New science experiments and lab modules; give your space stations purpose!
Note: If you are updating from the alpha version of this mod (with the placeholder parts), this update will not work with old saves by default. See the README.txt for instructions for enabling backwards compatibility.
Also, see the official thread on the KSP Forums.
This mod adds several large parts designed to be integrated into a permanent space station: the Science Lab, the Zoology Bay, the Cyclotron, and the Spectrometron. These heavy parts provide facilities for performing experiments. Experiments are held in small, light pods that you can dock with your space station, execute, and bring back to the surface for Science points. The Spectrometron uses the Cyclotron to analyze Surface Samples that you've brought into orbit, and allows you to transmit the data home for full value. In addition, there are tanks for storing Kibbal for the Zoology Bay.]
Regarding the Mobile Processing Lab
The stock Mobile Processing Lab now provides a long-term Science-gathering capability that bears some similarity to Station Science. It is, however, not well balanced. Once unlocked, it can provide infinite science without ever leaving the launch pad again, for no cost other than in-game-time, and the player's own patience. While this isn't a major problem in practice, given the self-directed sandbox nature of KSP even in Career mode, this is not something I can meaningfully balance Station Science against.
Therefore, I intend Station Science as an alternative to the stock MPL. Feel free to use the MPL, of course, but you may find Science too easy to come by if you use both.
Tech Tree Integration
Each experiment requires Eurekas generated by the Science Lab. More advanced experiments also require Bioproducts generated by the Zoology Bay (costing Kibbal), and/or Kuarqs generated by the Cyclotron (costing large amounts of Electric Charge). Once an experiment has accumulated sufficient Eurekas (and Bioproducts/Kuarqs), right click it and click the Finalize Results action to finish the experiment, and generate Science value in the same manner as the stock science parts.
Important: Make sure your station stays in the same location for the duration of the experiment. If in orbit, this means entirely above or below the low/high orbit altitude threshold, which is 250km around Kerbin. If the experiment moves to a new location prior to finalization, it will be aborted and you'll have to start it over.
Eurekas and Bioproducts generate while you're focused elsewhere, so you can leave those mult-hour experiments running while you control other ships, or just go to the launchpad to timewarp through it all. Kuarqs do not generate while unfocused, due to their electric charge requirement, but they only takes minutes of in-game time to reach quota if you have sufficient charge flowing in.
Experiments don't work on Kerbin's surface. Your researchers get too caught up daydreaming about going to space.
To use the Spectrometron, dock the vessel carrying the science result, or transfer it to a command pod via EVA. The results will appear automatically in the Spectrometron's context menu. Select the one you want to analyze, and wait for requisite number of kuarqs to be generated. Then, you'll be able to review the result now stored in the Spectrometron using its context menu, and transmit it at 90% via your transmitter.
Plant Growth: see how a variety of plants grow in space. All you need is a crewed Science Lab.
Creature Comforts: see how the animals in the Zoology Bay are enjoying space. You'll need a Science Lab, a Zoology Bay, and a sufficient supply of Kibbal.
Prograde Kuarqs: use a Cyclotron to manufacture the stable Prograde variety of Kuarqs. You'll also need a Science Lab, and at least some source of power.
Retrograde Kuarqs: use a Cyclotron with enough power flow to keep it running near capacity (about six Gigantor solar panels) to manufacture the unstable Retrograde variety of Kuarqs. You'll need that power to keep ahead of the decay of the Kuarqs. You should also only run one experiment at a time to avoid splitting the output of your Cyclotron. Once you reach your quota, the decay will cease. You'll also need a Science Lab.
Eccentric Kuarqs: use two Cyclotrons, with enough power flow to keep both running near capacity, to manufacture the even more unstable Eccentric variety of Kuarqs. You'll need both Cyclotrons and that power to keep ahead of the decay of the Kuarqs. You should also only run one experiment at a time to avoid splitting the output of your Cyclotrons. Once you reach your quota, the decay will cease. You'll also need a Science Lab.
Kuarq Bio-activity: see how the animals in the Zoology Bay react to Kuarqs. You'll need a Science Lab, a Zoology Bay, a Cyclotron running near capacity, and a sufficient supply of Kibbal.
You will start seeing contracts once you have achieved Kerbin orbit, and unlocked at least one docking port, and the TH-NKR Science Lab from this mod. Each contract requires that you launch a new experiment pod of a certain type, complete it in orbit of a particular planet or moon, and return and recover it on the surface of Kerbin.
Mod Compatiblity Notes
Various mods, such as TAC Fuel Balancer, can bypass the "no fuel transfer" restriction of the Attach-O-Tron. To experience Station Science as intended, avoid using such mods in that manner.