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Time warp

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The time warp indicator, shown at 10x

Time warp is the acceleration of game speed, serving to shorten the length of time it normally takes to perform a task, e.g. turning the normally ~180 day transfer from Kerbin to Duna into a 2½ minute wait. 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, and can be changed to physical time warp by holding the Mod key and pressing ,. Upon changing the warp factor, the multiplication of normal time (in seconds) is shown in the top-center of the screen.

High-speed time warp

High-speed 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 non-orbital acceleration. Therefore, high-speed time warp is unavailable if the craft is moving within an atmosphere, along a surface, or throttled.

The following speed factors are available: 1× (default), 5×, 10×, 50×, 100×, 1 000×, 10 000× and 100 000×. Due to the complication of loading detailed surfaces, each time warp level requires either a certain distance to the orbited body or that the craft is completely still on the surface. Every celestial body has its own reference frame which defines the altitude at which the various speeds become available.

One side effect of time warp is that upon its activation, a ship will instantly stop revolving, 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, potentially violently and destructively, when leaving time warp.

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.

Physical time warp

A loop through the four physical time warp levels

In physical time warp, physics will still be calculated for the active and nearby vessels, engines will not be stopped, and When running at normal (1x) in-game time, it can be accessed anytime by pressing Mod+. Because this strains the CPU, it has been limited to four settings: 1× (default), 2×, 3× and 4×. Physical time warp is always enabled and regular time warp is disabled while in an atmosphere.

Physical time warp can lead to inaccuracies in the physics calculation, possibly damaging the vessel. Complex, long, and highly-accelerated vessels are at risk of destruction if physical time warp is enabled. Wobbling becomes much more likely with physics warp turned on. It is therefore recommended not to have more than 2x physical time warp with high-thrust engines enabled.

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