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Time warp

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3 green arrows indicate 10× non physical time warp

Time warping allows the player to speed up in-game time, e.g. during long low-thrust burns or interplanetary transfers. The arrows above the MET show the active warp factor. By default, the time warp can be increased and decreased with the . and , keys, respectively. On changing the factor the new warp factor is shown near the center of the screen.

Physical time warp

A loop through the four physical time warp levels

Physical time warp tries to apply physics to the loaded crafts, i.e. forces such as drag and thrust are calculated. When running at normal (1x) in-game time, it can be accessed anytime by pressing Mod+. As this is very complex and consequently puts a heavy strain on the CPU, it allows only four different warp speeds: 1× (default), 2×, 3× and 4×. It is not recommended to use physical time warp on planes that rely on jerking or twitchy motions to fly.

Warning: Physical time warp can lead to inaccuracies in the physics calculation, possibly damaging the vessel. This is especially true for high warp speeds and complex vessels with many parts.

Non-physical time warp

Paid (0.19.1) Demo (0.18.3)
Rotational/Inertial transition 100 000 m 100 000 m
Warp Minimum Altitude
Any
5× 69 078 m (above the atmosphere)
10× 69 078 m (above the atmosphere)
50× 69 078 m (above the atmosphere)
100× 120 000 m
1 000× 240 000 m
10 000× 480 000 m
100 000× 600 000 m

Non-physical time warp stops all physical calculations except for gravity and collision. It allows warp speeds up to 100 000×. and cannot be applied as long as the vessel is subject to any forces other than gravity. Therefore non-physical time warp is unavailable as long as any of the following situations apply:

  • The craft is within an atmosphere (unless it is landed and has come to a complete stop)
  • The craft is throttled up, even if there is no engine active or attached
  • A part provides torque, like the SAS
  • The craft is moving over a surface, e.g. a rolling rover

The following speed factors are available: 1× (default), 5×, 10×, 50×, 100×, 1 000×, 10 000× and 100 000×. However, in order to access high factors the craft requires a certain distance to the orbited body. Every celestial body has its own reference frame which defines the altitude at which the various speeds become available. As an example, Kerbin's reference frames are shown to the right.

One side effect of non-physical time warp is that upon its activation a ship will instantly stop rotating, as all parts are frozen relative to the vessel's reference frame. As a result of this, any joints that were bent when entering non-physical time warp will stay bent during warp, and will spring back violently when leaving time warp (sometimes leading to rapid unplanned disassembly).

There are celestial bodies like the Mun which allow time warping when it is colliding with the surface. Usually the time warp gets reset to 1× when the craft is near the surface.

Another hazard of especially high time warps is that the craft travels so fast close to a body, that the game doesn't recognize it and doesn't reduce the time warp. As the orbital velocity is at the highest level when at periapsis, the craft is also moving fast by itself causing to move even faster with time warp. This could lead to skipping through the atmosphere without an atmospheric entry or getting an unintentional gravity assist.

Comparison of the time warp levels

The following table gives the real time required for each entry.

Time warp factor Kerbin day Kerbin year To Alpha Centauri (4.3 ly) from Earth at light speed Earth day
6 h 106 d 12 h 32 m 25 s 1603 d 24 h
3 h 53 d 6 h 16 m 12.5 s 801 d 16 h 33 m 12 h
2 h 35 d 12 h 10 m 48.33 s 534 d 11 h 2 m 8 h
1 h 30 m 26 d 15 h 8 m 6.25 s 400 d 20 h 16 m 6 h
1 h 12 m 21 d 7 h 18 m 29 s 320 d 16 h 13 m 4 h 48 m
10× 36 m 10 d 15 h 39 m 14.5 s 160 d 8 h 6 m 2 h 24 m
50× 7 m 12 s 2 d 3 h 7 m 50.9 s 32 d 1 h 37 m 17.75 s 28 m 48 s
100× 3 m 36 s 1 d 1 h 33 m 55.45 s 16 d 48 m 38.87 s 14 m 28 s
1 000× 21.6 s 2 h 33 m 23.55 s 1 d 14 h 28 m 51.89 s 1 m 26.4 s
10 000× 2.16 s 15 m 20.35 s 3 h 50 m 53.19 s 8.64 s
100 000× 0.216 s 1 m 32.04 s 23 m 5.319 s 0.864 s