Basic flying tutorial

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Pioneer and Classical Mechanics

Pioneer is part of a small subset of space-simulator games that are based on Classical Mechanics. Because of this, Pioneer, and it's predecessors, Frontier and FFE, are considered to be realistic space simulators, to an extent. To those who are not familiar with it, learning to pilot this way can be a daunting task as it is very different from the, "WW2 dog-fighting in space" that is seen in the majority of space simulators. Here are two key differences between Pioneer and more traditional space games:

  • Speed is relative. Your spacecrafts speed is determined by how fast it is going compared to a body (planet, space station, system, etc.). Speed is impossible to determine without a reference object. When landed on earth, your speed is shown as 0m/s rel-to:Earth. However,you are traveling approximately 30.3km/s rel-to:Sol, because the earth is orbiting Sol. Similarly, if your speed is shown as 0m/s rel-to:System, you aren't moving in reference to the system (typically the sun or other central reference point), however, you are effectively traveling (rather, the earth is traveling) at approximately 30km/s rel-to:Earth.
  • Inertia: A body in motion will stay in motion, unless acted upon by an external force. In Pioneer, there is nothing to slow you down, aside from gravity from local bodies, however, this is negligible at speed. This means that when you accelerate to 10000km/s, you will continue to go that speed until you expend the same amount of energy to bring your speed down to 0km/s. Because of this, when planning a journey you must take into account the amount of time it will take you to speed up and slow down. Also, once en route to a destination, it can be time-consuming to change direction, as you need to expend almost the same amount of energy as when accelerating.

There is much more to learn about these concepts, and they will be covered in more depth in the rest of the tutorial. This is simply an overview of the basic principles involved in Pioneer space-flight.