket to reach your destination), which changes based on realistic planetary orbits, scaled down to match Minecraft’s day-night cycle.
In terms of planetary progression, it will be something like Moon -> Venus -> Mercury -> Mars -> Asteroids -> Jupiter and beyond. Jupiter and beyond will require a space station to be built around the planet to be used as a launching platform for exploring the planet and its moons. Before that can be done though, satellites will need to be launched to enable some form of communication between planets and space stations, to allow for automated space travel (requiring preparation to properly automate). Satellites will also be needed to relay information from probes (more on that later). Planets will have a specific reason to visit, beyond just schematics for rocket parts. Specific resources will need to be found on different planets. Automated missions can be set up for various purposes because of those unique resources on different planets. Planetary exploration will definitely need to be well-thought out, as it’s one of the main things lacking in Galacticraft.
Life support systems will be standard. Oxygen, space suits, airlock systems for structures on other planets and space stations. The one difference I’d like to see is a proper airlock requiring 2 sets of doors and proper pressurization and depressurization.
Before being able to visit a planet, it will be necessary to build a probe to explore the planet and relay back any information on the planet’s atmosphere, essentially “discovering” the planet.
All of the processing machines will also be multiblock structures, borrowing from Adv. Rocketry’s design. Base materials needed for building the machines and rockets will be simple (Aluminum, Titanium, Al-Ti alloys, ceramics for heat-shielding, carbon fibre for specific components and heat-shielding, special types of glass, composite materials used to make fabrics for space suits, etc). A series of assembling/processing machines will be required to assemble specific parts for the rocket, such as fins, nozzles, nose cones, rocket engines, planetary exploration vehicles (eg. moon buggy), etc.
Fueling infrastructure will be similar to Adv. Rocketry, producing liquid methane from hydrogen and atmospheric carbon dioxide. For planets low in CO2, a gas accumulator will be necessary. For planets rich in CO2 (Venus), a gas accumulator will not be necessary. For planets with no CO2, liquid Hydrogen may be used as a propellant, but will have different properties to make it less effective as a fuel (I need to do more research on the different rocket fuels).
Rocket launch pads will be similar to Adv. Rocketry, without the scanning feature. The multiblock itself will determine if the rocket is valid, and the launch pad will just be a structure that different things can attach to (launch computer, scaffolding to climb to the top of the rocket and enter the payload rocket, fueling infrastructure built into the scaffolding to refuel the rocket, etc). All of these will be multiblock structures that interact with each other in some form.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far. I have a word document that goes into a bit more detail on how I envision the mod will be implemented, but this is a broad overview of what I would like to see in a space mod. I am still working on developing some of the core systems and gameplay features.