In Realism Overhaul, Ion engines are scaled to match real engines, making them simultaneously hilariously overpowered, and hilariously underpowered.
Ion engines have ridiculously high efficiency, and the efficiency only goes up as your input power goes up. However, this comes at a price. Even the most advanced ion engines we have today still only produce thrust in the range of newtons, compared to the typical engines you might use on your spacecraft that may have thousands, maybe millions of newtons of thrust.
This means that a burn using ion engines will take days, months, or even years depending on how far you're going. As an example, the DAWN probe sent by JPL to Vesta and Ceres spent 270 days continuously firing its ion thruster to get it on a trajectory to the tiny dwarf planets. Obviously, this is not doable in Kerbal Space Program, which is why we offer two options:
This excellent mod by HoneyFox will allow you to use your incredibly low-thrust engines while in on-rails time warp, allowing you to compress years-long burns into mere minutes!
The mod is in the recommended list for Realism Overhaul, so CKAN will install it automatically if you'd like, and once installed all you have to do is go in-game:
- Launch your spacecraft
- Activate your engines
- Open up the Orbit Manipulator Warpable Engines overview
- Set the throttle level for each thruster on your spacecraft
- Point your spacecraft in the correct direction
- Start Time Warp!
Do note that time warp freezes your vessel's orientation, so you may have to stop time warp, adjust your attitude (orientation) and start time warp again.
Config File >>Coming Soon<<
The other option is to patch the configs to bring thrusts back up to stock values. (Do note that this is not realistic)